Search results for "san antonio"
As Los Angeles prepares to welcome yet another big-time architectural gem to Grand Avenue, an uncanny series of events replays itself just as it did twelve years ago, when the Disney Concert Hall was unveiled. Eli Broad’s museum by New York-based architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro opened this fall. Like the formal exuberance of Gehry’s building, the Broad’s deep and distorted pattern of perforations will surely be replicated in imagery that advertises, tantalizes, and provides a backdrop for partying elites, but it will likely fail to communicate a more compelling backstory. Thankfully, Facing the Music: Documenting Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Redevelopment of Downtown Los Angeles is a timely and welcome unraveling of the cursory attitude with which Los Angeles’ built manifestations are often approached.
In 2003, downtown was not sexy. Gentrification was a far-off dream of “inner city” political boosters, but hopes were high for repopulation thanks to a recent relaxation of zoning ordinances that would allow for residential conversions of office buildings. Richard Florida’s book Cities and the Creative Class (Routledge, 2004) was still one year out, and development-friendly Antonio Villaraigosa had not yet become the city’s first modern Latino mayor. Southern California’s real estate market had another four years of bloating before the bubble would pop (locally and across the nation), and Southern California Institute of Architecture was adjusting to its recent move into the Santa Fe Freight Depot building in the arts district—a barren stretch of town where mostly artists lived in cheap lofts.
Artist, filmmaker, and photographer Allan Sekula was at work documenting the construction of the Disney Concert Hall, which would open in late October that year. This work, which he produced collaboratively with four other artists—James Baker, Karin Apollonia Muller, Anthony Hernandez, and Billy Woodberry—would ultimately comprise the group installation titled Facing the Music.
A product of working class Los Angeles, and passionate about the political condition of working men and women, Sekula was unflinchingly resistant to, as he said, the “uncritical celebration of the new downtown.” Facing the Music questioned the late-capitalist idea that inner city cores could be improved by building large-scale entertainment and sports venues, retail corridors, and eye-catching buildings that would generate sales revenue and jobs (all mostly low wage). In the early 2000s Los Angeles was hot to follow such national trends with Gehry’s Concert Hall, L.A. Live, Staples Center, and the ambitious yet repeatedly stalled-out Grand Avenue master plan project.
Instead of privileging the spectacle of the Gehry building, Sekula and his collaborators subverted it by stepping into its inner world: its steel, bolts, safety measures, loose wires, and drywall. Simultaneously, Sekula’s camera turned away from the building toward the margins of the site, where the effects of redevelopment shifted or challenged populations and cultures already inhabiting Grand Avenue and beyond: the homeless, the workers, the ghosts of Bunker Hill. By deliberately ignoring the explicit imagery and formalism of Gehry’s architecture, Facing the Music uncovered the latent legibility of the building. The installation was shown, intentionally and provocatively, within the belly of Disney Hall, at the REDCAT gallery in 2005.
The new book is true to the 2005 exhibition, unfurling a further line of connection with additional content that Sekula compiled until his death in 2013. Included are Leonard Nadel’s images of Bunker Hill from the early 20th century (Nadel was a photographer for the Los Angeles Housing Authority from 1949–1952). These images offer glimpses of intimate domestic interiors captioned with notes Nadel took while speaking to residents, like: “substandard, $40 a month,” and “infested, illegal kitchen.” Louis Adamic’s 1930 article from Outlook & Independent magazine provides the quintessential blueprint for a critical analysis of Los Angeles’ cadre of entrepreneurs (Otis, Huntington, Whitley), who, he states, “have small use for poor people.” Those same mini-moguls’ financial lineage would eventually make way for the Music Center and Grand Avenue (by bulldozing Bunker Hill).
Facing the Music is nuanced and paradoxical, not smug or polemical. The work explores the intersectional account of Disney Concert Hall and those who constructed the building, those displaced by it, and those who benefitted most from its development. Sekula and his collaborators’ appreciation for the sweaty orchestration of the building’s construction is celebratory in portraits of the crew’s scribbled hardhats or the careful manner in which tool belts are hung at the end of a shift. The way Sekula presents the miserable faces of Disney Hall’s opening night attendants, in his video Gala, is not so sincere.
Sekula’s leaping connections between, for example, the orange and blue of the Getty’s corporate logo to the color of stolen water nourishing the citrus of the San Fernando Valley may be hyperbolic or even ambivalent, but they expand the investigation and interpretation of both building and site. In a transcript of his lecture “Los Angeles: Graveyard of Documentary,” included in Facing the Music, Sekula writes that “photographs once changed the world, while now they merely initiate and replicate the fashionable surface mutations of a spectacle culture immune to deeper transformation.”
In 2015, as in 2005, spirited investigations that ignore the designer “money shot” are as rare as ever. In a downtown that is increasingly consumed by architectural pomp, Sekula’s means of reading and representing architecture provide a necessary alternative approach.
A wide array of architects chosen by Walmart owners for Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program
|Anmahian Winton Architects||Cambridge, MA|
|Alta Planning and Design*||Davidson, NC|
|Bing Thom Architects||Vancouver, BC|
|Brian Healy Architects||Somerville, MA|
|Brininstool + Lynch||Chicago, IL|
|David M. Schwarz Architects, Inc.||Washington, D.C.|
|De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop||Louisville, KY|
|Deborah Berke Partners||New York, NY|
|DLAND Studio Architecture and Landscape Architecture*||Brooklyn, NY|
|Duvall Decker Architects||Jackson, MS|
|Ennead Architects||New York, NY|
|Eskew+Dumez+Ripple||New Orleans, LA|
|Grimshaw||New York, NY|
|GWWO, Inc./Architects||Baltimore, MD|
|HBRA Architects||Chicago, IL|
|HGA Architects and Engineers||Minneapolis, MN|
|Lake-Flato||San Antonio, TX|
|Louise Braverman Architect||New York, NY|
|LTL Architects||New York, NY|
|Marlon Blackwell Architects||Fayetteville, AR|
|Martinez + Johnson Architecture||Washington, D.C.|
|Marvel Architects||New York, NY|
|Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle||Minneapolis, MN|
|Michael Van Valkenburgh Architects*||Brooklyn, NY|
|Modus Studio||Fayetteville, AR|
|Overland Partners||San Antonio, TX|
|Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects||Little Rock, AR|
|Rice+Lipka Architects||New York, NY|
|Robert A.M. Stern Architects||New York, NY|
|Robert Sharp Architects & Massengale Architecture PLLC||Fayetteville, AR | NY, NY|
|Schwartz/Silver Architects||Boston, MA|
|Spackman Mossop Michaels*||New Orleans, LA|
|Stoss Landscape Urbanism*||Boston, MA|
|Trahan Architects||New Orleans, LA|
|WXY Architecture + Urban Design*||New York, NY|
- * denotes a landscape architecture firm.
Envelope inspired by history of Dallas' African-American community.For the past 20 years, San Antonio–based Muñoz & Company (formerly Kell Muñoz Architects) has focused primarily on what president and CEO Henry Muñoz III calls "the architecture of identity." The bulk of that work, in turn, has been concentrated on the United States–Mexico border, where the architects collaborated with clients in majority-Latino communities.The commission to design Billy Dade Middle School (in a joint venture with KAI Texas) represented a departure from the firm's usual context. "It struck us that this particular campus had such a rich history and location—in the urban core of the city, and an area where the African-American community has been so important, historically," recalled Muñoz. "It was a great opportunity to explore what that means in the 21st century." Working closely with local residents, Muñoz & Company settled on the metaphor of a quilt, announcing the school's commitment to culturally attuned education with a translucent facade in multicolored glass and illuminated brick. Much of the preparation for the project took place outside the studio. "We approached it not just as designers, but in a more scholarly fashion," said Muñoz. The architects researched the school's namesake—educator, parent, and activist Dr. Billy Earl Dade—through interviews with family members and colleagues as well as archival materials found in a local museum. The linchpin of the design, however, fell into place at a dinner event Muñoz attended. There he asked Claudine Brown, assistant secretary for education and access at the Smithsonian Institution, to help him brainstorm a symbol of cultural identity in the African-American community, one that could help inspire young minds. "Immediately, with no hesitation, she said, 'I think you should look at quilts,'" said Muñoz. As the conversation and further research progressed, he learned that quilts have been used to tell stories, as visual signposts for safety, and as subtle acts of resistance—as well as to meet a basic need for warmth. In addition, said Muñoz, "We found superb artistry, [including] quilting collectives that keep the tradition alive." On the school's exterior, the architects expressed the quilt metaphor with multicolored glass walls fronting diagonal bays. Beyond the reference to quilts as cultural artifacts, the pattern projects a belief in the community's resilience. "That glass wall is an important way of expressing how anything can be woven together," said Muñoz. A patchwork rhythm recurs more subtly in the facade's brick walls, where transparent glass elements preserve a sense of openness. "At night, when the glass curtain wall is so transparent—like a lantern—you also get a sense of that in the brick wall," he explained. The entrance canopy, clad primarily in metal, deepens the material diversity of the building envelope, underlining the design's focus on inclusiveness. "You should be able to be yourself as you walk under it," said Muñoz. The quilt theme continues throughout the interior, notably in the tiled floors (inspired by the work of quilting cooperative Gee's Bend), displays of text from Dade's writings, quilts commissioned for the library, and a collection of salvaged doors lining the lobby walls. "Dade was a really strong mentor in an intergenerational fashion," explained Muñoz. We looked at a speech he made about opportunity and thought, 'What if we harvested doors from the neighborhood?' So in the lobby you see this patchwork of doors, meant to be doors of opportunity." Built to meet Dallas Independent School District's stringent environmental standards, Billy Dade "combined [environmental] sustainability with the idea of cultural sustainability," explained Muñoz. Though in keeping with the firm's track record of community-based design, the project was nonetheless a learning opportunity for the architects. "This was the first time that we've [designed] a school that is multicultural in a different way than what we've been used to working with," he said. "While the population was different, I hope people found something that they can see themselves in."
This abandoned rail corridor in Singapore will soon be a nationwide linear park, and these firms are competing to design it
- West 8 and DP Architects
- Grant Associates and MVRDV with Architects 61
- Turenscape International and MKPL Architects
- Nikken Sekkei with Tierra Design
- OLIN Partnership and OMA Asia with DP Architects
Recipients of this year's grants run the gamut in terms of media, from films and photography to exhibitions and public programming. (Full disclosure: Graham Foundation Director Sarah Herda sits on AN's editorial advisory board.) The awards ceremony is being livestreamed on YouTube:Here's the full list of recipients, by category: EXHIBITION [6 awards] Zoe Beloff (New York, NY) Gabriela Burkhalter (Basel, Switzerland) Allied Works Architecture: Brad Cloepfil (New York, NY/Portland, OR) Kari Cwynar (Toronto, Canada) & Kendra Sullivan (Brooklyn, NY) Jamila Moore Pewu (Hanover, MA) Michael Rakowitz (Chicago, IL) FILM/VIDEO/NEW MEDIA [7 awards] Gavin Browning, Glen Cummings & Laura Hanna (New York, NY) Etienne Desrosiers (Montreal, Canada) Granny Cart Productions: Elettra Fiumi & Lea Khayata (New York, NY) Chad Freidrichs (Columbia, MO) New-Territories/[eIf/b^t/c]: Camille Lacadée & François Roche (Bangkok, Thailand) Léopold Lambert (Paris, France) Candacy Taylor (Los Angeles, CA) PUBLIC PROGRAM [3 awards] Elizabeth Lennard (Sausalito, CA) Marije van Lidth de Jeude & Oliver Schütte (Curridabat, Costa Rica) Noam Toran (London, England) PUBLICATION [33 awards] Ethel Baraona Pohl (Barcelona, Spain), Marina Otero Verzier (Rotterdam, the Netherlands) & Malkit Shoshan (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) Alessandro Bava (London, England) Silvia Benedito (Cambridge, MA) & Iwan Baan (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) Emilia Bergmark (Malmö, Sweden), Corinne Gisel (Zürich, Switzerland) & Nina Paim (St. Gallen, Switzerland) David Chambers & Kevin Haley (London, England) Esther Choi (Brooklyn, NY) & Marrikka Trotter (Cambridge, MA) Thomas Daniell (Fukuoka, Japan) Charles L. Davis II (Charlotte, NC) Alexander Eisenschmidt (Chicago, IL) Institut für Raumexperimente: Olafur Eliasson (Berlin, Germany), Eric Ellingsen (Ithaca, NY) & Christina Werner (Berlin, Germany) Didier Faustino (Paris, France) Todd Gannon (Orange, CA) & Craig Hodgetts (Culver City, CA) Kersten Geers, Joris Kritis (Brussels, Belgium), Jelena Pancevac (Paris, France) & Andrea Zanderigo (Milan, Italy) Chris Grimley, Michael Kubo & Mark Pasnik (Boston, MA) Georgina Huljich & Marcelo Spina (Los Angeles, CA) Daniel Ibañez (Cambridge, MA), Clare Lyster (Chicago, IL), Charles Waldheim (Cambridge, MA) & Mason White (Toronto, Canada) Catherine Ingraham (Brooklyn, NY) Doug Jackson (San Luis Obispo, CA) Daniel López-Pérez (San Diego, CA) Sébastien Marot (Paris, France) Noritaka Minami (Cambridge, MA) & Ken Yoshida (Merced, CA) Joan Ockman (Elkins Park, PA) Kathryn E. O’Rourke (San Antonio, TX) Lluís Ortega (Chicago, IL) Miriam Paeslack (Buffalo, NY) Richard Pare (Richmond, England) Stephen Phillips (Los Angeles, CA) Jesse Reiser & Nanako Umemoto (New York, NY) Charles Rice (Sydney, Australia) Sara Stevens (Houston, TX) Despina Stratigakos (Buffalo, NY) Alice Twemlow (Brooklyn, NY) Rebecca Zorach (Chicago, IL) RESEARCH [14 awards] Shumi Bose (London, England) Marshall Brown (Chicago, IL) Fabrizio Gallanti (Montreal, Canada) David J. Getsy (Chicago, IL) Rob Holmes (Gainesville, FL) & Brett Milligan (Davis, CA) Sabine Horlitz (Berlin, Germany) Andres Kurg (Tallinn, Estonia) Tiffany Lambert (Brooklyn, NY) Gregorio Carboni Maestri (Milan, Italy) Mary McLeod (New York, NY) Ara H. Merjian (New York, NY) Meredith Miller (Ann Arbor, MI) Spyros Papapetros (Princeton, NJ) & Gerd Zillner (Vienna, Austria) Benedikt Reichenbach (Berlin, Germany)
Texas, with its 254 counties, each containing a courthouse, has far more than any other state. (Georgia, with 159 counties is a distant second). San Antonio–based architect Brantley Hightower’s slender book, The Courthouses of Central Texas, which showcases 50 examples, is a succinct tribute to one of the most admired groups of buildings in the state.
In March 1957, Architectural Record published an article, “Lockhart, Texas,” written by the English critic Colin Rowe, then teaching briefly at the University of Texas. It remains today perhaps the single most penetrating critique of the Texas courthouse as a generator of urban form. According to Rowe, while,
The place of origin of the type is presumably a matter of academic interest… it is just possible that its place of culmination is in central Texas… where the brilliance of the atmosphere lifts the most modest architectural statement to a new potential, the idea becomes completely clarified; and for the unprejudiced eye, the eye which is willing to see, a number of small towns do present themselves as very minor triumphs of urbanity… As a form of emotional complement to the interminable terrain, the impact of these four-square, geometrical, concentric little towns is discovered to be one of remarkable intensity. They have, all of them, something of the unqualified decisiveness, the diagrammatic coherence of architectural models…
Hightower seems to have been taken by this concept of the “diagrammatic coherence of architectural models.” His presentation of the courthouses as a united collection of “incongruous architectural artifacts” (18) is scrupulously regular. Selected from the counties surrounding San Antonio, Austin, and Waco, they are presented in chronological order in a neat succession from the first, built in 1970, to the last, built exactly 100 years later in 1970. Each courthouse is given a two-page spread, which includes a single black and white exterior photograph, an elevation drawing of the principle facade, a site plan showing the courthouse and the immediate surrounding blocks, and a short descriptive text giving key dates and names. The drawings are all to the same scale, in the elevations 1 inch equals 18 feet and in the site plans 1 inch equals 222 feet. (The irregular scales are presumably a result of fitting the drawings to the pages of the book.) Although the site plans indicate the main circulation corridors of the publicly accessible ground floors, in the manner of the famous 1748 Nolli Map of Rome, the book contains no interior photographs.
Hightower begins and ends the book with short explanatory chapters. In the first we learn about the main types of courthouse squares that are named after the specific towns in Tennessee, Virginia, and Pennsylvania that they first appeared. In the Shelbyville square, which is the most common, the courthouse sits in the center of a single block. The Harrisonburg square is shifted over half a block so the courthouse faces a single incoming street. The Lancaster square is shifted in two directions so the courthouse faces four oncoming streets. Finally, the Two-Block square is, as its name indicates, the result of combining two blocks so that the square functions more as a public park. We learn that the reason that most of the courthouses were built in the last three decades of the 19th century was because in 1874 the Texas Legislature passed a law allowing counties to issue bonds to pay for municipal buildings.
In the concluding chapter we learn about the architects, particularly San Antonio architect J. Riely Gordon (1863–1937) who designed some 18 distinguished courthouses in Texas built in the decade between 1890 and 1902 when he relocated his practice first to Dallas and then to New York. (Of these, however, only six were built in counties included in the book.) Gordon’s designs were unique for their sculptural, centralized massing and floor plans typically containing a central square atrium connected by four angled hallways leading to quarter-circular entrance porches. The atrium, which connected to a central, windowed tower acted as a chimney drawing air up and through the building for surprisingly effective summer cooling. We also learn the reason that so many of the old courthouses look oddly fresh and new is a legacy of the Texas Courthouse Preservation Program, initially sponsored by then governor George W. Bush in 1999. Between 1999 and 2014, 180 grants were awarded to 96 counties, resulting in the full restoration of 59 courthouses across the state.
Because Hightower’s book follows several others about Texas courthouses, the question inevitably arises: What justifies this re-presentation? Hightower’s critical engagement of the subject is more implied by his methodology and selections than stated directly. He writes somewhat contradictorily, for example, that “it may seem misguided for a small community to make such a large investment in architectural spectacle.”(141) But isn’t precisely the point of these buildings to be eye-catching landmarks? He continues, “As compelling as the courthouses of central Texas may be, they are products of a time and a culture that no longer exists.” (146) But if they don’t embody repeatable, universal design values able to transcend their original context then why should an architect working today bother studying them?
As an author, he seems to have been most interested in the documentation, which visually is extremely satisfying and noteworthy in its refinement. However, to what larger end is this series of elegant drawings? Although he advocates for architecturally defined, human-scaled public urban space, it is not clear how this is to be achieved based on his portfolio of courthouses. As a contrast, when architect Clovis Heimsath wrote his manifesto-like book about the vernacular architecture in central Texas, Pioneer Texas Buildings: a Geometry Lesson (1968), he concluded quite strongly:
We can talk about the geometry of these early Texas buildings and that is their glory, but it is the poignancy of the environment they create, set in the Hill Country, that is the “why” of this book… I want these houses to speak out against the sham of current American domestic architecture. The fraud is so appalling, it becomes the aesthetic sin of the age by its very magnitude: that we snug Americans can live in our endless four-square rooms with our endless eight-foot-high ceilings while the outsides say everything stylistically under the sun is a fraud—we want it, so we have it. (153)
Heimsath’s selection of diagrams and photos provided a design methodology for generating new forms created through geometric re-combinations of the base components of the buildings he documented. Hightower as an architect begins a similar process in a series of evocative diagrams where he layers the courthouse elevations over each other to create the shadowy outlines of an ur-courthouse form. However, this exercise only appears on three pages before it is abandoned. It is at points like this, where the author starts to manipulate his carefully gleaned data in intriguing ways, that one wishes he would have continued. What would have made this book—significantly written by an architect instead of an historian—more meaningful is if it presented a method for synthesizing the architectural and spatial elements of the courthouses and their urban precincts to make new designs that possess the pleasing qualities of the old.
As three-term mayor of San Antonio, Julián Castro was known for innovative governance. His “Decade of Downtown” program campaigned for new investments in San Antonio’s city center and older communities and brought in $350 million of private sector money, generating more than 2,400 housing units. In 2010, Castro was enrolled in the World Economic Forum’s list of Young Global Leaders and named by Time magazine as one of its “40 under 40” list of notable leaders in American politics. At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, he became the first Latino to deliver a keynote. Castro took office as the sixteenth Secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development on July 28, 2014.This year’s festival promises to be an energetic follow-up to the previous years under the direction of Joseph Grima, who has been involved in no less than three Biennials in the last year, including Chicago’s Architecture Biennial and Biennale Interieur in Belgium. IDEAS CITY is also a partnership of The New Museum (Founder), The Architectural League of New York, Bowery Poetry Club, The Cooper Union, Storefront for Art & Architecture, The Drawing Center. Some of the other events that stand out are: —IDEAS CITY Street Program —Institute for Public Architecture: Total Reset —Kurt Andersen, Carmen Yulín Cruz, and others: MAYORAL CONVERSATION: Finding The Invisible City —Rhizome: AIRBNB Pavilion: Stay With Me —Kim Stanley Robinson, Bjarke Ingels: Make No Little Plans: A CONVERSATION IN TWO PARTS:Part 1. Toward A Plausible Utopia —Municipal Art Society, Architizer: Pitching the City —Manny Cantor Center, Laura Nova: Moving Stories