Tuesday, July 22, 2008

NSW Awards return to Real and Beautiful

Permanent Camping, Casey Brown Architecture, Small Projects Commendation

By Elizabeth Farrelly
July 21, 2008

You will have noticed how unmistakably a gathering of architects resembles a priestly congregation: fervent, black-clad and concreted into communal faith. It doesn't stop there. Architectural ideas, too, are like religious visions. The having is easy, the words, the drawings, the promises; it's the doing that tests, both the dream and the dreamer.

This is why architectural drawings so often make you feel you're being lied to. Known as pretties, they show a world where plants never need water and humans never need comforting. It's also why awards for real, on-the-ground buildings are the only ones worth feeding, and why the 25-year award can be the most telling of the lot.

In recent years the Australian Institute of Architects' NSW Awards (it dropped the embarrassing Royal earlier in the year) have been patchy at best. This year, though, yielded a bountiful crop and a smart, winnowing jury, chaired by Government Architect Peter Mould and including Sydney councillor John McInerney and architects Peter John Cantrill, Stephen Davies and Tony Chenchow. Their pickings show a strong strain of virtue-rewarded. Not in any prissy, holier-than-thou way, but in a way that tries to reward a genuine syncretism of goodness and beauty.

Reg Lark's Balgowlah House

Full story from The Sydney Morning Herald

MIT Chapel Building, Eero Saarinen-1955

No special occasion. Sometimes you just see a bulding as you are searching something in the web and it reminds you a day from your architecture school days.
Saarinen's MIT Chapel Building is one of those buildings that I remember across the Aalto's dorms. Besides the exclusive ly beautiful details, I remember the Chapel distincly accepting you without your particular religious background and making you feel humbled peacefully under its 30' ceiling. Thanks to Galinsky, I am able to enjoy these fond memory.
Saarinen must well think of Rumi's 13 th Century poem;

Come, come, whoever you are.
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.
- Rumi

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner

Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner

By Eric Chavkin

“You’re from Chicago? I like people from Chicago, they’re honest. LA people, they’re all phonies. Phony as Hollywood” my conversation with John Lautner at his Hollywood Blvd studio.

I always shake my head when I recall this most cinematic of architects dislike of film.

But like a reluctant movie star Big John is having his retrospective, applauded more after his death than when he was alive. Even his funeral was a sad joke with the service for the pantheist Lautner held at a Sunset Boulevard Catholic church presided by a priest he never met. LA’s architectural elite never showed, just scattered friends and gawkers saying goodbye.

The new exhibit has an ‘observatories of nature’ angle and curator Frank Escher is right-on with this one. The overall experience for me was positive, a good exhibit in a bad museum. The good is that the presentation is very specific to how Lautner conceived his work.

Construction Documentation. Chemosphere, Silvertop, Gantvoort

[b][i]Between Earth and Heaven[/i][/b] is not arranged like a book. All of us are savvy enough to know how print photography emphasizes the sculptural aspects of architecture, the gloss. This presentation downplays the standard photo essay format and substitutes process for the pictorial. The process is the transparency of the construction documentation leading to the finished work. Nothing precious here, just hand drawn, mostly messy elevations, plans and lots of detail sheets. This part is mostly for other architects and it was a bit like visual gibberish if you didn’t read blueprints or knew drafting shorthand. I wonder if the mouse jockeys can read them?

More interpretation; My speculation is that the exhibit layout alludes to the architects own office with an imaginary staff of many, maybe an imaginary Taliesin? Both double room exhibits are filled with drafting board mock ups with dozens of concept sketches and as many working drawings taped to surface boards. All that's missing are some scattered metal drafting chairs and a water cooler.

Along side the exhibit boards are period construction and site photos that document the drawings. Many are by Julius Shulman. The laid bare hands-on design approach and his matter-of-fact detailing somehow demystifies Lautner’s unique forms. It makes me feel like 'why didn't I do that'. Its a classroom if anyone wants to take notes.

Dynamic walkabouts: Walstrom, Pearlman, Mauer

Dynamic walkabouts. I am just a camera recording what I see and experience. Lautner’s work, especially the later, residential works are best experienced, not seen. The exhibit features several video walkthroughs that are projected on the walls. At first, the projections are a bit disconcerting, with slow zooms and pans. I felt like I entered a virtual 3D dynamic web page, but this effect fades to the backdrop quickly. I know from my experience that video walkabouts are the best way to capture John dynamics and fluid architectural interiors.

Lautners architecture is very exciting to the eye. The visual flow is not frozen music, but cinematic. His spaces flow like a tracking camera movement and is closest to Kubrick in spirit and feel, texture and exoticness. Maybe that's why so many of his building are in films: The Elrod in [i]Diamonds are Forever[/i], the Chemosphere [i]Body Double[/i], and the Garcia residence in [i]Lethal Weapon 3[/i]. The best part of the Bette Cohen documentary John Lautner: Spirit in Architecture were the filmed walk-throughs of the Arango house in Acapulco.

Vista vision views: Arango, Elrod, Pearlman

Vista vision views. Lautner’s architecture was always about the extension of architecture into nature. He accomplished this with floor to ceiling glass walls and unobstructed views. I suspect he had a pantheistic reverence towards nature. The exhibit presents this concept with photo dioramas of the actual site projected onto the gallery walls. The wide screen vistas visually tell half the story. The building models completes the other half, Sliced in half,at eye-height level, I participated in natures narrative and viewed in miniature the panorama intended. It was easy to understand the reasons why each residence was configured around that orientation. For Mies God is in the details, with Lautner all you have to do is open your eyes.

Later works: psychic ecosystems, symbolic environments

My take is that Big John designed his own psychic ecosystems: a house that is a solar sundial (Elrod 1968), a forest for the trees pavilion that disappears (Pearlman 1957); rock outcrops and waterfalls as interior elements (Wolff 1961). He inverted the 'objects in the landscape' strategy, and made 'landscapes in the object’ within his own metaphoric ecology. His architecture often mediates between the structure and vista. The Arango Acapulco (1973) sundeck bridges the ocean view with broad retaining pool reflecting the blue Mexican coast and sky.

The construction of the Malibu Stevens residence (1968) pairs concrete and glass centenary curves which metaphorically mimic time-frozen waves, ‘suitable’ the architect says for a ‘beach environment’

The exhibit museum book is co-written by Frank Escher. Ironically the publisher Rizzoli is the same one that initially declined Lautner’s own book proposal, describing him as ‘having only a regional interest’. It is the same Frank Escher who convinced the Swiss publisher Artemis to publish Lautner’s first monograph during the architects lifetime. The exhibit runs from July 13 thru October 12.

Lautner has many solar sundial variations in his work but the Elrod is the best. Beneath the open-closed sequence of the dome are huge desert boulders projecting above a floor of polished concrete. The dynamic light-dark “sundial” is a sun worshipers celestial timepiece. There is something cosmic about sun and shadow traversing space in time.

You cant see the forest for the trees. The ultimate and most organic solution to the glass box problem. The trees and pavilion columns visually integrate with each other in counterpoint and parallax.

The Hollywood Hills hugging Wolff residence spirals down- slope squeexing an idealized nature cave, pool and rock grotto into a vertical garden landscape. Lautner said this was his most Wrightian project as requested by the client. I think its better than Wright. It looks carved from an existing cliff formation with water plummeting into a cantilevered pool.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas talks about new trends in architecture and urban development, the end of the European city, the rise of Dubai, Russia and China, the obsession with XXXL and the difference between the people who design buildings for a living and "star architects."

An engaging interview with Rem Koolhaas by Stephan Burgdorff and Bernhard Zand.

A couple of quotes that are thought provoking;

SPIEGEL: The organic European city that we know could soon be a historical memory, a world cultural site?

Koolhaas: Exactly. Though we don't have to bid farewell to the European city -- it's still there. But it simply happens to have served long enough as a standard, as the only model. This is, in a sense, the tragedy of the last 20 years. Because it is so dominant as a standard, because it is so obsessed with contemporary architecture, everything else comes across as negative. We are against China, and we are against Dubai, because all of this isn't European. Perhaps this also describes one of Europe's problems, in a broader sense: We are so strongly influenced by our model that we have trouble thinking in terms of other worlds.

SPIEGEL: Critics of development on the Gulf say it's "all Disneyland."

Koolhaas: In truth, the constant return of this Disney fatwa says more about the stagnation of the West's critical imagination than about the cities on the Gulf. What our office is building is the subject of controversy everywhere, but I have noticed that people who actually live in China or on the Gulf are usually open to our ideas. They happen to be out in the field, and when you're in the field you have a different perspective.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thoughts on Generation Gap via Problem @ the Office

There was this thread of discussion started by an Architect member today. The original poster related a working environment problem in an architect's office, where he is employed and wanted to get some feedback on a tense working relationship issue with an older employee. It quickly turned into a discussion on older and younger generation gap and there has been some views on it from different age groups including mine, an older generation.

for me, the generation gap issue is the most interesting part of this thread.
there is a truly fascinating generation just entering the work force right now. whatever you call them. okay, call them gen y.
these kids (obviously i am older) have grown up and still growing with some of the most challenging situations that were ever revealed to mankind. the world they are living in, is more populated, more unsafe, more desperate in terms of resources and supplies, more expensive and so on. and interesting thing is, all these issues are on their face everyday through the communication advance like internet. this is no marginal change. it is making things possible that were impossible only few decades ago in the high speeds.
they have to deal with most wide spread vicious marketing and material world, see the gaps between good living and desperation everyday. a lot of these things are also dealt with endless virtual escapades, artificial personalities created on internet, games played without actual physical involvement. arguments constructed via wikipedia or you tube or google information. information is out there have never been in these quantities and they were never this available for simple clicking.
i am fascinated by looking at the impact of all these on the new generation, world, society.
generation change has always happened but this time there is something truly strong, mass manipulated like never before in global scale. the world is very vulnerable out there. there are a lot of unknown impacts and results of our actions today. it will be really interesting 30 years from now and i hope i am around to see all this and how this generation y is going to take getting older. what they would have created by then, and what mistakes they have made.
with the exception of few, i find my own generation totally uninteresting, conservative and faded out already. poor guys, a lot of their lives were short changed for few home entertainment centers, suv's, remodeled homes, group holidays packages and retirement plans for the few short sunset years.
i hope the new generation gets to discover this trick and truly starts to ponder about better ways to exchange labor for life, dignity and joy. and simply don't buy into what has been nicely narrated here.

Generation Y

ironic to cap it off with a you tube essay but i am not about to deny it either.

oh, for the 'old guy' in the office,
collect some money among yourselves, send him to vegas and get him laid by a hot stripper in circus circus... just a suggestion..
-Orhan Ayyuce

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Olympic Stadium London 2012

HOK and Peter Cook reveal the design of their 2012 Olympic Stadium.

The extremely innovative stadium is to be dismantled 75% after the games and parts to be used elsewhere.

video via Archinect

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Conversation with Peter Cook on the State of Things

If I didn’t sit on a jury with a great educator like Sir Peter Cook, in USC the day before, perhaps this conversation would never materialize. Most certainly, the comments inserted during that studio review made me wanting to talk with Sir Peter Cook on the state of the architectural education and continue my own ‘slide presentation’ of distinguished educators, seeking ‘the empirical truth’ about the incredible shrinking of free thought, mainly in N. America’s great white architecture schools.
In the end, if you think I am all over the place, you might be right, I am... But, then again...

Read more

Cal Poly Pomona Senior Project Review; Class of 2008

Sometimes you are just inspired to write a review of something because it triggered something in you, left you with some hope, outlook and familiar perspective on something you are interested.
Read more

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Salty Dog Bites the Hand

This exhibition emerges from a two-year seminar-laboratory on globalization taught by Allan Sekula at the California Institute of the Arts. No idea of globalization is worth its salt unless it tastes of the sea and seaports. Why is the Port of Los Angeles considering promoting an international art biennial like other ports? Why is the waterfront getting gussied up, with stacks and stacks of monuments to industries and jobs that have vanished? We looked at other ports and waterfronts, from Ensenada to Istanbul. We even took a bargain-basement cruise, and tried to figure out how the cruise lines make their profits. And we wondered if a small exhibition produced by a small group of collaborators could address the confluence of local and global forces in a port city in a more modest and efficient and quirky way than a big international exhibition. What happens to the ocean when we eat big fish that eat little fish? Can a satellite photograph of a container terminal translate into minimalist origami? What does an old sea captain have to say about the monster port?

The exhibition features work by 2008 MFA graduates Ian Arenas, Allie Bogle, Louisa Conrad, Lindsay Foster, Sidonie Loiseleux, Justin Long, Alejandro Sanchez, and Carlin Wing, 2007 MFA graduate Heather Rasmussem, CalArts Photography and Media faculty members Andrew Freeman and Allan Sekula. Curated by Allan Sekula in collaboration with the artists.

Angels Gate Cultural Center

Saturday, April 19, 2008

SCI-Arc Does Dubai Slavery

I couldn't believe my eyes that a Sci Arc Studio would go to Dubai and leave the Humanity at home.

Due to pro apartheid and segregated society based position of this project and subsequent barrage of criticism it received from Archinect readers, SCI-Fi studio at SCI Arc who was responsible for the proposal, withdrawn the video from YouTube site citing further editing needed... We wish to see the video in its original form and re-edited version soon.

The initial discussion at Archinect

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Eric Owen Moss: Untitled

I went to Culver City the day before my interview with Eric Owen Moss. I needed to see what the architect was doing or done, and why it got attention.
EOM Architects’ business campus commissioned by Samitaur Development is easy to write off as architect gone mad.
The place is like the architect's personal laboratory of what I call, ‘gestural architecture,’ perhaps reactively.

This building complex is a provocative form farm.

Whether or not you like EOM's buildings, is not the issue, or, that is all it matters. All for nothing, or all for everything. That is the feeling the place left me with. I didn’t want the cracked stucco and the vibrations of plexiglass railing dictate what I write about the architect. After gazing 360 degrees in the middle of the parking lot surrounded by EOM buildings, I quickly realized I was looking for a bigger picture, literally.
At the end, I liked what I saw.
But not because this or that building shape, or some details, but I liked it that the architect had made no attempt to hide his shortcomings, vulnerability, his will power, courage and his vast imaginative rigor.
The experience is very similar to reading a series of short stories by the same author.

Full feature @ Archinect

School is down but not out!

We had the final presentations in RoTo studio where the projects presented and got their due critiques. Overall it was pretty much about multi tasking for the students who had to wear few hats during the semester and deliver other obligatory goods outside of the studio.
I am now entering my own season of producing more detailed work on various subjects and perhaps starting a book.
in the mean time i wish all the class the success they deserve and wish best of luck in their upcoming professional carriers.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Emir of NYU

"NYU president John Sexton has been promised a blank check to duplicate his university on a desert island in Abu Dhabi. The expansion will leave both campuses flush with petrodollars. But to many faculty, the deal amounts to a sellout."

New York Magazine article

Friday, April 11, 2008

Away from it all: a retreat for world leaders

Forget Chequers and the Palace of Versailles. The next time Gordon Brown or Nicholas Sarkozy need a bolthole in which to recharge their batteries or a place for a private pow-wow, they might find themselves lured to a new retreat amid the pink rocks of the Nevada desert.

Donna Vassar, part of the Vassar education dynasty, has launched plans to build a $300m (£150m) private getaway for stressed-out presidents and prime ministers who want to "reconnect with their unique purpose in life".

The Universitas Leadership Sanctuary is intended as part monastery and part conference centre where the most powerful men and women on the planet can get away from it all with a combination of reading, contemplation and even a spot of gardening.

To remind them of their role as leaders of the planet, the sanctuary will be built in the shape of a four-storey globe on the shores of Lake Las Vegas, a privately-owned lake in the south Nevada desert where temperatures can reach 50C at the height of summer.

more @ guardian

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mr. Shulman, the great architectural photographer

------------------------------------------ Mr. Shulman showing one of his first cameras, a Kodak Jr.

I have been talking to great Julius Shulman since last mounth. Yesterday I went over and took reuben sandwiches for lunch. Tomorrow he is taking me to a job site scouting, where he is photographing. He is 98 years old and working almost everyday. We already became pretty good friends. I have been taping the conversations and he has been telling me great stories and historical moments about his work, life and his architect friends.

Friday, April 4, 2008


Just a little parody behind the green profiteering!
Thank you; John Jourden

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Crazy House

THE house is off-limits to children, and adults are asked to sign a waiver when they enter. The main concern is the concrete floor, which rises and falls like the surface of a vast, bumpy chocolate chip cookie.
Not for Mere Mortals, they say...
NYT | Archinect with comments

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Garfield minus Garfield

"Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sci Arc Graduate Thesis Projects 2006

I just remembered my short but to the point review for the thesis projects in September 2006. I am re-posting it here in case some of you want to refresh your memories from those days, probably when you were just enrolled to school.
Sep16, 2006

Thursday, March 27, 2008

This is an Awareness Test!

In the light of what was talked about the time spent on the studio projects, I am posting this clip. This is another way of saying, "pay attention to what is going on with your studio projects, right here, right now..."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Eric Garcetti is proposing much-needed changes to the way L.A. facilitates neighborhood development.

Talk to any developer in Los Angeles and they’ll tell you that the development process in the city is uncertain to the extreme and often a disincentive to smart growth. Hoping to cure the city’s development process of its bureaucratic inefficiencies, City Council President Eric Garcetti has proposed the “12 to 2” plan. In the following The Planning Report (TPR) interview, Council President Garcetti describes the type of good planning that L.A. needs and how his proposal will help rebuild the city’s neighborhoods.

An excerpt from the interview on "Smart Growth" ;

TPR- Before David Zahniser moved from L.A. Weekly to the L.A. Times, he wrote a strong indictment of the language and hype around smart growth in L.A. What is your reaction to his analysis of the evolution of the term “smart growth”?

Garcetti- I don’t disagree with Zahniser that smart growth has, in many cases, become all things to all people—that it is too broadly and too loosely used. In reaction, we can confirm that what we’ve had in the last two decades has really been, in many cases, dumb growth. We’ve added people to the region without planning for it, and we’ve pretended that if we didn’t build anything, folks wouldn’t come. We know, however, that over the next two decades, most of our growth will be indigenous. Two-thirds of our population increase in the region will be from people who are already here having children.
I try to focus on the content of good, neighborhood-oriented development, because the average person doesn’t know what smart growth means, nor should they because it’s been used in so many different ways. They do know that they need a dry cleaner down the street. They know that they need a store that they can walk to instead of having to get into the car and be stuck in traffic. They do know it would be nice to make friends by riding a bike to a local café where they can sit on a sidewalk that is pedestrian-friendly and safe.
There was also a piece by Sharon Bernstein in the Los Angeles Times about transit-oriented development and how not enough people who live near public transit actually use it. We do need to reach a tipping point where people will continue to embrace transit options. But it’s not just about people discarding their car. The car is too much a part of Los Angeles’ culture and too much of what we need to navigate the very complex terrain here. But when you look at the car trips we take, only one out of three of them is for our commute to and from work. What we have to do as a city is provide options to people for the other two trips, whether that is meeting up with friends at a movie or a trip to visit somebody for a lunch meeting—that people can actually take a couple car trips off of the street each week because they have such options as walking, the subway, the bus, neighborhood circulators like our DASH buses, or bicycles.
In my office, every employee has to carpool, take public transit, walk, or bike to work once a week. It’s not a big sacrifice, but in doing so we can quantify how many hundreds of miles of trips we’re taking off the street each week and how many pounds of carbon we take out of the air. Those are the sorts of good planning responses that I would say are needed for a reaction to “smart growth.”

The Planning Report

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Borrowed Time; How do you build a public library in the age of Google?

Celcius Library, Ephesus, Turkey, AD 125

"A fight is brewing in Washington, D.C., between the city administration and preservationists concerning the District's central public library. The architect of the Martin Luther King Jr. Library was Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, one of the seminal figures of the Modern movement, and while the '60s-era black box is not one of the master's great works, it is the only library that he ever built. Mies' architecture was intentionally impersonal and meant to be adaptable to future change, yet in 2006, a task force appointed by Mayor Anthony A. Williams found the library to be "an outmoded structure erected long before the advent of the digital world." It recommended selling the building to a developer (who would likely demolish it) and building a new library on another site. Historic preservation aside, this raises an interesting question: What sort of public library does the "digital world" of Google, Wikipedia, and Kindle require?"

A slideshow article by Witold Rybczynski in Slate
More on the article on biblioklept

Monday, March 17, 2008

Neutra's VDL House; v. Hard Times

My new feature article has just came on today in Archinect.
I am trying to help save Richard Neutra's VDL Research House in Silver Lake. You should go see this house someday...

"I wouldn’t elaborate on it at this finger pointing tone, but this is a city where you hear the words “inspired by Neutra” in various forms and places such as architects’ web sites, in countless design blogs, in real estate ads and of course in the circles of armchair design writers."

Archinect Feature

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mid-Term Reviews; 3/14/2008

.............................................................Michael Rotondi; he is looking at you...

The studio mid term reviews finally began Friday and we thank Chris Genik for stopping by.
Overall, the projects were developed far enough to claim their individual placement and reflected the results of ongoing work about programming, planning and design.
I was particularly interested in seeing the urban aspect of the projects and concentrated my commentary on that area. Let's say, the projects will develop urban integration part in coming weeks, and bring the level of engagement to address 'everyday padestrianism,' (btw,the word is not on the list) if you will.
I believe the projects must reflect this element rather explicitly and importantly as the actual 'building' articulations. This part also includes, economic and physical scales as well.
Michael's overall commentary at the end was very much about developing your own awareness, when it comes to proportionally recognizing relationships in order to understand the world around us. You must develop a set of 'rules of thumb' using your own hands. Through this method, you will understand how big things have to be, and where the light comes in. Remember, it is all about life and consciousness.

I won't get into commenting on each individual project here and that has been done already in the presentations.

Below is a slideshow of the presentations.

Thank you all and especially to Michael for that commentary at the end of the Friday's review session, it was definitely a golden nugget and I wish I'd taped it.

Slideshow , more to be added on after Monday...

Economics and the rule of law; Order in the jungle

Ana Sofia Castillo, our classmate, shares this very relevant article with us. It was in the Economist magazine and written by Dani Rodrik of Harvard University. Thank you to Ana Sofia...
“AM I the only economist guilty of using the term [rule of law] without having a good fix on what it really means?” asks Dani Rodrik of Harvard University. “Well, maybe the first one to confess to it.”
Full article + Dani Rodrik's weblog

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sci Arc in Arkitera

I know you guys don't speak Turkish...yet. But among my many other obligations and commitments, I maneged to write this short article for Arkitera which is read by ave. 50,000 people daily.
Article mentioned the studio with a picture and talked about two Sci Arcs, one I went to, and the other, I am with right now.
Full article

Zaha Hadid toys with nomadic architecture

"Mobile buildings and museums could adorn the cities of the future, renowned architect Zaha Hadid said during the launch of her latest project in Hong Kong -- a nomadic, UFO-shaped art pavilion.

The curved, fluid creation by Hadid was assembled in Hong Kong on the first leg of a two-year global promotional tour for contemporary art inspired by luxury goods brand Chanel.

"I really believe in the idea of the future," said Iraqi-born Hadid, known for her futuristic designs.

"The idea of temporary or mobile pieces could be a way of regenerating the city in an interesting way through architecture," she told reporters in Hong Kong."

Reuters | Video

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Living in Shelters, The Future of the Cavern

.................................. ..........the Endless House , Frederick Kiesler -1950-1960

For the first time in an exhibition, the Kiesler-foundation confronts the two models Grotto for Meditation and Endless House. Both concepts are characterized by the artists research for a form, which attempts to satisfy both practical and spiritual human demands, in order to provide men a livable and adequate environment.

Working on a construction (which was close to Philip Johnsons Roofless Church in New Harmony, Indiana) for the successors of Robert Owen (1771-1858), an early socialist and founder of the cooperative system, Kiesler found in 1962 an opportunity to verify his co-realistic theories in the built practise. The design of the Grotto for Meditation refers to the history of the social-reformatory movement of the location, but first of all, it should represent a room of meditation, a universal form beyond all religious denominations.

Similar to the Endless House, Kiesler gets inspired by morphologic formal vocabulary and chooses the motif of a spiral, for the artist a symbol for change and assimilation. The centre of the complex is built in form of a snail. This form combines the centrifugal power, the expansion to the infinity, with the centripetal power, which approaches the individual towards contemplation.

the Kiesler-foundation Frederick Kiesler

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Of course.., there is always something to turn to, for help, when you run out words to describe your deep project! Don't use these for your thesis projects, because I will personally bust you!
Bullshit Generator

China's new architecture, v. du jour!

From Beijing's sparkling Olympic park to a fake English town just outside Shanghai, China's new architecture is full of surprises. Let Jonathan Glancey show you around.

I guess there is going to be one long 'architecture-everywhere-in-China-slide-show' until the Olympics are over...
Stick with Glancey, this one is particularly giddy!
the Guardian audio slideshow

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


My esteemed fellow senior editor at Archinect, Bryan Boyer, publishes the research part of his thesis project in Harvard GSD. I congratulate him here and when I recieve my copy, I will bring it to class to look at it and we can read it together.
link to Bryan's blog

Monday, March 10, 2008

Cities on the edge of chaos (or not)

Mumbai, India

Two thirds of the world's population will be living in the cities in the near future. Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum and architecture critic of the Observer asks some questions on the very issue of 21 st century phenomena.

"The world is changing faster now than ever before. The dispossessed, and the ambitious are flooding into cities swollen out of all recognition. Poor cities are struggling to cope. Rich cities are reconfiguring themselves at breakneck speed. China has created an industrial power house from what were fishing villages in the 1970s. Lagos and Dhaka attract a thousand new arrivals every day. In Britain, central London's population has started to grow again after 50 years of decline.

We have more big cities now than at any time in our history. In 1900, only 16 had a population of one million; now it's more than 400. Not only are there more of them, they are larger than ever. In 1851, London had two million people. It was the largest city in the world by a long way, twice the size of Paris, its nearest rival.
That version of London would seem like a village now. By the official definition, London has getting on for eight million people, but in practical terms, it's a city of 18 million, straggling most of the way from Ipswich to Bournemouth in an unforgiving tide of business parks and designer outlets, gated housing and logistics depots. There might be fields between them, but they are linked in a single transport system and a single economy. Those villages in Suffolk that are close enough to a railway station to deliver you to Liverpool Street in under 90 minutes are effectively as much a part of London as Croydon or Ealing and they have the house prices to prove it. The other big conurbations - from Birmingham to Manchester and Glasgow, names for cities that spread far beyond the bounds of political city limits - can be understood in the same way.

Having invented the modern city, Britain promptly reeled back in horror at what it had done. To William Morris and John Ruskin, or the Salvation Army exploring the cholera-ridden back alleys of London's East End, the city was a hideous tumour sucking the life out of the countryside and creating in its place a vast, polluted landscape of squalor, disease and crime. In their eyes, the city was a place to be feared, controlled and, if possible, eliminated."

Cairo, Egypt

Full article

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Archiculture: the documentary

Archiculture is a feature length documentary that examines contemporary issues surrounding the realm of architecture through the perspective of university students during their final thesis semester.
"Tapping their feet and chewing pencils, five students nervously await the outcome of five tumultuous years of intense labor. In moments, they will hear from their committee of professors as to the final decision of their senior thesis projects. The documentary Archiculture follows these five students and their struggles over the course of their final semester at a university to complete their thesis projects, which are the manifestations of years of hard work, stress and, ultimately, success..."
Archiculture, via

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Studio 1B; Dialogue of the Void

I was invited to review studio 1B mid term projects alongside with Michael Rotondi, Marcos Sanchez and the studio instructors Gary Paige and David Gerber.
The spirited nature of projects with their highly intimate expressions via charcoal and pencil drawings, cast plaster and cardboard models and project booklets were enough to set an exemplary effort by the students and I was personally impressed with their focus as first year architecture students.
Keep the dialogue solid (no pun.)
Beautiful work, it is one of those projects that will stick to student's mind for a long time.

Studio statement;
“...it is always the question of a space constructed or destroyed by form, animated by it, molded by it.”
Henri Focillon, The Life of Forms in Art

Space is the medium of architecture. In addition to structure, performance, form, material, and light, space (and spatial experience) is the intrinsic and defining medium of the discipline. Moreover, it’s important to note, that, in spite of the fact that geometry remains one of the central topics of architectural education, as opposed to an end in itself it’s only a tool to realize a broader set of goals that involve a comprehensive idea of space as form and experience. Materializing this idea will be the focus of our efforts.
The principal objective of this project is to develop conceptual strategies for generating spatial forms and relationships.
In this case, one that involves the formal relationship between an existing building, a new volume(s), and a movement system. Subtraction and addition, excavating and voiding will be some of the operations for materializing and studying these relationships as well as issues of performance, that is, how a building works, and spatial form, sequence and affect.
Our point of departure is the former Hollywood Terminal Storage Warehouse (Morgan, Walls and Clements, 1925 located in Hollywood. Think of this building as a “found object” that we’ll operate on, surgically removing parts, restructuring and/or reshaping others, and adding new ones in order to develop new and critical relationships between interior spaces and the exterior envelope and landscape.
Initially conceived as a storage warehouse and radio broadcast studio, the building is a hermetically sealed volume lacking any connection to the city except as an immense armature for billboards.
Morphologically, it’s a monolithic slab consisting of concrete cast-in-place column and slab construction, while spatially the building is defined by repetitive floor plates, producing a stratified set of similarly proportioned volumes that are punctuated by stair towers and elevator shafts at the front and the rear.

Random snapshots (click on picture to enlarge)
Archinect news post

Friday, March 7, 2008

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Pictures of Apartment Density

As if you need to forget all and rest your eyes on stuff that are relaxing, here is some visual relief! A rear window for everyone...

Makes where I grew up look like a countryside!

Michael Wolf looks at Hong Kong density

Overall project requirements for Monday, March 10

As we are approaching to our mid-term presentations, I would like to remind the class again as a group, that our chief engine Rotondi would like to see the projects developed to the level of advancement, worthy of your senior standing among Sci Arc students. They are to offer viable resolutions in terms of conceptual and programmatic issues, circulatory conditions, local site related responses dealing with urban design issues, adjacency and hierarchical relationships within the individual and customized programs, regional and global reflections. And of course, integrated tectonic propositions.
Please keep in mind to apply the knowledge and principles thought and illustrated by April Greiman in current weeks to your boards. No pain, no gain. Step on it. My bad...
A specific public presentation date will be announced Monday.

Addenda, Thursday pm;
I have just talked to Michael, he will be in studio tomorrow around 2-3 pm, after his Sci Arc board meeting. This will be a good opportunity for you to take up with him any ongoing/outstanding questions and issues before the mid-term, which is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday or Friday next week.
So, work on your projects as if the presentation going to be on Wednesday to be on the safe side.
I have explained to Michael that most of you have a very important graduate thesis meeting and all geared up to resolve that before you can focus on the studio project. He kindly agreed to give you a break in return for some exceptional attention you'll be giving to your studio projects before the mid-term.
You are welcome.;.)