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


Home smart home

Sydney Morning Herald November 17 2003

"Imagine windows that clean themselves. Or bathroom tiles that will not, and cannot, build up soap scum. Imagine piping sunlight around the house like water, or rolling on paint that can change colour whenever you want it to. Perhaps best of all, consider receiving a quarterly cheque from the electricity company because your house is producing more power than it is consuming.

The crux of the technology rests with the discovery that the physical properties of many materials are different at the nanometre scale than they are in the larger human scale. These properties might include the way the material conducts electricity or heat, the way it interacts with light, or its strength or wear resistance."



NanoHouse Briefing pdf

Scenes From a Forced Marriage

New York Times November 13 2003

"The roily architectural union of Daniel Libeskind and David M. Childs — officials describe it wishfully as a collaboration but Mr. Libeskind likens it to a forced marriage — has already secured a place in the annals of contentious architectural alliances. Tables have been pounded, disparaging innuendoes whispered. The imbroglio earned a public admonition from Gov. George E. Pataki, who gave the sparring architects until Dec. 15 to agree on a design for the Freedom Tower, the pinnacle of the new World Trade Center. But in historical terms, Mr. Childs and Mr. Libeskind have been acting like perfect gentlemen. For instance, neither has shown his displeasure quite as viscerally as Eero Saarinen did in 1958, while he and five other architects struggled over Lincoln Center. One day, to express his concern about the appearance of Philip Johnson's ballet theater, Saarinen took a palette knife to a clay model of the building and simply slashed off the projecting stage house.

An effort to clarify matters in July resulted in the designation of Skidmore as "design architect and project manager, leading a project team that will design the tower." Studio Daniel Libeskind, already the "master plan architect" for the trade center, would be "collaborating architect during the concept and schematic design phases" and a "full member of the project team" working on Freedom Tower. Got that?"


A Building So Green, It's Platinum

New York Times November 13 2003

"When Robert Redford opens the Southern California office of the Natural Resources Defense Council here, a building that bears his name, he is likely to stop short of declaring it the greenest commercial design in America. Experts in sustainable architecture say that trying to assess the energy efficiency of a new building is usually folly, since what is important is performance over time.

Still, it seems pretty clear that the council, an environmental advocacy organization with 600,000 members, and the building's architects, Moule & Polyzoides of Pasadena, are gunning for that title. The 15,000-square-foot building, on a densely packed street just two blocks from the ocean, has been conceived as a showcase for the latest in sustainable design.

Next month, the environmental group's office is expected to be one of the first buildings to receive the United States Green Building Council's updated Platinum rating. Other buildings have received the designation, but the building council beefed up its standards three years ago."



Moule & Polyzoides, Architects and Urbanists


U.S. Green Building Council

Berlin 'Waschmaschine' wins architecture prize

Guardian UK November 12 2003

"German chancellor Gerhard Schröder's new office - which critics liken to a giant washing machine - scooped Germany's most prestigious architectural prize last night. The vast glass and concrete chancellery in Berlin was named Germany's most outstanding new building of the past two years, despite complaints from Mr Schröder that it was "too big" and that passersby could see into his lavatory. Mr Schröder seems to have swallowed his reservations after a jury described its design as "brave" and "expressive".

The former chancellor Helmut Köhl approved plans for the seven-storey palace back in 1995, after reunification and the decision to move the capital to Berlin. The building was nicknamed the Kohlosseum in tribute to Mr Kohl's - and the building's - huge proportions. But Berliners have grown to love the Waschmaschine, named after the big hole at one end.

The €25,000 prize is shared between the three main architects - Axel Schultes, Charlotte Frank and Christoph Witt."



Deutscher Architekturpreis für das Kanzleramt


Government Online

German architecture prize for the chancellorship

(machine translation)


Deutsche Architekturpreis 2003


Federal Chamber of Architects, Germany


Architects' Council of Europe

Airport architecture crashes and burns

Inman Real Estate News November 14 2003

"When Modernism hit town, though, it became fashionable for airports to be inspired by the objects they served: aircraft. This was a refreshing concept back in the early 1960s, when Eero Saarinen completed his famously swoopy TWA terminal at New York's Kennedy (then Idlewild) Airport. Alas, architects have drunk from the same well countless times since—albeit without Saarinen's audacity—thereby turning the concept into a well-worn cliché. In the ensuing decades, it's become acceptable for airports to be disjointed aesthetic jumbles so long as they vaguely resemble airplanes, with lots of shiny metal, curvy plastic panels and carpeting on the walls. Never mind that there's no intrinsic reason why an airport lounge should look like the cabin of a 747, any more than your garage should look like the inside of a Toyota."

Disney Hall a new wave in American architecture

San Antonio Express-News November 16 2003

"Draped in undulating sheets and ribbons of stainless steel, it evokes the sailing ships that once plied the Pacific to the west, or the mountains on the eastern horizon, or a three-dimensional Rorschach test — project your own dreams onto it, in the true L.A. way.

...Democratizing the symphony orchestra is a tall order for a concert hall, especially one costing $274 million — that's $935 per square foot, or nearly $121,000 for each of its 2,265 seats.

...Certain concave sections of the steel skin focus the sun's heat and light on pedestrians. The steel itself has proved an irresistible canvas for the palm prints of passersby. The maintenance crew had to improvise a blend of cleaning chemicals that would remove the palm prints without discoloring the steel. But these are mere quibbles. What matters is that this is a great concert hall that has captured the imagination and the personality of a great city."




UW's William H. Gates Hall projects a spirit of welcome openness

Seattle Post-Intelligencer November 16 2003

"If one of architecture's uses is to signal sea changes in institutions, then the University of Washington's new $80 million law school broadcasts a mea culpa. The old law school, bunkerlike Condon Hall, resembled the last bastion of an embattled male-dominated profession holed up behind narrow slots in the concrete sunscreens. In contrast, the new brick and glass William H. Gates Hall designed by Kohn Pederson Fox of New York (in collaboration with Mahlum Architects of Seattle) has wings that reach out, projecting a spirit of openness and inclusiveness.

This shift goes beyond aesthetics to more substantive changes in the architectural program. Tucked among the mock courtrooms are co-ed bathrooms, a private spot for nursing mothers and a "crying-room" where parents can bring their children to school and still fully participate in classes.

While the taut expanses of brick and metal detailing are modern, the architects use classic elements of composition. There is a rusticated brick base, a distinct mid-section featuring a field of windows and alternating courses of projecting brick for texture and pattern. An inverted metal roof caps the building and creates a crisp cornice line. A series of narrow, three-story tall, triangular bay windows are a nod to the verticality of the campus' Collegiate Gothic style established by the early Bebb & Gould buildings.

The light-infused two-story galleria that wraps the terrace is the backbone of the school, serving as a main street through the building, promoting informal mixing of the law school community, as well as, accommodating breaks from it. The space conveys a civic sense that is appropriate to a law school and the service it can provide the greater community through its generous scale, the row of white columns lining the window wall and the green slate floors and birch panels."


picture of Gates Hall



William H. Gates Hall at UW


Kohn Pederson Fox


Mahlum Architects

Life as a House: Grown-Up Drama Dances About Architecture

Village Voice November 12 2003 Film Review

"Decidedly unsensational and appealingly grown-up, Chuck Workman's autumnal character study may be the most sagacious cinematic dancing ever done about architecture. The inestimable Philip Baker Hall stars as Harry Mayfield, a weathered, crotchety, modernist architectural artiste fallen on teaching and bitterness after a tempestuous life and half-realized career. Talking to himself, barely able to tie his temper into knots, and yet eminently reasonable about practical matters, Mayfield is drawn into the game once more by a monstrously self-absorbed millionairess, who even asks a filmmaker friend to document Mayfield's new assignment: finishing his magnum opus, years after his first attempt burned to the ground."

SXSW Film Reviews

March 16 2001

"One of the central conceits of A House on a Hill is that the building is not as important as the work put into it, and that idea seems to have bled into the film itself. House is an artistically bold experiment using the geometry and architecture of the screen image to symbolize character psychology, but the movie never overcomes its shaky foundation."



"A House On A Hill" Trailer

Designs for a Mobile Health Clinic to Combat HIV/AIDS in Africa

Architecture for Humanity November 6 2003

"The competition's design specifications challenged architects, designers, and medical professionals from around the world and produced submissions which ranged from architecture students to renown professionals. By the project deadline, more than 530 teams (1400 designers) representing 51 nations answered the call. An international jury of architects and medical professionals met in New York to select the four finalists and the eight honorary mentions."


Genius doesn't mean pleasure

Sydney Morning Herald November 11 2003

"Genius is a big deal in architecture. As the focus of intense feeling and yet more intense - some might say - exaggerated expectation, genius occupies what you might call architecture's G-spot. And it keeps popping up. Not overtly, of course. But beneath every little item - a show or court case here, a tour or pilgrimage there - lurks the genius thing, silently underpinning the laws, teachings and etiquette by which this second-oldest profession is shaped.

No one in architecture craves a chorus job. In the world-behind-the-pencil, it's star or nothing. Probability be damned: architecture cranes to the possible. That genius, if it does exist, is given to few and sought by many only increases its cachet. Why, though? What does genius actually contribute? Is it real or illusory? Born or made?"


Wright-designed home in Lisle may be history

Chicago Tribune November 9 2003

"Today, long after Duncan sold most of that land to developers, the view is of bulging houses with Greek columns, French dormers and all the other Old World touches the iconoclastic Wright hated. The house itself has crumbling concrete walls and a big crack in its family-room ceiling, which was caused, neighbors say, by a leaky roof.

Now, the home could become the first Wright building to be demolished in 30 years. It's under contract to an Arlington Heights company that wants to tear it down or see it moved so it can build three much larger homes on the 2-acre site."

  Frank Lloyd Wright home

Mud, glorious mud

Guardian UK November 10 2003

"Here, somehow, was a composite of the spirit of Sahara, surrealism and even a touch of Spain - Dali, Gaudi - mixed up in walls like termites' nests, made of west African mud. It seemed at once a sort of natural outcrop of the muddy sandbanks of the nearby River Niger, a structure built by some desert spirit and, inevitably, a place of profound and ancient worship, older than Mohammed, older than Christ.

Will this special architecture survive? Probably - at least for the time being, while these countries remain poor and off the beaten track. But in the long term? Fingers crossed."



Butabu: Adobe Buildings of West Africa Princeton Architectural Press

More Women Design Their Way to the Top

Wall Street Journal November 10 2003

"Women are finally making their mark in the manmade world of architecture. It's been over 20 years since women reached near parity in university architecture programs. But only now are female architects populating the professional ranks in greater numbers and taking on leadership roles at firms, according to new statistics.

The percentage of licensed architects who are women grew to 19.9% in 2002 from 13.7% in 1999, according to a study released this week from the American Institute of Architects. Those who are partners or principals of firms rose to 20.7% last year from 11.2% in 1999. These new statistics coincide with anecdotal evidence of women getting to the top of the design-world food chain."


AIA South Atlantic Recognizes Regional Design Excellence

AIArchitect November 2003

"The AIA South Atlantic Region (SAR) recently announced the recipients of the 2003 SAR Design Awards at a banquet honoring the winners. Architects from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia were invited to enter the awards competition earlier this year, drawing a record 231 entries from the three states."



Biotechnology Research Institute Freelon Group

Master Plan for New Trade Center Gets Down to the Finest Detail

New York Times November 8 2003

"A recent draft of the guidelines by Studio Daniel Libeskind, the master planners of the site, dictated the shape and size of every office tower so precisely that other architects would have had little leeway to pursue significantly different designs of their own.

To judge from the Oct. 23 guidelines, they would not have much room to maneuver. The draft specified the exact height of each tower, from 871 feet on the Deutsche Bank site at 130 Liberty Street to 1,776 feet at the Freedom Tower. It laid out the exact distance from one tower to the next. It even stipulated the angle of each one of the faceted rooftops.

"For consistency," the draft said, "the towers are composed of rectangular or trapezoidal solids, arranged in an additive composition. Cylinders, cones, domes, pyramids or the like are not permitted as primary forms within the towers."

The guidelines restricted materials in the upper reaches of the tower shafts to glass and metal ("natural anodized aluminum, stainless steel, natural titanium, or other metals with a permanent coating, either white or gray in color" would be acceptable) but allowed stone or terra cotta down below. The guidelines also called for a uniform floor height of 13 feet, 6 inches among all the towers."


Design Guidelines for Ground Zero Point More to Space City U.S.A.

New York Times November 8 2003

"How did we end up in Houston? That is the burning question raised by a new set of design guidelines for the office towers at ground zero. True, we've got a hole the size of Texas sitting down there in Lower Manhattan. But how did ground zero come to inherit a vision of glitzy, structurally inept towers that would look more at home in an office park for energy companies in Space City U.S.A.?

Students of architecture and urbanism will be pondering such questions for years. Many of the answers lie beyond an architecture critic's grasp. They will be found within the realms of politics and economics. But no building can be properly analyzed without taking the social and ideological structures of power into account. The guidelines, which were prepared by Studio Daniel Libeskind, reveal the extent to which such structures have dishonored the ground zero design process, which was supposed to be open and democratic.

They do provide a glimpse into Mr. Libeskind's inflated ambitions for the World Trade Center site. Contradicting his earlier assurances that different architects would design the towers, the drawings establish that Mr. Libeskind's intention all along has been to become their sole architect. What he calls design guidelines are just short of schematic designs for actual buildings. Mr. Silverstein's architects, not to mention the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, would be fools to accept them.

So would we.

If these guidelines — or ones anywhere near as rigid — are adopted, Mr. Childs, Jean Nouvel, Fumihiko Maki and Norman Foster, architects whose experience, talent and professional experience vastly exceed Mr. Libeskind's, would be reduced to the level of executive architects, producing working drawings for designs they had virtually no hand in shaping."

Workers Sensed Danger Before Collapse of Parking Garage

New York Times November 9 2003

"Mr. Tolson and Mr. Williams, laborers who helped install so-called pole shores — metal pogo-sticklike devices that temporarily hold up the concrete floors until they harden enough to support themselves — could see that half a dozen or so of these poles had somehow been bent out of shape. The implication was unmistakable: the floors, even if just so slightly, were moving. "The concrete was too green," Mr. Tolson, 60, said he told his foreman, using slang to describe concrete that has not fully hardened. Mr. Williams, 49, recalled thinking: " 'There is too much weight on those shores.' "

The new parking garage is being built using a time-saving technique known as filigree wide-slab construction. Factory-made flooring sections, up to 70 feet long, are lowered into the building, where they are temporarily supported by the pole shores. Another layer of concrete is poured, creating a composite flooring structure about 10 inches thick.

These pole shores are a crucial component, as the prefabricated slab, acting almost like an egg carton, cannot alone support the weight of the wet concrete, said Eugene McDermott, executive vice president of Mid-State Filigree Systems of Cranbury, N.J., the supplier of the precast pieces for the Tropicana. "If there is an insufficient number or the posts are not of the proper capacity," Mr. McDermott said, "they would start to buckle," threatening the integrity of the floor."

  Atlantic City Garage: Structural Elements


Filigree Wideslab Method


Filigree Wideslab Method

When the Ultimate Monument Isn't a Building

New York Times November 9 2003

"Louis Kahn, the subject of a brilliant film portrait by his son, Nathaniel Kahn, is the ghost at the banquet that architecture has become since his death in 1974. As the movie makes clear, Louis would have made a bad banquet master. He was too dedicated to mastering architecture. That left little room for the aesthetic jollies in which today's designers take such splashy delight.

Titled "My Architect," this wonder of a movie should put a stop to the notion that architecture is a less creative form of practice than music, painting, literature or dance. I have never seen or read a more penetrating account of the inner life of an architect — or of architecture itself — than that presented in this movie."


'Private Jokes, Public Places'

Excerpt from a Play by Oren Safdie

"ERHARDT: This is a classroom, a place to let your imagination run wild — a luxury you won't have when you're out in the real world.

MARGARET: But that's exactly how it all gets started.

ERHARDT: What gets started?

MARGARET [getting worked up]: You ask us to come up with these abstract ideas that aren't even meant to be built, but then before you know it, someone publishes it in some shee-shee poo-poo New York magazine, and then all of a sudden there's a show at MoMA, and then pretty soon after that, it gets built, and then others get built, cheap knock-offs start showing up in office buildings, shopping malls, hospitals . . . and all from what? Some narcissistic attempt to stand out from the rest . . . I mean, at least with the Modernists, despite being a complete failure, their intentions were motivated by a sense of social purpose.

COLIN [antennas up]: The Modernists? You criticized the Modernists. Which ones are you referring to?

MARGARET [not as confident now]: No one architect in particular, I'm referring more to the failure of the Movement.

COLIN: Am I missing something? Is this an established fact?

MARGARET: Not really, but——

COLIN: So you find the work of Le Corbusier a failure?..."

Big architecture jobs dry up as firms scale back for survival

Seattle Times November 7 2003

Architect Joseph Sanford kept busy in the late 1990s designing custom-built homes for newly minted high-tech millionaires. But that work came to an abrupt end in 2000 when the economy sank.

The sluggish economy has hit architects hard, forcing them to lower fees, cut overhead, diversify their design services, and find work out of state — even out of the country — to keep their firms afloat."


Prince Charles joins bidders for Ashford masterplan

Building November 7 2003

"Prince Charles is heading a team shortlisted for one of the biggest masterplanning exercises in recent British history, encompassing 31,000 homes in Ashford, Kent.

The Prince's Foundation, a charity that exists to promote the Prince's views on urban design and architecture, is working with American multidisciplinary consultant URS and Miami-based architect Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ) on the project."


New Urbanism, Mon Amour!

MetroActive November 2003

"Like returning to the womb, new urbanites find themselves seeking the simpler life that has deteriorated within the alienating suburban growth and erosion of inner cities. This residential Disneyfication sounds like it should produce an aw-shucks neighborly interaction among town folk, restoring a lost feeling of "community." Or better yet, it conjures up the image of an isolated yuppie biodome devoid of "bad elements," crime and, of course, the pesky poor."


A believer in balance

Chicago Tribune November 2 2003

"In the blazing, blinding midday heat, Sami Angawi was unbelievably cool. His feet crossed on a large soft pillow, he leaned back and waxed on about how he had melded his life's passions: Islam and architecture.

A rare cooling breeze off the Red Sea ever so gently brushed by.
Islam and architecture rely on the same thing -- balance, explained Angawi, an architect and religious scholar known for his moderation and tolerance. Balance gives life meaning, he said. It guarantees diversity, and, he said emphatically, Islam seeks it.

Angawi, who has a master's degree in architecture from the University of Texas in Austin, and a doctorate in Islamic architecture from the University of London, was on the roof of his dream house. A stunning four-story villa, it merges traditional local design with inspiration, technology and handiwork, much of it antique, from around the globe."


New fire fright: No safety alarm

Chicago Tribune November 8 2003

"Another fire in a Loop high-rise Friday, in which nobody was injured and there was little damage, revealed another hole in Chicago's fire code--some older buildings legally lack fire alarms, the most basic safety feature.

Just hours after the small blaze was extinguished at the office building at 111 W. Jackson Blvd., the chairman of the City Council's Buildings Committee called for fire alarms to be required in high-rises. It is unclear how many buildings lack fire alarms, but Fire Department officials said most buildings constructed before 1975 are not required to have them, a fact that shocked many workers at the 25-story West Jackson building."


Helmut Jahn Proves an Artist In Residence Halls

Washington Post November 2 2003

"A variation on a familiar South Side theme of low-rise apartments with indented courtyard entryways, Jahn's 369-bed dormitory occupies a long, narrow lot between State Street and the elevated train tracks that divide the IIT campus. Called State Street Village, the dorm definitively gives the conventional layout a bold new expression. The 570-foot-long facade is sheathed in gray glass and corrugated aluminum panels and possesses a graceful, gently curved roofline. Without being retro in the slightest, the building has what used to be called a futuristic look. This is only partially because of its beautiful, sleek profile. Beauty, in this case, goes beyond surface appearances. Contextually, the building provides a strong urban frame for broad State Street."


Where has L.A. got to with its non-movie culture?

Gabion November 2 2003

"The hysterical boosterism that surrounded the opening of Gehry's long-awaited concert hall last week was almost terrifying in its intensity. In L.A. itself, it hit a frenzied peak. Gehry could do no wrong. He could walk on water. It was the finest building in the world, possibly the universe. Critics queued up to heap hyperbolic praise on it. Newspapers ran special editions on it. Ahem - excuse me?

...But don't get me wrong: Walt Disney Hall is not a waste of $274 million. Its in-the-round auditorium looks and sounds very good, even if the amazing exploding organ, pipes all over the place, is like something out of Fantasia. The auditorium works in a way that the confusing foyers certainly do not. It is a big social space, to see and be seen as well as to hear. It even has daylight washing down into it, a rare pleasure in a concert hall. So when the hoo-haa over the external architecture has died down, and Angelinos realize they have a fairly standard Gehry building on the outside, they might just come to appreciate the calmer, more civic quality of the experience within. Especially as they will have driven in 20 miles to hear it."



Let them eat gilt

Guardian UK November 5 2003

"Jacques Chirac, we learn, is to spend £270m of public money over the next 17 years on the refurbishment of Louis XIV's palace at Versailles. Gates torn down and put to the torch by revolutionary regicides in the 1790s will be restored.

Curious, perhaps, that the president of a republic based on violent opposition to royal tyranny should go down spending so much on a form of gloire cut short by the guillotine two centuries ago. Only a decade ago, François Mitterand was shaping his cultural legacy by investing in millions of tonnes of daring modern concrete, glass and steel structures: the Grand Arch at La Défense, the Pyramid at the Louvre, the new national library on Quai François-Mauriac, and many more.

...Chirac's expenditure on gilt and railings might seem lavish, but history may yet judge him more generously than those, crowned or uncrowned, lacking both taste and the common touch."

  Palace of Versailles

In Japan, Rethinking the Shoe Box

New York Times November 6 2003

"In a country where compact and efficient have long been the watchwords of home design, the leading young Japanese architects, many of them trained in the West, are creating a new breed of inventive and exuberant homes filled with light.

What it means is a new emphasis on casual living, and it means that old family divisions, with women relegated to the depths of the kitchen, are beginning to break down, as more women work and more men (some recently self-employed) are inclined to cook and perform other household duties.

In Japan's most forward-looking new homes, walls and ceilings vanish altogether, replaced by skylights and transparent walls that slide away. Toshiko Mori, chairwoman of the architecture department at the Harvard Design School, said, "The architects compress daily functions, but somewhere it needs a release." "


Going With the Flow, Tech Nouveau Arrives

New York Times November 6 2003

"It looks like radiating flower petals or like part of a double helix — the code for DNA — but with sensuous blades of a glass and carbon composite instead of building blocks of nucleotides. Mr. Lovegrove calls his design, which echoes the sensibility of his bleached-bones Go chair for Bernhardt, organic essentialism.

That sensibility has also been called zoomorphism or neo-organicism or biomorphism, and reflects a widening interest among designers in borrowing the flowing forms of nature. But because of new materials and aesthetics, these influences are updating the effulgent, botanical shapes of Art Nouveau of a century ago and rethinking the biomorphic sci-fi boomerangs and kidney-shape coffee tables of the mid-20th century."



Frank Lloyd Wright Gas Station For Sale

Preservation November 4 2003

"The only gas station ever designed and built by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, a 1958 building in Cloquet, Minn., is on the market. The building's owners, the McKinney family of Cloquet, put the still-operating station up for sale in August. So far, no potential buyers have come forward. The McKinneys are asking $725,000 for the property, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

The station has a glass-walled observation lounge, skylights over the service bays, a copper cantilevered canopy that juts out over the front of the building, and a futuristic tower perched on its top. In Wright's original design, the gasoline hoses were designed to come out of the roof, a feature the local fire department subsequently vetoed. The structure cost $75,000 to build—almost three times more than an average late-1950s service station."

  Gas station









Wright on the Market

Revisions of ordinances need further revision

Sarasota Herald-Tribune October 30 2003

"After three years of work, Sarasota County officials have produced a thick compilation of revised zoning ordinances.

The most far-reaching change appears to be the provision that prohibits more than two nonresidential buildings from looking exactly alike. As we've said before, the commission's heart is in the right place: Sarasota County shouldn't look like everywhere else in a nation in which chain restaurants and stores always have the same facades. The county's new code stipulates that a yet-to-be-named design guru on staff will be the arbiter of what's duplicative and, it can be assumed, tasteful, affordable, desired by the community, etc.

Architects, meanwhile, should love the new anti-duplication ordinance. They'll get a lot of business if no three nonresidential buildings can be identical."



Design variety won't enrich locals

Sarasota Herald-Tribune November 4 2003, Charles Griggs, Architect

"You are correct on one item: Architects will get a lot of business. Unfortunately, most of the architects who might gain financially will not reside in Florida. The corporate offices of Home Depot, Discount Auto Parts, Walgreens, Eckerd Drugs, Checkers, McDonald's, etc., control all of the chain-store and franchise architectural projects, and they only use cookie-cutter designs from their corporate architects."

Geometer's Angle 10: The Unknown Modulor: the " 2.058" Rectangle

Nexus Network Journal Autumn 2003

"I thought that it might be illuminating to look at a ratio that is related to the golden section but is relatively unknown to many architects and designers. It offers its user an opportunity to work with the golden section in a way, and with a "look" that is different from the appearance of the golden section or the square root of the golden section rectangle. The ratio is a distant relative of the more famous phi, f, ratio, but one that still provides its user with easily developed and recognizable golden section relationships within the geometric structure, similar to the way that the internal edge of the square (the line or edge sometimes being referred to as a caesura, denoting a break or change, as in music) places the golden section cut of the golden section rectangle..."

  Movements in the Pyramid by Mark A. Reynolds

Disconnected Urbanism

Metropolis November 2003

"The cell phone has changed our sense of place more than faxes and computers and e-mail because of its ability to intrude into every moment in every possible place. When you walk along the street and talk on a cell phone, you are not on the street sharing the communal experience of urban life. You are in some other place--someplace at the other end of your phone conversation. You are there, but you are not there."


Architecture's emotional demons

First Source November 2003

" "Architects tend to have very strong egos. They're solitary, focused on themselves," he went on. "Everybody is trained in this heroic model, the creative genius, the straight line from Michelangelo to Frank Gehry," when in fact practice is much more team-oriented.

Most architects are trained to believe they are unified, holistic personalities, able to "do it all." But when they join a firm, he said, the inherent "caste" system forces them to choose more limited career paths — to be "the creative genius" who sets the tone, "the rainmaker" who gets jobs for the firm, or "the producer" who gets those jobs done.

"Not a lot of time is spent on the emotional content of the workplace, the stress," he concluded. "It's not just about skills, it's about our ability to function as leaders and shepherds, not just for junior staff, but also for your peers in the firm."


Performance postponed

Miami Herald November 3 2003

"Center officials recently moved the expected opening date to early 2006, over 16 months behind what was originally hoped for.

...many errors including: • Improper work on structures that insulate the performance auditoriums from vibration and street noise. • Manufacturing problems with doors that close off about 100 echo chambers along the side of the symphony hall to tailor the sound for various performances. • Incorrectly fabricated steel tubes that form the frame for balconies where patrons will gather during intermissions.

''With two years of construction behind us and as much time left to go, we do not believe (the builder) is capable of significant improvement in this regard,'' Thompson wrote in a memo."


Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz?

LA Alternative Press November 2003

"Until very recently, in the practice of civic architecture, the aesthetic was always tempered by the rational, and Architect worked hard to serve the public interest, aspiring to make Building answer to City. But now, after 15 years of absurdist theatre, Aristotelean drama, financial trauma, and sustained bouts of megalomania from nearly everyone who touched the project, the Walt Disney Concert Hall has completely inverted the formula for civic architectural practice.

In the Disney Hall, which opened to not one but three inaugural galas last week, City has been asked to answer to Building. What that means for Los Angeles is that we now have a building that stands among the greatest, most outrageous buildings in the world, but exudes callous indifference towards the very city that spawned it.

Enfant terrible fully grown, winner of the Pritzker Prize and the architect of Los Angeles's Walt Disney Concert Hall, Frank O. Gehry has spent much of the past 15 years of his career inverting the time-honored formula for successful civic architecture. Projects like the Bilbao Guggenheim and the Disney Hall suggest that the old concept of a high profile building as a polite, obliging civil servant made vibrant by subtle flights of artistry is gone; the function of a civic building as rendered by Gehry is to make the building a full-blown expression of civic hubris, as purely aesthetic and costly as its patrons and even its users can possibly tolerate.

The billowing sails of steel are recognizably high art, and will be much adored by a certain class of people. But as a county-owned civic monument for this bilingual, multicultural, pan-ethnic metropolis, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, bereft of civic gesture, stands a recognizably whitebread, ice-cold expression of class distinction and civic indifference."

City approves phase I of $4.8 billion Liberty Harbor North plan

Hudson Reporter November 2 2003

"Liberty Harbor North was designed to meet planning ideals illustrated in successful Manhattan neighborhoods like Greenwich Village and the Upper West Side, said Jeff Speck of Miami, Fla.-based urban planning firm Duany, Plater-Zyberk and Company, the firm retained by Mocco to manage the project. With a keen eye on avoiding the mistakes made by American planners in the past 50 years, Liberty Harbor North's architects explicitly shied away from spread-out suburban models and instead crafted a high-density neighborhood that is fed more by a pedestrian mode of access than an automotive one."









Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company

New Urbanism Does Not Promote Crime

Planetizen November 3 2003 editorial

"Peter Knowles' report on crime and New Urbanism entitled, "Designing Out Crime: The Cost of Policing New Urbanism", uses erroneous assumptions and jumps to false conclusions. It is based on a "study" of two developments in Britain, one supposedly New Urban in design. The community that was examined, however, does not appear to be New Urbanism. The photographs used as examples by Knowles reveal scary-looking streetscapes with inhospitable blank walls, certainly not a goal of the New Urbanism.

In the United States, we have not been aware of any reports of significant or elevated crime in any of the more than 200 sizable New Urban communities. On the contrary, data from public housing redevelopments using New Urban principles has been positive."




Original report:

Designing Out Crime: The Cost Of Policing New Urbanism at Operation Scorpion

Concepts, not concrete, matter

Korea Herald November 5 2003

" "Architecture is the materialization of ideas or concepts. Concept-not form, as some would suggest-is what distinguishes architecture from mere building," he wrote, for his presentation, "Vectors and Envelopes," at the World Architect Forum. Tschumi was the guest of honor at the Wednesday symposium, held at the Education and Cultural Center in Gangnam.

The event was a promotional disaster, with throngs of people turned away at the door. Organizers were faced with unexpected crowds, as teachers, students and architects tried to catch a glimpse of the intellectual builder, who was influenced by film studies and French philosophy. It's not hard to see why so many Korean fans turned up for the event. Foremost, Tschumi is the thinking man's architect, initially working as a theorist. His design for Florida International University's architecture school not only involved his concept of "buildings as generators of event and interaction," it also managed to stay within a $16 million budget. The school opened in April."






FIU model


FIU photo

How to Make a Building Fly

New York Times November 2 2003

" "We could have built four or five floors on the vacant parking lot," the English architect Will Alsop says of the $30 million building he designed for the Ontario College of Art and Design. "But there's no magic in that, there's nothing to raise the spirit." So he raised the building nine stories on multicolored stilts.

Mr. Alsop has been called a "maximalist" — an architect of buildings that cannot be ignored. And increasingly, neither can he. At 56, he has been designing significant public buildings in Europe for 10 years. But the College of Art and Design project, now near completion here, is his first in North America...

The College of Art and Design fits Mr. Alsop's practice of building unhumble buildings for humble organizations...

It follows that architectural critics in Britain hate to love him and fellow architects marvel at what he gets away with...

But the architectural cognoscenti have embraced him anyway. A solo show last year at Sir John Soane's Museum in London was the first there of a living British architect, following exhibitions of the work of Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind. It helps that Mr. Alsop makes it clear that his intention is less to push architecture's theoretical or formal boundaries than to prod the public into a smile.

Certainly this has been the case at the College of Art and Design, judging by the public zeal greeting the installation of the building's nine-story-high legs. The two-story "tabletop" they support, called the Sharp Center for Design, is not an observation deck or an afterthought but the building itself, with 52,000 square feet of classroom, studio and administrative space. The old four-story college building, which resembles a postal sorting station, remains intact beneath, with a new great hall and entrance, from which elevators rise to the tabletop through a monolithic, windowless core, while a fire stair dangles from the tabletop like a water park slide. There are rational reasons for flying the building — it leaves the vacant lot as outdoor public space and connects the street to a small neighborhood park behind — but Mr. Alsop prefers the imaginative ones. "To be slightly removed from the world to make art, or design, is quite good," he says."



Watch Us Build!


Watch Us Build!


Ontario College of Art and Design

Private Jokes, Public Places

"A provocative and hilarious glimpse into the world of contemporary architecture. Sexual tensions and intellectual pretensions intertwine as a graduate student defends her thesis for a public swimming pool to an all-male jury. As the son of the renowned architect Moshe Safdie and a former architecture student himself, Oren Safdie has used his extensive knowledge of the industry to capture the full character of architectural discourse as well as examine issues ranging from sexism and race to academia and failure of postmodernist culture."

"This production inaugurates the new Theater at the Center for Architecture, which is in the building housing the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects."


Is There an Echo in Here? Software Lets Architects Predict

New York Times October 30 2003

"Architects use computer software to construct three-dimensional models so their clients can see how a finished building will look. Now some of them are also creating computer models that simulate the acoustics of the building so that clients can find out how it is likely to sound, too.

The software assesses the shape of a room and the characteristics of its surfaces, whether upholstered seating or bare plaster walls, and produces an approximation of what listeners will hear in the space when people speak or make music in it, long before the actual church hall or shopping center atrium is built.

Once such predictive programs were relative rarities, used mainly for the planning of high-profile performance spaces. But as computers have grown more powerful and programs that once took a weekend to execute now run in hours on a laptop, the simulation process, known as auralization, is finding its way into the planning of more commonplace locations like airport concourses and video conference rooms."


The Vatican's Modernist Moment

New York Times October 30 2003

"Mr. Meier's design, combining curvilinear and rectilinear shapes, also posed challenges. The three soaring sails sweep over a side chapel and half of the nave. A glass roof connects to a community building, which includes a four-story atrium, living space for the parish priest, a community meeting room, classrooms for catechism lessons and a tower with five vertically placed bells. Typical of Mr. Meier's designs, the entire building is white and bathed in light.

For engineers, the main hurdle was building the freestanding sails, which are designed to withstand heat, wind and earthquakes. Each is made of 12-ton blocks of precast white concrete, a material developed by Grupo Italcementi, one of the project's main corporate sponsors. To mount the sails, Italcementi invented a huge skeletal machine that moved on rails as it gradually lifted the blocks into place.

"It took enormous effort to create what today looks so simple," Mr. Meier said, paying tribute to the engineers...

"The central ideas for creating a sacred space have to do with truth and authenticity," Mr. Meier explained, "a search for clarity, peace, transparency, a yearning for tranquility, a place to evoke otherworldliness in a way that is uplifting. And to express spirituality, the architect has to think of the original material of architecture, space and light." "




Richard Meier & Partners Architects

Perl's Architecture Weblog late October 2003

Perl's Architecture Weblog mid October 2003

Perl's Architecture Weblog early October 2003

Perl's Architecture Weblog September 2003

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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