Search results for "art deco"

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Not small or large, though

Is the medium the message in post-digital architecture?

Possible Mediums Edited by Kelly Bair, Kristy Balliet, Adam Fure, and Kyle Miller Actar $34.95 MSRP

Possible Mediums, a volume edited by four xennial American architecture professors, documents the formal experimentation of the recent post-digital turn in architecture. The book glimpses a generation paradoxically invested in using obscure methods to make charismatic forms. Unlike other postmodern camps (pomo, deconstructivism, parametricism), this generation eschews stylistic cohesion, instead claiming diversity and eclecticism as its hallmark. Inspired by philosopher Michel Foucault’s reading of a fictional Chinese encyclopedia in The Order of Things (the incoherence of which undermines Western epistemology itself), Possible Mediums’ preface essay, “Notes from the Middle,” relishes pluralism and how “the delightfully weird work of…colleagues challenged preconceived notions of order.” However, by deliberately withholding a theoretical framework, the editors leave their uninitiated readers to wonder whether the volume marks a new architectural movement or is simply a yearbook filled with the signatures of well-wishing friends. Whether Possible Mediums is a yearbook or Oriental arcana, the book’s format is infectious and invites casual, nonlinear, and occasional reading. In the same spirit of the volume’s meandering musings, this review will proceed as a loose collection of entries. #71 Arguing for strength in numbers, this volume is full of them. The editors treat their own numbers as a conceptual argument, noting, “We began as a group of four, but quickly grew to 16, then to 25, and now have over 40 project contributors…” They could go on: John McMorrough’s six examples of architectural mediums explicitly numbered, 71 total projects, 16 jam-packed guest essays, 16 mediums [sic], 18 paper stocks, etc. The editors claim, “Possible Mediums is not a systematic theory, a manifesto, or banal survey—it is a projection of architecture and knowledge to come.” And in the absence of knowledge per se, quantity becomes quality. A slow reading might go something like this: The book contains 71 projects, a number sufficiently large, indicating something historic underfoot. Moreover, 71 seems sufficiently precise, an irreducible prime number, the inelegance of which also suggests that there can neither be more nor less, neither 70 nor 72. In sum, 71 is an architectural movement, at once historical, irreducible, and singular. Listicle Beginning with the editors’ reference to Foucault’s Chinese encyclopedia, this book continues to make happy use of lists throughout. Along with lists of paper stocks, architectural media, and guest essays, there are lists of influential UCLA faculty, supply stores, types of sandwiches, questions for readers to ask themselves, etc. The explicit use of lists by both the editors and contributors is reminiscent of the proliferation of useless content on the internet, necessitating the novel curation of listicles as a new literary genre. We now revel in the veneration of tiny, insignificant yet common phenomena. In the post-internet age, architecture defers to everyday non-architectural objects, high and low, from CAD Blocks to Google’s 3-D Warehouse. These things are all worthy of appropriation in the process of making new forms. Debris Flipping through the book, there’s a lot of debris. Some of it is more like piles, rubble, clutter, junk, or ruins, depending on which page you land on. The volume’s insistence on including so many different types of debris makes one think that there is something important about this seemingly unimportant form. In fact, these architects are much more interested in architecture as things rather than forms. Most of their projects look like they are in disuse—things that are falling apart, recycled, decomposing, and on their backsides. Perhaps in reaction to the pageantry of elegant and hyper-engineered surfaces of the digital age, debris ushers in a new cycle of decomposition to architectural discourse. However, unlike the previous antagonism and violence of deconstructivism, debris is more casual, informal, and nonchalant. According to the architects, debris has a purpose: It disrupts part-to-whole relations, celebrates ambiguity, and elevates the ordinary. Inconclusive Like their digital predecessors, this group is invested in formal complex exuberance. Unlike their precursors, this crew is invested in the misappropriation of citations and readymades to such a degree that disciplinary norms and hierarchies are overturned. Such preoccupations, however, are never explicitly acknowledged, and adopt a thinglike quality. Once noted, this degree of thingness becomes an index of contemporaneity: The 2000s are malleable, diagrammatic, and morphological, while the mid-to-late 2010s are full of referential things in semi-disarray. To an outsider, this shift may feel solipsistic and inconsequential—but make no mistake, this generation is distrustful of formal mastery, and instead agnostically embraces the detritus of what’s left of meaning. Nothing is taken for granted, and every thing is worked on as a medium of inquiry. For architecture, this novelty is not only formal, but also etymological in an intriguing, almost imperceptible, way. Max Kuo designs with ALLTHATISSOLID and teaches at Harvard Graduate School of Design.
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lets talk masonry

Abu Dhabi’s oldest building stands strong after intensive stone restoration
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Architectural heritage is something of an anomaly in the city of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Since 1950 the city has grown from 4,000 residents to nearly 1.5 million, many of whom are housed and working in miles-long rows of concrete tower blocks. The 18th-century Qasr Al Hosn castle stands as a rare historical monument in this remarkably modern city, and the local government just recently completed a decade-long architectural conservation program restoring and stabilizing its masonry walls. The Qasr Al Hosn was built by the ruling Bani Yas tribe in the 1760s as a coastal bastion defending the city’s fresh water well and regional trade routes. The walls and towers are built of coral and sea stone and are lathed in a render composed of burned and crushed seashells mixed with white sand and water. Rich in minerals, the render takes on a bright white and iridescent finish that glints under the sun. Apertures are located throughout the concentric rings of walls, naturally drawing ventilating gusts throughout the complex. And as a virtue of the thermal mass of the formidable walls, the sequence of courtyards is considerably cooler than the surrounding city.
  • Facade Manufacturer Zublin Construction
  • Architects The Department of Culture & Tourism Abu Dhabi
  • Lead Contractor Zublin Construction
  • Preservation Consultant Elgaard Architecture
  • Location Abu Dhabi, U.A.E
  • Date of Completion December 2018
  • System Coral-and-sea stone masonry with seashell render
After centuries of wear and tear, as well as the ill-thought coating of the original masonry with a thick cementitious render and decorative layer of white gypsum, the castle was due for a significant restoration. The restoration of historic structures, especially those of major cultural significance, requires painstaking material and historical research. The Department of Culture & Tourism (DCT) deployed a team to “carefully remove strips of the modern render layer which enabled us to determine that a high extent of original masonry was still intact and to discover that the original render was still in existence in areas,” said Mark Kyffin, DCT Head of Architecture. “This enabled us to analyze the constituent parts of this material, under laboratory conditions, for replication and application in the ensuing remedial works.” With the information gathered by laboratory observation, the team developed a new render replicating the porosity and thermal qualities of the old. Research of preexisting masonry sections also provided insight into its original hand application, a process appropriated by the modern construction team. While the use of render shields masonry from the elements—think of it as a coated rainscreen—the condition of loadbearing elements determines the structural longevity of the building. The walls that surround the complex are just under two feet in width, with significant voids caused by internal stone deterioration. To fill these voids, the DCT set up a gravity-injected mortar grouting system. "Loose mortar was removed from the external facing masonry joints and temporarily replaced with cotton wool," said Kyffin. "This enabled the wall to be a sealed enclosure and prevented grout from seeping through the facade." The external cotton wool was removed once the internal grout had cured, with gaps in the masonry subsequently being repointed. Historical research also played a significant role in the conservation process. Researchers pored over photographs, diary extracts, and oral testimonies of those who lived in the building during the 1940s, gaining further knowledge of key building features. Abu Dhabi is surrounded by desert. For centuries, the city exclusively sourced its timber from an adjacent and expansive mangrove forest. The dimensions of internal rooms were dictated by the maximum height of the local mangrove forest; the tallest mangrove poles can measure close to twenty feet. In conjunction with the restoration of the Qasr Al Hosn, the Department of Culture & Tourism collaborated with Danish architecture firm CEBRA to landscape nearly 35 acres of open land surrounding the castle. Also unveiled in December, the design features polygon-shaped concrete formed to resemble the sun-baked earth and rolling water features that course pass shade-providing vegetation.
 
 
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Fly Me to the Moon

New York’s TWA Hotel features Amish millwork and midcentury touches
Anticipation is high for the TWA Hotel. Opening on May 15, the new hotel has transformed Eero Saarinen’s 1962 TWA Flight Center into a new lodging option for travelers passing through New York City's John F. Kennedy Airport. While there are a few unconventional airport hotels already out there, such as Stockholm’s 747-housed Jumbo Stay hostel, few are as all-encompassing as the TWA Hotel. Fully connected to the transportation hub's facilities, the project will feature a slew of quirky details and period-sensitive design elements. The former terminal’s neo-futuristic architecture will be accentuated by key space-age and midcentury modern furnishings. Ahead of its opening this May, the multifaceted project has been in the news a lot. While it was revealed late last year that one of the historic airline’s decommissioned Lockheed Constellation jetliners would become a cocktail lounge, it was recently announced that early reservations for the hotel’s 512 rooms would open tomorrow, February 14. Another overlooked but equally-important news item is the project’s use of custom-built millwork. Despite lower bids from international vendors, MCR/MORSE Development—the hotel's major owner and operator—opted for locally sourced and milled walnut for the guest room martini-bars, tambour wallcoverings, and other finishings. The developer turned to Highland Wood Products and Hilltop Woodworking, two Ohio-based Amish companies, for their expertise. Using twenty 18-wheelers’ worth of locally sourced walnut, 200 craftspeople produced over 40,000 square-feet of tambour wood. The skilled workforce employed age-old, analog techniques like steaming, suspending, sanding, staining, and sealing to ensure the material’s longevity. Channeling the same attention they often give to highly-intricate furniture, the craftspeople fitted out compartmentalized martini bars. Combined with brushed brass trim, mirrored glass, and backlighting, these pieces achieve a glamorous yet restrained look in perfect keeping with the project's overall interior scheme.
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Big Money Rustlers

Global logistics firm Farren moves building components around the world
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Farren International, a one-stop-shop logistics operation founded in 1959, has carved a niche for itself shipping extra-extra-large items. Operating across most of the European Union, North America, and the United Arab Emirates, the outfit transports over one million tons per year globally by plane, train, and automobile (and a significant number of cargo ships). The company’s principal storage facility, a 400,000-square-foot warehouse in Ledgewood, New Jersey, is littered with shrink-wrapped Chinook helicopters, stacks of Yamasaki motorcycles, and 30-foot power turbines, among other items. Over the last decade, Farren International has embedded itself in leading mega-developments across New York City, transporting all of the facade cladding for towers such as New York’s Freedom Tower, and 15 and 55 Hudson Yards. With a fleet of 75 heavy-duty brand trucks, such as Oshkosh, Peterbilt, and Kenworth, Farren International has established itself as an expert in the transport of superloads—an indivisible load surpassing 16 feet in height and width, 125 feet in length, and in excess of 200,000 pounds—or as CEO and president of Farren International, Phil Antonucci, puts it, cargo that is “high, wide, and heavy.” The herculean task of corralling facade components from across the globe is often overlooked in the construction process: It includes the warehousing of thousands of tons of material in an orderly fashion and ultimately shipping components to construction sites. An in-house workshop at the New Jersey facility—hidden behind countless shelves and mountains of cargo, including enormous turbines and transformers—is charged with customizing flatbeds and other means of specialized transport for particular items. Considering the sheer lumbering mass of these transports—formats include tandem trucks hauling up to 140-foot-long modular trailers—plotting routes is akin to planning a minor military campaign. Scouts armed with measuring instruments and high poles spend up to one month at a time surveying potential routes, testing corners and overpass heights to ensure that convoys arrive at their location undamaged and on time. 15 Hudson Yards Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s recently completed 15 Hudson Yards is a 910-foot-tall residential skyscraper clad in a multitude of facade materials. For the project, Farren International collaborated with Related Companies–affiliated New Hudson Facades to transport curtain wall panels to the construction site. Assembled just south of Philadelphia, the panels were first trucked more than 100 miles to Farren’s multi-acre storage facilities in New Jersey. Over the course of two years, Farren shipped approximately 36 panels a day to the construction team on the ground for erection, with the panels weighing between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds each. Transformer Transport When Farren International is not transporting hundreds of tons of facade components or hulking military equipment, the logistics operation is moving crucial infrastructural components across the globe. In 2016, the team plotted the journey of a 415,000-pound transformer from a manufacturer in Brazil to Port Newark in New Jersey. From this juncture, the team loaded the transformer onto a barge that was pushed up the Hudson River and through the Erie Canal to Rochester, New York. Once on land, the transformer was lifted onto a Goldhoffer trailer, pushed forward by two tandem Oshkosh trucks, and installed at a local electrical substation. Chinook Helicopters The CH-47 Chinook is a 99-foot-long heavy lift helicopter with a potential payload of over 10 tons. When decommissioned by the United States Armed Forces and other purchasers of Boeing’s military-industrial wares, Chinooks begin new lives as civilian aircraft. Since 2014, Farren International has transported dozens of these double-rotor helicopters—2,500 miles on land from Meridianville, Alabama, to Columbia Helicopters in Oregon—on their fleet of flatbed trucks with an in-house-designed set of fittings and equipment, including customized nose and wheel cradles and upgraded lifting devices. In addition to the Chinook, Farren International transports a motley crew of smaller aircraft, including the Sikorsky S-92, the UH-60 Blackhawk, and even decommissioned Air Force Ones.
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From Toronto to the World

UUfie plays with architecture’s place in nature around the world
Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today's lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year's crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too.  UUfie will lecture at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York, at 7:00 p.m. on March 21, as part of the Emerging Voices lecture series.

Despite being just ten years old, UUfie has snagged commissions in high-profile locations around the world that any practice would envy. Few firms of a comparable size have worked in three continents, and UUfie’s founders are aware of the benefits of having worked around the world; they credit their global experience with bringing “more cultural awareness and diversity in thinking” to their practice.

The firm was founded in 2009 by Irene Gardpoit and Eiri Ota in Tokyo, where the two met while Ota was working at Jun Aoki & Associates and Gardpoit at Arata Isozaki & Associates. Their firm’s first project was a residential commission from a local family in Tokyo—where Paris-born Ota grew up—and there the practice grew for a few years before moving to Toronto in 2013. Gardpoit is a native of the Canadian city and said that the move was a fresh opportunity for the firm.

“In Canada, there is a growth in supporting Canadian talent and potential for establishing a vibrant design scene that is broadening its perspective. In Japan, this scene is highly established and appears to lean now toward a retrospective view,” Gardpoit said. “Canada is a culturally diverse country in comparison to Japan. This diversity brings on its challenges, but it is also unique in that it does not necessarily have its own established identity. It allows us to experiment.”

UUfie frequently experiments with architecture’s relationship to nature, a theme that could lend itself to cliché in other hands—UUfie keeps it fresh by staying stylistically flexible and thinking broadly. For the landmark Parisian department store Printemps Haussmann, UUfie was tasked with creating a new vertical circulation space in the retailer’s historic home. The practice took its cue from the building’s Art Nouveau stained glass depictions of plants and flowers, reinterpreting the decorations’ supple arcs and florid colors for the 21st century with a triangulated screen that hovers over a seven-story wall of kaleidoscopic dichroic glass running alongside the building’s escalators. “Colorfulness was the essential part,” Ota said. “It creates interaction as people go up and down the escalator.”

Lake Cottage, a small home in the woods for a large family, has a more direct relationship with nature—it would be hard for it not to, given that it’s in the middle of a Canadian forest. Although the cottage adopts some conventional cabin tropes, like wood siding and an A-frame structure, it cleverly plays with these norms, twisting the retreat into a sleek fun house. It’s a bit difficult to grasp with words—a product of UUfie’s  spaces’ subtle complexity—but essentially, the living room is nested inside the building’s frame like a Russian doll, with windows in the main space punched out to those surrounding it so that people in an above loft can peek in on those below. That same loft is lined with abstracted exterior shingles so that the living room “skylights” seem to be looking up at another building’s roof. It’s a funny mind trick that testifies to the firm’s ability to surprise with an economy of means, regardless of locale.

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Who You Gonna Call?

Post-mortem architecture takes center stage at Art Omi’s EXIT exhibition
Architects, like everyone else, will one day die—but their work will live on, allowing meditations not only on the loss of their own lives but on death as a whole. In upstate New York, the nonprofit arts group Art Omi is probing the intersection of design and mortality with EXIT Architecture: Speculations for the Hereafter, on display until March 3 at Art Omi’s Benenson Center in Ghent. As the planet’s population booms and more people die than ever before, space for the deceased has become an increasingly scarce resource. EXIT Architecture presents 15 speculative architecture projects that radically reorient spiritual, spatial, and ecological conversations around death. Art Omi solicited proposals from all over the world, and the resultant show is accordingly diverse. New York City–based entrants were numerous, including Michaela Metcalfe, director of design and construction excellence at the N.Y.C. Department of Design and Construction, Roderick Cruz, and Studio Ames. Visitors can peruse video, mixed-media installations, models, a life-sized coffin, drawings, and app-based immersive experiences. EXIT Architecture’s curators—Julia van den Hout, Kyle May, and Warren James—have also shaken things up by including work from an architect who has firsthand experience with death, the late Lebbeus Woods. Woods’s Einstein Tomb imagines a memorial to the famous physicist that’s been launched into deep space, traveling the cosmos until the heat death of the universe, all rendered in his trademark deconstructivist drawing style. The exhibition space itself was designed and fabricated by Brooklyn-based architect Kyle May. EXIT Architecture is the first curated exhibition of the Art Omi: Architecture program, which is also currently in the third year of its residency program.
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Heavy Metal

This 17-ton steel sculpture soars thanks to computational structural modeling
This past fall, artist Lee Simmons unveiled a massive 50-foot intervention in London’s Marylebone neighborhood, completed over a four-year collaboration with Bath, U.K.–based Format Engineers. Titled Quadrilinear, the project is an assemblage of five layers of laser-cut steel that climb four stories through a private clinic designed by ESA Architects. Simmons worked with the architects, engineers, and fabricators to help bring the sculpture, which was commissioned by Howard de Walden Estates, to fruition. The stainless-steel column is based on deconstructed maps of historic Marylebone abstracted and collaged together. The intent, according to Simmons, was to engage with the “context and rhythm and fabric of the facade,” but in such a way that the sculpture could “have a life outside of the architectural canvas” it was built within. The hope is that Quadrilinear might be more than just an architectural accent and that it will become a “gateway” to the historical road. For Simmons, the work is partially a reference to historic cornerstones that demarcate the built environment and introduce buildings and their histories. Format Engineers realized the technical aspects of Quadrilinear with the fabricators Littlehampton Welding. The airy sculpture is made of thin filigree steel sheets just under a quarter of an inch thick clamped together by 1,200 stainless-steel rods—the minimum that Format Engineers could reasonably use while maintaining structural integrity. By compressing the lattice sheets in this manner the structure mimics a Vierendeel truss with bolt tension counteracting the rotation of the joints. The whole free-standing structure has a slight curve that allows it to seem suspended almost weightlessly within the building’s frame despite its nearly 17-ton weight. Format Engineers relied on computational scripting to evaluate the most efficient ways of distributing stress and laying out the sculpture, and the bolts are, according to the firm, “clustered in a pattern reflecting a pure mechanical logic.” This approach minimized fabrication costs and simplified construction while maintaining the visual complexity of the piece. In the end, all of this engineering resulted in a structure that, in Simmons’s terms, evinces the “symbiotic way” that art and architecture have worked together in the built environment throughout history. https://vimeo.com/290294269
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Keep Your Ion This, Houston

Rice University taps SHoP Architects for an innovation center in Houston
An 80-year-old former Sears department store will be transformed into a multi-level innovation center and business incubator for Houston, Texas, under a plan unveiled by Rice University. The 270,000-square-foot project is designed to bring students, professors, and entrepreneurs together with corporate leaders and investors, and to provide the centerpiece for a 16-acre innovation district in midtown Houston. Besides classrooms for students and workspace for start-up companies, there will be areas for lectures, conferences, hack-a-thons, demonstrations, job training, and networking events, as well as restaurants and other amenities. Rice has assembled four high-profile designers to repurpose the 1939 flagship department store, keeping salient Art Deco features while modifying the building for 21st-century occupants. Designers include SHoP Architects, James Carpenter Design Associates, James Corner Field Operations, and the Houston office of Gensler. The four-story building on Main Street was the first Sears store in Houston and closed in January of 2018 as part of the retailer’s nationwide retrenchment. Part of a 9.4-acre tract that was offered to Amazon as part of Houston’s bid to be selected for that company’s second headquarters, it’s close to seven colleges and universities, a METRORail line, the Texas Medical Center, and the city’s Museum District. When Houston didn’t make Amazon’s short list of 20 regions under consideration as of January of 2018, it became available for other uses. Amazon later chose northern Virginia and New York City as sites where it will split its second headquarters. In advance of its transformation, the Sears building in Houston has been renamed The Ion. “We chose the name Ion because it’s from the Greek ienai, which means go,” said Rice University president David Leebron, in a statement on Rice’s website. “We see it as embodying the ever-forward motion of discovery, the spark at the center of a truly original idea…The Ion will become Houston’s nucleus for innovation, fostering a community and culture where entrepreneurs and corporations come together to solve some of the world’s greatest problems.” “The Ion will inspire open innovation between universities, global corporations and investors,” said Gabriela Rowe, the CEO of Station Houston, a tech accelerator that will manage programming, in a statement about the project. “Students and faculty members from institutions like Rice University and the University of Houston will coexist and collaborate with scientists from Houston’s other great institutions. Investors and corporations will meet face to face with start-up entrepreneurs. Together, at The Ion, they will transform Houston into a thriving, connected high-tech ecosystem.” Besides Rice, officials say, institutions that will be involved with programming include the University of Houston, UH-Downtown, the University of St. Thomas, Houston Community College, Texas Southern University, Houston Baptist University, San Jacinto College, and the South Texas College of Law. Architectural plans call for retention of original Art Deco elements such as glass block windows, canopies, and decorative tiles that date back to the store’s opening. A central atrium will be created to let in natural light, and new windows will be installed to provide views that weren’t possible before and provide glimpses of the activity inside. The larger innovation district will include housing, stores, restaurants, public spaces, and infrastructure that will support a growing tech community. The Ion project will be led by Rice Management Company, which manages Rice University’s endowment, and Hines of Houston is managing the development. An exact construction budget has not been disclosed, but Rice Management officials said in 2018 they will invest up to $100 million for the project. Construction is expected to start in May and be complete by the end of 2020.
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A Portrait of the Architect as a Wood Model

Níall McLaughlin’s 2018 Venice Biennale model finds a temporary home in London
While the U.K. parliament was voting down their prime minister’s Brexit deal with the E.U., London’s architecture world crowded into the Art Deco Jarvis Hall of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Ignoring the overheated political debacle taking place a mile away, they went there instead to celebrate the homecoming of Níall McLaughlin’s 2018 Venice Biennale model. The event was sold out and the institution’s Facebook page showed individuals begging for tickets as if for a music or sports event. But people did not just come to see this installation that will be on display from January 10 to 28—they came to hear Níall speak to them of architecture, culture, nature, and light. He is a storyteller: the poetics of his language seeping into his architecture and vice versa, infusing each other within a reciprocal process. The "Presences" installation now on display in RIBA’s Florence Hall in a large and beautifully crafted circular table that can rotate. It is devised as a gigantic horizontal sundial and the models of McLaughlin’s buildings sit atop a reflective blue expanse imprinted with constellations of stars. Surrounding this are inscriptions of the yearly rhythms as a calendar of activities that are performed in cyclical repetition within these buildings like a medieval Book of Hours. The sun is simulated from a structure above to which lights are attached and as the visitors crank the massive wooden mechanism, the models that sit on top of what could be read as either an inverted celestial expanse or a dark blue sea, are flooded with the undulating light of a rising and setting sun. The models are all made of blond wood as skeletal abstractions of their different functions and locations: The Garden Theatre in Oxford’s Worcester College and a Song School in Cambridge’s Trinity Hall, a teaching chapel in Ripon College in Cuddesdon, a new castle hall for Bishop Auckland with its watchtower inspired by a wooden bulwark, the Rugby Veterans’ Hall in Limerick, and finally a fish-and-chip shop on the Deal Pier. These designs crisscross the British Isles, representing their cultures in beautiful diversity. What they have in common is that they are all spaces of community and congregation. McLaughlin has treated each with the same sensitivity, learning from the complexities of the individual sites, their people, histories, and geographical idiosyncrasies, not shirking from this challenge but instead drawing inspiration from them. This is site-specific architecture at its best. The problem with exhibitions is that they only last for a short time and then are gone. At the Venice Biennale this model stood in the Arsenale as a temporary spectacle of learning and inspiration. Now back in London we can see it for ourselves for the next few weeks, but what then? Where will this elegiac creature telling through architecture stories about the cycles of civilization and identity finally be allowed to call home?
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The Plight of White Over Concrete

Bertrand Goldberg’s brutalist River City building gets controversial paint job
Preservationists are up in arms over a paint job made by the new owners of Bertrand Goldberg’s brutalist River City condominium in Chicago. Crews are currently brightening the exposed concrete walls that line the building’s soaring atrium to a stark shade of white. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, some consider it an act of vandalism. Built in 1986, the iconic mixed-use building features a serpentine design and a lightly undulating facade full of arcing windows. Its 10-story atrium is lit by thinly ribbed glass openings on the roof. The structure is situated in the city’s South Loop neighborhood and hovers over the Chicago River on a series of plinths, making it accessible by boat. Though it's not a landmarked building, it's a staple of Goldberg’s Chicago architecture and impressive to many. Its textured grey tones are enhanced by daylight, but its new owners want to create an even more modern feel to attract residents, hence the new white color. Last month, the property was co-purchased by its new ownership, a group of real estate investors, for $90.5 million. The sale marked the largest condominium deconversion in Chicago history, According to The Real Deal, it took two years of negotiations to sort out the deal so that the owners could transform the 449-unit complex into a fully renovated rental apartment building. Painting the atrium is step one towards that goal.   Well-known local critic Lee Bey told Crain’s the decision is “a shame,” and that the building’s expression is best understood within its curved walls. “It really is a significant change to a space that Goldberg thought out very carefully,” he said. “He brings this curvilinear ‘street’ inside the building, with the sun coming in from above. He thought of it as a street in Paris.” Under its new ownership, River City is set to receive an updated lobby, a new fitness center, co-working spaces, and communal areas. The existing 250,000 square feet of office and retail space will also be upgraded.
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Go Ahead, Treat Yourself

Investing in real estate? Consider the Chrysler Building…
New York’s famed Chrysler Building is up for sale for the first time in over 20 years. According to the Wall Street Journal, the art deco office tower’s current owners, city developer Tishman Speyer and the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, which owns 90 percent of the property, officially placed it on the market this week. An exact number on the building’s value has yet to be announced, but experts say its unlikely that the piece of prime real estate will attract more than its asking price before the recession. Tishman Speyer bought the Chrysler Building back in 1997, spending over $100 million in facility upgrades on the historic structure as well as two other buildings. The Abu Dhabi government group claimed a stake in the property in 2008 for a whopping $800 million. Since then, such foreign investment and supposed stability in the property have sparked interest from new tenants, such as Creative Arts Agency, LinkedIn, Expedia, and Shutterstock. Despite securing leases with these companies, the prewar building faces many challenges in maintenance and upkeep. WSJ estimated that this will affect the overall sales price of the structure, along with the increasingly expensive lease it holds through the Cooper Union School, which owns the land beneath it. On top of that, the 90-year-old building has to now compete with the slew of starchitect-designed commercial skyscrapers that have popped in the last decade. Though it’s still an essential part of the New York skyline, some fear the Chrysler Building may not be as wanted as these newer, more sustainable structures designed to accommodate the modern worker. But who knows? Maybe a new owner will drop money on a major retrofit. When it opened in 1930, the Chrysler Building held the title as the world’s tallest building. It shocked the city and the nation at 77 stories tall with a 185-foot spire, designed by architect William Van Alen. The Empire State Building soon surpassed the height of the 1,046-foot structure by 204 feet.
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Fully Scully

Daniel V. Scully, son of historian Vincent Scully, has built an auto-inspired compound
The houses architects build for themselves often reveal much about their makers—just think of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin, or Sir John Soane’s 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The homes of architectural auteurs are testaments to their philosophies, their religions, their gods. And Daniel V. Scully’s compound in the shadow of Mount Monadnock near Dublin, New Hampshire, is a fascinating, if little known, example of a self-referential project that consumed half of its designer’s life. A slab of Vermont slate—the tombstone of the architectural historian, Vincent Scully—lies in wait on the ground for a sketch of the temple of Juno at Agrigento to be carved into it. Vincent Scully—Dan’s father—glimpsed the Greek ruin from a warship during World War II, a sighting that marked the beginning of his love affair with architecture. Another relic of the classical world on Dan’s compound is his sheet metal interpretation of the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Living and working in the shadow of a famous parent can be intimidating, but Dan Scully gamely embraced the world of architecture. He worked for Louis Kahn during the summers of his college years, and at the Yale School of Architecture, Scully was a member of Charles Moore’s socially responsible Yale Building Project class of 1970. He also joined Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s groundbreaking Las Vegas seminar, and, from then on, pop culture—particularly cars—crucially informed his design aesthetic. Scully finally settled in the mill town of Harrisville, New Hampshire, designing homes, schools, and commercial buildings throughout the Monadnock region. Scully is also something of a motor head; automobiles are integral to his vision of America as “a fast and restless place carved out of wilderness.” In 1980, he bought eight acres of land in the neighboring town of Dublin and began to create his own world of “carchitecture.” It should come as no surprise that Scully’s impact on the property was informed by his dynamic, “road runs through it” raison d’être. Today, Scully’s multistructure tableau is recognized as a notable addition to Dublin’s remarkably rich collection of American architecture. Scully’s house in Dublin is a stylistic combination of regional Greek Revival, Shingle Style, and an early 1950s Pontiac. The kitchen, for example, boasts shingles and a Greek entablature, and on the whole resembles the hood of a car, complete with a giant Chieftain emblem hood ornament. The interior walls are sheathed in corrugated metal, while the dining room table is a “roadway” inlaid lengthwise with passing lines, and a gas-pump handle caps off the stairway banister. Scully's house, within hearing range of New Hampshire Route 101, was featured in the 1987 issue of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, where it was labeled “Highway 101-Two-Lane Blacktop.” Scully’s whimsically serious work is more idiosyncratic than frivolous. His temple to the Gods of Speed faces the house down an alley lined by silver gazing balls. The heart of this didactic folly is a solid-fuel dragster, the engine of which has been replaced by a woodstove. As in 18th-century picturesque landscapes, the compound’s buildings are about memory and evoking associative emotions in viewers. This neoclassical trope continues with the garage, where Scully prepares vintage Volvos for races. Giant piston-columns composed of silver-painted, 55-gallon drums flank the main entrance, and license plates serve as frieze decoration between the metopes of the full entablature. The plates are arranged from east to west, beginning with New Hampshire and ending with California, echoing the vector of American expansion. Atop the garage—where in classical Greece, a statue of Athena may have stood as the venerated icon—is a Mobil gas pump. There are a variety of smaller outbuildings and objects that catch the eye: a 1950 Ford pickup originally bought for 50 dollars 50 years ago, a chicken-coop homage to the Quonset hut, a rusted-out truck with a snow plow attachment. A 1957 Cooper Formula 3 racing car hovers over file cabinets in Scully’s latest and perhaps final structure on the compound, the Archives Studio, a 20-by-24-foot shed wrapped in plastic roofing tiles that have been manufactured to resemble slate. Inside the shed, a 1968 Dan Scully painting of a Maserati engine faces Giambattista Nolli’s 1748 map of Rome. A 20-foot-long drafting table sits beneath a strip window that, Aalto-like, frames a view of the lake and neighboring forest. This seemingly humble cube, although reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s Cabanon de Vacances in size and function, is a nod to the Enlightenment—more Jean-Jacques Rousseau than Henry David Thoreau. The primitive hut can surely be thought of as man's earliest temple, but Scully’s Archives Studio also defers to the Yankee aesthetic of utility and thrift. After decades of work echoing the movement of cars and trains, this idyllic shack is just the place for a restless genius to contemplate his contributions to the manmade environment.