A New Architectural Style for the Age of the Individual

MVRDV’s Silodam in Amsterdam. Image © Flickr CC User pnwbot

As modernist architects broke free from vernacular architecture and developed a homogenized international style, many created sterile spaces and places out of touch with the decorative warmth of historical forms of human inhabitation. Negative reactions to the brutality of Modernist spaces encouraged architectural movements such as post-modernism and deconstructivism, but these never managed to usurp the rational modernist box as a dominant architectural paradigm.

However, the intended machine-like precision of these buildings has often become unintentionally humanized over time, through the addition of curtains, coloring, or even through accidental breakage and imperfect repairs or alterations. I believe that building on the successes and failures of has spawned a new and previously unclassified architectural style: Pixelism. Find out what this new phenomenon is after the break.

Drawings from Famous Architects’ Formative Stages to be Exhibited in St. Louis

Zaha Hadid, The World (89 Degrees), 1984. Image Courtesy of Kemper Art Museum

As a student of architecture, the formative years of study are a period of wild experimentation, bizarre use of materials, and most importantly, a time to make mistakes. Work from this period in the life of an architect rarely floats to the surface – unless you’re Zaha Hadid or Frank Gehry, that is. A treasure trove of early architectural drawings from the world’s leading architects has recently been unearthed from the private collection of former Architectural Association Chairman Alvin Boyarsky. The collection is slated to be shown at the Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, St. Louis, as a part of the exhibition Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarsky and the Architectural Association from September 12th to January 4th, 2015.

Take a look at the complete set of architects and drawings for the exhibition after the break.

Happy Birthday Robert Venturi

© Denise Scott Brown

, the architect famous for “less is a bore,” turns 89 today. Venturi started his firm in 1964 and ran it with his wife and partner Denise Scott Brown from 1967 until 2012. Today the Pritzker Prize winner’s legacy lives on as the firm continues under the name VSBA (Venturi Scott Brown Associates).

The co-author of Learning From Las Vegas and Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, Venturi is one of the most recognized postmodern theorists of the 20th century. Today, as Robert Venturi turns 89, take a look at a few of his famous works on ArchDaily. Also, make sure to read his invaluable thoughts, opinions and theories on the architectural profession, which still have significance today.

Happy Birthday James Stirling

Portrait of James Stirling. Ray Williams, photographer.. Image © Canadian Centre for Architecture

On what would have been his birthday today, we celebrate and look back on British architect and Pritzker Laureate Sir James Stirling, who died aged 66 in 1992. Stirling, who grew up in Liverpool, one of the two industrial powerhouses of the British North West, began his career subverting the compositional and theoretical ideas behind the first Modern Movement. Citing a wide-range of influences – from Colin Rowe, a forefather of , to Le Corbusier, from architects of the Italian Renaissance to the Russian Constructivist movement – Stirling forged a unique set of architectural beliefs that manifest themselves in his works. Indeed, his architecture, commonly described as “non-comformist”, consistently caused annoyance in conventional circles.

According to Rowan Moore, Stirling also “designed some of the most notoriously malfunctioning buildings of modern time.”  Yet, for all the “veiled accusations of incompetence”, as Reyner Banham put it, Stirling produced a selection of the world’s most interesting and groundbreaking buildings. Notably, the Royal Institute of British Architects’ highest award, the Stirling Prize, was named after him in 1996.

The Portland Problem: $95 Million for a Hated Building?

The Building in 1982. Image © Steve Morgan via Wikimedia Commons

In a provocative article,The Atlantic Cities explores the dilemma which Portland currently finds itself in: the Michael Graves-designed Portland Building, one of the most important examples of early postmodernism, requires renovation work to the tune of $95 million; unfortunately, most residents of Portland “really, really hate” the building – as they have since it was constructed in 1983. Should the city spend so much money renovating a building which is unpopular, dysfunctional and poorly built just because of its cultural significance? Read the original article for more.

A Crash Course on Modern Architecture (Part 2)

High Line, New York, is a good example of what is to come. Image © Iwan Baan

Merete Ahnfeldt-Mollerup is associate Professor at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. This article originally appeared in GRASP.

Miss Part 1? Find it here.

Architecture is inseparable from planning, and the huge challenge for the current generation is the growth and shrinkage of cities. Some cities, mainly in the Southern Hemisphere, are growing at exponential rates, while former global hubs in the northern are turning into countrysides. In the south, populations are still growing a lot, while populations are dwindling in Europe, Russia and North East Asia. The dream of the Bilbao effect was based on the hope that there might be a quick fix to both of these problems. Well, there is not.

A decade ago, few people even recognized this was a real issue and even today it is hardly ever mentioned in a political context. As a politician, you cannot say out loud that you have given up on a huge part of the electorate, or that it makes sense for the national economy to favor another part. Reclaiming the agricultural part of a nation is a political suicide issue whether you are in Europe or Latin America. And investing in urban development in a few, hand-picked areas while other areas are desolate is equally despised.

The one person, who is consistently thinking and writing about this problem, is Rem Koolhaas, a co-founder of OMA.

Denise Scott Brown Demands Recognition from Pritzker

© Frank Hanswijk

During a speech at the AJ Women in Architecture luncheon in last week, postmodern icon Denise Scott Brown requested to be acknowledged retrospectively for her role in ’s 1991 Pritzker Prize, describing Pritzker’s inability to acknowledge her involvement as “very sad”.

Although at the time of the award Brown had co-partnered their practice Venturi Scott Brown and Associates for over 22 years and played a critical role in the evolution of architectural theory and design alongside Venturi for the over 30 years, as well as co-authored the transformative 1970’s book Learning from Las Vegas, her role as “wife” seemed to have trumped her role as an equal partner when the Pritzker jury chose to only honor her husband, Venturi.

More information and an online petition after the break…

Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A.

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The Getty Trust is partnering with Pacific Standard Time to present 11 individual exhibitions throughout LA’s museums that will explore the history and heritage of the city’s and its influential designers.  As musician, photographer and architectural blogger Moby boasts, “LA has the most diverse architecture of any city on the planet”.  Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in LA will explore this diversity that covers post World War II architecture through today with specific points of view ranging in architectural style, influence and decade.  The exhibitions, which will run from April through July 2013, are a follow-up to last year’s Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA, 1945-1980. The focus of the exhibitions will range in scale and cover the monumental and everyday architectural moments that make LA unique.  Exhibitions will present iconic modernist homes and cultural landmarks as well as coffee shops, car washes, and the freeways in addition to  the un-built architectural fantasies of and post-.

Follow us after the break for the eleven exhibitions that will be part of PST’s event.

AD Classics: Neue Staatsgalerie / James Stirling

© Flickr User: pov_steve

In 1977, as part of a city wide planning initiative, the Prime Minister of Baden – Württemberg, Hans Filbinger, held a private international competition to design the Neue Staatsgalerie that would revitalize and reinvigorate the cultural influence in Stuttgart, . The competition posed the issues of making a connection to the older Staatsgalerie that dated back to 1843, as well as traversing the sites dramatic slope.  By 1979, the jury unanimously chose a design by of Michael Wilford & Associates in London.

Completed in 1984, Stirling’s design incorporated the sloping site as part of an architectural promenade that moved the public walkway through the museum that embodied the transitions of the classical art of the Alte Staatsgalerie and the modern art of the Neue Staatsgalerie into one seamless architectural response.

More on the Neue Staatsgalerie by James Stirling after the break.

AD Classics: Denver Central Library / Michael Graves & Associates

© Michael Graves

Michael Graves, one of the most respected and original minds of post- architecture, was commissioned in 1990 to renovate and design an extension to the Denver Central Library.  Known for his surreal and “entertainment” architecture; Graves’ implemented traditional post- motifs of abstracted classical forms, natural materials, and colors commonly found in past centuries.

Sitting adjacent to ’s Denver Art Museum, the Denver Central Library stands as the 8th largest library in the United States, as well as the largest library between Chicago and Los Angeles, attracting over a million visitors each year.

AD Classics: Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort / Michael Graves

© Flickr - User: Jeff B.

In a world where anything in your imagination can become a reality, Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, stayed true to their word and hired architect Michael Graves to design a resort consisting of two hotels that would become part of Disney’s famous collection of “entertainment architecture.” Graves’ postmodern, colorful style was the perfect choice for the playful themepark resort, and his whimsical design decisions and statues of grandeur contribute to the famous Disney kingdom. The theme for the design of the hotels sprung right from its early conceptual stages, where Graves developed an entire story to create characters for both the Swan and the Dolphin in a magical tale that he thought could potentially become Disney characters.

More images and information after the break.

AD Classics: Vanna Venturi House / Robert Venturi

© Maria Buszek

Most critics usually regard consistency in architecture an important aspect of the design. However in the Robert Venturi took the road less travelled and tested complexity and contradiction in architecture, going against the norm. Located in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania on a flat site isolated by surrounding trees, Venturi designed and built the house for his mother between 1962 and 1964. In testing his beliefts on complexity and contradition (for which he also wrote the book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture), Venturi went through six fully worked-out versions of the house which slowly became known as the first example of Postmodern architecture.

More on the Vanna Venturi House after the break.