After 12 years of anticipation, the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere is ready for its close-up. How 10,000 workers lifted 104 floors, gave new life to an international symbol and created one spectacular view.
The legendary Bell Labs Complex in Holmdel, New Jersey was designed by Eero Saarinen and is a gargantuan example of modernist architecture. Though it was shuttered in 2007, there are plans to revitalize it into a mixed use commercial area. However those plans eventually play out, it's fun to have a look at the place both then and now. As a bonus, feast your eyes on a pair of back-to-back videos that first show the construction and opening of the facility in 1962 and then (starting at the 2:35 mark in the second video link) a commemoration of the facility's 20th anniversary in 1982 (Part one, Part two, Part three).
V-Day cards for planners, architects, urban designers, landscape architects, transportation engineers, and those who love them.
Walking City - "Referencing the utopian visions of 1960’s architecture practice Archigram, Walking City is a slowly evolving video sculpture. The language of materials and patterns seen in radical architecture transform as the nomadic city walks endlessly, adapting to the environments she encounters."
Is it possible to create a prison management game without trivializing or misrepresenting the issue of mass incarceration? So begins a critique by Paolo Pedercini, developer of "games addressing issues of social and environmental justice," of Introversion Software's upcoming game Prison Architect, currently in still in development but available as an early access beta. Prison Architect's producer, Mark Morris, and its designer, Chris Delay, respond in a lengthy youtube video. [more inside]
Architecture of Doom is a Tumblr that collects images of "bleak/ gloomy/ forbidding/ desolate/ unfortunate and totalitarian architecture" from sources like Fuck Yeah Brutalism and Failed Architecture. The latter bills itself as a "research platform that aims to open up new perspectives on urban failure – from what it’s perceived to be, what’s actually happening and how it’s represented to the public" and offers some interesting essays and case studies – for example: Hotel Jugoslavija: Spacio-temporal Mosaics of Memorabilia, Function Follows Form: How Berlin Turns Horror Into Beauty, and The Poetry of Decay.
Shigeru Ban: ‘People’s architect’ combines permanence and paper"
Generally speaking, an architect’s style is defined by particular forms or shapes. There’s Frank Lloyd Wright’s prominent horizontal lines, for instance; Le Corbusier’s simple white boxes; or, more recently, the deliberately abstract masses of Frank Gehry — of Guggenheim Bilbao fame. But in the view of Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, such formal elements are ultimately little more than reflections of current trends — in the first two cases above, Modernism, and in the third, “blobbism,” or the recent taste for irregular shapes made possible by computer-aided design. According to Ban, the only way for architects to keep their work free from the influence of such transient fashions is to come up with new ways to actually build things — new materials, for example, or new approaches to structural engineering. His own answer? Paper — or, to be more precise, cardboard tubes.[more inside]
The Museum of Modern Art’s announcement on January 8 that it will indeed tear down Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s American Folk Art Museum building of 1997–2001 felt like hearing that a relative or close friend had finally succumbed to an incurable disease. Even though the outcome had been expected, it was a shock nonetheless."MoMA Loses Face": Martin Filler decries the museum's expansion plan in the NYRB. [more inside]
What's inside this mystery house in North Carolina? It looks like an average 1970's home with "a landscaped yard, white columns, and green shutters." But look closer and you'll notice there's no driveway, no walkway leading up to the front door, and no mailbox. The truth behind this mysterious building in Raleigh, NC might surprise you.
At first glance, you might think The Incredibles is just a fun superhero movie. But remove the capes and tights and you're left with an in-depth architectural narrative with its own beginning and end.
Ernest Flagg (1857-1947) was an architect in the United States, who worked mostly in New York, and in 1904 had a radical plan to remake Central Park. New York's Central Park That Never Was [more inside]
The Douglas Fir Plywood Association presents Second Homes for Leisure Living . . . here are 18 new leisure-time homes, built with fir plywood for comfort and economy. [via]
Beijing and Amsterdam-based studio NEXT architects have won first place in a bridge design competition for Meixi Lake near the Changsha capital in Hunan, China. The shape was inspired by the Mobius Strip and Chinese knotting.
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat ruled today that its Height Committee has determined that One World Trade Center’s height to its architectural top is 1,776 feet (541.3 meters), which will eclipse Chicago's Sears "Willis Tower" as the tallest building in the western hemisphere. [more inside]
You live in Haight Ashbury. You'd love to install a garage in your historic home but there are architectural restrictions against doing so. Well, with the right group of guys, there are ways around it.
Containership’s Structure Visually Flexing in Heavy Seas — Underdeck time lapse video (16x normal speed) of the 294 meter MOL Excellence as she rolls, pitches, and yaws during a voyage from Tokyo to Los Angeles. Large ships are designed to flex while underway, but when seas get rough they can break like the MOL Comfort on June 17, 2013.
A Short History of the Highrise A four-part NYT interactive documentary by Katrina Cizek on apartment buildings through the ages, part of the National Film Board of Canada's HIGHRISE project (Previously).
Coalfields of the Appalachian Mountains. An encyclopedia of coal towns.
In 1999, officials in Vienna, Austria, asked residents of the city's ninth district how often and why they used public transportation. "Most of the men filled out the questionnaire in less than five minutes," says Ursula Bauer, one of the city administrators tasked with carrying out the survey. "But the women couldn't stop writing."
Washington DC has had restrictions on the heights of its buildings since the first year of its existence, thanks to its namesake -- George Washington himself laid down a limit of 40 feet in 1791 (and then suspended the limits, as did several of his successors). The limits waxed and waned over the next century or so until the U.S. Congress, in its capacity as the over-government of America's capital, laid down the Heights of Buildings Act of 1910, setting the upper limit of any building at 130 feet. Now that the city is gaining population again (for the first time since the 1950s), developers and officials may be looking to release the federal height restrictions and give control to the city government (which already has zoning limits in various areas that further restrict heights). The WaPo provides a visualization demonstrating what the skyline might look like if the limits are raised, or even if areas filled out to the current Height Act maximums.
"The owners of the 37-story tower known as the Walkie Talkie in the City of London financial district are investigating a light beam cast by the building that’s so intense it melted parked cars." Jaguar owner Martin Lindsay was none too pleased by this evidence of the laws of physics. And architect Rafael Vinolyapparently hasn't learned from his previous hair-scorching design error in Las Vegas.
Buildings in the Netherlands by year of construction is a map worth getting lost in.
Unlike its original namesake or famous sibling, the new Eastern span of the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge opens with little fanfare on Labor Day. Even governor Jerry Brown, once mayor of Oakland and the political force  behind its groundbreaking signature design, is skipping the party.
For Anting New City, China asked for an idealized theme park of a Teutonic village, but instead they got a modern Bauhaus inspired ghost town. Only about 1,000 people live in this Shanghai mega-suburb that was built to be home to 50,000 residents. (via)
"But Freud had a second fear: a fear of Rome's layers. In formal treatises, he compared the psyche to an ancient city, with many layers of architecture built one on top of another, each replacing the last, but with the old structures still present underneath. In private writings he phrased this more personally, that he was terrified of ever visiting Rome because he was terrified of the idea of all the layers and layers and layers of destroyed structures hidden under the surface, at the same time present and absent, visible and invisible. He was, in a very deep way, absolutely right." [more inside]
Syd Mead's Stanford Torus Illustrations for National Geographic got him the job, 40 years later, of designing Elysium for Neill Blomkamp. Mead calls the unique visual effect of these interior drawings, in which the horizon wraps up and over the viewpoint, 'inverse perspective'. This effect, and others like it, have been explored in the concept art for large, rotating, space habitats at least since the early 1960s. [more inside]
Shigeru Ban is a Japanese architect whose work includes 'temporary' structures (YT) made from cardboard tubes. His work blurs the distinction between temporary and permanent, and includes designs that focus on cost effective and liveable shelter after natural and human disasters. Now, two-and-a-half years after the Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake destroyed the city's cathedral, the Cardboard Cathedral has been opened. [See also: 1 2 ]
Using "under-the-radar" auctions, the Petersen Museum in L.A. is selling much of its classic car collection to finance an exterior renovation.
Francis Ching is professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Washington who keeps a blog of his city-focused sketches. Discussion varies from thinking about construction and layout to materials and focus when drawing scenes.
Forensic Topology. "In his 2003 memoir Where The Money Is: True Tales from the Bank Robbery Capital of the World, co-authored with Gordon Dillow, retired Special Agent William J. Rehder briefly suggests that the design of a city itself leads to and even instigates certain crimes—in Los Angeles’s case, bank robberies. Rehder points out that this sprawling metropolis of freeways and its innumerable nondescript banks is, in a sense, a bank robber’s paradise. Crime, we could say, is just another way to use the city."
The American Institute of Architects’ Code of Ethics [pdf] states that “Members should uphold human rights in all their professional endeavors." Raphael Sperry, president of Architects, Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR), wants to amend the code further so it reads "Members shall not design spaces intended for execution or for torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, including prolonged solitary confinement." From Architect Magazine: “Should Architects Design Prisons?” [more inside]
"Polish architect Jakub Szczesny claims to have built the world's narrowest house, just 122 centimetres across at its widest point."
Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes runs from 15 June - 23 September 2013 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. It is the museum's first comprehensive exhibition on Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, 1887-1965), and is billed as "the largest exhibition ever produced in New York of [his] protean and influential oeuvre"; in 2014 it will travel to Madrid and Barcelona. Exhibition curator Jean-Louis Cohen, an architectural historian at New York University, gave a tour of the exhibition as part of the "Le Corbusier/New York" symposium at the Center for Architecture on June 8. World-Architects was in attendance, so here we present some insight into the exhibition, accompanied by highlights from the symposium at right.
Building conversions can be a tricky business, but it's especially so when there is a fifty ton steel vault built into the structure. So what can you do with that old bank? Well, restaurants are popular. So are nightclubs and bars. Really big banks seem to be a natural for a hotel conversion (here's one in progress). And if all that sounds too fancy, well, how about a Walgreens? [more inside]
The Accumulation Of Ruin Space
In Between The Ruins On The Edge Of The Salton Sea (Salton Sea, previously)
Inhabiting Construction [more inside]
In Between The Ruins On The Edge Of The Salton Sea (Salton Sea, previously)
Inhabiting Construction [more inside]
One of the most striking features about daily life in China is how much of what one encounters has been appropriated from elsewhere. It’s not just the fake iPhones or luxury watches . . . . Above all are the physical spaces. . . . New architecture, when it is notable, is nearly always by foreigners or copying foreign styles, a tendency that has led Western architects to flood into China, often with second-rate projects for sale. . . . These are not just individual buildings but entire streetscapes, with cobblestone alleys, faux churches (often used as concert halls), towers, and landscaping designed to reproduce the feel of European and North American cities. The city of Huizhou features a replica of the Austrian village of Hallstatt; while Hangzhou, a city famous for its own waterfront culture, now includes a “Venice Water Town” that has Italian-style buildings, canals, and gondolas. Other cities in China now feature Dutch colonial-style townhouses, German row houses, and Spanish-style developments.Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China from the NYRB blog.
Established in 1814 by founding curator, the Danish botanist Nathanial Wallich at the premises of The Asiatic Society, the Indian Museum of Calcutta* is the oldest museum in Asia and the 9th oldest in the world. Referred to as a "museum of museums", considered outdated and obsolete, its Victorian Era majesty dimmed by modernization, the grande dame of Indian history still manages evoke paeans to its otherworldly wonders:
With collections to rival the Smithsonian and the British Museums, it isn't just a storehouse of countless artifacts from the world over. The building seems to be a tiny world, an island in the midst of a busy street. The tall gates with their spikes are the doorways to different recorded ages. All those entering through the high steps are travelers in a time machine. But this is not all that Kolkata's Jadughar or "House of Magic" has to offer. Its jadu lies in the magic with which it houses portions of man's past. The high ceilings seem to stretch to infinity. Amid the silence there is vibrant life. Showcasing essential elements of different cultures, the dark, often dank, interiors show up the objects more sharply. Gradually the eyes grow used to the absence of light; the smell seems natural. It is this ambience that gently draws you in and makes the textbook history we are used to, a tangible living reality.It remains a wonderful time-warp with plenty of mangy-looking stuffed animals, fish and birds, together with fossils so beloved of Victorian collectors, as well as fascinating Indian friezes, bas-reliefs and stone carvings and art.
"My name is Chris Murray, and I'm an artist and I'm very talented... And I’m a dairy stocker at the Edge of the Woods organic grocery store in New Haven, Connecticut." [more inside]
Paolo Soleri Is The True Legend Of The Arizona Architecture Scene. print version. Soleri passed away last month at the age of 93. He is best known for the arcology, Arcosanti, in the Arizona desert. Remembering Life in Arcosanti, Paolo Soleri’s Futuristic Desert Utopia [more inside]
Only a lucky few MeFites have the ability to view vaudevillian, commercial actor, inventor, and photographer George Mann's gorgeous vintage Kodachrome survey of Los Angeles coffee shops in 3-D as he intended.
Geoff Carter's radical view of building in the ancient world, especially the archaeology of the lost timber built environment of Southern England. It is new research into of prehistory of architectureWith the ultimate conclusion that Stonehenge is the remains of a roofed shelter. [more inside]
abandonedography.com is a seemingly-endless photo collection of abandoned places and things. Explore random sites, check out the favorites, see everything at once in the archive, or submit your own.
Endbahnhof, a collection of photographs of every U-Bahn station in Berlin, organised by line and showing the variety of architectural styles in the system. There is an interview with the photographer, Kate Seabrook, here.
For the first time in over a century, Cooper Union announces that it will begin to charge undergraduate students tuition.
240 year-old Menokin House was home to one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The Menokin Foundation would like to restore it, but all that's left these days are two broken walls and a pair of crumbling chimneys. Even the head of the foundation admits, "Virginia needs another house museum like it needs a hole in the head." So how to honor the home's owner colonial statesman Francis Lightfoot Lee while still trying to present something novel and worth seeing? The Foundation's answer: rebuild the structure, just as it was, but replacing all of its missing components with structural glass.
Unless you have a camera, of course, in which case there are some amazing shots.