Posts tagged with "Philip Johnson":

Placeholder Alt Text

Michael Graves, Steven Holl Named Academicians of the National Academy

  On June 28th, the academicians of the National Academy welcomed 23 newly elected members, recognized for their contribution to American art and architecture. This year, the nominees included artists working in video, photography, and installation, further reinforcing the National Academy’s mission of promoting art across America.  The roster of over 2,000 academicians includes famous pioneers of early American art such as Thomas Cole and seminal architects such as Philip Johnson. This year's inductees include visual artists such as Cindy Sherman and Bruce Nauman and architects Steven Holl and Michael Graves. Chosen annually by their peers, the elected members contributed representative work to the Academy’s permanent collection of over 7,000 artworks, architectural drawings, photographs, and models.
Placeholder Alt Text

Kamin: Humana Resurrecta

Blair Kamin seems to have joined the reconsider PoMo chorus, stating in his Sunday column that the movement “deserves a more sophisticated reappraisal.” The focus of the Tribune tribute was Michael Graves’s Humana building in Louisville, Kentucky.  By drawing comparisons to Johnson’s AT&T building in its unabashed commercialism and to Kohn Pedersen Fox’s 333 Wacker Drive for its national significance, Kamin writes that “Graves crafted a tower that could only have been built in Louisville.” The reassessment comes on the heel of Graves receiving the Richard H. Driehaus Prize for classical and traditional architecture in Chicago last month, which in turn came after last fall's PoMo Conference at New York’s Institute for Classical Architecture and Art. Seems that the classicists are going gaga for PoMo.
Placeholder Alt Text

Glass House: New Play Explores Fascistic Modernism

The Center for Architecture seems to be on a lively arts kick of late. After presenting Architect, the chamber opera about Louis Kahn just a couple of weeks ago, last Friday the Center staged a reading of Glass House, a new play by Bob Morris and produced by the Center’s Cynthia Kracauer. The show employs a premise that sounds like the start of an ethnic joke: an Arab and his Jewish wife move next door to a WASP and his black wife in an exclusive Connecticut enclave… In the play, Anthony (Fajar Al-Kaisi), an Arab architect pretending to be of an undetermined ethnic origin, moves into his dream house from New York City with his uber-liberal Jewish wife, Abby (Rachel Feldman). Next door lives Tad (Joe Pallister), an establishment WASP, with his African American wife, Jane (Kim Howard), a Fox News aficionado whom Abby calls “the love child of Clarence Thomas and Condolezza Rice.” Anthony is obsessed with early to mid-twentieth century design and fulfills his dream by moving into a Philip Johnson-inspired glass house. Her husband's exacting anal-retentive design aesthetic slowly becomes the bane of Abby’s existence, as do conflicts presented by her new neighbors. What on first glance might threaten to be a production filled with insidery design jargon, turns out to be a rather commercial endeavor with an unmistakable Broadway-striving sheen. The play’s clipped pace and pithy one-liners are as polished and accessible as this season’s hit Other Desert Cities. In the manner that Desert Cities handles politics via a family drama, Glass House handles architecture via neighborhood conflict. As it turns out, Morris was inspired by the work of Desert Cities author Jon Robin Baitz, who once told him that “all theater has a lie at its core.” The play separates several scenes with direct quotations from architects that support the same notion in architecture, as in Frank Lloyd Wright's comment, "The American house is a lie." Here, the lie sits within a glass house. In a phone interview, the playwright described the work as a “boulevard comedy,” a term used to describe a brisk, topical piece. He pointed to Yasmina Reza’s 1995 play Art as one example. Here the topic in question is architecture and all the tics that its practitioners bring to their everyday lives. As Morris is married to a design-obsessive, the play speaks with a certain level of authority. “With mid-century modernism everything is so carefully considered that it becomes a conflict,” said Morris. He even wove a few personal anecdotes drawn directly from scenes at home, particularly an amusing segment where Anthony perfectly repacks Abby’s haphazardly arranged dishwasher. In real life, Morris’s partner told him, “It hurts my feelings when you don’t load the dishwasher properly.” But behind the couple’s “Modernist mailbox” and “Bauhaus bird-feeder,” rests a larger drama of secrets and lies between Abby and Anthony, which a nosy Jane strives to uncover. Anthony’s lie protects his business and social standing in a post-9/11 America. By exposing the lie the play dissects conservative mores of suburban New York while laying bare prejudices hidden within middle-class urban liberalism. While minorities Anthony and Jane guffaw at ethnic jokes, Tad and Abby react stone-faced. But later, Tad admits to enjoying the comfort of an unaltered tuna salad at the town’s clubhouse which excludes Abby and Anthony, and Abby admits to not wanting to pass by black teens on her way into a local shop. “Despite her good intentions her comfort zone doesn’t want to include a bunch of black kids hanging out in front of the deli,” said Morris. Morris, who owns a clean lined house in Bellport, Long Island, said that suburban “strongholds of historic charm” fight to maintain a way of life through appearances.  “I think that’s where architecture fails,” he said. “It calms or titillates, but that’s not the form that these darkest emotional thoughts take.” For all the glory of Johnson’s glass house, the playwright reminds the audience that Johnson rarely spent the night there, preferring a windowless abode elsewhere on the compound. In a not so subtle manner, the author equates Johnson’s well documented Nazi sympathies of his early years to modernism itself:  “When you have an extreme interest in how things should be to be beautiful, there’s an element of fascism to it, and that can transfer to a home when dishes need to be loaded properly.”  
Placeholder Alt Text

Quick Clicks> Prairie Preserved, Library Voyeur, Mapping Riots, & a Culver City Compromise

Prairie Hotel. After a 2-year, $18 million renovation, Frank Lloyd Wright's last standing hotel has reopened in Mason City, Iowa. The Historic Park Inn Hotel is a premier example of the Wright's Prairie style, and features deep hanging eaves and a terra-cotta façade. A massive art-glass skylight drenches the lobby in multi-colored light. More at ArtInfo. Library of Glass. Although Philip Johnson's Glass House library is transparent, Birch Books Conservation will soon offer the public a view the architect’s library without a trip to New Canaan. The non-profit publisher hopes “to preserve the professional libraries of artists, architects, authors, and important public figures through publishing photographic and written research,” with an inside look at Johnson’s personal collection, reported Unbeige. Mapping Poverty and Rebellion. The Guardian opened up the recent London riots for debate. Journalist Matt Stiles mapped the newspaper’s accumulated data of riot hot spots on a plan of London’s neighborhoods. Deep red stands for the British capital’s poorest regions, while blue represents the wealthiest communities. Metro In-The-Middle. The long-awaited Culver City Expo Line station was delayed by a disagreement between Culver City and construction authorities. Now, the two parties have agreed to the $7 million budget increase, which will fund a pedestrian plaza, bike lanes, parking facilities and pavement improvements. More at Curbed LA.
Placeholder Alt Text

Philip Johnson’s Peace Chapel: Radius Track

Fabrikator Brought to you by:

Realizing the architect's final project using advanced fabrication techniques Johnson may have never known.

Philip Johnson completed the design for the Interfaith Peace Chapel in Dallas just before his death in 2005. Working with Johnson’s firm Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects and architect of record Cunningham Architects, the Cathedral of Hope, United Church of Christ and non-profit social advocacy group Hope for Peace & Justice moved forward with the building. Completed late last year, the chapel is a monument to the congregation’s pluralistic worldview and acceptance of all religions. Its smooth, curving walls are central to Johnson’s goal of creating a cave-like sanctuary that is far removed from the site’s banal location near the runways of Dallas Love Field Airport. The project team hired cold-formed steel framing fabricator Radius Track to help realize the design.
  • Fabricator Radius Track
  • Architects Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects, Cunningham Architects
  • Location Dallas, Texas
  • Status Complete
  • Material Cold-formed steel studs
  • Process Custom curved wall framing
As a contributor to projects including Frank Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and Grimshaw’s Experimental Media & Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute outside Troy, New York, Radius Track are experts at framing large curved surfaces. Construction of the Peace Chapel began with structural engineer Thornton Tomasetti’s structural steel 3-D Tekla BIM model, which defined the asymmetrical geometry of the chapel’s approximately 3-foot-thick interior and exterior walls—the design is free of any parallel lines or right angles. Cunningham Architects converted that model into a Rhino 3-D model that contained all of the finished surfaces in addition to the structural steel details. Radius Track used that model to create its cold-formed steel framing details while identifying any conflicts between the structural and cold-formed steel systems. The team was also faced with the challenge of meeting the high wind load requirements of the tornado-prone Dallas area. Because the framing system needed to be strong but flexible enough to handle the chapel’s curves, Radius Track created twin structures to frame interior and exterior walls, using 3 5/8-inch 33-mil studs and track for the interior walls and 6-inch 54-mil studs and track for the exterior walls. The company’s CEO, architect Chuck Mears, added strength and saved time and material costs by designing a system that attaches both walls to the structural steel using a single horizontal clip. The construction also allowed consulting engineer THHinc to use only one support header in each window or door opening, saving the cost of creating additional curved header shapes. Radius Track fabricated all of the project’s steel studs in its Minneapolis shop. Clad in a skin of cement plaster supported by metal sheathing, the 8,000-square-foot, 175-seat chapel is 46 feet tall and 106 feet wide, creating the cornerstone of the Cathedral of Hope’s campus, which is home to one of the country’s largest gay and lesbian congregations. Johnson also designed a nearby bell tower, completed in 2000, but his plans for a grand cathedral adjacent to the chapel remain unbuilt.
Placeholder Alt Text

Johnson′s Glass House: the Anti-McMansion?

Philip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan, CT clocks in at under 2,000 square feet--tiny compared to the McMansions being built just a stone's throw away. The transparent house is widely known as one of the earliest and most influential modernist homes in the United States, but its size is also a lesson in sustainable living. Hilary Lewis, the Philip Johnson Scholar at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, recently hosted a conversation discussing how architects and designers can reshape public perception and build homes that are luxurious but small, like the Glass House. Lewis, who worked with Johnson for over twelve years and recorded his memoirs, noted that the house utilized interesting materials in unexpected places, from the brick floor and fireplace to the leather ceiling in the bathroom. The house also took full advantage of the surrounding 50 acres, said Lewis, who explained: "Johnson and David Whitney worked assiduously, removing trees and planting. It was a constant effort to carve a more interesting landscape. Johnson used to refer to this building as a permanent camping trip -- one with very expensive wallpaper." The talk was the first of a new weekly series called "Conversations in Context," in which special guests lead visitors on an intimate tour of the property. The program was inspired by the Glass House's legacy as a salon where Johnson and his partner David Whitney hosted conversations with the movers and shakers in art, architecture, and design. This week Lewis is also hosting an online conversation about how architects and designers can downsize the idea of luxurious living; go to the Glass House Conversations website to contribute your two cents!
Placeholder Alt Text

Quick Clicks> Hi-Def Paris, Subway Songs, Biosphere 2, and Starchitect Pigs

La Vie Gigapixel. It's Paris like you've never seen it -- even if you have been there. A super-high-def 26-gigapixel photo of the city of lights (yep, that's 26 billion pixels) was stitched together by a team of photographers and a software company in France. Go ahead, pull up the full screen view and wander away the afternoon. We won't tell. (Via Notcot.) Metro Music. When Jason Mendelson moved from Tampa to Washington, D.C., the city's subway literally moved him to song. NRDC Switchboard says that he's creating a tune for every Metro stop across the system, each stylistically indicative of the station itself. Listen to his completed songs over here. Biosphere 2 at 20. Not often do we design entire mini-worlds, but then, Biosphere 2 was always unique. Now two decades old, the three-acre terrarium-in-a-desert is still helping scientists figure out life's little lessons. The AP/Yahoo News has the story. Scraps, Glass, and Stone. Curbed found a new book by Steven Guarnaccia transforming the classic Three Little Pigs story into three little starchitect pigs where Frank Gehry, Philip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright each build houses and the big bad wolf huffs and puffs (and critiques?) the walls down. (Guarnaccia also reimagined Goldilocks into a tale filled with chairs by Aalto, Eames, and Noguchi!)
Placeholder Alt Text

QUICK CLICKS> Maps, Lots, Pavilion, Theater, Unplugged

Aspirational Geographic. A recent trip to Appalachia didn't satiate photographer John Mann's wanderlust. He continued his travels via cutting and sculpting maps into three dimensional forms then photographing them through a narrow depth of field. Design Observer runs the nifty slide show. Priority Parking. Developers of Philly's 1 million square foot Pennsylvania Convention Center touted their greenness by providing minimal  parking; the argument was it would encourage the use of public transportation. Now PlanPhilly says the city council has approved a 530-space garage to rise across the street. So much for synergy. Just north in Newark, they're having the opposite problem: they want to lose parking lots. Newark's Star-Ledger reports that March Madness at the Prudential Center won't hide downtown's glum outlook: nine parking lots surrounding the arena are still awaiting development. D.C. Detail. WSJ Magazine explores the oft-overlooked Philip Johnson Pavilion at Dumbarton Oaks where the curvaceous facade slinks knowingly beside the Beatrix Farrand-designed gardens. Parisian Pulse. Théâtre de la Gaîté Lyrique ain't your everyday gallery-cum-theater space. The Guardian writes that this "theater for the digital arts" has given its stately old facade a swank makeover aimed at the 15 to 35-year old theater goer. Sustainable Sound. WBUR spotlights a Boston band that found a way to make music that's off-the-charts and off-the-grid. Generators hooked up to human-propelled bike peddles provide energy for electric guitars, plus a very John Cage-ish backdrop to the music making.
Placeholder Alt Text

Hefty Bill for AT&T

In April, a seven foot tall presentation drawing of the AT&T building was purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for $71,000, one of the highest prices ever paid for a "modern architectural drawing," according to a release. The Philip Johnson drawing was sold through the Wright auction house in Chicago, which has become a specialist in selling architectural materials. The V&A will show the piece in an upcoming exhibition on postmodernism. It is one of only a handful of works by an American in the museum's 35,000 piece architecture collection. The building is famous for its "Chippendale" top, which, when it opened in 1984, signaled the ascendency of postmodernism and the return of historical styles and classical references to the architectural vocabulary. The drawing is part of a larger archive of Johnson's work, which includes thousands of drawings, plans, and photographs of AT&T, Pennzoil Place, PPG Place, and the Chrystal Cathedral. The owner of the archive wishes to remain anonymous, according to the release.
Placeholder Alt Text

Eavesdrop MW 03

CROWNING PORKOPOLIS

What’s the cliché? You can dress up a pig but it’s still a pig? I can’t remember. Some terrible former governor, who will not be named, used the line a lot. Anyway! The Great American Tower, the newest addition to Cincinnati’s skyline, was recently topped off with a giant tiara inspired by Diana, Princess of Wales. The glitzy tower could be the ugliest building in the Midwest. It’s a toss-up as to whether the Royal Family will add this to its rather lengthy list of regal embarrassments—oh Fergie!—or delight in the ghastly tribute. After all, the tower will be the tallest in the city, surpassing the Carew Tower, which reigned supreme since 1930 with its beautiful art deco interiors. The tiara’s (and building’s) design cred go to Gyo Obata, the “O” of HOK. Eavesdrop wonders why Gyo did not look to local royalty, like former mayor Jerry Springer. A skyscraper inspired by guests throwing chairs at one another could be interesting!

PARTY IN THE POMO PHIL-JO LIBRARY

Shannon Stratton, executive director of threewalls, the contemporary art incubator and gallery, kindly invited Eavesdrop to their annual party and silent auction being held in Philip Johnson’s postmodern office building 190 South LaSalle. The so-strange-it-was-fab event, themed “Office Romance,” took place in the Library, a nutso 40th-floor Cambridge-inspired law library and event space whose stacks are overlit with 80s-tastic green fluorescent bulbs. Among the guests donning faux-cigarettes befitting the Mad Men-meets-Bret Easton Ellis vibe, Eavesdrop stumbled into architects Dirk Denison and David Harris Salkin (a graduate of Tulane’s School of Architecture and URBANbuild). We were grateful for the company, but perhaps we got too comfortable and had one too many Manhattans. The silent art auction was suddenly irresistible, and brought out a competitiveness in Eavesdrop previously only seen during rounds of mini-golf. We walked away with a large-format photograph by the Swiss-born artist Selina Trepp. Shannon, you can send a thank-you note to Eavesdrop, c/o AN.

Send thank-you notes, castle moats, and old billy goats to midwesteavesdrop@archpaper.com.

Placeholder Alt Text

To Every Season

Wednesday night the Guggenheim held a benefit dinner to honor the fiftieth anniversaries of the Wright museum and of the Four Seasons restaurant. During dessert Guggenheim Director Richard Armstrong interviewed Phyllis Lambert and critic Martin Filler about the two architects, though Lambert held sway for most of the conversation. Lambert was delightfully off the cuff throughout her remarks. When asked about meeting Wright, Lambert, she replied that she and Philip Johnson thought Wright was “from another century,” apparently a reference to Johnson’s banishment of Wright to the hall outside the famed International Style show. She was complimentary about Wright’s building for the way in which it breaks up the street wall of Fifth Avenue, an urban transformation simultaneous with creation of the Seagram Plaza on Park Avenue. Filler cited the great metaphor-maker Vincent Scully’s characterization of the Wright building as a primitive drum in the heart of Manhattan, and praised the building for being as relevant today as it was when it opened fifty years ago. Talk of Mies and Johnson, however, dominated the conversation. At one point, Filler said that Johnson could be more Miesian than Mies, citing the Four Seasons interior as an example. Lambert disagreed, saying that the interior was all Johnson and that Mies would have created an entirely different restaurant had he been in charge. Lambert’s I-was-there certainty was difficult for Filler to refute. Also in attendance were Four Seasons restoration architect Belmont Freeman, Architectural Record’s woman about town Suzanne Stevens, Winka Dubbeldam, Michael Bell, Bernard Tschumi, Peter Eisenman and Cynthia Davidson, Michael Gabellini, Gisue Hariri, and Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi.
Placeholder Alt Text

Eavesdrop NY 12

No Room at the In Place? Eavesdrop was thrilled by a friend’s “plus one” at the June 11 gala celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building. We all know Mies and Philip’s icon, so we’ll skip the background and move on to name-dropping. The 800-person guest list was so diverse we concluded that it must have been gleaned from the reservations book. The hosts, building owner Aby Rosen and wife Samantha Boardman and restaurateurs Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder, greeted the multitude, which included David Dinkins, Ray Kelly, Star Jones, Fern Mallis, Henry Kissinger, Barry Diller, George Wayne, Michael Gross, Thom Brown, Salman Rushdie, Jay McInerney, Michael Ovitz, a couple of Nederlanders, several mannequins, and generations of age-free socialites. Okay, so with representatives from every walk of life from the sacred to the profane, where were the architectural luminaries? Where was Phyllis Lambert, whose vision and perseverance are the sole reasons New York’s most storied interior even exists? Well, there was one bold-face architect in the crush of swells: Belmont “Monty” Freeman held court in the Grill Room, answering questions about overseeing the restaurant’s renovation, which is to begin next month. Lambert handpicked Freeman because she’s known him for many years and had admired his respectful and meticulous renovation of the Zilkha Gallery at Wesleyan University, designed by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo in 1970. So where was Phyllis? It turns out that the New York party was the same night as the annual Canadian Centre for Architecture ball. As the founder and director, Lambert had to host her own event—and send her Four Seasons regrets. The Scarano Files Perhaps more than any other New York architect, Robert Scarano has come to symbolize the five-borough building boom. Known to many for taking advantage of a loophole in the city’s self-certification program—resulting in a number of over-built projects—Scarano recently sat down for an interview with The Brooklyn Paper. Where’d he find the time? The developer’s darling admits to being out of work, after logging roughly 600 projects a year during what still seems like just yesterday. Among other things, Scarano was not surprised to see Frank Gehry depart Atlantic Yards—his “shelf life was up.” Scarano likes SOM’s Toren but not Ismael Leyva’s Oro, while being torn about Enrique Norten, whose BAM arts center “would have been a good project” but whose Park Slope apartment complex “is as non-contextual as you get.” If work dries up for good, he should try his hand at criticism. Send martinis and twizzle stix to shart@archpaper.com A version of this article appeared in AN 12_07.08.2009.