A Daily Dose of Architecture

  • Archidose, 1999–2024
    by John Hill on January 15, 2024 at 1:00 PM

    After 25 years of running this blog under various names — all of which can be lumped under the "Archidose" monicker — I've decided to shut it down, moving this hobby, this labor of love, to Substack, which I have used since mid-2021 and where I will continue to send out weekly newsletters focused on architecture books, but in a new format. (You can subscribe to my newsletter here or on Substack.) So, this isn't "goodbye" as much as it is "see you in your inbox." Grayer and hopefully wiser: me, John Hill, from the mid-1990s until todayBesides thinking something along the lines of, Wait! 25 years?, you also may be wondering, Why stop now? The now, January 2024, is because I happen to like fives, it turns out — so much so that every significant thing related to this blog has occurred in five five-year intervals (this is by chance, not by design, I swear):1999: Started A Weekly Dose of Architecture (with a post about the Kimbell Art Museum)2004: Started A Daily Dose of Architecture (with a post about the World Trade Center Memorial Design Competition)2009: Started working with World-Architects and got my first book deal (I was out of work at the time, so the writing that I began doing as a hobby in 1999 turned into my primary focus as of 2009)2014: Stopped A Weekly Dose of Architecture (complete with five bullet points on why)2019: Started A Daily Dose of Architecture Books (five more bullet points!) 2024: Stopped ArchidoseIn terms of the why, I've thought of that question a little bit, and outside of it just feeling like it's the right time, here are a handful (again!) of reasons:Very few people read blogs anymore (true, that was also the case 10 years ago, but I kept at it until now, as I liked doing it)More people subscribe, open, and read my Substack newsletter than those who click on the links to this blog or find their way here in some other manner to read my posts (the logical step, therefore, is to put everything in the newsletter...but not behind a paywall, mind you)Blogger is outdated, with infrequent updates; its themes/templates are buggy; adding content is frustrating (this list could go on near endlessly)Substack’s formatting is much easier and more elegant than Blogger (see next bullet point, too)This blog takes up too much of my time, time I'd rather spend on other things (the new newsletter will be easier to produce than this blog, but hopefully it will be helpful and therefore worth people's time in opening it and reading it)But stopping this blog also makes me wonder what it amounted to, if anything. Is there enough good content on this blog to put some of it on paper, to make it a more permanent thing? Or is the content simply of its time and therefore best to leave here in the digital ether? I don't know, to be honest, and when I dig back through some of the posts I veer from thinking the things I wrote were really good to thinking they were garbage ... okay, not quite garbage, but not special enough for a bound volume tucked away in a library somewhere. The truth is somewhere between these poles, I reckon, so hopefully I'll come up with a way to make sense of this side project, this 25-year undertaking, and turn what I did into something else even more rewarding.

  • Reading About Drawings
    by John Hill on January 8, 2024 at 1:00 PM

    Instead of digesting a new book or diving into a novel, something others do often but I do rarely, I spent my holiday break reading a five-year-old book about a trio of intertwined topics I'm particularly fond of: drawings, exhibitions, and New York City.Drawing on Architecture: The Object of Lines, 1970-1990 by Jordan Kauffman, published by The MIT Press, 2018 (Amazon / AbeBooks)As the book's subtitle indicates, Drawing Architecture covers a two-decade period — the 1970s and 80s — when architectural drawings produced by contemporary architects increased in popularity: with architects, with museums, and with the wider art market. These decades, especially the 70s, are known for its so-called "Paper Architecture," which arose due to architects encountering a glut of commissions and offsetting it through theorizing and exploring ideas on paper. Although Jordan Kauffman, a researcher at MIT when he wrote the book and now an assistant professor at the University of Nottingham, does not restrict himself to New York City, much of the book takes place there, given the city's role as the epicenter of the art market, the numerous art galleries holding exhibitions of architectural drawings, and the willingness of local architects to promote themselves through those galleries. These display spaces included Judith York Newman's Spaced: Gallery of Architecture, the Leo Castelli Gallery, and the Max Protetch Gallery. There were also a number of museums and other institutions in and beyond NYC — CCA, DAM, MoMA, Getty — that increased their holdings of architectural drawings, in turn increasing value of such drawings until around 1990. Then, as architects found themselves with more projects and computers entered the realm of architectural drawing, the two-decade trend came to an end.I missed Kauffman's book when it was released in 2018, though I have to disagree with George Baird's review published in Architectural Record at that time. He finds the thorough documentation and explanation of this important moment in recent history "not completely satisfactory," due to the inability to grasp the individual drawings in the numerous photographs of gallery shows reproduced in black and white, as in the one below. Baird did appreciate the reproductions of individual drawings that are almost as numerous as the gallery photographs, but not enough to give the book a ringing endorsement. I'd counter that, since the book is about the galleries and institutions marketing and collecting the drawings rather than the drawings themselves, the illustrations selected for the book are ideal. They capture the seminal shows that led to the phenomenon that is the subject of Kauffman's book; without them, readers would be frustrated and have to rely on the author's extensive descriptions of the displays — descriptions that are important for the historical record but stultifying for narrative flow. (Kauffman also separately lists each piece in each seminal show, complete with values ascribed to the individual drawings.) Another review, by Paul Emmons at EAHN, is more gracious toward the book, calling it "a primary resource on the history of the commodification of architectural drawing."Installation view of "Architecture I" exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery, 1977 (Image source)Being a scourer of used bookstores and having a strong interest in the period explored by Kauffman, many of the museum exhibitions and gallery shows described in the book as "seminal" were known to me before I cracked it open last month. For example, the three "Architecture" shows held at Leo Castelli Gallery every three years between 1977 and 1983 were each accompanied by catalogs: the first one is short, unpaginated and stapled, but the second and third were published by Rizzoli, the publisher of choice for American postmodern architecture in the 1980s. Even though I'm familiar with these shows — and others, including Arthur Drexler's The Architecture of the École des Beaux-Arts (MoMA, 1975) and The Drawings of Antonio Gaudi by George R. Collins (The Drawing Center, 1977) — through their printed companions, Kauffman is able to elucidate considerably more information about the exhibitions themselves as well as how they relate to the publications. Architecture I, the catalog, would lead us now to assume that just a few drawings were in Architecture I, the exhibition, for each of the seven included architects (Raimund Abraham, Emilio Ambasz, Richard Meier, Walter Pichler, Aldo Rossi, James Stirling, Venturi and Rauch), but Kauffman reveals how misleading this assumption is, by describing the circumstances of the show, illustrating it through gallery shots like the one above, and exhaustively documenting what was on display. In this sense, Emmons' description of the book as "a primary resource" is spot-on.Covers of catalogs for three "Architecture" series exhibitions — "Architecture I," "Houses for Sale," "Follies" — held at Leo Castelli Gallery in 1977, 1980, and 1983, respectivelyWhile I found it rewarding to learn more about these and other exhibitions I had previous awareness of, Drawing on Architecture was not short on revealing new information to me. Take, for instance, Spaced, the gallery run by Judith York Newman, a name considerably less familiar all these years later than Castelli, Protetch, and the like. The first iteration of Spaced was located on the Upper West Side between 1975 and 1983, making it the first gallery in the city to display architectural drawings and therefore leading the way toward other art galleries doing the same. Although Newman was integral to the reception of architectural drawings in the period, as were Martha Beck, Barbara Jakobsen (aka B.J. Archer), and Pierre Apraxine, their names border on the forgotten, at least relative to the more famous gallerists mentioned above as well as Phyllis Lambert (CCA), Heinrich Klotz (DAM), and Kristin Feireiss (Aedes) outside of NYC. Drawing on Architecture therefore serves, in its focus, to give them much-deserved attention.The shift of architectural drawings toward art and as architecture in and of themselves can also be found in Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarsky and the Architectural Association, the exhibition and companion publication from 2015 about the drawings collected by Boyarsky when he was head of the AA in London. Although Boyarsky's two-decade directorship overlapped almost exactly with Kauffman's book, he is only touched on briefly. Instead, we learn a good deal about fellow Londoner Ben Weinreb, "the most eminent antiquarian bookseller of architectural books, prints, and drawings," per Kauffman. Not only did he buy and sell drawings (many of them to Lambert at the CCA), making him relevant to Drawing on Architecture, he produced 58 catalogs over the course of four decades: catalogs that "set new standards for cataloging and connoisseurship," in Kauffman's words. The value of Drawing on Architecture is in discovering about Weinreb and other lesser-known players, carried out through exhaustive research and scholarship, but it is also found in the vivid portrait of 1970s/80s New York, when the architecture and art scenes overlapped and converged, unlike any times before then or since.

  • Favorite Books of 2023
    by John Hill on December 18, 2023 at 1:00 PM

    For the fifteenth and last time on this blog, I'm highlighting my favorite books of the year, selected from the many books I reviewed or featured as "Book Briefs" on this blog, and the few titles that I reviewed at World-Architects. From the 86 books I featured in 2023, 15 (or 16) books made my list of favorites, organized into three categories: history, monographs, and exhibitions (the books are alphabetical by title within each category). As in previous years, not all of these books were published this year, given how slow I can be at digesting books and my departure from the annual spring/fall cycle of publishers. This last aspect, the timing of the books I draw attention to, will change next year, as I shutter this blog and transition it into something else — details on that will be announced next month. Until then, warm holiday wishes! 6 HISTORY BOOKS:Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934-1986: How Technology, Politics, Finance, and Race Reshaped the City (2023) by Thomas Leslie, published by University of Illinois Press — Thomas Leslie's followup to his 1871-1934 history of Chicago skyscrapers is even better than its predecessor, not only because the buildings covered are by Mies and other modern architects, but because the research is meticulous and the stories are really interesting. The Japanese House Since 1945 (2023) by Naomi Pollock, published by Thames & Hudson — The latest by Naomi Pollock, who has written numerous books on Japanese houses, benefits from a wide-ranging chronological presentation of nearly one hundred such houses but also the input of the architects and, most valuably, the people who lived in them.Lost in America: Photographing the Last Days of our Architectural Treasures (2023) by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, published by CityFiles Press — In the right hands, archives can yield insights, themes, and presentations that are educational and unexpected, as in photo historians Richard Cahan and Michael Williams digging through the 90-year-old HABS archive at the Library of Congress to show Americans the wonders they have lost over that time.Mies van der Rohe: The Collective Housing Collection (2022) by Fernando Casqueiro, published by a+t architecture publishers — As I pointed out in my review at World-Architects, this book has some flaws in its graphics and text, but they don't detract from the comprehensive presentation of the apartment buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe in the middle of last century.Resisting Postmodern Architecture: Critical Regionalism before Globalisation (2022) by Stylianos Giamarelos, published by UCL Press — Architects who appreciate Kenneth Frampton's theorizing of critical regionalism starting in the 1980s should read Stylianos Giamarelos's scholarly book that explores and recenters the formulation of critical regionalism by Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre ahead of Frampton.Urban Design in the 20th Century: A History (2021) by Tom Avermaete and Janina Gosseye, published by gta Verlag — This carefully organized, beautifully presented, abundantly illustrated, and thoroughly cited history of urban design in the 20th century came out of a course taught by the authors at ETH Zurich, but it really should be a standard textbook for other schools, too.5 (OR 6) MONOGRAPHS:A Book on Making a Petite École (2023) edited by Michael Meredith, Hilary Sample and MOS, published by Actar Publishers — There are very few practicing architects who produce books as an extension of their practice, and even fewer who do that extremely well. MOS is one of them and this is their latest. (Curiously, I saw an even larger, atlas-sized version of this book on display at Harvard GSD's Frances Loeb Library as part of The Book in the Age of ... exhibition in September.)Caruso St John Collected Works: Volume 1 1990–2005 (2022) and Caruso St John Collected Works: Volume 2 2000–2012 (2023), published by MACK — Released a year apart (will volume three follow a year from now?) but reviewed on my blog in February and December of this year, this monograph series on Caruso St John is stunning: beautifully made but also expressive of the words and images that inspire Adam Caruso and Peter St John in their quiet, poetic creations.Living in Monnikenheide: Care, Inclusion and Architecture (2023) edited by Gideon Boie, published by Flanders Architecture Institute — This book is about Monnikenheide, a residential care center for people with mental disabilities in Zoersel, Belgium, and the numerous buildings that have been designed there since the early 1970s. The book is beautifully produced and reflective of the place's myriad qualities.M³: modeled works [archive] 1972-2022 (2023) by Thom Mayne and Morphosis, published by Rizzoli — Fifty years of Thom Mayne and Morphosis are presented in more than 1,000 pages: a brick of a book centered on the models that the studio is known for, from the early models in wood and resin to the 3D-printed models they still produce.Speculative Coolness: Architecture, Media, the Real, and the Virtual (2023) by Bryan Cantley, edited by Peter J. Baldwin, published by Routledge — Architects my age will have flashbacks to Neil Denari, Peter Pfau, Wes Jones, and other machine-minded architects from the nineties when perusing Bryan Cantley's image-saturated monograph. The name says it all: page after page of speculative coolness, vague projects impeccably delineated.4 BOOKS FROM EXHIBITIONS:Another Breach in the Wall: The City as a Common Good (2022) by Davide Tommaso Ferrando and Daniel Tudor Munteanu, published by Solitude Project — This two-volume book serves as the catalog to Another Breach in the Wall, the main exhibition of the Beta 2022 Timișoara Architecture Biennial in Romania, which focused on projects and actions in cities that subvert the norm. The book does that to some degree, too, with a foldout map serving as a wrapper for the two paperbacks and an elastic band holding the whole together.An Atlas of Es Devlin (2023) by Es Devlin, edited by Andrea Lipps, published by Thames & Hudson — It's hard to believe it, but the first monographic exhibition and monographic book on Es Devlin, the artist/designer behind sets for Adele, Beyoncé, and Cyrus (comma Miley) arrived this year, nearly thirty years after she launched her career in London. This big, expensive book is more artist book that exhibition catalog, and a highly revealing look at her creative process.Bernd & Hilla Becher (2022) by Jeff L. Rosenheim, published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art — A "captivating tribute to the renowned German photographic duo known for their systematic documentation of industrial architecture," according to ChatGPT, but in my words it is simply a "beautifully produced catalog" of the 2022 exhibition at The Met. For a duo who treated books as an integral extension of their photography, this catalog of their work is equally valuable.Yasmeen Lari: Architecture for the Future (2023) edited by Angelika Fitz, Elke Krasny, Marvi Mazhar and Architekturzentrum Wien, published by MIT Press — In early March, an exhibition on architect Yasmeen Lari, usually described as Pakistan's first woman architect, opened at Az W, and the following month the Oxford-trained architect won the Royal Gold Medal, RIBA's highest honor. Needless to say, the major exhibition and honor were justified for an architect who pivoted from commercial buildings for companies with money to houses and other zero-carbon buildings for the poor. The book is thorough, with essays and interviews accompany the numerous projects.

  • Three Monographs
    by John Hill on December 11, 2023 at 1:00 PM

    Just as last week's Places in Time III post featured a trio of books that were initially listed in my earlier holiday gift books post, two of the three monographs featured here were also on that list. As happened when I wrote this post, each book begins with a rhetorical question pertaining to monographs.This post features the last reviews of the year. A week from today I'll have a year-capping roundup of my favorites from the many books featured on this blog in 2023.An Atlas of Es Devlin by Es Devlin, edited by Andrea Lipps, published by Thames & Hudson, December 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)Is it possible to love a monograph on a designer whose work you're largely indifferent to? Es Devlin is a phenomenally famous artist and designer who is best known for creating the sets and backdrops for U2, Adele, Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé, and other big-name musicians, and for such events as the 2022 Super Bowl halftime show. Her London studio's designs for these and other performances, such as plays on London's West End, are provocative and attention-getting, befitting their spectacle nature ... but they're just not my thing, they don't strike my fancy. Her immersive installations, on the other hand, though I've yet to experience one, resonate more strongly with me; these include Forest of Us in Miami and Memory Palace from 2019. And while I like the design and the labyrinthine layout of the monographic exhibition now at the Cooper Hewitt that is also called An Atlas of Es Devlin, the appeal of her work to me is just fractional: yes on installations, no on the rest.But reviewing a book or exhibition or some other creation is not about taste and personal preference; it's about judging the thing on its own merits and determining how good or bad it is relative to similar creations. For books, monographs are a genre in and of themselves, and some are better than others; some are notable for being hybrids. Though big, expensive, and with a print run in (I imagine) the tens of thousands, An Atlas of Es Devlin — the first Es Devlin monograph — is as much an artists' book as it is a monograph and exhibition catalog. The spreads displayed here give a taste of the way Devlin, editor Andrea Lipps, who also curated the Cooper Hewitt exhibition, and book designer Daniel Devlin veered from the typical construction of a book — they cut circles in the pages, inserted smaller page sizes and even smaller gatefolds into the binding, used a variety of papers, etc. — to give it an artists-book feel, but on a considerably larger scale: the book is more than 900 pages, though given the atypical nature of the book it's nearly impossible to count the exact number. It is so big it comes in a specially made orange cardboard box for storage and protection.Just as the exhibition features an "iris" formed by overlapping and shifted circles cut into the gallery wall, the hardcover book opens with ten pages with circular cutouts that frame a photo of Devlin on the floor of Memory Palace. The circular openings are rung with statements apparently in Devlin's hand, and radiating from the circles are complex, layered timelines of her studio's prolific output — the last a sign of how in-demand an artist and designer she is. But, befitting an artists' book, these pages go even further, adding raised dots and lines that accentuate parts of the timeline, veer from it entirely, and/or push us to find some meaning amongst the information saturation. The book then shows some full-bleed photographs of her studio's output before launching into the process-based presentations that comprise the largest chunk of the book. The presentation is chronological, moving from "A Student's Sketchbook" (spread above) that spans from 1985 to 1995 to the designs for plays, performances, and installations she is known for, one after the other for at least 250 pages. After those come conversations Devlin had with fellow creatives during COVID lockdown, then more projects, then another 250 or so pages of completed projects in color photos. The book is packed, fully.The parts that make me appreciate the book so much are the process-oriented project presentations. Very few projects are presented simply; most are accompanied by a smaller inserted page and/or a gatefold — something that requires readers to do extra "work" that heightens their awareness and increases their absorption of Devlin's creative process. Each project, furthermore, is keyed to one of the color photographs in the last half of the book, requiring more flipping-back-and-forth "work" and providing a peek at the finished products. Put another way, it's impossible to nonchalantly flip through this book. The design and construction of the book force a slow movement and entice a steady gaze. One gains so much in handling the book that they need not read every description of every project to understand a lot about Devlin as an artist and designer. I can't think of a more ambitious goal for a monograph than the way An Atlas of Es Devlin gives readers such an intimate understanding of her creative thinking.Caruso St John Collected Works: Volume 2 2000–2012 by Caruso St John, published by MACK, October 2023 (Amazon)Is it better for a monograph to have project descriptions written by the architect or by an external writer? The first type ideally give readers some insight into the architect's creative process, though at times these descriptions can read as promotional materials aimed at potential clients. Descriptions of the second type benefit from some objectivity and most likely a critical position, but they might suffer from a lack of information and the sense, on the reader's part, of not learning enough about the illustrated projects. Most monographs fit into one or the other, including the two other monographs in this post: Es Devlin's monograph features project descriptions in her words, while the latest monograph on Jones Studio was written by curator Marilu Knode. Like the first volume of Caruso St John Collected Works, put out last year by MACK but reviewed on this blog in early 2023, Volume 2 has a mix of project descriptions written by the architects and coming from magazines and other external sources, the latter often years earlier and outside of the context of the book.If we look at the "Chicago and Milan" chapter, one of seven chapters in Volume 2, two projects are presented: Nottingham Contemporary, the UK gallery completed in 2009; and the Europaallee Mixed-use Building built in Zurich in 2013. The words of the architects, Adam Caruso and Peter St John, are used for Nottingham Contemporary, in which we learn about the intentions behind their winning competition scheme and the inspirations for the lacy pattern on the facade's concave panels. The longer, more in-depth presentation of Europaallee is accompanied by an article by Ellis Woodman from a 2014 issue of Architectural Review. The architects' mixed-use building is part of the Europaallee development west of Zurich Hauptbahnhof, which was master planned by KCAP and is made up of low- and mid-rise buildings organized about a pedestrian street; Caruso St John's building is at an important spot at the western end of the street, adjacent to a square and near a new pedestrian bridge that connects this main part of Europaallee to a sliver of the development on the north side of the railway tracks. I've seen their building on trips to Zurich, though I can't say I paid much attention to it, as the whole Europaallee project — with buildings by Gigon/Guyer, Max Dudler, David Chipperfield, and others — is characterized by unrelenting grids of windows. It's a bit like Tativille come to life. The Caruso St John building is in line with the rest, though Woodman admits that the narrowing of the piers between windows as the building rises — an element in the competition scheme that would distance the building from the earlier "joyless" building by Dudler — "came to present a significantly less austere image than was suggested by the initial renderings."Although Woodman is primarily positive in his assessment of Caruso St John's Europaallee Mixed-use Building, it makes me think that very few architects would actually incorporate critical texts like this in their monographs. That Caruso St John did so here is following from the format of Volume 1, in which texts by critics about the architects' projects are included, as are texts by others — architects, critics, historians, etc. — as long as they pertain to the issues explored by the architects in some way or serve as some theoretical foundation for their work. So Louis Sullivan's "The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered" first published in Lipincott's Magazine in 1896, is also found in the "Chicago and Milan" chapter, as is "The Existing Environment and Themes in Contemporary Practice," an essay by Ernesto N. Rogers from a 1954 issue of Casabella; these two essays give the chapter, which otherwise just features the two projects in Nottingham and Zurich, its name. Although the essays are presented without comment, the relationship between them and Caruso St John's work can be grasped without difficulty, as Sullivan's essays coming a few pages before the "tall" 13-story building at Europaallee attests. Even without an awareness to such ties, I greatly appreciate the inclusion of inspirational and important texts; it is one element that sets this series of monographs apart from others.In addition to the projects spanning from 2000 to 2012 and the inclusion of articles and essays written by others outside of the context of the monograph, the book also features texts by Adam Caruso and Peter St John. Befitting the series, these texts come from other publications, from lectures and interviews, most of them within the years covered by the volume. An example is Peter St John's "Aldo Rossi's Gallaratese Housing," first published in Building Design in 2012. The architect first experienced Rossi's famous building in 1980, when he was a 20-year-old student on a scholarship, also seeing the buildings of Terragni and catching the The Presence of the Past, the inaugural Venice Architecture Biennale. He recounts his first impressions of the building, discusses it relative to Rossi's famous texts The Architecture of the City and A Scientific Autobiography, and revisits the building to find it "more charming than before." A few pages later we read Caruso and St John's text on Pasticcio, a composition of fragments of classical architecture in Sir John Soane's Museum in London, and see their installation of the same name at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale. That is followed by restoration work at Soane's Museum, a new chancel for St Gallen Cathedral in Switzerland ... the whole book unfolds in this manner: one unexpected piece after another, adding up to a thorough and varied portrait of the duo's quiet and occasionally timeless architecture.STRIVE: Jones Studio Adventures in Architecture by Marilu Knode, edited by Oscar Riera Ojeda, published by Oscar Riera Ojeda Publishers, November 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)Should monograph present many projects in just a few pages, or very few projects across more pages? Two years ago, Oscar Riera Ojeda Publishers put out Jones Studio Houses: Sensual Modernism, a monograph billed as "a self-imposed limited look at the 40-year-plus career of Eddie Jones." The thick, square book limited itself to houses (minus Jones Studio's own "house") and featured just ten of them, highlighted by Prairie Raptor, a stunning house in Oklahoma whose sculptural peak was inspired by Herb Greene's "Prairie Chicken" built in Norman, Oklahoma, in 1954. Digesting the book with its many photographs and drawings accompanied by short blurbs by famous names lauding Jones's architecture, it was clear the book was an incomplete portrait of the studio run by Eddie and his brother and first partner Neal Jones — a first course, if you will, to a larger, more well-rounded presentation of their work.With more than 40 built and unbuilt projects spanning more than 40 years, STRIVE is that main course. If a food analogy for an architecture monograph feels a bit contrived, note that three of the book's five sections take on "Family Table" titles. Instead of a literal family coming to the table to eat, the "family" is made up of Jones and the other architects in the studio, and the "table" is a collaborative work surface about which everyone's desks are arrayed. "Family Table #1," as it's called in the book, was in an office building in downtown Phoenix designed by Alfred Newman Beadle in 1978. In 1984, Eddie moved the studio he had established in 1979 (Neal joined in 1986) from his house to the Beadle-designed building, and years later he expanded within it to create the open-plan family-table office space. (Some further synergy between Beadle and Jones can be found in the fact both of them relocated from the Midwest to Arizona: Beadle from Minnesota, Jones from Oklahoma.) Jones Studio stayed in the Beadle building for 32 years, moving into the purpose-built "Home and Studio" in Tempe that begins the book's "Family Studio #3" chapter. The floor plans in STRIVE show how the literal table in the Beadle building is also at the heart of the now seven-year-old Jones Studio Office; the table and branching desks are described in the book as the "nerve center" of the studio and an "open mosh pit of ideas."So, you might be asking, what about "Family Table #2"? This is the most interesting of the trio, at least in the context of the book, and in two ways. First, for the exhibition southwestNET: Jones Studio, Inc. that took place at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in 2006, the studio moved its operations into the gallery for its three-month duration, from May to September. Indeed, the studio — the family — literally became the exhibit, sitting at custom-designed desks that converged to form "Family Table #2." Photos in the book show a somewhat typical architecture office, with computers, phones, and lots of papers in the middle of a gallery with drawings on the wall, drawings suspended from the ceiling, and museum goers taking in the scene. The second thing of interest is that the exhibition was curated by Marilu Knode, who considers it "one of the most exciting of my career." She was later approached by Jones Studio to tell the story of the firm in what would become STRIVE. Her writing and consistent voice detached from the making of the projects help make this monograph so good, especially compared to the many monographs that are written in-house and read like marketing copy and therefore lack firsthand insight. People who actually read Knode's words that accompany the buildings will learn A LOT about the studio's process and what makes each project so interesting, beyond the obvious skill with which they've been designed.Having looked at numerous architectural monographs, I've come to the conclusion that the project that occupies the middle section of a monograph is often the most important — both for the architect and for the book itself. The five chapters of STRIVE start with "Jones Studio: The Early Years" and end with "Focused Future," chronological bookends for the three "Family Table" chapters. Given this structure, the second of those, "Family Table #2," sits in the middle of the book's nearly 500 pages. While the firm was working at the southwestNET exhibition, they submitted an RFQ for the Mariposa Land Port of Entry in Nogales, Arizona. In 2007, Jones Studio got the job, which became a "colossal, firm-altering undertaking." While Knode's words partly reinforce my hypothesis for middle-project importance, the project's documentation in photos, drawings, and numerous texts over more than 40 pages cement it. The building, completed in 2014, is also found on the cover — another sign of the project's importance in the impressive Jones Studio portfolio.

  • Places in Time III
    by John Hill on December 4, 2023 at 1:00 PM

    This third and most likely last installment in the inadvertent "Places in Time" series looks closely at three books: the first about Chicago from the Great Depression to the mid-1980s; the second one about the broader American built landscape over roughly the same period of time; and the third jumping to Switzerland and tracing the urban development of Schlieren, near Zurich, over a 15-year period this century. All three of the books were in my roundup of holiday gift books a couple of weeks ago. The first two Places in Time posts looked at Detroit/Chicago/St. Louis and Paris/Indonesia/Flanders.Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934-1986: How Technology, Politics, Finance, and Race Reshaped the City by Thomas Leslie, published by University of Illinois Press, June 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)In my holiday gift books roundup a couple of weeks ago, I wrote that, of the four pieces in the subtitle to Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934-1986 — "technology, politics, finance, and race" — technology is the most prevalent throughout the book. That assertion was based on just a cursory look through the book, all I could manage at the time, but also on its relationship to architect and educator Thomas Leslie's previous book, Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934, published ten years prior. If I were doing that roundup now, having had more time to delve into the new book, I would write that politics and finance were, if not the most prevalent, the most illuminating and thoroughly discussed aspects in the book's presentation of skyscrapers over fifty years last century. Indeed, many of the drawings and photographs focus on the technical and technological aspects of skyscraper design and construction (just look at the cover!), but the stories of how certain skyscrapers came about and were shaped are rooted in Chicago's political machine, money, and the developers that Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, SOM, and others worked for.An example is in order. If any architect jumps to mind in the period covered by the book, it is Mies, who reshaped Chicago through his glass-and-steel towers but also who, through the replicable nature of their designs, reshaped cities around the world. To this day, his most notable tall buildings in Chicago are 860-800 Lake Shore Drive, the Federal Center, and the IBM Building, all boasting steel structures and glass curtain walls. But before that trio of towers (860-880 came first, in 1952) there was Promontory Apartments, completed in 1949 near the University of Chicago. Structured in concrete, not steel, and with windows sitting on brick spandrel walls rather than on the floor slabs or hung as curtain walls, Promontory is often seen as an anomaly or an awkward step toward the more refined glass boxes that would follow. But, Leslie tells us, concrete was "selected over steel because of postwar supply problems" and the brick spandrel wall was mandated by code as a means of stopping the spread of fire. Furthermore, even with the windows sitting on knee-height walls, lenders balked at their size, wondering "how people can live with so much glass" and making it hard for the developer to gain financing. One year later, in 1950, "Chicago's progressive building code eliminated the masonry spandrel wall requirement," leading to 860-880 LSD and other glass-sheathed towers designed by Mies and others.The book's nine chronological/thematic chapters are full of similar political and financial information that greatly helps put the many notable skyscrapers (as well as quite a few apparently insignificant ones) into context. For example, chapter five, "Daley's City: Commercial Construction, 1955-1972," tackles the most powerful political player the city saw in the half-century covered by the book, Mayor Richard J. Daley. In a flip from his predecessors, "'Daley's City' sprung from investment capital," Leslie writes, "wedded to a regime intent on gaining and exercising raw power to tip the market's balance wherever it could." Early on, Daley oversaw the creation of the Central Area Plan (1958), discussed at some length in the book, and during his lengthy tenure he saw the erection of many commercial and residential towers in the Loop. But the Daley era is also when the Chicago Housing Authority shifted to high-rises and built them as segregated enclaves primarily on the South and West Sides, just about all of which have been torn down in recent years for low-rise developments. As such, the race aspect of the book makes up a good chunk of chapter six, "High-Rise Housing in the 1960s," though the subject is present throughout the book, just not to the same degree as the other three subtitled terms. Oddly, Leslie's book ends with a lengthy discussion of Helmut Jahn's State of Illinois Center, the 17-story building in the Loop that opened in 1985 and was renamed in 1993 as the James R. Thompson Center, for the governor who championed the project and oversaw its realization. I say "oddly" because the squat, rotund building is hardly a skyscraper, at least not in my mind. It is shorter than most buildings around it as well as others being built at the same time, such as Jahn's own 40-story One South Wacker, and does not have the vertically of most towers. So why include it? I think, in part, because it was the climax of postmodern architecture in Chicago in the 1980s, but mainly because it is a case study where technology, politics, and finance converge to the utmost degree; it's a fascinating story deeply and ably recounted by Leslie. It comes at the end of the last chapter, "After Sears," and spreads across four three-column, image-free pages; only on the last spread do we see the building, but only its exterior, not the stunning atrium it is known for. While this ending leaves something to be desired in terms of page design and illustrations, it captures the incredible amount of research Leslie managed to put into this second installment in his skyscraper history of Chicago. I'm hoping there is a next one and that it is already in the works, so it doesn't take ten more years for the rest of us to hold it in our hands.Lost in America: Photographing the Last Days of our Architectural Treasures by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, published by CityFiles Press, November 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)As an architect who writes primarily about contemporary architecture but who is increasingly cognizant of the importance in saving and reusing old buildings, even going so far as to preferring adaptive reuse over new construction, I have a love/hate view of "Lost ___" books. The ones in my library tend to be about places where I've lived: Lost Chicago by David Garrard Lowe, for instance, and Lost New York by Nathan Silver. Looking at page after page of black-and-white photos of buildings that will never be again is to be transported in time, which I like, but all to often the captions border on the finger-wagging: "How could you tear down this glorious building?" they seem to be telling me, even though I played no part in their destruction. Yet, as Thomas Leslie's skyscraper book featured above reveals, even buildings loved by later generations were often not appreciated in their day. Leslie writes that Henry Ives Cobb's 1905 Federal Building "suffered from grave planning and environmental deficiencies that led to calls for its replacement almost immediately after opening." Lowe, who put the domed interior on the cover of the 2000 edition of his book, calls it "an awesome feat of engineering" with "one of America's supreme interiors." "This magnificent edifice, the most notable example of civic architecture in Chicago," he summarizes, "was wantonly demolished in 1965–66," making way for the three-building Federal Center designed by Mies van der Rohe. While Leslie helps us understand something of why the building was demolished, Lowe looks at it through rose-colored glasses, making its destruction a scar on modern-day humanity.Photo historians Richard Cahan and Michael Williams are a bit more balanced in their description of Cobb's Federal Building, one of the one hundred buildings and bridges they gather from the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) for Lost in America. They give some background on how Cobbs designed the 1905 building in the Beaux-Arts style "that was all the rage in Chicago and across the nation following the 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition," where Cobbs had designed seven of its buildings. And the authors paint the picture in the 1960s, when the "once-majestic courthouse and post office had become lost in the canyons of skyscrapers" and was "covered by decades of city grime." They don't make demolition excusable, but their matter-of-fact description — of this building and the 99 other places in the book — tell interesting facts and appealing stories that do an excellent job in helping readers understand the photographs and the value of HABS. In this case, the photograph is, like the Lost Chicago cover, of the domed interior, taken in 1964 by Harold Allen, who "climbed high to the base of the dome to take this shot." Although Lost in America is limited to one photograph per structure, the descriptions invite readers to dig further into the HABS archive at the Library of Congress, where many of the photographs dating from 1933 to the present are digitized. In 1965, the dome atop the Federal Building was seen better than ever, we read, when neighboring structures were razed and opened up views unavailable before; Allen captured one such view, when one of Mies's glass boxes was already in place behind it.HABS was created in 1933 during the Great Depression and is considered the nation's first federal preservation program. In the ninety years since, the program has documented thousands of structures in the United States through photographs — all b/w large-format film photos, even to this day, it should be noted — drawings, and other materials, all of them archived in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress alongside the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) and Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) collections, which were created in 1969 and 2000, respectively. Why, you might be thinking, was Henry Ives Cobbs's Federal Building, which was completed in 1905, not documented until 1964? From the beginning, when Charles A. Patterson, an architect at the National Park Service, drafted a proposal for what would become HABS, the intent was to document antique buildings that were "diminish[ing] daily at an alarming rate." So photographing, measuring, drawing, and documenting them otherwise often took place when a building was threatened or demolition was imminent. The cover of Lost in America shows one instance where the act of demolition was actually captured by the photographer: Jack E. Boucher at the Ulysses S. Grant Cottage in Long Branch, New Jersey, in 1963. Cahan and Williams selected the structures and compiled them in a way that the book climaxes, for lack of a better word, with buildings like Grant's cottage, which are partially demolished — photographed just a bit too late. It's a sobering end to a sobering but excellent book that shows how the unfortunate flip side of American progress is erasure and forgetting.Urban Change Over Time: The Photographic Observation of Schlieren 2005–2020 Reveals How Switzerland Is Changing edited by Meret Wandeler, Ulrich Görlich and Caspar Schärer, published by Scheidegger and Spiess, October 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)Although I've been to Zurich many times since I started working with World-Architects more than a dozen years ago, I've yet to visit Schlieren, the municipality on the western edge of Zurich. It's certainly an oversight, given that the town, which sunk into a post-industrial malaise from the 1980s onwards, "suddenly" turned the tide this century and "grew dramatically, attracting new residents and architectural tourists." This according to Caspar Schärer, one of the editors of the two-volume Urban Change Over Time, who drives the point home in the next sentence: "Architectural tourists!" How bad was the situation in Schlieren before the fifteen-year turning of the tide the book encapsulates? One newspaper, in a report from Schlieren, was titled "Life in the Cantonal Trash Can" (Schlieren is part of the Canton of Zurich), per another text in the book. So, how did things change, how did Schlieren get through this "difficult phase"? Proximity to Zurich and the town's location along a train line connected to the city surely helped, but much of it can be attributed to planning. In 2005, the town implemented the Schlieren Urban Development Concept (STEK I), which would determine where and how growth would occur, instead of letting it happen "uncontrolled and uncoordinated." STEK I became the basis for a photo project by Meret Wandeler and Ulrich Görlich, who decided on a 15-year timeframe — not shorter — as necessary for being able to see how the urban plan would physically take shape and impact the town. By 2020, when the project was done, the town had already moved on to STEK II, a new plan based on a reevaluation of STEK I in 2015/16, but the photographs nevertheless revealed that change in many parts of the Schlieren was dramatic. The first of the two volumes, which are packaged in a sleeve bearing the cover shown above, is a 152-page landscape-format book with spreads devoted to the 69 locations in town that were documented in photographs over the fifteen years, typically every two, odd-numbered years (some gaps are found in some places). The consistency of the photographic framing is exceptional, owing in part to the hiring of professional photographers after the initial photos were taken by the authors. The locations are keyed to maps in the back of the book, one for 2005 and one for 2020; seen together, the photographs and map illustrate the districts where STEK I was focused, where change was most pronounced. The town is basically bisected by the east-west rail line that connects it to Zurich; the most apparent change and increased density is visible to the north, while areas close to the train tracks on the south side were also filled in. Given the broad swath of the town documented by the project, it's interesting to see places where change is not immediately evident, akin to a real-life version of those find-the-differences cartoons.The second volume consists of essays, additional presentations of some of the photographs (focusing on typologies, on STEK I districts, the town's "building boom," etc.), and in-depth maps that help to give outsiders some orientation while also focusing on the development areas. These many pieces are presented beautifully across 480 pages in portrait format. The wide-ranging essays, which discuss the town, the project, "rephotography," and myriad other subjects, are particularly helpful but also, in the commendation of the book by the jury of the 2023 DAM Architectural Book Award, "very careful not to waste the reader’s time." The repackaging of some of the photographs from volume one is in some ways more helpful in understanding the town's urban change, since the authors use the photographs in ways that turns them into essays in their own right. The "Typologies" section, for example, groups photos of building entrances, parking lots, playgrounds, alleys, stores and restaurants, and garages, while "A New Town," which concludes the book, hones in on the places that would draw architectural tourists. Many of the photos in volume two are considerably larger on the page than the static format of volume one, accentuating one interesting quality of the photographs: they are devoid of people and other living beings, though not of signs of life. This rigorous approach, no doubt an impressive technical achievement, gives the project a strong anthropological quality and reveals that, while planning may be at the heart of the town's evolution this century, the shaping of the lives of the residents via planning was paramount.

  • Ten Pairs of Books for Christmas
    by John Hill on November 20, 2023 at 1:00 PM

    This year's roundup of books to give to discerning architects for the holidays is presented in pairs. While at least one book in each pair is new, the other one isn't necessarily so — new, old, or not-so-old, it is related to the first in some manner, as explained in my descriptions. A few of these books will receive longer reviews next month. In the meantime, with this lengthy post and Thanksgiving coming up later this week, I'll be taking next week off, resuming regular posts the first week of December.HEADY STUFF FOR BRAINY ARCHITECTS AND ARCHITECTURE HISTORIANS:Architecture after God: Babel Resurgent by Kyle Dugdale, published by Birkhäuser, February 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)Inhabited Machines: Genealogy of an Architectural Concept by Moritz Gleich, published by Birkhäuser, February 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)Exploring Architecture is a new series of books from Birkhäuser that are focused "on thematic subjects [in architectural history and theory] that are relevant to contemporary architectural and urban discourse and practice." It aims to include "new and unexpected readings of built work, the analysis of the discipline's discourse and historiography, the study of architectural representation and media, and the consideration of socioeconomic and cultural-political forces on urban transformation." The peer-reviewed series, created under a six-strong advisory board chaired by Reto Geiser, launched in early 2023 with two books: Moritz Gleich's Inhabited Machines followed by Kyle Dugdale's Architecture after God. The pair of books indicate a serious tone for the series but also production values that are on par with monographs, found in the quality paper selection, quality image reproductions, page size that is slightly larger than the norm, and solid cover and binding. Having reviewed a few books made by Geiser, I'm not surprised at this attempt to elevate the design production of history/theory books. Still, these are not books the average architect will plop down in an armchair and read; their audience is small and focused on academia. (Hey, architectural historians like gift books, too!) Dugdale, a Yale professor based in New York City, has written a book set in Germany between the two world wars, using the Tower of Babel and the artistic output of Uriel Birnbaum from Austria as threads to explore how architects recreated a world where God is absent. Moritz Gleich, director of gta Verlag at ETH Zurich, appears to have turned his dissertation "on the genealogy of machinic concepts in architecture" into Inhabited Machines, which looks at technologies and architectural typologies in the 18th and 19th centuries as progenitors for some pretty famous machine analogies in 20th century architecture.TWO COOPER HEWITT TOMES:An Atlas of Es Devlin Es Devlin, edited by Andrea Lipps, published by Thames & Hudson, December 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)Making Design: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Collections by Cara McCarty and Matilda McQuaid, published by The Cooper Hewitt, February 2015 (Amazon / Bookshop)An Atlas of Es Devlin, the first monographic show devoted to UK artist and designer Es Devlin, opened at the Cooper Hewitt on November 18, 2023. Devlin worked with Cooper Hewitt curator Andrea Lipps on the exhibition, one that immerses museum goers in a recreation of Devlin's studio and moves them through a mirrored labyrinth presenting early drawings, models of the large-scale set designs she is known for, and much in between. Lipps is also the editor of the hefty book that is united with the exhibition in terms of its contents but also its execution: it immerses readers in Devlin's process to better understand her output. The exhibition presupposes that visitors do not know anything about Devlin (I'm guessing very few will not), and the book takes a similar approach, revealing insights to readers who are invited to patiently page through the book. At around 900 pages, there's a lot to see, from school-age drawings and glances of her studio to maquettes of theatrical set designs and photographs of concerts by the likes of Adele and U2. Thankfully, with its mix of paper sizes and types, and the insertion of small gatefolds that further explain her design process, the book's format makes a voyage through it anything but boring; there are surprises at every turn of the page.Boasting as many pages as An Atlas of Es Devlin is Copper Hewitt's guide to its own collection, made with designer Irma Boom when the institution completed a major overhaul of its Upper East Side home (the former Andrew Carnegie mansion) in late 2014/early 2015. While the book is big, the numbers on the cover indicate how small it is compared to the collection: it presents just 1,145 of the museum's 210,000 objects in its archive. The objects were selected by the curators, who also penned texts for the book — all expressing the museum's primary goal: "to inspire people to see how design impacts their lives." Boom, ever the innovative book designer, created different colored wraps for the paperback; it's not clear which color one gets on Amazon and Bookshop (red?), but the Cooper Hewitt offers pink and "glow in the dark" (light green) on its website.THE NEW YORK WILLIAM B. HELMREICH KNEW SO WELL:The Bronx Nobody Knows: An Urban Walking Guide by William B. Helmreich, published by Princeton University Press, August 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City by William B. Helmreich, published by Princeton University Press, October 2013 (Amazon / Bookshop)A few years after Princeton University Press published William B. Helmreich's well-received The New York Nobody Knows, it started putting out standalone "urban walking guides" to each of the five boroughs. Helmreich, a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the City College of New York, famously walked every street in New York City, speaking with just about everybody he came across (or so it seems), be it a building super, a doorman, a shop clerk, someone leaving their apartment, someone leaving a synagogue, ... The New York Nobody Knows discusses immigration, gentrification, and other issues in thematic chapters; it is thorough, but it must have been evident for both author and publisher that the effort of walking the five boroughs and the results of talking with so many people would lead to more than just one book. The first guide published was Brooklyn, in 2016, followed by Manhattan, in 2018. Sadly, a few months before the Queens guide was released in 2020, Helmreich died, succumbing to COVID-19 in March of that year, the same month fellow CCNY professor Michael Sorkin also died. At that time, as recounted by his wife Helaine, William had already finished the manuscript for the Bronx and the couple was starting to work on Staten Island, walking (again!) the streets of that borough. It's too bad we won't see Staten Island, because it, like the Bronx, is not as widely known (for me, at least, and I'm guessing quite a few other people) as Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. But as the earlier guides made clear, there is more to the boroughs than the familiar sites found in other guidebooks; and the boroughs are made up of people, not just buildings and landscapes, and it was those people that interested Helmreich the most. Their voices permeate The Bronx Nobody Knows, just as in the other guides. For me, someone who lives in Queens, one thing I appreciate about Helmreich's books is the way he managed to get people to open up and say things that would both describe a place and convey the similarities binding people across the city and, on a wider canvas, across humanity.A BEAUTIFULLY MADE SERIES ON CAROSO ST JOHN CONTINUES:Caruso St John Collected Works: Volume 2 2000–2012 by Caruso St John, published by MACK, October 2023 (Amazon)Caruso St John Collected Works: Volume 1 1990–2005 by Caruso St John, published by MACK, October 2022 (Amazon)Twelve months after MACK released the first volume in the collected works of British architects Adam Caruso and Peter St. John, the publisher put out the second volume, which takes the qualities of the first book — qualities I wrote about earlier this year in "Three Lessons from Three Monographs" — and applies them to the studio as they started their second decade and a new century began. I wrote in that post that monographs "should be comprehensive if not complete, "should convey the voice of the architect," and "should function as archives." Collected Works: Volume 1, I wrote, does all three: "From its simple linen cover with drawing of the steel facade of their Swan Yard project, strong stitching, and matte paper selection, to its documentation of built and unbuilt works over the title's fifteen years and the incorporation of articles and interviews previously published in Quaderns and other venues, the book is a beautiful object that is rewarding and refreshing on every turn of the page." Given the consistency of the two books, the same applies Collected Works: Volume 2. The numerous buildings, projects, exhibitions, articles, lectures, and other artifacts informing Caruso St John's work are presented in seven chapters, most of them pairs: "History and the Modern," "Greece and Rome," "Chicago and Milan," "Competitions," "Thomas Demand," "Switzerland," "Art and Money." These places and themes reflect their work extending beyond the confines of England as well as their teaching doing the same, with positions in Mendrisio, ETH Zurich, Harvard GSD, and elsewhere. The two architects explain how the studios they ran at universities incorporated reference texts by Rosalind Krauss, T. S. Eliot, Louis Sullivan, and others; those text are found here, enriching the monograph's collection of texts and projects and capturing the interests of two maturing architects. (Note: the two volumes are available from MACK in a Caruso St John Bundle.)THE CHICAGO SKYSCRAPER HISTORICALLY CONSIDERED:Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934-1986: How Technology, Politics, Finance, and Race Reshaped the City by Thomas Leslie, published by University of Illinois Press, June 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934 by Thomas Leslie, published by University of Illinois Press, May 2013 (Amazon / Bookshop)In my 2021 review of Thomas Leslie's 2013 book Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871–1934, I pointed out how Leslie's book is described in another book as a "'recent study that includes thorough discussion of structural and constructive technologies,' as opposed to more prevalent architectural histories that focus on aesthetics, politics, planning, social history, and other issues with tall buildings." Such a focus is evident in the appendix listing the dozens of tall buildings built in Chicago between 1871 and 1934 (the years of the Great Chicago Fire and Great Depression) with such criteria as "facade type" (bearing masonry, cast iron, expressed frame, curtain wall, etc.) and "foundation" (piles, spread, caissons). It's an excellent book, as is the second installment in Leslie's series of books on skyscrapers in Chicago, but the subtitle of the second book, How Technology, Politics, Finance, and Race Reshaped the City, indicates the incorporation of those wider contexts eschewed in the first book. Even with these topics, technology is the most prevalent, based on a quick glance at the book's contents, which include numerous construction photographs and 3D "digital reconstructions" of a lot of the buildings discussed in the book. Spanning from the Great Depression to the recessions of the 1970s and 80s, the new book contains a large diversity of architecture — from Art Deco and modernism to brutalism and postmodernism — but also enormous social changes and other aspects (migration, civil rights, oil crisis, Mayor Richard J. Daley) that make the embrace of broader contexts sensible. While any book on skyscrapers in that period would include Marina City, Bertrand Goldberg's classic city within a city completed in 1967, Leslie also includes Goldberg's Raymond Hilliard Homes, a public housing project on the South Side for seniors and families. The latter allow Leslie to compare the forms and construction of the two projects but also the opportunity to touch on racial segregation in the city. (A couple addenda: While the two books have similar covers, three-column page layouts, and graphic design features, the use of different page sizes and proportions — from 10x10" to 8.5x11" — is unfortunate and a missed opportunity for consistency on the shelf, especially if a third book in the series is forthcoming. And just as my 2021 review of the earlier Leslie book coincided with the author speaking at the Skyscraper Museum, Leslie is giving a virtual talk tomorrow night about his new book and the city's residential high-rises in concrete; the talk will be archived on the museum's YouTube channel.)ADVENTURES IN HOUSING:Cohousing in Barcelona: Designing, Building and Living for Cooperative Models edited by David Lorente, Tomoko Sakamoto, Ricardo Devesa and Marta Bugés, published by Actar Publishers and Ajuntament de Barcelona, August 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)Housing Redux: Alternatives for NYC's Housing Projects by Nneena Lynch, James von Klemperer, Hana Kassan and Andrei Harwell, edited by Nina Rappaport and Saba Salekfard, published by Yale School of Architecture, December 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)If life were fair, everyone would have access to decent, well-designed housing, and those projects would garner as much attention in the architectural press as the single-family houses that are commissioned by and built for the wealthy. A modicum of balance has been found in recent years, with social housing projects winning major architectural awards and gaining coverage, most notably Lacaton and Vassal's transformation of public housing projects in France and Lacol's La Borda Cooperative Housing in Barcelona. The latter is the star of Cohousing in Barcelona, which features case studies of eighteen built and ongoing projects that are the result of a partnership between the Barcelona City Council and non-profit social housing providers and housing cooperatives. Even though I was fortunate enough to visit La Borda with the architects last year, the book's thorough documentation through photographs, drawings, and lengthy commentary from the architects means I learned something new about it — and the other commendable projects in the book.If cohousing is endemic to Barcelona, what is the NYC situation? In the 20th century it was a mix of below-market subsidized housing, public housing, and middle-income cooperatives, aka Mitchell-Lama. Today, everything is lumped under "affordable housing," and it is typically created by developers as part of larger market-rate projects, with the city incentivizing the developers through zoning bonuses. One place proponents of affordable housing are looking is the open spaces of large public housing projects, in the vein of Carmel Place, a narrow stack of micro-units by nARCHITECTS built in 2016. A recent studio at Yale School of Architecture had students proposing affordable housing solutions for NYCHA's Washington Houses in East Harlem; the public housing project consists of more than a dozen towers on three superblocks that are the equivalent of seven city blocks, with open space comprising more than 85% of the site. The students developed master plans and then designed schemes ranging from reimagined brownstones to terraced housing and other ways of weaving more units between the existing buildings. It's refreshing to see architecture students tackling affordable housing in creative ways.MONOGRAPHS WITH A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA:Field Guide to Indoor Urbanism by MODU (Phu Hoang and Rachely Rotem), published by Hatje Cantz, October 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)Quiet Spaces by William Smalley, published by Thames & Hudson, November 2018 (Amazon / Bookshop)These two monographs are atypical — and refreshing — in that they incorporate content from outside the work of the designers who made them, but in ways that meld seamlessly with their own work. Although MODU, the Brooklyn studio of Phu Hoang and Rachely Rotem, is so young and has built so little a monograph would seem a bit premature, their Field Guide to Indoor Urbanism is nevertheless chock full of projects, each one illustrating the multifaceted nature of their output: architecture, urban interventions, installations, and socio-economic research among it. The duo makes a statement by upending conventions, literally, by starting the book with a glossary — one where the terms and definitions clearly describe their unique points of view — and ending it with the foreword. In between are essays, projects, and a series of conversations with Japanese architects, including Fumihiko Maki, Itsuko Hasegawa, and Kengo Kuma. The last is what would be considered the outsider content, but even then the interviews were conducted by Hoang and Rotem as part of their research into Second Nature, which they define as "a dual expression of social and environmental contexts. Humans and nature as one."Quiet Spaces is an apt title for the first monograph on UK architect William Smalley, who established his eponymous practice in London in 2010. The coffee table book is full of full-bleed color photographs captured mainly by Harry Crowder but also Hélène Binet; each photographers' choice of film over digital jibes with Smalley's handling of interior spaces, which could be called, for lack of a better term, timeless. The cover photograph by Binet — of Smalley's Oxfordshire Farm, done in collaboration with James Gorst Architects — hints at this quality, but it also recalls the work of Luis Barragan. Hardly by coincidence, Oxfordshire Farm is preceded by Barragan's own house in Mexico City, one of six "quiet spaces" in the book by other architects, ranging in time from Andrea Palladio to Peter Zumthor, with Geoffrey Bawa and others in between. Smalley's way of treating his inspirations in the book with equal weight to his own work is refreshing and illuminating, revealing shared qualities but also Smalley's enduring fascination with beautiful design regardless of the who, when, or where. (The Record section of his website expresses this too.) The mix results in a monograph that is surprisingly cohesive regardless of the various voices and times, reinforcing the timeless quality of Smalley's architecture.CAPTURING AMERICA'S PAST IN PHOTOGRAPHS:Lost in America: Photographing the Last Days of our Architectural Treasures by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, published by CityFiles Press, November 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)Richard Nickel Dangerous Years: What He Saw and What He Wrote by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, published by CityFiles Press, December 2015 (Amazon)Anyone with a strong interest in architecture in the United States should know and love HABS, the Historic American Buildings Survey that is maintained by the Library of Congress. The voluminous collection of photographs and drawings spanning from 1933 to the present is a great resource for, among other things, people making architecture books. Photographer Jeffrey Ladd creatively mined the survey for A Field Measure Survey of American Architecture, creating a portrait of the US through a small sampling of the hundreds of thousands of HABS photographs. Similarly, photo historians Richard Cahan and Michael Williams pulled photographs from the survey to draw attention to the buildings and bridges that America lost to decay, neglect, demolition, and destruction. One hundred notable, lesser known, and fairly generic examples are presented in four chapters: Timeless, Forgotten, Disgraced, Doomed. Even though the HABS photographs have remained remarkably consistent over its 90 years, with contemporary photographers still using large-format film (not digital) cameras, Lost in America has a notable arc to it, with famous buildings early in the book and actual scenes of demolition, as in the cover photograph, found at the end. It's hard not to feel a tinge of melancholy or even anger at the wanton destruction implied and captured by the HABS photographers in black and white — emotions tempered, or perhaps even magnified, by the information presented in captions by Cahan and Williams.Although Lost in America is available on Amazon, Bookshop, and other usual outlets, people buying it directly from CityFiles have the option of getting a limited edition with a slipcase featuring a Richard Nickel photo of Chicago’s Republic Building, a Holabird and Roche building that was erected in the first decade of the 20th century and pulled down in 1961. Nickel is one of the photographers inside Lost in America, but the photographer and preservationist is also the subject of Dangerous Years, an earlier book also by Cahan and Williams and also published by CityFiles, in 2015. Cahan had written an earlier, indispensable biography on Nickel, They All Fall Down: Richard Nickel's Struggle to Save America's Architecture (notably, that book  features a self-portrait of Nickel atop the Republic Building), so it is logical that he would make another book on Nickel, one that "in his own words and with his own pictures, is his story." The coffee table book traces Nickel's brief but productive and passionate career through photographs, letters, notes, sketches, and other artifacts displayed on large 9x12" pages with black backgrounds. Like Lost in America, Dangerous Years is melancholy, not only because he gravitated to buildings that often met the wrecking ball, but because his widely known end while salvaging materials from one such building is made all the more real through letters to/from his fiancé and even notes for a missing person report made by his parents on the day he went missing.ILLUSTRATED STORIES FOR KIDS — AND GROWN-UPS:Modern New York: The Illustrated Story of Architecture in the Five Boroughs from 1920 to Present by Lukas Novotny, published by Rizzoli, September 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)Shigeru Ban Builds a Better World by Isadoro Saturno, illustrated by Stefano Di Cristofaro, published by Tra Publishing, September 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)A pair of illustrated books: one for children and one for grown-ups. Modern New York is Lukas Novotny's second book, following the similar Modern London published in 2018. The colorful illustrations — all of them straight-on elevations, as evidenced by the cover — give the impression that the book is yet another repackaging of famous and predominantly tall buildings in New York City: the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building are there on the cover, as are the American Radiator Building, the Pan Am (MetLife Building), AT&T, Hearst, and 432 Park Avenue. But the inclusion of Paul Rudolph's Tracey Towers in the Bronx and the presence of the Goodyear blimp and a helicopter landing on the Pan Am Building hint at a wider presentation. Novotny is actually drawn (pun intended) to buildings obscure, plain, and off the beaten path — those well beyond what's found in tourist guides. The buildings and modes of transportation, which were potentially more modern than the buildings, are presented in ten chapters: one per decade, from 1920 to present. Each is given at least 16 pages, so relatively insignificant decades (what was built in the 1940s?) reveal surprises even so-called experts, like this reviewer, weren't aware of.I wish there were more children's books about architecture, not only because they provide parents a way to educate their kids about architecture and architects at an early age, but because the subject has such a great potential for doing interesting children's books. Pop-ups! Concertina books! (I reviewed one of those.) Books by architects for their own kids! (I reviewed one of those, too.) Isadoro Saturno's children's book on Shigeru Ban gets creative with format, from its cardboard-like cover with cutout framing a portrait of the architect to the choice of matter paper, cutout-like illustrations, and smaller book on Ban's disaster-relief projects inserted into the middle of the book. By focusing on the fact Ban has made many buildings from paper, from cardboard tubes, and not all of them disaster-relief projects, the book shows kids that what they didn't think was possible is possible. The book opens their minds to the possibilities in anything, architecture or otherwise, encouraging them to think creatively and without limits.CHANGING ZURICH (AND ITS ENVIRONS):Urban Change Over Time: The Photographic Observation of Schlieren 2005–2020 Reveals How Switzerland Is Changing edited by Meret Wandeler, Ulrich Görlich and Caspar Schärer, published by Scheidegger and Spiess, October 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)New Housing in Zurich: Typologies for a Changing Society, edited by Dominique Boudet, published by Park Books, April 2018 (Amazon / AbeBooks)Last month the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) and Frankfurt Book Fair announced the winners of the 2023 DAM Architectural Book Award: ten books, nine of them from publishers in Germany and Switzerland, six from Zurich alone, and four of the ten winners published by Park Books or its sister publisher Scheidegger & Spiess. A winner by the last is Urban Change Over Time, a two-volume book with fifteen years of photo documentation of Schlieren, a satellite town on the western fringe of Zurich. The jury praised the book for its vision and endurance: "The book’s structure derives from the topic, explores many different aspects of the theme, and yet is very careful not to waste the reader’s time." The slimmer of the two volumes has nearly 150 pages of photographs on landscape-oriented pages, with each spread showing the matching photographic documentation of one spot in town over those fifteen years. The matching of the framing in the photos is remarkable, as if dozens of tripods were cemented into place throughout the town for the fifteen-year duration of the project. In some cases the changes are in your face, in many they're subtle, and in others they're apparently non-existent. The longer volume — 480 pages in portrait format — has photographs as well, many of them larger on the page and in the context of the town's development areas or focusing on different typologies; there are also essays, interviews, and maps that aid in orienting oneself with the photos and understanding some of the development areas. The whole is a beautiful production worthy of its accolade.While I don't think New Housing in Zurich nabbed a DAM Award when it was released five years ago, this book from Park Books pairs well with Urban Change Over Time, for its equally high production values, for its geographic proximity, and for simply having the word "changing" in its subtitle. (This book, though hard to find, should also appeal to readers interested in Cohousing in Barcelona and Housing Redux, featured above.) The book presents 51 housing projects spread across Zurich, some of which I was able to visit years before when in Zurich for my work with World-Architects. The projects I visited, and most of the ones in the book, are fairly large and therefore have large sites where site planning is paramount; site plans or aerial views are then included for each of the 51 projects, as well as floor plans, photographs (or renderings), and project descriptions. What makes the projects remarkable beyond their architectural qualities is the fact they are predominantly middle-class and/or cooperatives — making the book a suitable reference for other places where there is a shortage of such housing, well-designed or not.

  • Eight Decades of Modern Japanese Houses
    by John Hill on November 13, 2023 at 1:00 PM

    A review of a new book released this week:The Japanese House Since 1945 by Naomi Pollock, published by Thames & Hudson, November 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)What makes modern and contemporary Japanese houses so appealing? Much of it stems from the novelty of residential designs, which can be traced to a litany of factors, including a cultural acceptance of demolition and renewal that creates a constant stream of new architecture; a litany of legal requirements pushing architects — both young and established — to be formally creative; and let's not leave out the clients willing to take risks. Most of the houses that spark jealousy in architects outside of Japan are found in Tokyo and other urban areas where money, zoning, and architects converge to fuel unexpected creations. One factor, the country's exorbitant inheritance tax, leads many families to cut up their properties into smaller parcels to pay for the tax; the resulting, awkward pieces of land then require architects to squeeze a house into a wrapper defined by fire-safety requirements, sunshine laws, and practical concerns like a parking space. Such is the case today, but distinctive single-family houses in and beyond Tokyo have been prevalent since the end of World War II, when architects took part in the necessary postwar rebuilding that was buoyed by prosperity in the ensuing decades. Naomi Pollock's excellent The Japanese House Since 1945 traces the evolution of single-family houses across eight decades, focusing as much on the people who live(d) in the houses than the architects who designed them.The book is structured as a chronological, decade-by-decade presentation of nearly one hundred houses across 400 pages. Each house is documented in two to five pages with photographs, drawings, and a brief description. The photographs are of their period, rather than contemporary, probably done because most of the old houses have long been demolished. The floor plans are also original, rather than redrawn for the book, but they use a helpful numbered key that is consistent across the book. Last, and perhaps most important, are Pollock's descriptions, which incorporate quotes from the architects and/or the owners and provide details on the designs and living situations beyond typical surveys. Pollock has written numerous books on Japanese architecture, is an international correspondent for Architectural Record, and has elsewhere brought her firsthand accounts and access to architects in Japan to bear on architecture that many people outside of Japan are fascinated by. Compared to books such as New Architecture in Japan, co-written with Yuki Sumner, and Jutaku: Japanese Houses (see bottom of this review), The Japanese House Since 1945 is her most important and best book to date.Although the Japanese houses that are the subject of Pollock's new book are billed as, per the back cover, "many of the most exceptional and experimental houses in the world," it starts with houses that are more traditional than modern. Kunio Maekawa's own house in Tokyo, completed in 1942, has a wood exterior that "evoked traditional Japanese farmhouses," Pollock writes, but has a "spacious living room, exemplifying Maekawa's vision of the ideal house for the burgeoning modern era." Maekawa worked in the Paris atelier of Le Corbusier, later joining Antonin and Noémi Raymond in Tokyo, two foreign architects who moved to Japan after World War I (Antonin worked with Frank Lloyd Wright on the Imperial Hotel). The couple left Japan ahead of WWII but returned after its conclusion, building a house and studio (above spread) in Tokyo that is also rooted in traditional Japanese architecture but subtly signals this "burgeoning modern era." These two instances illustrate how outside influences entered Japan after the war, with tradition and modernity mixing in ways that would eventually lead to the exceptional architectural experimentation the country is known for.The chronological, decade-by-decade presentation allows the evolution of Japanese residential architecture to unfold gradually and be seen in the context of the 1964 Olympics, Expo 1970 in Osaka, the end of the bubble era, the March 2011 earthquake, COVID-19, and other epoch-defining events that are described by Pollock in intros to each decade. Readers see the introduction of concrete, steel, and other materials in the 1960s and 70s, followed by the light construction of the 80s and 90s, and the formal experimentation of our current century. Each decade has at least one icon — Kiyonori Kikutake's Sky House in the 50s, Kazuo Shinohara's Umbrella House in the 60s, Tadao Ando's Row House in Sumiyoshi in the 70s, etc. — but most readers will find something new among the 98 houses. Even those well-versed in modern Japanese houses will be pleased by the nine "At Home" pieces inserted throughout the book. In these, we learn about Yuki Kikutake, daughter of Kiyonori, growing up in Sky House; Fumihiko Maki writes about his own house built in Tokyo in 1978; and we read about the anonymous husband and wife living in Sou Fujimoto's House NA. A last ingredient is nine spotlights — one at the end of each chapter — that discuss the articulation of various elements: roofs, windows, stairs and corridors, gardens and courtyards, etc. The brief case studies, "At Home" features, and spotlights combine to create a compelling and vivid portrait of modern living in Japan over the last eight decades.Naomi Pollock's latest book prompted me to dig out a few other titles from my library that also present Japanese houses. They are described briefly below, presented in chronological order by date of publication, and are intended for anyone who wants do delve deeper into some of the decades or architects explored in Pollock's book; titles with links point to earlier reviews on this blog. Readers who want a more comprehensive overview of early modern Japanese architecture (not just houses) should find David B. Stewart's The Making of a Modern Japanese Architecture rewarding.The New Japanese House: Ritual and Anti-Ritual, Patterns of Dwelling by Chris Fawcett, published by Harper & Row, 1980 (Amazon / AbeBooks)The push and pull between tradition and modernity is the subject of this book by Chris Fawcett, the British critic who wanted to undo misconceptions in the West about Japanese houses. He focused on "Post-Metabolist" architecture, houses from the late 1960s and the 1970s that he presented as "ritual affirming" and "ritual disaffirming" houses. It's an intriguing book, but not one that seems to have had much of an influence all these years later; I wonder if Fawcett would have gone on to make more lasting and impactful books on Japanese architecture if he didn't die young. The New Japanese House can be bought inexpensively online, but harder to find is GA Houses 4: Ontology of House, Residential Architecture of 1970s in Japan, which features an essay by Fawcett and dozens of houses from that decade.Japan Houses in Ferroconcrete by Makoto Uyeda, photography by Junichi Shimomura, published by Graphic-Sha, 1988 (Amazon / AbeBooks)This book features 35 houses designed by 21 architects, all united by the use of concrete, varying from small applications, such as alongside wood, steel, and other materials, to expansive houses in reinforced concrete by the likes of Tadao Ando. Although dates are not provided for the houses, most are from the 1980s with some from the previous decade. One of the most rewarding aspects of this book, which I was chuffed to discover while browsing a used bookstore, is the fact all of the photographs — and there are A LOT of them — were specially taken for the book; they go much deeper inside the houses than the "official" photographs found in monographs and other publications.Tadao Ando 1: Houses and Housing, published by Toto, 2007 (Amazon / AbeBooks)2G N.58/59: Kazuo Shinohara Houses edited by David B. Stewart, Shin-Ichi Okuyama and Taishin Shiozaki, published by Editorial Gustavo Gili, 2011 (Amazon / AbeBooks)One thing I find appealing about architecture in Japan is the way many famous architects there continue to design single-family houses even after getting hired for museums, office buildings, and other larger projects; houses are not merely a leg up to bigger commissions. In turn, monographs on architects' houses can occasionally be found. A couple favorites of mine are the first book in Toto's now-five-strong series on Tadao Ando (Houses and Housing was followed by Outside Japan, Inside Japan, New Endeavors, and Dialogues) and a double issue of 2G devoted to the houses of Kazuo Shinohara built between 1959 and 1988. In addition to them including some of the best modern Japanese houses ever built, the two publications are beautifully produced.Small Houses: Contemporary Japanese Dwellings by Claudia Hildner, published by Birkhäuser, 2011 (Amazon / AbeBooks)Another appealing aspect of Japanese houses is their size. Even though the petit houses prevalent in Japan can be attributed to the country's population density, the breaking up parcels to pay for inheritance taxes, as mentioned above, and other considerations that aren't necessarily geared to the sustainability of living small, it's refreshing to see so much creativity put into small houses rather than the oversized houses that are the norm in the US. This appropriately small book is a good collection of around two-dozen small houses by Go Hasegawa, Atelier Bow-Wow, Sou Fujimoto, and others, all of them completed within the few years leading up to the book's publication. The years since have seen many more creative Japanese houses but fewer house books for readers outside of Japan; websites are now the norm, but I'd be more than happy with more books like Small Houses.How to Make a Japanese House by Cathelijne Nuijsink, published by NAi Publishers, 2012 (Amazon / Bookshop)Astute readers may have noticed that most of the books featured in this post were authored by foreigners (Pollock from the US, Fawcett from the UK, Hildner from Germany, Nuijsink from The Netherlands), which goes hand in hand with the strong appeal Japanese houses have on people outside of Japan. I can't imagine a book titled "How to Make a Japanese House" coming from a Japanese architect; they would not need to explain the work they do on a daily basis to fellow Japanese architects doing the same. For Cathelijne Nuijsink, the premise of the book allowed her to explore the making of Japanese houses through in-depth interviews with four generations of their creators: Jun Aoki, Kazuyo Sejima, Junya Ishigami, and so on. It's an excellent book that remains in print a decade later.Jutaku: Japanese Houses by Naomi Pollock, published by Phaidon, 2015 (Amazon / Bookshop)Appropriately, this review of Naomi Pollock's The Japanese House Since 1945 ends with another book by Pollock: a compact Phaidon picture book with more than 400 contemporary Japanese houses, from Hokkaido in the snowy north to Kyushu in the subtropical south. Not surprisingly, most of the houses are found in Kanto Prefecture, which is anchored by Tokyo. It's a stellar collection that suffers from too much in a small package: there is only one photo per house, an exterior photo that shows readers what anyone would be able to see in public, just hinting at the qualities within. Two photos per house — one outside, one inside — could have been done with a slightly larger paper size. Alas, the book proves the creativity in Japanese residential architecture but leaves us wanting more — much more.

  • On the Future of Cities
    by John Hill on November 6, 2023 at 1:00 PM

    The recent publication of two books prompted me to ponder the future of cities and do a write-up of them together:Implementing Urban Design: Green, Civic, and Community Strategies by Jonathan Barnett, published by Routledge, June 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)Renewing the Dream: The Mobility Revolution and the Future of Los Angeles edited by James Sanders, published by Rizzoli Electa, September 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)Implementing Urban Design is the latest of many books about urban design and planning by Jonathan Barnett, whose career and CV span around fifty years. Over that time he has served as an architect, planner, educator, and an advisor to cities in and beyond the US, including Charleston, South Carolina, Omaha, and New York City, where he was Director of Urban Design in the Department of City Planning. When I received Implementing Urban Design, one of the first things I did was scour my bookshelves for other books by Barnett (something I do with most other reviews). There I found his first book, Urban Design as Public Policy: Practical Methods for Improving Cities, published in 1974. It, his first book, summarized his efforts in that role at NYC Planning, presenting the working methods behind the projects he worked on and doing it in ways that other urban designers in other places could learn from them.Just as Barnett's first book was "concerned with techniques of dealing with a number of significant urban and environmental problems which are found in existing cities, or are created when new areas are developed," his latest book focuses on the "complicated interactive process" that is required to move urban designs from their conceptual phases to completion. "What happens in between," in other words, is the subject of Implementing Urban Design, illustrated in ten chapters with case studies drawn from Barnett's experience as an urban design consultant. New York City is here, in chapter 3, "Designing Cities Without Designing Buildings," an echo of a chapter of the same name in the 1974 book. The chapter in the earlier book includes, among other projects, the Lincoln Square Special Zoning District, created in the wake of construction of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and developers rushing to build near it. A requirement to build to the sidewalk (to a height of at least 85') and including arcades for the buildings on the east side of Broadway were the most dramatic components of the special district. Too early to see its impact in 1974, Implementing Urban Design shows the area nearly fifty years later, with a hodgepodge of towers on podiums along Broadway but a street wall that is fairly cohesive. Although the arcade requirement was eventually eliminated from the special district (they're now "permitted" rather than required, such that recent projects like Robert A. M. Stern's 15 Central Park West don't have one), the bulk of the requirements are there, working to maintain that certain design aspects of Broadway north of Columbus Circle extend into the future.The same chapter in the new book also touches on the office campus of PPG in Pittsburgh and a streetscape handbook for Norfolk, Virginia, but other chapters often delve deeper into individual projects in individual cities. For example, chapter nine, "Mobilizing Support to Redesign an Entire City," presents Barnett's process in the fairly massive creation of a master plan for Omaha, Nebraska (the cover depicts a visualization from the plan). Another chapter, "Changing Regulations to Prevent Suburban Sprawl," documents his work with Wildwood, a town west of St. Louis that incorporated in 1995 and wanted to develop a new zoning ordinance that would be appropriate to the area and veer from the suburban norm. My wife being from St. Louis, a city I've in turn visited numerous times, attracted me to this chapter, whose theme — preventing urban sprawl — is of undeniable importance. Barnett walks through the process in detail, from initial contact and developing a team, to research, concepts, writing the master plan and development regulations, and devising a specific plan for the Town Center. The last is now just partially built out, about 25 years after Barnett was brought in. But if we learned anything from the Lincoln Square example, urban designs can take upwards of fifty years until they are "complete."Spread from Renewing the Dream: The Mobility Revolution and the Future of Los AngelesIf the visuals in Implementing Urban Design are, to put it inelegantly, less than sexy, the opposite is true of Renewing the Dream, which was edited by James Sanders, author of Celluloid Skyline, and produced in association with Woods Bagot, the Australian firm that now boasts 17 offices around the world. The "freshest member" of the global studio, founded in 2020, is in Los Angeles, where numerous projects to date have focused on transportation, including a concourse at LAX and a proposal for turning gas stations in Los Angeles into EV charging stations with cultural components like drive-in theaters. This beautifully produced coffee table book is full of striking visuals by Woods Bagot and from the worlds of art, photography, and cinema.Even though Renewing the Dream presents a number of projects by the LA studio of Woods Bagot, including the ReCharge LA Prototype EV Station, I wouldn't call the book a monograph. Consisting of a half-dozen essays and two interviews alongside case studies of Woods Bagot projects — all geared around the theme of the "mobility revolution" in Los Angeles — the book's genre is indefinable: it is a hybrid that Sanders describes in the introduction as a "kaleidoscopic portrait" of LA, with "an unusually wide-ranging mix of content—research and data studies, urban design and public art projects, cultural and historical overviews, surveys of current and future technologies."ReCharge LA Prototype EV Station by Matt Ducharme and Woods Bagot Los Angeles StudioThe book's wide-ranging content is predicated on what Sanders and Woods Bagot call LA 3.0, a new Los Angeles in the making, following LA 2.0, the freeway and tract-housing landscape of the mid-20th century, and, before that, LA 1.0, the streetcar and boulevard paradigm before WWII. Some of the in-progress LA 3.0 is mandated — extending the subway by 2028, the year of the LA Olympics, and the outlaw of gas cars and trucks for sale by 2035, accelerating the rise of EVs — but much of it comes from wider developments that aren't necessarily rooted in LA but have taken hold there, notably the climate emergency (think the Getty Fire in 2019) and digital technologies like Uber, which eliminate the need for personal cars on, for instance, nights out with friends.Los Angeles may seem like the most unlikely place for a book devoted to a mobility revolution, but my personal experience with LA gave me the opposite impression. My only trip to the city was around twenty years ago, when I spent two weeks there working on a competition with a short deadline. I stayed at the Biltmore in downtown, with a view of Pershing Square out my window. My morning commute was walking across the street to U.S. Bank Tower; my evening commute, 12 or 16 hours later, was the opposite. No car, no driving — a very un-LA experience of LA. But on weekends I walked around DTLA, took buses to the Getty Center and Santa Monica, and rode the subway to West Hollywood. Although I was a tourist, my experience showed me it was possible to navigate a good deal of LA without a car. An expanded subway network, more frequent buses, urban design focused on walkability and bicycling — it isn't hard to consider these and other efforts having dramatic changes on the car-centric nature of Los Angeles.Yet, the wide-ranging mix of content in Renewing the Dream reveals that the biggest impact of mobility advances on the city — any American city, really, not just LA — is found in parking. If changes in laws, increased public transit, technology advances, and other things lead Americans and Angelenos to have fewer cars, drive less, and use ride-sharing and take public transit more, then the many square miles of surface parking lots can be given over to spaces for people, not cars: densifying (sub)urban areas and providing housing and other much-needed functions. So, in addition to the ReCharge LA project, the book includes MORE LA, Woods Bagot's study for infilling lots previously used for surface parking, and Sanders' own California Court project, a denser version of the city's beloved bungalow courtyards apartments from a century ago. The last, documented in the 1982 book Courtyard Housing in Los Angeles, is one of a few-dozen books in the bibliography whose quotes and influence pepper Renewing the Dream. The older book and newer proposal illustrate that, while certain elements of the mobility revolution are linear and future-oriented, some of them are historical and cyclical. The answers to tomorrow's sustainable Los Angeles, in other words, are found as much in the city's existing built environment as they are in technologies and designs still to come.

  • Visualizing the World, Visualizing Change
    by John Hill on October 30, 2023 at 12:00 PM

    In 1939, Otto Neurath's Modern Man in the Making was released by Alfred A. Knopf. Neurath was director of the International Foundation of Visual Information and used the Isotype (International System of Typographic Picture Education) system to "teach through the eye." A recent article describes Modern Man in the Making as a "pictorial statistical history of human technological adaptation and social cooperation [that] addressed a modern audience searching for optimistic narratives amid an economically, politically, and socially volatile era." The book is a classic, and for someone like me who veers toward arguments made in a combination of words and images, it is a book I should probably have — at the very least, I should know more about it.Although it was released as a trade book, can be found cheaply in b/w reprints, and is freely available on the Internet Archive, first editions of Modern Man in the Making go for hundreds and thousands of dollars. This is one of those books that screams out for a high-quality facsimile edition — and it will be getting that treatment early next year, courtesy of Lars Müller Publishers. The timing is curious, though, as Lars Müller just released Joy and Fear, in which Theo Deutinger brings the subjects and visual techniques of Neurath's magnum opus into the 21st century. Although Deutinger writes that his book "enters in dialogue" with Neurath's book, I couldn't help thinking that the two books side by side would heighten the differences and similarities, the constants and changes between the 1930s and the 2020s. Alas, I'll have to wait until February to do that.Joy and Fear is not the first book by Theo Deutinger published by Lars Müller. That was Handbook of Tyranny, which was published in 2018 and was recently released in an updated, expanded edition. I didn't see it upon its initial release, though I did catch Deutinger's display of the book's illustrations — the walls, fences, and other means of controlling human behavior in cities — in actual objects: plants, railings, barbed wire, a prison jumpsuit and other pieces of the "routine cruelties of the twenty-first century" at the Storefront for Art and Architecture. That 2019 exhibition prompted me to get the book and then write a review: "The straightforward illustrations look like they could have been pulled from Architectural Graphic Standards, making the book read at times like an actual handbook for tyrannical dictators." Deutinger's "detailed non-fictional graphic illustrations," as described by the publisher, also owe a debt to Neurath, as evinced by the publication of Joy and Fear. People who already own the first edition of Handbook of Tyranny won't find it necessary to buy the update, given that the changes amount to just eight new pages and consist mainly of some new paragraphs here and there, and the reordering of charts and graphics to reflect the state of the world five years later. Still, I appreciated the fact Deutinger went to the effort of an update, doing something that was de rigueur in books decades ago but is now rare, almost exclusively the province of the internet, which can be updated in close to real time. But Deutinger's illustrations — almost subversive in their dryness — are appropriate to the pages of a book; I feel like they would lose something on the screen, even though the changes impacting his illustrations happen at a clip much faster than in half-decade intervals.Spread from Handbook of Tyranny (Expanded Edition) by Theo Deutinger, published by Lars Múller Publishers, June 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)In between Handbook of Tyranny and Joy and Fear, Deutinger and Lars Müller put out Ultimate Atlas: Logbook of Spaceship Earth, a book that uses lines — and nothing else — "to create a total portrait of the planet." No wonder one review calls it "the ultimate simplification of reality." I haven't seen that book, but visually it seems that Joy and Fear strikes a balance between the highly detailed illustrations of Tyranny and the minimalism of Ultimate Atlas, as if Neurath's Isotype cannot be improved upon in describing the state of the world over time. As described above, Deutinger's book "dialogues" with Neurath's nearly century-old book. It does this by extending the timeline to the present and adjusting some data visualization from the original; the latter updates are highlighted with the icon of a person holding up a sign. What does the book reveal about the modern world? Clearly, yet unfortunately and not surprisingly, that progress is being made by the few, not the many: geographically, demographically, politically, economically, etc.Spread from Joy and Fear: An Illustrated Report on Modernity by Theo Deutinger, published by Lars Múller Publishers, September 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)The spread above can serve to illustrate how the book works. The red, blue, and black chart on the left shows household ownership of amenities in the USA, from 1910 to 2020, including such items as computers, phones, wifi, telephones (cell and landline separately), toilets, and electricity. Most of the amenities are full as of 2020, though only one — landline telephones — is in decline. Though the same chart for other geographical areas would be telling, the opposite page shows an update version of data viz. from Neurath's 1939 book: radios, TVs, and cars in the 1930s (top) and 2020s (bottom) in the six geographical regions used throughout Deutinger's book (USA and Canada, Europe, CIS, Latin America, Southern Territories, Far East). Although the scales change between the two charts, it's clear that the regions in the bottom rows (Latin America, Southern Territories, Far East) have become more modern in recent decades. But it's up to the reader to speculate on what so many cars mean, for instance, to our warming planet.Visualizing how the continued burning of fossil flues will impact our warming planet is one subject of Climate Inheritance, the latest book from Design Earth, the brilliantly inventive studio of Rania Ghosn and El Hadi Jazairy that previously wrote and illustrated Geographies of Trash (2015), Geostories: Another Architecture for the Environment (2018), and The Planet After Geoengineering (2021). The cover features one of the many beautiful illustrations populating the book: a diagram of aquifers refilled by injecting storm water into "bladders" that serve to raise the sinking city of Venice. Venice and its Lagoon is one of ten sites in the book, each one on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Others include the Galápagos Islands, Sagarmatha National Park, and the Statue of Liberty. What is the future of such places — heritage sites that are already preserved to a greater extent than other places — when the Anthropocene leads to inherited conditions future generations may not anticipate?Spread from Climate Inheritance by Rania Ghosn and El Hadi Jazairy (DESIGN EARTH), published by Actar Publishers, August 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)By way of illustration, the chapter on the Statue of Liberty indicates that Design Earth is not interested exclusively on the preservation and care of monuments, of places deemed heritage sites; what they symbolize is also important, revealing that inheritances involve myriad problems beyond the environmental and physical. To Ghosn and Jazairy, the statue gifted to the USA from France is about patina, poverty, and pollution: "The ecology of the color line is more than skin deep." Pollution led to damage on the skin of the statue and the need for numerous restorations, but well beyond that, "disparate exposure to pollutants," the book reads in regards to today's reframing of socioeconomic inequalities, "may help explain racial discrepancies in lung functioning." In Design Earth's imagined future, the Statue of Liberty appears to be joined by a "Brown Lady Liberty," the symbol of "a long awaited but not yet actualized freedom that was articulated over a century and a half ago."One more book that joins with the other three to be — in my mind, at least —  an illustration of how images are effective in describing the world and the way it changes over time is Stephen J. Eskilson's Digital Design: A History. Eskilson's book, unlike the other three, does not use newly created images to create a narrative, but the story that he is telling is about images: design in its various aspects, from graphic and industrial design to architecture and data visualization. It's a history that needs to be told, especially since people now born into the digital world don't realize how developments in design from the 20th and even earlier centuries shaped our digital present — and likewise will shape our digital futures.Architecture is the subject of two chapters: "Digital Architecture I: Origins" and "Digital Architecture II: Parametrics and 3D Printing." (The latest buzz in architecture — and just about every realm, really — AI, is treated in its own chapter.) In the first architecture chapter, Eskilson moves from the Sydney Opera House, in which "[Ove] Arup pioneered the use of computational analysis," to Peter Cook and Colin Fournier's Kunsthaus Graz via Frank Gehry in Bilbao, Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus, and Greg Lynn. The second chapter jumps ahead to Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher, especially the latter's wholehearted, sometimes controversial embrace of parametricism, while also looking at how digital software bridges construction via 3D printing and robotics. This is design history, remember, so there is nothing novel in what Eskilson discusses, but he succinctly traces some of the most important developments to describe our current condition. (Unfortunately, one typo — and I hope it's just that — distracted me while reading the first architecture chapter: Eskilson calls AD, the "magazine that associated digital architecture with aspects of structuralist theory," Architectural Digest instead of Architectural Design! I can't think of more polar opposites than these two publications sharing the first term and abbreviation but having very little else in common.)Spread from Digital Design: A History by Stephen Eskilson, published by Princeton University Press, October 2023 (Amazon / Bookshop)Even with two architecture chapters among its twelve chapters, most interesting to me is the chapter devoted to data visualization, a subject that is also strongly aligned with Neurath and Deutinger. Like other chapters in the book, Eskilson briskly covers decades and centuries in just around twenty pages, moving from 18th-century charts and graphs to digital data on websites, across buildings, and on the walls of galleries. Some of what makes this chapter so appealing is the abundance of examples unknown to me, such as Nam June Paik's Electronic Superhighway (1995), which is pictured above, has a permanent home at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and now I feel I must go see. (That said, I wish the book had a list of books for further reading, and I am surprised that a book published by a university press has no footnotes at all.) More recent examples are really interesting, including Oliver O'Brien's Tube Tongues (2014), an interactive map that shows the prevalence of non-English speaking in different London neighborhoods. Rising to the fore re: data viz., though, is the importance of design/the designer in making data in digital environments visible and understandable, especially when the output is on a website and via an API, for instance, rather than in a book and done by an illustrator. The books above may be old-fashioned, just by the fact they are books rather than digital environments, but they offer plenty to consider in regards to thinking about and visualizing the world around us — now and in the future.

  • The 'As Found'
    by John Hill on October 23, 2023 at 12:00 PM

    Over at World-Architects I reviewed As Found: Experiments in Preservation (Flanders Architecture Institute, 2023) edited by Sofie De Caigny, Hülya Ertas and Bie Plevoets, the companion to the exhibition of the same name at the Flanders Architecture Institute.Read my review here.