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Archive for the ‘architectural history’ Category

flickr/users/carolee

Credit: flickr/users/carolee

We previously blogged about an opportunity to own your very own Usonian house.  If you weren’t sold on that how about your very own Eames Case Study House?

Curbed L.A. reports that Case Study House #9 is up for sale. For a scant $14 million you get not only the Eames but the massive estate constructed in front of it which one Curbed reader described as an ABORTION!

The photo I have listed here does not do the structure justice.  The Eames house that is, not the abortion.  You really must visit Curbed L.A.’s fancy set of photos.  They’re beautiful. While you’re clicking around be sure to stop by Materialicious.  The fine shelter blog that tipped us off to the Eames sale.

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I’ve been avoiding the Facebook 25 things meme myself but the National Trust For Historic Preservation has jumped on the bandwagon with their own list. There are no details of one-night stands or grating habits though the do reveal a thing for country music:

  • 10.The Dixie Chicks played at the National Preservation Conference in Fort Worth in the mid-90s, before Natalie Maines joined the band (and, therefore, before they were famous).
  • 13. Country music star Kenny Chesney featured the Farnsworth House, a National Trust Historic Site in Illinois, in his video, “Don’t Blink.”

You should definitely check out the rest of the list at their blog PreservationNation.  I learned a few things and it is nice to see institutions getting involved with interweb norms.

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marstonAward winning blog Northwest History posts an impassioned, through plea for stimulus money to be used to re-create Federal Writers Project to record and document our disappearing past. I have written previously about how the current financial crisis could have a silver-lining for we in the history,  cultural resource management and preservation communities.  It will take cogent,  passionate ideas like this to make it happen.

While you’re at Northwest History I suggest you check out their fantastic survey of 19th century facial hair in Washington State.


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Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Credit: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Jobless? Don’t want to wait for the new Federal Writer’s Project? Then I suggest heading over to Preservation in Pink and checking out their November post about hunting for preservation jobs.  The guide provides links and enough advice to get all of you recent grads and recent layoff started.

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bbc-slideshow

BBC has a wonderful audio-slideshow about the history of the early skyscrapers in America.

The short show is kind of an ad for a BBC Radio 4 series called America: Empire of Liberty, which I would also suggest browsing.  One assumes BBC Radio’s sudden interest in the states, out history and our “Empire of Liberty” has something to do with the recent election.  It is, perhaps, evidence that the world view of the U.S. is starting to warm-up a bit.  It is nice to see I probably won’t have to pretend to be Canadian this summer when I am abroad.

The slideshow lasts just three minutes, but it does an admirable job of showing off early examples of the skyscraper, one of the first completely American art-forms. I was happy to see the two-stage Monadnock Building was cleverly used to show the move from limits of masonry high-rises to the soaring heights of metal frame construction.  The brevity of the clip cuts out the steps leading up to architects Holabird and Roche’s steel-frame addition to the Monadnock, making them appear to be the first to have conceived the idea.

sftrajan

Monadnock Bldg Credit: sftrajan

Home Insurance Building

Had the narrator, Professor of US History: David Reynolds, had more time he surely would have mentioned that the first steel skeleton buildings were the brainchild of the underappreciated William LeBaron Jenny. His Leiter buildings predated the Monadnock by decades, but they were mere epilogue to his 1885 Home Insurance Building, which perfected the steel-skeleton that subsequently allowed for the rapidly rising skylines of the American commercial center.   Jenny rarely gets his due.  He was, to his detriment, more engineer than architect and the busy, disjointed Home Insurance façade lacks the slim grace of the Monadnock and later Chicago masterpieces.

The show  makes no mention of the relative sleekness of the American skyscraper, either, and its contribution to the modern aesthetic. Even a cursory comparison of the smooth, sloping, Egyptian inspired walls of the Monadnock to the fussier the European styles of the day illustrates that there is something there. The slideshow is only three minutes and change though, so I will cut them some slack.

Slideshows like this are the type of thing we soon hope to have here at TimeberPalace. Anyone who has topics they’d like to see explored is invited to COMMENT and let us know. I have some ideas up in the brain-chamber now which will hopefully be brought to fruition soon. Until then, please check out BBC’s slideshow, and while you’re online hop over to Fotofacade, the purveyors of fine architectural photography who tipped me off to the slide show.

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Piqued your interest?

Check out these TimberPalace approved books on the subject:

Chicago School of Architecture by Carl Condit – an exhaustive tome on the Chiacgo School and the development of the skyscraper by Chicago’s preeminent architectural historian.

Skyscrapers: Structure and Design by  Matthew Wells –  A beautiful but rigorous examination of the skyscraper and how far it has come since those early days in Chicago.

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Mentioned in this post:

BBC Audio Slideshow:  America’s Early Skyscrapers

BBC Radio4: America: Empire of Liberty

Fotofacade: Best damn architectural photo site on the webz.

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Somethin’ for the hometown…

Preservation Magazine has an interesting brief on the Irvington Historic District in Portland.

The article discusses the tensions between Irvington’s status as a “historic” neighborhood and the regional Metro government’s desire for more dense, urban neighborhoods.

Predictably, the article laments the blooming of large, dense, in-fill projects in historic neighborhoods.  I do not fault them.  It is after all, Preservation Magazine.  But, the article’s focus on a specific story of a condo project going in across from a historic Queen-Anne home glances past the deeper issues at play.

Preservation and Density are both worthy causes that are often in direct contradiction to one another.  So… which is more important? The imposition of large condo projects in Irvington will, almost definitely, alter the character of the neighborhood.  Is that OK?

Minimization, that is creating smaller, more discrete and respectful projects seems like an obvious compromise.    Irvington, with is city sized lots, is perfect for this approach. Figuring out exactly what makes a new project “respectful” of its surroundings can, of course, be difficult. It is described in the article as one of the “perennial conundrums of preservation” but I think the solution is clear: ample community involvement and a lengthy design review process.

Really, Irvington is easy. What about Cedar Mill?

493820638_a8ad851899_mAs the ethic of “density at all costs” takes over, will Portland’s suburbs go the way of Lost Oregon? With time, early suburban neighborhoods will offer as much historic (and I would argue aesthetic) value as old, historic Irvington.  The future tension between density and preservation in suburban neighborhoods is apt to be amplified.  How do you create dense housing that is respectful to its  complete antithesis? I really don’t think you can.  Does that mean the burbs and all of the historical and cultural information they carry are doomed?

What do you think?

COMMENT

Preservation Magazine:  Trouble in Green City: Zoning Trumps Design Guidelines in Historic Portland, Oregon

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The National Mall 1/20/09

The National Mall 1/20/09

We have a new president.  As a person of mixed-race today quite special for me, as it was for most Americans, regardless of their ethnic-identity. There is not a lot for me to to add to the chatter about our new Commander-in-Chief.  I am hardly qualified to be a political pundit so I won’t even try. As I watched the oath and parade I was taken, of course, by the architecture. Everything was designed to be grand and looked so beautiful on TV. I have never been impressed with Washington in person. Though, there are exceptions.

The National Building Museum is appropriately, exquisite. Its exterior is playful and pretty. Its interior is a marvel of light and air. It was initially designed as the pension office for Civil War veterans and, as such, originally had short ramp-like steps. This feature made it , perhaps the first building designed for this disabled in the country. That is something beautiful in its own right. It is not the rule unfortunately.

Most of the city and its monuments, although grand, are unexpectedly dingy in person and downright gaudy in design.  But, they photograph majestically and that is how we know them. Washington, like Los Angles, the other city we all know from pictures, is a giant stage. Its buildings are the set-pieces of our republic and we know them by the individual moments in history with which they cooresepond.  Perhaps that is why they look so dull in-person. The knock-off classical temple that houses Lincoln could never compete with the lyrical beauty of the great speech delivered in front of it.

The true architectural grandeur of the city comes when it is taken on as a whole. The image to the right is from the inauguration this morning. It is with photos like these, with the entire mall and a sea of citizens within, that we understand that the city truly lives up to L’Enfant’s design “for aggrandizement and embellishment . . . at any period however remote.”

 

 

Click to Zoom

Click to Zoom

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wtcmodel

The American Architectural Foundation is donating a giant architectural model of the World Trade Center to the museum that now resides at ground zero.

The massive 7-foot, gleaming towers were used to pitch architect Minoru Yamasaki’s design for the site. The foundation brought in a restoration team to spiff-up the model which was, of course, built to be temporary. For more details please check out the National Trust’s Preservation Nation blog. You should be reading it anyway.

I’m happy the model will be included in the September 11 Museum’s collection. The model is a work of art unto itself. I think it presents as good memorial to the tragedy as anything else I’ve seen. This model, built before the building, represents all the hope, community and team-work that go into a major architectural project. It is a symbol of the enterprising nature of humankind.

I can remember people discussing the design for the memorial immediately after the attacks. Given all that thought I have to say I am a little disappointed with the memorial competition entries and what the committee eventually decided to build. None of what was proposed has the simple clarity of the Staten Island September 11th Memorial.

The two, bent, wing-like forms of the Staten Island memorial easily suggest the towers and their absence from the view. The the fact that they are undelivered”postcards”, simply but profoundly expresses the sense of longing the loss of so many Staten Islanders brought to their community. It is one of my favorite memorials.

 

Memorials are built conscious of their place in history. This makes them interesting in the study of architectural history but can also stifle their artistic integrity. I feel like this may have happened at ground zero.

What are some of your favorite memorials? why? Do you prefer the simple, suggestive forms of modern memorials or the more triumphant early modes? Comment, I would love to hear from you.

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I found this recruiting video for the University of Oregon from 1934:

 

 

It includes lots of great footage of MacCourt, Fenton Hall (then the library), Deady Hall and a ton of others.  It also details the cost of many of these buildings for some reason… yeah who knows?

I thought this would be of interest to all my fellow Oregon Ducks out there!

Hat tip: to the University of Oregon You Tube Channel.

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How would you like to live in an original Frank Lloyd Wright designed Usonian house

 

Well then I suggest you check out the Palmer House in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  I feel for the seller, the housing market is in a shambles which is why this beauty comes with a $250,000 discount.  Even with the price reduction the sucker still carries the asking price of $1,250,000.  I assume that is a shit-ton more than they bought it for, maybe two shit-tons.

Follow the link, and if you can stand the annoying new-agey music embedded in the site you can contact Bob Eckstien, the agent charged with getting rid of this baby masterpiece.

Check it out, and if you have an extra million or so around help Bob earn his commission!

 

PALMER HOUSE

 

For those of you who don’t have a million or more in the bank and/or not willing to relocate to beautiful Ann Arbor here is a list of other Usonian houses near you!

 

 

Lazy to even leave your house?  Here are some videos of Usonian houses all over the country, starting with my local Usonian:

 

Gordon House:

Silverton, Oregon

(more…)

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