A Daily Dose of Architecture

  • IAUS
    by John Hill on January 16, 2021 at 1:00 PM

    IAUS: An Insider's MemoirSuzanne FrankAuthorHouse, November 2010Paperback | 8-1/2 x 11 inches | 364 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1452086965 | $85.99PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:The book is a combined memoir and impressionistic history of the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies. At first affiliated with New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Cornell University, the Institute housed architects, artists and historians who worked on creative design and intellectual projects and would become world renown. Its creation and direction was in the hands of its able leader, Peter Eisenman. Besides a documentary study of the work that went on there, among an international clearing house, the book is laced with impressions of the author’s experience there. It has been in the works for over 12 years and was originally financed by the Graham Foundation for the Study of the Fine Arts and has subsequently been aided by Dr. Jenny Kaufmann. The photographs of the Institute at the height of its activity are included and so does an original ground plan of its West 40th Street office done by Scott Brandi who also designed the book. It ends with 27 interviews of prominent members of the Institute who comment on it and their experiences. The book should appeal to architecture students and those interested in architecture and urbanism of the seventies when the government in the United States was more reasonable in economic and political equity.Suzanne Frank has a Ph.D. in art history (1970) and has concentrated on architecture and urban history for the last 40 years. Graduating from the Art History and Archaeology Department at Columbia University, she has researched and written about American and European architecture with an emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. ... In 1994 she published a book on her house in Cornwall Connecticut by Peter Eisenman. ... Her stint at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies began in February 1970 while she was made a fellow in 1977.REFERRAL LINKS:   dDAB COMMENTARY:The coronavirus pandemic has forced most previously in-person events to take place online. While it's easy to register for a lecture and then hop on Zoom to watch it, I'll admit that staring at my computer screen for a couple hours, after a day spent doing basically the same, is not appealing, leading me to pass on talks I might have gone to in person otherwise. One day — it helped that it was during the day and not in the evening — I made an exception and watched the 2013 documentary The Making of an Avant-Garde: The Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies 1967-1984, which was directed by Diana Agrest and was followed by a discussion. As the subtitle makes clear, the doc tells the story of the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS), where Agrest was a fellow for most of its short life, from 1972 to 1984. In the discussion she was joined by Kim Förster, who received a grant from the Graham Foundation in 2013 for the still-forthcoming The Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, New York, 1967–1985: Networks of Cultural Production, and Christophe Van Gerrewey, whose books, including OMA/Rem Koolhaas: A Critical Reader, focus on the articulation of architectural history and theory in texts.I enjoyed the film, more for its historical information than its congratulatory tone, and, to a lesser degree, the discussion as well, which was open to questions from people participating via Zoom. One outcome of the virtual event for me was purchasing IAUS: An Insider's Memoir by Suzanne Frank, an IAUS fellow who is familiarly known to architects as the client of Peter Eisenman's House VI, which was built in Cornwall, Connecticut, in 1975. (She wrote Peter Eisenman's House VI: The Client's Response about twenty years after the house was done.) Until Förster's academic history of the IAUS is finally published, Frank's "insider's memoir" is the only book-length treatment of the influential non-academic institution that presented lectures, published books and a journal, printed a newsletter, hosted exhibitions, functioned as a school, and was directly responsible for at least one building. Billed as a "combined memoir and impressionistic history" of the IAUS, the book touches on all these elements of its output, while also including transcripts of interviews with many key players — 27 of them, but not Eisenman, who founded the institute and was its guiding force but "won't be be interviewed on the Institute at all," per Frank's acknowledgments. Even though, like Förster, Frank supposedly received a Graham Foundation grant for her research, in 1998, the book was not (self-)published until 2011. (People interested in buying the book should do so directly from AuthorHouse, where the price is currently 50% off the ridiculously high cover price.)IAUS: An Insider's Memoir uses the output of the Institute to structure its seven chapters. Following the first chapter, which breezes through IAUS's chronological history, are individual chapters on its "urban aspirations," which took the form of Marcus Garvey Village and the On Streets book; on Oppositions, the intellectual journal that was published from 1973 to 1984 and whose selected essays were published in Oppositions Reader in 1999; on its educational and public programs; on the Skyline newsletter that was spearheaded by Andrew MacNair and then edited by Suzanne Stephens in its second iteration; and on the exhibitions and their occasional printed catalogs. Following a concluding chapter, "The IAUS and the Dialectic," are three appendices: the 27 interviews, floor plans of the two-story IAUS space on the top of 8 West 40th Street, and Frederieke Taylor's academic paper from 1990 on the exhibitions held at the Institute. The interviews start on page 202, meaning Frank's text is considerably shorter than the book's 364 pages; combined with the fact the line spacing is 1.5 for everything but the appendices, the "insider's memoir" is a fairly quick read, particularly for those interested in IAUS. Unfortunately, the book is in need of both a good editor and a graphic designer, given the occasional grammatical errors and the fractured nature of the writing, and how much the page layout looks like an academic manuscript rather than a book. Interested readers who can set aside these distractions will find much to learn in this most comprehensive account on IAUS — until Förster delivers on his monograph that "challenges the predominant myth of the Institute as a think tank."SPREADS:

  • Architecture of Coexistence
    by John Hill on January 15, 2021 at 1:00 PM

    Architecture of Coexistence: Building PluralismAzra Akšamija (Editor)Aga Khan Award for Architecture/ArchiTangle, July 2020Hardcover | 6-3/4 x 9-1/2 inches | 292 pages | 100 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-3966800082 | $48.00PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:This book investigates how architecture can shape an open-minded and inclusive society, highlighting three internationally renowned projects: the White Mosque in Visoko, Bosnia-Herzegovina (1980); the Islamic Cemetery Altach, Austria (2012); and Superkilen park in Copenhagen, Denmark (2012). Scholarly essays across various disciplines, along with interviews with the architects and users of these projects, provide intriguing insights into architecture’s ability to bridge cultural divides. Soliciting a wide array of questions about migration, transculturalism, visibility, inclusion, and exclusion, the book sheds light on the long-term social processes generated between architectural form and its users.Architecture of Coexistence offers a truly interdisciplinary perspective on a very timely subject: “Building pluralism” means designing for a respectful inclusion of different cultural needs, practices, and traditions.With contributions by Azra Akšamija, Mohammad al-Asad, Ali S. Asani, Simon Burtscher-Matis, Amila Buturović, Farrokh Derakhshani, Robert Fabach, Eva Grabherr, Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Tina Gudrun Jensen, Jennifer Mack, Nasser Rabbat, Barbara Steiner, Helen Walasek, and Wolfgang Welsch. Photo essays by Velibor Božović, Cemal Emden, Jesper Lambaek, and Nikolaus Walter. ...Azra Akšamija is an artist and architectural historian. She is the founding Director of the MIT Future Heritage Lab (FHL) and an Associate Professor in the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT).REFERRAL LINKS:   dDAB COMMENTARY:The documentation of Superkilen, the urban space in Copenhagen designed by BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group with Topotek 1 and Superflex, is titled "Public Participation Extreme" in BIG's 2015 monograph HOT TO COLD. The design team won the competition for the half-mile-long public space with a proposal for "an infrastructure for integration, rather than an aesthetic exercise in Danish design." This tactic was predicated on the location of the project in "one of the most ethnically diverse and socially challenged neighborhoods in Denmark," per BIG's website. The built design transformed the footprint of some former rail yards into a Red Square, a Black Market, and a Green Park. Across these boldly colored areas are distributed 60 artifacts — benches, signs, trees, garbage bins, etc. — that were transplanted from other countries and were selected via a process of extreme public participation: meetings, the internet, newspapers, and even a special mailbox for suggestions. The diversity of objects is meant to reflect the diversity of the area's residents.These are the intentions, but what about the lived reality? Superkilen is one of three case studies in Architecture of Coexistence, which investigates how well prominent works of architecture (each one won an Aga Khan Award for Architecture) "can shape an open-minded and inclusive society." Rather than hearing from the designers, the book features interviews with people who live near the projects or frequent them and therefore understand how they are used. In the section on Superkilen, readers hear from Mette, an architect who sees it as "hope that we're a community"; Mohammed, who likes the swings from Iraq and says "the space itself welcomes you to socialize with other people"; as well as Julie, Uzma, Rikke, and Soheil. The interviewees were selected by anthropologist Tina Gudrun Jensen, who found nearly universal acclaim for the project. Accompanying the interviews are photos by Jesper Lambaek, which are actually aligned with the more documentary-style photos by Iwan Baan that populate BIG's book and website.Architecture of Coexistence isn't all post-occupancy evaluations though. Scholarly essays — more than a dozen of them in the whole book — delve deeper into transculturalism and other issues at the heart of the book. Keeping the focus of this brief review on Superkilen, Jensen contributes an essay that follows her interviews: "Rhetoric of Segregation, Everyday Forms of Coexistence: Diverging Visions of Diversity and Coexistence in Denmark." It is accompanied by essays by Jennifer Mack, an architecture professor in Stockholm, and Barbara Steiner, a curator and the current director of the Kunsthaus Graz. Clearly the book is interdisciplinary, interested in social processes as much as — if not more than — design itself. In turn, the book should be of interest to people with interests in cultural studies, Islamic studies, migration and other related subjects, not just architecture.INSIDE:

  • exlibris
    by John Hill on January 14, 2021 at 1:00 PM

    exlibris: 16 keywords of contemporary architecture Giovanni CorbelliniLetteraVentidue, November 2018Paperback | 6-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches | 160 pages | No illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-8862423359PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:Architects write a lot, especially now when conceptual aspects have become central in the advanced reflections and narrative forms increasingly intersect the quest of design practices far an ultimate legitimation. In the growing mass of the publishing offer, these keywords try to highlight recurrent issues, tracking synthetic paths of orientation between different critical positions, with particular attention to what happens in the neighboring fields of the arts and sciences.Giovanni Corbellini (1959), PhD, ski instructor, self-builder, architect, critic of contemporary architecture, has taught in Venice, Ferrara, Milan and Trieste. He is the author of many essays.REFERRAL LINKS: dDAB COMMENTARY:In 2002, when he was given the "pleasant task of proposing the books to purchase by the library of the Faculty of Architecture of Ferrara," Giovanni Corbellini started writing "keywords," most of them making their way onto the arch'it website. Those keywords related to architectural theory and criticism were collected by Milan's 22 Publishing in 2007 as Ex libris: 16 parole chiave dell'architettura contemporanea, with a second edition published by LetteraVentidue in 2015. Four years later the same publisher put out an English translation that basically retains the main text as a snapshot of architectural theory and criticism ca. 2007 but sees Corbellini appending the "post scriptum" to each keyword with lists of publications that bring the whole closer to the present.A book structured by words — sixteen of them, one per chapter, as the subtitle and table of contents below clearly shows — made me immediately think of Adrian Forty's Words and Buildings: A Vocabulary of Modern Architecture from 2000. Forty's book looks at how such words as Context, Form, Function, Order, Structure, and Transparency (there are 18 in total) were used by modern architects in the 20th century to advance their critiques and theories. Corbellini does a similar thing, though he combines historical glances with contemporary explorations. Also, his choice of words is more diverse than the archetypical collection of Forty's. Big and Collision, for instance, and the question mark after Beautiful give the book its contemporary flavor, with Rem Koolhaas probably driving the content more than any other voice.The author structures each keyword consistently, with a handful of pages of text that explore each word/concept and a post-scriptum of books and other publications of relevance. Other keywords in the book are highlighted throughout the text with yellow boxes, and in bold on the yellow post-scriptum pages. In the margins of Corbellini's texts are references to books and articles, many in Italian but just as many in English. These references, it should be noted, don't tend to reappear in the post-scriptum, with those in the margins from 2007 and earlier and those in the post-scriptum extending up to about 2015. The list of architectural publications throughout is enormous. Exlibris, if anything, is a reference book on architectural publications, just one that takes the form of an atypical dictionary rather than a bibliography. Architects who strongly value books about architecture, and want thematic lists of them in one place, should search out this out-of-print book.SPREADS:

  • Typology
    by John Hill on January 13, 2021 at 1:00 PM

    Typology: Hong Kong, Rome, New York, Buenos AiresEmanuel Christ, Victoria Easton, Christoph Gantenbein (Editors)Park Books, September 2012Hardcover | 10 x 13 inches | 208 pages | 942 illustrations | English (Introduction also in German) | ISBN: 978-3906027012 | $60.00PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:In the second volume of the new series exploring the foundational theories and works of architects Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein, more than 150 buildings are documented through floor plans, axonometric projections, recent color photographs, and halftones. The buildings, many of them relatively unknown, were chosen in order to provide a basis for looking at metropolitan design in the twentieth century, and they show the patterns and differences found in architecture from around the world. Included is an essay that provides meaningful context for the buildings and examines how local government and zoning practices guide architecture. A powerful example of the unlimited potential for urban design, Typology offers a new point of view in municipal planning and architecture. Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein established their own architecture studio in Basel in 1998. They are both assistant professors of architectural at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. Victoria Easton is a research associate at Christ & Gantenbein Architects in Basel.REFERRAL LINKS:   dDAB COMMENTARY:The cover of this book from 2012, which just had a reprinting last year, includes the words "Review Nº2" next to the title Typology and below the names of the architects/editors Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein. Two years earlier, in conjunction with the 2010 exhibition "Hong Kong in Zurich: A Typological Transfer" at the Istituto Svizzero in Venice, the two Swiss architects and their students from ETH Zürich published the first review, Hong Kong Typology. I'm not familiar with that earlier book, but from the spreads on the architects' website, it appears that the standardized information — floor plans, massing diagrams, b/w photos, and short descriptions — was carried over into the larger format of the second and third reviews. Accompanying Hong Kong in this Review Nº2 are Buenos Aires, New York, and Rome; Review Nº3 (review forthcoming), published in 2015 and also reprinted last year, extends the formula to Athens, Delhi, Paris, and São Paulo.Given that I live in New York and have written a couple books on the city's architecture, I couldn't help but hone in on that section when I examined the book. The New York content starts with a short essay that follows the introductory lecture by Christ and Gantenbein. Carol Herselle Krinsky does a very capable job of condensing the history of New York urbanism and development into just four columns of text. The main sections are devoted to the 1916 and 1961 zoning regulations, an obvious choice given how much they influenced the form of the buildings presented in drawings, photographs, and words in the next section of the book. Helpful is that many of the buildings listed in Krinsky's text are highlighted in bold and keyed to the next section to give people unfamiliar with the city clear references (the same applies to the essays on the other three cities).Continuing forward, New York is presented in the next section through six typologies: Infill, Shaft Building, Carved Building, Courtyard Building, Setback, and Podium and Tower. Clearly the typologies Christ and Gantenbein were interested in having their students document were not the usual architectural typologies, such as housing, offices, or mixed-use. They wanted to group formal consistencies that arose from architects dealing with context, resulting from what they describe as "the conflict between the designer and his or her personal attitude and formal intentions on the one side, versus social, economic, technological or political conditions, which are often initially viewed as a challenge, sometimes as even a threat." The "challenges" of zoning in NYC led to the tiered setback towers of the first half of the 20th century and glass-box towers fronting plazas from 1961 to onwards. Although the architects further assert they were interested in the "largely anonymous building production of the 20th century," many of the New York buildings documented are icons, from Cass Gilbert's Woolworth Building to Mies's Seagram Building.The value of Typology is found in the grouping of similar typologies in each city, a tactic that echoes Steven Holl's Alphabetical City, the fifth issue of Pamphlet Architecture, published in 1980 (it was compiled with the other first ten issues by Princeton Architectural Press in 1998). Just as Holl saw letter shapes in the arrangement of solids and voids in urban forms, Christ and Gantenbein recognized the distinct formal solutions generated by different urban contexts. But past the documentations of the cities and full-bleed photos that follow them are models by some of their students apparently exploring the transfer of those typologies from Hong Kong, Rome, New York, and Buenos Aires to Zürich. They do not labor over these hypothetical projects; they present them simply, without comment, as full-bleed b/w photos of imagined streetscapes in chip board and glue. Of course, their inclusion merits the question: "Doesn't Zürich have typologies all its own?" My review of Review Nº3 next week will pick up where this question leaves off. SPREADS:

  • Designing a World-Class Architecture Firm
    by John Hill on January 12, 2021 at 1:00 PM

    Designing a World-Class Architecture Firm: The People, Stories, and Strategies Behind HOKPatrick MacLeamyWiley, April 2020Hardcover | 7-1/4 x 9-1/4 inches | 288 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1119685302 | $75.00PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:Designing a World Class Architecture Firm: The People, Stories and Strategies Behind HOK tells the history of one of the largest design firms in the world and draws lessons from it that can help other architects, interior designers, urban planners and creative services professionals grow bigger or better. Former HOK CEO Patrick MacLeamy shares the revolutionary strategies HOK’s founders deployed to create a brand-new type of architecture firm. He pulls no punches, revealing the triple crisis that almost bankrupted HOK and describes how any firm can survive and thrive.Designing a World Class Architecture Firm tells the inside story of many of HOK’s most iconic buildings, including the National Air and Space Museum, Moscone Convention Center, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the Houston Galleria and the reimagined LaGuardia Airport. Each chapter conveys lessons learned from HOK’s successes —and failures— including:The importance of diversifying to depression-and-recession-proof your firmThe benefit of organizing your firm around specialized leaders and project typesThe difference between leading and managing your peopleThe value of simple financial metrics to ensure your firm’s health and profitabilityThe “run toward trouble” strategy which prevents problems from ballooningMacLeamy delivers his advice via inspirational stories such as how HOK survived when its home office in St. Louis went up in flames and humorous stories, like the time an HOK executive was mistaken for royalty on a trip to Saudi Arabia.  In this tell-all guide, the driven architecture or design professional will find the tools needed to evolve or grow any firm.Patrick MacLeamy, FAIA, worked his way up from junior designer to CEO of HOK, a global architecture, engineering, and planning firm, where he worked for 50 years. A self-taught executive, MacLeamy loved designing a firm just as much as he loved designing buildings. He is best known in the design and construction industry as the creator of the "MacLeamy Curve," which advocates front-loading effort during the design process to catch errors early. A pioneer in leveraging technology to support design quality, MacLeamy is chairman of buildingSMART International (bSI) where he pushes tirelessly for the global implementation of building information modeling (BIM).REFERRAL LINKS:   dDAB COMMENTARY:In a roundup of a dozen architecture books at the end of 1984, New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger describes Architecture in the Real World: The Work of HOK by Walter McQuade as "a strained homage to a huge architecture firm — the St. Louis-based Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK) — noted more for its marketing skill than its buildings." The perception of HOK buildings in a less than flattering light, design-wise, can also be found in Architect magazine's "Architect 50" list, most recently done in 2019. HOK checks in at #39 overall, with a score of 83 (the #1 firm sets the baseline of 100). This is a respectable showing on a list that, instead of being focused just on billings, ranks US firms according to three criteria: design, sustainability, and business. Yet, while HOK is #10 on the sustainability list and #32 for business, it's way down at #118 relative to design. When focused squarely on revenue, though, as in Architectural Record's annual list, HOK fares much better, coming in at #6 in 2019. The above comments are to say that when it comes to books related to HOK, the most valuable ones would not be monographs about their buildings, they would be books focused on the business side of the firm. The ideal HOK book would offer lessons in management and other aspects of running an architecture firm, and perhaps some advice on sustainable design, given their high marks in the Architect 50. This book by Patrick MacLeamy certainly fits the bill, and he sounds like the right person to have done it. MacLeamy served as HOK's CEO from 2003 to 2017, having worked there most of his life, from 1967 until 2017 (he now heads buildingSMART International). But given that HOK has around 1,700 architecture and engineering employees at 23 offices in seven countries, and considering that the average firm size in the United States (per the AIA's Firm Survey Report) is just 12, are MacLeamy's lessons applicable to most architects? Are there many architecture firms out there who want to emulate HOK in terms of growth, acquisitions, and so forth?Answers to these questions are hinted at in the book's title, Designing a World-Class Architecture Firm, with designing being the important word. Architects design buildings, obviously, using the skills of research, analysis, representation, and construction learned at school and in practice to develop a plan for a project. But applying design to the business-side of a firm is unconventional, to say the least. MacLeamy admits that his passion for designing buildings translated into being passionate about designing a firm when he took the reins of HOK in 2003. Its clearest expression is The Effort Curve, which is also known as the MacLeamy Curve and is discussed at length in one of the book's 29 chapters. Developed around the time he took over as CEO, the chart (fifth image below) overlays a traditional curve illustrating how the most human effort is expended during the documentation phase with a "smart" curve that bumps the increased effort to the earlier phases of programming, design, and development. Two other curves show how the ability to control costs decreases as a building project advances, inverse to the cost of design changes increasing over time. In effect, the MacLeamy Curve is a business-side argument for increasing the time spent on design — certainly a good thing — but it is also a shift born from technologies, most notably BIM, that allow such a dramatic reduction in the documentation phase.The book's 29 chapters are structured into four chronological sections: "The Founders, 1955–1982," "The Obata Era, 1982–1993," "The Sincoff Era, 1993–2002," and "The MacLeamy Era, 2003-2016." Architects only interested in the more contemporary lessons may jump to the fourth section, but the chapters throughout the book are short and quick, ranging from just a few pages to ten pages. The table of contents breaks down each chapter into the topics that are then clearly titled in orange within each chapter; this organization means readers can easily scan the contents and flip to the part of the book that pertains to their interests. Lastly, each chapter ends with a numbered list of advice on how "to design a world-class firm"; chapter 23, on the MacLeamy Curve, includes advice on making early changes, coordinating with contractors, and using BIM, for example. The book's layout is clear and logical, as are MacLeamy's words, which makes it ideal for a class on professional practice or for architects who are busy designing buildings but still want to improve their management skills.IMAGES:Gyo Obata, George Hellmuth, and George Kassabaum with model of Priory Chapel.Priory Chapel, St. Louis, MO. Photo by George Silk, courtesy of HOK.Lambert Airport terminal, St. Louis, MO. Photo by Ezra Stoller/Esto, courtesy of HOK.The author in the new HOK San Francisco office in 1970. Photo courtesy of Patrick MacLeamy.Effort Curve diagram showing the benefits of early collaboration and decision-making. Image courtesy of Patrick MacLeamy.Rendering of LaGuardia Airport with New York skyline in the distance. Image courtesy of HOK and WSP.World map showing HOK work in 87 countries in 2017. Image courtesy of HOK.

  • Ralph Johnson of Perkins+Will
    by John Hill on January 11, 2021 at 1:00 PM

    Ralph Johnson of Perkins+Will: Recent WorksOscar Riera Ojeda (Editor)Oscar Riera Ojeda Publishers, 2012Hardcover | 8 x 10 inches | 488 pages | 650 illustrations | English/Chinese | ISBN: 978-9881512543 | $75.00PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:The work of Chicago architect Ralph Johnson explores the use of restrained modernism to enrich and clarify complex programmatic buildings with intriguing assemblies that reveal their functions and hierarchical relationships. Johnson’s goal is to form, through the social art of architecture, an urban environment of buildings that are good civic neighbors as well as distinguished citizens. The projects in this book, both built and unbuilt, represent his concern for humanistic values and emphasis on process rather than preconceived product, allowing the work to respond to diverse cultures and urban conditions. Johnson is a principal and the design director at Perkins+Will. The book includes essays by Rodolphe el-Khoury, Daniel Friedman, and Thomas Fisher.REFERRAL LINKS:    (Last icon is link to publisher's website that features a 30% discount on purchase of this book.)dDAB COMMENTARY:A couple decades ago, when I was working as an architect in Chicago and spending most of my days designing public schools, the firm's monograph on Ralph Johnson of Perkins & Will was a near constant presence on my desk. Johnson was not the first architect at Perkins & Will to focus on schools and do them so well (it is the firm that designed Crow Island School with the Saarinens, after all), but the schools he designed in the 1990s were miles better than those of any other US firm at the time — the one I worked at included. But searching for schools from that era on Perkins & Will's website is futile since the firm, like most these days, uses its website as a marketing tool rather than as a professional archive. Accordingly, magazines and monographs take on important roles as archives, particularly in regard to pre-internet creations.If the monograph linked above (published by Rizzoli in 1995) captures the output of Ralph Johnson in the 1980s and 90s, then this most recent monograph, published by Oscar Riera Ojeda Publishers, does the same for his work at the start of the millennium. It compiles 35 built and unbuilt projects in seven typological "ing" chapters: Living, Learning, Working, Healing, Experiencing, Envisioning, and Traveling. Ironically, at least relative to my comments above, the Learning chapter is one of the shorter chapters, with just four projects; apartment buildings, offices, and museums seem to have preoccupied Johnson more in the first decade of the 21st century. Regardless, each of the four projects — in Chicago, Tempe, Duluth, and overseas, in Luanda, Angola — is built and documented at length through the usual triumvirate of architectural monographs: photos, drawings, and text. Which means the four schools are actually spread across the same number of pages as the seven "working" projects. Oh, and none of those four projects is found on Perkins & Will's website, though two of them are on this blog, as is his firm's hypothetical proposal to cap the Kennedy west of the Loop.Yet, with nine years between the 2012 copyright of Ralph Johnson of Perkins+Will and now (the firm tweaked their branding, including a change to "Perkins&Will," a couple years ago), it looks like it's time for another monograph on Johnson. It could cover the buildings designed and completed since this monograph, whose most recent project is the Rush University Medical Center, completed in Chicago in 2012. Or perhaps it could go one step further and become a "complete works" and include everything Johnson has designed since he joined Perkins & Will in 1976, after working at Stanley Tigerman's office (something I just learned in this book's bio, not the bio on the firm's website). Both the monographs and website clearly depict the consistent design quality of Johnson's buildings, but having more than forty years of output in one place, in one book, would be valuable for at least the reasons mentioned above. Yes, this monograph's back matter includes some snapshots of a few of Johnson's pre-21st century buildings (plus, it should be noted, Chinese translations of the essays and projects descriptions), but those just further the argument for a more comprehensive treatment of his oeuvre in print.SPREADS:

  • Modern Architecture and the Critical Present
    by John Hill on January 9, 2021 at 1:00 PM

    Modern Architecture and the Critical PresentKenneth Frampton (Editor)Architectural Design/Academy Editions, 1982Paperback | 8-3/4 x 11 inches | 120 pages | English | ISBN: 978-0312536312PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION (excerpted from the Introduction):This issue of AD is largely devoted to a number of essays which I have written over the last five years. Comprising five separate pieces, the central thesis here is the last chapter of my book Modern Architecture: A Critical History, published by Thames & Hudson in 1980. I had originally intended to end this account of the Modern Movement with the late sixties but, at the request of the American co-publisher, a further chapter was added which ostensibly advanced the history by another decade. The main title of this chapter, "Place, Production and Architecture," was a critical reference to [Sigfried] Giedion's canonical history of 1941 [Space, Time and Architecture]; for I remain convinced that the apparent antipathy between place and production is of more consequence for architecture today than any of the parallels which Giedion once saw as linking built form to supposedly scientific models of the universe. Architecture and building seem to me to have always been bound up with place creation, whereas production – which is justifiably associated in our minds with industry – is largely indifferent to place and tends, in the long run, to be destructive of rooted culture. Consumption and planned obsolescence, these are the corollaries of modern industrialization, to such a degree that they are fundamentally antithetical to the intrinsic durability of the man-made world.As one might expect, my unduly condensed history has encountered a mixed reception and appended to this exerted chapter is a series of reviews most of which have been specifically written for this issue. As I was directly involved in soliciting these commentaries I thought it would be more even-handed to reprint one or two notices which had already appeared elsewhere, such as David Dunster's commentary in Progressive Architecture or Bruno Zevi's review in L'Espresso.Kenneth Frampton was born in Woking, Surrey in 1980. He studied architecture at Guildford School of Art and the Architectural Association and subsequently worked in Israel, with Middlesex County Council and Douglas Stephen and Partners (1961-66), during which time he was also a visiting tutor at the Royal College of Art (1961-64), fifth year tutor at the AA (1961-63) and Technical Editor of AD (1962-65). Now a permanent resident of the United States, Frampton has taught at Princeton University (1966-71) and at Columbia University (from 1972 to date).REFERRAL LINKS: dDAB COMMENTARY:A couple days ago I reviewed the fifth edition of Kenneth Frampton's Modern Architecture: A Critical History, which arrived last year, forty years after it was first published in 1980. In my review I mentioned how Frampton's book has been "much lauded" since its publication, using the example of Modern Architecture and the Critical Present from 1982 as an example of that appreciation. This special issue of Architectural Design is a book about a book after all, and it's hardly common for an architecture book to be given such a treatment, much less so soon after being published. But reading the above excerpt from the introduction to this issue of AD reveals the book's nearly universal acclaim was not so immediate, as Frampton writes that his "unduly condensed history has encountered a mixed reception." In this regard, Modern Architecture and the Critical Present gives a forum for some nuanced reviews of Frampton's book, and it allows Frampton to include and expand upon the last chapter of A Critical History, "Place, Production and Architecture: Towards a Critical Theory of Building," with additional essays that were not included in his original history but no doubt influenced it. As explained in the introductory excerpt above, Frampton added the last chapter at the behest of the US publisher, advancing his history close to the present. Frampton goes on to call that concluding essay "the most contentious section" of his book, and he includes a revised version of "The Isms of Contemporary Architecture" here (fourth and fifth spread below) as "an attempt to redress the imbalances of the conclusion."Originally published for a French encyclopedia, the version of "Isms" here is notable for adding Regionalism to the other architectural taxonomies; just one year later, in 1983, Hal Foster would put Frampton's essay "Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance" in The Anti-Aesthetic. That enormously influential essay was provoked by Frampton's participation and early departure from the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale, curated by Paolo Portoghesi as basically a bellwether for the global spread of Postmodernism. Frampton was a staunch critic of PoMo (he uses the label "Populism" in the essay, instead of the term popularized by Charles Jencks in the 1977 book The Language of Post-Modern Architecture), and his development of Critical Regionalism (the term follows from the writings of Liane Lefaivre and Alexander Tzonis) can be seen as a recognition of local tendencies and a more honest alternative offered up to practicing architects partaking in globalization.Beyond the essays, at least one of which made its way into the compilation Labour, Work and Architecture from 1982, the value of Modern Architecture and the Critical Present lies in the reviews of Frampton's book. These take up just fifteen pages, but they feature some notable names: Alan Colquhoun, Kurt W. Forster, Rafael Moneo, Demetri Porphyrios, Manfredo Tafuri, and Bruno Zevi, among a few others. (A handful of projects are found at the back of the book, after the -isms essay, but the issue would hardly suffer if they were omitted.) I like reading what other architects and academics thought of Frampton's book at the time, though unfortunately he left out Robert A.M. Stern's "misleading" review, which Frampton replied to in an issue of Skyline from 1981. It would be great to read the same now, but with reviews of architecture books hardly what they were forty years ago, I've only come across one review of the classic book's fifth edition. Given that the new edition is such a substantial update to the previous versions, I hope more reviews come soon, especially since it could feasibly be the last edition, given that Frampton just turned 90 and also retired from his nearly 50-year post as professor at Columbia University.SPREADS:

  • Call to Order
    by John Hill on January 8, 2021 at 1:00 PM

    Call to Order: Sustaining Simplicity in ArchitectureCarie Penabad (Editor)Oscar Riera Ojeda Publishers, February 2018Hardcover | 7-1/4 x 9-1/4 inches | 436 pages | 440 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1946226143 | $60.00PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:CALL TO ORDER, the first in a series of books to be produced by the University of Miami School of Architecture, is inspired by rappel l’ordre, the post WWI, European, art movement that rejected the extreme tenants of the avant garde and its praise of machinery, violence and war, in favor of  a renewed interest in tradition.CALL TO ORDER suggests a re-grouping and a re-grounding upon the foundations of the discipline and examines an international group of architects who are ostensibly rehearsing the ethos of the Neo-rationalist movement when architects and thinkers converged in their resistance to what they saw as an erosion of the discipline by behaviorism and the social sciences.CALL TO ORDER frames and examines similar resistant practices in the contemporary architectural scene and in the context of a long historical trajectory to tease out and articulate a cultural project that is relevant to the ongoing architectural debate.REFERRAL LINKS:    (Last icon is link to publisher's website that features a 30% discount on purchase of this book.)dDAB COMMENTARY:As one of his first tasks upon taking the helm of the University of Miami School of Architecture (U-SoA) in 2014, Rodolphe el‐Khoury developed the Tecnoglass Lecture Series, "a year-long program of lectures, interviews, and symposia focused on a theme that is of particular relevance to U-SoA." The first year's program carried the theme "Call to Order," described above as a "a re-grouping and a re-grounding upon the foundations of the discipline [by] an international group of architects who are ostensibly rehearsing the ethos of the Neo-rationalist movement..." The cover depicts Herzog & de Meuron's Schaudepot on the Vitra campus, which was completed in 2016, or roughly halfway between the first program and its eventual publication in book form. The simple gable form, echoed in the interior views on the end papers (first spread below), hints at the contents embracing an architecture of sparse elemental forms that meld the traditional and the modern.Call to Order is a thick book with a white cover that is similar in size, heft, and appearance to Transformations in Classical Architecture, another book from U-SoA and Oscar Riera Ojeda Publishers. As such, it appears that a series of U-SoA books is in the works, meaning we may see books on housing, water, and other themes explored in the annual lecture series. This one starts and ends with contributions from the school. Following a preface by el‐Khoury and an introduction by the book's editor, Carie Penabad, are essays by Jean François Lejeune, Estevan Salcedo, Katherine Wheeler, Steven Fett and Edgar Sarli (they curated the exhibition accompanying the lecture series), and Adib Cúre — all professors at U-SoA. At the end are interviews conducted by Penabad and el-Khoury with Matteo Ghidoni of San Rocco and Nader Tehrani of NADAA, respectively; those are followed by a brief excerpt from the Young Architects Symposium held in January 2015 and a postscript by Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.Since the book does not include transcripts of the lectures, which featured Ghidoni and Tehrani as well as Sharon Johnston, Pier Vittorio Aureli, and Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen, among others, the bulk of the book are projects. Nearly 340 pages between the U-SoA contributions are given over to dozens of projects by more than 20 architecture studios. With Johnston Marklee, Sergison Bates Architects, Caruso St. John Architects, Pezo von Ellrichshausen, MOS, and others, the presentation of buildings and proposals derived from the exhibition is clearly aligned with the "ethos of the Neo-rationalist movement." Even though it is now six years since the "Call to Order" lecture series, the ideas explored by the "uneasy alliance of individuals," as curators Fett and Sarli call them, are still resonating in academia and the profession. Although there might be other books that capture this moment, when the inspirations of architects in Europe and the Americas shifted from Modernism to Neo-rationalism, Call to Order is a commendable collection that fans of the Schaudepot and other complementary contemporary buildings will appreciate.SPREADS:

  • Modern Architecture
    by John Hill on January 7, 2021 at 1:00 PM

    Modern Architecture: A Critical HistoryKenneth FramptonThames & Hudson, September 2020 (5th Edition)Paperback | 6 x 8-1/4 inches | 736 pages | 813 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-0500204443 | $29.95PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:Kenneth Frampton’s highly acclaimed survey of modern architecture and its origins has been a classic since it first appeared in 1980. Starting with the cultural developments since 1750 that drove the modern movement, moving through the creation of modern architecture, and exploring the effects of globalization and the phenomenon of international celebrity architects, this book is the definitive history of modern architecture.For this extensively revised and updated fifth edition of Modern Architecture, Frampton added new chapters exploring the ongoing modernist tradition in architecture while also examining the varied responses to the urgent need to build more sustainably and create structures that will withstand changing climates. This new edition features completely redesigned interiors and an updated and expanded bibliography, making this volume more indispensable than ever.Kenneth Frampton was the Ware Professor of Architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University, where he taught from 1972 until 2020. In 2018 he was awarded the Golden Lion of of the Venice Biennale. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.REFERRAL LINKS:   dDAB COMMENTARY:Historian Kenneth Frampton's first book, Modern Architecture: A Critical History, has been much lauded since it was first released in 1980, going through four updates across the next 40 years. Not many books can boast of having other books dedicated to them, much less just two years after publication: a special issue of Architectural Design, under the name Modern Architecture and the Critical Present, was released in 1982. It was edited by Frampton and consisted of four essays by Frampton, all of them concerning the last chapter of his book, but it also had reviews of Frampton's book written by Bruno Zevi, Rafael Moneo, and others illustrious names. There are a handful of projects selected by Frampton after the reviews, but the basic impression is that Frampton's critical history is important and worthy of its own in-depth critiques.A decade in the making, Frampton's Critical History (it usually goes by its subtitle than its title) saw its first update a few years later, in 1985, notably amended by a new chapter on critical regionalism, an idea he first put into print in Hal Foster's The Anti-Aesthetic in 1983. That essay, "Towards a Critical Regionalism," was provoked by his participation and then early departure from the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale, organized by Paolo Portoghesi under the theme The Presence of the Past. Frampton disagreed with the "collage-pastiche" direction of the show known for popularizing postmodern architecture, so instead of contributing to it he expanded upon the notion of critical regionalism established by Liane Lefaivre and Alexander Tzonis.The chapter on critical regionalism was added to the last of the book's three parts, where Frampton is most "critical." The first part examines the "birth" of modern architecture from the mid-1700s to the early 20th century. The second part is the meat of the book: 27 chapters on the "life" of modern architecture, each chapter focusing on a specific architect, place, or movement. The third part — the "death" of the triumvirate — is titled "Critical assessment and extension into the present" and it does just that, bringing the book in each of its updates closer to the present. For the third edition, from 1992, Frampton added a chapter to the section, titling it "World architecture and critical practice," while the fourth edition, from 2007, added a chapter at the end: "Architecture in the Age of Globalization: topography, morphology, sustainability, materiality, habitat and civic form."Which brings us to the recently published fifth edition, easily the most substantial update to A Critical History (and most likely its last, given that Frampton turned 90 last year and recently stepped down from his nearly 50-year post at Columbia University). The fifth edition's 736 pages and 813 illustrations more than double the 324 pages and 297 illustrations of the 1980 original. It builds upon the fourth edition, not by adding another chapter, but adding a whole fourth section to the book: "World Architecture and the Modern Movement." The chapters added to the third and fourth editions have been reworked into a postscript and a couple chapters were added to part two (one on Czech architecture and one on architecture in France), which otherwise remains as it was in the first edition. But the main draw — for those familiar already with Frampton's book, at least — should be the 250-page-long fourth part and its four chapters on world architecture.Frampton mentions two publication-series in reference to the new chapters in his critical history: the ten-volume World Architecture 1900-2000 – A Critical Mosaic, an encyclopedic survey of 1,000 buildings put out by the China Architecture & Building Press in 2002; and the four-volume Atlas: Architectures of the 21st Century edited by Luis Fernández-Galiano under the auspices of the BBVA Foundation, which focuses on buildings around the turn of the century. The first, which I've written about before, was a massive project that had Frampton as general editor (a fact he fails to mention in A Critical History, perhaps due to his frustration over its poor distribution) and other editors for each geographical volume (I have half of the ten volumes and hope to someday collect them all). In regards to the second, Frampton adopts the geographical mega-regions of the Atlas series in the four chapters of part four: The Americas, Africa and the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe. Critical regionalism basically posits that buildings infused with an awareness of local conditions through design, selection of materials, and construction are preferable to both the universalizing tendencies of International Style modernism and the scenography of postmodernism. If one were to read Frampton's book in order, the new section follows immediately, and logically, after the chapter on critical regionalism. The new section takes Frampton's ideas on critical regionalism and applies them to the four international mega-regions, loading each chapter with projects: the most commendable designs by architects working in certain countries. Last is the book's postscript, an argument for landscape-based megaforms that, like critical regionalism, go against the tendencies of architectural commodification and developments sprawling far outside city centers. Here, Frampton recognizes the urgency of climate change and the need for architects to reconsider how their buildings relate to nature. It's a sobering, yet unsurprising ending to a magisterial work that maintains its relevance decades after its first edition.SPREADS:

  • Egyptian Places
    by John Hill on January 6, 2021 at 1:00 PM

    Egyptian Places: An Illustrated TravelogueHenry David AyonORO Editions, September 2020Paperback | 11 x 10 inches | 170 pages | 200+ illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1951541217 | $40.00PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:Egyptian Places: An Illustrated Travelogue is a rich and multi-faceted account of an architect’s visits to 12 of Ancient Egypt’s most spectacular sites, a journey that transports the reader from the urban metropolis of Cairo and the Great Pyramid of Giza to the remote desert setting of the rock-cut temples at Abu Simbel, with visits to other monumental temples and towering pyramids which line the Nile River.The book recreates that journey, describing important architectural features of these sacred monuments, their mythic foundations and religious significance. Over 200 color hand drawings and graphic studies capture and interpret the character of each site from the architect’s unique perspective.Henry David Ayon practices architecture in Richmond, Virginia and is a former adjunct faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University where he taught design and drawing, two life-long devotions. A graduate of the University of Texas School of Architecture, he also holds a Master’s Degree in the Science of Historic Preservation from Columbia University.REFERRAL LINKS:   dDAB COMMENTARY:Before making my first — and who know, potentially my last — trip to Egypt in early 2019, the closest I physically came to the country's ancient architecture was the Temple of Dendur, which has been on display inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art since 1978. The temple sits in a large space designed by Roche Dinkeloo Architects with a north-facing sloping glass wall that references the battered walls of the ancient ruin. Removed from Egypt due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam, the temple ended up at The Met in large part because of the climate-controlled space (other cities and places were vying for the temple, a history recounted in David Gissen's Manhattan Atmospheres). This means the temple is always experienced in a modern space defined by a prominent glass wall and a gridded ceiling. So at The Met it's impossible to see the temple transplanted from Ancient Egypt apart from modern intrusions, but can the same sentiment be said about the in situ pyramids and temples in Egypt? My 2019 trip kept me in one of the new towns on the periphery of Cairo for most of my stay, but on one day I did hop on a field trip to Giza to see the Pyramids and the Sphinx. That all-too-short visit allowed me and my fellow travelers to get close to the massive blocks of the pyramids and as close to the Sphinx as possible, all the while learning about the conservation of the ruins from local scholars. Minus the throngs of tourists, I recall how the vistas of the ancient structures were unimpeded by the minarets, towers, informal housing and other modern structures that litter much of Cairo.Perceiving the ruins of Ancient Egypt comes to mind when looking at architect Henry David Ayon's Egyptian Places because his carefully composed and colored drawings give few hints of the modern world. It just might be that the sightlines in and around Karnak, Luxor, and the other places Ayon visited have a buffer that is similar to Giza, but the style of his sparsely populated drawings — about half are sepia and the other half have washes of beige and blue — gives the impression of empty places untouched by the contemporary world. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it allows readers to immerse themselves in the places once tread by pharaohs and now exuding their spirits. Some plans would have been helpful to gain orientation among the large complexes, but the appealing images will be enough for many people, particularly those who have already tread similar ground to Ayon.Accompanying the hundreds of drawings are thousands of words, many of them describing Ayon's firsthand experiences and many of them focused on the histories and architectural compositions of the places. The author is clearly curious about Ancient Egypt, and it should be noted his interest started with what started my commentary: Ayon worked on the Temple of Dendur while a young architect in the office of Roche Dinkeloo. The act of building a model of an ancient temple provoked a strong interest in Egyptian architecture and served as a benchmark on the later journey he would take with Paula, his "lifelong traveling companion." That journey, documented in Egyptian Places, should provoke other architects to follow in their footsteps.PAGES: