10 Favorite Projects of 2013

Below are, in chronological order, my 10 favorite projects featured on my weekly page during 2013. Keep in mind that the buildings weren't necessarily completed in 2013, just that I featured them within the last 12 months. See also my 10 favorite books of 2013.

Parrish Art Museum
Water Mill, New York

Herzog & de Meuron

Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo
Chicago, Illinois

Studio Gang Architects

Bamboo Courtyard Teahouse
Yangzhou, China


Fire Shelter: 01
Copenhagen, Denmark

Simon Hjermind Jensen

Ama'r Children's Culture House
Copenhagen, Denmark

Dorte Mandrup Architects

Clyfford Still Museum
Denver, Colorado

Allied Works Architecture

Pedestrian Connection
Chur, Switzerland

Esch Sintzel Architects

Saint Louis Art Museum East Building
St. Louis, Missouri

David Chipperfield Architects

PARKROYAL on Pickering


Jean-Claude Carrière Theatre
Montpellier, France

A+ Architecture

Firm Faces #19: INC

This blog's "Firm Faces" has turned into a once-in-a-year, forgot-about-that feature, but I couldn't resist finding Incorporated's Twitter portrait a perfect addition to it. Not only do we not see their faces, but the six folks standing in front of five windows could easily be a band rather than an architecture firm. (Didn't Jesus and Mary Chain play shows with their backs turned to the audience?)

According to INC's Facebook page, the photo is their new office space at 9 East 19th Street and pictured are Adam Rolston, Louisa Brown, Drew Clay Stuart, Tyler Kleck, Hilary Fulmer and Gabriel Benroth. Check out Incorporated's website for the real faces of the partners Rolston, Stuart, and Benroth, and for more on the NYC firm.

Today's archidose #723

Here are some photos of De Rotterdam in Rotterdam, Netherlands, by OMA, photographed by Klaas Vermaas.

rotterdam multifunctioneel gebouw de rotterdam 01 2013 oma (wilhelminakde)

rotterdam multifunctioneel gebouw de rotterdam 04 2013 oma (wilhelminakde)

rotterdam multifunctioneel gebouw de rotterdam 12 2013 oma (wilhelminakde)

rotterdam multifunctioneel gebouw de rotterdam 09 2013 oma (wilhelminakde)

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Book Review: CLOG: Unpublished

CLOG: Unpublished edited by Kyle May, Julia van den Hout, Jacob Reidel, Archie Lee Coates IV, Jeff Franklin
CLOG, 2013
Paperback, 128 pages

CLOG has been "slowing things down" since 2011, publishing 3-4 slim issues per year based upon themes that tap into contemporary considerations while being open enough to invite a wide range of responses. Even a topic as narrow as Apple sparked contributors to write about how design infiltrates much of the company's products and spaces beyond Norman Foster's Campus 2, which was in the headlines at the time of the call for submissions. The format of short (500-word) essays and a small page size with simple graphic design has stayed consistent across the now eight issues, but with Rendering I noticed a more active role of the editors in framing the topic through research and interviews. The same holds true with Unpublished, which charts the projects that made the cover of Architectural Record over the past half-century, and solicits a number of architectural critics to share their criteria for deciding what is worthy of publication. The latter is more successful than the former, something Suzanne Stephens, Deputy Editor of Record, touches on in her interview as she describes how the publication's covers are chosen for visual reasons over others, diminishing the importance of what the covers "say."


The theme of the newest issue is a treat to read because it is not full of the same projects by the usual suspects, though well-known architects can be found. Each project – if the essay focuses on one, as all do not – is a surprise, be it something new, something old, or even something no longer with us. Some projects are questionable for being labeled architecture (cruise ships, self-storage facilities, portable toilets, the International Space Station), but be it a lesser known project by a famous architect (Herzog & de Meuron's Prada NYC offices on West 51st Street or Eduardo Souto de Moura's Silo gallery, pictured here) or a building that didn't receive attention in its day, the general focus is on why the projects went unpublished. In the case of HdM's Prada project – the Swiss duo's first NYC project, it turns out, and one I didn't know about – it's a mixture of an unrealized second phase, the fact it is primarily an interior renovation, and that the architects and other players would rather draw attention to other buildings and spaces that are more in line with how they want to be seen.


One of the projects missing from Eduardo Souto de Moura's 2011 Pritzker Architecture Prize citation (one of many considering the few projects highlighted for the prize) is the exhibition space and gallery housed in the middle of a spiral ramp serving the Silo Norte shopping mall in Matosinhos, Portugal. Projects like this are reason enough to buy Unpublished, but more so Silo is an invitation to embed architectural surprises within the city. Taking advantage of what could easily have become storage or some other service space, the architect created an oasis in an unlikely, and hard-to-find, location. Unpublished, perhaps, but hardly unimportant.


DVD + Book Review: Xmas Meier

Xmas Meier by Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine
BêkaPartners, 2013
Book: Hardcover, 140 pages
DVD: All-Region PAL, 51 minutes

This is the fifth and last film in Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine's "Living Architectures" series that I've reviewed, following ones on Rem Koolhaas's Bordeaux Villa, a winery in Pomerol, France, designed by Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, Frank Gehry's Guggenheim in Bilbao, and a trio of buildings designed by Renzo Piano. Xmas Meier is technically number three in what could be called the filmmaker's "trilogy in five parts," but given that Christmas comes in three days I held off on a review of it until now. That said, the holiday plays a small part in the film, occupying perhaps 5 of its 51 minutes, but it does give us a chance to see Richard Meier's Jubilee Church full of worshipers. The rest of the time we see the church from the point of view of the neighbors in Rome's Tor Tre Test neighborhood (one woman fell in love with it as she watched and documented it being built from her window, but one man hates it for the incessant bells that blare over any sound in his apartment proximate to the bell tower); we hear the priest go into a surprising level of detail on the building and its materials; and we hear from others who have devoted parts of their life to the church's existence.

Easily the biggest surprise in the film – something that retains a certain level of enigma even after watching the film – is a visit, in the "meanwhile, elsewhere" chapter, to another church (in Rome?) that looks like a low-budget version of the Jubilee Church; instead of "self-cleaning," light concrete, the walls are gray and mottled, there are two "sails" instead of three, and this other church is much smaller. Even after hearing from the architect, who is blurred out and unnamed during his appearance on camera, we don't know if this church was inspired by Jubilee Church (it was completed sooner, but Meier's church was delayed three years, completed in October, 2003, complicating matters) or if it plagiarizes Meier's creation. If anything, the visit illustrates how the architectural characteristics – scale, material, proportion, and space – that Beka and Lemoine veer away from in their films determine much of a building's success in how it is subsequently used (or abused) by its occupants. In the case of the sub-Meier church, the architect is visibly upset at the church's decision to flip the congregation 180 degrees, something that Meier surely would not have allowed (I'm reminded of a clip in a film on The Getty when he berates somebody working in the cafe for not laying out the tables and chairs per his working drawings).

After seeing and now reviewing the handful of "Living Architectures" films, one thought that comes to mind concerns the subject of their films. What buildings are appropriate for their documentaries that focus on the use, maintenance, and experience of the buildings, rather than their form, materials, and other aspects of design? Must they be designed by famous-name architects? Would a department store designed by an in-house architect, for example, be any more or less appropriate than Gehry's Guggenheim in Bilbao, what is arguably the most important building in the last 20 years? Theoretically Bêka and Lemoine's approach could be used on any building, but by taking aim at five of the biggest names in architecture today the duo dismantles the hero worship that accompanies coverage of buildings designed by these and other architects.

By focusing on how a building is used, the filmmakers show that even those considered the best in their profession aren't omniscient. The films also show that any building will have its fans and detractors, making it impossible to please all the people all the time. These five statements – buildings and films – show the values and risks in taking chances. As much as architecture relies on new forms and an almost constant stream of innovation, each building becomes a test case, with outcomes pleasing, disappointing and unexpected. The duo's depictions of these buildings reminds architects of the lives their buildings will take once they are done with the job; keeping these lives in mind will hopefully result in more considered buildings that are beautiful and functional.

10* Favorite Books of 2013

Below are, in alphabetical order, my 10* favorite books that I reviewed on this blog, on my weekly page, on Designers and Books, or on Houzz at some point in 2013. Keep in mind that the books weren't necessarily released in 2013, just that I read and reviewed them during the year. My favorite projects will be posted next week.

*The list is actually 11 books, considering that one title consists of two volumes.

Building Seagram
Phyllis Lambert
Yale University Press

My review on my weekly page.

Matthew Stadler
nai010 Publishers

My review at Designers and Books.

Encounters 1 and 2 – Architectural Essays
Juhani Pallasmaa, edited by Peter MacKeith
Rakennustieto Publishing

My review on my weekly page and at Designers and Books.

From Camp to City: Refugee Camps of the Western Sahara
Edited by Manuel Herz
Lars Müller Publishers

My review on my weekly page.

Hand-Drying in America: And Other Stories
Ben Katchor

My review on my weekly page and at Designers and Books.

The Houses of Louis Kahn
George H. Marcus and William Whitaker
Yale University Press

My review at Houzz.

Lina Bo Bardi
Zeuler R. M. de A. Lima
Yale University Press

My review at Designers and Books.

Lincoln Center Inside Out
Diller Scofidio + Renfro

My review on this blog.

MVRDV Buildings
Edited by Ilka and Andreas Ruby
nai010 Publishers

My review at Designers and Books.

Wiel Arets: Autobiographical References
Robert McCarter

My review on my weekly page.

Today's archidose #722

Here are some photos of Rømø Harbor's Coast Houses and Marsh Houses in Havneby, Denmark, by Arkitema Architects, photographed by Frank Dinger. Read more about the project in Arkitema's Housing book on Issuu.

Floating cube houses Havneby Rømø island Denmark

Floating cube houses Havneby Rømø island Denmark

Floating cube houses Havneby Rømø island Denmark

Floating cube houses Havneby Rømø island Denmark

Floating cube houses Havneby Rømø island Denmark

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:
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Monday, Monday

A Weekly Dose of Architecture Updates:

This week's dose features the A House for Pink Floyd by Susana dos Santos, José Pedro Azevedo and Nuno Cabanal (arqbauraum):
this week's dose

The featured past dose is the Winners of the 2011 Skyscraper Competition:

This week's book review is New SubUrbanisms by Judith K. De Jong (L):
this week's book review this week's book review
(R): The featured past book review is Designing Suburban Futures: New Models from Build a Better Burb by June Williamson.

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**NOTE: The next weekly dose will be on 2014.01.06. Happy Holidays!**

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American-Architects Building of the Week:

Butte Residence in Jackson, Wyoming, by Carney Logan Burke Architects:
this week's Building of the Week