A Daily Dose of Architecture

  • Assembling the Architect
    by John Hill on August 6, 2020 at 12:00 PM

    Assembling the Architect: The History and Theory of Professional PracticeGeorge Barnett JohnstonBloomsbury Visual Arts, January 2020Paperback | 6-1/4 x 9 inches | 296 pages | 74 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1350126862 | $34.95PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:Assembling the Architect explores the origins and history of architectural practice. It unravels the competing interests that historically have structured the field and cultivates a deeper understanding of the contemporary profession.Focusing on the period 1870 to 1920 when the foundations were being laid for the U.S. architectural profession that we recognize today, this study traces the formation and standardization of the fundamental relationships among architects, owners, and builders, as codified in the American Institute of Architects’ very first Handbook of Architectural Practice. It reveals how these archetypal roles have always been fluid, each successfully redefining their own agency with respect to the others in the constantly-shifting political economy of building.Far from being a purely historical study, the book also sheds light on today’s digitally-enabled profession. Contemporary architectural tools and disciplinary ideals continue to be shaped by the same fundamental tensions, and emergent modes of practice such as BIM (Building Information Modelling) and IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) represent the realization of programs and agendas that have been over a century in play.George Barnett Johnston is professor of architecture at Georgia Tech and principal of Johnston+Dumais [architects]. He has over 40 years of experience as an architect, educator, academic leader, and cultural historian.REFERRAL LINKS:    dDAB COMMENTARY:101 Park Avenue is a 50-story wedge of glass on the northeast corner of 40th Street and Park Avenue, just south of Grand Central Terminal. Designed by Eli Attia for developers Harold and Peter Kalikow, the office tower was praised by Ada Louise Huxtable in 1979 when it was unveiled: "an exercise in the kind of creative quality that until very recently has been conspicuously absent from the New York scene." In that same article the critic dismissed the new tower's predecessor: "By a quirk of architectural fate, 101 Park, long the home of architects' offices and building product displays, is a particularly undistinguished structure."Known as The Architects' Building (but also as the "Shoestring Building" for its architectural thrift), the previous 101 Park was designed by Ewing & Chappell with LaFarge & Morris and completed in 1913, when it was fully leased by dozens of architecture, engineering, and construction firms. The ground floor was given over to the Architects' Sample Company, where architects and clients could select materials for their projects, and upstairs were the offices, laid out for "greater efficiency in handling the working forces of those who are fortunate enough to be numbered as tenants." These words were part of an account written by D. Everett Waid for a 1913 issue of The Brickbuilder, who also noted: "It seems quite ideal to be able to go next door for a criticism, or to borrow a draftsman, or to admire a set of competition drawings." Although it was nothing special on the outside (a sentiment I'd also levy at its glassy replacement), the original 101 Park Avenue was clearly something important inside, at least to architects. This hub of architecture and building should be more well known, but even the first AIA Guide to New York City, from 1968, only gave it two lines and no mention of its architects. It was George Barnett Johnston's Assembling the Architect that just alerted me to the existence of The Architects' Building. It makes an appearance in the second chapter, which also spends a good deal of time on George S. Chappell of Ewing & Chappell, the firm that designed the building but also had their offices inside it. Readers get a peek inside the offices of the partners and the "draughting room" but also learn about Chappell's writing, of which his legacy was made. He wrote for Vanity Fair, launched "The Sky Line" column at The New Yorker (his successor was Lewis Mumford), and wrote some travel parodies under the pseudonym Walter E. Traprock.Johnston should be thanked for introducing Chappell to me and no doubt many more architects not familiar with his multifaceted life. But he is just one now little known character in the book, connected directly to one of the others: Rockwell Kent, who illustrated some of Chappell's pieces and in turn illustrated Architec-tonics: The Tales of Tom Thumtack, Architect written by another, architect Frederick Squires, in 1914. (Images from it are below.) In Johnston's hands, Squires's book is presented as a "handbook," though its practical use by architects was considerably less than Frank Miles Day's The Handbook of Architectural Practice, which was first published in 1920 (two years after Day died) and whose 15th edition was published as a 1,184-page tome six years ago.Day's handbook, done with the American Institute of Architects, is literally at the heart of Assembling the Architect, discussed at length in the third and fourth of the book's five chapters. Yet it's accompanied by Tom Thumtack, Squires's fictional "wily old architect whose self-deprecating persona and wry observations level withering critiques of the motivations of owners, architects, and builders alike." The relationships between these three parties (clients, architects, contractors) are the subject of Johnston's book, but the parallel histories of these two handbooks serve to illustrate the various ways these relationships were determined. Definitions of what American architects did and were responsible for, among other things, were not mandated or inherited from other places; they were worked out over time. With the inclusion of BIM and IPD in the last chapter, it's clear that architects today are faced with reckonings of their role in society that are on par with those addressed by Day, Squires, and others more than a century ago.IMAGES:

  • Crash Course
    by John Hill on August 5, 2020 at 12:00 PM

    Crash Course: If You Want To Get Away With Murder Buy A CarWoodrow PhoenixStreet Noise Books, August 2020Paperback | 6 x 9 inches | 208 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1951491017 | $16.99PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:A work of graphic nonfiction exploring the powerful, often toxic relationship between people and cars.Using the comic book format, this book vehemently dispels the notion that traffic accidents are inevitable and/or acceptable on any level, insisting that drivers own their responsibility, and consider the consequences of careless and dangerous behavior. It also addresses such timely issues as the use of cars as weapons of mass murder in places like Charlottesville, VA.Woodrow Phoenix grew up in South London after his parents emigrated from Guyana. He is the author of Plastic Culture: How Japanese Toys Conquered the World.REFERRAL LINKS:    dDAB COMMENTARY:Since graduating from college twenty-odd years ago, I've lived in two of the few cities in the United States where someone can live without owning a car: Chicago and New York. (San Francisco is arguably the only other city where it is possible.) My family and I have managed to remain car-free in both cities, even though both cities make concessions to automobiles in ways that makes owning and using them a benefit. In Chicago, for instance, new residential developments require parking that can sometimes exceed one space per unit. A couple of decades ago, when I was working at an architecture office downtown, this requirement seemed geared to luring suburbanites into the city, long a place just for work. But it led to an unfortunate glut of tower-and-podium buildings, with the setback apartment tower plonked on top of a parking garage with some retail frontage alongside the yawning entrances and exits for cars.The lack of the same off-street parking requirement in New York, combined with the ridiculous alternate side parking system for on-street parking, would seem to discourage driving in the city I now call home, but there's no shortage of cars here. Plus, the aggressive nature of many drivers and the lack of adequate (safe) bike lanes has curtailed my attempts at adding bicycling to my mix of walking and public transit. Worst of all is the city's unwillingness to prosecute people who kill pedestrians and cyclists with their cars, outside of DUIs and some hit-and-run offenses. In my neighborhood just last month, a driver backed into a pedestrian, killing him, but the driver was not charged. And according to a New York Times analysis of city crash data in 2019, even though "drivers are responsible for most fatal crashes ... [they] rarely face serious charges when they kill someone."New York City is clearly a place where, as Woodrow Phoenix would say, "if you want to get away with murder, buy a car." In Crash Course, his latest book of graphic journalism (it is an expansion of his 2009 book Rumble Strip), Phoenix recounts some harrowing stories of drivers killing people, in NYC and elsewhere. These include careless driving, the most common reason for traffic deaths, but also situations where cars were used as weapons of terror, and even instances when drivers were arrested or killed because of the color of their skin. So Crash Course is not just about inattentive drivers sideswiping bicyclists or turning right on red and hitting somebody crossing the street. It runs the gamut, mixing factual accounts with metaphors, ruminations, provocations, and personal stories, all aimed at enraging readers, most of which are not like me — they own cars. Pervading the book is the disconnect between automobiles, metal boxes that now weigh on average around two tons, and people, which are relatively soft and so much lighter. Phoenix calls them, respectively, "spam in a can" and "naked spam." The disconnect, combined with the space given over to the use of cars and the way traffic engineering prioritizes the movement of cars over anything else, results in cars killing so many people every year, every day, every moment. Yet, even though this book is about those people — both types of spam — there are neither cars nor people illustrated in the book, outside of the outlines of some human figures. This approach puts the focus on the ridiculous amounts of pavement devoted to the conveyance and storage of cars. In Phoenix's hands these urban voids — streets, highways, parking lots — empty of even parked cars, become spaces of potential: of death and disaster. More optimistically, in light of the pause caused by the coronavirus pandemic, I like to see them as spaces of promise, of priorities shifting from cars to people, from speed to safety, and from flow to slow.SPREADS:

  • Gathering
    by John Hill on August 3, 2020 at 12:00 PM

    Gathering: Bohlin Cywinski JacksonSam LubellORO Editions, March 2020Hardcover | 7-1/2 x 10-1/2 inches | 344 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1943532186 | $60.00PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:Good buildings require an understanding of the principles of structure, light, space, and material, but great buildings require an understanding of people. The most successful inspire through the interactions and connections made within them. Gathering is the latest book from the award-winning architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. This collection of work exemplifies how architecture has the power to bring people together by design, allowing them to engage with one another in new ways, to generate ideas, share their passions, and build communities. The fourteen projects included in this volume range greatly in size, function, and aesthetic, from the High Meadow Dwellings at Fallingwater to the Newport Beach Civic Center in southern California to Apple Stores located around the world. Through full-color photographs as well as conceptual sketches and diagrams, each case study gives insight into Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s design process, and how the firm’s approach has helped transform clients’ institutions, workplaces, retail environments, research laboratories, and public spaces into extraordinary places for people. An introductory essay and chapter text by noted architectural writer Sam Lubell accompanies this volume.Sam Lubell is a writer based in New York. He has written nine books about architecture for Phaidon, Rizzoli, Metropolis Books and Monacelli Press.REFERRAL LINKS:    dDAB COMMENTARY:I can't think of a worse irony than writing a monograph about the power of architecture to bring people together and releasing it when the United States and much of the rest of the world enters a pandemic, one in which a virus spreads most easily when people gather and therefore forces them to shelter in their respective homes for an indefinite timeframe. On top of that, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the firm that wrote the monograph with author Sam Lubell, launched Gathering in early February with a panel discussion that was planned as the first of many under the "Year of Gathering" banner. A second discussion happened a few weeks later, but subsequent events moved into the virtual realm, as digital gatherings that are about the ideas explored in the book and by the firm but have also been retooled to be about the predicament we find ourselves in with COVID-19.I did not attend the first event, which took place in nearby Brooklyn, nor any of the subsequent "webinars," but given that the first discussion focused on four retail projects but only one of them (Apple Stores) is in the monograph, it appears BCJ wanted to use the events to expand upon Gathering, admirably using the book as a starting point for deeper discussions, not just using the discussions to promote the book. With fourteen projects across more than 300 pages, and with many of those pages given over to illustrations, particularly color photographs, Gathering cannot cover every aspect of the designs. Take the Apple Stores, which are presented on pages 160 to 195; it's the most space given to any project in the book, but these stores, as popular and ubiquitous as they are, should really have their own book. The text and images discuss eight of the "dozens of worldwide stores designed for Apple," half of them in Manhattan, where the 24-hour flagship on Fifth Avenue is famously marked by a glass cube. Attention to context, detail, and the client's demands comes across most strongly in the presentation of these stores. Apparently, addressing these concerns will result in result in spaces where people feel comfortable, where people want to gather.The thirteen other projects range from educational and institutional to offices and mixed-use towers. The best projects, in my mind, are strongly aligned with the rustic, for lack of a better word, and highly site-responsive designs of early buildings designed by founder Peter Bohlin. These include the Frick Environmental Center and High Meadow at Fallingwater, both in Pennsylvania, where BCJ has three of its six offices. Certainly it helps that both projects are smaller than many of the other projects and have beautiful natural sites: the former "within 644 wooded acres of Frick Park" in Pittsburgh and the latter located a half-mile from Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater on the edge of, appropriately, a meadow. These and the rest of the projects are carefully and beautifully documented, thanks in part to the slightly smaller matte gray pages inserted into the book at the start of each project. These pages, visible in the spreads below, give the book a rhythm that is most noticeable when flipping through the book. These pages spring to attention, acting as invitations to learn more about BCJ's spaces for gathering — in a year when social gatherings outside of the digital realm are on hold. SPREADS:

  • Eero Saarinen on His Work
    by John Hill on August 1, 2020 at 12:00 PM

    Eero Saarinen on His Work: A Selection of Buildings Dating from 1947 to 1964 withStatements by the ArchitectAline B. Saarinen (Editor)Yale University Press, 1962Hardcover w/slipcase | 10-1/4 x 14-1/2 inches | 108 pages | 70 illustrations | English | ISBN: | $X.00A NOTE ON THIS BOOK:Several years ago, on one of our frequent pilgrimages to Frank Lloyd Wright, Mr. Wright told Eero and me why he was wary of interviewers and writers. "They take the words from your mouth and put them in their own," he said, "and, worse than that, they take the smile off your lips and put it on their own."When, after Eero's untimely death, various publishers and writers approached me about a book on his work, I remembered Mr. Wright's remarks. Eero, unlike Wright, Le Corbusier, and his own father, had never written books, but it seemed appropriate now to record his own words and smiles and to preserve these forever as his. Such a book would be a document which would allow him to speak as he did so charmingly, so sincerely, so informally to all of us who knew him so well; it would illuminate his attitude toward his beloved profession; and it would be a revelation of the creative processes that produced his work. "We must have an emotional reason as well as a logical end for everything we do," Eero once said. A book of his own statements could make clear his emotional and his logical intentions. It would not be a definitive history of his work (the time would not be ripe for such a book for at least a decade), but it would be the keystone for all his subsequent works.Such a book, I believed, should be handsomely illustrated with pictures whose primary purpose would be to convey the sense of his intent and the spirit of his buildings.I was pleased to be able to carry out this project with Yale University Press, whose sympathy with the idea and whose standards of excellence would surely have gratified Eero.Aline B. Saarinen New Haven, June, 1962REFERRAL LINKS:    dDAB COMMENTARY:The above note from Aline B. Saarinen comes at the end of the handsome large-format monograph on Eero Saarinen that was published one year after he died unexpectedly at the age of 51. Aline, as I mentioned a few days ago in my review of a new book about the GM Technical Center, was swept away by Eero when she met him in 1953, eventually marrying the then-married architect and serving as the head of PR in his office just outside Detroit. Her duties after his death focused on his legacy: ensuring the buildings he was designing would be carried out faithfully (that also happened with Kevin Roche and other architects in the office) and disseminating his voice and vision in such works as Eero Saarinen on His Work. The GM Technical Center, completed in 1956, is included in the book, and it is one of two projects treated specially with vellum overlays that label the numerous buildings comprising the project and key the photos that follow. (It's visible in the first two spreads below; the other project is the Ezra Stiles College and Morse College at Yale University, Eero's alma mater and the publisher of this book.) For the most part, Eero Saarinen on His Work is made up of statements from Eero, as should be clear from the title, accompanied by large b/w photographs of his buildings and a few sketches and drawings as well. Given that ten buildings were in-progress when Eero died, some of the photographs are of construction sites, most notably the TWA Flight Center and Dulles Airport, both of which opened the year the book was published. The visual documentation is slim (it's only 108 pages, after all), but the selection of images is exemplary and the whole package is lovely, with heavyweight off-white paper and a photo of Eero with sleeves up gracing the slipcase of the otherwise blank hardcover.The book was clearly meant to raise an appreciation of Eero Saarinen, who was famous at the time he died, while also controlling to some degree the publicity around his work after his death. (Other books came fast, including critic Allan Temko's contribution to George Braziller's "Makers of Contemporary Architecture" series the same year.) But Eero Saarinen on His Work makes me appreciate even more the efforts of Aline, who was an editor at the New York Times when she met Eero. It was in Kornel Ringli's 2018 book, Designing TWA, that I first grasped the extent of Aline's role in shaping Eero's public image, using her Times connections to keep Saarinen in the public eye and focused on his architecture over his furniture. That worked continued after his death, when Aline also resumed her career as a critic and became a prominent TV personality. In her work on Eero's buildings, though, this record of "his own words and smiles" is a remarkable document produced at what must have been a difficult time.SPREADS:

  • Donald Judd Spaces
    by John Hill on July 31, 2020 at 12:00 PM

    Donald Judd Spaces: Judd Foundation New York and TexasJudd Foundation (Editor)Prestel, March 2020Hardcover | 9 x 12 inches | 416 pages | 350 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-3791359540 | $75.00PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:Filled with newly commissioned and previously unpublished archival photographs alongside five essays by the artist, this book provides an opportunity to explore Judd’s personal spaces, which are a crucial part of this revered artist’s oeuvre. From a 19th-century cast-iron building in Manhattan to an extensive ranch in the mountains of western Texas, this book details the interiors, exteriors, and lands surrounding the buildings that comprise Judd’s extant living and working spaces. Readers will discover how Judd developed the concept of permanent installation at Spring Street in NYC, with artworks, furniture, and decorative objects striking a balance between the building’s historic qualities and his own architectural innovations. His buildings in Marfa, Texas, demonstrate how Judd reiterated his concept of integrative living on a larger scale, extending to the reaches of the Chinati Mountains at Ayala de Chinati, his 33,000-acre ranch south of the town. Each of the spaces was thoroughly considered by Judd with resolute attention to function and design. From furniture to utilitarian structures that Judd designed himself, these residences reflect Judd’s consistent aesthetic. His spaces underscore his deep interest in the preservation of buildings and his deliberate interventions within existing architecture.Judd Foundation maintains and preserves Donald Judd’s permanently installed living and working spaces, libraries, and archives in New York and Marfa, Texas. The Foundation promotes a wider understanding of Judd’s artistic legacy by providing access to these spaces and resources and by developing scholarly and educational programs.REFERRAL LINKS:    dDAB COMMENTARY:Even though the offices of the Judd Foundation are located in the basement of 101 Spring Street (a fact I learned firsthand on a 2013 visit to the renovated building), the place I most associate with Donald Judd is Marfa, Texas, not SoHo. Judd and his wife bought the five-story cast iron building on the corner of Spring and Mercer streets in 1968, but less than five years later, with two babies in tow, they moved to Marfa after Judd acquired a couple buildings that were part of the shuttered Fort D.A. Russell. Judd continued to assemble more and more buildings, using them for living and studio spaces but also for the display of his art and that of other contemporary artists. He did not like the way museums displayed his precise, minimal art, nor did he like the fact museum exhibitions were temporary. So the buildings in Marfa served as a means for him to control the contexts of his artworks and to strongly integrate them with his life. In the decades since the Chinati Foundation opened in 1986, Marfa has become synonymous with Judd and a magnet for art tourism.Donald Judd Spaces is a photographic guide to the buildings acquired and renovated by Judd in New York City and Marfa between 1968 and his death in 1994. (It does not include the artillery sheds and other Chinati Foundation buildings, instead focusing on the spaces in which he lived and worked.) It is a large book with large photos, both archival and contemporary, accompanied by floor plans of each building and relevant excerpts of Judd's writings. The floor plans are helpful, especially with the sprawling La Mansana de Chinati/The Block, the first buildings he bought in Marfa, but an overall map of the half-dozen buildings in the West Texas town would have been helpful too (one can be found on the Judd Foundation website). The writings are very illuminating, particularly in regards to Judd's cynicism toward museums ("I and a few artists are the reason for the existence of numerous expensive museums of contemporary art...") and the US government ("the inheritance tax of the government is the greatest threat to my work"), which are the main reasons for his decampment to Marfa and creation of the foundation now run by his children.The photographs, though, are clearly the main reason for anyone to purchase this pricey coffee table book. Although the captions and credits are at the back of the book, making the book as minimal as Judd's sculptures, it's easy to distinguish between photos from decades ago versus those of a few years ago. The latter are highly staged ... but so are the former, actually, if a bit more cluttered with the objects of daily life. Judd's approach to art extended to his life and the spaces he occupied. Although this does not mean he lived in spaces free of stuff, he controlled how that stuff was arranged, mainly through the sparse restorations of the buildings he acquired and the design of the furniture he put inside them. It didn't hurt that he kept the five-story building on Spring Street, had numerous buildings in the center of Marfa, and near the end of his life owned thousands of acres of ranch land nearby with even more buildings. Judd's controlling, exacting nature kept him moving from place to place, which resulted in the diffusion of his art and life into contexts more and more removed from society. Stable throughout the decades and places was a preference for old buildings of all types: warehouses, stores, houses, banks, barns, whatever matched his desires and served his purposes. Although he never built anything new, he was as much an architect as an artist, even maintaining an architecture studio for the building renovations that must have kept him as busy as his artworks did. Digesting the spaces in this book through photos, words, and drawings furthers my desire to venture to Marfa and someday walk in the spaces that were shaped by Judd and those who first built them.SPREADS:

  • Lina Bo Bardi: Habitat
    by John Hill on July 30, 2020 at 2:00 PM

    Lina Bo Bardi: HabitatJosé Esparza Chong Cuy, Julieta González, Adriano Pedrosa, Tomás Toledo (Editors)MASP/MCA Chicago/Fundación Jumex/DelMonico Books/Prestel, June 2020Paperback | 8 x 11 inches | 352 pages | 398 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-3791359649 | $60.00PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:Lina Bo Bardi is regarded as one of the most important architects in Brazil’s history. Beginning her career as a Modernist architect in Rome, Bo Bardi and her husband emigrated to Brazil following the end of WWII. Bo Bardi quickly resumed her practice in her adopted homeland with architecture that was both modern and firmly rooted in the culture of Brazil. In 1951 she designed “Casa de Vidro” (“Glass House”), her first built work, where she and her husband would live for the rest of their lives. She also designed the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (São Paulo Art Museum), a landmark of Latin American modernist architecture which opened in 1968. It was for this museum she created the iconic glass easel display system, which remains radical to date. This book presents a comprehensive record of Bo Bardi’s overarching approach to art and architecture and shows how her exhibition designs, curatorial projects, and writing informed her spatial designs. Essays on Bo Bardi’s life and work accompany archival material such as design sketches and writings by the artist, giving new insight into the conceptual and material processes behind this radical thinker and creator’s projects.With contributions from Luis M. Castaneda, Beatriz Colomina, Esther da Costa Meyer, Guilherme Giufrida, Jane Hall, Denis Joelson, Vanessa Mendes, Antonio Risério, Mark Wigley, Guilherme Wisnik.José Esparza Chong Cuy is Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York, and former Pamela Alper Associate Curator, Museum ofContemporary Art Chicago. Julieta González is Artistic Director of Museo Jumex, Mexico City. Adriano Pedrosa is Artistic Director of Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand (MASP), São Paulo. Tomás Toledo is Chief Curator of MASP, São Paulo.REFERRAL LINKS:    dDAB COMMENTARY:When writing at Designers & Books about Zeuler R.M. de A. Lima's 2013 book on Lino Bo Bardi — an excellent book that importantly introduced her career to many people outside of Brazil, myself included — I attributed her relative obscurity with Oscar Niemeyer and other Brazilian architects to her being "more than just an architect; she wrote, taught, edited and laid out magazines, curated and designed exhibitions, and created some of the most beautiful chairs of the last 60 years." Furthermore, she did not have a signature style like Niemeyer, so her oeuvre was harder to package and disseminate to a wider audience. Nevertheless, exposure of her life and output have increased in the years since that book, with at least a half-dozen titles devoted to Bardi published since then.One of these recent books is Lina Bo Bardi: Habitat, a companion to the traveling exhibition of the same name that was jointly organized by Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and Museuo Jumex in Mexico City. (Unfortunately, COVID-19 affected the exhibition, including its cancellation in Chicago.) The book takes its name from Habitat: Revista das Artes no Brasil, the magazine, first published in 1951, that Bardi edited. Published from 1951 to 1965, it was the magazine of MASP, the museum she designed and that was directed by her husband, Pietro Maria Bardi. The book starts with 30 pages of Habitat: covers from its first 15 issues and contents of those issues she edited. What follows are three sections organizing an enormous amount of information on Lina's diverse output. "Lina Bo Bardi's Output" includes a handful of her essays from Habitat, as well as four new scholarly essays, including Jane Hall's dissection of the magazine, in which she call it "a political tool ... [for challenging] broader social relations with the intention of making the bourgeoisie the principal agent of their own decline." The second section, "Rethinking the Museum," presents a wealth of images of MASP and other museums she designed, while also delving into the curatorial projects and exhibitions she designed, the majority at MASP.  The last section, "From Glass House to Hut," documents the famous house she designed for her and her husband when they moved from Italy to Brazil in 1946. Alongside it are a few other houses as well as "convivial spaces" such as SESC Pompeia — her other masterpiece alongside MASP — theaters and set designs, and four decades of furniture designs.The ambitious book, no doubt reflecting the ambitions of the international show, is an amazing document that captures the multifarious nature of Bardi's career. Beyond the many drawings and photographs of her designs that span from small objects to large complexes, the texts from Habitat reveal her critical mind, which she levied at the establishment in Brazil, with the aim of influencing young designers and the public at large. Habitat the magazine can therefore be seen as a link between her ideas on architecture, art, politics, society, and so forth, and her output as a designer. In turn, Habitat the book and exhibition catalog makes this link explicit. It presents enough material on Bardi to keep fans of her work busy for days — and entice others into understanding and appreciating her diverse career.SPREADS:

  • Tall Wood Buildings
    by John Hill on July 28, 2020 at 12:00 PM

    Tall Wood Buildings: Design, Construction and PerformanceMichael Green, Jim TaggartBirkhäuser, March 2020 (Second Edition)Hardcover | 8-1/2 x 11 inches | 200 pages | 320 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-3035618853 | $68.99PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:Tall wood buildings have been at the foreground of innovative building practice in urban contexts for a number of years. From London to Stockholm, from Vancouver to Melbourne timber buildings of up to 20 storeys have been built, are under construction or being considered. This dynamic trend was enabled by developments in the material itself, prefabrication and more flexibility in fire regulations. The low CO2 footprint of wood - often regionally sourced - is another strong argument in its favour. This publication explains the typical construction types such as panel systems, frame and hybrid systems. An international selection of 13 case studies is documented in detail with many specially prepared construction drawings, demonstrating the range of the technology.Michael Green, Michael Green Architecture, Vancouver; Jim Taggart, Sustainable Architecture and Building Magazine.REFERRAL LINKS:    dDAB COMMENTARY:When I was working on How to Build a Skyscraper in early 2017, I really wanted to include a tall building framed in wood. At the time, though, mass timber buildings were hardly tall. In my mind I was aligning them with iron buildings in Chicago and New York in the 1880s — short by today's standards but tall at the time and on the cusp of getting taller with technological advances — but a building such as the five-story Bullitt Center in Seattle would have been out of place alongside the 31-story Rainier Tower, also in Seattle, much less the supertalls elsewhere in the book.If I were writing the same book now, or making an update to it, things would be different since timber buildings are getting taller every year. HoHo Wien, for instance, tops out at 24 stories and 84 meters, while the 18-story Mjøstårnet building in Norway is 1.4 meters taller, making it the tallest wood building — for now. These buildings, which were both completed last year, clearly fall into the "tall" category; relatively short compared to steel and concrete towers, nevertheless they are more vertical than horizontal. More importantly, they point the way forward for a generation of sustainable skyscrapers, which is the main reason I wanted a wood building in my book.Furthermore, if I were writing How to Build a Skyscraper now, Tall Wood Buildings by architect Michael Green and editor Jim Taggart would be my primary printed resource, with one of the buildings documented in their book surely ending up in mine. The first edition of their book also happened to come out in 2017, when it sold out quickly. This second, expanded edition has five new case studies, bringing the total to eighteen. Three of those are the buildings mentioned above, falling into two of the three types of systems that structure the case studies: Frame Systems (Bullitt and Mjøstårnet) and Hybrid Systems (HoHo Wien). The third, Panel Systems, tend to be on the shorter side, with the tallest example being the eight-story Puukuokka Housing Block in Finland.The case studies in Tall Wood Buildings are excellent, with each building given at least six pages and documented with detailed text, photographs (both fabrication/construction and finished), and drawings. The last are consistently drawn and rendered with wood grain to highlight the wood components. The book isn't just case studies though. They start on page 64, after six chapters — an extended essay, really — that argue for building taller with wood, discuss the types of engineered wood products and structural systems, address performance and safety, and touch upon design, construction, and technology. The texts ready readers for the case studies, which any architect interested in building taller with wood will want to devour.SPREADS:

  • Where Today Meets Tomorrow
    by John Hill on July 27, 2020 at 1:30 PM

    Where Today Meets Tomorrow: Eero Saarinen and the General Motors Technical CenterSusan SkarsgardPrinceton Architectural Press, October 2019Hardcover | 9-1/4 x 12 inches | 256 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1616897697 | $60.00PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:Long before Microsoft or Apple occupied their legendary corporate campuses, there was the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. Completed in 1956 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2014, this icon of midcentury design was celebrated modern architect Eero Saarinen's (1910-1961) first major commission completed independent of his father, Eliel Saarinen, and its story offers a unique perspective on his work. Longtime GM designer Susan Skarsgard weaves a detailed insider's account of the early days of General Motors, the initiation of the technical center project under Eliel Saarinen, its design and construction under Eero Saarinen, and the enthusiastic acclaim the campus received upon its opening. Many leading lights of midcentury modernism were involved in the project as design consultants or artists, including Harry Bertoia, Alexander Girard, Florence Knoll, and Alexander Calder. This lavishly illustrated account is a unique document of a landmark project, presented in photographs and architectural drawings, interviews, documents, and ephemera, many never before seen.Susan Skarsgard is the founder of the GM Design Archive & Special Collections. She is known internationally for her art, artist's books, calligraphy, and commercial design work. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.REFERRAL LINKS:    dDAB COMMENTARY:Aline B. Saarinen, Louchheim at the time, met Eero Saarinen, in 1953, when she visited Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, to write a portrait of the famous architect for the New York Times. The first paragraph of the piece, "Now Saarinen the Son," mentions how much Eero "has been internationally praised for the design of the $100,000,000 General Motors Technical Center outside Detroit, the most important post-war industrial assignment in America." In personal correspondence after her visit, Aline wrote to him, as quoted in an insightful piece by Alexandra Lange about their relationship, "The General Motors job was all and more than anyone had written about it: really a twentieth century monument..." In other words, she was smitten with the man and his architecture. He was married at the time and she was recently divorced, but she became Eero's partner in life and in business, promoting his visionary architecture to the world and ensuring, with Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo, Eero's buildings were faithfully completed after his untimely death in 1961 at the age of 51.I'm not as familiar with the GM Technical Center as I am with other Saarinen buildings, such as the Gateway Arch and the TWA Flight Center. Perhaps this is why I tend to associate the relationship between Aline and Eero with the GM project, even though it only plays a marginal role in their courtship. It's so marginal — and probably too much of a distraction given the adultery — that it is nowhere to be found in Susan Skarsgard's thorough history of the GM Technical Center. That's hardly an issue, though, given the great amount of detail Skarsgard, founder of the GM Design Archive & Special Collections, presents on the sprawling 25-building complex that opened in 1956, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2014, and is still home to General Motors' design and engineering departments (it's now called the GM Global Technical Center).With Skarsgard's role at GM, in which she accumulated documents over the course of twelve years, the history presented is very much from the client side. But given her experience as a designer (she was hired as a designer before becoming the archivist), the book is also focused on the design of the buildings and their "interspaces," a term used for a title of one of the eight chapters. Roughly the first half of the book documents the projects history, while the second half presents it through primarily photographs, most archival but some of them taken in the last decade, showing the care GM has lavished on its famous complex over the years. Fans of Saarinen will cherish this book, as will automotive buffs and those with a penchant for corporate modernism, which reached its suburban apotheosis in Warren, Michigan, about 65 years ago. SPREADS:

  • Ellsworth Kelly: Austin
    by John Hill on July 24, 2020 at 12:00 PM

    Ellsworth Kelly: AustinTexts by Carter E. Foster and Simone J. WichaRadius Books/Blanton Museum of Art, January 2020Hardcover | 10 x 14 inches | 180 pages | 113 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1942185567 | $65.00PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:Envisioned by Ellsworth Kelly as a site for joy and contemplation, Austin is a cornerstone of the Blanton Museum of Art’s permanent collection and a new icon for the city in which it stands. This comprehensive book provides a thorough look at the project, from its inception to its current position as one of the artist’s most important and enduring works.Though mostly abstract, Kelly’s work is deeply rooted in his love of nature and his close observation of the world around him, and Austin’s design elements are no exception. An essay by Carter E. Foster, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Blanton Museum of Art, sheds light on how Austin fits with Kelly’s wider practice.REFERRAL LINKS:    dDAB COMMENTARY:Even voracious readers can be forgiven for thinking that there is little room for innovation in the design and construction of books. Pages bound into volumes between covers tend to find difference in their graphics: covers and, for illustrated books in particular, page layouts. Some publishers, such as Lars Müller, go further and do things with the bindings, such as exposing the stitching on the spine or using Japanese bookbinding and other traditional, yet costly, techniques. This monograph on a building by an artist is very creative with its binding, effectively splitting the book into two halves. The first half is adhered to the front cover and the second half is adhered, logically, to the back cover, forming a void between them that is most pronounced when the book lays flat. This technique, visible in the photo at the bottom of this post, makes clear it is a special document about a special project.Artist Ellsworth Kelly developed what would become Austin in the 1980s, when he was commissioned by Douglas S. Cramer for a chapel to be built on his property in Santa Ynez, California. Inspired by the churches he saw during his time in France after World War II, Kelly sketched and modeled a cross-shaped plan, with colored glass over the entrance and transepts, and one of his sculptures in the apse. The Cramer Chapel never came to be, but three decades later the artist gifted the project to the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, with the understanding that it would be built, be publicly accessible, and be cared for in perpetuity. Kelly worked closely with the museum and Overland Partners, the architects on the project, to determine the final details of the building and the art it would contain. Construction started in October 2015 and the building opened 2-1/2 years later, but Kelly, who died in December at the age of 92, would not see his magnum opus completed.The Blanton has an in-depth presentation of Austin on its website, and comparing the texts that are online with those printed on the pages of this book, the two are basically the same. With the content existing in both realms, and the website able to offer videos in addition to words and images, it's no wonder that the book about Austin goes to extremes in its craft — it exploits its "bookness." The literal two-part structure of the book is aligned with its contents: the first half has photographs of the completed work, essays that are mirrored on the website, and sketches by Kelly. The second half presents other artworks by Kelly, finding four artistic motifs in Austin that were echoed throughout his long and successful career. In addition to the binding, it's worth pointing out that the book is big, allowing the reader to practically immerse themselves in the color-drenched spaces. The paper selection is also commendable, heavyweight throughout but appropriately matte for the essays and glossy for the photos. It's a beautiful document of an amazing building where art is both container and contained. After reading this book, I hope to see Austin in person someday.SPREADS:

  • A Chronology of Architecture
    by John Hill on July 23, 2020 at 2:00 PM

    A Chronology of Architecture: A Cultural Timeline from Stone Circles to SkyscrapersJohn ZukowskyThames & Hudson, January 2020Hardcover | 9 x 10-1/2 inches | 272 pages | 300+ illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-0500343562 | $29.95PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius defined architecture’s characteristics to include firmitas, utilitas, and venustas—essentially, structural integrity, usefulness, and beauty. Amazingly, all three Vitruvian characteristics can be found one way or another in most buildings and constructions from antiquity through the present.A Chronology of Architecture is a groundbreaking survey that examines—together—engineering and architectural accomplishments. Sites are arranged within a sociocultural timeline that examines them in terms of historic events and trends, social change, economic developments, and technological innovations—factors that all helped shape architecture and engineering design solutions over millennia. The text is organized into seven chapters that chronicle these achievements and each chapter includes snappy “In Focus” sections that target sociocultural observations and technological developments related to particular sites and people.A Chronology of Architecture is an invaluable and comprehensive overview of architecture’s history. This will be a wonderful resource for architecture lovers and for those who want to better understand the world around them. John Zukowsky is an architectural historian and retired museum professional and the author of numerous books. He earned an MA and PhD in art and architectural history from Binghamton University, and has taught university-level courses in Chicago, New York, and Hamburg.REFERRAL LINKS:    dDAB COMMENTARY:What is the best way of presenting the history of architecture? Traditionally, history books work chronologically and geographically, starting with the Egyptians and other ancient societies and ending close to the present day, with modern and contemporary architecture. These histories have been almost exclusively Western, focusing on Europe and the spread of its ideals to the United States and a select few places around the world, such as Japan and Australia. Recently though, scholarship has broadened to encompass other parts of the globe across sweeping architectural histories, most notably the 21st edition of Sir Banister Fletcher's Global History of Architecture published late last year. Although that book, in its completely reworked text, intentionally aims to dismantle the Western dominance of previous editions, it could not abandon the chronological format.Ditto John Zukowsky's A Chronology of History, which makes dates an integral part of its structure, while at the same time intersecting them with thematic and geographical spreads that embrace a more global view of past architectures. The book spans 12,000 years in five chapters, but the first chapter covers 11,400 of them, from "nascent urbanism" to the late Middle Ages. A timeline is present along the bottom of most pages, though of course the one running throughout much of the first chapter has a much different scale than the rest of the book. Once the Renaissance is reached in the second chapter, the book locks into a format of twenty years per spread, a timeframe that compresses to five years per spread in the modern era (chapters four and five).The themes and geographies happen in these spreads, such that the 1880s (third spread below) are discussed as "engineering marvels," with the Brooklyn Bridge, the longest at the time, alongside the Home Insurance Building, which was arguably the first skyscraper. Inserted between these pages, which basically read as captioned photos keyed to the steadily marching timeline, are spreads that delve deeper into particular histories, be it Palladio's Roman Revival, Regency England, or Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School. As can be grasped in these examples, Zukowsky's history is not as global as the latest Fletcher, and there are few surprises in his quick tour of 12,000 years of architecture. But for students who are bad with dates, like I was, the ever-present timeline and bite-sized captions make for a history that is easy to follow. The addition of bubbles with non-architectural events is also helpful, putting architecture into larger contexts across time.SPREADS:


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