Search results for "morphosis"

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KSP Jurgen Engel Architekten to Design New Shenzhen Art Museum
German studio KSP Jurgen Engel Architekten was selected last month in an international competition to design the new Shenzhen Art Museum and Library complex. The winning scheme was chosen over submissions by world-renowned firms including OMA, Mecanoo and Steven Holl. The winning design consists of an art museum, a library and archive, and a public square known as the “Culture Plaza,” all encased within cubic glass structures. An approximately twenty foot high stone pedestal forms the basis for the museum, library, and plaza. In addition to the podium and the plaza, the museum roof and the uniform facade material of matte glass help accentuate the coherent character of the structure’s designed components. The new museum is marked by different-size spaces; it includes about 160,000 square feet of exhibit space extending over three levels. The library features a four-story reading room with nearly 1,000 desks and a large skylight, and the archive is located in the podium and on the basement levels. Set back terraces have a cascading effect and act as a wayfinding element, while at the same time affording an impressive view of the “Culture Plaza” and the city. According to the architects, the central idea of the design is to create a public place that promotes interaction between people and culture. The art museum represents just one of many high-profile architectural projects that are currently taking place in the city of Shenzhen. Skyscrapers designed by Morphosis Architects, NBBJ and RMJM are in the works. Rem Koolhaas’ OMA has also won a competition to design their second tower in the city, following the Shenzhen Stock Exchange building.
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Four finalists selected to redesign Pershing Square in Los Angeles
Pershing Square Renew just announced the four finalists of the Pershing Square design competition: SWA with Morphosis, James Corner Field Operations with Frederick Fisher & Partners, Agence TER with SALT Landscape Architects, and wHY with Civitas. These teams will now develop fully fleshed out proposals for the five-acre park in Downtown Los Angeles. The finalist concept boards offer clues as to what to expect from the final proposals: SWA and Morphosis identified four strategies for their reorganized park: ecology (native trees and a drought-friendly water feature), mobility (a road diet along Olive Street and better Metro connections), programing (a market and a day/night event venue), and sustainable business (reworked parked concession, food vendor, and retail spaces.) James Corner Field Operations with Frederick Fisher & Partners held off at hinting at a design. Their concept boards show increased porosity between the park and the both the surrounding neighborhood as well as the cultural life of all of downtown and the Arts District. Expect the design to engage both in the park and along the adjacent streets and sidewalks. Agence TER with SALT Landscape Architects’ boards depict a boldy understated proposal. They envision Pershing Square as a giant lawn with several atmospheric gardens: a foggy garden, a scent garden, a dry garden, a wind garden, and an edible garden. Services are discretely tucked under a large shade canopy. wHY with Civitas landscape architecture group’s concept boards was also slim on design details. Although the proposal echoed some ideas seen in other team proposals, such as connections to the surrounding neighborhood, an emphasis on natural ecology, and food/market vendors, it uniquely suggested that the park offer education programming as well as something that could be digital connectivity entitled “Syncing Urban Hardware and Software.” The four finalists will develop their proposals over the first quarter of 2016, leading to another round of jury interviews and a public presentation in March. It’s unclear how and when the design will be built, since at moment the only funding for the project seems to be the $2 million pledged to by the Department of Recreation and Parks and MacFarlane Partners, who each chipped in one million. The Pershing Square Renew jury is: Janet Marie Smith (Jury Chair) SVP, Planning and Development, Los Angeles Dodgers José Huizar, Councilmember, 14th District, City of Los Angeles Donna Bojarsky, Founder and President, Future of Cities: Leading in LA Simon Ha, Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council and Downtown LA Resident Mary McCue, Founder, MJM Management Group Rick Poulos, Principal, NBBJ Janet Rosenberg, Founding Principal, Janet Rosenberg & Studio Michael Shull, General Manager, Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks Michael Woo, Dean, Cal Poly Pomona, School of Environmental Design
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Get Lost
Gilbert & George (artists), Fournier Street 2008

Mapping It Out: An Alternative Atlas of Contemporary Cartographies
Edited by Hans Ulrich Obrist
Introduction by Tom McCarthy
Thames & Hudson, $50

Charting uncertain territory is an architect’s primary function. Sites are investigated, plans are drawn, and structures are built—although not always as depicted or intended. Sometimes mere sketches depict a framework for improvisation where one can find success or get lost.

Novelist Tom McCarthy introduces this collection, which emerged from the Map Marathon at the Serpentine Gallery’s 2010 annual pavilion programming. Hans Ulrich Obrist, one of the event’s curators, edited the tome of maps, ranging from didactic to imaginary and from concrete to abstract. As McCarthy reminds us, “Cartographies can be altered endlessly to reflect different priorities...[and] challenge with which maps depict the ‘truth.’”

Referencing György Kepes, Obrist identifies the book as both an investigation and conversation of mapping and a “pooling of knowledge” that can help readers understand and navigate “the increasingly complex terrain that is contemporary life.” However, more than a few maps indicate life is tied to a cyberspace between land and imagination, rather than terra firma.

Each of the book’s five sections addresses a different theme. In the first, “Redrawn Territories,” Jonas Mekas interprets Manhattan by whiting out the area between 14th and Murray Street and projecting his memory of the locales of his friends, bars, and film houses. At another scale—to make people realize the size of Africa—Kai Krause stuffs foreign countries into the continent’s outline. The combination of the U.S., China, India and Eastern Europe leaves plenty of room for much of Western Europe. Phillip Hughes’ Ingleborough (1998) is a bit more interpretive and representational of land formations, while Doug Aitken’s Manhattan Metamorphosis (2008) is an abstract array of red lines and planes.

The section “Charting Human Life” swerves all over, attempting to “point toward a land of the future.” Tim Berners-Lee navigates “influences in the World Wide Web technology,” although his Dungeons & Dragons–style illustration belies its high-tech content. Tom Standage goes back in history with a “map of the internet in 1901,” which traces that year’s international telegraph system, from which Internet connections eventually sprung. Conversely, Emanuel Derman in Pleasure Pain Desire: A Map of Emotions uses a simple, box-laden flow chart to relate human psychology. Attempting to make the politics of architecture visible in domestic interiors, architect Andres Jaque provides Fray Foam Home (2010) to illustrate the origins and use of the building’s resources, but without details, it appears as mere decoration. Meanwhile, the red-lined detail of Tehching Hsieh’s One Year Performance (1981–82) does not enhance the original information. Claude Parent’s heavy ink sketches in the Le Tsunami Humain series take us far from the his utopian 1960s oblique to suggest fragmentation and disarray that humanity needs to overcome.

The cartographers in section three, “Scientia Naturalis,” use their work “to reach some truth of the natural world,” whether it’s genomic, DNA, charting worms and wasps, or explorations of space-time continuum. Dave McKean’s map juxtaposes an image of a human heart over London’s M25 motorway in a particularly Ballardian
move, though it is inspired by Iain Sinclair’s book London Orbital rather than Crash. More naturalistic, both Albert-László Barabási and Yong-Yeol Ahn categorize a number of maladies and food flavors, respectively, and network their relations in bubble diagrams, the latter in relationships among tastes and frequency of use.

“Invented Worlds” opts for complete imagination. Opening the section, John Baldessari’s Swamp (2010) humorously speculates that a “found photograph” could depict the location of comic character Swamp Thing’s home. Yona Friedman follows with the word-based A Map to the Future (2010). David Adjaye’s Europolis (2012) collages the European Union’s capital cities into a single “imagined, phenomenological city...[that] explores extremes of scale and the diversity of grain” that reveals a simultaneous density and emptiness.

The final section, “The Unmappable,” attempts to visualize an abstract idea or an event that has not yet happened. Toyo Ito supplies a porous sponge-like graphic that suggests a more complex, heterogeneous, and diverse direction. What it charts is unclear, perhaps it’s a map in search of a place. Some cede to colorful scribbles, while text dominates others in a reminder of verbal directions, such as Philippe Parreno’s discussion of mapping and invisibility and Tris Vonna-Michell’s page. Oraib Toukan’s 20/20 is a simple and subtle combination of a concrete poem and a collage studying distance, size, and scale.

The book design by Daniel Streat of the provocative studio Barnbrook, is on par with the maps. Each section launches with a topographic spread depicting chapter number and contours organizing the contributors. A title block accompanies each contribution with the artist’s name and occupation, and then title and text if they exist. Each is designed as an interpretation or key to the map, an admirable feat considering there are 120 maps. With such diversity in the atlas, I often found the title blocks interesting—repetitive in language yet different in form.

Unfortunately for such a beautifully designed and interesting atlas, the five themes create an uneven organization. Perhaps the answer lies with polar explorer Erling Kagge, included in “Charting Human Life,” who implores us to engage our inquisitiveness and exploratory intuitions: “It can feel both unpleasant and somewhat risky to explore the world. But perhaps it’s even more risky to do nothing.”

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History on Repeat
Soon to be a boutique hotel: Morgan's Pasadena YWCA.
Courtesy Pasadena Heritage

Two long-vacant Julia Morgan–designed buildings are moving forward this fall with plans for renovation, restoration, and adaptive reuse. The architect, famously known for the expansive Mediterranean Revival Hearst Castle estate, also designed the Downtown Los Angeles headquarters for the Hearst’s sixth newspaper, the Herald Examiner Building, and the progressive YWCA in Pasadena. Both structures will take on new uses and re-engage their urban settings in the coming years.

Opened in 1915, the Moorish-style Herald Examiner Building at Broadway and Eleventh stopped printing in 1989. Located at the juncture of two rapidly-developing downtown areas—Broadway Corridor and South Park—there’s been much speculation as to its eventual redux. Properties on either side of the building have been sold off and at one time it was speculated that a Morphosis-designed high-rise would fill one lot. As of 2014, Forest City was developing two seven-story mixed-use buildings for the flanking properties.

Prior to its close, nine years of worker strikes led to the newspaper boarding up the building’s street side arcade facade. In the years since, it has hosted film and television shoots—uses that kept the building from falling into total neglect. Development partners Georgetown Company and Hearst Corporation have partnered to redevelop the historic building, bringing in Gensler to transform the structure into more than 100,000 square feet of mixed-use retail and office space. The hope is to capitalize on the area’s revitalized street life and L.A. real estate’s demand for creative workspace.

The Moorish-style Herald Examiner Building at Broadway and Eleventh.
Courtesy The Georgetown Company

Robert Jernigan, architect and Gensler principal, noted the building’s singular ceramic domes and terra-cotta details, vowing to approach the renovation carefully and “with a high degree of honesty.” He pointed out the potential of the largely intact, roughly 1,500-square-foot lobby to become a bar, cafe, or lounge area leading for a ground floor restaurant. “It’s a building that went through a lot, but it wasn’t a precious building,” he explained. “There’s an internal stair that has a brass railing that is dimpled because the strikers took sticks and beat the railing.”

He relayed a story about how the sawtooth skylights over the printing floor were blacked out during World War II and never uncovered. He suggested that the restoration will bring back the natural daylight.

“The cultural history is important,” said Michael Fischer, vice president of Georgetown Company, explaining that there are plans to also work with historical consultant. “The Hearst Corporation is staying in the deal with us. This building was very important to them and they will remain as stewards. There are a lot of stories in this building. We’re thinking about the history and how to incorporate it into the old new design.” He anticipates that the building will reopen in the middle of 2017.

In Pasadena, a proposal to convert Morgan’s 48,000-square-foot YWCA building in the city’s civic center into a Kimpton Hotel is working its way through approvals. Architectural Resources Group is leading the effort, which also includes an adjacent 87,000-square-foot, six-story building. Pasadena citizens are carefully watching the design development of the addition, which sits across the street from Pasadena’s Beaux Arts City Hall. According to Kevin Johnson of Pasadena’s Design & Historic Preservation Section, an environmental impact report is expected to be released at the end of October.

Combined, the new hotel buildings would feature 179 guest rooms and suites, meeting rooms, and a 140-seat restaurant. The design also converts the old gym into a large event space. Morgan’s YWCA buildings were known for their beautiful indoor swimming pools. Here, the pool will be kept intact, but covered and used for a ballroom.

In the late 1980s, the YWCA left the building, finding that the upkeep and maintenance of the historic structure was beyond the organization’s mission. It sat empty for decades, with some promising change in ownership, but little came of those efforts. The City of Pasadena, who now owns the building through eminent domain, is leading the current proposal. There’s been some opposition to the new building component, which sits on land that—while not an official park—is considered by many a public green space. The city’s proposal notes that the nearby Robinson Memorial is unaffected by new construction.

Conservation non-profit Pasadena Heritage has long been interested in Morgan’s Mediterranean gem and helped to protect the structure during its 100-year history. “Pasadena was a progressive community in the 1900s and local women were part of having a vision for the city—one of the things to happen was to have Julia Morgan design our YWCA,” explained executive director Sue Mossman. “Pasadena was on the cutting edge of hiring a woman architect. We are lucky to have this building and have it largely intact with very little change over the last 100 years.”

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Semi-finalists Announced for Pershing Square Competition
A shortlist was announced for the Pershing Square Renew competition. Ten teams were selected to have a chance at a crack at redoing Ricardo Legorreta's scheme. The five-acre park is seen as the centerpiece of a revitalized Downtown Los Angeles and the competition, a public-private partnership backed by councilmember José Huizar, is a critical step toward that effort. The ten semi-finalists are global, national, and local—and often in combination. They include: Paris-based Agence Ter with SALT Landscape ArchitectsSnohetta, James Corner Field Operations and Frederick Fisher and Partners, New York-based W Architecture, San Francisco-based PWP Landscape Architecture with Allied Works Architecture, Mia Lehrer Associates with NYC’s !Melk, Peterson Studio + BNIM, Rios Clementi Hale with OMA, SWA with Morphosis, and wHY Architecture These teams will continue to develop designs, which will be reviewed later this fall and a group of four finalists will be announced in December. Pershing Square Renew will select a winner in February 2016. On bets as to who might emerge from the pack, it seems that the organization is looking for details over gesture. “Their challenge isn’t to win awards; it’s to win over hearts,” said executive director Eduardo Santana. “More than anything else, these groups need to focus on the experiences their design will inspire and the memories the Square will create.”
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The Metamorphosis: Marc Fornes breaks ground on a parametric amphitheater in Maryland
On September 12, New York–based practice Marc Fornes/Theverymany broke ground on its largest project to date, the Chrysalis Amphitheater project. The parametric structure's fluid form is intended to define a public space and live performance venue for outdoor gigs and shows. With its classic Marc Fornes aesthetic of scale-like parts forming a larger mass, the transitional space has a form resembling a Taxodium distichum (the Swamp Cypress tree commonly grows in eastern U.S. marshland). The enormous roots create a multifunctional space with the back of the stage being available for children's performances and other openings facilitating the loading and unloading of goods for the performances. Located in Meriwether Park, Columbia, MD, the project currently has a budget of $3.1 million and is set for completion in 2016. The scheme's versatility is aided by the use of various arched openings and a grand proscenium framing the stage. Inside its scaly skin, a system of lightweight aluminum supports, itself with an organic organizational system, holds up the amphitheater shell. The undulating curves and pleated forms contribute to the structural integrity of the design, allowing it to support a substantial light rig above the stage which will serve the performance spaces. While the scheme almost feels like a temporary installation, like many of the designer's projects before, the Chrysalis is embedded firmly into a concrete foundation. Outside of events and concerts, the structure can be used as a shelter from rain and provide shading during the summer. When the stage is not in use, the space's wooden decking is easily adaptable as a destination for social gatherings and public interaction. Seating arrangements and the layout of the arches frame views across the city, creating a calm environment that dramatically contrasts to its alter-ego as a gig venue. Marc Fornes/Theveryman said that Chrysalis' distinct shape is achieved via mesh inflation, a form-finding process. As can be seen in the video below, the structure is almost stretched from its anchoring base points on the ground which are also the nodes of the arches, thus allowing it to look as if some parts are billowing in the wind. These anchor points are also carefully spaced around the trees in the immediate vicinity, which appears to give its woody surroundings a mark of respect. Finally, the complex structure has been colored in hues of bright green as a reaction to its setting in the park. The luminosity and brightness of these tones however, separate it from its natural environment, allowing it to stand out notifying passers by of its presence.
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Cooper Union Board, Committee to Save Cooper Union, and NY Attorney General reach agreement on how to manage school
The Committee to Save Cooper Union (CSCU), the Board of Trustees of the Cooper Union, and New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman signed a consent decree on September 2nd to manage the school's governance and finances. The consent decree lets the Board avoid admitting wrongdoing, while outlining changes the school's leadership must make to return Cooper Union to a sustainable, no-tuition model. This move is a critical step towards the resolution of a 2014 lawsuit brought by the New York Attorney General's office and CSCU against the board alleged that, among other transgressions, the mismanagement of the school's $375 million endowment violated  Cooper Union's charter. The consent decree establishes a framework in which all stakeholders can enact plans for better governance, responsible fiscal management, and chart a plan for the school to return to its merit-based, tuition-free model. The plan is still awaiting approval by the court, but the full list of stipulations is here. In the school's charter, founder Peter Cooper mandated that the Cooper Union be free and open to all. The entering class of 2014 was required to pay tuition, the first class to do so since the early 1900s. The school's financial troubles are exemplified in the construction and financing of 41 Cooper Square. Designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis, the building was completed in 2009 at a cost of $166 million. The Cooper Union went into debt to capitalize the project, borrowing $175 million against the land it owns underneath the Chrysler Building. The school lost an additional $35 million after the collapse of Lehman Bros. in 2008, leaving the school in near financial ruin. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff hope that the agreement reached last week will put Cooper Union on a path back to financial solvency.
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OMA does weddings and bar mitzvahs on Wilshire Boulevard
Word of an OMA-designed building for the Wilshire Boulevard Temple has been in the grapevine for months. The firm was on the short list this past spring along with Kengo Kuma & Associates, Morphosis Architects, and Steven Holl Architects for the 55,000-square-foot event space across the street from the institution’s recently restored 1929 Byzantine-Revival sanctuary. Now, a new building is moving forward with a name, an architect, and a fundraising campaign. Koolhaas is officially the architect for the Audrey Irmas Pavilion, even if renderings are still under wraps. Shohei Shigematsu and Jason Long will lead the project out of OMA’s New York office. Irmas, a philanthropist, art collector, and temple congregant pledged $30 million to lead the fundraising campaign for the new building. She is raising those funds by putting a Cy Twombly in her personal collection up for sale. The entire proceeds of the sale of the painting will benefit The Audrey Irmas Foundation for Social Justice, with a portion earmarked for the OMA pavilion. The new building, proposed to open in 2019, will accommodate all sorts of community events: weddings, bar mitzvahs, and galas. The project would be the firm’s first cultural building in California and first commission from a religious institution. OMA’s commercial project, The Plaza at Santa Monica, seems to be sluggishly moving through that city’s political channels. It passed the City Council in June, but still faces community opposition due to its height.
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Dancing About Architecture
Courtesy Michael Maltzan

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts announced three new initiatives poised to transform cultural life in Orange County: two programs—the Center for a Dance and Innovation and the Center Without Boundaries—and a new plaza designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA).

While the two centers plan to focus on creativity through movement and civic engagement, MMA’s design for the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza sets the stage for these activities by reinventing the existing Arts Plaza as a public gathering place with a public stage ready to host free events for up to 2,000 people.

More ambitious than a simple plaza, as the initiative’s title may suggest, MMA’s scheme is a comprehensive reworking of the outdoor spaces around Segerstrom Hall. The campus was originally master planned by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, who also designed the adjacent Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, with landscape by Peter Walker’s PWP Landscape Architecture. A street once passed through the campus, and while it has long been closed, it left behind a public space out of scale with the surrounding buildings.


“The street made the plaza difficult to occupy in a full range of different programmatic possibilities,” said Michael Maltzan. “Our work was to imagine and expand the range of activities to take place there, which included large public performances such as a 1,000 person movie night, but also still be comfortable for couples, families, and individuals.”

According to Maltzan, the design responds to the need for outdoor areas at a number of scales and includes intimate seating, as well as a large public space and multi-purpose community stage. Renderings of three shaded green spaces—the Plaza Entry Grove, the Amphitheater Grove, the Community Picnic Grove—show casual public seating areas and pedestrian paths tucked under the tree canopy.


The main architectural component of the scheme is a circulation sequence that connects the main parking lot (via a sweeping ramp) to a walkway that passes through Segerstrom Hall and connects patrons via a grand staircase to the plaza.

“It’s a gateway and entry into the plaza,” said Maltzan. “The walkway cuts through the whole facade and creates a loose threshold. Choreography is an important thing in my work. Here, because there are many ways you can enter and leave the hall, we tried not so much to create a geometrically formal plaza but to think about how different itineraries and movements could be choreographed.”


These circular set pieces are signature Maltzan—a combination of gestural form and circulation seen in microprojects like the John V. Tunney Bridge at the Hammer Museum or at the infrastructural scale, like the Sixth Street Bridge. Programs such as an outdoor cafe and an observation deck are also integrated into the stair form to compliment the strong geometries of the existing building.

This is not the first time a top firm has been asked to enhance the arts campus. It’s a tough suburban setting to perk up: the site is indecorously located across the street from South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. In 2008, Morphosis was selected to design the new Orange County Museum of Art to be located on a parcel across from the concert hall. That plan for a 72,000-square-foot building stalled out due to the economic downturn, but there are still hopes it will move forward.

Support for plaza project and programming comes from The Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ $68 million Next Act Campaign. This fundraising includes a $13.5 million gift from Julianne and George Argyros. Construction starts on the plaza early 2016, with completion slated for fall 2016.

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Architects and Housewives
Vitra AG Photo / Monique Jacot

An Eames Anthology Edited by Daniel Ostroff Yale University Press, $50

The way I read, every book is a self-help book. I am a mercenary, hunting ruthlessly for the stuff I can use. I recently found An Eames Anthology, a collection of Charles and Ray Eames’ texts—articles, film scripts, interviews, letters, notes, and speeches—edited by Daniel Ostroff. The first thing I did with was turn to the index to look for writings credited to Ray alone. I wanted to read those first. There are about ten in a book with more than 120 entries. It’s not a contest, of course, but Ray-ray (her childhood nickname—and mine) remains a bit of a mystery. She and Charles were business and domestic partners and this relationship is complicated beyond measure. But while their friend, director Billy Wilder, may have said “They are one,” my gut says not exactly. I persist in the search for more information about her as an individual, and a more nuanced understanding of their collaboration. Charles described their working process in an AIA seminar transcript found in the anthology. In 1952 he writes, “Things began to get shuffled, and pretty soon you didn’t know where one started and the other ended, and anything that we’ve looked at or talked about here, I say that I’m doing it, but actually, she’s doing it just as much as I am, only she sort of goes under the same corporate type name.” Charles exhibits both self and brand awareness in identifying his own as the “corporate type name.” Preternaturally savvy about images of themselves, perhaps they both knew that his name was their shared clown makeup. But even after claiming his name was an umbrella, in speech after speech, and in nearly every interview, Charles shares credit with Ray unbidden, beginning in the early 1940s. The anthology is arranged strictly chronologically and as one pushes through the years, there are scattered clues about their creative partnership; it’s like following breadcrumbs.
Charles and Ray exemplified and defied the gender norms of their time.
Courtesy Eames Foundation
The first drafts of two letters—a 1949 letter to Richard Neutra and a 1954 letter to Henry Ford, II—are presented in facsimile in Ray’s handwriting, with the final, delivered versions signed by Charles alone. Who knows if she initiated these or if he dictated to her? We have to be very careful not to make assumptions about husband-and-wife relations: him hogging the mic and her long-suffering. Charles was already aware of how they might be perceived, as he reveals in a PBS television interview from 1969: “The result of being asked questions... is a kind of metamorphosis which turns me from a sort of simple, unassuming guy into a monster full of great bits of wisdom, Mr. Know-it-all of the century,” said Charles. “With Ray it’s no less violent, but it’s simpler. It’s pure paralysis.” With so few of Ray’s words available, we must turn to biographical details for clues. An Eames Anthology is dedicated to Lucia (1930-2014), who was born in St. Louis to Charles Eames and his first wife, Catherine Woermann. Fellow LA-based practitioner Linda Taalman and I were once talking about being women architects with children and I remember reminding her that Ray was Lucia’s step, not biological mom. This detail seemed crucial to me; I had a collection of Case Study Mothers. The material in An Eames Anthology ranges from their most ambitious intellectual efforts to such prosaic details as these, and every page is compelling. The collection was supported by the Eames Foundation, established by Lucia in 2004, which in the intervening years has come to function in Los Angeles as an ever-present force of modernist art historical legitimization, imaginatively underpinning the Los Angeles design community’s ongoing efforts.
“A Visit with Charles Eames,” Think 27. No 4 (April 1961).
James B O’Connell
Lucia was eleven when Charles and Ray left Saint Louis for Los Angeles, and she was a sophomore at Vassar by the time the Eames House was completed. Also known as Case Study House 8, the residence was never intended to accommodate daily life with a baby or young child. Charles stressed that point in Arts and Architecture 66, no. 12 from December 1949, noting “the actual plan within the system is personal, and whether or not it solves the particular requirements of many families is not important as a case study.” A March 1948 description from the same magazine is even more specific: “Two people with close working interests.” Later, Lucia expanded on the point in 2005 shortly after the establishment of the Eames Foundation, “It was designed for a professional couple with a kid at school,” she clarified in an interview with Metropolis magazine. With the work of child-rearing deferred, delegated, declined, or displaced, the couple was free to work a 7-day week together— until after 10 p.m. most days. At the office they were known for having employed local people, war veterans, and housewives. Charles and Ray seemed to have a thing about housewives. The last line of the first entry in the anthology, Charles’ 1941 essay “Design Today,” reads, “Certainly the future cannot be considered hopeless as long as designers continue to honor the accomplishment of producing a very inexpensive article that can serve well and bring pleasure to a million housewives.” And Ray’s list of “all creators” from “Line and Color” (1943), concludes with the unpunctuated line: “the man on the job the woman in the home and painters.” Maybe they were fascinated by housewives because, between the two of them, neither of them had it in them to take on the job. In 1973, Charles revealed as much in an interview. “My wife and I work together all the time and so we have a housekeeper, Maria,” he said. “And she darns my socks, turns my collars, turns my shirtsleeves.” An Eames Anthology is a snapshot of the couple that simultaneously exemplifies and defies the gender normativity of the Mad Men era. Readers must resist attempts to reduce these creative ancestors into stereotypes, villains, or heroines. If we extend the valiant naïveté of the Eames into the future we may feel like their imaginary children with unresolved Oedipal issues—as if we have to kill them. Visiting Los Angeles art galleries in the late 1990s, it was easy to lose count of the exhibitions of sliced-and-diced Eames chairs reconfigured into sculptural installations, but perhaps in retrospect they make sense. One of Ray’s other nicknames was Buddha and you’ve probably heard: When you meet the Buddha in the road, kill her.
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Google recruits Carnegie Mellon University to create a "living lab" of smart city technologies
Google has awarded an endowment worth half a million dollars to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to build a “living lab” for the search engine giant’s Open Web of Things (OWT) expedition. OWT envisions a world in which access to networked technology is mediated through internet-connected buildings and everyday objects—beyond the screen of a smartphone or computer device.
“A future where we work seamlessly with connected systems, services, devices, and ‘things’ to support work practices, education and daily interactions.” -in a statement by Google’s Open Web of Things.
Carnegie Mellon’s enviable task is to become a testing ground for the cheap, ubiquitous sensors, integrated apps, and user-developed tools which Google sees as the key to an integrated machine future. If that sounds like mystical marketing copy, a recent project by CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute sheds light on what a sensor-saturated “smart” city is capable of. The team headed by Anind K. Dey has created apps like Snap2It, which lets users connect to printers and other shared resources by taking photos of the device. Another application, Impromptu, offers relevant, temporary shared apps. For instance, if a sensor detects that you are waiting at a bus stop, you’ll likely be referred to a scheduling app. “The goal of our project will be nothing less than to radically enhance human-to-human and human-to-computer interaction through a large-scale deployment of the Internet of Things (IoT) that ensures privacy, accommodates new features over time, and enables people to readily design applications for their own use,” said Dey, lead investigator of the expedition and director of HCII. To create the living lab, the expedition will saturate the CMU campus with sensors and infrastructure, and recruit students and other campus members to create and use novel IoT apps. Dey plans on building tools that allow users to easily create their own IoT scripts. “An early milestone will include the development of our IoT app store, where any campus member and the larger research community will be able to develop and share an IoT script, action, multiple-sensor feed, or application easily and widely,” Dey said. “Because many novel IoT applications require a critical mass of sensors, CMU will use inexpensive sensors to add IoT capability to ‘dumb’ appliances and environments across the campus.” Researchers at CMU will work with Cornell, Stanford, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to develop the project, code-named GIoTTo. The premise is that embedded sensors in buildings and everyday objects can be interwoven to create “smart” environments controlled and experienced through interoperable technologies.  
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Wilshire Boulevard Temple announces shortlist for its "Gathering Place" building
Earlier this year AN's Eavesdrop column predicted the shortlist for Wilshire Boulevard Temple's "Gathering Place," a 55,000-square-foot event space across the street from the institution's sanctuary. The final list has been revealed and includes big hitters such as OMA, Kengo Kuma & Associates, Morphosis Architects, and Steven Holl Architects. The only firm we didn't predict was Holl (we had Renzo Piano taking the fourth spot). According to the temple, the New York Times prematurely crowned OMA as the winner. "These things often leak but don’t always get reported accurately," said Temple spokesperson Susan Gordon. The announcement of the winning team is still "weeks away," said Gordon. Members of the selection committee include Erika Glazer, Eli Broad, Tony Pritzker, Dana Hutt, and Richard Koshalek. Meanwhile the temple—which is following an ambitious master plan— has already begun construction on the renovation of two school buildings, its Karsh Social Service Center, a rooftop athletic facilities, and a new landscaped walking path. Stay tuned for more.