Gavin Stamp, the English architecture historian, died on December 30, 2017 at 69. His Ph.D dissertation at Cambridge was a re-assessment of the career of George Gilbert Scott and he went on to become the leading spokesperson for British architecture. An architectural activist, he lectured, wrote and issued polemical tracts on preservation and was chairman of the Twentieth Century Society and active in the Victorian Society. An influential proponent for all things British he often appeared as a talking head on television and famously wrote the "Nooks & Corners" architecture criticism column in Private Eye under the pseudonym Piloti. Stamp was an influential lecturer at many schools in the U.K., especially the Mackintosh School of Architecture at the Glasgow School of Art from 1990 to 2003, where he lived in a restored 1861 classical house designed by Glaswegian Alexander Thompson. Stamp never worried about being out of step with his times and kept fervently focused on the past, particularly on those aspects that were influential to the present or were no longer thought to be of importance. His authored books include: Edwin Lutyens: Country Houses (2001), Telephone Boxes (1989), The Changing Metropolis: Earliest Photographs of London 1839–1879 (1984), Temples of Power: Architecture of Electricity in London (1979) and lastly, Gothic in the Steam Age (2015).
Posts tagged with "Obit":
John C. Portman Jr., the Atlanta architect and developer has died at 93. The Georgia Tech–trained architect is credited with developing large downtown projects that revolved around the concept of the the atrium, which he turned into large and dramatic enclosed open spaces surrounded by multiple balconies, hundreds of rooms and capsule elevators rushing vertically from base to upper floors. Portman—who often developed and partially owned his projects—thought of these megastructures as new downtowns and they were often built in old downtowns that had been decimated by urban renewal and middle class fight. These buildings were often criticized by theorists like William H. Whyte, Mike Davis, Frederic Jameson and others for their lack of context with the historic city, especially the street. However, later in life Portman received praise from multiple sources including Herbert Muschamp, Paul Goldberger and Rem Koolhaas, who praised his work as “a hybrid” of styles and urban relationships. In 2010 Portman’s career was featured at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale and more recently, Harvard Dean Moshen Mostafavi used his designs in a GSD studio, sponsored by Portman, to think of “a new architecture, but one with a lineage.” Portman’s first large important project was for the Merchandise Mart (now AmericasMart) in his hometown of Atlanta in 1961 and this led to his design for the nearby multi-block Peachtree Center in 1965 where he maintained his office. His development firm created the multi-block complex at San Francisco's Embarcadero Center, the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles 1976, the New York Marriott Marquis in 1985, and the Renaissance Center in Detroit in 1977, whose central tower remained the tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere until 2013. The Shanghai Centre (1990) was the first of many major projects in China and elsewhere in Asia. Look for a longer appreciation of Portman’s life and career in the next Architect's Newspaper print edition.
Sad news in San Diego. Local architect Graham Downes, 55, was killed after being assaulted by one of his employees outside of his home last Friday morning, reports NBC San Diego. Downes, founder of Graham Downes Architecture, had practiced in the city for over 20 years. Local police found him unconscious in front of his house, in the Bankers Hill neighborhood, on Friday morning. Higinio Soriano Salgado, 31, was arrested and booked on attempted murder charges. “It’s devastating. It’s difficult to imagine what tomorrow will be like, but we have to take care of tomorrow,” Alex Veen, CFO of Blokhaus, a collection of companies to which Graham Downe Architects belongs, told NBC San Diego. Downes specialized in luxury hospitality, office, and retail design. He was working on, among other projects, the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, the Palomar Hotel, Hotel La Jolla, Nico's Bar, and shops for Charlotte Russe, Quiksilver, and Patagonia.
The visionary architect and artist Paolo Soleri has died. He was best known as the mastermind behind Arcosanti, the ongoing experimental community outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Arcosanti, which has been under construction for more than 40 years, embodies Soleri's idea of an architecture merged with the environment. More than 7,000 architecture students have worked on Arcosanti, and more than 50,000 people visit the site every year. Though Soleri has been viewed as an almost mystical outlier in architecture, many of the design principles of Arcosanti mirror contemporary thinking in architecture and planning, including walkability, high density, diversity of uses, urban agriculture, and use of embodied energy. In addition to Arcosanti, Soleri designed buildings in Italy, New Mexico, and several sites across Arizona. According to the Cosanti Foundation, Soleri will be buried at Arcosanti following a private service. A public service will be held later this year.
A sad but touching note today from Steven Holl informed us that Yukio Futagawa, the founder and impresario of GA Architecture magazine, passed away in Japan on March 5, 2013. Futagawa was 80 years old and was best known as the founder and director of GA Architecture Publishing Group. GA is recognized for seeking out the world's best architects and projects and presenting them in elegant and intelligent formats (GA Houses, GA Documents) that crossed magazines with book publishing. It is understandable that GA would be such a powerful and distinguished publishing house since Futagawa was a much respected architectural photographer and, as Holl writes, "a cultural force for fine architecture globally [who] understood that we must think beyond the provincial beyond the national." GA will continue to operate under the new leadership of Yukio's son Yoshio. The family held a private funeral service for Futagawa in Japan on March 10, but if you are in Beijing, Holl will hold a tribute toast for him at the Opposite House Penthouse on March 17 from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.
AN contributor Guy Horton remembers California icon Huell Howser, who passed away on January 7. I once emailed Huell Howser about an idea I had for an episode of “California’s Gold,” his much-loved public television show that for nineteen years took him and viewers all over the state. He even did fifteen shows devoted to Downtown LA, its communities, history, and architecture. I knew he would get it. I wanted him to come take a look at a crazy robot a friend of mine was running in a warehouse down in Westminster. After all, I thought, he liked the Zamboni so much, plus other curious things like kelp, old western towns, and the Sacramento Delta. A couple weeks later, there was a message in my inbox. I assumed it would be a curt rejection from one of his people, but it turned out to be directly from him. How do I know? Because it was written the way he talked to the TV audience about California: with genuine, non-ironic enthusiasm. He thanked me for sharing and said he would look into it. He signed off, “The adventure continues.” That was the last I heard from him. I didn’t write back. I had made contact with Huell! Back when I still had TV, “California’s Gold” was my extremely un-edgy guilty pleasure. When it came to the Web, the adventure indeed continued. I had moved to California in 1976 and always considered myself somewhat of a permanent tourist, unable to proudly (and pompously) display one of those “Native” bumper stickers as I sit in traffic. I related to Huell’s point of view. He came from Tennessee. I came from another state with double letters: Massachusetts. We both had accents…sort of. Apparently, I wasn’t the only viewer who identified with Huell’s sense of adventure and curiosity. Huell took us outside and showed us the communities that reside on, and sometimes off, the grid of the Golden State. When you walk through the built environment with Huell in this way you are reminded ever so gently of the importance of creating true places. To see the first-ever episode of California's Gold (1977), click here. To contribute to Chapman University's California's Gold scholarship click here.
The legendary architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable has died at 91. Winner of the first Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, Huxtable served at architecture critic for the New York Times and was also a contributor of numerous editorials about the city's built environment. She later served as architecture critic for the Wall Street Journal, where she most recently wrote a scathing critique of the proposed renovation of the New York Public Library by Foster + Partners ("You don't 'update' a masterpiece. 'Modernization' may be the most dangerously misused word in the English language."). Known for the crystalline clarity of her arguments and the cutting precision of her words, Huxtable was unmatched in her lifetime as an architecture critic. She made the city and its architects better. Julie V. Iovine has penned a full remembrance that will run in the next print edition of AN.
Lenore Norman, a pioneer of historic preservation, died at 83 years old in her home on the Upper West Side on December 21st. She spent over 4 decades working tirelessly to preserve some of New York's most iconic buildings and historic districts. Ms. Norman first stepped into her role as the executive director of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in the mid-1970s—a time when the idea of landmark preservation was fairly new and unpopular among some New Yorkers. "The whole idea of preservation was not something that people really understood, and of course, all of the larger institutions and buildings, for the most part, fought it," said Ms. Norman in an interview for The New York Preservation Archive Project. The New York Times described Ms. Norman as someone who was influential, but "did her work behind the scenes" and "was content to let the commissioners, developers, advocates and lobbyists occupy center stage." During her tenure as executive director, she played a critical role in designating a number of significant landmarks including Grand Central, St. Bartholomew's, the neo-gothic-style Woolworth Building by Cass Gilbert, and the Villard Houses by McKim, Mead & White. Her approach with the real estate industry was collaborative, even when discussions grew contentious: "We always try to compromise, to find a way where we could co-exist," said Ms. Norman. Ms. Norman left the Landmarks Preservation Commission in the early 1980s and took a position as the director of intergovernmental affairs at the city's Department of Buildings. In her later life, she served as the co-chairwoman of the preservation committee of Community Board 7 on the Upper West Side—the very neighborhood she lived in and helped designate as an historic district when she worked at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. While a preservationist by profession, she didn't see development as a black and white issue. She understood the need to balance the city's growth with its architectural history. "I want to live in a city that has diversity but I also want it to be reminiscent of what it was like years ago," Ms. Norman said in the interview. "The city has to change, it won't grow if it doesn't, and don't misunderstand, but I don't believe that we are rooted in tradition to the point where nothing new can be built or there can be no modifications to accommodate life as it is today, I think in general, there are verboten areas that we shouldn't be going into."
Alex Moulton, 92, died on December 9th at his home in Bath, England. His New York Times obituary on December 20th didn't mention that he designed an object loved by the entire architecture profession. Moulton an automotive engineer and entrepreneur designed, built, and manufactured the Moulton foldable, collapsable mini bicycle. The bicycle was made famous-at least to architect's by Reyner Banham who commuted daily on his Moulton F-frame and famously used a photographed on his mini for his books dust jacket. The prototype for Moulton was designed and built in 1959 and according to the Times, "immediately took hold in 1960s Britain, where, because of the their quirkiness and convenience," they became seen as a fashionable minibike, as the Moulton company says on its website "to go with mini skirts and mini cars." Just the thing for an architecture historian to fold up in their Bedford square office. The bicycle, the Times wrote, "was known was for its small 16 inch wheels, high pressure tires, front and rear rubber suspension system and a step through frame. But Banham who wrote a 1960 article on the bicycle "A Grid on Two Farthings" more brilliantly described its compelling design arguing against the notion “that the centuries have given a final shape, perfect beyond improvement, to certain basic tools such as the hammer and the oar, that generations of trial and error have produced working forms almost indistinguishable from platonic absolutes” including the diamond frame bicycle which had presumably “already achieved its ultimate norm or form around 1900.” Since the Moulton, Banham writes, “bicycle thinking can never be the same again, and there can be no more nonsense about permanent and definitive forms, for even the Moulton is capable of improvement.”
Architect, teacher, and critic Alan Colquhoun has died aged 91. Alan Colquhoun, 1921-2012, emeritus professor of architecture at Princeton University passed way yesterday in his Primrose Hill home in London. Colquhoun was a rigorous critic, writer, and intellectual and influenced several generations of students at Princeton and through his writings which include: The Oxford History of Modern Architecture, the seminal Essays in Architectural Criticism, and Modernity and the Classical Tradition. The Dutch journal; OASE recently published an edition devoted to his writings and teachings. AN will publish a full obituary in our next print edition.
Famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer died on Wednesday at the age of 104, just days before his 105th birthday. He had recently been hospitalized in Rio de Janeiro, fighting pneumonia and kidney failure. After nine decades designing, the architect couldn't put aside his work and continued on projects during his hospitalization. Niemeyer's illustrious career has spanned continents and centuries, and included many of the world's best known buildings from the capital of Brazil at Brasilia and the United Nations Secretariat in New York to the Edifício Copan in São Paulo and the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Rio. His signature style of flowing curves, modern lines, and futuristic forms are instantly recognizable and have helped to shape the course of Modernism over the course of the 20th century. Many of his winding and seemingly gravity-defying buildings were executed in concrete, bringing a new softness to the material. He was awarded the Pritzker Price in 1988 for his soaring and light-filled design of the Brasilia Cathedral. "He was an inspiration to me – and to a generation of architects," Lord Norman Foster remembered, lamenting the loss of an architectural legend. "For architects schooled in the mainstream Modern Movement, he stood accepted wisdom on its head. Inverting the familiar dictum that ‘form follows function’, Niemeyer demonstrated instead that, ‘When a form creates beauty it becomes functional and therefore fundamental in architecture’." Norman Foster's full tribute to Oscar Niemeyer: I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Oscar Niemeyer. He was an inspiration to me – and to a generation of architects. Few people get to meet their heroes and I am grateful to have had the chance to spend time with him in Rio last year. For architects schooled in the mainstream Modern Movement, he stood accepted wisdom on its head. Inverting the familiar dictum that ‘form follows function’, Niemeyer demonstrated instead that, ‘When a form creates beauty it becomes functional and therefore fundamental in architecture’. It is said that when the pioneering Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin visited Brasilia he likened the experience to landing on a different planet. Many people seeing Niemeyer’s city for the first time must have felt the same way. It was daring, sculptural, colourful and free - and like nothing else that had gone before. Few architects in recent history have been able to summon such a vibrant vocabulary and structure it into such a brilliantly communicative and seductive tectonic language. One cannot contemplate Brasilia’s crown-like cathedral, for example, without being thrilled both by its formal dynamism and its structural economy, which combine to engender a sense almost of weightlessness from within, as the enclosure appears to dissolve entirely into glass. And what architect can resist trying to work out how the tapering, bone-like concrete columns of the Alvorada Palace are able to touch the ground so lightly. Brasilia is not simply designed, it is choreographed; each of its fluidly-composed pieces seems to stand, like a dancer, on its points frozen in a moment of absolute balance. But what I most enjoy in his work is that even the individual building is very much about the public promenade, the public dimension. As a student in the early 1960s, I looked to Niemeyer’s work for stimulation; poring over the drawings of each new project. Fifty years later his work still has the power to startle us. His contemporary Art Museum at Niteroi is exemplary in this regard. Standing on its rocky promontory like some exotic plant form, it shatters convention by juxtaposing art with a panoramic view of Rio harbour. It is as if - in his mind - he had dashed the conventional gallery box on the rocks below, and challenged us to view art and nature as equals. I have walked the Museum’s ramps. They are almost like a dance in space, inviting you to see the building from many different viewpoints before you actually enter. I found it absolutely magic.
Noted author and critic Jane Holtz Kay passed away November 5 at the age of 74 from complications of Alzheimer's disease. Her book Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took Over America and How We Can Take It Back propelled her into the national spotlight as she chronicled the affects of cars on the American landscape. Jane Jacobs remarked about the book, “Jane Holtz Kay’s book has given us a profound way of seeing the automobile’s ruinous impact on American life." She had been working on a sequel to Asphalt Nation, documenting climate change and global warming, called Last Chance Landscape. Holtz Kay was also architecture critic for The Nation and formerly for the Boston Globe. She is survived by her sister, Ellen Goodman, daughters, Julie Kay and Jacqueline Cessou, and four grandchildren. The staff at The Architect’s Newspaper sends our condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues.