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Michelle Miller

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AD Classics: Los Manantiales / Felix Candela

22:00 - 8 November, 2018
AD Classics: Los Manantiales / Felix Candela, via www.rkett.com
via www.rkett.com

via wikiarquitectura © Flickr user Emmanual Hernandez via wikiarquitectura via www.rkett.com + 25

This article was originally published on April 14, 2014. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.

With the design for Los Manantiales, Felix Candela’s experimental form finding gave rise to an efficient, elegant, and enduring work of structural art. Comprised of four intersecting hypars, a strikingly thin roof surface creates a dramatic dining space. Built as Candela was establishing an international reputation as the foremost shell building, he demonstrated to the world his masterful combination of artistry and technical virtuoso.

AD Classics: Cenotaph for Newton / Etienne-Louis Boullée

22:00 - 5 November, 2018
Exterior view
Exterior view

Section, during the day with interior night effect Exterior view Split plan showing interior and from above Exterior elevation + 6

This article was originally published on September 10, 2014. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.

Minuscule clusters of visitors ascend a monumental stairway at the base of a spherical monument rising higher than the Great Pyramid of Giza. An arc of waning sunlight catches a small portion of the sphere, leaving the excavated entry portal and much of the mass in deep shadow. Bringing together the emotional affects of romanticism, the severe rationality of neoclassicism and grandeur of antiquity, Etienne-Louis Boullée’s sublime vision for a cenotaph honoring Sir Isaac Newton is both emblematic of the particular historical precipice and an artistic feat that foreshadowed the modern conception of architectural design. Rendered through a series of ink and wash drawings, the memorial was one of numerous provocative designs he created at the end of the eighteenth century and included in his treatise, Architecture, essai sur l’art. The cenotaph is a poetic homage to scientist Sir Isaac Newton who 150 years after his death had become a revered symbol of Enlightenment ideals.

Beyond representing his individual creative genius, Boullée’s approach to design signaled the schism of architecture as a pure art from the science of building. He rejected the Vitruvian notion of architecture as the art of building, writing “In order to execute, it is first necessary to conceive… It is this product of the mind, this process of creation, that constitutes architecture…” (1).  The purpose of design is to envision, to inspire, to make manifest a conceptual idea though spatial forms. Boullee’s search was for an immutable and totalizing architecture. 

AD Classics: SC Johnson Wax Research Tower / Frank Lloyd Wright

22:00 - 29 October, 2018
AD Classics: SC Johnson Wax Research Tower / Frank Lloyd Wright, © Ezra Stoller/Esto
© Ezra Stoller/Esto

This article was originally published on September 8,2014. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.

The next time you catch the scent of a Glade air freshener or evade pesky mosquitoes thanks to Off!, think of Frank Lloyd Wright. His 1950 building for the SC Johnson Research Tower at their headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin, was home to the invention of many of their landmark products.

View of tower during construction. Image © SC Johnson Grand skylight above reception area of advertising department. Image © Ezra Stoller/Esto Section and Elevation Preliminary perspective view in which tower tapers towards the base + 34

Classic Architecture with a Social Agenda (1960-Today)

01:00 - 23 May, 2014
Classic Architecture with a Social Agenda (1960-Today), Rural Studio: Hale County Animal Shelter. Image © Timothy Hursley
Rural Studio: Hale County Animal Shelter. Image © Timothy Hursley

“Ninety-five percent of the world’s designers focus all of their efforts on developing products and services for the richest 10% of the world’s customers.”  - Paul Polak, Design for the 90% [1]         

Rural Studio: Hale County Animal Shelter. Image © Timothy Hursley © Matteo Brancali © Adam Hopfner, Yale School of Architecture via webster.edu + 25

The vast majority of contemporary architectural practice today is service industry based, where a fee-paying client commissions a firm for a defined scope of services. Master of self-effacing cynicism Philip Johnson wryly accepted this structure, calling architects “high-class whores.” The recent surge of interest in designing for traditionally underserved communities, from groups such as Architecture for Humanity, MASS Design, Project H and Public Architecture challenges the traditional firm model. The Prizker Prize jury’s recognition of Shigeru Ban’s humanitarian designs highlights that high design and a socially conscious practice are not mutually exclusive.

Believing that architecture can alleviate societal ills and improve the quality of life for all people is not a new concept. Two eras, the 1920s and 1960s-70s, brought a social agenda to the forefront of the discourse. Hindsight reveals flaws of each. Modernism’s utopian visions for public housing and urban renewal are blamed for the detrimental impact of Post-WWII urban housing projects; participatory design in the 1960s and 70s is criticized for ceding expertise in the name of consensus, ending with projects that were no better than the status quo. Despite this, there are lessons to be learned from those who emphasized the social and humanitarian role of architecture.

AD Classics: New York State Pavilion / Philip Johnson

01:00 - 15 April, 2014
AD Classics: New York State Pavilion / Philip Johnson, rSnapshotPhotos / Shutterstock.com
rSnapshotPhotos / Shutterstock.com

It is rare to find an architectural project whose history makes such strange bedfellows as the New York State Pavilion: a master architect and millions of exhibition patrons, roller skaters and rock stars, stray cats and Iron Man [1]. For three hours on April 22, in honor of the fifty year anniversary of the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, the city of Queens will open the long shuttered gates to Philip Johnson’s most futuristic work.

the Tent of Tomorrow during the fair. Imagevia People for the Pavillion website © Will Ellis © Marco Catini © Will Ellis + 27

AD Classics: Kresge Auditorium / Eero Saarinen and Associates

01:00 - 3 April, 2014
AD Classics: Kresge Auditorium / Eero Saarinen and Associates, Kresge Auditorium at MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts © Jorge Salcedo / Shutterstock
Kresge Auditorium at MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts © Jorge Salcedo / Shutterstock

Kresge Auditorium, designed by Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen, was an experiment in architectural form and construction befitting the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s focus on technology and innovation. This feat of sculptural engineering serves as a meeting house and is part of the cultural, social, and spiritual core of MIT’s campus. Kresge Auditorium is one of Saarinen’s numerous daring, egalitarian designs that captured the optimistic zeitgeist of Post-war America.

© Massachusetts Institute of Technology ©  Flickr user 庶民小文™ © Flickr user gomattolson Sections looking east and north + 29

AD Classics: Peabody Terrace / Sert, Jackson & Gourley

01:00 - 13 March, 2014
AD Classics: Peabody Terrace / Sert, Jackson & Gourley, © Jannis Werner
© Jannis Werner

Built in 1964 during his tenure as Dean at the Graduate School of Design, Josep Lluís Sert’s Peabody Terrace provides housing for almost 1500 Harvard graduate students and their families. One of several projects Sert designed for Harvard’s campus, it is a manifestation of his vision for the ideal neighborhood. Many elements such as the negotiation of scale, mixed use program, shared open space and design aesthetic were influenced by but represent a departure from earlier modern housing projects.

Peabody Terrace is a prototypical example of a twentieth-century project heralded by the architectural community as an exemplar of progressive modern ideals, but lambasted by neighbors and members of the general public for being unattractive, cold and imposing. This project and others like it highlight the disconnect that can occur between the architectural intelligentsia and the communities in which they build.  

Via Wikiarquitectura © Alexandru Culiuc Via Wikiarquitectura via Wikipedia Commons + 26

AD Classics: PPG Place / John Burgee Architects with Philip Johnson

05:00 - 28 February, 2014
via Wikipedia Commons
via Wikipedia Commons

The design of PPG Place, by Philip Johnson and John Burgee, melds the notion of the modern corporate tower with a neo-gothic monument. Clad in almost a million square feet of glass manufactured by the anchor tenant PPG industries, the architects ingeniously rethought accepted practices in curtain wall design to create "the crown jewel in Pittsburgh's skyline." (1) The 1.57 million square foot complex was one in a series of high profile corporate projects completed during Johnson's controversial foray into postmodernism.

Night view of fountain and tower. Image © Highwoods Properties 2014 Glass reflections. Image © Highwoods Properties 2014 © Flickr user nooccar Ground Level Plan + 33

AD Classics: Woolworth Building / Cass Gilbert

01:00 - 17 February, 2014
AD Classics: Woolworth Building / Cass Gilbert, View of Woolworth Building and surrounding buildings (ca. 1913), via <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/'>Wikimedia</a> Commons
View of Woolworth Building and surrounding buildings (ca. 1913), via Wikimedia Commons

The Woolworth Building, an innovative and elegant early skyscraper completed in 1913, endures today as an iconic form on the New York City skyline. A historicist exterior sheaths a modern steel tower, embodying both the era’s modern spirit of progress and its hesitation to fully break from the past. Cass Gilbert, selected as the architect, believed the designer should “weave into the pattern of our own civilization the beauty that is our inheritance.”[1] An ornate monument to the growing economic dominance of New York City, the building was dubbed the “Cathedral of Commerce.”

Blue and yellow accents. Image © Aaron Sylvan Stairs in the rear of the lobby. Image © Aaron Sylvan Woolworth Building under construction, circa 1912. Image Courtesy of Flickr Commons Project Typical upper level plan. Image © Penn State Libraries Pictures Collection + 35