Want to make a skyscraper look trendy and sustainable? Put a tree on it. Or better yet, dozens. However, "There are plenty of scientific reasons why skyscrapers don’t—and probably won’t—have trees, at least not to the heights which many architects propose. Life sucks up there. For you, for me, for trees, and just about everything else except peregrine falcons." [more inside]
A couple of years ago developers of Johnathan Blow's upcoming video game "The Witness" tapped landscape architect David Fletcher (Fletcher Studio) and architect Deanna VanBuren (FORUM Design Studio) "to help synthesize what was, at the time, a remote, anonymous island setting without much context . . . Witness required the landscape architects to reverse engineer a site from ruins to birth." (Previously)
A collection of pictures of mailboxes in the western US - part of the Fife Collection of Western U.S. Vernacular Architecture, which also includes quilts, murals, tree bark graffiti, fences, gravestones, and festivals, and other examples of folklife and material culture visually recorded by folklorists Austin and Alta Fife. [more inside]
" Initially it was thought to be something to house firewood, though it didn’t seem capable of holding much, and the slat that sits perpendicular to the box on the inside wall made little sense. It took observers a while to realize that this contraption was a device for holding children—a “baby tender.”" (via)
For your enjoyment: detailed floor plan drawings of popular TV and film homes.
As the NYT reported in 1948: The ceiling of the East Room, elaborately done in the frescoes of fruits and reclining women and weighing seventy pounds to the square foot, was found to be sagging six inches on Oct. 26, and now is being held in place by scaffolding and supports.... But it took the $50,000 survey authorized by Congress to disclose the fact that the marble grand staircase is in imminent danger. Supporting bricks, bought second hand in 1880, are disintegrating. So in 1950 a renovation began: this is what the White House looks like completely gutted. [more inside]
Cairobserver is the start of a conversation about Cairo’s architecture and building, urban fabric and city life. A well curated blog about Cairo featuring both Arabic and English essays. [more inside]
How good is Zaha Hadid's new building? So good it's already being copied. And the copy may be finished before the original. [more inside]
On the one hand we have kirigami, the slightly more dangerous variation of origami that involves razor-sharp instruments (think snowflakes). On the other hand we have architecture. Now put your hands together... [more inside]
Photographer Richard Pare spent from 1992 to 2007 documenting the modernist architecture that flourished in the newly-formed Soviet Union. Many of the building are now underused, decayed, or demolished. Here is an interview. Here are some reviews of a 2007 show at MOMA and the current exhibit at Chicago's Graham Foundation, which ends on the 22nd. Previously.
A lot of once great [New York movie] theaters have been gutted and repurposed, most often into churches, pharmacies and gyms," writes The NYC Scout in today's installment of Scouting New York. "I’ve stopped in quite a few hoping to find the rare gem that’s survived, but have only been disappointed time and again." Scouting New York has been featured in the blue many times ( 1 2 3 4 5 6 ), but this entry is (literally, at least in my case) jaw-dropping. Just keep scrolling down. [more inside]
What do you do with all those empty lots that are left after major earthquakes? Gap Filler fills them with temporary community structures like the Pallet Pavillion. [more inside]
Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the most important architects of the 20th century. He is known for buildings such as Fallingwater, the Guggenheim museum, and the Darwin D. Martin House. One of Wright’s most fascinating houses is Taliesin, his second home. Wright built the home in Spring Green, Wisconsin upon ancestral land given to him by his mother. Wright had fled his home in Oak Park, Illinois after abandoning his family and running off with the with the wife of a client. The Wisconsin home was built as a getaway for Wright and his mistress, but ultimately was the scene of her brutal murder. Wright did not abandon the building, but turned it into a place where young architects could study under the master. In 1937 he created a second home and school at Taliesin West. Fascinating documentary on Wright. Previously
Bertrand Goldberg is widely known as the architect who builds round buildings, but little is known about his innovative theories of space and his utopian ideas that have generated these sculptural forms. His work speaks with a vocabulary that is still unfamiliar to some and unappreciated by many. Goldberg’s often repeated statement, "for the first time in the history of the world we can build whatever we can think," seems to have been the beacon guiding his career. While many projects have been fully realized, some others have been only partially implemented, but all have grown out of Goldberg’s unique philosophical, aesthetic, and technological thinking.From the preface to the Oral History of Bertrand Goldberg [more inside]
The ABC of Architects. A bouncy animation of 26 well-known buildings.
With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else. December 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of Invisible Cities -- the sublime metaphysical travelogue by author-journalist Italo Calvino. In a series of pensive dialogues with jaded emperor Kublai Khan, the explorer Marco Polo describes a meandering litany of visionary and impossible places, dozens of surreal, fantastical cities, each poetically reifying ideas vital to language, philosophy, and the human spirit. This gracefully written love letter to urban life has inspired countless tributes, but it's just the most accessible of Calvino's fascinating literary catalogue. Look inside for a closer look at his most remarkable works, links to English translations of his magical prose, and collections of artistic interpretations from around the web -- including this treasure trove of essays, excerpts, articles, and recommended reading. [more inside]
The Manzana de la Discordia is a block in Barcelona's Eixample district on Passeig de Gracia, between d'Arago and Consell de Cent. It is home to four buildings of the Modernisme style by four very different architects: (some pages in Spanish or Catalan) [more inside]
The Church of La Sagrada Familia is perhaps the most famous under-construction Catholic church in the world. Started in 1882 under the direction of Francisco de Paula del Villar, Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi took over construction in 1883, after which it became his life's work. La Sagrada Familia was dedicated in 2010, after the installation of the roof, and is scheduled to be complete in 2028 Let's look around: [more inside]
Tweedland has some interesting stories and characters. Here's two to get you started:
Robert de Montesquiou - "Tall, black-haired, rouged, Kaiser-moustached, he cackled and screamed in weird attitudes, giggling in high soprano, hiding his little black teeth behind an exquisitely gloved hand – the poseur absolute. He was said to have slept with Sarah Bernhardt and vomited for a week afterwards."
Lord Berners - "As a child, having heard that if you throw a dog into water it will learn how to swim, he threw his mother's canine companion out of the window on the grounds that if one applies the same logic it should learn how to fly. (The dog was unharmed, and he was "thrashed" by his mother.)"
Brutal Baroque: An Ode To Midcentury Modern Churches: French photographer Fabrice Fouillet traveled across Europe photographing some of the most important examples of postwar churches, creating a catalogue of the spaces called Corpus Christi. [more inside]
A tale of two shipping containers in photos.
Word from Rio de Janeiro is that Oscar Niemeyer, celebrated Brazilian Modernist architect, co-architect of the UN headquarters in New York, and designer of its capital city, Brasília, has passed on at the age of 104. The NYTimes obituary has links to his famous buildings in Brazil, but a more comprehensive link of Brasília can be seen at a 50th anniversary retrospective at Wallpaper.
Historically, archaeologists have largely ignored acoustical science as a tool for archaeological discovery. This is changing with the advent of acoustic archaeology. “Could the Maya have intentionally coded the sound of their sacred bird into the pyramid architecture? I think it is possible.” Hear it for yourself in this video. While this is a pretty astounding feat of architectural engineering, it’s by no means the only example of archaeoacoustics that can be found at Chichen Itza, amongst the mayan people, or throughout the many other cultures who’ve built structures that integrate unique auditory phenomenon to stimulate the senses. [previously]/[previously] [more inside]
This series of experiments explores the use fresh animal blood as the basis for a building material.
No one expected the force of the tempest that hit the New York Public Library in late 2011—not its new president, Anthony Marx, and maybe not even the literary lions up in arms over plans for an ambitious, $300 million renovation. Will the “palace of culture” on Fifth Avenue become a glorified Starbucks, as some fear? Interviewing all sides, Paul Goldberger walks the controversy back to its flash point: the nature of the library’s 21st-century mission and the values at the center of the Norman Foster–designed project. - Paul Goldberger, Firestorm on Fifth Avenue
CHRISTOPHER ALEXANDER: The thing that strikes me about your friend's building -- if I understood you correctly -- is that somehow in some intentional way it is not harmonious. That is, Moneo intentionally wants to produce an effect of disharmony. Maybe even of incongruity.A debate — old, but still relevant — between architects Christopher Alexander (whose new book The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth depicts the struggle between his worldview and Eisenman's at length) and Peter Eisenman (who here discusses his frustrations with liberals and the avant-garde).
PETER EISENMAN: That is correct.
CHRISTOPHER ALEXANDER: I find that incomprehensible. I find it very irresponsible. I find it nutty. I feel sorry for the man. I also feel incredibly angry because he is fucking up the world.
“I’m not interested in living in a fantasy world. All my work is still meant to evoke real architectural spaces. But what interests me is what the world would be like if we were free of conventional limits. Maybe I can show what could happen if we lived by a different set of rules.” Lebbeus Woods, a brilliant, visionary architect, has passed away. [more inside]
If you are Rackspace, then your corporate headquarters are located inside a dead shopping mall in a suburb of San Antonio. (SLNYT)
Here’re some photographs of outstanding structures & buildings:
The Salk Institute in San Diego
400 Monte Vista Avenue, Mill Valley CA
Light Cathedral, Ghent Belgium
The Buzludzha monument ... [more inside]
The Salk Institute in San Diego
400 Monte Vista Avenue, Mill Valley CA
Light Cathedral, Ghent Belgium
The Buzludzha monument ... [more inside]
A 280-page history of Athens (en) with a focus on architecture and planning. 1930s buildings of Athens photothread with multiple pages (selection). Athens Highrises (en). Ambelokipi. Piraeus and more Piraeus. Bits and bobs. The Athens forum.
Sometimes walls, windows, door and a roof just isn't enough. Why be boxed in by four walls when you can make your home or business look just like your favorite critter? Here's a collection of animal-shaped buildings from around the world, including the trailblazing Lucy the Elephant whose creator got a patent in the 1880s giving him exclusive rights to make animal-shaped buildings up until the turn of the century. [more inside]
The SCI-Arc Media Archive features 600+ video lectures on modern architecture and design, with an emphasis on Southern California.
'At 123,000 square feet, the new Main Library may very well be the largest single floor public library in the nation.'
The McAllen, TX Public Library won a 'Best-Of-Category' award in Interior Design for its new layout. It's in an abandoned Wal-Mart. [more inside]
The World's most beautiful McDonalds may very well be located in Budapest, Hungary. With vaulted, coffered ceilings wrought-iron scrollwork and modern chairs, it's a lovely place to order a cheeseburger. [more inside]
Fantastic Norway has announced details of their New Utøya project, ‘a strategy for re-establishing a political camp on the island of Utøya. "Our ambition has been to reflect and reinforce values such as commitment, solidarity, diversity and democracy, both through form and function. In short we have done this by establishing a small village with small streets, belfry and a town square on the very top of the island. The village consists of many small units that together ad up to a bigger community: A symbol of unity and diversity." say the project leaders, Erlend Blakstad Haffner and Håkon Matre Aasarød, who won the Iakov Chernikov International Prize in 2010. The 22 July Fund of the Worker's Youth League raised $68 million to build the memorial to the 69 victims of Anders Behring Breivik's attack on the island. Via Things Magazine.
Master Builder Uncovers Striking Similarities In Indian and Incan / Mayan Sacred Structures:- It is Sthapati's theory that Mayan, the creator of Indian architecture, originated from the Mayan people of Central America. In Indian history, Mayan appears several times, most significantly as the author of Mayamatam, "Concept of Mayan" which is a Vastu Shastra, a text on art, architecture and town planning. The traditional date for this work is 8,000bce. Mayan appears in the Ramayana (2000bce) and again in the Mahabharata (1400bce) - in the latter he designs a magnificent palace for the Pandava brothers. Mayan is also mentioned in Silappathikaram, an ancient Tamil scripture, and is author of Surya Siddhanta, one of the most ancient Hindu treatises on astronomy. (Original ca. 1995) [more inside]
One of the city's first high rises, Philadelphia's Lorraine Apartments were designed by flamboyant architect Willis G. Hale in 1892. In 1948, the building was sold to Father Divine, leader of the International Peace Mission Movement and became The Divine Lorraine Hotel. [more inside]
Computer modeling, along with new materials, has done wonders for contemporary architecture, allowing practitioners to render seemingly organic shapes from inert materials. Mimicking biological shapes could soon cross a threshold: behold Shahira Hammad's proposal for the Westbahnhof train station. Again, before and after.
WIRED has been running a fascinating series: Olympic Physics: Can Runners Benefit From Drafting?, Scoring the Decathlon, New [Swimming] Platform Is No Chip Off The Old Block [more inside]
"Peter Aaslestad is both a free-lance photographer and an internationally recognized historic preservation consultant specializing in the use of architectural photogrammetry to document existing buildings." [more inside]
English churches can be very picturesque. People have very strong opinions about their favorites. They can be colorfully decorated with painted walls,(previously) or filled with strange animals carvings! There is a complex architectural terminology devoted to the details of their construction. [more inside]
Since 2009, a thread on the Skyscraper Page forums has been dedicated to trawling for old photos and stories of Los Angeles, mostly from the LA Public Library and USC Archives. Thousands of posts have accumulated into a fascinating portrait of the city. [more inside]