Posts tagged with "Architectural History":

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Virtually tour Pittsburgh’s architectural treasures with the Carnegie Museum of Art

Despite the dire circumstances of the moment, coronavirus-prompted lockdowns provide us with the chance to get to better know our cities and the buildings that populate them. Streets are a little less busy, sidewalks a whole lot less crowded, and, for some, regular daily schedules are largely thrown to the wind, giving way to more time for long, socially distant rambles to scope out and admire works of architecture familiar and unfamiliar. With the customary hustle and bustle of cities suspended indefinitely, opportunities to appreciate and document the built environment while getting a little fresh air have never been greater. Ireland-born Raymund Ryan, curator at the Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA)’s Heinz Architectural Center, is taking advantage of this intermission by getting to better know his adopted city of Pittsburgh, where he has lived since 2003. He’s doing so by retracing the steps first taken by the University of Pittsburgh professor of art and architecture history Franklin Toker in his 1986 book Pittsburgh: An Urban Portrait. Photographs taken during Ryan’s Toker-inspired walks around Pittsburgh are being shared as part of Storyboard, CMOA’s online journal whose fourth issue, per the museum, features “reflections from our staff and members of our community on ways that their lives and work have been affected by the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.” steelworkers building in pittsburgh depicted in a social media tweet Ryan’s contribution, titled An Architectural Tour of a City on Pause: Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle, tackles the first of seven chapters featured in the first edition of Toker’s book. (A revised edition was published in 2009.) “Because the book was published in ’86, you can imagine a few things have changed,” Ryan told AN. “A few buildings are gone and, of course, there are some new buildings. But by and large, it still captures the spirit of the city.” “I'm on Instagram a lot, and when the museum closed I realized I needed to get some walks in during the day,” Ryan said when asked about the origins of the project. “And I had this strange idea: I would take my copy of Toker’s book—which is now on its last legs—and follow his footsteps.” While Ryan, armed with a smartphone and wearing a comfortable pair of Timberland boots, still has quite a ways to go before completing the full Toker architectural tour, his jaunts so far have yielded a myriad of historic and contemporary local architectural gems centered around the erstwhile industrial hub’s skyscraper-studded downtown core. “I’ve got two of his chapters covered now,” added Ryan. “Let’s see how long this lockdown goes on for, and we’ll see if I can get through the entire book. Although I probably won’t make it out to the suburbs. But for the downtown neighborhoods, I hope to get it all done.” Ryan, who, as a relatively recent transplant to close-knit and linguistically challenging Pittsburgh, is the unique position of being both an architectural insider but an outsider wrote in an introduction to the project:
The most cherished guide books have a voice that allows readers to feel like they are being ushered by an empathetic expert. What comes across in Toker’s writing is an understanding of the urban structure of the city paired with his insight into multiple aspects of buildings that we think we know, or that we have somehow overlooked. He is alert to minor as well as major works, and open to obscure as well as famous architects.
Pittsburgh’s wealth of landmark architecture makes it a rich and somewhat unsung city to explore by foot with the express purpose of gawking at buildings—admirers of Gothic revival are in for a real treat—no matter what Frank Lloyd Wright may have once said. Above is a handful of sites featured in Pittsburgh: An Urban Portrait to be revisited and photographed by Ryan during his COVID-era constitutionals around the Steel City. You’ll find more of Ryan’s photos, accompanied by snippets of critical commentary pulled from Toker’s book, at the Storyboard website.
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Virginia Savage McAlester, preservationist and best-selling author, dies at 76

Virginia Savage McAlester, author, architectural historian, and doyenne of Dallas preservation, died last week at the age of 76 following a lengthy battle with myelofibrosis, a rare bone marrow cancer. Mark Lamster, architecture critic for the Dallas Morning News, was the first to report the news in a beautifully written tribute. To say that McAlester’s encyclopedic, copiously illustrated A Field Guide to American Houses: The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America’s Domestic Architecture, first published in 1984 and significantly expanded and revised for a best-selling 2013 edition that tackles post-1940 house styles (Ranches! “Millennium Mansions!”) as well as neighborhood types, is an essential architecture book would be an understatement. Over the years, the hefty tome—the 2013 edition is 880 pages—has enjoyed a certain ubiquity, becoming a staple on the bookshelves and coffee tables of architecture students, preservationists, erudite real estate agents, and casual everyday house-spotters curious about the built environment around them. Because of the book’s size, it’s safe to assume that many readers forgo taking their copies out into the field with them in the same way a birder might slip an illustrated guide into his or her back pocket when embarking on an ID’ing mission. The Kindle edition, however, has made it easier to match up eyebrow dormers and chamfered porch supports with corresponding house styles. I lament having left my own copy of A Field Guide to American Houses at my home in Brooklyn. Last month, I relocated to suburban Baltimore County to ride out the pandemic and, as part of my socially distant fresh air/quarantine constitutional ritual, I’ve been documenting the homes in the immediate and surrounding neighborhoods of where I'm temporarily living. This past weekend, on a particularly sunny Saturday, I decamped from my ranch-heavy, semi-rural neighborhood to Baltimore’s historic Guilford nabe, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. in the early 1900s and features a riot of different revival styles—Tudor, Colonial, Classical, Spanish Colonial, Jacobean, Italian Renaissance, and more—alongside Art Deco, English Arts and Crafts, and others. If there ever were a neighborhood where A Field Guide to American Houses would come in handy, Guilford is it. Born in Dallas to Dorothy and Wallace Savage, an attorney who served as the city’s mayor from 1949 to 1951, McAlester attended Radcliffe College and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she studied architecture. Settling back in Dallas to care for her aging parents, McAlester became active in local preservation efforts beginning in the early 1970s and was integral in the founding of the Historic Dallas Fund, the Dallas Historic Preservation League, later renamed Preservation Dallas, Friends of Fair Park, and other preservation initiatives. She also led the charge to designate Swiss Avenue, the neighborhood she grew up in and later resettled in as an adult, as Dallas’s first historic landmark district. As Lamster noted, fellow architectural historian Stephen Fox once bestowed McAlester with the most-fitting moniker, the “Queen of Dallas Preservation.” As the late historian and author Wiliam Seale told the New York Times of McAlester in a 2013 profile: “When she started broadening her preservation efforts, “few, if any, in Dallas had the slightest interest in historic preservation, thinking their history too new to be worthwhile.” McAlester, who credited her mother for sparking her interest in preservation, co-authored several other books on architectural history and preservation. However, A Field Guide to American Houses, which she co-wrote with her second husband Lee McAlester, a geology professor at Southern Methodist University, remains by far her most widely read. As Lamster wrote, at the time of her death, McAlester was at work on a sequel to the Field Guide that focused on commercial architecture. McAlester spoke openly about her battle with myelofibrosis, with that fight playing heavily into the aforementioned 2013 Times profile. It's worth a read.

Conservation of Architectural Heritage (CAH) 4th Edition

Conservation of architectural heritage is the process of restoring, conserving and managing changes of a heritage in a manner that sustains and enhances its significance, when possible. Conserving and keeping the architectural elements means maintaining; hence, increasing the buildings' values. Considering this, when restoration is possible it is favored to restore the buildings rather than replacing them. Fundamentally, heritage represents the past history and culture of a nation, where the conservation of architectural heritage plays a vital role in defining the landmark within the area of heritage as well as generating economic return and supporting the tourism industry. It also provides a sense of identity and continuity in a fast changing world for future generations. Preserving the architectural heritage provides concrete benefits to property owners, businesses owners and to the community as a whole because re-using existing fabric means requiring fewer materials from outside and more labor-intensive work by local trades. It also increases property value for both the restored buildings and surrounding properties. Additionally, conservation of the architectural heritage uses less than half of the energy used in the construction of new buildings whilst reducing the construction waste. In this regard, IEREK organizes the 4th international conference on Conservation of Architectural Heritage (CAH), which will take held on a Nile cruise sailing from Aswan to Luxor, in order to discuss its influence on the characteristics of the environment and an area's sense of place. It also seeks to increase awareness about the value of conserving the architectural heritage and saving what is left of history.

Conservation of Architectural Heritage (CAH) 4th Edition

Conservation of architectural heritage is the process of restoring, conserving and managing changes of a heritage in a manner that sustains and enhances its significance, when possible. Conserving and keeping the architectural elements means maintaining; hence, increasing the buildings' values. Considering this, when restoration is possible it is favored to restore the buildings rather than replacing them. Fundamentally, heritage represents the past history and culture of a nation, where the conservation of architectural heritage plays a vital role in defining the landmark within the area of heritage as well as generating economic return and supporting the tourism industry. It also provides a sense of identity and continuity in a fast changing world for future generations.

Spring Home Tour: “Historic Homes and Gorgeous Gardens”

Tour extraordinary historic homes and gorgeous gardens as Pasadena Heritage presents architectural and landscape design spanning more than 8 decades. Tour guests will experience noteworthy architecture and landscape design that influence each other and combine to create perfect harmony. From “curb appeal” to private interiors, visitors will enjoy places that clearly demonstrate the beauty of indoor-outdoor living blended seamlessly together. Prior to the tour, on Thursday, March 28that 7:00 pm, Michael Logan, Busch Gardens researcher and historian, will speak about Pasadena’s historic Busch Gardens. Industrialist and co-founder of the Anheiser-Busch Corporation, Adolphus Busch, and his wife Lily, bought a winter home on Orange Grove Boulevard in 1904, and immediately began working with a prominent landscape architect to beautify their property. They installed rare and exotic plants and trees, created fanciful water features, and turned the floor of the Arroyo into a botanical wonderland. In 1905 they opened their garden to the public, and Busch Gardens became a major tourist attraction until its closing in 1938. In his presentation, Mr. Logan matches historic images to their same exact locations a century later. The lecture will take place at Maranatha High School, 169 S. St. John Ave., and free parking is available.
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Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre track the seismic shifts in post-war architecture

The convulsive years that followed World War II saw extraordinary changes in architecture and design. Yet for all of its exhilarating creativity, this era was also one of unprecedented devastation. Approaches to architectural theory and practice that emerged in the aftermath of the war have ranged wildly, from the corporate imperialism of Cold War–era modernism to the grassroots communitarianism of the 1960s and ’70s, passing through postmodern pastiche populism on the way to today’s cosmopolitan globalism. In their ambitious new book, Times of Creative Destruction: Shaping Buildings and Cities in the Late 20th Century, the authors, historians Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre, chart the sometimes-erratic development of these seismic shifts while reassessing their own writing and thinking over the past five decades. Tzonis and Lefaivre have written and taught, together and independently, all around the world. They have studied and collaborated with an unexpectedly wide array of architects, designers, and personalities, from Lewis Mumford, Louis Kahn, and Aldo van Eyck to 2012 Pritzker Prize winners Wang Shu and Lu Wenyu. Their many books include The Shape of Community, which Tzonis wrote with Serge Chermayeff in 1971, and Tzonis and Lefaivre’s Architecture in Europe since 1968: Memory and Invention. Yet their greatest influence may have come via their more than 400 essays and lectures, the best of which have been translated and collected here for the first time.  In addition to more than two dozen essays, many reproduced as facsimiles of the original magazine and journal articles, Tzonis and Lefaivre have included contextual introductions that reappraise, with a light touch and easy good humor, the intentions and ideas behind their writings while offering revealing insights into more than 50 years of debates, battles, and false dawns. Perhaps the most important contribution the authors have made to contemporary architectural discourse has been to grapple with the preservation and protection of local and regional cultural identities in the face of an increasingly mobile and conformist global economy.  In 1981 they coauthored an essay, “The Grid and the Pathway,” included herein, in which they identified critical regionalism as an approach to design and planning that promotes “...the ecological, social and intellectual singularity and diversity of regions.” Later interpretations took this revived regionalism into unappealingly nationalist, chauvinist, and often racist directions, which Kenneth Frampton has described as “simpleminded attempts to revive the hypothetical forms of a lost vernacular.” But in Tzonis and Lefaivre’s conception, the critical regionalist approach served as a valuable bridge, helping architects and designers to recover the social and political ideals of progressive modernism from the alienation and despair that characterized 1980s postmodernism. Another crucial contribution came in the first essay that Tzonis and Lefaivre wrote together, “The Populist Movement in Architecture.” Written in the early 1970s and first published in the German magazine Bauwelt, this essay targeted the elitist hierarchy of architectural education and professional practice while also offering an appreciation of the common, nondesigned landscape of billboards and neon signs, as documented by Reyner Banham and another coauthoring couple, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. Lefaivre later revisited the topic for her 1990 essay “Dirty Realism,” published in the popular British magazine Granta, in which she vividly describes late 1980s buildings and projects by the likes of Rem Koolhaas, Nigel Coates, Jean Nouvel, Bernard Tschumi, and Zaha Hadid. A 1978 essay, “The Narcissistic Phase in Architecture,” anticipates the phenomenon of “starchitecture,” combining architectural history and psychoanalysis to encourage designers to resist retreating into “a make-believe world where the architect still reigns supreme,” and instead to work to master “the complex unfolding in time of the real relations between built form and social formation.” Deeply humanist in outlook, Tzonis and Lefaivre frequently delve into art and literature to support their unabashedly utopian worldview. In the jointly written 1992 essay “Planning and Tomatoes,” originally published in the Italian journal Casabella, they channel the words and spirit of Allen Ginsberg’s mid-1950s poem, “A Supermarket in California,” to bemoan the rise of consumerism and the loss of community at a time when property developers seemed “to have assumed the initiation and control of the construction of cities and urban projects.” Yet despite all evidence to the contrary, Times of Creative Destruction is full of optimism and enthusiasm. As the authors write in the introduction to this thought-provoking and inspiring collection, “History and criticism can help find ways to arrest the blind process of  creative self-destruction carried out by architects, developers, and clients, by bringing some critical planning into our future times.” Times of Creative Destruction: Shaping Buildings and Cities in the Late 20th Century By Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre Routledge $46.46

Monument, Myth, and Meaning

In light of recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia and other cities across the nation, a panel discussion on Civil War Monuments has been planned in Cooper Union’s renowned Great Hall, on the subject of their meaning, the complex histories that surround their realization, and the current socio-political conditions that are causing their very existence to be reconsidered. Should these monuments be saved? Should they be torn down? Is it possible—or even appropriate—to make thoughtful, informed interventions into these works of public art that can preserve their history, diffuse the myth and polarization that surround them and serve as teaching moments for future generations? These and other questions will be posed during the program. Panelists include:
  • Stony Brook University Professor Michele H. Bogart, whose teaching areas include the social history of public art and urban design and commercial culture in the United States;
  • Executive Director of the American Historical Association James Grossman whose work has focused on various aspects of American urban history, African American history, the place of history in public culture, and more;
  • Julian LaVerdiere, a 1993 graduate of The Cooper Union School of Art and co-creator of the Tribute in Light Memorial;
  • Visual journalist and former CNN correspondent Brian Palmer, who has photographed Virginia's neglected African American cemeteries and more;
  • Columbia University Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Mabel O. Wilson, whose design and scholarly research investigates space, politics and cultural memory in black America and race and modern architecture;
  • Mya Dosch, faculty member of The Cooper Union’s Humanities and Social Sciences who is teaching the fall 2017 course “Take ‘em down: Monuments, Artist Interventions, and the Struggle for Memory in the Americas,” will moderate.
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Architectural historian Brian Brace Taylor passes away

The architectural historian Brian Brace Taylor passed away on April 15, aged 73. He was a professor of architecture at The New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) and the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris-Belleville. He was, according to long time NYIT Dean Judith DiMaio, a beloved teacher of many generations of students and “in utter command of this subject, the history of architecture.” In addition to a distinguished academic career, Taylor was best known as a scholar of Le Corbusier and non-western architecture. The historian Mary McLeod claims that Taylor was one of the first scholars to have access to the Le Corbusier archives and closely studied the French architect's personal papers. He used these archives in 1987 to author Le Corbusier, the City of Refuge, Paris 1929/33, an important early modern text on the French master. Taylor also had a career as an architectural journalist and was a longtime senior editor at L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui before co-founding Mimar, a magazine that focused on the architecture of the developing world. He played a significant role in introducing European and North American communities to architecture in the developing world as a professor and author of books on the architects: Geoffrey BawaSumet Jumsai (Design Excellence)Raj Rewal, and Miguel Angel Roca. A less-known part of Taylor’s career is his founding role in Les Amis de Maison de Verre and his efforts to preserve the house. Bob Rubin, the current owner of the house, claims “Brian was the midwife of our acquisition of the house back in 2004. He said to me, 'I think you should buy the maison de verre.' I thought he was kidding, and I asked him if it was even for sale. I'll never forget his answer: 'It's not, but it needs to be bought.' He vouched for me to the family, and eventually, the stars aligned. Thus he is not only one of the house's chroniclers, but an important actor in its history." He also contributed an essay with Bernard Bauchet to the Jewish Museum's recent catalogue Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design. McLeod believes that Taylor was first and foremost a teacher but also a “modest, kind, generous and self-effacing” scholar who nevertheless had a large impact on the profession and discourse of architecture during his lifetime.
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James Ackerman, esteemed architectural historian and scholar of Italian Renaissance, has died

The architectural historian James Ackerman has passed away. He died at the age of 97 on December 31, 2016. Ackerman was a prolific scholar of Italian Renaissance architects Michelangelo and Palladio as well as the architectural theory behind the Renaissance itself too. Born in San Francisco on November 8, 1919, he studied at the Cate School in Carpinteria, California, later going on to Yale University and the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University where he completed his Ph.D. in 1952. During this WWII, he served in the U.S. Army in Italy which allowed him to sample Italian Renaissance architecture. In 1969, Ackerman became a Slade Professor at Cambridge University; The Slade Professorship of Fine Art is the oldest professorship of art at the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, and London. Notable books include: Palladio (Architect and Society)The Architecture of MichelangeloThe Villa: Form and Ideology of Country Houses and Distance Points: Studies in Theory and Renaissance Art and Architecture. The Architect's Newspaper will follow-up with a full obituary in the near future.
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A brief, unofficial history of recent passive-aggressive design

This article is part of  The Architect’s Newspaper’s “Passive Aggressive” feature on passive design strategies. Not to be confused with “Passivhaus” or “Passive House” certification, passive design strategies such as solar chimneys, trombe walls, solar orientation, and overhangs, rely on scheme rather than technology to respond to their environmental contexts. Today, architects are more concerned with sustainability than ever, and new takes on old passive techniques are not only responsible, but can produce architecture that expresses sustainable features through formal exuberance. We call it “passive-aggressive.” In this feature, we examine three components—diagram, envelope, and material—where designers are marrying form and performance. We also look back at the unexpected history of passive-aggressive architecture, talk with passive-aggressive architects, and check out a passive-aggressive house. More “Passive Aggressive” articles are listed at the bottom of the page!

Is it possible to look to the past to see the future of passive-aggressive architectures?

The answer is yes. The roles of architectural form and technological advancement dance across the eras, with passive design moving from being fundamental in pre- and early modern architecture to being subverted by mechanical ventilation and artificial climate control. That does not mean, however, that passivity ever disappeared completely. Though called by different names and evoked for a variety of reasons, environmental contextualism remained a hallmark of design throughout the 20th century and we would be ill-advised to consider it only as something ancient and ideal or new and novel.

We can look to early American skyscraper designs for a precedent that formally translated competing programmatic functional considerations and without an overwhelming reliance on forced air or artificial light. Structures like the 1891 Wainwright Building by Adler & Sullivan in St. Louis, Missouri, the 1913 Woolworth Building by Cass Gilbert in New York City, and the 1892 Bradbury Building by George Wyman and Sumner Hunt in Los Angeles were shaped most directly by considerations of light and air. Because air conditioning and electric lighting were nonexistent, structures during this era were drawn with U-, E-, and H-shaped plans to facilitate comfortable use. The resulting narrow floor plates, large, operable openings, and tall ceilings necessary to accommodate the physical properties of these considerations define this era’s architecture directly.

A generation later, structures like Richard Neutra’s 1929 Lovell Health House in Los Angeles and Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1939 Johnson Wax Headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin, also considered climate and light in regionally conscious configurations. Neutra’s Lovell House used innovative insulation and construction materials to comply with its seismically active, semi-arid environment, while Wright’s Headquarters made pioneering use of glass blocks, pairing transparent glass cubes with opaque thermal mass to arrive at new forms of daylit office space in a much colder region.

As air conditioning eliminated the requirements for natural ventilation and daylighting, fewer architects continued to design examples of climactically conscious buildings. Neutra’s 1946 Kaufmann Desert House in Palm Springs, California, however, is an exception to the rule: The designer utilized deep overhangs and pivoting louver assemblies to control the desert-bound building’s solar exposure. In 1953, Paul Rudolph’s Walker Beach House tackled a beachside locale, duplicating the home’s wooden structural frame beyond its exterior walls and creating an armature for retractable shading devices. In 1954, Charles Colbert designed the Phillis Wheatley School in New Orleans, a modernist box lifted on stilts and capped with a large overhanging roof.

By the 1960s, regional modernism had given way to corporate modernism as a complete reliance on mechanical ventilation had become a fundamental orthodoxy in architectural discourse. Artificial technologies proliferated, causing formal considerations of local climate to go underground, as they were replaced by the lure of high technology.

The development of Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes—contextual structures that were designed and outfitted to operate as self-sustaining worlds—married sustainable technology with nihilistic self-determination. Publications like The Dome Cookbook compelled recalcitrant youth of the 1960s to stake a claim in the countryside, where they built communes composed of geodesic domes and attempted to live off the land. The mostly amateur, counterculture movement was integral to establishing contextual and environmentally guided design as a legitimate architectural concern during the deeply entrenched corporatism and artificiality of the atomic and Cold War eras. As corporate modernism and its attendant ideologies coursed through the academy, hippie-led contextualism took root and blossomed, feeding off rising environmental and social awareness. As a result, contextually conscious architectural experiments sought to reinvent architectural formal expression literally from the ground up.

These concerns were institutionalized as key figures as these new movements gained prominence and authority.

For example, Sim Van der Ryn’s work as California State Architect in the 1970s was marked by an emphasis on solar design. Plans for his state office building in Sacramento, California, utilized two 600-ton subterranean sunlit rock beds to heat and cool incoming air received by a courtyard capped with a saw-toothed roof and north-facing skylights. The building’s articulated, béton brut exposures feature treatments appropriate for mitigating solar heat gain along the envelope that results in substantially lower levels of energy use for the overall building. Paolo Soleri’s proposals for an experimental, ecologically driven “arcology” in the Arizona desert also pioneered solar design, but at the urban scale. His designs for a utopian, self-sustaining desert acropolis took the form of massive landships that would use a huge, terraced, and south-facing greenhouse as an agricultural, thermal, and social engine for each settlement. Soleri’s super-scaled structures utilize natural phenomena like the chimney and greenhouse effects to drive their formal attributes.

Simultaneously, New Mexico–based architect Michael Reynolds utilized the principles of solar design in his Earthship prototypes, developing contextual, experimental approaches to self-sufficiency at the scale of the single-family house. Designs for Earthship houses use thermal mass to store and repel heat. Trombe walls frame openings calibrated to the local sun path, and when combined with the masonry walls, keep Earthships at roughly 70 degrees, year-round. And on the East Coast, New Jersey architect Douglas Kelbaugh utilized the principles of solar design to design in a cold, snowy climate. Kelbaugh’s Solar House of 1973 is oriented in concert with the sun: A wide, glass-sheathed enclosure along the southern wall illuminates a heavy masonry Trombe wall that moderates the home’s seasonally variable temperature.

While not considered high architecture at the time, the gradual adoption of sustainable design principles and emphasis on high-tech solutions through the 1980s and 1990s—when coupled with the formal promiscuity and emphasis on human, cultural, and experiential scale of the 1960s and 1970s—ultimately provided a firm foundation for contemporary passive-aggressive experiments. As the principles of overt sustainable design have become more firmly grounded in scientific analysis and computer modeling, sustainable features like thermally efficient and glare-reducing glazing, energy-efficient structural materials, and renewable energy generation have become common aspects of architectural design. But these measures are only part of the story.

As the effects of climate change become ever more apparent and our society moves closer toward collective action, architects will naturally be required to incorporate local climate considerations into their designs. The wide use of digital technologies like parametric climate modeling have integrated sustainable design into the overall design process, raising another question: Are architects finally properly positioned, in terms of technological capabilities, cultural awareness, and popular opinion, to fully hybridize technology and climate through architectural form?

The answer, again, is yes.

For more “Passive Aggressive” articles, explore: our feature article that features projects from across the world, Bjarke Ingels Group’s own tech-driven think tank, how WORKac’s Arizona House revives the super sustainable Earthship typology, and MOS Architects' Michael Meredith on sustainability.

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Society of Architectural Historians announces 2016 SAH Awards

The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) has named its 2016 SAH/Mellon Awards Recipients. This year’s winners are Peter Christensen, Itohan I. Osayimese, and Robin Schuldenfrei. The award is specifically designed to provide financial support for scholars in the process of publishing their first monographs related to the history of the built environment. Often scholars are responsible for paying for the rights and permissions for images, as well as commissioning new maps, charts, and line drawings. Peter Christensen’s forthcoming book, Germany and the Ottoman Railways: Art, Empire, and Infrastructure (Yale University Press) covers his research on the politics surrounding the construction of train stations, settlements, and other infrastructure in the context of the Ottoman railway network. Christensen is assistant professor of art history at the University of Rochester Itohan I. Osayimese’s Colonialism and the Archive of Modern Architecture in Germany (University of Pittsburgh Press) explores the relationship between colonialism and German modernist architecture from the 1850s to the 1930s. Osayimese’s ties the forms of German modernism to the country’s colonial endeavors in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Osayimese is an assistant professor of the history of art and architecture at Brown University. Luxury and Modernism: Architecture and the Object in Germany 1900–1933 (Princeton University Press) by Robin Schuldenfrei examines the divide between modernism’s democratic and utopian ideals and existing design and production structures. Schuldenfrei is the Katja and Nicolai Tangen Lecturer in 20th-century Modernism at The Courtauld Institute of Art. Founded in 1940 at Harvard University, the Society of Architectural Historians works with scholars and professionals. The SAH provides historical services and guidance to its 3,000 members and 800 institutional members in 56 countries. Architecture, urbanism, and landscape history are all covered by the SAH. The SAH also maintains the Archipedia online encyclopedia of American architecture.
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Kenneth Frampton tracks the evolution of modern architecture in his new book

At his book launch at New York’s Center for Architecture, Kenneth Frampton admitted that he had not visited all of the 14 pairs of building analyzed in A Genealogy of Modern Architecture: Comparative Critical Analysis of Built Form. This distance to some of the buildings by the author makes even more pertinent the rigor of the analytical method presented as a way to read buildings as a cultural construct deep in meanings and references as in literature or painting. The index of the comparative analysis: First, the dialogue between type and context referring to the site and the programmatic type of the built form. Second, the coding of the space according to the variable degree of public, semi-public, and service space is indebted to his close reading of Hannah Arendt’s book The Human Condition rather than as a reference to Louis Kahn’s famous served-service spaces. Third, the dialogue of structure and membrane is indebted to his previous book on tectonics and of course, The Four Elements of Architecture by Gottfried Semper. And fourth, the connotational summation is the synthesis of these categories as they refer to larger cultural values. With this book Frampton gives teachers and students an important pedagogical tool as an alternative to the schematic reductionism prevalent in the contemporary architectural practice and education. Frampton writes, “Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, first published in 1945, augments the ontological implications of The Human Condition by introducing the concept of the ‘body-being’ as the prime agency through which we experience the world. This recognition is intimately linked to our motility through which we experience space.” The public-private and goal-route analysis conjoins a structuralist-phenomenological point of view established by the close reading of the body’s movement through space in the plan and section drawings and then corroborated by the archival photographs. The articulation of built form in terms of typology, tectonic expressivity and referential detailing allows us to experience the architecture through its representation guided by the belief in the “body-being” as if touching, hearing, seeing, and smelling while actively moving-reading the represented spatial sequence. The historical frame of 1923–1980 is marked by a “post- 1945 denouement of the myth of progress (that) first permeates our late modern consciousness through the successive traumas of Stalinism, Auschwitz, and Hiroshima.” The modern project is thus divided into two distinct periods: The period between WWI and WWII 1918–1939 and the period post WWII 1945 until the Venice Biennale of 1980, organized by Paolo Portoghesi, that acknowledged the advent of a postmodern condition, both aesthetically and politically. Frampton believes the three main factors at play in the evolution of the modern movement being are the classical tradition and its tendency towards the abstract, the technological and the vernacular. Each of these categories is present in different proportions as we travel throughout Europe as Le Corbusier noted in his annotated map of his Voyage d’Orient of 1912 and published in L'art décoratif d'aujourd'hui of 1925. Frampton notes “The contrast between the latent classism of Le Corbusier’s Purist paradigm in his entry for the Société des Nations competition was more capable of achieving a rational solution” than Hannes Meyer’s reductive functionalism “insisting on using the same module irrespective of the egg shaped auditorium and leading to an unresolved juxtaposition between the inclined supports of the auditorium shell and the surrounding orthogonal structure.” Yet Frampton ends his introduction with a return to Arendt’s “space of public appearance”: “Today, however, we may still assume an ideologically progressive approach to postmodern architectonic form via a sensitive response to context, climate, topography, and material, combined with the self-conscious generation of place-form as a political-cum-cultural space of appearance.” In his comparison of Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Museum and Aalvar Aalto’s Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum, Frampton writes “Aalto’s organic planning within the orthogonal re-enforced concrete frame enabled him to provide appropriately dimensioned ancillary spaces as found in the lecture halls…This in contrast to Kahn’s dependence of the width of a single vault, irrespective of the function. The comparative analysis pointing to the limitation of Kahn’s insistence on the vault and at the same illuminating how structural invention as large curved beams (not vaults) allowed Kahn to achieve a free plan. The book is lucid not only in the literary content but as a graphic document where each illustration re-enforces the text and analysis. This is the result of a long process of design undertaken by Frampton and his editor Ashley Simone to achieve a coherent graphic design that works a handbook in the tradition of Serlio. It is the ethical content of this book that is rare today. Frampton insists, “architecture is a singular material culture that by its very nature it has the potential to resist the current pervasive drive to commodify the entire word.” Frampton, the architect, historian, and critical thinker, makes clear in this extraordinary book of curated comparative analysis what architecture can achieve.