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Posts Tagged ‘Architecture’

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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Mathieu Helie’s blog Emergent Urbanism has an absolutely excellent post pertaining to the use of emergence theory in Urban Planning and Architecture.

Emergence is a systems theory that explains complex-systems as the product of simpler smaller interactions and rules. To you help visualize think of a giant flock of birds all flying in unison:

Pretty amazing, no?  How do they do it?

To put it simply, rules. Each bird has an innate set of rules (or comfort zones) that tell it how far it should be from the other birds on each of its sides. When you put all of these birds, carrying all of these rules together you get a display like in the video above. It looks complicated and even random but it is the product of a set of simple rules.

Helie uses the research of Professor Bemin S. Hakim to explain the formation of the complex-seeming, clustered, urban communities of the Mediterranean. He describes the bustling communities as the result of loose, proscriptive rules and not contrived design.

Helie seems interested in how this understanding can be used to help us build better, more interesting, modern cities.  He provides an excellent crtique of New Urbanism’s uber-contrived rules and the historical pastiche of the Postmodern mileu. I was fascinated by how emergence and complexity can be used by preservationists to help understand and protect historic districts and guide their growth in a culturally respectful manner.

In all, the post is a brilliant, cogent, assertion about the organization of the urban world and is well worth a read!

Mathieu Helie: Decoding paradise – the emergent form of Mediterranean towns.

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Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Credit: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

 

 

Economy got you down?

 

Well quit your bitching and be more like Seattle-architect John Morefield.

 

Morefield (pictured above) has fallen victim to crap economy twice already.  He has been laid of from two separate firms in his young career but he took his shit-luck and got creative.  He went down to the Pike Place Market and set up a booth selling architecture advice for a nickel like a kid with a lemonade stand.  For 5-cents you can get at least a few minutes of architectural know-how.  He even designed a tree house for a young “client.”  You also get Morefield’s card and contact information.  It’s a clever plan to bring business his way in the future when people can afford more than a nickel-architect.  I have to say I love this guy; he’s got moxie.  You can read more about him in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which is, appropriately enough, also a victim of the awful financial climate.

For those of you who are less enterprising than Mr. Morefield, you might want to try and mooch some money off the man.  Architectural record has responded to the layoffs and work shortages plaguing the industry by posting a list of architectural grants.  Is this a desperate attempt to keep broke archies in the chips and buying their overpriced magazine? Probably.  In any event some of the grants they’ve noted are quite lucrative.  Your interest in architecture could help you weather the storm.

The AIA thinks architecture could be the savior for the entire nation.  They’ve countered Washington’s bailouts with their own plan for stimulus*.   Their Rebuild and Renew program calls for 100’s of billions to be spent on infrastructure and other building projects.  It calls for $12 billion to create competitive grade schools (and competent architects?), a $30-billion green make over for the nation and even more on transit.  There is even a tax-relief element to help out the firms doing their proposed work.  The program even offers a relatively small pittance ($100-million or so) toward historic preservation.  Specifically, they demand a bailout of the terminally-under-funded Save America’s Treasures program and grants for Tribal and State Historic Preservation Offices. I think this is a well-timed, brilliant idea.

When businesses start failing, wrecking-balls stop razing.  By freezing up competition from mass development, the financial crisis could be a boon for the not-for-profit world of preservation.  Hopefully the new Obama administration and congress will heed the call of the AIA’s architectural New Deal.  If they do we could see a massive expansion of preservation activities and renewed interest in our nation’s architectural heritage.  It took the unchecked construction of a boom-time in the 1960’s to initially spark government action to protect the built environment.  Maybe with the entropy of a near-depression they’ll be spurred to see that work through.

While the financial holocaust may be good for preservationists it is certainly terrible for everyone else.  We’re all going to have to cowboy-up like John Morefield and get creative to make it through to the end of this.   Hopefully when things finally do improve, when Morefield gets a new job and there is money to be made in building once again, we’ll also see the fruits of our protected, restored and rehabilitated architectural heritage.

*I cannot say the word stimulus without giggling.

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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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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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