Carl Laubin, a British-American architect turned full-time painter, has dedicated the last three decades of his professional career to the painting of architectural capricci, bucolic landscapes and portraiture. An architectural capriccio encompasses the imagined assembly of buildings across fantastic landscapes. Laubin’s choice of subject matter jumps between historical periods. What seemed chronological at first: Andrea Palladio, followed by Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor, jumped to Neo-Classicists Claude-Nicholas Ledoux, Charles Cockerell, and Leo von Klenze, then to Edwin Lutyens, with Post-Modernist John Outram and Leon Krier thrown into the mix. Currently, Laubin is working on a capriccio of John Nash’s work. On average, these capricci require one-and-a-half to three years to complete, depending on how prolific the subject was, with time split evenly between the drawing and painting periods. Although the bulk of Laubin’s capricci focus on the work of historic designers, he has produced paintings that combine a multitude of contemporary architects. A Classical Perspective comprises architectural pieces designed by the winners of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture’s Richard H. Driehaus Prize. Beginning with the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in the foreground, the oil painting collages notable works by Robert A.M Stern, Demetri Porphyrios, Michael Graves, Abed-Wahed El-Wakil and Quinlan Terry, to name a few. Educated at Cornell University, Laubin describes his early painting as “a second, secretive life,” one conducted outside of Cornell’s then-rigid modernist education. Laubin graduated from Cornell with a B.A of Architecture in 1973, and subsequently decamped to England to join Douglas Stephen and Partners, Architects and Civic Designers (1973-1983) and later Jeremy Dixon/BDP (1984-1986). While working as an architect, Laubin painted in secret, waking at dawn to hone his craft before going to work. Seeing as how the production of capricci is a centuries-long tradition, Laubin cites a number of artists as influencing his style. To Laubin, Piranesi “was and remains an example of how to be liberated from the constraints of reality in creating an imagined world in a drawing or painting, and even how to be liberated from the constraints of drawing itself.” Canaletto’s grand paintings of Venice and London are firmly behind Laubin’s composition of urban scenes populated with bustling denizens. In his fantastical characteristics, the phantasmagoric visions of Joseph Gandy are plainly evident. While Laubin insists that there is no clear methodology to his process of creating a capriccio, he has a general approach to each project. The first step is the steady amassing of information on the subject matter. This initial creative moment includes the reading of primary and secondary sources, visiting individual sites, and sketching as much of the architect’s canon as possible. Subsequently, each sketch is collaged and re-collaged until a suitable format is found, representative of an architect’s professional timeline as well as the general hierarchy of their work. In creating the landscapes for his capricci, Laubin follows a recipe for a classical landscape given to him by postmodern architect John Outram. In Outram’s view, one always crossed a river or a bridge into a classical painting, and then ascended through various levels of civilization from cave dwellers, through agrarian societies, to urban areas, and finally places of worship at the highest point. In tandem with this formula, Laubin draws upon the landscapes surrounding individual sites and fuses them into the overarching collage of elements.
Posts tagged with "Richard H. Driehaus Prize":
Architect Robert Adam has been announced as the winner of the 2017 Richard H. Driehaus Prize at the University of Notre Dame. The annual award is given “to honor lifetime contributions to traditional, classical and sustainable architecture and urbanism in the modern world.” Founded in 2003, the prize includes $200,000 and a bronze miniature of the of the Choregic Monument of Lysikrates. Robert Adam, a Rome Scholar, is the founder of ADAM Architecture, as well as of the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture & Urbanism (INTBAU). The organization works to connect those interested in traditional architecture and urbanism. “Throughout his career, Robert Adam has engaged the critical issues of our time, challenging contemporary attitudes toward architecture and urban design. He has written extensively on the tensions between globalism and regionalism as we shape our built environment,” said Michael Lykoudis, Driehaus Prize jury chair and Francis and Kathleen Rooney Dean of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture. “Sustainability is at the foundation of his work, achieved through urbanism and architecture that is respectful of local climate, culture and building customs.” Along with his design practice, Adam has written many publications on classical and historic architecture, including Classical Architecture: A Complete Handbook and Classic Columns: 40 years of writing on architecture. Adam is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an academician at the Academy of Urbanism, and a senior fellow at the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment. In conjunction with the Driehaus Prize, the late James S. Ackerman was announced as the recipient of the Henry Hope Reed Award. The annual Henry Hope Reed Award recognizes those working outside of the practice of architecture who have “supported the cultivation of the traditional city.” “James Ackerman’s immense contributions to contemporary understanding of Renaissance architecture have greatly influenced not only the field of architectural history but the practice of architecture today,” said Richard H. Driehaus, founder, chairman and chief investment officer of Chicago-based Driehaus Capital Management LLC. “His work brought the past to life, allowing generations of architects to learn from the early masters of the craft.” An additional award was also announced to recognized the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU). “We live in an age that often privileges the private realm over the public, and the Congress for the New Urbanism has worked tirelessly to promote the interests of the public realm. Initially through the design of new communities like Seaside, Florida, and later through education outreach that expanded demand for the improvement of established towns and cities,” stated Dean Lykoudis. “For over two decades, CNU has shown how it is possible to meet the needs of diverse communities with a basic set of principles that can be adapted for different cultures and traditions to create vibrant, beautiful places.” This year’s jury included Adele Chatfield-Taylor, president emerita of the American Academy in Rome; Robert Davis, developer and founder of Seaside, Florida; Paul Goldberger, contributing editor at Vanity Fair; Léon Krier, architect and urban planner; and Demetri Porphyrios, principal of Porphyrios Associates. The 15th Driehaus Prize will be presented at a ceremony on March 25th, in Chicago.
Pier Carlo Bontempi and Ruan Yisan accept Driehaus awards for classicist architecture and preservation
Italian architect Pier Carlo Bontempi and Chinese preservationist Ruan Yisan last weekend received the highest honors in the world of classicist design—a school of though that AN previously examined alongside the more widely known Pritzker Prize. The 2014 Richard H. Driehaus Prize went to Bontempi, an architect from Parma, Italy whose work includes a block recovery plan for that city’s historic center, as well as the Place de Toscane and the “Quartier du Lac” resort in Val d’Europe near Paris. In a WTTW documentary made for the occasion of the award, Bontempi likened traditional and classical design to well-made salami and other local delicacies—modernists, Bontempi said, cut through the whole sausage, while those with an eye to the past are more careful in their preparation. He told the crowd gathered at the award ceremony Saturday in Chicago that he considered it a great compliment when a Dutch couple confused one of his buildings with a string of historic structures along the road to Rome, wondering why it wasn’t included in their guide. Administered since 2003 by the school of architecture at the University of Notre Dame, the $200,000 Driehaus Prize “is awarded to a living architect whose work embodies the highest ideals of traditional and classical architecture in contemporary society, and creates a positive cultural, environmental, and artistic impact,” according to its website. Ruan Yisan received the $50,000 Henry Hope Reed Prize, which is “given to an individual working outside the practice of architecture who has supported the cultivation of the traditional city, its architecture and art through writing, planning or promotion.” Yisan, a historic preservationist and professor of architecture at Shanghai’s Tongji University, has helped catalogue and preserve numerous cities and cultural sites around China. He supervised the Yangtze River Water Towns preservation project, and won protection for the Pingjiang Historic District in his native Suzhou—both sites have since landed on UNESCO's World Heritage list. The professor, who turns 80 this year, told the award audience Saturday that the American remittance of funds paid after China's 1900 Boxer Rebellion helped educate a generation of architects and designers who would sustain the nation’s architectural preservation movement through the 20th century. “It’s good karma,” he said through a translator. (Somewhat ironically, American designers and universities are also helping reshape contemporary China in a fashion decidedly more modern than that honored by the Driehaus Awards.)
Thomas H. Beeby, designer of Chicago’s postmodern Harold Washington Library, became the first Chicagoan to accept a Richard H. Driehaus Prize over the weekend. Beeby is one of the “Chicago Seven” (Stanley Tigerman, Larry Booth, Stuart Cohen, Ben Weese, James Ingo Freed, and James L. Nagle round out the group) who split with modernism in one of its key proving grounds during the 1970s. His postmodern historicism relies on representational imagery and ornamentation, which won him high praise from the committee that awards the top prize for traditional and classical architecture. Public buildings used to be monumental, the group lamented Saturday at the Chicago presentation of the award in Marshall and Fox's 1926 John B. Murphy Auditorium. Speeches by the panel repeatedly stuck up for classical forms against what they viewed as the intellectual tyranny of modernism (David Watkin, a British architectural historian who took home Driehaus’ Henry Hope Reed Award Saturday once likened modernism’s defenders to the Taliban in their rigidity). A student of John Hejduk and Colin Rowe during his time at Cornell, Beeby delved into historical forms while at Yale for graduate school. But he said his apprenticeship began in earnest at Chicago’s C.F. Murphy, under Gene Summers. PBS-affiliate WTTW produced a documentary about the Driehaus winner, called The Invisible Hand: Architect Thomas Beeby. You can watch the film here.
One of the “Chicago Seven” architects who broke with the city’s modernist aesthetic during the 1970s and 80s, Thomas H. Beeby, will receive the 2013 Richard H. Driehaus Prize. Considered the traditionalist’s Pritzker Prize, the Driehaus comes with a $200,000 purse and denotes a lifetime of contributions to classicism in contemporary built work. Beeby’s rational design is evident in downtown Chicago’s Harold Washington Library. The design pulls core structural elements towards the outside—“an inversion of Mies,” Beeby said, but also a nod to classical construction—exposing structural columns that serve dual purposes as functional elements and ornamental city landmarks. Amid the building’s red brick and granite blocks, ornamental elements display a blended architectural language that is typical of postmodern design: the Board of Trade’s Ceres appears along with corncob spandrels and seed pods representing the bounty of the Midwest, while the form evokes proto-skyscrapers like the nearby Rookery and Monadnock buildings. As a principal at HBRA Architects, Beeby’s portfolio of built work includes many museums, libraries, university buildings, and other institutional projects. His work on churches has made an impact on the discourse of spiritual architecture. Previous Driehaus laureates include Michael Graves, Robert A.M. Stern, and Rafael Manzano Martos. The foundation also gives out the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Architectural Excellence in Community Design.
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.
The small world of classicist architecture in America--where many former Postmodernists found refuge after the dial of taste turned away from jokey historical references and pasted-on pediments--is working overtime to rehabilitate the 70s and 80s stylistic counter reformation. First was the recent conference, "Reconsidering Postmodernism," organized by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which brought out many of the movement's old stars for presentations, chats, and a lot of hand wringing. Today, the Chicago-based Richard H. Driehaus Foundation announced that Michael Graves was this year's winner of the $200,000 Driehaus Prize. Graves has enjoyed a remarkable career, designing office towers, cultural buildings, and hotels around the world, along with iconic furniture and housewares for Target. His footprint has been vast, and his populist designs appeal to people across global cultures through abstracted historical references that often draw on classical or vernacular forms. Administered by the University of Notre Dame's School of Architecture--itself an outpost of classical architectural education--the Driehaus Prize "honors lifetime contributions to traditional, classical, and sustainable architecture and urbanism in the modern world," according to a statement. Graves is having quite a good couple of weeks. His breakthrough Portland Building was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. “Michael Graves has enhanced not just the architecture profession with his talent and scholarship, but everyday life itself through his inspiring attention to beautiful and accessible design,” said Michael Lykoudis, Driehaus Prize Jury Chair and dean of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, in a statement. The Foundation also announced that Elizabeth Barlow Rogers will receive the $50,000 Henry Hope Reed Prize, which is given "given to an individual working outside the practice of architecture who has supported the cultivation of the traditional city, its architecture and art through writing, planning or promotion." Rogers, currently president of the Foundation for Landscape Studies, served as the administrator of Central Park and was the founder of the Central Park Conservancy, which became a national model for public/private partnerships for restoring open spaces. She is also the author of several books on landscape, including the National Book Award nominated book The Forests and Wetlands of New York City.