World-Architects Daily News

      

Friday, May 22, 2015

"I'm OK. The world's all wrong."

The quote of this title's post comes from the notebook of Harry Weese, which is featured in a 2010 episode of Chicago Tonight. The 13-minute piece gives a good overview of a late Chicago architect who, like Bertrand Goldberg, has been overshadowed by Mies, SOM, and other architects in the city, even though he produced some of the city's best architecture. It's worth watching if you don't know his story.



(Click here to watch the video if you don't see the embedded video above.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Review: Fuksas Building Update

Fuksas Building Update by Massimiliano & Doriana Fuksas
Actar, 2015
Hardcover, 250 pages



First off, I should admit that I don't have nor haven't seen the first Fuksas Building, published by Actar in 2011, which this book updates. So I can't really comment on how well this book extends the content of that monograph, nor if it is worth having in addition to that book. Second, I should admit that I have a love-hate relationship with Fuksas's work, which I have seen little of in person (the Armani Fifth Avenue springs to mind), but which, like other architects these days, has some interesting qualities at a small scale that don't necessarily work when blown up larger. The glass roof funnels of the New Milan Trade Fair, for example, are appealing (if a repeated element for Fuksas), but not at what looks to be a half-mile length of the concourse. The buildings of Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas are increasingly larger (heck, they just finished an airport in China), but I'm not sure their architecture responds accordingly. Nevertheless, I like the brevity of the spread before the first chapter, Buildings, which is found in lieu of a traditional, multi-page introduction:



This statement made me wonder if in fact they don't have a style. At first I agreed, since the three projects mentioned and linked above are a pretty diverse bunch. Regardless, they are recognizable as Fuksas projects, along the lines of Renzo Piano's buildings being recognizable as his own even though he doesn't have a signature style in the vein of, say, Richard Meier, to cite the most obvious example. Like Piano, Fuksas's buildings have a "style" at the level of detail, element and surface: undulating glass roofs, blobs with perforated surfaces, and cantilevered glass boxes, to name a few. Also, the husband-wife duo really like to juxtapose hard-edge boxes with soft forms and surfaces, such as inside the Armani Fifth Avenue and in the  New Rome-Eur Convention Centre and Hotel, which is highlighted in the Construction chapter:



The other chapters in the book, in addition to Construction, which only has the one project, are: Building, with eight buildings, most of them completed in 2012 and 2013, and documented through photographs and brief text; Project, which has five projects briefly explained through renderings; and Drawing and Detail, which has construction documents (plans, sections, details, etc.) for nine projects, seven of them from the Building chapter. Drawing and Detail is easily the most valuable part of the book for architects, since it includes the types of drawings and information that are otherwise overlooked in monographs. It's great to see, for example, sections through the "blob" inside the boxy EUR project, even if the individual sections are at a small scale (below). Since the drawings reference the built work at the front of the book, other architects can grasp how the projects moved from drawing to building, one thing that makes this book an appealing one, especially for fans of Fuksas's style-free architecture.



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What's that ↑ up there?

Unless you're reading this post on a mobile device or in your email browser, you're seeing a new widget with three images tucked between the title atop the blog and this post below it. This widget features three recent posts from the World-Architects Daily News, where I am Editor in Chief. Given that a good deal of my time during the day is spent adding posts to the Daily News, I felt it would be good to highlight some of them and this widget seems like a good way to do it.

So click on the images to see the Headlines, Films, Products, Insights, and other features over at the World-Architects Daily News.

Today's archidose #838

Here are some photos of the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux (2015) in Bordeaux, France, by Herzog & de Meuron, photographed by JP2H.

Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux

Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux

Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux

Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux

Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux

Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux

Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Book Review: The Japanese House Reinvented

The Japanese House Reinvented by Philip Jodidio
Monacelli Press, 2015
Hardcover, 288 pages



In the introduction to Philip Jodidio's new book highlighting fifty recent Japanese houses, the author mentions that Japan and the United States share a preference for single-family houses over apartments. While not a surprising statement, the similarities end there, since each country's geography, culture, economics and other factors have created widely divergent contemporary designs. Japan, in particular, is full of houses that scream "Japan," most of them found in the tight confines of Tokyo, like the project gracing the cover (Atelier Tekuoto's "Monoclinic"). But, as Jodidio's selection of houses shows, there is more to single-family residential architecture in Japan that idiosyncratic vertical houses in tight confines, even as some of those are found in these pages.

One of the numerous US-Japan differences in single-family houses is size, with those in the United States averaging around 2,600 square feet, exactly double Japan's average of 1,300 square feet. It's not surprising to find numerous houses in this book that are under that average, many with three digits rather than four. But there are a surprising number of large houses, from a 2,000-square-foot house in Osaka designed by Tadao Ando to a 13,475-square-foot (nope, that's not a typo) house in Tokyo designed by ARTechnic Architecture. Before you start thinking that I'm gung-ho for Japanese houses being as big as American ones (I'm not), it is interesting to see how large houses in Japans are designed.


[Shigeru Ban: Villa in Sengokuhara]

One house that can serve as an example is Shigeru Ban's 4,875-square-foot Villa in Sengokuhara, which is like a letter P in plan with squared-off, metal-clad walls on the exterior and rounded glass walls facing the interior courtyard. It's definitely not a house that could be pulled off in expensive Tokyo, much less Kyoto or Osaka; the rural setting in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, is ideal for the extra-large house. Even though the house is large on square footage (the site area is nearly 20,000 square feet, or almost half an acre), the "rooms" that ring the courtyard are well-scaled, thanks to the narrow width of the plan. Instead of Great Rooms, as many bloated US houses like to incorporate, the grandness of the design comes from the openness of the rooms through sliding glass walls to the courtyard at its center. (As a point of contrast, Jodidio includes Ban's Yakushima Takatsuka Lodge, a small lodge of only 355 square feet.)



Two other large houses in the book suit my fancy, but for what they do with their size, not simply for being large. TNA Architects' Gate Villa, like Ban's Villa in Sengokuhara, is large (4,080 square feet), but its outdoor space is about three times as large. The house is based on a 23-foot-square grid – 4 modules by 5 modules – but only 7 of the 20 modules in the grid are used for enclosed space; the other 13 are open spaces that range from one module to six contiguous modules. The other house is Mount Fuji Architects Studio's Shore House, smaller at 3,210 square feet, which has a roof terrace for outdoor space but makes a double-height space lined with open shelves the main feature. Perhaps it's just the bookworm in me salivating, but that house is just one of the many marvelous designs found in this book, all thoroughly Japanese but more varied that what we've come to expect from the plethora of books on the island's contemporary houses.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Today's archidose #837

Here are some photos of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library (1963) at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, photographed by Hassan Bagheri.

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book Review: Extrastatecraft

Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space by Keller Easterling
Verso Books, 2014
Hardcover, 252 pages



Recently, the Center for Architecture hosted two book talks organized by the AIANY Oculus Committee that I attended: one on Keller Easterling's Extrastatecraft, and on on Justin McGuirk's Radical Cities. Though both have subjects quite separate from each other, they share some traits, including their publisher, Verso, known for intellectual, left-wing titles. And while Easterling's and McGuirk's book have these qualities in common, they are both surprisingly readable, regardless of their complex and ambitious topics. Here I discuss Easterling's book, and in a future post I'll discuss McGuirk's book.



On March 16, Easterling spoke at the Center about her book, which follows Enduring Innocence (MIT Press, 2005) and Organization Space (MIT Press, 2001). Generally, all three books explore how physical (buildings, landscapes) and abstract (companies, governments) entities are structured and how they work. The emphasis is on the infrastructure that underlays anything modern: buildings, industries, corporations, public spaces, anything that structures our daily lives. Extrastatecraft can be seen as the culmination of these explorations, focusing on free trade zones, broadband communications, and quality management standards.

Easterling spoke about each area in her talk, but "the zone" prevailed over the others, partly because she devoted more time to it, but mainly because free trade zones are absurd creations that have flourished despite their inability to deliver what they promise; regardless, they have become default conditions of economic development. Her book dissects the workings of zones and the other components of extrastatecraft, what she defines as "a portmanteau meaning both outside of and in addition to statecraft" in which state, non-state, military, market, non-market organizations "have now attained the considerable power and administrative authority necessary to undertake the building of infrastructure."

Her goal is to provide a "manual" for "hacking" the infrastructure toward more equitable ends, such as social justice and labor rights. But who is to say that hackers following her impetus would be so just? The thrift of examples embodying her principles (apparent in both the book and in the Q&A section of the book talk) is just one indication that the application of her research and writing is still to come. What she has done in her work (much of it firsthand) is illuminating, to say the least, and certainly a call to question the developments (some of them shown below in a slideshow that ended her talk) that proliferate and turn parts of our world into ccokie-cutter enclaves geared to profit and very little else.



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Today's archidose #836

Here are some photos of the Citroën C42 Showroom (2007) in Paris, France, by Manuelle Gautrand Architecture, photographed by JP2H.

Citroen - Champs Elysées

Citroen - Champs Elysées

Citroen - Champs Elysées

Citroen - Champs Elysées

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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Today's archidose #835

Here are some photos of the CityLife Milano Residential Complex (2014) in Milan, Italy, by Zaha Hadid Architects, photographed by Simone Utzeri.

wooden fluid balconies

facade

like a cruise boat

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Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Beard to Brindille

Congratulations to my good friend James Gorski and his partner Tom Nahabedian of Bureau of Architecture and Design on winning the 2015 James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurant Design Award (75 seats and under) for Brindille in Chicago. The restaurant opened in 2013 in the city's River North area. Below are some photos of the restaurant I've yet to visit (wink-wink, nudge-nudge, Mr. Gorski!), but head on over to their website for even more shots of the award-winning restaurant. And visit the James Beard Foundation website to see the rest of the winners.


[All photos courtesy of Bureau|AD]