Posts tagged with "books":

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Frank Lloyd Wright vs. Philip Johnson rivalry plays out in new page-turner

As heroes need rivals, winners require competitors. Champions stay on top only when challenged. The status quo in any area of human endeavor lasts only when staving off oncoming alternatives. While change comes eventually—whether gradual or abrupt, graceful or under siege—habit, doctrine, or tyranny often stall its advent, and when change does come, it is often less than complete. Historic practices and traditional principles underpin progress with lingering connectivity: What’s best from the past informs progress or even pulls it back from misguided tangents when the test of time delivers a failing grade, like elevated highways slashing the urban fabric only to be cursed later as killers of community.

The stakes of such successive challenges to established orthodoxy are especially high in architecture, the most public of artistic disciplines. Shifting design solutions shape the bedrock business of construction and the lives of end users regardless of the relative awareness of polemical origins. Along the way, land-use regulations and profit seek to play their according roles, making change all the tougher.

Such a contentious continuum sets the historic stage for Hugh Howard’s lively depiction of the professional and theoretical rivalry of the two most renowned American architects of the 20th century: Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson. Early on in this all-too-rare design-professional page-turner, Howard sums up his premise: “They shared a deep commitment to the cause of architecture, but the two could have hardly been more different, separated as they were by age, region, and sexual orientation…the yin and the yang. In love and in hate, the positive and negative charges that gave architecture its compass.”

The reader might emerge wondering if at times the book tries too hard to portray a tense, ideal dual-personification of a central axiom of the 20th century’s design evolution: The Romantic (Wright) versus the Modern (Johnson), informed as capital “M” Modernism often was at its applied outset by an “enduring fondness for the classical.”

Yet the effort proves pleasurably worthwhile as a way to chronologically measure two legendary careers, enhanced by their silver-tongued exchange of competing visions. A shared penchant for righteous control loosened as their long careers unfolded, if more in deeds than in words. Theirs proves an oddness of mutual gain.

Their rivalry’s defining crucible, as Howard reveals it with justified relish, is MoMA’s fabled 1932 Modern Architecture: International Exhibition, organized by the precocious (and independently wealthy, thereby prematurely well-connected) 26-year-old Johnson, along with certifiable scholar Henry-Russell Hitchcock.

In a none-too-soon nod to the European upheaval in design, museum founder Alfred Barr gave the go-ahead, asking only for some trace of American participation. Despite joint skepticism and caustic distrust, Johnson and Wright finally cooperated with a never-built plan called “House on the Mesa.” MoMA visitor traffic received a boost from the inclusion of the best-known stateside practitioner, and an inspired Wright emerged newly invigorated, with the modernist masterpiece of Fallingwater carrying straight through to the final assignment of the Museum of Non-Objective Art (the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum). The currency of polemical sparring started to pay rich creative dividends for all, no less than for Johnson himself who emerged as America’s official boy genius of design connoisseurship.

After his German flirtation with fascism and architectural studies at the GSA, Johnson took his place as Wright’s closely watched rival practitioner as well as critic, with his 1949 Glass House in New Canaan and the philosophical crossfire that it refreshed, according to Howard.

Howard quotes Johnson in response to Wright’s dismissal of the Connecticut retreat: “Was he born full-blown from the head of Zeus that he could be the only architect that ever loved or ever will?” Contrary to Wright’s insistence on originality, Johnson made no bones about his distilled use of precedent ranging from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to Andrea Palladio, who likewise reacted to site in a “formal way that alludes to the classical past.”

What Wright denounced as a mere box or “monkey cage” instead took its enduring place. It represented not only the International Style taking further hold of America’s design imagination and marketplace, but also an architecture based upon ideas and historic interplay: the midwife of modernism. Howard summarizes, “Johnson wrote few melodies but he was a great orchestrator…with the application of a critical and evaluative intelligence rather than the inventions of an inductive creative imagination.”

This tension of romantic originality and New World self-assurance versus the cerebral, globally ecumenical distillation of built excellence both past and contemporary defined the core theoretical crosscurrent during “The American Century.” Howard’s pairing succeeds at personifying this central debate, concluding: “Rather against his will, Johnson evolved into one of Wright’s most important public admirers. As a man who worshiped zeitgeist, he found that his old nemesis’s ideas retained remarkable vibrancy…work that transcended style and even time.”

Like the interpersonal artistic skirmishes enlivened recently by Sebastian Smee in The Art of Rivalry, attention should be given to a book that offers such engaging access to architectural theory and its visible results as sources for future impulse.

Architecture’s Odd Couple: Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson Hugh Howard, Bloomsbury Press, $19.99

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The unknown story of New York City’s brutalist playgrounds, as told by artist Julia Jacquette

The idea of concrete being the dominant material for a children's play area seems bizarre today. What about the grazed elbows and knees and scratched palms? What if, God forbid, someone hits their head?! In 1970s New York, however, it worked: Artist Julia Jacquette recalls the concrete playscapes built during one of the city's most socially turbulent eras in her new book, Playground of My Mind. A combination of personal memoir, playground design guide, graphic novel, and story of New York's modernist architectural scene, laced with snippets of feminist ambition, Playground of My Mind is narrated retrospectively by Jacquette, who illustrated the book with her own distinctive graphic style. It starts by plunging you into the depths of Columbus Park Towers, a confusingly named, singular high-rise apartment block on West 94th Street. It's here, in the tower block's basement, where Jacquette's interested in playgrounds started. Described as a "city within a city," Jacquette uses the now-demolished play area, designed by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg, as a springboard to illustrate the egalitarian principles found in modernist architecture and recount how such design influenced her. Another example is the Adventure Playground, found in Central Park and designed by architect Richard Dattner. Emphatically, Jacquette states: "Much of the Adventure Playground was made with poured concrete aggregate: CONCRETE WITH PEBBLES IN IT." Jacquette touches on more design details as she chronicles her experiences, which include playgrounds by Aldo van Eyck in Amsterdam, where her childhood is also rooted. She portrays these play areas as a reaction to the out-dated, one-dimensional curated fun prescribed by former NYC Parks Commissioner and Chairman, Robert Moses. In Moses's parks, objects encouraged limited means of interaction, and were, as critic Phineas Harper described, "modeled on Victorian notions of character-building gymnastic exertion." Swings were for swinging in, see-saws were essentially the same (just more wooden in every sense of the word), and you slid down slides. Jacquette's account of these play areas may be useful today as Harper described contemporary playgrounds as "totally prescriptive," citing researcher David Ball who found that the commonly deployed rubber "safety surfacing" has a negligible impact on children's' safety. Instead, Jacquette prefers playgrounds that encourage inventive ways of using and navigating them; places where fun is free to be had and above all interpretive: A hollowed, spiraling mound could be a mountain, volcano, castle or river, while at the same time referencing ancient architecture such as Roman amphitheaters and Egyptian pyramids. The author's illustrations complement this personal narrative, playing with scale in a similar fashion to the featured playgrounds. This is supplemented by text design and layout consultant, Cathleen Owens's meandering arrangement of text that weaves through the book, working its way around the axonometric, plan and graphic drawings that fill every page. Her father an architect and mother a stylish librarian, Jacquette ascribes the unified aesthetic vocabulary that played a big part in her childhood to her making today, drawing on memories such as: the clothing worn by her mother who confidently strode around gritty New York; Manhattan movie theaters; playgrounds in the Netherlands and parks designed by her father. Today, Columbus Park Tower sits atop a cleaners, cafe, boutique, cobblers, bar and two restaurants and is engulfed by residential high-rises lining Columbus avenue. It's cream colored (originally white) balconies which Jacquette mentions protrude out and contrast against its aged (but not damaged) brickwork. They amplify the linear orderliness of the facade—an aesthetic retained today. Look north and there are newer, modern, high-end apartments. The area is a far cry from the rough-and-tumble neighborhood that Jacquette grew up in, but the bold spirit of the place evidently lives on in her work. Playground of My Mind was published by Prestel in conjunction with the Wellin Museum of Art, where a mid-survey exhibition of Jacquette is currently on show, located on the campus of Hamilton College. Julia Jacquette: Unrequited and Acts of Play looks at the theme of identity through the nostalgic lens used in Playground of My Mind. The exhibition is on view through July 2, 2017, and an abridged version of the show will travel to the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit, New Jersey, where it will be on view from September 24, 2017, through January 14, 2018. Playground of My Mind Prestel, $49.95
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This new book challenges your preconceptions of architectural ornament, past and present

In 1902, the under-known Prussian architect and author, Hermann Muthesius, promoted what he labeled Sachlichkeit, prior to the prophecies of his seminal Austrian contemporary, Adolf Loos. It summarized a design philosophy that advocated the “elimination of every merely decorative form,” giving way only to “form according to demands set by purpose.” 

Endeavoring with fin-de-siècle fervor to shape how a new century could build, Muthesius declared that “ornament” would exist only if endemic to the overall conception of surface and materiality rather than as some extraneous froufrou that groped back at a severed past.    

Loos later solidified his place as modernism’s harbinger with his more dogmatic credo: “Freedom from ornament is a sign of spiritual strength … (it) cannot any longer be made by anyone.” 

The design platform for Europe and the Americas at least seemed fixed. Ornament gave way to “decoration” shaped by the personal choices of the end-user. Architecture’s task was best fulfilled when separated from art and replaced by the more practical assignment of delivering comfortable utility: The proverbial machine for living and a blank state of decoration with ornament led to its further devaluation, despite its former centrality to place making.

As this important volume reveals by concentrating on the greater Mediterranean basin of Christian Europe and the fluctuating contours of the Islamic world (descending from the classical Greek suzerainty and its successive Roman Empire shaped by Vitruvian aesthetic orthodoxy), the debate is far more nuanced. The case is made that—in built reality—no break with ornament ever fully took place, despite the intent and ethos of the modernists. Like history itself, ornament did not end in the 20th century but merely evolved with renewed force, ultimately from postmodernism’s backward glance.

Histories of Ornament was inspired by papers delivered at an international conference held at Harvard in 2012. Whether translated or seamlessly edited by Necipoğlu and Payne, it covers an unprecedented and stringent collection of scholarly research and reflection. It is not a history of ornament per se, but rather a rigorous and sometimes cautionary record of the history of ornament’s shifting meaning and theoretical basis. This volume assesses ornament as a legitimate aspect of designing the future built environment. 

It is neither elegy nor encyclopedia; the purpose instead is summed up simply in the editors’ introduction as “to address what ornament does [and did].” The result is a summons to surrender preconceived notions about ornament as somehow apart from or inferior to architecture in its full range of possible expression.

Despite varying assessments by the diverse contributors on the present state of ornament, the book is enlivened by an acknowledgment that it owes part of its resurgence to the digital tools available in this still young century.

In Part I, “Contemporaneity of Ornament in Architecture,” the scholar Vittoria Di Palma acknowledges that even traditional ornament, such as that of the classical orders (so long removed from any underlying structural imperative) remains off limits to progress, while new technologies are both jumpstarting and inventing many others. Overall exterior surface patterning rendered essential to core architectural intent has been made feasible in ways that Edward Durell Stone or Frank Lloyd Wright were striving toward a half-century ago.

Di Palma reminds us, however, that “technology is not the wellspring of desire” and considers how other forces, distinct from the historic, religious, or nationalistic narrative, drive ornament’s return. Among her conclusions is their root in sensation and how “by operating on a biological level, by privileging the body and its forms of knowledge, both its affect and effect hold out promise of a potential universality.” In this way, globalization and its gradual imposition of common expectations across cultures emerge as an opportunity for shared sensation.

The sections build the case that while ornament often served as a signal of some victorious cultural imposition, the result was its absorption and adjustment leading to new, assimilated meanings.

In chapter six of the polemical Part II, “Ornament between Historiography and Theory,” scholar Maria Judith Feliciano examines the conceptual and syncretic invention of Mudéjar design by the revisionist 19th-century art historian, José Amador de los Ríos, who invented a label for the profound place of Islamic design ornament on the Iberian Peninsula. He transmuted the historic impact of seven centuries of regional Moorish control and, above all, the Arabesque expression of its distinctive ornamented architecture into a metaphor of ultimate Catholic vindication.

Feliciano explained, “De los Ríos defined it as a reflection of the grandeur of the Christian national character, which was capable of effecting conquest, tolerating diversity, and demanding the artistic and intellectual participation of its citizens in the construction of a productive enlightened state.” In other words, the act of ornamental expropriation defined in terms of cultural and political submission underscores the inevitable goodness of a unitary monarchy. In the 20th century this led to its successor, the Fascist Francisco Franco. Franco’s minster of fine arts went farther still in pronouncing that Spain was not only the foremost agent for extending the Catholic religion and the past glories of Rome, but also “the transmitter of the artistic culture of Islam in the New World…which in an effort unparalleled in history was discovered and conquered by Spain, and by her was incorporated in the Occidental and Catholic culture.” 

Ornament takes its place as the characterization of civilization’s advance whether good or evil.

Rather than being superfluous, ornament reclaims its design role freed from normative narratives. Its utility shifts not only in its application, but also in its innate, essential meaning for both contemporary practitioners and occupants alike.

In the architecture of today, Sachlichkeit gives way to Gesamtkunstwerk. Muthesius and his cohorts did not so much get their wish, as they set the stage for design theory and its built yield as a new vocabulary characterizing ornament’s essential place in architecture.

Humankind relies on sensation to thrive, rather than merely survive.

Histories of Ornament Gülru Necipoğlu and Alina Payne, Princeton University Press, $60

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A forgotten psychology study of famous midcentury architects gets its due in new book

In his new book The Creative Architect: Inside the Great Midcentury Personality Study, Pierluigi Serraino writes about a forgotten psychology study of well-known creative people that U.C. Berkeley’s Institute for Personality Assessment and Research conducted in the late 1950s. In addition to writers and scientists, participants included Eero Saarinen, Louis Kahn, I.M. Pei, Philip Johnson, and dozens of other major architects of the day.

The Architect’s Newspaper: How did you find out about the studies that became the basis of this book?

Pierluigi Serraino: From different sources. A large part of it was a result of spending time with Don Olsen when I was working on NorCalMod: Icons of Northern California Modernism and then on my monograph on him. Also, Jack Hillmer told me Charles Warren Callister was in the creativity study. The daughter of Fred Langhorst told me about her dad coming home from participating in the study and telling them about this absurd problem the study posed, how to put a third arm to use. Raymond Neutra told me that he had seen the study’s files about his father and that he knew where they were.

Where was the material stored?

U.C. Berkeley has a large storage facility in Richmond, California. The archives are in a little room filled with file cabinets.

When I ran into Neutra, he told me that he had met Wallace Hall. Hall was the right-hand man to Donald MacKinnon, the director of the Institute of Personality Assessment and Research, a research institute at U.C. Berkeley, better known as IPAR. I called Hall. He was very old and in declining health. He said that they had wanted to do a book.

Hall was the gatekeeper of everything IPAR. He wouldn’t give access to anybody. So when he died, no one had a vested interest any longer.

Why do you think the well-known architects of the day participated in the study?

It was largely due to the political clout of William Wurster, whom MacKinnon asked to reach out to the architects. Wurster was an important architect himself, and he was dean of the College of Environmental Design at Berkeley.

Who funded the study?

The Carnegie Corporation. IPAR applied for a large grant in November of 1955. The people who were at the top of the funding agencies for these kinds of studies were in the Office of Strategic Services [OSS, a precursor to the CIA] and worked at the same OSS station together during the war, performing assessment studies of troops. They assessed candidates for very delicate missions.

Why did the Carnegie Corporation want to do this study?

It was the result of the Cold War. The researchers changed gears completely. There was a shift from studying human effectiveness to studying creativity in general. There was a desire to identify the folks who were going to be the most creative people, so that the U.S. could have a competitive advantage against the Russians. It was deeply nationalistic, if you think about it.

Why was the study not published?

That is the biggest mystery of all. Territoriality and politics about authorship of the study, perhaps. I think they strung this thing along too long and they lost the momentum.

Also, in the 1970s, there was a shift in the conception of personalities: Maybe it’s not just about the person, maybe it’s also the environment. Psychologists started thinking they were giving too much credit to the individual.

Describe the Mosaic Construction Test.

The architects were given tiles and told to create an eight-by-ten-inch mosaic. They also had a form that they had to fill out, answering questions about the intentions behind what they were doing.

The mosaics reveal that the creative person explores colors and fields in a non-formulaic approach. Some very creative architects did some rather dull mosaics, so it’s an imperfect procedure. For example, John Funk, who did the Heckendorf house in Modesto, did a very uninteresting mosaic. Victor Lundy’s was really superb, just very lyrical. He was a fantastic architect. Louis Kahn used some rather gloomy colors—there’s some darkness in it. I have to say, Neutra’s wasn’t interesting.

There is the famous story, reported by Charles Eames in 1963, about why Eero Saarinen used only white tiles. Apparently, Saarinen said, “I use only white, because I’m interested in texture.”

Did the researchers come to a conclusion about creativity as a result of this study?

Yes, but the conclusions were broad. One of them was that the creative person is not teamwork material. And in corporate society, this doesn’t sit well. What are we going to do with that? Are we going to have a bunch of people who do whatever they want?

Courage may be the great differentiator. You can have the intelligence, the talent, the intuition. But you have to have the courage to act on your instincts. You have to create conditions to do the work that you deem necessary, based on your aspirations, your vision. The condition of creativity is that you have to sustain the vision that you have for very long time, because you have a very long period where people resist you.

So who is the creative person?

Everybody has a capacity to be creative. This is a capacity that we always have at birth and we lose. We lose the authenticity of who we are. In a way, the message of this book has to do with life choices. What do we want to do with our lives? The creative person is someone who picks one field and explores it to its full extent.

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Legendary photographer Hedrich Blessing’s images feature prominently in new book on Chicago

If there’s any justice, history will recognize John Zukowsky for his singular place in documenting and disseminating Chicago’s architectural history. He’s produced several of the most significant visual records of the city, including the two-volume companion to the milestone surveys [Chicago Architecture 1872–1922 and 1923–1993] that he mounted at the Art Institute in the early 1990s; together the catalogues create an amazingly comprehensive chronicle of built Chicago. And, shortly before leaving the city in 2004, he published Masterpieces of Chicago Architecture, a visually breathtaking timeline of the city’s greatest buildings.

An assessment of Building Chicago, Zukowsky’s latest contribution to the canon, more or less demands the inquiry: Is it necessary? Given the increasing interest in the subject over the past couple of decades and the number of pictorial surveys of the city that others have published, do we really need another iteration of “Chicago’s Greatest Hits?” And hasn’t Mr. Zukowsky said it all already anyway?

The short answers are “yes” and “maybe, but so what?” Indeed, there is probably not much new to say on the subject that Zukowsky himself hasn’t already said. (Beyond the fact—and this is not insignificant—that a dozen years have elapsed since Zukowsky’s last compendium, and a lot has happened architecturally in the last dozen years.) But with architectural history, you can always find new ways to look at the material—not only conceptually, but visually. And in Building Chicago, Zukowsky has lucked into a whole new inventory of visual materials.The image collection of the Chicago History Museum (formerly known as the Chicago Historical Society) recently acquired rights to most of the spectacular archive of Hedrich Blessing, generally considered the world’s greatest architectural photography studio, dating back to the 1930s through to 1979—in addition to the museum’s already impressive collection of vintage photographs.

In his introduction, Zukowsky acknowledges he’s revisiting much of the territory he covered in the 2004 work (also for the publisher Rizzoli), which drew mostly from the Art Institute’s extensive collection of drawings, artifacts, and photos. Here, Zukowsky’s source for imagery, while almost exclusively photographic, is actually much broader than the Art Institute’s and really makes for a much more vivid picture.

Zukowsky is a fine scholar, but the writing in Building Chicago is generally dry and uninspiring, particularly if you’re well-versed in the subject matter. But you’re not reading this book for the text. Like any picture book—and, while it’s a serious historical work, Building Chicago is primarily a picture book—its success depends on the images. So it’s particularly fortunate that Zukowsky was able to indulge his “curator’s choice” and assemble a brilliant iconography of the most emblematic buildings in the city from the museum’s collection.

Zukowsky admits that he didn’t intend this as a comprehensive history of the city’s built environment: It is, quite frankly, a look at the city’s most important, influential and prominent structures. Aside from some high-profile apartment towers and one lakefront mansion, there’s little about residential design, almost nothing ecclesiastical, and very little outside the city’s core. The visual story Zukowsky is presenting here doesn’t pretend to reflect anything beyond the public realm or show us much about the neighborhoods in a city that is supposed to be all about neighborhoods. It’s about the architecture that has become a key element of the tourism industry and an economic engine on its own, celebrating the great, important buildings of Chicago that provide the city its one real claim to international distinction and are the source of boundless hometown pride.

Readers familiar with the cityscape will not be surprised here with the choice of buildings illustrated. But the book’s real distinction is the historical selection from Hedrich Blessing—both in its great period photos of grand buildings now demolished (the Michigan Square Building) or recklessly remodeled (the Prudential Building lobby) and of projects far less glamorous: A 1944 photo of the Monroe Street Red Line platform and another of the newly finished Lake Shore Drive pedestrian overpass at North Avenue are particularly edifying.

It’s hard to imagine a better compendium: Building Chicago is an important addition to any serious collection of books about the city.

Building Chicago: The Architectural Masterworks John Zukowsky, Rizzoli, $85.00

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Furthermore grants in publishing announces 2016 Alice Award winner

The J.M. Kaplan Fund has long supported design and architecture projects through exhibitions, socially-engaged initiatives, and publications. In 2013, Furthermore grants in publishing, a wing of Kaplan devoted to supporting book publishing for the arts, founded the yearly Alice Award to honor and recognize achievements in illustrated books and “the special sense of intimacy it affords.” Furthermore hosted a celebration in the Rare Book Room of The Strand Book Store on October 25 to announce this year's Alice winner. The Alice jury selected a shortlist from hundreds of books that received aid from Furthermore: African Art in the Barnes Foundation, The Triumph of L’Art nègre and the Harlem Renaissance, Apparitions, Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now, Making it Modern, The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman, and A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery. The jury then selected a fifth title, Kentucky by Design: The Decorative Arts and American Culture, as the winner of the 2016 Alice Award. The book, a catalogue for the eponymous exhibition, is published by the University of Kentucky Press. It celebrates the 80th anniversary of the Federal Art Project’s Index of American Design which was part of the WPA/Federal Art Project in the 1930s. The Alice comes with an award of $25,000.  
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Michael Maltzan Architects designs exhibition for Huntington Library

  The exhibition, Lari Pittman: Mood Books, with works by artist Lari Pittman and exhibition design by Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA), is currently on view at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. Pittman is a Los Angeles—based visual artist who makes large-scale paintings that combine surrealism, geometric shapes, and narrative association with vivid color. The artist’s paintings vary widely in terms of size and scale and alternate between collections of single and multiple works. The exhibition on view features a collection of Pittman’s smaller recent works: six art-books containing a bound collection of 65 paintings by the artist, with the books resting on large pedestals designed by MMA. The tomes, styled in the manner of psychedelia-inspired illuminated manuscripts, are located in a dark, ancillary gallery and are removed from the museum’s permanent collection. Within that space, the books and their respective pedestals are organized in a straight line, with books open for viewing along alternating sides of the heavily articulated, painted plywood arrangement. MMA’s designs for the pedestals are articulated as stark-white, billowing forms, rendered in sumptuous planes with surface qualities halfway between those sheets of a paper and billowing drapery. Each pedestal is supported by four diminutive legs, where the form of each supported volume swoops down to touch the floor. Like sliced up milk cartons, the pedestals unfold and bend backward, connecting with adjacent pedestals to create one monolithic object. A light-gauge curved rod spans between the open section of each pedestal along the viewing edge, guarding Pittman’s works. A wall-based work on a touchscreen hangs, off in a the corner of the room, the small painting illuminated and pushed out from the wall by an exaggerated, extruded picture frame. The pages of each book will be turned throughout the course of the exhibition and all the sheets are accessible via the touch screen component. For more information on Mood Books, visit the Huntington Library website.
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Mayor Walsh releases top-shelf urbanism reading list in advance of Imagine Boston 2030

The City of Boston has put together a rigorous, Boston-centric reading list in advance of Imagine Boston 2030, the city's first full-scale plan since the 1960s. If urban planner heaven is a bookshelf, it might live here. As Imagine Boston 2030 creates a plan to preserve and grow the city, the readings (12 for adults adults and 8 for children three-plus) ground Boston's cultures and social history in a distinctly American urban framework of prosperity and poverty; integration and isolation; weak policy and smart growth. The reading list grew from conversations between staff at the Mayor Marty Walsh's office on books and thinkers that shaped their understanding of Boston. After some lively debate, they developed a list of books to share with the public. The books—which range from Cities 101 classics like Jane Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities and Robert Caro's The Power Brokerto Boston-based fiction (Rishi Reddi's Karma and Other Stories) and nonfiction (J. Anthony Lukas's Pulitzer Prize–winning Common Ground), and praiseworthy new titles like Matthew Desmond's Evictedwill be available at all Boston Public Library branches. But that's not the end of the story. The city is asking its citizens to vote on three more books that should be added to the list. The suggested titles explore similar themes to illuminate the urban experience, but are more international than the core 12. Up for consideration: Alan Grostephan's Bogotá, Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, and Dinaw Mengestu's The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, among others. Check out the full list below and follow the project @ImagineBoston @BPLBoston and with the tags #ImagineBoston  #IB2030bookworm. Adult reading list: Evicted by Matthew Desmond The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs Chain of Change: Struggles for Black Community Development by Mel King The Given Day by Dennis Lehane Common Ground by J. Anthony Lukas All Souls by Michael Patrick MacDonald The Power Broker by Robert Caro Karma and Other Stories by Rishi Reddi The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong by Judith Rodin Villa Victoria: The Transformation of Social Capital in a Boston Barrio by Mario Luis Small Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future by Joseph E. Stiglitz Youth reading list: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M. T. Anderson The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau Pennies for Elephants by Lita Judge What’s the Big Idea? Four Centuries of Innovation in Boston by Stephen Krensky Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined by Steve McDonald Beneath the Streets of Boston by Joe McKendry On the Loose in Boston (Find the Animals) by Sage Stossel
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André Tavares delves into the anatomy of the architectural book

Superficially, The Anatomy of the Architectural Book is a book about books. Its uniqueness lies in its exploration of how architects utilize their design skills in bookmaking. André Tavares blends two distinct histories, architectural history and bibliography, resulting in a thorough exploration of the architectural book. He examines the relationship between visual communication methods in architecture and print applications, noting the roles of innovations in both fields through history. The book is divided into two parts: the first refers to cases studies of the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition and Sigfried Giedion's 1929 book Befreites wohnen while the second analyzes what Tavares deems the five essentials of architecture (texture, surface, rhythm, structure, and scale) and how to communicate them through the printed medium. An extensive collection of images guide the reader through the book; most are examples of well- and less well-designed architectural books. The images chronicle the history of bookmaking and visual communication: etchings, printing, lithography, chromolithography, etc. In the passage discussing rhythm—one of the five essentials of architecture as they relate to the architectural book—Tavares examines three methods of organization: "step-by-step, brick-upon-brick, and close-and-closer-still." He explores how these are applied in visual communication by Auguste Choisy in his spatially-organized account of the Acropolis in Athens, Gustav Eiffel's chronological sequence of photographs of the Eiffel Tower, and drawings by Claude Nicolas Ledoux that communicate architecture through scale. Considering the views of architect and architectural magazine editor Pierre-Alain Croset, Tavares concludes that "the inhabitant of a building, or the reader of a book, must form a complete experience for themselves by connecting sensory stimuli." Indeed, the author demonstrates the opportunity for sensory stimuli in reading and understanding his investigation of architectural books; the reader is engaged to pursue his or her own investigation. Throughout the book, Tavares studies the work of designers, architects, and architectural critics including: Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, Giovanni Battista da Sangallo, Sigfried Gidieon, Gottfried Semper, William Morris, Alekseï Gan, Moiseï Ginzburg, El Lissitzsky, Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, Philibert de l'Orme, Humphry Repton, A.W.N. Pugin, Andrea Palladio, Erich Mendelsohn, François Blondel, Frank Lloyd Wright, and numerous others. While the book discusses the history of bookmaking and architecture, it is not organized chronologically but instead topically, an intentional strategy of Tavares. In terms of the book's design, the text is arranged in two columns: a wide column for the primary text and a smaller one for the notes. A simple arrangement of images allows them to correspond smoothly with the text. I recommend this book for those involved in publishing book on architecture and design. Tavares’ correlations and observations of architectural books and printed materials are stimulating and impactful from such perspectives. More details on the book, which is co-published by the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) and Lars Müller Publishers, are available here.
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A new book showcases Donald Judd’s use of Cor-ten steel

From the late 1980s until his death in 1994, artist Donald Judd used Cor-ten weathering steel in many sculptures. The 72 page Donald Judd: Cor-ten—from David Zwirner Books—features those works in detail. The book includes an interview with Judd conducted by Kunstbulletin editor-in-chief Claudia Jolles and an introduction by his son Flavin. Donald Judd was commonly associated with minimalism, a term the artist personally rejected despite his important influence on the movement. His work in sculpture consisted mostly of simple, abstract shapes that emphasized the principles of color and space. Judd also designed furniture but considered his design practice to be distinctly separate from his art practice. In his writings, he explained that the practical intent of furniture design was philosophically incompatible with the artistic intent of his sculpture. Donald Judd: Cor-ten is an exploration not only of the artist but also of the industrial material itself. Cor-ten is the popular name for weathering steel, which was originally developed for use in coal carrying train cars. When left outdoors and exposed to the elements, weathering steel develops a stable coating of rust that protects it from further corrosion and eliminates the need for paint. Ten pages of the book are dedicated to the process of making Cor-ten, accompanied full page close-up photographs that study its color and texture in great detail.

Artists such as Pablo Picasso have frequently used Cor-ten steel, which has a distinct reddish brown color, for outdoor sculptures. Recent prominent architectural uses include the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Bjarke Ingels' Warehouse421 in Abu Dhabi. U.S. Steel, who owns the patent on Cor-ten, showcased the product during the construction of their U.S. Steel Tower in Pittsburgh.

Most of Judd's works with Cor-ten steel were done for specific outdoor locations and commissioned by clients. This book collects photographs taken during an exhibition at David Zwirner's New York gallery. It is currently available on the publisher’s web site.

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Thursday! Don’t miss this double book night at AIANY’s Center for Architecture

book-talk Two of the more challenging texts, at least for the profession of architecture, to appear in the last year will be presented and debated at the AIA New York's Center on February 4. The Architect as Worker by Peggy Deamer and The Politics of Parametricism edited by Manuel Shvartzberg both challenge and confront contemporary assumptions about practice and cultural production. Deamer and Shvartzberg will be on hand to discuss the texts with Reinhold Martin. Deamer, for her part, takes on issues central to architectural labor and the acceptance of seductive images of digital production. Shvartzberg's book debates issues beyond—or hidden from—the seductive images of parametricism. No word if Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher will be in attendance. The event takes place from 6:00–8:00p.m. on Thursday, February 4 at The Center for Architecture    
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A return to brick and mortar, Amazon.com opens first bookstore in Seattle

November 3 was a big day for Amazon, with the opening of its first brick and mortar store, Amazon Books. The location? Seattle, of course. The 5,500-square-foot store inside the upscale University Village shopping mall replaced the former Blue C Sushi restaurant. Who designed the store? Amazon relied on its in-house design team in collaboration with external partners, Amazon.com spokesperson Deborah Bass told AN. Materials and layout are pretty traditional: there's light wood, dark trim, brick, and narrow aisles. Many have made comparisons to the typical bookstore aesthetic of yore. "The store, in Seattle’s University Village, is notably (and, of course, ironically) Barnes & Noble-like in its aesthetic. There’s a lot of wood. There are a lot of shelves. There are a lot of books! The dream of the 90s is alive in Seattle, apparently," writes The Atlantic. But forget the typical spine-out book layout. Instead, books are arranged cover-out, many alongside unedited (but oftentimes truncated) customer reviews from Amazon.com. There's an overt fusion of books and tech. Titles are stocked, influenced, and arranged by Amazon.com data and curators: customer ratings, top sellers lists, niche audience ("Most-Wished-For Cookbooks", "Gifts for Young Adults", "Coloring Books for Grown-ups"), purpose ("100 Books to Read in a Lifetime") and of course, by genre. There are Amazon devices throughout: Kindles, Fire Tablets, Fire TVs, Echo. Prices are the same as online. But there's a catch: Amazon prices are not listed on the books themselves. Browsers must either download an Amazon app to scan the books for current prices or use one of the price-checking kiosks in the store. Amazon Books is the second bookstore to open in U-Village, after Barnes and Noble closed in 2011.