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2003.01.12 16:19
Re: the dead end of urbanism as we know it
I always thought it interesting that the oldest part of Berlin actually began as two cities (I guess towns, really), Berlin and Colln. Thus the two Berlins of the latter 20th century were not at all unprecedented for this place. [Dare I suggest that West Berlin and East Berlin were quasi reenactments of their very origin?]
Interesting too is how Berlin's growth over the last several centuries was more an assimilation of the towns/boroughs that surrounded old Berlin. Ungers, in the 1970s, liked to refer to Berlin as an archipelago, a group of islands.


2003.01.18 15:52
Re: Libeskind on CR tonight
Could it now be clear that nothing at Ground Zero will ever come close to what was there before, and certainly in no way capture the same intensity of event that September 11, 2001 was? If that's the case, how does one design something that is already destined to be lacking, except for the media hype. And given all the hyper media attention surrounding Ground Zero and its renewal design, one would think that the rebuilding of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would be in all the history books as a(n atomically) powerful precedent clearly explaining what such renewal really means and how to do it properly.


2003.02.04 11:50
Re: Robert Venturi
I'm beginning to see a lot of Venturi et al architecture and design as 'mod'. Not Modern, not Post-Modern, not (just) Pop--specifically mod.
The Princeton Memorial Park tower is very mod, as is the Mr. and Mrs. Gooding house of a decade later.
Venturi, like Stirling, is a mod colorist (for sure), a distinct rarity within 20th century architectural history.


2003.02.23 12:30
Re: more on wtc
Domes [as somehow symbols of paganism) were not an issue within early Christian architecture design. In fact, the Martyrium over the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, a construction that commenced after Helena found the True Cross there in 325, was very related to a dome structure. The Christian 'churches' prior to Constantine, e.g., the church across from the Imperial (Diocletian's) Palace at Nicomedia was destroyed during the Persecution of 303, and then rebuild in 315, was probably closer in design to a Jewish Synagogue than anything else. The basilica, as attachment to a martyrium, flourished as a Christian place of worship design type under Helena in Rome 312-324, while her emperor son Constantine was then ruler of (only) the western half of the Empire--Constantine rarely spent any time in Rome himself; he preferred Trier before he founded Constantinople. The martyrium at the basilica of Sts. Pietro et Marcellinus (Rome, completed by July 25, 326) was a domed structure. This martyrium also doubled as the proposed mausoleum of Constantine, however Helena unexpectedly died at Constantine's Vicennalia (20th Imperial Jubilee at Rome) 25 July 326, and it was then Helena who was ultimately laid to rest within the martyrium of Sts. Pietro et Marcellinus. Ruins of this martyriun still exist, and today act as entrance to the catacombs over which the martyrium was intentionally built. Constantine never returned to Rome after Helena's funeral.
What really changed architecturally with the early Christian building boom during the reign of Constantine is that the new religious architecture became very internalized. Judging by descriptions of what was inside these places, they were gleaming with gold and silver everywhere, while the exteriors remained relative sparse. I often wonder if this interiority is due to the fact that a woman, i.e. Helena, planned it that way. Of course, all the new gold and silver was very likely from melted down gold and silver that came from the Pagan temples that were starting to be dismantled (more than destroyed, remember all the columns were also reused within the new Christian structures) during the same time. (Very metabolic.)
From the little I know of Constantine's original design of Constantinople, domes were in abundance.

2003.03.17 20:41
29 years ago today
On 17 March 1974 Louis Kahn died of a heart stroke in New York's Pennsylvania Station upon returning from a trip to India.


2003.06.23 16:52
tallest buildings
...I only presented those "world's tallest building" record holders that made a significant 'leap' in height beyond a previous record holder. There is a distinct pattern of heights going from 500' to 1000' to 1500', and I (again) wonder if 2000' will ever be achieved.
The world's tallest building record holders in order are:
Great Pyramid at Giza
tower of Beauvais Catherdral (collapsed)
Great Pyramid at Giza (again) or
possibly the second Pyramid at Giza
Washington Monument
Eiffel Tower
Chrysler Building
Empire State Building
World Trade Center Towers (collapsed)
Sears Tower
Petronis Towers


2003.08.07 13:08
Re: Colors of the season
The last time I purposefully read anything on color (almost 10 years ago) was John Shearman, "The Functions of Michelangelo's Color" in The Sistine Chapel: A Glorious Restoration (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1994).
An arbitrary quotation from p. 88:
"Michelangelo's restless experimentation produces much inconsistency."


2003.08.16 09:39
Re: closing the visible space
In Durand's Recueil et parallèle des édifices de tout genre, anciens & modernes, remarquables par leur beauté, par leur grandeur ou par leur singularité, 1800, where a 'history' of architecture is presented via plans and elevations all drawn at the same scale and categorized by type (ie, temples, churches, palaces, theaters, etc.), the only building/structure larger than St. Peter's Basilica is the Great Pyramid of Giza--the Great Pyramid originally reached a height of 480 ft.; St. Peter's reaches 452 ft.; the U.S Capitol reaches 287.5 ft. From this 'record', it is likely safe to say that St. Peter's is the largest hollow stone/masonry building.


2003.08.16 10:35
Re: iron curtain
M., the Iron Curtain was certainly real/physical between East and West Germany. From the two Germanys, the Iron Curtain proceeded south all the way to the Adriatic Sea, ending between Trieste, Italy and Yugoslavia. A writer took a specific journey along the entire length of the Iron Curtain--before the book was published, much of it was first printed in the New Yorker (1983 or 84) in three parts (which is what I read). I seem to recall that the "fence" was mostly real and contiguous from north to south, although the severity of the 'curtain' and what it manifest and represented gradually diminished the further south it was.
I traveled (by car) through two (of the three?) checkpoints between the West and East German border in May 1990. [These checkpoints are not to be confused with the 'famous' Alpha, Bravo and Charlie Checkpoints--A and B between West Berlin and East Germany, and Charlie specifically between East and West Berlin. I went through A, B and C, plus I crossed over the Glienike Bridge between West Berlin and Potsdam--this is the bridge were spies were famously traded.] The Iron Curtain was very real at these points. This was an interesting time because the Berlin Wall was already coming down, but there were still two Germany's, thus the 'checking' at the checkpoints (for all Germans at least) was relatively lax, although the whole 'apparatus' was still in place. In fact, at my final crossing from East to West at Erfurt, the gates were just open and there were no guards anywhere to be seen.

2003.08.16 15:11
Re: pointers
There is a very good scale comparison of "shopping" places, from Trajan's Market (110 AD) to Super K-Mart (1997) within the Harvard School of Design Guide to Shopping--this is for sure a continuation of Durand's method.


2003.08.28 12:50
Re: FW: Evolutionary theory and architecture
Regarding "evolutionary theory and architecture," there are some precedents that should be considered. For example, the works of J. N. L. Durand and Seroux 'Agincourt, both from the early 19th century, offer 'histories' of (art and) architecture that are (up until then) unique in their application, indeed a more 'evolutionary' approach towards classification.
Durand, in his Recueil et Parallele des Edifices de tout Genre - Anciens et Moderns, specifically categorizes the history of architecture (including non-Western examples) by type, but he also presents all examples drawn at the same scale, thus simultaneously rendering a history of architecture via comparative size.
Seroux 'Agincourt, in his Histoire de l'art par les monuments depuis sa decadence au IV siecle jusqu'a son renouvellement au XVI (The History of Art through its Monuments from Its Decadence in the Fourth Century to Its Renewal in the Sixteenth), attempts to document how (mostly Western) architectural style became decadent between the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, as if displaying all the mutations (Western) architecture went through until it again became 'classical'.


2003.08.31 13:28
Re: Evolutionary theory and architecture
Going back to Alex's initial statement, "In my continuing research into the history of architecture I am continually surprised by the lack of an adequate theory of change to explain the shift from style to style. At the same time I have become increasingly aware of the power of evolutionary theory to explain the concept and mechanisms of change," I am curious which shifts from style to style are being referring to. Are they the shifts from Greek to Roman to Early Christian to Romanesque to Gothic to Renaissance to Mannerist to Baroque to Rococo to Neo-Classicism to Eclecticism to Modernism to Post Modernism to today's architecture? Furthermore, what exactly substantiates the claim that an "adequate theory of change" is lacking from the explanation of shifts from style to style?


2003.09.01 11:05
Re: Evolutionary theory and architecture
...you very much got, and explained far better than I could, what I was trying to get at regarding Alex's "Evolutionary theory and architecture" proposal. A. may indeed be right about there being a lack in architectural history when it comes to explaining shifts from style to style (and this interests me greatly), but I'm not convinced so far that evolutionary theory (which ever one that may be) is the best(?) way to explain shifts from style to style.
Up until (more or less) the "International Style", architectures where very much linked to geography/locale and the politics(/religion) that comes with geography [--and here Norberg-Schulz's Meaning In Western Architecture offers good explanation]. Of course, European colonialism can be seen as an "internationalization" (or is it "globalization"?) of European/Western architecture precursing the "International Style," as well as the beginning of the eradication of many indigenous architectural styles throughout the world. Is this history best explained as evolutionary? Is the shift from Mayan architecture to Baroque architecture in Mexico, for example, something evolutionary? Not exactly survival of the fittest; more like survival of the one's with the guns and the greed, and, oh yes, the holy mission to spread the Christian faith.
Personally, I sometimes wonder whether Mayan architecture may have sometime/somehow played an influencing/inspiring role in terms of (particularly) Spanish Renaissance and Baroque architecture.

2003.09.01 14:09
Re: Evolutionary theory and architecture
Regarding paradigm, the dictionary definition is that of being a model, which is not exactly the same as a "meme". For example, the shift in antique Roman culture from Paganism to Christianity is a paradigm shift that occurred largely because of the legalizing of Christianity and the outlawing of Paganism. One could say that Christianity spread within the antique world via "meme", which in modern terms would be called evangelism, but the cultural shift from Paganism to Christian is very much based on legal paradigms.
I forgot to mention in my last post the close relation between "meme" and reenactment (and what I have occasionally referred to as reenactionary architecturism). Reenactment as a pure function precedes "meme" in that the function of (human/individual) memory itself is a mental reenactment, thus "memes", more than anything are the spreading of mental reenactments, just like viruses replicate/reenact themselves.
When it come to "style", one could ask "What (if anything) is the style reenacting?" In Meaning In Western Architecture, without specifying reenactment, Norberg-Schulz nonetheless explains the axiality of Egyptian temples as analogous to the axiality of the Nile, etc. Likewise, the cardo and decumanus of Roman town plans represent (reenact) the axis of the Earth and the motion of the sun respectively. One could even ask what (if anything) does symmetry in design reenact? [Does symmetry in design stem largely from the overwhelming symmetrical design of the human body?]
If one takes the design of the human body as a paradigm, can one then say that corporAl symmetry was then reenacted corporEAlly, and thereafter symmetry in design was spread as paradigm via meme?
Is it fair to say that A. is (or appears to be) taking the theory of evolution as a paradigm and via meme applying it to the history of architecture? Or is a theory of evolution already manifest as a paradigm within the history of architecture, and A. is (the first?) detecting it? [Oddly, if A. is successful in his pursuits, the answer to both questions will be yes.]
All of the above regarding reenactment stem from the logical hypothesis that a reenactment can never be as original as that which it reenacts, and that reenactment come with degrees of separation between the reenactment and that which is being reenacted. Thus (I see) paradigm as closer in degrees to something original and meme as closer in degrees to reenactment.
[Here's one of my favorite examples of reenactionary architecturism:] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution originated, but the design of the city itself is very much a reenactment--there are other historical cities named Philadelphia (today's Amman, Jordan, for example), and Holme's survey/plan reenacts a Roman camp town precisely, even to the point where the cardo here today, Broad Street, is the longest straight urban street in the world. After the American Revolution, Philadelphia became the first, albeit interim, capital of the USA, and it's architecture then began to reenact the architecture of ancient Greece, which was used as a paradigm of "democratic" design.
In the beginning of the 20th century, the design of Philadelphia's new Benjamin Franklin Parkway set out to reenact the Champs Elysees of Paris, and there indeed are replicas of the palaces of the Place de la Concorde at Logan Circle, the centerpiece of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The design of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as reenactment becomes even more compounding when it is recognized that its design, as unwittingly manifest today, matches exactly Piranesi's design of an axis of life within the Ichnographia Campus Martius


2003.09.26 16:22
metabolism
On the occasion of the World Design Conference held in Tokyo in 1960, a group of young 30-something Japanese architects proposed "metabolism" as a new 'ism' for architecture and urban planning. Their idea was quite simple: architecture and the city should constitute an open living organism that grows through metabolism, instead of an enclosed, static machine.
--Arika Asada and Arata Isozaki, "From Molar Metabolism to Molecular Metabolism" in Anyhow (1998).
What the Metabolists failed to realize is that metabolism (as a physiological operation) is a creative/destructive duality, hence, metabolism does not define a continuous organic growth, as much as growth integral with equal measures of destruction.
Schumpeter called capitalism "creative destruction," which, if correct, essentially labels capitalism as being metabolic. There is no question that we live in very metabolic times. Unfortunately, most (product) designers today (seem to) remain oblivious to the fact that what is great design today will soon enough be tomorrow's trash.


2003.09.26 17:02
architecture and accidents
"...check out some of Peter Eisenman's work. It has an accidental quality--he sets up processes and systems and kicks back and waits to see what happens."
As just described, Eisenman's methodology is then a process of intended serendipity rather than a process of pure accident.


2003.11.21 17:00
virtual guggenheim?
The Virtual Guggenheim is so beyond virtual that it's actually not there.


2003.12.03 17:36
so much for liberty...
The point of this thread is... ...the ironic symbolism currently manifest by the architecture at Independence Historic National Park.
Security checkpoints at IHNP are a post-911 phenomenon, and, as far as their 'design" there goes, they are makeshift and poorly executed. Using the former Liberty Bell Pavilion now also as a checkpoint adds symbolic absurdity to the mix.
Granted this may all be temporary, but, if you are mindful of all the 200+ year history of this specific site, there's not much about it that hasn't just been temporary, or indeed ironic about the literal birthplace of the United States of America.
Perhaps the reason it is so difficult these days to design a decent memorial is because architects for almost a century now are more trained at designing oblivion.


2003.12.13 16:42
which Acropolis do you prefer?
The Acropolis as used by the ancient Greeks?
The Acropolis as used by the ancient Romans?
The Acropolis when the Parthenon was used as a Christian Church dedicated to Mary?
The Acropolis when the Turks used the Parthenon as a munitions magazine (hence the 17th century explosion that pretty much wrecked the place)?
The Acropolis as mass tourist destination with the Parthenon ruins slowly being further destroyed by air-pollution?
Multiple choice, I'm sure.

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