Posts tagged with "modern architecture":

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Docomomo US to honor outstanding modern preservation projects tonight

Tonight in Manhattan, Docomomo US will honor the winners of its 2017 Modernism in America Awards. The national chapter of the nonprofit modern architecture preservation group will recognize nine projects that set high standards for the restoration, conservation, and adaptation of modernist designs. First announced in June, the awardees include famous projects like Alexander Gorlin's revamp of Eero Saarinen, Kevin Roche & John Dinkeloo's Bell Works and Knight Architecture's careful updates to Louis Kahn's Yale Center for British Art, but the jury placed emphasis on geographic diversity and regional favorites as well. BVH Architecture's restoration of Edward Durrell Stone's Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island, Nebraska, is set to receive a merit award, and k YODER design's work on Vincent G. Kling's midcentury home in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, will be honored, too. The projects demonstrate a preservation approach that responds to contemporary needs but respects the original architect's design intent. Docomomo US also honors researchers who chronicle the modern preservation movement for the public. This year, the group will honor Heroic, a book on Boston brutalism from 1960 until 1976 that spawned subsequent advocacy efforts to preserve the city's often divisive concrete architecture. The group will also honor Save the Reactor, a grassroots effort to save a landmarked Cold War–era nuclear reactor at the University of Washington, Seattle that the school wants to demolish (a legal fight over the building is making its way through the courts). While regional AIA chapters may recognize members' preservation projects, the Modernism in America Awards is the only program that celebrates modern preservation nationally. Beyond making a case for the continued importance of the modern movement, the program seeks to build public appreciation for postwar architecture, call attention to threatened buildings, and promote dialogue around the cultural or economic conditions that facilitate the conservation or jeopardize the existence of modern architecture today. Now in its fourth year, tonight's awards ceremony will be held at Design Within Reach's Third Avenue Studio (tickets required). Read more about the winners here. Frances Halsband, founding principal at Kliment Halsband Architects, chaired this year's seven-member jury. Joining her was Justin Davidson, New York Magazine's architecture and classical music critic; Barbara Campagna, an architect, planner, and historian; Mark Pasnik, founding principal of over,under (and Heroic co-author); Robert Nauman, member of Docomomo US's Board of Directors and a historian who currently teaches in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado in Boulder; Jack Pyburn, member of Docomomo US's Board of Directors and partner at Lord Aeck Sargent; as well as Theodore Prudon, President of Docomomo US and founding principal at Prudon & Partners. The Docomomo US Board of Directors served as the jury for the Advocacy prize.
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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.
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An exhibition that explores the architectural influence of Playboy magazine

Next month, visitors to the Elmhurst Art Museum in Chicago will be able to see Playboy Architecture, 1953-1979. On show at Elmhurst's McCormick House, a fitting venue designed by Mies van der Rohe, the exhibition will display the luxury decor and modern architecture often showcased in Playboy Magazine throughout the twentieth century. A Chicagoan himself, Hugh Hefner will likely be one of the few unsurprised to see the sizable effect his magazine had on contemporary aesthetic tastes. With addition of a few bunnies, Playboy magazine used mid-century modern furniture and modern architecture to form the dream bachelor pad. In the process, it created a look that appealed to millions across the country. The style portrayed in Playboy, essentially linking architecture and erotica, has mainly influenced cinema and TV. This influence can be seen in the Bond movie Diamonds are Forever (1971) where Hefner's bachelor pad is used in a scene. Further evidence rests in cult hit The Big Lewbowski (1998) where John Lautner's modernist Sheats Goldstein Residence, owned by pornographer Jackie Treehorn, is prominently shown in one scene. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpZmyC49P64 Praise for Playboy's style has also come from high up in the architecture world. Architectural historian Reyner Banham said that it was “one of the greatest gifts to America and to Western culture” and “I will crawl a mile for Playboy.” Fellow historian Sigfried Giedion was slightly less complimentary. He commented that Playboy architecture was the epitome of the times, describing it as “Rushing from one sensation to another and rapidly bored.” As for the exhibition, photographs, films, architectural renderings, and decor will be on display alongside intricate scale models of the Playboy Townhouse. Naturally, Hefner's notorious mansions are a key figure in the exhibition, and scenes from films (as mentioned before) are shown as well. Also on display will be the "Big Bunny," the luxurious and extravagant aircraft was designed by Elmhurst resident Daniel Czubak for Mr. Hefner at the height of the Playboy era. Jenny Gibbs, the Executive Director of Elmhurst Art Museum, spoke of the role Chicago's architecture scene played with regard Playboy's development. “Chicago's modern architecture and design influenced cities around the world. Chicago-based Playboy magazine played no small part in that by championing Chicago architects like Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright," she said speaking to Chicagoist. Originally curated by Professor Beatriz Colomina and Pep Aviles in collaboration with the Ph.D. program of the School of Architecture and the Media and Modernity program at Princeton University, exhibition has already been seen overseas, though this will be its U.S. debut. It will run at the Elmhurst Art Museum from from May 7 to August 28.
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A New Online Trove of West Coast Midcentury Modern Architecture

Sometimes photographs are used to tell a story. Other times they mark the passage of time or celebrate a joyous moment or memory. And if we are lucky, we can catch a glimpse of what interested the photographer and how they experienced that moment. Today, we view much of our architecture through the literal and figurative lens of professional photography that circulates on design websites, firm pages, and social media. But how do architects see their own work? The work of their contemporaries? What happens when the architect takes control of the camera? The University of Southern California has digitized approximately 1,300 slides by architect Pierre Koenig and architect and color slide company owner, Fritz Block. Those images now reside in a public database documenting the pair's photographs of mostly 1950s and 1960s midcentury modern architecture on the West Coast. Koenig had already selected certain images for digitization in the late 1990s, though unfortunately that didn't come to pass. But now architects, designers, midcentury modern fanatics, and history buffs can get a unique glimpse into a wide range of modern architecture. The photo database's of projects include Koenig’s Case Study #22, John Lautner's Foster Residence, and Pietro Belluschi's Central Lutheran Church. “The Block and Koenig slides are two of the smaller unique collections in the possession of the USC Libraries,” explains USC on the collection's webpage. “They document examples of 20th century California architecture that developed stylistically from the foundations of the International Style as established by the 1932 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, titled Modern Architecture: International Exhibition, and of European pre-World War II Modernism.”
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San Francisco seeking enhanced landmark protection for one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most significant works

A gestural ramp takes visitors to the upper stories, passing objets d'art nested into built-in niches. A bubbled skylight lets the sun's rays penetrate into an expansive atrium, even on cloudy days. The AIA says the landmarked building is one of Frank Lloyd Wright's 17 essential works. The Guggenheim? Not so much. Wright's only San Francisco building, a city landmark since 1974, sits on Maiden Lane, a quiet side street downtown. The last tenant, Xanadu Gallery, closed up shop last year. Before the next tenant moves in, preservationists are rallying to expand existing landmark protections to include parts of the interior that date to 1948, including the ceiling, a skylit plane comprised of 120 acrylic domes, mahogany display cabinets, and a brass hanging planter. Wright designed the project, one of his only renovations of an existing building, in 1948 for V.C. and Lillian Morris. The couple had a shop on the same street and had previously commissioned Wright to design four houses for them (none were built). The space became the home of the V.C. Morris Gift Shop. Although the exterior, whose arch could be a subtle tribute to Louis Sullivan, is elegant, Wright experts concede that the interior is more architecturally significant. 140 Maiden Lane was a real-world test for the Guggenheim, built in 1959, which Wright conceptualized sixteen years earlier. The skylight hints at Wright's later work, like the 1961 Marin County Civic Center. The Prairie-style homes Wright completed in the Chicago suburbs are echoed in the masonry cliff, muses John King, The San Francisco Chronicle’s urban design critic. When Xanadu Gallery moved into the space in 1997, the owners, Raymond and Marsha Handley, restored many of the interior details that were left to languish in the basement. They consulted preservation experts, including Aaron Green, who with Wright collaborated on the Marin Civic Center. Marsha feels confident that the new owner, a Hong Kong–based investor who also owns Los Angeles's Bradbury Building, will be mindful of this building's significance. It's rumored that the new tenant may be a restaurant, or a European clothing boutique. City Planners have broached the bid for elevated landmark status with the owner's representatives, as they intend to send the revised landmark designation to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors in the next few months.
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Rudolph’s Walker Guest House replicated at the Ringling Museum of Art

It's no Palace of Versailles, but the Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF) has reproduced Paul Rudolph's 1952 Walker Guest House on the grounds of the Ringling Museum of Art. Using Rudolph's plans and Ezra Stoller's interior photographs, the foundation commissioned a faithful replica, down to the magazines on the coffee table. The replica will cost SAF approximately $150,000. It will be faithful to the original, minus the bathroom, which will be supplanted by a wheelchair-accessible ramp. The house will welcome visitors starting November 6th, part of opening festivities for SAF's SarasotaMOD Weekend. The original Walker Guest House is a 24-foot-by-24-foot foot structure constructed from "off the shelf" materials for the Walker family on Sanibel Island, off the Gulf Coast. The house still stands. Why build a replica? As SAF board member Dan Snyder explained, unlike other cities tearing Rudolph's architecture down, Sarasota is a "city that loves Rudolph." The Walker Guest House is privately owned, and Sanibel Island is only accessible via boat. The Ringling has 250,000 annual visitors, so having the replica house on its grounds will introduce Rudolph's work, and the Sarasota School of Architecture, to a wider audience. Indigenous to Florida's west coast, the Sarasota School melded the international style with the organic school of Frank Lloyd Wright while responding to the demands of a subtropical climate. The Walker Guest house, Snyder noted, "blurs the distinction between inside and outside, stealing space from the outside so the house seems much larger." The house is calibrated to respond to the seasons. Its three, eight-foot-by-eight-foot panels are flanked by retractable exterior shades that shield the house from excessive summer sun, but allow light to penetrate in the winter, when the temperature drops into the 60s. Its exoskeleton functions as a wraparound porch and a support system for the pulleys, weighted with red concrete balls, that control the shades. Members of the SAF visited the original house to document the interior and exterior for the replica project. To many, "1950s Florida" means tacky pastels and a flock of lawn flamingos. In contrast (or perhaps in protest), Rudolph's interior color palette is subdued grey to "draw [your] eye to the outside," Snyder explained. Referencing Stoller's photographs, the Rudolph-designed coffee table, dining table, bookcase, and sofa were reproduced. Queens-based furniture designer Richard Wrightman was commissioned to recreate the living room's officer's chairs. Adhering strictly to their standards of authenticity, the team purchased Time, Fortune, and Playboy magazines from 1953, and placed them as they appear in Stoller's images. A parallel exhibition, Paul Rudolph: The Guest Houses, at the Ringling features photographs, models, drawings, and writings. The exhibition runs through December 6th.
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Bertrand Goldberg’s Chicago Prentice Hospital Denied Landmark Status, Again

Amid the latest in a series of temporary reprieves, Bertrand Goldberg’s former Prentice Women’s Hospital was again denied landmark status by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. Despite once again turning out a crowd of supporters who contributed hours of impassioned testimony, many preservationists were unsurprised by an outcome that they chalked up to political determinism. “I have this suspicion that [owner] Northwestern [University] has put before us a false choice,” said Commissioner James Houlihan, who nonetheless voted along with all of his fellow commissioners to deny the 1975 building landmark status. The commission Thursday reprised, in a way, a vote taken in November, in which they recognized the litany of evidence qualifying Prentice as an architectural landmark, voted to grant the building landmark status, and subsequently revoked their own decision in a second, almost unanimous vote. (The sole holdout during that vote, Christopher Reed, resigned at the end of 2012.) Their reason for doing so, said commission Chairman Rafael Leon, was a provision in municipal code that called on them to allow testimony from the city’s Department of Housing and Economic Development. The jobs and tax dollars promised by new construction, they concluded, outweighed the building’s architectural significance—logic that preservationists took issue with on several levels. In December the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Landmarks Preservation Council claimed in court that the commission “acted arbitrarily and exceeded its authority,” when it denied the building landmark status by considering economic matters so prominently. Judge Neil Cohen dismissed that suit in January, but not without raising concerns over the commission’s transparency. “The commission maintains that it did not violate the landmarks ordinance or any other law,” Leon said when it came time to discuss Prentice. To show their methods were “beyond reproach,” he said, they would again hear public testimony. Jeff Case, a principal at Holabird & Root, was among the design professionals who opposed preservation, saying Prentice had “outlived its useful life.” “The building has moved on, and so should we,” he said. “333 East Superior will not be missed.” Carol Post of Thornton & Tomasetti concurred, citing structural problems in the building’s clover-shaped concrete shell. Still many more echoed the sentiments of an open letter signed in July by more than 65 architects, calling on the commission to reject the recommendation of the Department of Housing and Economic Development that previously swayed them to withhold landmark protection. “A Walmart will always generate more revenue than a water tower,” said Preservation Chicago’s Jonathan Fine. Christina Morris, a senior field officer in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Chicago office, similarly rebuked the commissioners for appearing to sidestep their civic duty. “You have an obligation,” she said, “to protect Chicago’s cultural heritage.” Since the commission’s November decision, preservationists have also attempted to meet Northwestern’s arguments on their own terms. Architects submitted four proposals for reuse that also included new buildings to satisfy Northwestern’s stated development needs. They claimed saving the Goldberg structure would result in an additional $103 million in one-time expenditures, $155 million annually in operating costs, $1.1 million in yearly tax revenue, and create 980 new jobs. Northwestern dismissed those proposals Thursday in a statement that called their economic assumptions “deeply flawed.” The four alternatives were “not viable,” said Northwestern’s Eugene Sunshine, because of structural challenges presented by Prentice and because some of them relied on developing nearby vacant land not owned by Northwestern University, but by Northwestern Memorial HealthCare. Commissioner Houlihan asked Sunshine if it was disingenuous to suggest the sister organizations could not get together and work out a solution to that problem. Sunshine said it was not. Dean Harrison, president of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, later testified that NMH had "long-standing plans" to build something else on the site, but did not provide a timeline for that development. Though Thursday’s decision could mark the end for preservationists in a long and heated fight, another court hearing is set for February 15.