“Architects today tend to depreciate themselves, to regard themselves as no more than just ordinary citizens without the power to reform the future.” - Kenzo Tange
In honor of what would have been Kenzo Tange’s 100th birthday, AD Classics presents one of the Japanese master’s most iconic projects - the Shizuoka Press and Broadcasting Center. Built in 1967, the building was the first spatial realization of Tange’s Metabolist ideas of organically-inspired structural growth, developed in the late 1950s. The Shizuoka Press and Broadcasting Center is far more significant than its relatively small size would suggest, encapsulating the concepts of the new Metabolistic order in architecture and urban planning that prevailed in post-World War II Japan.
More about this icon of Metabolism after the break….
Our friend and architectural photographer Felipe Camus recently embarked on an architectural pilgrimage to the valley of the Rhein. Located in the Graubünden region in Switzerland, the valley boasts many of the seminal works of Pritzker Prize Laureate Peter Zumthor, all within a 60-kilometer radius. Born in Graubünden himself, Zumthor designed the works in relation to their location and time by paying special attention to details and materials. As a result, the works all present Zumthor’s unparalleled skills of craftsmanship and his uncompromising integrity.
Join us for a special AD Architectural Mountain Guide, including a detailed map, photos and descriptions of Zumthor’s works, after the break….
The Saint Benedict Chapel, located in the village of Sumvitg, Graubünden, was designed by the Pritzker Prize Laureate Peter Zumthor in 1988. The modest, human-scaled exterior of the chapel encapsulates the beauty and simplicity of Zumthor’s works, while the interior showcases his unparalleled craftsmanship.
The Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, also know as the MAC, was designed by the famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and completed in 1996. This iconic saucer-shaped structure, situated on a cliffside above Guanabara bay in the city of Niterói, brilliantly frames the panoramic views of the city of Rio De Janeiro and encapsulates the simple, yet brilliant signature aesthetic of Niemeyer.
The Ramot Polin neighborhood is a housing project designed by the Polish-born Israeli architect Zvi Hecker, commissioned by the Israeli government in the euphoric aftermath of the Six Day War. The project, which resembles a beehive, is an avant-garde architectural experiment on morphology as well as construction. Since being constructed in the late 1970s, the structure has undergone extensive alteration by its tenants, provoking a debate regarding the capacity of expressive architecture to account for authentic human needs.
This AD Round Up is dedicated to unbuilt classics, a selection of projects and ideas that, although never built, contributed greatly to the canon of twentieth century architecture. In 1920, Buckminister Fuller designed the Dymaxion House, which displayed forward-thinking innovations in sustainability and prefabrication. In 1924, Le Corbusier’s radical plan for Ville Radieuse (The Radiant City) had an extensive inﬂuence upon modern urban planning and led to the development of new high-density housing typologies. In the same year Friedrick Kiesler introduced his "Endless House", the basis for his subsequent manifesto of Correalism. Eight years later in 1932, Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock curated the “Modern Architecture: International exhibition” at the MoMA, introducing the emerging International Style and laying the principles for Modern architecture. And finally, one of Archigram’s most famous utopian visions, the Plug-In City, proposed by Peter Cook in 1964, offered a fascinating new approach to urbanism and reversed traditional perceptions of infrastructure’s role in the city.
Ville Radieuse (The Radiant City) is an unrealized urban masterplan by Le Corbusier, first presented in 1924 and published in a book of the same name in 1933. Designed to contain effective means of transportation, as well as an abundance of green space and sunlight, Le Corbusier’s city of the future would not only provide residents with a better lifestyle, but would contribute to creating a better society. Though radical, strict and nearly totalitarian in its order, symmetry and standardization, Le Corbusier’s proposed principles had an extensive influence on modern urban planning and led to the development of new high-density housing typologies.
The Mivtachim sanitarium in Zichron Ya’akov is a brutalist masterpiece set on the forested slopes of Mount Carmel, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The simple yet complex design of the serpentine-shaped modular structure makes it appear to be “crowning” the mountain.
The building was designed by the Israeli architect Jacob Rechter in 1968 and immediately gained world-wide recognition, appearing in numerous international magazines and earning Rechter the prestigious Israel Award for architecture in 1973. Along with other brutalist icons, the Mivtachim Sanitarium was an idealistic, utopian structure, encapsulating the socialist ideas prevalent in 1960's Israel.
“Modern Architecture: International Exhibition” is the title of an exhibition that took place in 1932 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Curated by Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock, the exhibition introduced an emerging architectural style characterized by simplified geometry and a lack of ornamentation; known as the “International Style,” it was described by Johnson as “probably the first fundamentally original and widely distributed style since the Gothic.” The exhibition, along with an accompanying catalogue, laid the principles for the canon of Modern architecture.
The Portland Building, by architect and product designer Michael Graves, is considered the first major built work of Postmodernist architecture. The design, which displays numerous symbolic elements on its monumental facades, stands in purposeful contrast to the functional Modernist architecture that was dominant at the time. As Graves explains of his architecture: it’s “a symbolic gesture, an attempt to re-establish a language of architecture and values that are not a part of modernist homogeneity.”
Read more about this controversial building after the break...
Habitat 67, designed by the Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie as the Canadian Pavilion for the World Exposition of 1967, was originally intended as an experimental solution for high-quality housing in dense urban environments. Safdie explored the possibilities of prefabricated modular units to reduce housing costs and allow for a new housing typology that could integrate the qualities of a suburban home into an urban high-rise.
Reflecting on the project’s significance in “A look back at habitat ’67” Safdie stated that “Habitat ‘67 is really two ideas in one. One is about prefabrication, and the other is about rethinking apartment-building design in the new paradigm.” 
The International conference center in Kyoto is a geometric megastructure of exposed, reinforced concrete designed by Japanese architect Sachio Otani in 1963. Although relatively unknown, the Center is a unique, Modern masterpiece that re-interprets traditional Japanese architecture and asserts itself powerfully into its peaceful, natural surroundings.
The Einstein Tower, designed by the German architect Erich Mendelsohn, is one of the best-known examples of German expressionist architecture. Designed as an amorphic structure of reinforced concrete, Mendelsohn wanted the tower to represent as well as facilitate the study of Einstein’s radical theory of relativity – a groundbreaking theorem of motion, light and space.
More on this expressionist monument after the break...
AD Classics presents you with great buildings of the past, providing inspiration and motivation for architects to design for the future. But why must inspiration only come from poured concrete and erected walls? For this edition of AD Classics, we share a work, the Plug-In City, by the avant-garde group Archigram. Though never built, their projects and ideas provoked debates, combining architecture, technology and society; when Plug-In City was proposed in 1964, it offered a fascinating new approach to urbanism, reversing traditional perceptions of infrastructure’s role in the city.
American architect and Prizker Prize winner Philip Johnson - who would have turned 107 today - is well known for his contributions to 20th century architecture, from the modernist Glass House in 1949 to his later infamous post modernist AT&T building in 1984. But did you know that Johnson designed a brutalistic nuclear plant in Israel? More on this monolithic concrete structure after the break...
The Crystal Palace was a glass and cast iron structure built in London, England, for the Great Exhibition of 1851. The building was designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, an architect and gardener, and revealed breakthroughs in architecture, construction and design. More on the Crystal Palace after the break...