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Modernism: The Latest Architecture and News

The Quest to "Liberate" Architecture from Modernism's Evils: An Interview with Nikos Salingaros

01:00 - 8 July, 2013
The Quest to "Liberate" Architecture from Modernism's Evils: An Interview with Nikos Salingaros, © Nikos Salingaros
© Nikos Salingaros

Nikos Salingaros is unafraid of a controversial statement. A professor of Mathematics and Urban theory, he has been using his scientific approach to study architecture and urban environments for years, and has come to a conclusion: Modernism is just about the worst thing that happened to architecture.

As Salingaros explains, not only is it impossible to have any "Green" architecture within a modernist framework, but, moreover, Modernism encourages us to deny our biologically-evolved senses and embrace an unnatural, inhuman built world - and why? Because there's a whole lot of money and power behind those "modernist boxes." As Salingaros puts it:

Architectural Education ever since the Bauhaus, and continuing to the present day without interruption, teaches students to interpret built forms according to very peculiar abstract criteria, and not through their own biologically-evolved senses and cognitive intelligence. This is radical training in sensory denial: desensitizing people so that their interpretation of the world can be defined by others with an agenda.

I interviewed Salingaros to get to the bottom of his theories and understand his anti-Modern crusade. Read it all, including Salingaros' incendiary takes on Architecture education, sustainability, and urban planning, after the break...

How Modern Architecture Got Square

00:00 - 17 June, 2013
How Modern Architecture Got Square, Grand Central Station (1913) in front of the MetLife (formerly Pan Am Building, 1963) and next to the Chrysler Building (1930). Image Courtesy of emin kuliyev / Shutterstock.com
Grand Central Station (1913) in front of the MetLife (formerly Pan Am Building, 1963) and next to the Chrysler Building (1930). Image Courtesy of emin kuliyev / Shutterstock.com

This article, by David Brussat of The Providence Journal's editorial board, first appeared at providencejournal.com.

In a rating of energy efficiency by the Environmental Protection Administration, New York's venerable Chrysler Building scored 84 out of 100 points; the Empire State Building, 80; but the modernist 7 World Trade Center scored 74 (below the cutoff of 75 for "high efficiency"); the Pan Am Building, 39; Lever House, 20; the Seagram Building, 3. The New York Times reported this story last Dec. 24 under the headline "City's Law Tracking Energy Use Yields Some Surprises."

It was no surprise to Nikos Salingaros and Michael Mehaffy, who have investigated why modern architecture thrives despite its inability to live up to any of its longstanding promises -- aesthetic, social or utilitarian.

VIDEO: Design in 6 Lovely, Digestible Nutshells

00:00 - 7 June, 2013

(Almost) everything you need to know about 20th century design has been synthesized into 6 brightly-colored, easily-digestible videos (all narrated by the sweet Scottish tones of one Ewan MacGregor).

From the Gothic Revival to Post-Modernism, this series of shorts from The Open University’s OpenLearn website just touches the surface of these design movements; however, they act as a great introduction for the un-design-initiated (indeed, The Open University sees them as an intro to their free course on Design Thinking) or, for design-aficionados, a fun refresher.

We're particular to the video on the Bauhaus (after all, we also tackled the movement in a brilliant infographic) and the Modernist video (after the break) - but you can find all 6 at OpenLearn. Enjoy!

UCSD: A Built History of Modernism

01:00 - 19 May, 2013
UCSD: A Built History of Modernism, Geisel Library © Darren Bradley
Geisel Library © Darren Bradley

At just a little over 50 years old, the University of California San Diego is one of the younger college campuses in the United States, but despite this it is one of the most architecturally fascinating universities around. In the official UCSD campus guide, Dirk Sutro emphasizes that "UCSD does not have a single example of the historical-revival styles prevalent at other University of California campuses... and at San Diego's two other major universities". The history of UCSD architecture is one of ambition, which has made the campus a display case of modernism in all of its forms from the last half a century.

Thanks to photographer Darren Bradley, we can now share this history and a selection of the exciting structures it has produced.

Find out more about the UCSD campus after the break

The Breezeway, Revelle College © Darren Bradley Jacobs School of Engineering © Darren Bradley Natatorium © Darren Bradley Price Center East © Darren Bradley + 32

A Crash Course on Modern Architecture (Part 2)

00:00 - 8 May, 2013
A Crash Course on Modern Architecture (Part 2) , High Line, New York, is a good example of what is to come. Image © Iwan Baan
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.

Build Your Own Neutra Home!

00:00 - 26 April, 2013
Build Your Own Neutra Home!, Kaufmann House, 1947 Palm Springs, CA / Richard Neutra, architect © Julius Schulman
Kaufmann House, 1947 Palm Springs, CA / Richard Neutra, architect © Julius Schulman

The mid-century modern master, Richard Neutra was well known for his cutting edge modernism. Since Julius Shulman immortalized his houses in his iconic photographs, Neutra's bright, airy homes have widely been seen as the pinacle of modernism and desirability. One problem though, they're in high demand and it's not exactly like they're making any more Neutra buildings; in fact, quite the opposite is true and as a result they have become a pretty expensive commodity.

Read more about how to get your very own Neutra home after the break...

Kickstarter Campaign Seeks Funds To Produce Film About Eileen Gray

00:00 - 20 April, 2013
Kickstarter Campaign Seeks Funds To Produce Film About Eileen Gray , Courtesy of Christie's
Courtesy of Christie's

As we've mentioned before, Irish designer Eileen Gray was undoubtedly one of the most influential, and most overlooked, designers of the 20th century. However, a new Kickstarter campaign aims to put that right once and for all. The campaign is seeking funds to help renovate Gray's seminal house, E-1027, for the production of a feature film about the architect.

Video: 75 Years of Mies van der Rohe and His Chicago School

00:00 - 27 March, 2013

When emigrating from Germany in 1938 to head Chicago’s Armour Institute, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was challenged with two tasks: first reform the schools curriculum to his “back-to-basics” approach and then develop plans for a newly expanded 120-acre campus for the creation of Illinois Institute of Technology, a product of the Armour Institute and Lewis Institute merger. Mies was able to exceed both challenges and the outcomes have had a lasting influence on Chicago and modernism for the past 75 years. In celebration of this legacy and Mies’ 127th birthday, IIT was complied this comprehensive video that features Mies’ contribution to the modern landscape of their campus and city.

The 10 Most Overlooked Women in Architecture History

01:00 - 8 March, 2013

Looking back on architectural history, you could be forgiven for thinking that women were an invention of the 1950’s, alongside spandex and power steering - but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Big names like Le Corbusier, Mies, Wright and Kahn often had equally inspired female peers, but the rigid structure of society meant that their contributions tended to be overlooked.  In honor of International Woman’s Day 2013, we take a look at the 10 greatest overlooked women in architectural history. 

Read the full list after the break...

Video: Louis Kahn Talks to a Brick

00:00 - 2 March, 2013
Video: Louis Kahn Talks to a Brick, National Assembly Building of Bangladesh
National Assembly Building of Bangladesh

UPDATE: Unfortunately this video is no longer available. 

"Even a brick wants to be something." - Louis Kahn

In this jaunty little clip, Louis Kahn stresses the importance of honoring your materials to a group of students at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ezra Stoller: Beyond Architecture

00:00 - 17 February, 2013
Ezra Stoller: Beyond Architecture, McMath Solar Telescope, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Kitt Peak, AZ, 1962 Gelatin Silver Print © Ezra Stoller, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
McMath Solar Telescope, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Kitt Peak, AZ, 1962 Gelatin Silver Print © Ezra Stoller, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

Now on view at the Yossi Milo Gallery through March 2, rarely-seen images by modernist architectural photographer Ezra Stroller (American, 1915-2004) captures a Post-War American landscape with stunning images of industry, technology, transportation and working class Americans. 

Beyond Architecture covers the full range of Stoller’s work, including photographs commissioned by Fortune, Architectural Forum, and House Beautiful magazines in the 1940s and for commercial projects for IBM, Upjohn Pharmaceuticals and CBS in the 1940s and 1950s. Included are photographs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s John Hancock Building, Chicago, and the United Nations Headquarters, designed by an international team of architects led by Wallace K. Harrison and including Oscar Niemeyer and Le Corbusier.

A selection of these images after the break...

From Psychopath Lairs to Superhero Mansions: How Cinema and Modernist Architecture Called A Truce

00:00 - 19 December, 2012
Chemosphere, by John Lautner - the architect whose work has been most used (and abused) by Hollywood. Photo © Joshua White/JWPictures.com
Chemosphere, by John Lautner - the architect whose work has been most used (and abused) by Hollywood. Photo © Joshua White/JWPictures.com

This article comes courtesy of ArchDaily friend Charlotte Neilson, the author of the fascinating design blog Casting Architecture, which discusses architecture and production design. Charlotte is not only a dedicated cinephile but also an honours graduate of the University of Newcastle, Australia.

We all know that psychopaths prefer contemporary design. Hollywood has told us so for decades. The classic film connection between minimal interiors and emotional detachment (see: any Bond adversary) or modern buildings and subversive values is well documented - and regrettable. The modernist philosophy of getting to the essence of a building was intended to be liberating and enriching for the lives of occupants. Hardly fair then that these buildings are routinely portrayed with villainous associations. 

What the representation of Modernist architecture in film tells us about our society, after the break...

JH House / Bernardes + Jacobsen © Leonardo Finotti. Ben Rose House, 1952-54, designed by A. James Speyer. Image via Mid-Centuria. The Elrod House by Architect John Lautner. Image via Expoint Realty. Image via Flickr User CC Chris Lott.. Used under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>Creative Commons</a> + 8

Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island

13:00 - 16 August, 2012

The relationship between social dynamics and architecture has always been intimate. It is a constant dialogue between social norms and politics, stylistic trends and aesthetic choices, individual preferences and the collective good. The Modernist Period was a time when architecture took on the challenge of many social problems. In all the arts – architecture, design, music and film – the period was highly politicized and the choices often gave way to a utilitarian ideal that was a hybrid of efficiency, simplicity and comfort. Jake Gorst’s new film Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island, supported by Design Onscreen, is a message of preservation that takes us through the history of the modernist housing boom that took place on Long Island, NY in the period between the Great Depression and the 1970s.

On August 14th, Cook+Fox Architects hosted a private film screening at their office on 641 Ave of the Americas, presenting the treasures along the island’s shore that have fallen between the cracks of history. The film looks at works from Albert Frey, Wallace Harrison, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Breuer, Philip Johnson, Charles Gwathmey, Barbara and Julian Neski and many others.

Follow us after the break to catch up on the history of the development of these houses on Long Island.

LEGO Turns 80, Remains Architecturally Awesome

14:28 - 10 August, 2012
National Building Museum's Towering Ambition exhibition by Architect Adam Reed Tucker. Towering Spiral via Flickr User © 2010 Brian Mosley. Used under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>Creative Commons</a>
National Building Museum's Towering Ambition exhibition by Architect Adam Reed Tucker. Towering Spiral via Flickr User © 2010 Brian Mosley. Used under Creative Commons

“Legos were the ultimate building tool, capable of making the most advanced space ships, powerful vehicles, impressive buildings, and incredible cities. As a child, everyone I knew loved Legos, and this never seemed to change. In high school, whenever a conversation with friends happened to shift upon Legos, everyone would gleefully reminisce about their days making fantastic structures out of those awesome little building blocks. No doubt Legos played a supporting role in my growth in appreciation for architecture.” - Architect Albert Lam, in a Blog post for the LPA

When you ask architects what inspired them, almost all (according to one study, 99%) can trace the calling back to the same, simple origin: playing with their LEGO bricks.

The LEGO Group, which turns 80 today, can boast that there are approximately 62 LEGO bricks for ever person on earth. However, it wasn’t until 1958, when the newly-plastic LEGO bricks incorporated the classic knob-and-tube-connecting-system, that they overtook the Froebel block (Frank Lloyd Wright’s toy of choice) to become the massively popular architectural inspiration they are today.

But while the influence of LEGO on architects may be self-evident, not many know about Architecture’s contribution to LEGO. In fact, only through the lens of Architecture, can you truly understand why LEGO merits its bold moniker as “The Toy of the Century.”

Find out Architecture & LEGOs unlikely relationship, after the break…

Modernist and Traditionalist on Establishment Bias Against Traditional Architecture

19:00 - 4 September, 2011
Kroon Hall Yale University, Hopkins © Morley von Sternberg
Kroon Hall Yale University, Hopkins © Morley von Sternberg

Tensions mounted between modernist and traditionalist camps earlier last month when Paul Finch, UK Chairman for the Commission for Architecture and the Build Environment, praised the fact that modernists had won bids to design buildings for the 2012 Olympics. In response, Robert Adam, member of the Traditional Architecture Group, and Michael Taylor, senior partner at Hopkins, the firm that designed the Olympic velodrome, met for a discussion on hegemony, timeliness, and pastiche moderated by Guardian staffer Lanre Bakare.