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2013.07.25 08:29
Charles Jencks - The Story of Post-Modernism: Five Decades of the Ironic, Iconic and Critical in Architecture
But 'the story' of Post-Modern architecture indeed comprises multiple narratives, conflicting viewpoints, and subaltern voices. From the very beginning Jencks described the language of Post-Modern architecture as schizophrenic, even.


2013.08.05 09:23
Art History
When dealing with history, creativity often involves (or even starts with) making the non-obvious choices.


2013.08.05 21:12
Art History
I like art history because I like learning new things. If anything, art history is an ongoing lesson in exactly creativity, a way to sharpen the cutting edge, even.


2013.08.30 20:13
Precedents of Arrival
Not exactly a precedent of arrival, or arrival-threshold-gateway, but take a look at Le Corbusier's promenade architecturale formula as played out in several building designs.
3122f 3122g 3122h 3122i 3122j 3122k 3122l 3122m 3122n
If anything, it might give you a better idea how architecture can deliver a sequential narrative. It also demonstrates how architecture can be used to deliver a destination.


2013.09.08 13:00
Obama names critic of Gehry's design to Eisenhower Memorial Commission to oversee DC project
...don't forget that after the Vietnam Memorial was complete, there was still a controversy that Lin's design was too abstract, and eventually a representional statue of three soldiers looking as if cautiously scouting a jungle was added to the 'entry' point of the path to the wall of names.
Does the design 'battle' hinge on abstraction versus representation?
I'm still hoping to find a sketch I drew for a design project from first semester of fifth year (Fall 1980). The project was an omni war memorial for Philadelphia's Independence Mall, the site was where the US Constitution Center now stands. The guest studio critic was Allen Greenberg, who was big on (the design history of) Lutyen's WWI Memorial Cenotaph in London. The sketch is not what I ultimately presented because I just knew it wouldn't go over too well at jury. Anyway, the design was of seven 30' high white marble monoliths, one for each US war up to that time, standing erect in line across the site. Each slab was blank except for a 1' high thin vertical gash somewhere about half way up which acted as a fountain releasing water that would run down the slabs and into a shallow pool connecting all the monoliths. I wanted the water of the fountain dyed deep red to look like blood.
Today, that design could well be a seen as an uncanny composite of abstraction and representation.

2013.09.21 11:52
21 September
"Every good story needs a complication. ... A story needs a point of departure, a place from which the character can discover something, transform himself, realize a truth, reject a truth, right a wrong, make a mistake, come to terms."
The Scriptores Historiae Augustae is now freely available online, and Bill Thayer has nicely coordinated the text with Platner's 'topography of Rome' text. I can't remember now, but I assume the description of Elagabalus' Palace also came from the Scriptores Historiae Augustae. In any case, what remains of Elagabalus' Palace today is Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, and transposed by Piranesi to the Domus Alexandri Severi along the Triumphal Way.
"...a place from which the architecture manifests a discovery, a transformation, realizes a truth via inversion, comes to correct terms via a mistake."
And I still have to show the IQ superimposition of the Pantheon and Infringement Complex. More complicated appositions?
2013.09.21 20:46
"For even in the most favorable hypothesis, the biographers of the Historia Augusta are separated from the Antonines, their great models, by an instance of some hundred and twenty-five years. Of course this is not the first time an ancient historian found himself so far, or even much further, from the figures he was seeking to portray. But the ancient world in the time of Plutarch, say, was still homogeneous enough for the Greek biographer to produce, at nearly a hundred and fifty years' distance, an image of Caesar carved in virtually the same substance as Caesar. At the period when the Historia Augusta was compiled, on the contrary, the world was so altered as to render the great Antonines' way of life and of thought virtually impenetrable to biographers already on the road leading to the Byzantine Empire. A little closer in time, but more exotic, more rapidly distorted by popular superstition, the rulers of the Syrian dynasty vanish even more utterly beneath a forest of legends. Thereafter, chances of error due to remoteness in time gradually diminish with the emperors who devour one another during the rest of the third century, but models and painters alike sink into that magma of confusion, violence, and mendacity characteristic of all periods of crisis. From one end of the Historia Augusta to the other, everything sounds as if a small group of today's men of letters, more or less well informed but mediocre, and often no more than ordinarily conscientious, were to tell us first the history of Napoleon or of Louis XVIII by means of authentic documents seasoned with prefabricated anecdotes, anachronistically tinged by the passions of our own day and age, and then, shifting to figures and events of more recent vintage, were to offer about Jaurès, Hitler, Pétain, or De Gaulle a mass of worthless gossip mingled with some useful informations, an avalanche of literature from Propaganda Bureaus and sensational revelations from the gossip columns."
Marguerite Yourcenar, "Faces of History in the Historia Augusta."
This passage seems useful in terms of thinking about a novel whose scenes and complications occur within the realm of labyrinthine architectural history, or is it within the realm of architecturally labyrinthine history?


2013.10.01 21:58
History/Theory Books on Tokyo
Robin Boyd, Kenzo Tange (New York, George Braziller, 1962). From the Masters of Contemporary Architecture series.
Although focused on Tange, there is a concomitant focus on architecture/design in post-WWII Japan and Tokyo.


2013.10.24 12:04
Why won't you design what we (the public) want?
"We use the term 'Stalinist architecture' to describe buildings concieved between 1933, the date of the final competition to design the Palace of the Soviets, and 1955, when the Academy of Architecture was abolished. A government decree was issued in the same year as the abolition. Entitled 'Measures for the further industrialization, improvement in quality and reduction in cost of construction', it marked the return of Soviet architecture to the modern movement.
"Between 1934 and his death in 1953, Stalin created and sustained an unwieldy system of repression. In such a tyranny, every element of society must be in the service of the state, and architects, although less effected than writers and artists, were no exception. To enable Stalin to implement his immense construction programme, prisoners were frequently exploited for forced labour. Prisoners (or zeks), working in huge numbers, built the most magnificent Stalinist works, from dams, locks, canals and skyscrapers to entire cities, with the most basic equipment. As his power increased, Stalin's own taste became law; his personal interference is evident in many surviving plans.
"Stalin's Russia was a nightmare of double standards and double thinking, when the simple aspirations of ordinary people could amount to crimes against the state.
Alexei Tarkhanov & Sergei Kavtaradze, Stalinist Architecture, 1992.


2013.11.04 17:18
Why won't you design what we (the public) want?
Just to interject regarding Schinkel, the wikipedia entry is misleading. The Crown Prince was about seventeen years old when Schinkel began designs for the Altes Museum, and it was about that time that Schinkel began giving lessons to the Crown Prince in drawing and design. Thus, the notion of 'influence' definitely goes both ways. Also, I've seen reproductions of several of the Crown Prince's architectural sketches, and I don't recall seeing one of the Altes Museum, although that doesn't mean one such sketch does not exist. Moreover, for the real influence on the design of the Altes Museum, look to Durand.
...be careful when writing Gropius and Schinkel in the same sentence. Schinkel was a student of architect Martin Gropius, and I think Schinkel even lived within the Martin Gropius household as a student.


2013.11.04 19:29
Why won't you design what we (the public) want?
Was just inspired to write a 'historical' novel where Schinkel uses the 'influence' of the Crown Prince to get to do the designs he, Schinkel, wants. The Crown Prince figures out Schinkel's stratagem and thus starts changing his mind like every week or so as to what style a project should be designed in, just to drive Schinkel a little crazy, but also to see just how clever Schinkel can be. Schinkel, in turn, figures out the Crown Prince's stratagem and hence the architecture just starts getting more and more weird. [Wolfhilde von Schlittenfahrt, the sexy, new intern in Schinkel's office quickly becomes aware of the dueling stratagems and immediately starts 'busting' in her own stratagems.] Add to that that both Schinkel and the Crown Prince are obsessed with the life and works of Heinrick von Kleist and participate in a secret Von Kleist Society where all forms of strangeness ensue. Working title: Kohlhaas wo bist du?


2013.11.04 21:22
Why won't you design what we (the public) want?
During the reign of (emperor) Augustus, there came a delegation from India to Rome. Augustus was busy building Rome into a "stone" city at the time. The design of tomb of Augustus is uncannily similar (even very similar in size) to the Great Stupa in India. I think the delegation brought along drawings to show where they came from. I guess you really wouldn't be an emperor if, after seeing someone else's great thing, you didn't immediately think, "I want one of them too."


2013.11.16 21:18
Street naming logic
The older parts of Philadelphia (streets) have the most logic.
The original plan, today's Center City, has north-south streets numbered going east to west starting at the Delaware River: the river at Water Street, Front Street, 2nd Street, 3rd Street, etc., going at least into the 60s in West Philadelphia. The (major) east-west streets are named for trees, from north to south: Vine Street, Sassafras Street (now Race Street), Mulberry Street (now Arch Street), Cherry Street, Chestnut Street, Walnut Street, Locust Street, Spruce Street, Pine Street.
The number streets extend north and south to the city limits. The (mostly major) east-west streets of North Philadelphia are named for Pennsylvania counties: Columbia, Berks, Susquehanna, Dauphin, York, Cumberland, Huntingdon, Lehigh, Somerset, Cambria, Indiana, Clearfield, Allegheny, Westmoreland, Tioga, Venango, Erie, Butler, Pike, Luzerne, Lycoming, Wyoming.
Philadelphia's land also reaches northeast, and those north-south streets east of Front Street are alphabetical, going west to east: A Street, B Street, etc.
Many of the 'destination' streets are also original 'Indian' trails: Germantown Avenue, Frankford Avenue, Oxford Avenue, Old York Road, Baltimore Pike(?)
There is even a book: Mermaids, Monasteries, Cherokees and Custer: the stories behind Philadelphia street names (1990).


2013.11.16 21:28
Street naming logic
Forgot to mention:
The reason perhaps for naming streets after trees in the original part of Philadelphia is that Pennsylvania itself is Latin for (William) Penn's Woods. There must have just been trees (and deer) everywhere, along with the Swedish colonials who were here even before Penn became owner of the whole place. I'm not sure if there are any Swedish name streets in Philadelphia.


2014.01.01 12:30
Constructing Modernity (KSA Japan Wrap-Up)
Last week I read the following passage:
"When they came to build the west front of St.-Pierre at Corbie, in the first decade of the eighteenth century [begun c. 1706], they submitted a design in the Gothic mode for the proposed classical facade that was submitted earlier, a decision parallel to that made at the same time for the west front Orleans cathedral, where the king, possibly under the influence of the Maurist scholar Bernard de Montfaucon, demended that "l'ordre gothique" be adhered to. These, though, may all be interpreted as examples of Gothic survival."
Of course, I have long known the term 'Gothic revival,' but this was my first introduction to the term 'Gothic survival.'
...you write, "Kuma continues to work in a subtle postmodern mode – an indication to me that a PoMo revival is in the works." Perhaps Kuma's continued work falls within the category of PoMo survival. Just a thought.
When you wrote, "Though there is a slight break in my understanding of the history of Japanese architecture between the 70s and 80s," I right away thought of Arata Isozaki's work. Thinking now about Isozaki's continuum of work, there is a certain (very high quality but nonetheless) chameleon aspect to it all, not too dissimilar than the practice of Philip Johnson.


2014.01.01 14:15
1 January   4711z


2014.01.02 18:19
SHENZHEN
It's strange to realize that 1990 is now almost a quarter century ago, and how much the world has changed since then. It seems like one could say that the whole People's Republic of China has gentrified in that time. As have many other parts of the world. Are we living in an era of global gentrification?
Beginning to wonder what virtually bolstering architecture and urbanism biennale-ly might mean or what biennale-ly bolstering architecture and urbanism virtually might mean.

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