A Daily Dose of Architecture

  • A Moving Border
    by John Hill on June 12, 2019 at 12:00 PM

    A Moving Border: Alpine Cartographies of Climate ChangeMarco Ferrari, Elisa Pasqual, Andrea BagnatoColumbia Books on Architecture and the City with ZKM | Center for Art and Media, December 2018Paperback | 8-3/4 x 11-1/2 inches | 228 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1941332450 | $30.00Publisher Description:Italy’s northern border follows the watershed that separates the drainage basins of Northern and Southern Europe. Running mostly at high altitudes, it crosses snowfields and perennial glaciers—all of which are now melting as a result of anthropogenic climate change. As the watershed shifts so does the border, contradicting its representations on official maps. Italy, Austria, and Switzerland have consequently introduced the novel legal concept of a “moving border,” one that acknowledges the volatility of geographical features once thought to be stable.A Moving Border: Alpine Cartographies of Climate Change builds upon the Italian Limes project by Studio Folder, which was devised in 2014 to survey the fluctuations of the boundary line across the Alps in real time. The book charts the effects of climate change on geopolitical understandings of border and the cartographic methods used to represent them. Locating the Italian condition alongside a longer political history of boundary making, the book brings together critical essays, visualizations, and unpublished documents from state archives. By examining the nexus of nationalism and cartography, A Moving Border details how borders are both material and imagined, and the ways global warming challenges Western conceptions of territory. Even more, it provides a blueprint for spatial intervention in a world where ecological processes are bound to dominate geopolitical affairs.dDAB Commentary:A highlight of Monditalia, one of the three main components of the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale curated by Rem Koolhaas, was Studio Folder's "Italian Limes," which garnered one of three special mentions. The project consisted of a topographical model of the Alps illuminated by a projection depicting the border Italy shares with Austria, and a plotter redrawing that border based on GPS data that took the shifting watersheds arising from climate change into account. The latter was done on sheets that visitors to the Biennale could take home (I need to dig into my Biennale file and see if I still have mine), a memento that was also a sign of the great efforts that Marco Ferrari and Elisa Pasqual of Studio Folder went to, which even included placing a handful of GPS sensors in the Alps. The project was expanded in 2016 at the ZKM | Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, when new sensors were placed on a glacier in the Alps and another glimpse of the changing border was captured.A Moving Border, by Ferrari and Pasquel with Andrea Bagnato, expands on the project even further, collecting findings from the two exhibitions, presenting archival maps and other data on the shifting borders, and providing a few essays. Some of the most rewarding information is found in the archives culled from the Istituto Geografico Militare (IGM) near Florence. The maps, sketches, photographs, charts, and other illustrations illuminate the various tactics and technologies used to mark the natural and political boundaries over the last century and a half. Although today's computer-enabled measurements and our anthropogenic climate make for a unique situation, the archives make the longer context clear by situating our shifting present within a shifting past. Another highlight is the "project report" for the 2016 iteration of "Italian Limes," which documents the means of collecting the data and some of the findings from the sensors embedded in the glacier. All in all, the book is a visually rich and deeply informative exploration of an intriguing and important subject.Spreads:Author Bio:Marco Ferrari, an architect, and Elisa Pasqual, a visual designer, are the founders of Studio Folder, a design and research studio based in Milan. Andrea Bagnato is an architect, researcher, and editor.Purchase Links:(Note: Books bought via these links send a few cents to this blog, keeping it afloat.)  &nbs […]

  • Projects and Their Consequences
    by John Hill on June 10, 2019 at 12:00 PM

    Projects and Their Consequences: Reiser + UmemotoJesse Reiser, Nanako UmemotoPrinceton Architectural Press, May 2019Flexicover | 9 x 12 inches | 320 pages | 400 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1616897192 | $60.00Publisher Description:Projects and Their Consequences presents fifteen key projects from leading architectural thinkers Reiser + Umemoto. Projects and Their Consequences traces thirty years of innovative, multidisciplinary investigations of form, structure, technique, and planning. Projects include large-scale studies of infrastructure for the East River Corridor and Hudson Yards areas in Manhattan and the Alishan Railway in Taiwan, as well as schemes for cultural institutions including the New Museum, Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, and University of Applied Arts Vienna. Also included are thought-provoking "textual projects": narrative works that blur the boundaries of art and architecture. Projects and Their Consequences balances incisive interviews and essays with more than 400 strikingly original drawings, collages, and paintings. Large-format and beautifully designed, it is a necessary volume for architects and those interested in the intersection of architecture, art, and culture.dDAB Commentary:My first thought upon opening Projects and Their Consequences and scanning its table of contents was, "Where's O-14?" I wrote about the concrete diagrid tower in How to Build a Skyscraper and before that reviewed the book-length case study put out by the Architectural Association on this blog. It seemed odd that such an important project, as well as other recent buildings or projects under construction, are not found in the pages of this new monograph on RUR Architecture, the studio of Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto. But the first paragraph of the Preface immediately explains the omission: the book "will be the first of three volumes." As such the four thematic sections (Textural Projects – Narrative, Material Diagram – Scapes, Infrastructure – Territories, and Cultural Institutions – Environments) that present nearly twenty projects in roughly chronological order, from 1984 to 2012, function like an archive, a glimpse at the origin and evolution of Reiser and Umemoto's New York studio. The lengthy Introduction, titled "It Could Always Be Otherwise," accentuates this function, with stories of the partners' (in work and life) upbringings and influences and numerous theoretical statements that are aligned with their footholds in academia, most notably at Columbia and Princeton.What stands out from the many projects is not one or the other project, but the fact RUR was a consistent presence in high-profile competitions in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Here those include the Yokohama Port Terminal (1995, won by FOA) and Kansai National Diet Library (1996, finalist), both in Japan; the IIT Student Center (1997, won by OMA) in Chicago; and the Eyebeam Atelier (2001, won by Diller Scofidio + Renfro), the New Museum of Contemporary Art (2003, won by SANAA), and the ideas competition for the West Side Yards (1999, won by Peter Eisenman), all in New York City. Though not victorious in these competitions, the designs were influential through their publication in Assemblage, AD, and elsewhere. That their descriptions in Projects and Their Consequences are in the present rather than past tense makes them new again — or at least new to people only familiar with O-14 and other recent projects. With those still to come, I'm eagerly looking forward to the next two volumes of RUR's three-part monograph.Spreads:Author Bio:Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto are the founders and principals of RUR Architecture DPC, an internationally recognized design firm based in New York City.Purchase Links:(Note: Books bought via these links send a few cents to this blog, keeping it afloat.)  &nbs […]

  • Old & New Architecture
    by John Hill on June 9, 2019 at 12:00 PM

    Old & New Architecture: Design RelationshipNational Trust for Historic PreservationThe Preservation Press, February 1981Paperback | 9-1/4 x 11-1/4 inches | 280 pages | 400+ illustrations | English | ISBN: 0891330976 | $15.95Publisher Description:One of the most complex and controversial architectural problems of today is what relationship new architecture should bear to it's surroundings. Should new buildings imitate adjacent historical styles? Or should they starkly contrast with their neighbors to proclaim their modernity? Can formulas quantify desirable relationships between old and new? These are a few of the questions explored in this provocative book — the first to bring together the often contrasting viewpoints of 20 of the country's most respected architects and preservationists. Among the contributors who address the aesthetic, legal and practical problems of relating to old and new are Michael Graves, Peter Blake, Louis Sauer, Jean Paul Carlhian, Giorgio Cavaglieri, James Stewart Polshek, Samuel Wilson, Jr., Weiming Lu and Paul Goldberger. More than 400 illustrations show residential, commercial and public buildings designed to solve this age-old problem....dDAB Commentary:After writing the other day about Why Old Places Matter: How Historic Places Affect Our Identity and Well-Being by Thompson Mayes from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), I couldn't help but take another look at Old and New Architecture: Design Relationship, which I wrote briefly about on my Unpacking My Library blog four years ago. The book, published in hardcover in 1980 and paperback the following year, documents a 1977 conference of the same name hosted by the NTHP. It examined the relationship between old and new buildings in the United States in terms of history and theory, with case studies, in terms of design reviews, and looking forward to a "future of harmonious design." Coming in the midst of Postmodernism, the theme is not very surprising. But I think it's still relevant today, since reusing old buildings is one of the most sustainable practices and therefore the interaction between old and new is of utmost importance.With Old and New the focus was primarily aesthetic: interventions either complemented or contrasted new with old. Peter Blake, who created a post-conference visual essay for the book, defines a few of the more creative approaches: invisible additions, such as Earl Flansburgh's underground Cornell University Campus Store; anonymous additions, as in Kevin Roche's Lehman Pavilion (among other interventions) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and polite deceptions, which embrace trompe l'oeil, a questionable approach in my mind. Paul Goldberger, in the "future of harmonious design" section, points out the pros and cons of mimicry, as in the addition to the Frick (which is undergoing another controversial expansion), and contrast, as in Hugh Hardy's "Weatherman" townhouse in Greenwich. Both Blake and Goldberger also single out Henry Cobb's John Hancock Tower in Boston, completed one year before the conference. Blake likes the way the tower's mirrored facade reflects H.H. Richardson' Trinity Church, though Goldberger is critical of it for the same effect. Whatever one's leanings, I wouldn't be surprised if the high-profile tower was the impetus for the conference -- and for considering if such interventions would be the future of cities (they would be, though at the expense of more creative approaches).Spreads:Author Bio:The National Trust for Historic Preservation is the only private, nonprofit organization chartered by Congress to encourage public participation in the preservation of sites, buildings and objects significant in the United States history and culture.Purchase Links:(Note: Books bought via these links send a few cents to this blog, keeping it afloat.)&nbs […]

  • June 12 Book Talk @NYPL
    by John Hill on June 8, 2019 at 12:00 PM

    On Wednesday, June 12 at 6:30pm, I'll be giving a book talk on NYC Walks: Guide to New Architecture at the Mid-Manhattan Library. As you might know, the actual Mid-Manhattan Library is being renovated by Mecanoo and will open next year, so my talk will be taking place at the library's temporary location inside the Stephen A. Schwarzman Library at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. The event is free, but be sure to register via this link.Details on the June 12 event from NYPL's website:Take a 21st century walking tour of the newest buildings in New York City.NYC Walks is a portable, easy-to-use architectural guide that showcases the most exciting new buildings in New York. Choose between ten 1- to 3-mile walks that extend from Columbia University through lower Manhattan and across to Brooklyn and Queens. John Hill highlights over 150 buildings as well as popular attractions like the High Line and Lincoln Center, and vibrant neighborhoods including Williamsburg and the Bowery. Maps and photographs make this a compelling and useful guide for visitors, architecture buffs, and New Yorkers alike.FIRST COME, FIRST SEATEDRegistration does not guarantee admission. For free events, we generally overbook to ensure a full house. Priority will be given to those who have registered in advance, but registration does not guarantee admission. All registered seats are released shortly before start time, and seats may become available at that time. A stand by line will form 30 minutes before the program.The Program Room opens at 6 PM. […]

  • Why Old Places Matter
    by John Hill on June 7, 2019 at 12:00 PM

    Why Old Places Matter: How Historic Places Affect Our Identity and Well-BeingThompson M. MayesRowman & Littlefield, September 2018Hardcover | 8-3/4 x 11-1/4 inches | 168 pages | 74 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1538117682 | $45.00Publisher Description:Why Old Places Matter is the only book that explores the reasons that old places matter to people. Although people often feel very deeply about the old places of their lives, they don’t have the words to express why. This book brings these ideas together in evocative language and with illustrative images for a broad audience. The book reveals the fundamentally important yet under-recognized role old places play in our lives. While many people feel a deep-seated connection to old places -- from those who love old houses, to the millions of tourists who are drawn to historic cities, to the pilgrims who flock to ancient sites throughout the world -- few can articulate why. The book explores these deep attachments people have with old places –the feelings of belonging, continuity, stability, identity and memory, as well as the more traditional reasons that old places have been deemed by society to be important, such as history, national identity, and architecture. This book will be appealing to anyone who has ever loved an old place. But more importantly, it will be an useful resource to articulate why old places are meaningful to people and their communities. This book will help people understand that the feeling many have for old places is supported by a wide variety of fields, and that the continued existence of these old places is good. It will give people the words and phrases to understand and express why old places matter.dDAB Commentary:A couple weeks ago I went on a press tour of the TWA Hotel, a restoration and reuse of Eero Saarinen's TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport. The new hotel uses the old terminal as a lobby with lounge, restaurant, and shops, and it features two new wings with hotel rooms that flank the 1962 building. It is a masterful restoration, courtesy of Beyer Blinder Belle, and one that seems like an no-brainer; who, after all, would not want to see Saarinen's building given a second life? But before it was landmarked by NYC in 1994, the terminal was far from beloved by the people who used it. The terminal was basically obsolete the moment it opened, having been designed for small supersonics rather than large wide-body jets; travelers were greeted by a terminal unable to accommodate the crowds and long lines. The terminal closed in 2001, was mothballed by the Port Authority, and was eventually transformed into a hotel 18 years later — a preservation success story.I'm bringing up the TWA Hotel in the context of Why Old Places Matter because one thought kept entering my mind when considering the saving and reusing of Saarinen's building, regardless of the fact it was functionally deficient: it was built. The fact it existed meant its reuse had to be considered — in my mind at least. Its beauty made its preservation an obvious fact, but I think that just about any well-built building deserves to be saved, or at least have its reuse seriously considered. There are various reasons for this thought: reusing old buildings is sustainable, it maintains scale and historical continuity, and it gives architects a canvas against which new architecture can be designed. In the case of Lubrano Ciavarra Architects, who designed the curved wings of the TWA Hotel, they created a neutral backdrop for Saarinen's bird-like creation. Whatever the case, I think the most interesting parts of cities — even airports — arise from the juxtaposition of old and new.Why Old Places Matter by Thompson Mayes, vice president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, does an excellent job in defining and explaining more than a dozen reasons for preserving old buildings, be it a centuries-old house or a 50-year-old airline terminal. It consists of fourteen short essays between six and ten pages, each one arguing why old places matter: memory, beauty, history, architecture, sustainability, and so forth. Some of the arguments that batted around my head in regards to TWA were reiterated by Mayes. Such is the strength of his book: Although he references articles, books, and interviews that address the preservation of places, his book puts those words together into an accessible package that should aid people in understanding the value of preservation and explaining it to others. I could see it being used by people — citizens, not necessarily professionals — who want to protect this or that building or landscape but need help in articulating the why. Born from a six-month stay at the American Academy in Rome, Why Old Places Matter might be aimed at protecting old American places but its lessons are universal.Spreads:Author Bio:Thompson McCord Mayes, vice president and senior counsel at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has spent his professional career preserving old places. In 2013, Tom was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Rome Prize in Historic Preservation by the American Academy in Rome, and subsequently spent a six-month residency in Rome as a Fellow of the Academy. The essays that are collected in this publication came about as a result of that experience.Purchase Links:(Note: Books bought via these links send a few cents to this blog, keeping it afloat.)  &nbs […]

  • The Nature of Design
    by John Hill on June 6, 2019 at 12:00 PM

    The Nature of Design: Principles, Processes, and the Purview of the ArchitectM. Scott LockardORO Editions, May 2017Paperback | 9-3/4 x 11-1/2 inches | 272 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1939621429 | $39.95Publisher Description:In this insightful, irreverent, and beautiful exposition of the design process, one of the world’s most prolific practitioners proposes an absolutely clear distinction between Design and Art.Lockard asserts that the design profession itself accepts and often promotes a misleading definition of design, and here challenges professionals, their clients, and students of design to examine the fundamental nature of the discipline.Conversational yet uncompromising in its message—illustrated throughout by hundreds of actual design drawings from real-world projects of all types demonstrating Lockard’s highly effective and versatile process—the book’s overarching principles will find application in all fields of design.The Nature of Design also offers compelling insight into today’s biggest challenges for the field of design: the co-opting of the process by bureaucratic and industry forces, the disconnection of academia from practice, and the very real difficulties facing designers that encourage brain drain to related fields.dDAB Commentary:Today the AIA Conference on Architecture gets underway in Las Vegas. While I'm not attending the annual event hosted by the American Institute of Architects, I've been to many of them in the past, including last year's in New York City. One thing the Conferences do, among many other things, is reorient my writing (as least temporarily) on this blog and at World-Architects from an emphasis on big names and high-profile commissions to more run-of-the-mill projects by the majority of the profession: architects who don't get the exposure of the Bjarke Ingelses and Daniel Libeskinds. AIA does draw some big names, but most of the Conference — presenters and attendees, both — is made up of relatively unknown architects who design, detail, and manage building projects. I'm thinking of these experiences now because M. Scott Lockard wants, with The Nature of Design, to reorient architects away from heroic starchitecture and toward improving the design process of architects interested in pleasing their clients.Lockard spells out his position early and consistently throughout the book. It boils down to two points: "The designer's job is to serve the client," and "Design is not art." This is architecture as a service profession, one that serves the client: the person or company who owns the land, develops the program, takes the financial risks, and pays the architect. Those interested in architecture in service of society or of the environment need to look elsewhere. Furthermore, those interested in architectural aesthetics or, more accurately, architecture as a functional art, will probably find the book lacking. A look at the spreads below gives a clear indication of the types of designs — done by Lockard with and for various architecture firms— that permeate the book.Lockard argues for a particular way of designing — one based on a clear prepare-propose-evaluate-repeat process and the use of analogies (stories) rather than a reliance on forms or effects — across seven chapters, ranging from the nature of design and designers to the process of design, style, and the profession. His conversational, sometimes humorous yet occasionally arrogant writing is accompanied by abundant illustrations: drawings and renderings that tend to number a few to a page. Though I can't help but wonder if Lockard's argument is aided or hindered by these images. They exhibit a skilled, consistent hand that goes along with the consistent voice of the text, but after a while the aerial renderings punctuated by spotlights and perspectival scenes populated by dozens of people (there is a clear focus on hospitality and entertainment typologies in his work) blur together. Furthermore, in most chapters the images are separate from rather than aligned with the text; an intentional integration (which happens in the process chapter) would have helped strengthen Lockard's argument. Instead, the images distract from Lockard's text, signaling the outcome of the design process before any architect interested in his approach has been able to digest it.Spreads:Author Bio:In more than three decades of architectural practice, M. Scott Lockard—the son of revered architectural educator W. Kirby Lockard—has had a hand in the design of projects of nearly every scale and type, in all phases of design, and on every continent. Beyond his own practice, Lockard has collaborated with more than seventy-five design firms, and thus has a unique and extremely realistic perspective on the practice of design today. His design and architecture firm, Lockard Creative, is located in Kentfield, California, just north of San Francisco.Purchase Links:(Note: Books bought via these links send a few cents to this blog, keeping it afloat.)  &nbs […]

  • New Chinese Architecture
    by John Hill on June 5, 2019 at 12:00 PM

    New Chinese Architecture: Twenty Women Building the FutureAustin Williams, Zhang Xin (Foreword)Thames & Hudson, May 2019Hardcover | 9 x 9-3/4 inches | 256 pages | 370+ illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-0500343388 | $45.00Publisher Description:Over the past decade, China’s new generation of female architects have proven themselves to be talented, confident, innovative, and successful on the world stage. Engaging with traditions and international trends, as well as posing entirely new architectural ideas, their projects reveal China to be a place full of creative possibility.This book explores the work of twenty leading female architects living and working in China today. Together they represent a mix of creative talents who are having a significant influence on the national scene. Featuring detailed profiles of each architect, this book showcases over fifty of their key projects across China, from small- to large-scale, residential to commercial, and urban to rural developments, many never before published. With a foreword by business magnate Zhang Xin, one of China’s most celebrated female entrepreneurs, New Chinese Architecture offers unique insights into how architects are adapting and responding to the rapidly evolving social and political changes impacting life in the most populous country on Earth.dDAB Commentary:Though not Chinese, one woman is missing from this book of "women building the future" in China: Zaha Hadid. She designed no less than six buildings for China, four of them (Guangzhou Opera House, Galaxy SOHO and Sky SOHO, and Jockey Club Innovation Tower) completed before she died in 2016. Hadid's impact on China was great in her lifetime and continues now and into the future, as projects she designed are realized posthumously. Hadid was actually supposed to write the foreword for New Chinese Architecture, which points to her importance for women architects in China and to the years that Austin Williams and his team put into researching and documenting the work of twenty of them. Although, in the words of Eva Jiřičná, who is quoted in the book's introduction, the greatest tribute to Hadid would be to "eliminate the practice of talking about female architects" (my emphasis), the book's focus on women architects (happenstance, per the author) draws attention to firms that don't get as much press or recognition as others, and to women that are overshadowed by their male peers.The twenty architects are presented in alphabetical order (from Di Shaohua to Zhao Zhao) with "articles taken from interviews" and documentation of two or more projects. The articles trace the architects' paths toward architecture and heading their own firms, and discuss their points of view on architecture and design. The profile I flipped to first upon receiving the book was Lu Wenyu's, known to most people as the other half of Wang Shu's Amateur Architecture Studio. A pull quote — "I prefer privacy" — illuminates how she was fine with not being acknowledged by the Pritzker Prize jury; Wang Shu, also her husband, has lost his privacy since the Pritzker in 2012. Though only a couple pages of text is provided, it's great to read about her past and her contributions to the joint practice. The same thing can be said about the other 19 architects in this important collection of impressive buildings.Spreads:Author Bio:Austin Williams is a senior lecturer in professional practice at the Kingston School of Art, London and an honorary research fellow at XJTLU in China. He is the director of the Future Cities Project, and the China correspondent for the Architectural Review.Purchase Links:(Note: Books bought via these links send a few cents to this blog, keeping it afloat.)  &nbs […]

  • Balkrishna Doshi
    by John Hill on June 3, 2019 at 12:00 PM

    Balkrishna Doshi: Architecture for the PeopleJolanthe Kugler, Khushnu Panthaki Hoof, Meike Wolfschlag (Editors)Vitra Design Museum & Wüstenrot Foundation, May 2019Hardcover | 10 x 12 inches | 400 pages | English | ISBN: 978-3945852316 | $85.00Publisher Description:The 2018 Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Balkrishna Doshi is one of India's most influential architects, renowned for his harmonious designs that merge the formal language of classical modernism with Indian building traditions and local craft skills. Always designed with a sensitivity to the social, environmental and economic conditions of a given commission or site, Doshi’s architecture honors the past while at the same time accommodating the rapidly changing conditions and needs of modern India. Doshi has designed more than 100 buildings—educational and cultural institutions, public buildings, private residences and low-income housing projects among them—and has taught scores of students over the course of his 60-year career, a career distinguished by a sense of responsibility and dedication to the country and communities he has served.Balkrishna Doshi: Architecture for the People presents the first comprehensive survey of this groundbreaking architect’s oeuvre in over 20 years. With a complete overview of all of Doshi’s projects, it provides insights into the inspiration behind his work and the background to his projects through essays written by outstanding experts in the field. The richly illustrated book is further supplemented by an interview with the architect, an illustrated biography and new photographs that document the impressive timeliness of the Indian master's buildings.dDAB Commentary:Last year, when Balkrishna Doshi won the Pritzker Architecture Prize and I was slated to write a piece on a few of his buildings on World-Architects, I ventured to the New York Public Library to look at a couple monographs on the Indian architect. James Steele's Rethinking Modernism for the Developing World: The Complete Architecture of Balkrishna Doshi and William J. R. Curtis's Balkrishna Doshi: An Architecture for India are both excellent books, but they are hard to find and are therefore expensive to buy. I'm fortunate enough to have the excellent research collection at NYPL, but for those who want to own a monograph on the now 91-year-old architect they now have a third option: the equally excellent Balkrishna Doshi: Architecture for the People. A companion to the exhibition of the same name (at the Vitra Design Museum until September 8, 2019, and then traveling to Munich), the large-format book presents nearly thirty selected projects spanning six decades, nine essays, an interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, four visual portfolios, and a thorough archive with timeline, catalog of complete works, and bibliography.Given the timing of the book and exhibition, it's easy to think that the Vitra Design Museum was jumping on the Pritzker bandwagon. Yet the museum directors clarify in their foreword that the exhibition was in the works before the Pritzker announcement; in fact it's an extension of Doshi exhibitions in New Delhi in 2014 and Shanghai three years later. Architecture for the People was curated by Khushnu Panthaki Hoof of the Vāstu Shilpā Foundation, one half of Doshi's studio in Ahmedabad that is better known as Sangath. Hoof penned the descriptions for the 28 projects that make up the bulk of the book. Her words are accompanied by photographs (both archival and recent) and drawings that alone make the book worth its cover price. These projects include Aranya, CEPT, and Sangath (the "3 masterpieces" I wrote about), as well as the Indian Institute of Management, Amdavad Ni Gufa, and other projects that have circulated widely in print and online since Doshi's Pritzker win. But this section also includes a few "myths" by Doshi: texts the architect wrote to help in the creative process.The projects, essays (including ones by Kenneth Frampton and Juhani Pallasmaa), portfolios and other content add up to a book that is beautiful from linen cover to linen cover. Each time I pick it up I'm surprised at how light it is. This stems from the paper selection: thick, matte pages for the bulk of the book and a lighter, newsprint for the back matter. On these papers the color photos and drawings don't pop as much as they would on glossy pages, but that seems fitting for Doshi, whose architecture exhibits an earthiness rather than a modern polish. An odd touch is the layout of the text, in which the last line of each paragraph is centered on the justified text (see spreads below). For me this took some getting used to; when skipping around the text, rather than reading it in order, I would confuse these lines as the first of a paragraph instead of the last. Yet these visual and textual details are minor quibbles in a most welcome and intelligent survey of an architect worthy of the Pritzker accolade and a traveling retrospective.Spreads:Author Bio:Balkrishna Doshi began his architecture studies in 1947 before working with Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn in Chandigarh and Ahmedabad. He founded his own practice, Vastu Shilpa Consultants, in 1956, combining the lessons he learned from this earlier generation of architects with an understanding of Indian architectural traditions. In 2018, Doshi became the first-ever Indian winner of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize.Purchase Links:(Note: Books bought via these links send a few cents to this blog, keeping it afloat.)  &nbs […]

  • Holiday Week + Astoria Talk & Walk
    by John Hill on May 27, 2019 at 12:00 PM

    Today is Memorial Day, so I've decided to take the week off, not just today; regular posts will resume on Monday, June 3. One thing I'll be doing this week is researching and finalizing a new walking tour of Astoria and Long Island City, Queens, that will take place on Sunday, June 2, as part of a book talk I'll be giving at my neighborhood bookstore, Astoria Bookshop. The walk will immediately follow the talk and go from the bookstore (31-29 31st Street) to MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Avenue). We will wind our way around parts of the Astoria, Dutch Kills, and Hunters Point neighborhoods, looking at new buildings and learning about the rezonings that have reshaped the area. Info about that event is below, on my Walking Tours page, and on the Astoria Bookshop website.Astoria BookshopSunday, June 2: 1pmJohn Hill on NYC Walks: Guide to New ArchitectureJoin local Astoria author John Hill for a discussion of his book, NYC Walks: Guide to New Architecture, followed by a walking tour of Astoria and Long Island City, from Astoria Bookshop to MoMA PS1, looking at recent buildings of note as well as discussing the building boom in LIC. […]

  • Future Systems
    by John Hill on May 25, 2019 at 2:00 PM

    Future SystemsMarcus FieldPhaidon, October 2000Hardcover | 10 x 11-3/4 inches | 208 pages | English | ISBN: 9780714838311 | $X.00Publisher Description:Examines the continuing development of Future Systems, considered by many to be one of the most inspirational practices working today. The book features 30 recent projects, including at least eight built works, and designs for products and furniture, and also a glossary of projects from 1958-92. The recent and current building included in the text are the Media Centre at Lord's Cricket Ground, a yellow pontoon bridge at Canary Wharf, and one of the first millennium projects - the Earth centre, outside Doncaster.dDAB Commentary:On pages 190 and 191 in Phaidon's new book Houses: Extraordinary Living, Gaetano Pesce's Bahia House (1998) in Brazil and Future Systems' Malator House (1994) in Wales face each other. They do this almost literally, since the round and slotted windows of the former make it appear like a face, while the round vents of the latter appear like two eyes set into the small glazed entry. Seeing the Malator House prompted me to dig into Phaidon's earlier, eponymous book on Future Sytems, in which the House in Wales, as it's called simply, is accompanied by dozens of other built and unbuilt projects. Published in 2000, Future Systems arrived at a hinge moment: between manual and digital processes in architectural production, for sure, but also between small and large projects and between good and bad times for Future Systems. One year before publication, the small UK firm led by husband-and-wife architects Jan Kaplický and Amanda Levete completed the Natwest Media Center in London, which earned them the Stirling Prize. In 2003, they would see the completion of their largest project, Selfridges in Birmingham, which I included in 100 Years, 100 Buildings. But by the end of the first decade of the millennium, Kaplický and Levete would divorce, they would split the firm into two, and Kaplický would die, in 2009 at the age of 71.So flipping through the pages of Future Systems is an ironic experience, its optimism tinged with the knowledge of what would happen in the ensuing years. Everything in the book -- its words by Marcus Field, the generous illustrations of projects and influences, even the rounded corners of its pages -- looks to the future, an optimistic future of technology harnessed for good. Of course, events well outside of Future Systems' control would steer the 21st century in a different direction, from the events of September 11 and the use of technology for surveillance, to the rise of social media and the shift of capitalism toward one of surveillance as well. Kaplický's preference for blobs was rooted in an effort to apply technologies from, for instance, boat building to architecture (it happened with Natwest), but it was also one source of the split between him and Levete, who moved toward more "rational" and "practical" forms. Although architects have moved on from blobs, those who embrace technology to create flowing forms or even more rational forms through advanced means owe a lot to the pioneering work of Future Systems. In turn, this book is a great snapshot of a moment when history's lessons were applied to architecture's optimistic future.Spreads:Author Bio:Marcus Field is a freelance arts and architecture journalist. He has worked as an editor on the Architects' Journal, Blueprint and The Independent on Sunday. He lives in Devon and London.Purchase Links:(Note: Books bought via these links send a few cents to this blog, keeping it afloat.)  &nbs […]

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