My recent posts at World-Architects


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Due Spring 2019

Last month I signed the contract for my next book with Prestel, tentatively titled NYC Walking Tours. Due to be released in spring 2019, the book collects eight architectural walking tours (plus two new ones) that I've been giving for the last six years for the 92Y and other institutions in and around New York City.

In some ways the new book will be like an update of my first book, Guide to Contemporary New York City Architecture (W. W. Norton, 2011), whose 22 chapters were organized as suggested walking routes. NYC Walking Tours will feature numerous buildings and landscapes from that book but many more that have been completed since then. Due to its structure and length, it will not be as comprehensive as my first book, and it will be more explicit in the routes – where to go, and what to look at. And of course, it will be compact and easy to carry around.

This image (something I quickly mocked up and certainly NOT the cover for the book) is a case in point: my High Line tour involves getting off the elevated park to look at a few buildings up close, including Shigeru Ban's Metal Shutter Houses, whose duplex units sit behind its namesake shutters and garage-door-like walls of glass. Other tours head to Billionaire's Row, the Bowery, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Columbia University, and Roosevelt Island, among other parts of the city where a density of new architecture warrants a walk.

I'm not posting this news here to toot my own horn. Rather, if you see posts that are a bit NYC-heavy in the next few months as I finish the manuscript...well, now you know why.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A305 at CCA

Followers of this blog probably know I like architecture documentaries, such as ACB's informative half-hour features on modern and contemporary buildings. In 2016 I blogged about some overlap between those docs and my book 100 Years, 100 Buildings, but many of them were removed from YouTube after ACB's account was terminated. (I found versions of those docs elsewhere, but many embeds in that post are still broken.)

A series of architecture documentaries that shouldn't have that issue is A305, aka "History of Architecture and Design 1890–1939." According to the Canadian Centre for Architecture, which is posting the series on their YouTube channel, "Between 1975 and 1982, The Open University broadcast a series of televised courses on the genealogy of the modern movement: A305, History of Architecture and Design 1890–1939. Through twenty-four programs aired on BBC 2, the course team aimed to offer students and viewers a critical understanding of the intentions and views of the world that fueled the modern movement, and to present some of the alternative traditions that flourished alongside it."

As part of its exhibition, The University Is Now on Air: Broadcasting Modern Architecture (15 November to 1 April), the CCA is posting one episode per week. There are eight to date, all embedded below. As more are added to their channel, I'll embed those below. The next one will be tomorrow, so if you like the episodes, check back here every Friday for another one.

A305/01: What Is Architecture? An Architect at Work:

A305/02: The Universal International Exhibition, Paris, 1900:

A305/11 (thematically combined with 02): The International Exhibition of Decorative Arts Paris 1925:

A305/03: Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Hill House:

A305/04: Industrial Architecture: AEG and Fagus Factories:

A305/05: Frank Lloyd Wright: The Robie House:

A305/06: R. M. Schindler: The Lovell Beach House:

A305/07: Erich Mendelsohn: The Einstein Tower:

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Book Review: OfficeUS Manual

OfficeUS Manual edited by Eva Franch, Ana Miljački, Carlos Mínguez Carrasco, Jacob Reidel, Ashley Schafer
Lars Müller Publishers, 2017
Paperback, 288 pages

In my first job in an architecture office right out of school, one of the first things I was given – before I even had my own desk – was an employee handbook. A photocopied, spiral-bound booklet, the handbook delved into the details of what was expected from me as an employee: in terms of attire, sick days, performance, smoking (none, a new rule at the time), timesheets, billing, CAD standards, and so on and so on. The manual increased over time as the 50-person firm I joined more than doubled in a short amount of time. Over that time it functioned as a means of indoctrinating new employees and providing old employees with updates. I never imagined it to be more than a dry guide to office life, something that every office has. In the hands of the Storefront for Art and Architecture and others office manuals like this one offer fascinating glimpses into the architecture profession in the United States.

[Spread from OfficeUS Manual showing office plans]

OfficeUS Manual is the third book produced out of Storefront's curation (with MIT and Praxis) of the US Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. That year, Rem Koolhaas was director of the Biennale, and he unified the normally divergent national pavilions under one theme: "Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014." Storefront focused on the imperial ambitions of US firms, tracing 100 years of American firms building overseas. I'm not familiar with OfficeUS Agenda, the exhibition's catalog, but OfficeUS Atlas, which I reviewed in 2015, is a hefty book with archived publications and profiles of the many firms working overseas. OfficeUS Manual delves into the inner-workings of some of these firms through that often overlooked document, the employee handbook.

[Spread from OfficeUS Manual showing CAD conventions]

Compared to Atlas, Manual is much more fun – at least for architects. Sure, the various clippings from the office manuals of Bertrand Goldberg, Richard Neutra, Venturi and Rauch, Höweler + Yoon, [redacted], and many others are accompanied by new, often academic essays (most of them short); but the focus is on the clippings from manuals, grouped into 71 topics. Overtime: "Although it is in everyone's best interest to complete work during regular business hours, the nature of the profession of architecture sometimes makes this impossible." Procrastination: "Any architectural office in a major western city keeps a parrot in the drafting room ... [screaming] at the employees below: 'WORK! WORK! WORK!'" Office Attire and Decorum: "Each member of the studio will be issued Office Slippers." Correspondence: "'Slang' should not be used in any written form of correspondence including email."

I could go on with the examples, but it should be clear that half the fun is relating the selected quotes to one's own experiences, be it from a similar time or many decades ago. But with only 288 pages and much of the real estate taken up by the new essays and stills from a specially commissioned film (Amie Siegel's The Architects) that peeks into architecture offices, I can only empathize with the work of the editors. Wading through thousands of pages in manuals to find the most incisive, controversial, and often humorous lines to put into the book – that is not a task I would wish on my enemies. So kudos to the editors for their work and finding a way to present and make sense of an important but overlooked element of architectural production.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

AIA's 25-Year Award for 2018 goes to...

...Nada. Zilch. That's right, for the first time in its nearly 50-year history, the AIA is not giving out a Twenty-five Year Award. I learned that news at Architect magazine and then wrote about it for World-Architects, where I couldn't help wonder what was submitted – and what wasn't.

Were these buildings submitted?

Head on over to World-Architects to read my thoughts on this year's no-Twenty-five Year Award.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Today's archidose #990

Here are a couple photos of the (new-to-me) Sint Rita Church (1966) in Harelbeke, Belgium, by Léon Stynen and Paul De Meyer. (Photos: Lukas Schlatter.)

Sint Rita Church
Sint Rita Church

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:
:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool
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:: Tag your photos #archidose

Friday, January 05, 2018

Never Built New York

Earlier this week I finally made it out to the Queens Museum to see Never Built New York. Curated by Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin, the exhibition is based on their 2016 book of the same name, with exhibition design by Christian Wassmann. I'll have a review on World-Architects in a couple weeks, linking to it here once it's online. In the meantime, here is a slideshow of my photos of the exhibition, which is split into three parts: gallery with drawings and models, Panorama of the City of New York with NBNY additions, and main space highlighting projects for Flushing, Queens.

Never Built New York

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Meet ED

Archinect is no stranger to print, having produced Bracket every couple years or so since the inaugural issue in 2010. Regardless, Archinect is making a big deal about Ed, the new quarterly print publication it describes as "an experiment in how to evolve architectural publishing." Archinect founder Paul Petrunia further describes Ed as "a hybrid publication ... [that] will charge forward into new territory while taking inspiration and elaborating on trends from Archinect’s dedicated community of participants and contributors." Starting with the first issue that was just released, each Ed will have its own theme and unique graphic design.

Ed 1, under Editor in Chief Nicholas Korody and designer Folder Studio, is themed "The Architecture of Architecture," which immediately brings to mind the theme of the first Chicago Architecture Biennial, "The State of the Art of Architecture," at least in name and being fairly open-ended. Korody's introduction describes architecture as "always plural and always contested" and the issue as "a self-portrait of the discipline and the profession." Petrunia's and Korody's words combine to paint some pretty ambitious goals; although I don't doubt their ambition, it's hard to grasp clearly where the "new territory" lies or if the publication says more about (the architecture of) architecture than other publications, print or otherwise.

Korody describes Ed 1 as "a journal wrapped in a magazine," an assertion that holds up in both its contents and its design. Design-wise, the "magazine" contributions that begin and end the issue are in color, on glossy paper, and tend to be projects and/or interviews with architects; alternatively, the "journal" contributions are on matte pages with b/w illustrations, the occasional half-page insert and its own table of contents, and the articles here tend to be scholarly in tone. The whole is very handsome (it even smells good!) and holds much promise for future issues, particularly given that each, like MAS Context, will be designed by a different graphic designer.

In terms of content, I found myself drawn equally to pieces in both sections of the issue: an excerpt from Interboro's The Arsenal of Inclusion & Exclusion and the "Small Studio Snapshot" on Brandão Costa Arquitectos in the "magazine" section; and contributions by Troy Conrad Therrien, Jack Self, and Scott Deisher, among others, in the "journal" section. A couple essays paint differences between print and online. "Heroes, Rumors, Cults: Designs on Architectural Celebrity" by Feminist Architecture Collaborative (the cover story) can be found online as well, but with its numerous footnotes (one after the first word!) and illustrations, the print version is more readable. Deisher's piece, "Swagger from the Front: Crisis and Criticism since 1980," makes me realize what is in other publications but is missing here: a bio. Who is Scott Deisher? Beats me, but Ed doesn't help; perhaps Archinect will.

Those interested in contributing to Ed #2 have until January 30.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Vote for Building of the Year

Head on over to American-Architects to vote for Building of the Year 2017. The nearly 50 contenders are culled from the Building of the Week feature that I curate. Voting is online until the end of January with the winner announced in early February.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Today's archidose #989

Here are some photos of the Vauxhall Cross (2005) bus station and transport interchange in Lambeth, London by Arup Associates. (Photos: Artur Salisz.)

Although barely twelve years old, last month the Lambeth Council approved plans to demolish the station in favor of "new transport interchange and public realm improvements" designed by 5th Studio. The Architects' Journal (subscription) has more information on the proposed development plans and the demolition of the distinctive building.

Vauxhall Cross Bus Station
Vauxhall Cross bus station HDR
Vauxhall Cross bus station
Vauxhall Cross bus station

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:
:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool
To contribute your Instagram images for consideration, just:
:: Tag your photos #archidose