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Posts Tagged ‘architectural history’

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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To me Frank Lloyd Wright exists almost exclusively as a solemn, still, grey image of a man in old pictures.  I am, of course, familiar with his work, everyone is but I would be hard-pressed to explain any details of the mans affect and demeanor.  If you asked me what would Frank Lloyd Wright seem like on a game show for instance, I likely would have shrugged at you and said “your guess is as good as mine”

Thanks to the fine people at the Game Show Network (with an assist from Edward Lifson) I can now answer that question by saying he would seem slightly bored and out of it.  I think just about any nearly-90-year-old-man would fare about the same.

I have to say I am amazed that one of the contestants (I am not sure who she was though I recognized Peter Lawford on the panel) figured out who he was with the tiniest amount of information.  That woman is either a super sleuth or peeked under blindfold.

There is an almost sweet moment at the end of the clip where he tells the blowhard host (who kept answering his damn questions for him) that he just finished a new project on the western prairies and laments not bringing pictures of the project.  As he earnestly describes his desire to share his work with the audience he seems less like the archetypal architect-megalomaniac and more like an eager new student eager to show off his skills.  I guess that is a product of doing what you love.

The project he is describing is Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.  Price Tower was the architects tallest project it is startlingly tall considering Wright, God of the low-slung, prairie-style, designed it.  Perhaps even more odd is that it towers above the flat prairie that inspired most of Wright’s work in a town of barely 35,000 people.

The high-rise which was perfhaps a bit gratuitous was once described as 19 floor to hold up an office buy th buildings patron, just the same it and the Johnson Wax Building in Racine, Wisconsin are beautiful, vertical rethinkings of the wide, wide prairie style.

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Credit Flickr.com/photos/flyian
Credit Flickr.com/photos/flyian

The blog Contemporist has a post up with tantalizing pictures of the (formerly TWA but now) Jet Blue Flight center.

Credit: OTG Management

Terminal 5, as it is known at JFK airport ,is one of my favorite buildings of all time.  Its dramatic swooping exterior suggests it is in permanent motion, which is quite a feat for steel wrapped in concrete.  In 2001 the building fell into disuse as those who appreciated it pondered how to keep it in circulation.  Luckily it was bought up a few years later by the aesthetically conscious bargain airline JetBlue to expand their presence at the busy hub.  They’ll be re-opening in just a couple months on October 1st, right in the middle of an well-timed retrospective of its architect, Eero Saarinen’s work at Minneapolis’ Walker Art center.

The photo posted by Contemporist shows an interior that at least suggests the oh-so-midcentury curves and undulations of the former lounges that graced the cavernous monument.  Other photos found in New York Magazine are not quite as considerate of the buildings past.  That is appropriate as the the rehabilitation of the building has been hit-and-miss from a preservation perspective.  Modern comfort and security needs dictated many changes.  The most starling of these was the amputation of one of the terminals eating places the, Trumpet lounge in one architectural historian called a “stupid, stupid move

JetBlue
Credit: JetBlue

Despite the controversy is is good to know the landmark will re-open with at least some of its integrity intact.  I wish I could be their on opening day.

Other TWA / JetBlue Terminal 5 links:

Article from Galinksy.com

More vintage photos of the TWA FlightCenter lounges

A ton of great contemporary photos of the JetBlue Flight Center

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flickr/photos/nedward.org

Credit: flickr/photos/nedward.org

Bored with razing 19th century buildings Swedish retailer Ikea has taken to ruining modern masterpieces.

Who would have thought that a touchy-feely Swedish company would do so much cultural damage?  Come on guys you destroyed half of Marcel Breuer’s Pirelli Building isn’t that enough?  Do you have to tart up its lonely carcass with giant advertisements?

The the sleek USS Arizona Memorial and the sunken battle-grave it commemorates will soon have a shiny new visitors center.

I have visited the memorial and can attest to the cramped conditions at the visitors center and that it is visibly sinking into the ground.  The memorial and the sailors it honors deserve better.  I have only seen one drawing of the planned building.  It looks vaguely Polynesian and contemporary but kind of themey.  Lets hope it’s more Ossipoff than Disneyland

flickr/photos/Z-everson

Credit: flickr/photos/Z-everson

It’s a good time to be an old house.  According to the National Trust’s blog, the terrible economy means fewer tear downs and as a bonus the Congress’ latest housing bill bolsters preservation incentives.

It’s nothing to get too excited about.  The crappy economy also means fewer people have the money to dump into maintaining old buildings.  The NTHP blogger emphasizes that the cold housing market could provide the space and time communities need to form preservation plans though.

Looking for the latest exhibition on American architecture?  Well, pack your Urdu dictionary because you’re headed to Islamabad!

The photographic exhibition was put on by the US Embassy in Pakistan and ranges from ‘traditional’ architecture to the works of Gehry and Meier.  While you’re there you might as well soak up some of the new city’s architectural gems.  I suggest starting with Faisal Mosque.  I have always thought it looked like a Muslim version of the USAF Academy Chapel.

flickr/photos/*__*

Credit: flickr/photos/*__*

flickr/photos/aur2899

Credit: flickr/photos/aur2899

Do you see it? Think I am crazy?  Post a comment!

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Flickr/photos/anselm

Credit: Flickr/photos/anselm

Matt Davis of the Portland Mercury is on the hunt for an architectural white whale.

He’s written twice now hoping for information on and access to the old Portland Gas Company Building on Highway 30. I have to admit I have been pretty fascinated buy the old hell-hole too. In fact, I have talked to dozens of people who are desperate to see the inside.

Most of what I know about the building is from a 2001 Portland Tribune article. It is from the turn of the century (obviously) it was an office building for Portland Gas and Coke company (what a strange combination) and its current owners have no plans to sell it or tear it down. I can also recall hearing that the clockworks that once rested in its tower are somewhere on the Oregon State University campus.

What I don’t know is what it looks like inside and that is what I and Matt Davis and countless others desperately want to know. He teamed up with Portland Architecture’s Brian Libby and was resoundingly shut down in his attempts to view the inside.  There has got to be a way!

So do you, my scant readers, have any helpful information. If you do please! let me know! Also head over BlogTown Pdx and let Mr. Davis know as well.

UPDATE:

I have learned that the location of the original clockworks is in Benton hall on the Oregon State University campus and that the work was facilitated through an alumnus of the school named David Parsons!  It appears that the move came in 1988.  Does anyone remember this? Does anyone know who David Parsons is and if he can be reached?

There is apparently a file in the OSU archives containing Mr. Parson’s notes on the move.  Perhaps it could be helpful!

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The American Institute of Architects has launched a video project documenting important American buildings.  This is more or less one of the things I wanted to do here at TimberPalace.  Despite the AIA beating me to the punch I am still working on bringing similar videos to the site.

The AIA project is essentially a collection of slideshows with a panel of AIA members narrating.  The video work is ok, I got a decent sense of the physical spaces on the clips I watched but the narrator panelists are phoning it in…. literally, they sound like they are on the phone.  I am sure they are busy people but couldn’t AIA at least have sent them a voice recorder or something?

Also, it is difficult to navigate the site.  At first I was under the impression that there was only one video.  It took perseverance to find the others.  That said, it is a worthy project and hopefully it spreads some knowledge and sparks some curiosity about all the great architecture we have in the country.  You should check it out:

AIA Shape of America Project

In the coming weeks I will hopefully have a few architectual videos of my own.  I promise not to phone it in.

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