Perl's Architecture Weblog

2003 Fall Semester

Associate Professor Robert D. Perl, AIA



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 Texas Tech University  College of Architecture  Robert D. Perl 


updated 13-Jul-2005


Farnsworth House on the Block

Chicago Public Radio December 9 2003

"This Friday, December 12, 2003, one of the most important buildings in the history of architecture will be auctioned off. It's about 50 miles southwest of Chicago, in the woods, on the banks of the Fox River near Plano, Illinois. It's a little glass pavilion designed as a weekend house for a Chicago nephrologist named Dr. Edith Farnsworth. And in this glass pavilion the architect was able to crystallize revolutionary twentieth century thought on the role of the house, the meaning of privacy, and the role of nature in our lives. The architect was Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Chicago Public Radio's Arts, Architecture and Culture Editor Edward Lifson gives us the latest on this Friday's auction of the Farnsworth House."



RealAudio 10:13

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Repeat December 5 2003

"So what's the deal with the big, dumb white box atop 55 E. Erie? Why did they top off this new, rather elegant building with a 50-foot-high bunker?

It's not because 55 E. Erie is a cheap building. Developed by a consortium that includes Walsh Construction and Development Management Group, Inc., it's a $197,000,000 condominium tower with prices starting at over $600,000 for a one-bedroom and ramping up to $4,000,000-plus for the swankiest penthouse.

It's not because 55 E. Erie is invisible. At 647 feet, it's the tallest all-residential building in the city and the second tallest in the country, behind only the Trump World Tower in New York. It's the tallest building, period, between Superior and Kinzie, an unavoidable new presence.

It's not because it was carelessly designed. The architects are Linda Searl, who's vice-chair of the Chicago Plan Commission, and Fujikawa Johnson & Associates, whose works include the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Fairmont Hotel.

When asked how she sees the role of architects of tall buildings in preserving the city's skyline, Searl answers, “I think it's very important. I'm as disappointed as you are we don't have the original design, but lots of things go into those issues. I hope that we will do something wonderful to the top” "


Back to the future a strange concept in 21st-century city

New Zealand Herald December 10 2003

"Almost at the same time, the Auckland City Council has produced a policy for an improved city centre and given the okay for a large new building on the site of the St James Theatre that makes a mockery of this policy. Architects are shocked by the kitsch banality of the proposed building and amazed that the councillors should think it is an appropriate object to be part of the Civic Square.

This is the fake historical style that was fashionable for a few years in the late 1970s when architects were looking for building shapes appropriate for the contemporary world. For obvious reasons, it lasted only for a few years.

You cannot go forward looking over your shoulder without falling flat on your face, and it is surprising that any architect would design in such a style today. We are not Romans or Renaissance Europeans. We are Aucklanders trying to create a good 21st-century city.

It looks almost as if an amateur decorated the building. Architects now regard this style as provincial - all right for one of our bigger country towns, perhaps, but quite out of place in a city that wishes to be up there with the global players."


Tallest tower means big payback for city

Vancouver Sun December 10 2003

"Vancouver's first 600-foot tower isn't just setting a height record. The proposed 57-storey tower at 1120 West Georgia is going where no tall building has gone before when it comes to payback for the city, with the richest package of public gifts ever contributed through a single building. It's also unique in that it has generated almost no public controversy.

After a series of tussles in the past five years over tall buildings in the city -- the Wall Centre tower on Burrard, the much-debated Bing Thom design for a "sparkling glass crystal spike" on Howe Street, and a recently rejected design for a 400-foot building at 550 Bute -- there has been barely a murmur of opposition to the proposed hotel-live/work-apartment tower as it heads to public hearings next week.

Added to that, the city will be getting an unprecedented $16.5 million from the tower's developers, which will go to an unusual list of benefits to the city, including a sculpture garden, 57,000 trees to be planted somewhere in a B.C. forest to compensate for the building's carbon-dioxide emissions, the $4.5-million restoration of a 1913 church next door, and $2.3 million for the city's affordable-housing fund. Developer Ian Gillespie acknowledges that it's a big chunk of money, more than has been asked of developers in the past, and that other developers might have fought the city over it.

Gillespie found out earlier this fall, on one particularly dispiriting day, that the new Vancouver city council had decided to increase the rate for development cost levies -- a fee that builders pay in order to help the city cover the cost of things like transportation, housing, parks and daycare as residents are added to the city -- from $2.50 a square foot to $6 a square foot and that his building would be caught by the change because the council had decided on a relatively short grace period before the new rates came into effect. That added $2,341,092 to the cost of a project that is already in the $200-million-plus range, bringing the cost of DCLs for the building to just over $4 million."

Dividing Reality and Myth in the Fate of the Towers

New York Times December 10 2003 Book Review

"James Glanz and Eric Lipton's brilliantly reported and profoundly moving but admirably clear-eyed account of the accidental conception, long gestation, difficult birth, brief life and tragic death of the World Trade Center is likely to remain a classic in the already extensive literature on the subject. Without unduly pressing the point or resorting to forced metaphors, Mr. Glanz, a science reporter for The New York Times, and Mr. Lipton, a metropolitan reporter for it, make this history a sobering parable about America's might and its limits over the six decades of their panoramic enterprise.

It was, in fact, the towers' innovative external engineering that redistributed the walls' structural forces around the gaping holes after the attacks and kept the buildings standing long enough for a vast majority of their occupants to escape. Despite the ghastly death toll, the high survival rate for those in the towers below the impact points of the hijacked jets was no less than a miracle. Had the towers possessed conventional steel skeletons, they would have probably snapped and immediately fallen over, causing more catastrophic collateral damage than they did by crumpling onto their footprints."



City in the Sky: The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center

at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, publisher

Libeskind Plays to the Press

New York Post December 10 2003

"Key elements of Daniel Libeskind's Ground Zero plan - including the decision to model the Freedom Tower on the Statue of Liberty - were driven as much by questions of how they would play in the media as by aesthetics or architecture, according to the planner's design partner. The shape of the 1,776-foot tower, and how much it reflects the asymmetrical form of the statue, has become a central issue in a fierce design war between Libeskind and David Childs, the architect for World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein.

Libeskind has talked often of the symbolic importance of the statue - but in a lecture at SUNY Buffalo on Oct. 8, his partner, Gary Hack, described the process that led to the tower's original form in different terms. "What we tried to do was to give people hooks that they could grab and hook their aspirations onto," Hack said in a recording of the talk obtained by The Post.

Hack, an urban planner, said the Statue of Liberty connection came about when Libeskind's team noticed a similarity between the spiraling form of the statue's cloak and Libeskind's "spiral" of WTC buildings. "We asked the question . . . could you actually make a relationship between these two places in people's minds, the two beacons on the harbor?" Hack said."

More Revisions in Plans for New York's Tallest Tower

New York Times December 10 2003

"The nearly completed design for the signature tower at the World Trade Center site would recapture the title of world's tallest building for New York City without forcing anyone to work higher than 70 stories in the sky.

Those who have seen the design of the Freedom Tower, as Mr. Pataki calls it, describe a torqued and tapering form culminating in an unoccupied, open-air structure filled with cables, trusses, antennas and — recalling the energy source that helped settle Lower Manhattan 350 years ago — windmills that may generate 20 percent of the electrical power needed by the building.

The 70-story occupied part of the Freedom Tower would rise 1,000 to 1,100 feet, more than 200 feet shorter than the twin towers. But the open-air structure would reach 1,776 feet, exceeding Taipei 101, which is being built on Taiwan, and would take the world's tallest title from the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which took it from the Sears Tower in Chicago, which took it from the trade center. The Freedom Tower's antenna would reach 2,000 feet.

It seems safe to say that the design will keep changing until the last moment, given the tumultuous relationship between Mr. Libeskind, who is the master planner of the trade center site, and Mr. Childs, a partner in Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, who is working for Silverstein Properties.

However, enough is known with certainty about Freedom Tower that a number of people who have seen the plans were willing to discuss the project yesterday, most of them making anonymity a condition of doing so.

Neither Mr. Childs nor Mr. Libeskind would comment yesterday."


Row over museum's dream courtyard

The Age Australia December 8 2003

"An "alienating" public space at the National Museum in Canberra has split the council's turbulent board and could cost the Federal Government $10 million. Conservatives on the council want the museum's central courtyard, known as the Garden of Australian Dreams, to be revamped.

A review of the museum's exhibitions, commissioned by Arts Minister Rod Kemp earlier this year, said visitors had found the courtyard's complex symbolism difficult to decipher and its large expanse of concrete "overwhelming". "The public is overwhelmingly hostile towards the courtyard," said the chairman of the review panel, sociologist John Carroll. "They don't like it and something has to be done."

Conservatives, led by former Howard speechwriter and council member Christopher Pearson have decried the museum's futuristic design and complex architectural symbols since it opened in March 2001.

The architect belatedly admitted he had been inspired in his design by Berlin's Jewish Museum, drawing criticism that he was comparing Australia's treatment of Aborigines to the Holocaust. The courtyard's designer, Perth landscape architect Richard Weller, denies any such coded provocation.

Dr Carroll responded: "I can understand that he's upset. It's his design and we're basically saying, 'Wreck it'." Under the Government's new moral rights legislation, Mr Weller is entitled to be consulted about any changes."




Space odyssey

Guardian UK December 8 2003

"... Not only does the building's circular form make it appear much less bulky than it is, it generates considerably less wind at street level than many right-angled towers. This has been proven in wind-tunnel tests on a model of the building. The circular form also offers a generous public plaza at the base, while an arcade around the tower promises a number of useful shops.

The real environmental achievement here, however, is the internal design. What you see from the plaza and, in fact, from all corners of London, is a great sheath of steel, aluminium and glass. This is the building's skin. Just behind this is the great steel structure of the building, hidden on dull days, clearly visible when the sun shines. This structure, devised by the engineers Arup, is a diagonal cage very much like the skeleton of Barnes Wallis's second world war bombers. Intriguingly, this structure compresses during the day as the building loads up with people, and stretches in the evening as it empties.

Spiralling up through the internal structure is a sequence of atriums. They are interrupted every six floors so that the updraft of air through the building does not become too strong. These atriums achieve many things: they let light deep into the plan and allow diagonal views up and down through the building. But the main advantage is that their corkscrew shape creates different air pressures, ensuring that fresh air is sucked up through the building as well as through the office floors."

  Swiss Re building, London (aka the Gherkin)


Foster and Partners


30 St Mary Axe


also see previous entries

A Conversation With Rick Bell and Fred Bernstein

Gotham Gazette December 5 2003

"Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for coming to Gotham Gazette's live chat event. With us are Rick Bell, head of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and Fred Bernstein, an architectural writer whose memorial design was chosen as a finalist, but later disqualified. Mr. Bell and Mr. Bernstein are here to talk with us about the 9/11 memorials...

Fred Bernstein: I had an idea, almost two years ago, for a memorial in the form of two piers in New York Harbor. The piers would be the precise size of the World Trade Center towers. I posted the idea at almost two years ago. It's still there. But by the time the competition rolled around this year, I was sure the Twin Piers didn't have a chance, because the guidelines were based on the Libeskind site plan. So I began working on another idea, that fit the site plan, and I entered that in the competition. But my partner, Chuck, who always loved the Twin Piers, didn't want the idea to die. So he asked if he could enter the Twin Piers in the competition. Of course I said yes."

WTC memorial plans inspired by Maya Lin

Chicago Tribune December 7 2003

"Twenty-one years later, the wall of names has become a visual cliché and memorial designers are straining to reach the profound synthesis of form and meaning that the Vietnam memorial so eloquently achieved. The finalists in the World Trade Center memorial competition have many of the superficial attributes of the Vietnam Memorial -- the stark materials, the abstract vocabulary, the striving for elemental simplicity. Yet at this point, they are simply Maya Lin wannabes, not the real thing.

There have been calls from some quarters that none of the designs should be picked and that it would be wiser to simply wait five years until the meaning of the attacks becomes clearer. Such a move presumably would allow everyone to gain much-needed perspective. And perhaps there would be wisdom in it."

Ground Zero's Only Hope: Elitism

New York Times December 7 2003

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: now that everyone agrees that the ground zero memorial finalists are a disappointment, there's only one thing to do. Throw them all out.

We should insist on salvaging this most important of public projects, as well as our city and the nation, from a legacy of compromise that leads to banality. Let's start again — this time, the right way. Forget vapid populism. Limit the competition to participants of the jury's expert choosing. Then let the jury select the best plan, if and when there is one. If that's elitism, so be it.

... good art, like science, is not democratic. An open competition can produce a Maya Lin Vietnam memorial once in a generation, maybe, but mostly it results in the generic monuments that are now the universal standard: stereotyped images plagiarizing superficial aspects of serious art, mostly minimalism, for watered-down symbols of mourning and loss."

In Eastern Germany, the Auto Plant as Showplace

New York Times December 4 2003

"The factory, which will begin production in early 2005, could have been like any of the other hulking industrial sites around Leipzig. But BMW recruited Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-born, London-based architect, to design the administration building for the $1.5 billion project. Her design, which features soaring open spaces under a web of conveyor belts that shuttle partly assembled BMW's between production halls, is unlike that of any other car factory. Except, maybe, the Porsche factory a few miles west of BMW's site. It features a cylindrical customer center that has been alternately described as looking like a U.F.O. or a coffee filter. Then there is Volkswagen's plant in nearby Dresden - a dazzling glass edifice where VW assembles its Phaeton luxury sedan. Admirers have likened it to an industrial cathedral.

Carmakers are turning this bleak, table-flat stretch of the former East Germany into an architecturally varied landscape. For motives ranging from customer service to brand marketing to simple vanity, they are determined to make these utilitarian workshops into showpieces.

Volkswagen's Dresden plant seeks to attract a whole new class of customers. Known as the "transparent factory,'' the $180 million complex has glass walls, Canadian maple floors, and a soaring central foyer. Customers can watch their cars being assembled from a circular bank of windows that overlooks the line. There is a pricey Italian restaurant, as well as an "atelier," where buyers of the Phaeton, which starts at $55,000, can select leather upholstery and other interior accessories."



Making the grade: the Queen's Gallery

Telegraph UK November 29 2003

"Eminences don't come much more grise than Prince Charles, rumoured to be the guiding force behind the Queen's Gallery, a remodelled annexe to Buckingham Palace designed by John Simpson and unveiled to a mixed chorus of fanfares and raspberries last year. It would therefore be surprising if there had been much public discussion about what form the new building should take."


"A Lilliputian parody"

Architecture's good showing

Philadelphia Inquirer November 28 2003

"Maybe it's just coincidence, or maybe it's the tip of a trend, but four gallery shows devoted to architecture have just opened in Philadelphia. Although one is concerned with a building under design, one with a virtual building, and the other two with buildings that have been among us for up to half a century, each is driven by its own educational zeal.

Roughly speaking, the themes of these four shows fall into two categories: How does real architecture, as opposed to a mere building, get built? And what happens afterward?"

Reexamining the Future for Sustainable Design

Land Development Today

"Owners are feeling empowered by the presence of a system that enables them to express and enforce design objectives that address form, image, functionality, and a larger idea of how their building will function over time. The good news is that the sustainability "niche" is increasingly being seen as the sustainability "umbrella." This means that what was once seen as a whole host of special considerations is now being seen as a comprehensive value system for guiding decision-making.

At the same time, there is a backlash forming in response to LEED and green buildings in general, that is dismissive of what some see as naïve and incomplete good intentions. There is something to be learned from this critique of sustainable design as "eco-banality." The issue is not good design versus good intentions. This criticism challenges sustainability to fulfill its potential as a holistic integrated approach to design, as opposed to a formulaic set of alternative design criteria. The criticism also challenges sustainable design to cast a wide net. As "green" design practitioners focus on the technologies and strategies that improve energy efficiency and reduce environmental impacts, observers are quick to point out that those issues can pale in importance compared to strategic decisions that impact basic planning and design decisions."

Tomb Raiders

Outlook India December 8 2003

"Is it the Big Conservation Fight in its uncut version? Or is it an elite rendition of 'fish market' squabbles? The babel of voices emanating from the various lobbies involved in protecting heritage monuments is getting louder and uglier. Ideology, personal agendas and acrimonious polemics on the basics of conservation have made 'heritage' a contested term in


The dispute has only gone on to show that in the absence of synchrony between the ideology and practice of heritage conservation, everyone in the war zone—conservation architects, NGOs, self-appointed guardians of heritage, bureaucrats, ministers, and culture czars and czarinas—has his or her two bits of wisdom to offer."


The Dangers of Designing by Public Consensus

Washington Post November 29 2003

"Citizens who pay attention to such matters often perceive that, despite the seemingly transparent process of public discussion and decision-making about design, their concerns and recommendations are ultimately ignored. This was the theme of a case study by Shannon Mattern of the University of Pennsylvania that was published recently in the Journal of Architectural Education. "Just How Public Is the Seattle Public Library?" documents the 21/2-year history of the Seattle library's design by internationally known Dutch-born architect Rem Koolhaas.

Notwithstanding his celebrity, Koolhaas is genuinely erudite, articulate and inventive. He and his firm, OMA, do rigorous research, thoroughly prepare design proposals and present them persuasively to both clients and the public. Clearly the architect was chosen because of his talents, his portfolio of past projects and his unique design philosophy and approach.

Mattern quotes James Bush writing in the Seattle Weekly: "Hiring Koolhaas and getting angry over his conceptual model is a bit like hiring McDonald's to cater your party and being annoyed when they serve hamburgers."

This case study illustrates an architectural fact of life. Aspiring to a singular, visionary design by a creative architect inevitably conflicts with the desire for democratically generated design by public consensus, a public with diverse wishes and tastes. Today architects and their clients spend months, or even years, attending meetings with citizens, making presentations at public hearings and conducting workshops with stakeholders -- neighbors, local property owners, special-interest organizations and citizens at large. While guaranteeing input and feedback, this interactive process prolongs project development and adds substantially to cost.

One may justifiably criticize Koolhaas and the Seattle library officials for their aggressive architectural vision, and perhaps for being disingenuous in how they responded to public opinion. But to have designed a building by referendum would have been a much greater sin."

Contemporary art museum eyes architects

Denver Post December 3 2003

"The Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver has chosen six internationally known architects as finalists to design a $3.6 million to $4 million building in Lower Downtown. The museum's architect-selection committee, composed of 15 architects, artists, collectors and community leaders, examined 40 proposals submitted by the 70 national and international firms that were invited to compete for the privately funded project. The 18,000- to 20,000-square-foot building will be on the northwest corner of 15th and Delgany streets.

The finalists are: Adjaye/Associates, London. Rick Joy Architects, Tucson. Gluckman Mayner Architects, New York City. Predock Frane Architects, Santa Monica, Calif. Snohetta, Oslo. TEN Arquitectos, Colonia Condesa, Mexico."

I.M. Pei - First Person Singular/The Museum on the Mountain

DVDtalk December 2 2003

"Architecture comes alive in these two illuminating looks at the prolific and impressive career of I.M. Pei. An amazingly creative man, Pei won notable contracts in the 60s and later got several of the century's most distinguished jobs, such as renovating the Louvre in Paris. Pei participates heavily in the docu, explaining his career heights and the depths too, such as when windows began to fall out of a building designed by his company - by the hundreds...

An interesting addendum is an interactive section that examines in detail 20 of Pei's buildings, illustrated with photographs. This modest disc is highly recommended for architecture buffs and to anyone who might become interested in architecture as a calling; it's truly inspirational."


DVD Amazon $22.46

Two Architects Whip Up Tower In Mad Frenzy

New York Observer December 1 2003

"The signature tower of the rebuilt World Trade Center is taking shape, and not a moment too soon. With scant three weeks left, the two architectural teams working together on the tower—one led by World Trade Center leaseholder Larry Silverstein’s architect David Childs, the other by Ground Zero master planner Daniel Libeskind—have been engaged in intense, seven-day-a-week meetings aimed at reconciling each side’s competing vision for the Freedom Tower, which is to be the tallest of five skyscrapers to rise from the ashes of Ground Zero.

For the last month, the 23rd floor of S.O.M.’s headquarters at 14 Wall Street has been home to nearly 50 architects, engineers, designers and consultants who have been working on various aspects of the Freedom Tower. Four of the 50 are employees of Studio Daniel Libeskind (not including Daniel and Nina themselves). S.O.M. employs the rest, approximately 10 of whom are full-time, with the remainder being part-time specialty consultants. The office floor is a huge white room with no divider, and almost every wall can be used as a pin-up board. Conferences take place in two smaller rooms off to the side. Days start at 8 in the morning and sometimes go well into the next morning."

Memorial Eight Embody Dogma After Maya Lin

New York Observer December 1 2003

"It is perhaps ironic that Maya Lin, architect and designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., was one of the 13 members of the jury that selected finalists in the competition to design a memorial at Ground Zero. Ironic, because all eight finalists rely heavily on the minimalist vocabulary Ms. Lin introduced to the world of memorial design in 1981. From the profusion of polished black granite in the design called "Inversion of Light" to the grassy landscaping of "Dual Memory," the language of minimalism, of negative space—already a memory from the standpoint of contemporary sculpture—dominates.

It’s not just ironic, but disappointing as well. Because as successful as Ms. Lin’s Vietnam memorial was, the eight finalists prove that it has become a crutch, rather than an inspiration, for American memorial architecture.

Indeed, Ms. Lin’s aesthetic presence in the plans speaks volumes about the state of memorial design in America. On one hand, the continued presence of Lin-esque minimalism in American monuments points to the long-awaited emergence of an American memorial style; on the other, the finalists’ failure to move beyond the threshold she set more than two decades ago points to a severe lack of vision in the way Americans build memorials to tragedy."

Making the Dead Count, Literally

New York Times November 30 2003

"At first glance, the eight finalists in the competition to design the memorial at ground zero appear sleek and minimal. There are no statues, no elaborate filigree and few images.

A careful look, however, reveals something different. The designs are quite complex, involving numerous interacting architectural elements, varying configurations of light, water and flora. But whatever their aesthetic differences, the designs share an interest, verging on a fixation, with statistics. They are relentlessly numerical, devoted perhaps first of all to the project of counting, measuring and listing.

...And the architect Daniel Libeskind won the competition to oversee the rebuilding project with a spire that was to be 1,776 feet high and an expanse that would lie in direct sunlight between 8:46 and 10:28 a.m. on Sept. 11.

That kind of literalism struck many critics as contrived..."

Vision vs. Symbols and Politics at Ground Zero

New York Times November 29 2003

"Although it failed to produce a work of genius, the competition to design a memorial to the victims of 9/11 was well worth undertaking. It threw into sharp relief three problems that have plagued the ground zero design process. Too much symbolism. Not enough time. A breakdown of cultural authority. Until precise steps are taken to resolve all three issues, the design process will continue to sink deeper and deeper into political quicksand. These issues are, of course, related...

Something's got to give, and give soon. Otherwise, fiasco looms."

Design 2003

New York Times Magazine November 30 2003

Inspiration: Where Does It Come From?

The Guts of a New Machine

Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

Vote Getters

Auldbrass Wasn't Rebuilt in a Day

To Draw a Bridge

  Design 2003

National Gallery of Victoria

The Age Australia December 1 2003

"I wondered how Roy Grounds would see it. His opus, the National Gallery of Victoria, has been restored, rebuilt and replanned in such a way that it changes the original entirely, but leaves its fundamentals intact. His design was fixed as a concept - it was a large, imposing bluestone prison, or perhaps a Florentine palazzo, containing a string of galleries located off passages that were also galleries (such as the Uffizi), and inside were sheltered three square, open courtyards.

His house in Toorak (1954) was the paradigm - a small square shaped box containing a circular courtyard - where the living, eating and relaxing zones each relied on the court for their light and a view of vegetation. Other buildings he designed were also of that simple geometric school - a round house at Frankston (1952), the semi-classical modernity of Canberra's Science Academy (1956), and a three-dimensional triangle in Kew (1951).

The simplicity of these designs, their robust unfettered construction and lack of adornment, established Grounds as a leader of his generation. In the process, he left a legacy of raw, strong architecture, and the NGV was his tour de force. Now, Mario Bellini, from Milan, has reworked the masterpiece, substantially, and with great skill and sensitivity.

Earlier design sketches produced for the renovation suggested a shopping mall, perhaps an airport, at best an exaggerated galleria. But the end product is worlds better. The secret of success in this project, which enables Bellini (with local architects Metier 3) to achieve this gentle, firm and decent reformation, is that they have shown respect for Grounds's original design."

  Elevator shaft in Federation Court, NGV International, with new glass ceiling and original bluestone walls



Perforated metal flooring on walkway leading around new exhibition tower, NGV International

Star architects eye Beijing skyline

CNN December 2 2003

"The last time Beijing stumped the world with mind-blowing architecture, a Ming dynasty emperor had ordered up the Forbidden City in the shadows of the Great Wall.

Enter Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, who are among the latest foreign hotshots the city has enlisted in pursuit of modern wonders as bold and mystifying. Come the 2008 Olympics, their National Stadium will allow the hosts to cut a surreal, progressive figure. The veiny flesh of their steel-roped creation is its very bones. Beijingers know the space-age project by a more down-home nickname -- the "bird's nest." "

  Beijing's skyline battles traditional architecture and modern highrises.


New Yorker December 1 2003

"...So when the architectural competition for a memorial to the victims was held, the guidelines stipulated that designs avoid representations of a “known person, living or dead,” thus heading off at the pass any twenty-foot-high statues of firemen. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which is in charge of the memorial to the victims of the attack on the World Trade Center, didn’t rule out that sort of statue, but the judges who were assembled made it highly unlikely that a sentimental or kitschy design would be chosen.

...The five other schemes are well-meaning, but they are marred by some degree of hokeyness. (All the designs have sappy titles, perhaps taking a cue from the way Daniel Libeskind names his plans.) ...

And in “Votives in Suspension” lights, one for each victim, would hang in an underground space—shimmering stars that could make the place feel a bit like a fancy modern restaurant in Dallas."

Healthy building syndrome

Boston Globe November 30 2003

" "Picture a boy with a hundred-and-four fever. His parents take him to the hospital to have him checked out," the ad script reads, before hitting listeners with the big surprise. "Did you know one of the first people to make him comfortable is an architect? Specifically, a member of the American Institute of Architects. When the hospital built their new ER, they involved an AIA architect early on. To design a child-friendly pediatric ER wing, so that hundred-and-four fevers maybe don't feel so bad."

The ad campaign is designed to encourage the hiring of AIA-accredited architects, early on, in projects large and small. But the script's central message -- that an architect could actually make a child feel better -- reflects a larger theme in the design professions today. The message is that architects are no longer obsessed with form. They are here to help.

In a kind of architectural correctness that has taken hold in the profession, it's not enough to build something that looks interesting or makes people think. A new building has got to make people feel good; it should be healthy for the planet; and -- not least -- it ought to foster its occupants' physical activity."

New York New Visions: Open Letter to the WTC Memorial Competition Jury

eOculus AIA New York

"It is clear that planning for the memorial cannot continue as a separate process from that of planning for the site. The two efforts - plus that of planning for a range of cultural uses - must proceed from this point forward as a dialogue. The importance of the site - its history and what it represents for the future - demands excellence. The eight memorial schemes that have been presented to the public suffer from sameness. They are all from one family of design approaches. The jury must either find designs that reflect other approaches to the stated program or work with Studio Libeskind to develop the best of the eight selected schemes."

Perl's Architecture Weblog late November 2003

Perl's Architecture Weblog mid November 2003

Perl's Architecture Weblog early November 2003

Perl's Architecture Weblog late October 2003

Perl's Architecture Weblog mid October 2003

Perl's Architecture Weblog early October 2003

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Perl's Architecture Weblog Summer 2003


 Texas Tech University  College of Architecture  Robert D. Perl 


copyright © 2003


Associate Professor Robert D. Perl, AIA

AH 1002D Office Hours: T 1:30-4:30 pm or by appointment

742-3169 x248


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