Perl's Architecture Weblog

2004 Spring Semester

Associate Professor Robert D. Perl, AIA



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 Texas Tech University  College of Architecture  Robert D. Perl 


updated 13-Jul-2005


At Ground Zero, Rebuilding With Nature in Mind

New York Times January 20

"The guidelines set a new standard for New York. The roofs of buildings will be designed to catch rainwater for flushing toilets and boosting cooling systems. Developers will be encouraged to reuse pilings and other materials already on site and to specify that recycled material and products made from renewable resources, like fast-growing trees and sunflower seed husks, be used for interior and insulating materials.

The guidelines are not limited to the buildings but extend to the period of construction, requiring all large diesel engines on the building site to use ultra-low-sulfur fuel to reduce emissions. Half of all the waste wood, cardboard and metal generated during construction will be recycled, and construction crews will be encouraged to substitute corn oil or other natural substances for petroleum-based oils to keep concrete from sticking to wooden forms."

Stairways to sociability

Telegraph UK January 20

"The idea is to maximise the possibility of chance meetings and social interaction. The offices are arranged around three atria, each connected by a single street that serves all the lifts and toilets, with different floors linked by striking timber-clad stairs wide enough for two people to pause for a chat and not block the way.

"You don't really need stairs for the functioning of the building," says Graham Morrison, "but someone said at our briefing that most of their business was done by meeting people on the stairs." At the same time, four social hubs have been placed on each floor (kettles and kitchens have been banned elsewhere) to bring people from different departments together."


Greece's Colossal New Guilt Trip

New York Times January 18

"The Greek government sponsored an international competition from which Bernard Tschumi, the celebrated New York architect, was chosen to build a new museum at the foot of the Acropolis. With the start of the Olympics, every television set in the world would broadcast its image, and announce the triumphant return of Greece's lost icons. And if they weren't returned, the building would stand as a gleaming reproach to Britain's intransigence.

But the structure intended to settle a controversy has become an object of controversy itself. The design clashes with the setting, some critics say. It jeopardizes an archaeological site, others claim. And perhaps most dispiritingly, the Olympic deadline is hopelessly out of reach. Like an athlete who trains for a lifetime and then sprains her ankle the week before the games, the New Acropolis Museum may have missed its best chance to make an impression. When the Olympic torch is lighted on Aug. 13, the museum will look like something that Athens already has plenty of: a giant excavation."



Acropolis Museum
Video fly-through

The 9/11 Memorial: How Pluribus Became Unum

New York Times January 19

"The 12 jurors and other officials who discussed their experiences with The New York Times opened the curtain on cloak-and-dagger moments secret locations, two sets of entry keys and even anthrax screening. They bristled when they recalled some of the harsh criticism they could not help hearing. They proudly told of ignoring the footsteps of the powerful outside their jury rooms. And if they clashed during their 11th-hour bargaining at Gracie Mansion, they also fondly remembered its tranquility, and the comfort food that fueled their struggle.

...With 5,201 entries to consider, the original strategy was for the submissions to be divided among three groups of jurors. The jury decided, though, that every juror would look at every board, including some 400 that had been disqualified on technicalities.

..."We resisted the idea of the literal," Dr. Young said, "that's why you don't get any Big Apples in our designs, or representations of airplanes, attacks, death, blood."

...They narrowed the selection to 250, then 50, then 25, then 11, then 9. A proposal called "Twin Piers" was eliminated when it was learned that its designer had submitted another entry, in violation of the rules. That left eight. Those finalists were given two months and up to $130,000 each to turn their original presentations into professional renderings, models and computer animations.

...There is a resemblance between "Reflecting Absence" and a sketchbook of memorial ideas by Ms. Lin that was published in The New York Times Magazine on Sept. 8, 2002... Jurors dismissed the notion that Ms. Lin or anyone else could have commandeered the proceedings."

  Reflecting Absence


World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition


Special Section at the New York Times

Unveiling of the Trade Center Memorial Reveals an Abundance of New Details

New York Times January 15

"It was the first time a price tag was mentioned. The development corporation said that the preliminary estimate of the memorial site's cost was $350 million. This does not include the curatorial costs of creating the memorial's interpretive center but it does include the estimated $175 million to build the infrastructure underlying a platform 70 feet above the original foundations.

"I feel an enormous sense of relief," said Martin Puryear, a sculptor, who had, in the end, supported Mr. Arad's design. "There were times during the process when I thought it would never end." But now, he said, "there is a sense of satisfaction and pride."

Some of the victims' family groups, which have long lobbied the development corporation to reflect their design views, gave qualified approval to the memorial presentation."



Complete New York Times coverage of The Memorial at Ground Zero

At Ground Zero Memorial, Trying to Make Three Plans Work as One

New York Times January 12

"Exactly how the memorial will be adjusted to the master plan, and the master plan to the memorial, is now being decided. The architects have until Wednesday, when the development corporation hopes to unveil the latest design for the memorial.

"It's going well," Mr. Libeskind said yesterday morning. "I think you'll see a very good resolution, an adjustment, a dynamic development of the site."

"But it wasn't easy," he added.

Mr. Libeskind knows something about difficult architectural alliances, having just collaborated with David M. Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill on the design of Freedom Tower, which is to rise north of the memorial."

The greatest show on earth

Guardian UK January 12

"Jacques Herzog is one of the architects that almost everyone agrees is a genius. The Swiss superstar recently gave a lecture at London's Union Chapel, attended by the great and good of British architecture, at which he talked a rapt audience through some of the most innovative and beautiful building projects anywhere in the world. The comments of one architect at the end were final: "I think I might as well pack up and go home."

With his partner Pierre de Meuron, Herzog's record in Britain is excellent - two buildings, two hits. Their first work here was Tate Modern, which remains the most successful new arts institution in Europe, despite brickbats from British architects such as Will Alsop. Their second, the Laban dance centre in Deptford, London, designed in collaboration with artist Michael Craig-Martin, has been comprehensively lauded by critics and public alike. Last year, it won Herzog and De Meuron the Stirling prize, Britain's most prestigious building award."

The Man With the List at Architecture's Party

New York Times January 11

"Mr. Kroloff is one of a small coterie of competition advisers who organize and administer the bake-offs so often used to determine which architecture firms will design which coveted projects. These advisers are both catalysts for and beneficiaries of an upsurge in interest in how architects are chosen. Competitions that only five years ago would have been local affairs now draw thousands of entries from around the world, partly because the Internet makes the rules available to any architect with a computer and modem."

Torn between preserving the city's past and looking toward its future

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel January 11

"How much of our history can we afford to sacrifice as we rebuild Milwaukee? Or, to put it another way, to what extent will inventing a city for the 21st century be hobbled by our warm and fuzzy feelings for the 19th? In the best of circumstances, the choices are not that stark. All over Milwaukee, from the Third Ward to Brewers Hill, from Bay View to the near north side, you will find old buildings handsomely converted to new uses, showing how respect for the past can enrich the present. But sometimes you really do have to choose. And the choice gets harder when a beautiful (if tarnished) old building stands to get replaced by a beautiful new one.

A case in point is a $20 million, 6- to 8-story condo project proposed by Weas Development Co. for 100 E. Seeboth St. just south of the Historic Third Ward. Designed by the internationally admired New York City firm of Tod Williams Billie Tsien & Associates, it's a bold slice of modernism, with a T-shaped expanse of stone facing the street, wraparound corner windows, a transparent parapet jutting up from the roof and a glass curtain wall overlooking the Milwaukee River. From the waterfront, the views of the downtown are spectacular."


Building a reputation

Fort Worth Star-Telegram January 10

"Before air conditioning and layers of pink insulation and double-pane windows, people chose to live in Texas. They built houses with thick walls that helped dampen the furnace like summer heat and the piercing winter winds. The roofs had deep eaves that shaded the windows and kept the sun at bay. Houses were situated on the land to take advantage of the prevailing breezes, and they were often built only one room deep to benefit from cross ventilation. In the Hill Country, where limestone was plentiful, stone blocks were used. In North Central Texas, the clay soil was used to make bricks.

Contemporary design that follows this sensible, pre- technological response to climate and place is called vernacular architecture.

Architects David Lake and Ted Flato are masters of the Texas vernacular. Their 20-year-old San Antonio-based firm, Lake/Flato, has won more than 90 architecture awards for its various houses, churches and corporate headquarters. Now, for the firm's body of work, it has been given a consummate honor: the American Institute of Architects' 2004 Firm of the Year award.

This is a seismic tremor in the architecture community, which typically gives its top award to the biggest and highest-profile firms, the ones that create skylines and headlines through their large-scale projects. Only once before has the AIA firm award, created in 1962, been given to a Texas company -- and that was in 1972 to the Houston-based Caudill Rowlett Scott, one of those rarefied mega-firms. In contrast, Lake/Flato has a single office and 44 employees who go camping together once a year. It does not meet the typical Firm of the Year profile, and neither do its buildings."



Slideshow element


David Lake, 52, and Ted Flato, 48

Perl's Architecture Weblog earlyDecember 2003

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 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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