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« Detaille was Detailed, de Neuville was Better | Main | Artist Post Link List (Donald) - 2 »

June 18, 2009

Architecture and Urbanism Linkage

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* New England architect Katie Hutchison conveys an awful lot in one simple sentence when she writes, "To me, residential architecture extends beyond the built structures of our homes to the spaces around, in between, and within sight of them." Now that's the kind of architecture theory I respect and resonate to. Her blogposting is a lovely, short appreciation of a very moving space. Fun to see that Katie is now selling prints and notecards of her photographs. She shows the same love of natural materials and processes, simple and direct experience, and the varieties and qualities of light and color in her photographs that she shows in her building-design work and her blogging.

* Large office towers -- that's "skyscrapers" to you civilians -- are doing as poorly in the recession as McMansions are.

* Nicola Linza explains beautifully why he's committed to architectural classicism.

* What a mess.

* Time's Richard Lacayo offers a well-done visual tour through Renzo Piano's new addition to the Art Institute of Chicago. Lacayo is impressed, and for all I know the place works well. But to me Piano's structure looks like a genteel version of a 1960s airplane terminal. Here's a talk with Piano.

* Has the building frenzy in Dubai finally come to an end? (Link thanks to Charlton Griffin)

* Nathan Origer takes a walk through his beloved hometown and wonders why so many of the newer buildings are so awful.



posted by Michael at June 18, 2009


Thanks especially for the link to Nathan Origer's Nathancontramundi blog. It is intriguing to see what a youngster thinking beyond the simplistic right/left structure of political thought has to say. His hometown architecture posting expresses a lot about the complex topic of the interconnection between civic life and architectural decision making. And it is so refreshing to see someone commenting on the aesthetic and social impact of the sort of buildings done for small town groceries, fire stations and big box stores instead of taking another crack at modernist starchitects doing signature buildings for brand name clients in major metropolitan areas.

Posted by: Chris White on June 19, 2009 8:05 AM

modernist starchitects doing signature buildings for brand name clients in major metropolitan areas...

...hurt a lot of people.

Posted by: PatrickH on June 19, 2009 10:41 AM

I think CW has a point: there's far more eye damage done by these small scale atrocities than the starchitects, vile though they are.

For example, drive through southern Utah, one of the most scenic area on Earth. The small towns are full of these metal sheds & stucco boxes, which do not go well against the backdrop of red rocks, believe me. But in some there are still the old sandstone block houses of the early Mormons and that's magic, as long as you filter out the convenience store next door.

Why we've made a junkyard of this country I'll never understand.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on June 19, 2009 1:51 PM

To be fair to Chris, the kind of damage to small town America of the kind described by Nathan O does enormous damage to huge numbers of people too. Kunstler has reserved some of his choicest diatribes for what has been done to destroy the livability of one of the Northeast's great legacies: the Yankee small town.

And this damage is perhaps even greater in sum than all the stress caused by all the inhuman monster-ego corporate lickspittling starchitecture wonder-works. So, point taken, Chris.

And...on Katie Hutchison. I so love the colour scheme of her main site, and its layout, that I've tried to incorporate some of those elements into documents I've designed. Woman's got an eye, I can tell you! If I wasn't in love with someone else, I'd be heading down and doing my damnedest to seduce the hell out of her.

I love brilliant women.

Posted by: PatrickH on June 19, 2009 2:01 PM

Re: "What a Mess"

Although I oppose the Atlantic Yards Project because it is a gov't supported (e.g., eminent domain, etc.) and a gov't subsidized project (and I thus vigorously applaud the calls for a gov't reevaluation that would hopefully lead to the withdrawal of gov't support -- thereby killing it), I think the non-Gehry, Ellerbe Becket design is "POTENTIALLY" superior. (I say "potentially" because the design does seem to be below par for the firm. Judging from what I've read about them and from a photo of the Conesco Fieldhouse (a previous design of theirs), they seem to design mostly modern traditional arenas, but in this case they seemed to have toned down the traditionalism so as to try and placate the fans of orthodox modernism.)

The "Atlantic Yards Report" blog had an interesting post about the change in architects that featured a link to illustrations of the extremely highly regarded (from a user's point of view) Conesco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, and of the university fieldhouse, also in Indianapolis, that inspired it (i.e., the Hinkle Fieldhouse).

I posted a comment on that blog about why I liked these two arenas.

Here's the link to the blog post and my comment:

If the link doesn't work, the post is "Lupica [a popular NY sports columnist]: new Atlantic Yards arena design looks like a White Castle."
Atlantic Yards Report, Sunday, 6/14/09.

White Castle, by the way, is an East Coast / Midwest hamburger chain with distinctively designed facilities -- which, the last time I looked (which was admittedly a while ago), don't look like this design. I think Lupica was really trying to say that the new arena design looked like a fast food franchise, which it does somewhat.)

Posted by: Benjamin Hemric on June 19, 2009 11:00 PM

Dear readers. Mr. Gomez Davila┬┤s thought must be understood within the context of an aristocratic perspective of life, based on the preeminence of catholic religion and a deep rejection to modernity. Gomez Davila rejects anything that might evoke a democratic spirit, that is, any reference to the mass, which in his opinion, is equivalent to vulgarity. Therefore, since modern cities have been built based on a democratic spirit (especially during the second half of the XX century), these are spaces that promote vulgarity, bad taste and in general, everything that may oppose to any representation of aristocracy.

Posted by: Gustavo E. Silva on June 26, 2009 10:52 PM

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