Who Made "an Avant-Garde"?

On Wednesday, November 13, the Cooper Union is screening Diana Agrest's The Making of an Avant-Garde: the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies 1967-1984. If you're like me the IAUS brings to mind the journal Oppositions and Peter Eisenman. He can be found in the below photo as #4, but who are the rest? Who are these "makers of an avant-garde"? Feel free to comment with your guesses.

A couple hints: The graphic below (the bottom half of the film announcement from above, which I added the numbers to) and an Architect's Newspaper piece on an IAUS book, with a captioned photo of a ca. 1974 dinner.

Film screening details:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
7pm Film Screening
Panel Discussion and Open Reception to follow
The Great Hall: 7 East 7th Street, lower level
Free and open to the public

SHoP DumbPhone-ography

At lunch yesterday I sauntered over to the East River Esplanade, and noticing one of SHoP's little buildings nearing completion (and without my ever-trusty but now broken camera), I took a few shots of it with my dumbphone. The glass pavilion sits underneath FDR Drive and is steps away from SHoP's Pier 15, which opened late 2011 and can be seen reflected in the glass walls of the below photo. 

[North elevation. All dumbphone photos by John Hill.]

According to the NYC Department of City Planning: "These pavilions will serve community and commercial uses with their imaginative architectural expressions that will complement the public open space as well as return the vitality of the city to the water’s edge."

[Northeast corner of the pavilion]

The covered areas on two sides of the pavilion (facing north and east) indicate that the building could be used as a cafe or something that requires waiting in line. New York Harbor Parks indicates "recreational/sports facilities with equipment available for rental." We'll have to wait for a little while to see what moves in.

[North elevation, looking west]

Unlike the abundance of wood at Pier 15, this pavilion limits that material to the L-shaped deck that is propped just a few inches above the surrounding pavement. In addition to the glass, the building is predominantly galvanized metal (aluminum would be my guess), which is used for the overhangs and much of the mainly solid south and west elevations.

[West elevation and north-facing deck]

A nice detail happens at the end of each deck, where the galvanized panels are perforated to allow and views to penetrate. When seeing the pavilion from under the FDR Drive (below photo), these openings give a greater view of the esplanade and shoreline, enticing people to cross the still dark and dingy thoroughfare. When people congregate on these decks, the draw should be even more enticing.

[West elevation]

Today's archidose #713

Here are some photos of the University of Aveiro Water Tank in Aveiro, Portugal, by Alvaro Siza, photographed by José Carlos Melo Dias.

Campus da Universidade de Aveiro, depósito de água. Álvaro Siza

Campus da Universidade de Aveiro, depósito de água. Álvaro Siza

Campus da Universidade de Aveiro, depósito de água. Álvaro Siza

Campus da Universidade de Aveiro, depósito de água. Álvaro Siza

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Monday, Monday

A Weekly Dose of Architecture Updates:

This week's dose features the Clifftop House in Maui, Hawaii, by Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti:
this week's dose

The featured past dose is the Centro das Artes | Casa das Mudas in Calheta, Madeira by Paulo David:

This week's book review is Discovering Architecture: How the World's Great Buildings Were Designed and Built by Philip Jodidio (L):
this week's book review this week's book review
(R): The featured past book review is Great Buildings of the World by Time Inc.

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

American-Architects Building of the Week:

Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, Texas, by WORK Architecture Company:
this week's Building of the Week

Book of the Moment: The SAGE Handbook of Architectural Theory

The SAGE Handbook of Architectural Theory is a 776-page tome that "documents and builds upon some of the most innovative developments in architectural theory over the last two decades." To mark the release of the book, Parsons SCE is hosting a panel discussion (free, no RSVP required) this evening; details are below.

Architectural Theory in an Expanded Field

Monday, October 28, 2013 at 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Wollman Hall (B500), Eugene Lang College
65 West 11th Street, New York, NY

Join Parsons SCE for a panel discussion with the general editors and US-based contributors of the Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory, celebrating the launch of the paperback edition convened by Brian McGrath, Dean of the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons and moderated by Joanna Merwood, associate professor of Architectural History at Parsons.

The panel discussion will explore the handbook’s agenda and consider its significance for architectural research, education and practice. A questions and answer session will follow remarks from the panelists.

General Editors:
  • C. Greig Crysler, Associate Professor of Architecture; Arcus Chair, College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley
  • Hilde Heynen, Professor of Architecture, University of Leuven
  • Stephen Cairns, Professor of Architecture and Urbanism, University of Edinburgh; Future Cities Lab Coordinator, ETH Singapore

  • Stefan Al, Associate Professor of Urban Design, University of Pennsylvania
  • M. Christine Boyer, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Architecture and Urbanism, Princeton University
  • Brian McGrath, Dean, School of Constructed Environments, Parsons The New School for Design
  • Deborah Natsios, Cryptome.org
  • Vyjayanthi Rao, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, The New School
  • David Solomon, Assistant Professor, Architectural Studies, Ithaca College
  • Gwendolyn Wright, Professor of Architecture, Columbia University

The Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory documents and builds upon the most innovative developments in architectural theory over the last two decades.

With over 40 chapters of original material from a roster of contributors from around the world, the handbook connects together issues, institutions, authors and readers in ways that mark a significant departure from other collections of its kind. Eight major sections explore issues in architectural theory today, from new formations of power, difference and embodiment, and questions around science and technology, to the changing conditions in cities and metropolitan territories in the global present.

Book Review: Discovering Architecture

Discovering Architecture: How the World's Great Buildings Were Designed and Built by Philip Jodidio
Universe, 2013
Hardcover, 260 pages

In an average year Philip Jodidio seems to churn out about a dozen books, easily the most of any writer on architecture. With Taschen and other publishers he focuses on contemporary architecture (the Architecture Now! series, for example), but with this recent coffee table book for Universe he reaches all the way back to the year 537 in a presentation of 50 important masterpieces. Actually, only 19 of the 50 buildings come after the 19th century, and only two of the buildings (the Millau Viaduct by Norman Foster and the National Stadium in Beijing by Herzog & de Meuron) were completed this century. Jodidio moves from the Hagia Sophia and Chartres Cathedral to Angkor Wat, Ryoan-Ji, the Taj Mahal, and other historical treasures (UNESCO seems to be the most oft-used word in the book, after architecture), followed by the Eiffel Tower, the Glasgow School of Art, the Seagram Building, the Salk Institute, and other modern gems.

The selection parallels other general interest titles on architecture (immediately it recalls a Time magazine special issue, Great Buildings of the World), but what it lacks in the originality of the selection it makes up for in the cleverness of the presentation: Each building is documented with a full-page photograph that is explained through a die-cut page with captions (by Elizabeth Dowling) corresponding to each window onto the photo below it. The cover gives some indication of how this works, but imagine that the area around the small white rectangles is gray, so the photo is not fully revealed until one turns the page. It's an inventive way of teaching laypeople and students about architecture, but it's also a means of educating them about how to "read" architecture through photographs, the preferred means of presenting buildings these days. And it's a good deal of fun, as there's a good amount of surprise in store at each turn of the page.

Clifftop House

Clifftop House in Maui, Hawaii, by Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti, 2011

The following text and images are courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti.

Maui's south coast is gentle and works for indulging all-inclusive holidays, whereas its north coast is a rough surfer’s paradise with strong winds and most important perfect waves. Windsurf sail designer Robert Stroj moved from Europe to Maui to lead the design research studio of Neil Pryde in Kahului, Maui. While exploring the island with his wife, they soon fell in love with the area of West Maui Mountains on the north coast; a very unpopulated area with high cliffs at the cost, fresh onshore breezes and unobstructed views to the ocean.

After finding the perfect spot it took them three years to buy the land and several more to finish the house. Now they live there with their two sons and a dog. The home in such an environment becomes crucially important. Besides being just a home, this house works also as a social venue for the owners. The evening events are culinary blasts, where every guest realizes that cooking is not just necessity but more an obsession. Therefore the kitchen and the dining form the center of the house.

Perfect ocean view, beautiful cliffs, strong winds and unspoiled rough landscape—Is there any space for a house? It was a very unusual task for us European architects usually dealing with quite dense urban environment. It was hard to understand before its first visit and easy to respond after some days spent there.

The concept defines several "houses" under a common roof. Each separate "mini house" is a U-shaped volume in order to open up and frame the perfect ocean view. The houses are self-contained private units combining bedroom and bathroom as en-suite double room. A fluid public space between enclosed private volumes serves for cooking, eating, lounging, etc.

The ensured privacy within the separate houses allows for a home without hallways, and furthermore for a continuous social and typological change: the four-person family home can be easily transformed into a mini hotel for 3 couples or 3 families with small children. The spatial concept even allowed the transformation of both "service houses" into a workspace: the garage into a sail loft - workshop for sail prototypes and the utility into Robert’s ocean view design studio.

The roof concept is strongly related to the rough climate with plenty of sun and strong ocean winds. The area of the roof is twice the size of the house, so the size of the covered outdoor space equals the size of the indoor space. The house needs no air-conditioning, since it is cross ventilated throughout. The folded roof is carefully attached to the walls of the U-shaped volumes and defines specific spaces. It also serves as a folded wooden deck for contemplating, playing or releasing the radio controlled flying wings, with the aim to materially and topologically integrate the house with the landscape.

Local materials are used for the finishing of the house. The walls are rendered with the specific plaster using beach sand inside and outside and furthermore emphasize the smooth indoor-outdoor relationship. The same Ipe wood is used for the floor, terrace, ceiling and even the roof. On the other hand the house is for U.S. standards typically constructed out of concrete blocks, which just reflects the European origin of the owner.

We like to believe the architecture is done on site with a strong control of the construction process. Here we were not able to visit the site while in process as often as we would want to, but all the essential supervision and site-coordination work was carefully done by the owner, an industrial designer mind who was always in touch online. The owners’ true passion for this house was stretched to the level that the last seven years they largely helped with most of the physical work from roof cladding to stucco or furniture. Within this extensive process they have already built a long-lasting relationship with this house, now their home.

Photos: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

Nobel Center Matching Game

UPDATE 11/15: Three finalists have been announced. See my new post to find out all of the entries, or see the bottom of this post for the answer key.

Back in April the Nobel Foundation selected twelve architects to vie for the design of the Nobel Center in Stockholm. Eleven of the firms (minus Herzog & de Meuron) submitted designs at the end of September, and each of them can be viewed on the Nobel Center website. Oh, and each entry is anonymous. According to the website: "The jury will not comment on any proposal until 2-5 of them in November 2013 have been selected to proceed to the competitions [sic] second stage. The names of the architects behind each submission will at that point be revealed." Below are the proposals, followed by the list of the architects at bottom. So which architect goes with which proposal?

Design Proposals (in alphabetical order):

A. Archipelago:

B. Beyond 1210:

C. Butterfly:

D. Landing Seagulls:

E. Nobelhuset:

F. Nobel Sphere:

G. P(a)lace to Enjoy, A:


I. Room and a Half, A:

J. Space Between, The:

K. "We believe in...":

Participating Architects (in alphabetical order):
  1. 3XN
  2. BIG
  3. David Chipperfield Architects
  4. Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor
  5. Lacaton and Vassal Architectes
  6. Lundgaard and Tranberg Arkitekter
  7. Marcel Meili, Markus Peter Architekten
  8. OMA
  9. SANAA
  10. Snøhetta
  11. Wingårdhs Arkitekter
    If you care to guess, leave a comment below matching the proposals (letters) and architects (numbers), e.g. A1, B2, etc.

    (Thanks to Fred B. for the idea!)

    UPDATE 11/15: The winning combination:


    Today's archidose #712

    Here are some of my photos of the PATH - West Concourse (2013) in New York City by Santiago Calatrava. The walkway, which opened on Tuesday, connects the PATH station (still under construction) with the recently completed Brookfield Place at Battery Park City; photos of the latter to follow. For orientation purposes, the marble wall lines the south side of the walkway so, for example, the top photo is looking to the west, toward Brookfield Place.

    PATH - West Concourse

    PATH - West Concourse

    PATH - West Concourse

    PATH - West Concourse

    PATH - West Concourse

    PATH - West Concourse

    PATH - West Concourse

    PATH - West Concourse

    PATH - West Concourse

    To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:
    :: Join and add photos to the archidose pool, and/or
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    What to Make of "What Starbucks Gets that Architects Don’t"

    This week architects have been busy reading and commenting on Christine Outram's essay at Medium, "What Starbucks Gets that Architects Don't: Or why I left the architecture profession." On my first read a couple days ago I got the message (architects need to listen to the people who occupy their buildings) and agreed generally that buildings and spaces could be designed better, although I detested the way it was written and didn't find that round tables at Starbucks to be a strong argument for architects talking to and listening to people.

    To make just one comment on her article in this blog post, it's worth focusing on what I think is the gist of her argument:
    "You [architects] don’t understand people. I correct myself. You don’t listen to people."
    These sentences come right at the beginning of her piece, setting up her argument about Starbucks ("Form follows feeling") and using the Internet to poll people about things like where a new shop should really be located (something usually outside an architect's scope). But what if her statements are incorrect? I correct myself. What if there is a more accurate criticism about architects?:
    You [architects] are people, but you don't listen to yourselves, to what's inside.
    This statement may sound a bit goody-goody or mushy at first, but my point is that by focusing on users as a distinct group of people—them, not us—former-architect Outram is perpetuating the gulf between the two. Actually, I'd argue that architects are also Starbucks customers (and homeowners, and students, and the other people that use buildings), and given their education and practical experience they are in a unique position to gauge how design can make one's cup of coffee in a chain cafe a better experience, to use her example.

    Is it necessary to poll hundreds of coffee drinkers to determine that round tables "protect self-esteem for those...flying solo"? Or could an architect have come to the same determination by believing their impression that round tables work better in some environments than square tables, be it by observing patrons at a local cafe or in a public park, or by choosing a round table over a square one themselves? Any architect will admit that all of their observations and experiences influence how they think about architecture, so I'm wont to believe the latter.

    So then why don't architects listen to what's inside? The obvious conclusion would be to blame clients—after all, they are the entities that sit in that supposed gulf between architects and users. Yet the case of Starbucks shows (if anything) that clients are open to design solutions when they lead to benefits both for them and whom they serve; and to make a fairly safe assumption, a developer should be open to design solutions that make residents happier so they can ask for higher rents or selling prices.

    But traditionally the client's bottom line has driven decision-making, therefore conditioning architects to prioritize that over human needs. Therefore I'd wager that architects don't listen to what's inside because they're afraid of ignoring what they see as the client's wishes or of even losing the job. Yet ultimately the architect exists to balance human needs (the users, as filtered through the architect's own experiences and expertise) with those of the client, as well as with the environment and other considerations that are greater than both.

    So I believe that architects do listen to people, internalizing conversations and experiences so as to make better decisions about design. Often they don't follow through on those feelings and therein lies some of what Outram is getting at. I don't believe architects need to carry out online polls or data mine (what people in advertising, Outram's current gig, do) to create buildings and spaces that are in line with how people want to feel. Architects can interpret such data if it exists, but not at the expense of understanding themselves and the shared human condition.