Perl's Architecture Weblog

2005 Fall Semester

Associate Professor Robert D. Perl, AIA




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 Texas Tech University  College of Architecture  Robert D. Perl 


updated 10-Jan-2006


In Alabama, a Poor County Is Rich in Modern Architecture

New York Times December 25

"Like Frank Lloyd Wright, the master of Taliesin, Samuel Mockbee, the Rural Studio's founder, was a larger-than-life figure. Born in Mississippi, Mr. Mockbee established the Rural Studio in dirt-poor Hale County, Ala., a place where trailers teetering on cinderblocks and disintegrating barns were two of the most common building types...

Under Mr. Mockbee, who died in 2001, students identified the poorest of the poor, and built them modest dwellings. Materials were rudimentary - whatever they could beg or borrow - and so the students made their mark with quirky details: a window inserted on a 30-degree angle, a concrete wall studded with soda bottles to let bits of light through. One house has walls made of car tires; another is made of hay bales; yet another of stacks of carpet tiles. It's an open secret that Mr. Mockbee liked to work in Hale County because there was no building code enforcement - allowing the students to experiment with unconventional materials and forms."



Charlotte’s ImaginOn takes a radical leap into the unknown

School Library Journal December

"Are we in a library, a museum, a theater? The kids are too engaged in playing, learning, and, yes, imagining, to care...

ImaginOn Facts: It’s well supported: The public approved $3.5 million for the land and a $27 million bond for construction. Private fund-raising created a $12 million programming endowment. It’s green: ImaginOn is the first public building in Charlotte to seek certification by the U.S. Green Council. It’s an architectural collaboration: Holzman Moss Architecture of New York worked with Gantt Huberman Architects of Charlotte. It’s an experience: ESI Design, an experiential design firm, created the interactive activities such as the Tale Spinners and the Team Machines."

Architecture Fact Form (pdf)

"The architects selected materials that challenge, inspire and excite young minds. Just as each program is defined by a unique form, each form is further defined by a unique material, texture, color and pattern... The variation of architectural scale reinforces the notion that a new story can unfold with each extraordinary architectural experience... "

Douglas Moss, AIA, Partner of Holzman Moss Architecture, received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Texas Tech University in 1990. Holzman Moss employees Darwin Harrison and Jose Reyes also graduated from TTU Architecture.

Governor Richardson and Virgin's Richard Branson describe tourist space flights from New Mexico spaceport

Santa Fe New Mexican December 14

"Branson's company plans to send 50,000 customers into space in the first 10 years of operation from the world's first purpose-built private spaceport. "This investment in economic development and high-wage jobs will create a new industry that will transform the economy in southern New Mexico," the governor said.

Branson later flew by helicopter to a vacant swath of desert at Upham, a highway exit north of Las Cruces destined to be the site of the spaceport. He planted a Virgin Galactic flag on the spot, saying it's ideal for sending tourists into space. Pointing to the cloudless sky, Branson said other states have unpredictable weather and don't offer enough space for the mammoth runway required for Galactic's venture.

The Virgin Galactic facility - most of it underground - would be part of the Southwest Regional Spaceport complex planned for a 27-square-mile site about 45 miles northeast of Las Cruces and 25 miles southeast of Truth or Consequences."

First spaceport will offer out of this world trips

Guardian Unlimited December 14

"Designs for the $225m spaceport have been drawn up by Philippe Starck, the French designer whose previous projects include office chairs, handbags and slick-looking colanders. To minimise environmental disruption, 90% of the launch centre is expected to be built underground, with only runways and a few buildings visible from the surface."


Leaders Who Build to Stroke Their Egos

New York Times December 13

Book Review: The  Edifice Complex

"The pyramids, Versailles, the Taj Mahal, the Kremlin, the World Trade Center: it's hardly news that the rich and powerful have used architecture to try to achieve immortality, impress their contemporaries, stroke their own egos and make political and religious statements.

... "The Edifice Complex," is a fat, overstuffed jumble of the obvious and the fascinating, the tired and the intriguing - a volume that feels less like an organic book than a series of hastily patched together essays and ruminations. It is a book in dire need of heavy-duty editing, but a book that intermittently grabs the reader's attention, making us rethink the equations between architecture and politics and money, and the myriad ways in which buildings can be made to embody everything from national aspirations and economic might to narcissistic displays of potency and ambition."



Antoine Predock, FAIA, Named 2006 AIA Gold Medal Recipient

AIA December

"The AIA Board of Directors voted on December 8 to award the 2006 AIA Gold Medal to Antoine Predock, FAIA, master of the American Southwest vernacular... Predock’s design springs from his geographic surroundings, the American West, an open desert full of history and expansive space... Physical interaction with the land plays a vital role in his design process, and he is known for making the voices of his clients ring clearly throughout the entire project. It has been said that Predock’s work joins the “mind” of architecture with the “body,” and embeds both with a sense of spirituality that connects the land, the space, the client, and society together seamlessly."


Previous AIA Gold Medal Awards


Antoine Predock
Architect PC


(photos left:) Austin City Hall

Some of the models submitted to Dr. Matthew Gallegos as one requirement of TTU ARCH 2311 World Architecture.

The Bird Man

New York Review of Books December 15

Extensive commentary on two exhibitions and four books about Santiago Calatrava.

"Calatrava's largest American commission to date is his $2-billion World Trade Center Transportation Hub at Ground Zero, which is now under construction, while the rest of that beleaguered rebuilding project languishes. In contrast to the nervous, fragmented forms of Daniel Libeskind's master plan or the bland minimalism of Michael Arad and Peter Walker's World Trade Center Memorial, Calatrava's dazzling white steel-and-glass train station—which is scheduled for completion in 2009 and will have a motorized roof that will open the main concourse to the sky—seems optimistic and uplifting. Its symbolism is unmistakable, and many immediately interpreted it as a dove.

Calatrava has confirmed that this design began with his vision of the bird of peace fluttering up from the hands of a child—a vision later enacted by his young daughter, who released two white doves at the building's groundbreaking. Like Libeskind, he has an intuitive understanding of the emotional issues in play at Ground Zero and is not shy about emphasizing them. Whereas Libeskind's Freedom Tower invoked the Statue of Liberty, the revolution of 1776, and his own immigrant experience as shamelessly as a vaudevillian waving the Stars and Stripes to milk applause, Calatrava's Transportation Hub, though not overtly patriotic, is just as implicitly commemorative, even though that was not the client's requirement. And unlike the unlucky Libeskind, who has been pushed out of the project, Calatrava has been adept at pleasing the different interest groups involved in it.

When the design for the Transportation Hub was first presented at a press conference early in 2004, reaction was ecstatic, summed up by Mayor Bloomberg, who exclaimed, "'Wow' is the first word that's got to come to your mind." Others saw it as an instant historic monument, perhaps out of eagerness for some sort of makeshift memorial while the real one remains in limbo and rebuilding at Ground Zero remains stalled."





The AR Awards for Emerging Architecture

Architectural Review UK December

"The AR Awards for Emerging Architecture is the biggest and best award for young architects in the world and gives £10 000 in prize money. Inaugurated in 1999, the award was conceived by The Architectural Review and d line, the distinguished Danish architectural design firm. It is now supported by Buro Happold. Intended to bring wider international recognition to a talented new generation of architects and designers, last year the competition attracted more than 700 entries from nearly 60 countries, representing every inhabited continent."

(photo at right) 1 of 3 Winners: Trahan Architects, Baton Rouge LA


Triangulation: Norman Foster’s thrilling addition to midtown Manhattan

The New Yorker December 19

"Norman Foster is the Mozart of modernism. He is nimble and prolific, and his buildings are marked by lightness and grace. He works very hard, but his designs don’t show the effort. He brings an air of unnerving aplomb to everything he creates—from skyscrapers to airports, research laboratories to art galleries, chairs to doorknobs. His ability to produce surprising work that doesn’t feel labored must drive his competitors crazy.

As with all Foster designs, the Hearst tower is sleek, refined, and filled with new technology. It looks nothing like the Jazz Age confection on which it sits. The addition is sheathed in glass and stainless steel—a shiny missile shooting out of Urban’s stone launching pad. The tower’s most prominent feature is the brash geometric pattern of its glass and steel, which the architect calls a “diagrid”: a diagonal grid of supporting trusses, covering the façade with a series of four-story-high triangles. These make up much of the building’s supporting structure, and they do it with impressive economy: the pattern uses twenty per cent less steel than a conventional skyscraper frame would require."

Scottish parliament splits public opinion

Guardian Unlimited December 13

"The controversial new Scottish parliament is one of Britain's best-loved buildings according to a new poll out today - just a day after another survey found it was one of the most hated.

Today's poll by YouGov of more than 2,000 people - for Construction Skills, the skills councils for the construction industry - found that the controversial new parliament was the eighth most popular new building in the UK. But the public can't seem to make up their minds about a building that went 10 times over budget and was three years late.

Yesterday a survey of more than 10,000 people for Channel 4 found that the Holyrood building, with its upturned boat motif, was regarded as one Britain's biggest eyesores. The building, by the late Catalan architect Enric Miralles, was also ranked eighth on that list."

"The full list of top 10 most popular buildings is:
· 1 Eden Project, Cornwall;
· 2 30 St Mary Axe (the Gherkin), London
· 3 McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, Surrey
· 4 Great Court, British Museum, London
· 5 Gateshead Millennium Bridge
· 6 Cardiff Millennium Stadium
· 7 Millennium Bridge, London
· 8 Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh
· 9 Selfridges, Birmingham
· 10 Tate Modern, London"

Four of the ten above designed by Norman Foster and Partners.

  Scottish Parliament building, designed by Enric Miralles


Scottish parliament wins Stirling prize October 17: Scotland's parliament in Edinburgh variously regarded as a masterpiece and a national scandal, has won the Riba Stirling prize for architecture.

Wilful, highly emotional and a winner


Holyrood? Pull the vile thing down August 7: Channel 4 viewers put the £431m Scottish Parliament on their list of Britain's most hated eyesore buildings.


Hail Holyrood March 13, Ruaridh Nicoll: The glory of the new parliament is being tainted by score-settling.

Extreme Environmental Makeover: Maize and blue and green

Detroit Free Press December 12

"On the University of Michigan campus, one venerable building is beginning its second century decked out in a trendy new color. Green.

Sunflower seed hull cabinets, bamboo floors, solar panels and composting toilets are among the green -- meaning environmentally friendly and energy-efficient -- components of the recently renovated Dana Building, home to the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

Across Michigan and the nation, many schools are opting for more energy-efficient structures to save money on energy and water use. In the process, they become highly visible models of green construction. "Our students and faculty said we should walk the walk" in showcasing green building technology, says Steve Ragan, senior vice president for university advancement at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, where a $15-million student services center is going up. Nearly complete, the building at Lawrence Tech will be a laboratory for students to learn and test green engineering and architecture -- and includes a geothermal heating system, a green roof and waterless urinals, along with solar-powered light pillars outside. The building's energy consumption will be 33% of a traditionally designed building, Ragan said."


Green Design at the Dana Building U of M


Taubman Student Services Center LTU designed by HarleyEllis


Building Better: A Guide to America's Best New Development Projects

Sierra Club Fall 2005

"Good Development Criteria

We had several criteria for selecting America’s best new development projects. Top candidates had to:

• Offer a range of transportation choices, including walking, biking, and public transportation;

• Redevelop existing areas, rather than developing natural areas, working farmland, or wetlands;

• Locate homes, retail shops, and offices close to each other;

• Preserve existing community assets, by re-using older buildings and protecting rivers, woodlands,
and farms;

• Minimize stormwater pollution and handle runoff in an environmentally responsible manner; and,

• Be the product of meaningful input by local citizens and reflect a broad set of local values."


Sierra Club Could Gain Allies as It Steps Up on Behalf of Some Builders

Wall Street Journal

"The Sierra Club is well-known for trying to stop big real-estate-development projects. But in a move that could help it gain new allies, the nation's best-known environmental group is starting to go to bat for some builders."

Bilbao? Please, That Was So Eight Years Ago

New York Times December 11

"Spain now holds architectural competitions for all new public buildings. And an organization called Europan 8, which fosters architectural competitions for people under 40, has given young architects a boost; a bright orange housing project in Seville by Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano, which will be included in the show, was a Europan 8 winner. Also in Seville is Jürgen Mayer H.'s Metropol Parasol, which features mushroomlike structures in a grid formation framing a plaza; it is expected to be completed in 2007.

Construction has eclipsed tourism as the largest economic sector in the country, Mr. Riley said. And Spain is overflowing with architectural publications. "What I really wanted to do was capture this excitement of how much stuff is happening right now," he said.

To test his idea, Mr. Riley asked several pathbreaking architects what projects they were working on in Spain. Zaha Hadid had three; Jean Nouvel, five; Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, seven. Richard Rogers has designed the Barajas airport terminals in Madrid, with Estudio Lamela. Other leading architects in the show include Rem Koolhaas, Thom Mayne, Rafael Moneo, Álvaro Siza and Mr. Gehry - all of whom, like Ms. Hadid, Mr. Herzog and Mr. Meuron, are winners of the prestigious Pritzker Prize for architecture."



Metropol Parasol


Metropol Parasol

Gehry Special: Frank Gehry discusses Brad Pitt, paper lamps, designing for Tiffany and why his cardboard chairs now cost so much

Newsweek December 9

"In the early 1970s, long before the Guggenheim Bilbao and Disney Concert Hall made Frank Gehry the world’s most famous living architect, he was considered a renegade. A cutting-edge Californian who loved to use everyday materials like plywood and chain link, he designed a series of witty, surprisingly comfortable chairs, made of corrugated cardboard, called Easy Edges; you could buy your very own Frank Gehry chair at Bloomingdale’s for about $35. But that was then, and now is now. This month, Vitra, the innovative Swiss furniture company, is reintroducing the Easy Edges line—this time splashed with color on the edges—as well as a series of spectacular lighting fixtures called Cloud. If you want to perch on one of Gehry’s chairs today, it’ll set you back at least $850.

... So in the last couple of years, you’ve designed a vodka bottle for Wyborowa and wrist watches for Fossil. And now you’re designing jewelry for Tiffany’s, of all things. What attracted you to that?

Well, I’m attracted to women. [Laughs.] I like looking at them, and so the idea of decorating them in some way was very appealing to me. I’m also fascinated with diamonds and precious stones—architects don’t get to play with stuff like that. And [Tiffany’s] made it easy—I didn’t have to have a staff to work on it. I could do it myself, with their staff. They spent a lot of time in my office working with me. You know, there are certain strains or directions in developing a formal language for architecture, right? We were able to identify some of those directions, and created several categories of stuff—they named them funny names."




Mens Leather Frank Gehry Watch

Architects plan kilometre-high skyscraper

New Scientist December 9

"At 1001 metres, the enormous tower would be almost twice the height of the world's tallest building today, the Taipei 101 in Taiwan, which stands at 509 metres. The new building would also dwarf the Burj Dubai, a building under construction in Dubai that is expected to stand 700-800 metres tall once completed in 2008. Architecture firm Eric Kuhne and Associates, based in London, UK, has drawn up plans for the skyscraper. Although the designs have yet to be made public, the company is reported to be in talks with the Kuwaiti government about construction."


Expert: Taiwan Skyscraper May Cause Quakes

Guardian Unlimited December 3

"The weight of the world's tallest skyscraper - specially built to withstand Taiwan's frequent earthquakes - could be causing a rise in the number of tremors beneath it, a professor from the island wrote in a scientific journal.

Lin Cheng-horng, an earthquake specialist at the National Taiwan Normal University in the capital, Taipei, says the 1,679-foot Taipei 101 building - named for the number of floors - might rest on an earthquake fault line. In the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters, Lin wrote that the pressure of the building's 700,000 tons on the ground may be leading to increased seismic activity."

Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners Receives The 2006 Architecture Firm Award From The American Institute of Architects

AIA December 8

"Moore Ruble Yudell declares that architecture is inherently the act of habitation, part of a continuum that seeks connections between people, place and culture. Its vision, centered on careful examination of site and climate, qualities of light, and the human experience, is credited in its development of spaces and buildings of every scale. The firm has become a major influence in the integration of light and color in design."


Programming Trouble?

Now let's see... Is it 10,000 spectators or 10,000 total occupants? Is 75 million the construction cost or the total project budget? The sophomores in my ARCH 2394 Architectural Programming course get this straight by the end of the semester. I wonder what's happening here? - RDP


London told to stick by pool promises

Times OnLine December 9

"The idea of cutting the capacity for the Games in 2012 was described by a spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as “pure speculation”. However, should this reduction in spectators take place, it would make the accommodation smaller than any of the past three Games. There were 11,000 seats in Athens, 17,000 in Sydney and 12,000 in Atlanta."


Olympic pool plans to be revised

BBC December 1

"Plans for the London Olympics 2012 aquatic centre have been rejected for going two times over budget. Olympics chiefs say they will stick with architect Zaha Hadid, but she has been ordered to bring costs back in line with the original £75m estimate.

"I sent the designers back to the drawing board because a specification change had almost doubled costs," said Olympic minister Tessa Jowell.

Hadid confirmed that the aquatic centre would be delivered on budget. The original plans were for a 20,000-seat arena with two 50m swimming pools and a diving pool, but it is thought the seating may have to be reduced to 10,000 in order to keep to the original £75m plans."

Designing Woman

CBS News Sunday Morning December 4

"Zaha Hadid sits in her London office and bangs her hand on her desk. “Patrick!” she shouts. Hadid is known to be demanding. Some even call her a diva. In one instance, Hadid tells her staff the project is not going to have her name to it. The Iraqi-born, London-based Hadid has become the most famous female architect in the world. It has not been an easy path. “There was a loss in the belief of the realm of possibility,” she says.
For years critics said her organic shapes were intriguing but couldn't be built. For example, this fire house in Germany was one of the only Hadid projects to actually be constructed until a Cincinnati museum took the leap to hire her. Her designs were “like a roller coaster, a little scary, but exhilarating at the same time,” says Charles Desmarais, director of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center. “She was a paper architect, as they say, someone who had great respect as a theorist and as a thinker about architecture but who hadn't had the opportunity to build,” says Desmarais."


Science Center Celebrates an Industrial Cityscape

New York Times November 28

"Designed by the brash London-based architect Zaha Hadid, the city's new Phaeno Science Center is a hypnotic work of architecture - the kind of building that utterly transforms our vision of the future. Ms. Hadid has never had much patience with the sentimentality that leads some planners to seek inspiration in the 19th-century urban model. Instead, her roots lie in the flowing freeways, modern housing developments and industrial landscapes that define the 20th century. The science center is the next step in that evolutionary chain. Propped up on sleek cone-shaped columns, its sensual forms draw strength from the energetic cityscape that surrounds it.

... She sees modernity as a project that was left incomplete, not as a lost cause, so her buildings set out to resurrect a forgotten dream. The Phaeno center is the most exhilarating expression of that vision yet - and a refreshingly humane model for the future."

Don't Blame Le Corbusier for the French Riots

New Republic November 29

"By placing work and community spaces within his building, Le Corbusier wasn't simply gilding the lily--he believed that such mixed-use design was integral to its success. Integration, rather than isolation, was at the heart of his architecture. So was quality: Recognizing that enormity can easily become synonymous with dehumanization, Le Corbusier strove to soften his designs with high-quality materials and ubiquitous public art. Like other modernists, Le Corbusier saw that technology and innovation made sound construction possible for everyone, not just the rich; and, indeed, visitors to Marseille are often struck by the craftsmanship and detailing that run throughout a building as large as the Unité d'Habitation.

True, the Unité d'Habitation looks, at first glance, like your average high-rise housing project. But unfortunately for the residents of the banlieues and Cabrini-Green, the differences are in the details--and they're crucial differences. The public housing authorities who copied Le Corbusier's work in the late 1950s and early '60s saw a model for cheap, high-density housing. They tore down vast swaths of urban and (in Europe) suburban neighborhoods and threw up massive, poorly built, and banally designed projects separated from the rest of the city."


Revolting High Rises

New York Times November 27

"La crise des banlieues turns out to be an ambiguous phrase. Is there a problem in France's suburbs or with France's suburbs? For Schäuble, it's the buildings. For the boosters of Marseille, it's where you put them.

The Swiss architect Le Corbusier, as Francophobes have been more than ready to explain, bears some of the blame for both. His designs inspired many of the suburbs where the riots of October and November began. In fact, he inspired the very practice of housing the urban poor by building up instead of out. Soaring apartments, he thought, would finally give sunlight and fresh air to city laborers, who had been trapped in narrow and fetid back streets since the dawn of urbanization. But high-rise apartments mixed badly with something poor communities generate in profusion: groups of young, armed, desperate males. Anyone who could control the elevator bank (and, when that became too terrifying to use, the graffiti-covered stairwells) could hold hundreds of families ransom.

Le Corbusier called houses "machines for living." France's housing projects, as we now know, became machines for alienation. In theory, the cause of this alienation is some mix of the buildings themselves and the way they're joined to the city. But in practice, the most effective urban renewal has tended to focus on the buildings. It focuses on the buildings by razing them."

To Restore or Reinvent?

New York Times November 24

"After living in tents and trailers, and negotiating the riddles of insurance and federal aid, many homeowners in the coming months will face questions of how exactly to reassemble houses of a certain historic vintage, like shotgun houses and Creole cottages. They are about to get some free design advice, whether they ask for it or not.

The 72-page pattern book details the basic features of traditional houses and, starting with a letter from Governor Barbour himself, strongly urges people to replicate them as closely as possible as they rebuild. The book is a result of planning efforts in the region by a politically well-connected group of designers known as the Congress for New Urbanism, which advocates old-fashioned ways of building houses, neighborhoods and towns. Since its founding in 1993, the group, which has about 2,000 members, has courted controversy for rejecting contemporary architectural ideas in favor of historicism, an approach critics have derided as a form of nostalgia.

David Buege, an architecture professor at Mississippi State University, said he is dismayed by the dominance of New Urbanist maxims in official efforts to rebuild. "It troubles me that we have no credible proponents for urban forms that will have a longer useful life and that will be more deeply satisfying than New Urbanism," he said. Marlon Blackwell, an architect and professor at the University of Arkansas, objected to what he called the New Urbanists' singular focus on historicist designs as they try to rebuild the region. "It uses historicism as a way to validate a kind of moralistic take on architecture," Mr. Blackwell said. "I see it as a bit of a scourge."

The book bears the Mississippi state seal, but does not set out rules or regulations with the force of law. Rather, it describes "appropriate" and "acceptable" ways to rebuild houses in a traditional mode - down to window details. Yet even preservation advocates expect the pattern book's design ideals to clash with the realities of rebuilding."


Sustainable Gulf Reconstruction

Environmental News Network November 23

"As some hurricane victims return home while others still languish in trailer parks and temporary hotels, the debate over rebuilding hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast communities has been joined, though without much of a blueprint. There has been no near-total reconstruction of a major US city like New Orleans since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, or the great Chicago fire of 1871, and times have changed radically since then. We now confront twin imperatives to do the unprecedented: to tackle the largest urban reconstruction project in American history quickly, and to do it sustainably.

... ominous-sounding are exceptional powers that would allow the commission to waive existing federal environmental laws to expedite projects it approves. If such provisions get implemented, moving reconstruction forward quickly and accountably without negative environmental impacts will be a particular challenge. Exemption from environmental law and normal congressional oversight are no excuse for ignoring environmental needs and sustainability, especially when there are excellent voluntary regimes for green planning, building and materials that the commission and other decision makers can and should adopt."

Designing Women

Repeat by Lynn Becker

An exhibition at the Chicago Architecture Foundation showcases the work of five women architects and raises questions of power, perspective, and gender. "At the highest levels of our profession, sexism is still rampant," says Denise Scott Brown, but today you can see the cracks coursing through the surface of the glass ceiling. In Chicago, hundreds of women are active in the profession, and the best of them are doing more to reinvigorate Chicago's architectural tradition than most of their more moneyed male counterparts. Chicago's architectural godfather, Stanley Tigerman, puts it plainly: "Jeanne Gang is a god-damn good architect. Period. I have no qualifiers on it. She's real Chicago, which means it's about structure and construction. It's not just the arbitrariness of design." "

  On October 7th,  students, faculty, and guests celebrated completion of a mural in the 4th floor elevator lobby of the TTU Architecture Building. The mural was painted by 15 students in "Rome: 753 BC To Present", a TTU College of Architecture class taught by Dr. Matthew Gallegos that included 12 days in Rome.

L to R:  David Hasting, Heather Luedecke, Chris Strong, Dr. Gallegos, and Kristi Wolking.

A Light in the Piazza: Once outrageous architect Renzo Piano now shows a quiet elegance. Did he lose his edge—or find his soul?

Newsweek November 7

"It's easy to forget that the elegant Italian architect Renzo Piano's first big commission was totally outrageous. Thirty-five years ago, he and British colleague Richard Rogers teamed up to build the Pompidou Center—both unknown, they beat out 681 architects for the job—and their brash factory for culture, with its pop-colored industrial tubes, ducts and pipes, landed in a sedate Paris neighborhood like an alien spaceship. "We were young, quite impolite bad boys," Piano recalled with a smile not long ago. Now the Pompidou is a landmark, of course, and Piano's architectural manners are polished to a high gloss. With two exquisite small American museums to his credit—the Menil Collection in Houston (1986) and the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas (2003)—this Pritzker Prize-winning designer is on a museum-building binge that will leave his mark on half a dozen U.S. cities."

Brickbats and mortals

Sydney Morning Herald November 5

"If architects want to change the world, should we give them their heads? The answer goes to the character of their profession. That was the subject of a recent debate...

Architects, Bow argued, were seen as "a desperate and dispensable lot who are always willing to work for nothing".

[McCabe] concluded, "architects are the thinkers and visionaries of our time"."

Political building blocks: How avant-garde intellectual Daniel Libeskind learned to exist in the real world

Houston Chronicle November 4

"Daniel Libeskind has been an architect his entire life, but he didn't finish a building until he was 52. The reason was simple: He was too intellectual. His designs were avant-garde, futuristic and infused with references to history, music and literature. They made no concessions to anyone. Then something changed."




High Tech High-Los Angeles

ArchNewsNow November 4

"Modeled after leading-edge corporate research centers, the school is a marriage of the educational and professional worlds – an incubator for new ideas and new approaches to teaching and learning. Using an open, airy environment incorporating natural light, visual transparency, and outdoor spaces, BAA’s design emphasizes students’ roles as self-directed learners by fostering spatial and academic freedom. With clear circulation, spatial hierarchies, and flexible adjacencies, the architecture fosters a community among students, teachers, and administrators. The building’s architecture and systems directly address the school’s science and math curricula, serving as a hands-on demonstration laboratory for students studying basic physics, engineering, and environmental design."


Without Fanfare, Building of New Trade Center Starts

New York Times November 4

"When are they ever going to start building the new World Trade Center? Yesterday. Thirty-nine years after the first concrete was poured into the first trench for the first telephone vault for the first trade center, carpenters built a 168-foot-long wooden trough in a gentle S curve through the south tower footprint at ground zero. From this sinuous sprout, Santiago Calatrava's PATH terminal and transportation hub will emerge."


Frank Lloyd Wright's Right-Hand Woman

Lynn Becker: Repeat

"Frank Lloyd Wright's first employee was a woman. This, in itself, is not particularly remarkable. What is surprising is that the woman was not a secretary or housekeeper, but someone who would soon become the world's first licensed architect, Marion Mahony. It was 1895. Wright, twenty-eight, had only recently set up his own practice, after being fired by Louis Sullivan for taking on outside commissions on the sly. Mahony, herself, had recently been dismissed from the employ of her cousin, Chicago architect Dwight Perkins, during an economic downturn. It can be argued that it was Mahony's distinctive renderings that created the public face that helped Wright's work command attention throughout the world. It could be speculated that Wright's work, itself, was influenced by Mahony's role in the spirited exchanges of ideas that went on in his studio, yet she is one a series of pioneering women architects and designers who have disappeared into the deep shadow of their male associates - Lill Reich in that of Mies van der Rohe, Aino Aalto in that of Alvar Aalto, and Mahony, in that of both Wright and her husband Walter Burley Griffin."


Rebuilding New Orleans: Twenty Big Ideas and a Postscript

Metropolis October 31

"17) Build Hurricane-Proof Houses. Build some houses that are designed to withstand major hurricanes, including storm surges. How? FEMA has sponsored designs that look like standard residences but are hurricane resistant, with strong ties holding roof and walls together, and with concrete and block safe rooms that can withstand 225 mph winds, but storm surges will do them in. A more radical notion is based on architect Charles Deaton’s aerodynamically designed sculptured house on pylons on Genesee Mountain in Colorado, or variations of that design based on the aerodynamics of missile designs that have be relatively light and yet strong enough to face Mach One airspeeds. Some developers are already exploring the concept."

Lovely Museum. Mind if I Redesign It for You?

New York Times October 30

"Over time, the work of almost all great architects is subjected to addition, expansion and renovation - usually by others. Still, it's relatively rare for a big-name architect to expand on another big-name architect's building while both are still alive. That's the reality facing Richard Meier at 71: his trademark-white High Museum of Art in Atlanta, which opened to wide critical acclaim in 1983, has been conjoined with an addition by Renzo Piano that opens Nov. 12. Mr. Piano, 68, who also has expansions under way at the Morgan Library and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Art Institute in Chicago, is more than doubling the High's size with his 177,000-square-foot extension."


Let's Do the Twist: Is Ground Zero's architectural superstar all he's cracked up to be?

Slate October 26

"Calatrava is having a very good year. The American Institute of Architects has awarded him its Gold Medal for 2005; a show of his buildings and sculptures has just opened at the Metropolitan Museum; and work has commenced on his kinetic World Trade Center Transit Hub, which promises to be the best—and for a long time perhaps the only—building at Ground Zero. The hub is vintage Calatrava, the kind of poetic long-span structure for which he first became famous. But in the last five years he has greatly broadened his repertoire, completing a number of striking cultural buildings: the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, an expansion to the Milwaukee Art Museum, and an opera house in the Canary Islands. And now in Malmö, his first skyscraper is nearing completion...

The unsatisfactory design of Turning Torso raises questions about the future direction of Calatrava's career. He has been widely praised for his lyrical structures, which has given him the confidence to tackle more complicated buildings. Yet theatrical structures can only carry an architect so far. A bridge or a stadium roof is required to perform a single dramatic task; a tall apartment building, on the other hand, must fulfill a host of functions, large and small: landmark, urban neighbor, home. If Calatrava is to expand his oeuvre successfully, he will have to deepen his range as a designer considerably. God, as Mies van der Rohe famously said, is in the details."

  The Turning Torso tower.

Buildings Shown as Art, and Art as Buildings

New York Times October 25

"An array of architectural models, videos, drawings and sculptures, the show tries to demonstrate the link between the architect's luxurious bronze and marble sculptures and his architecture. Yet no one would argue that Mr. Calatrava's sculptures would make it into the Met on their own merits; as art, they are mostly derivative of the works of dead masters like Brancusi.

And the show doesn't shed much light on how sculpture figures into Calatrava's creative process - the way, say, he might use it to work through vexing structural problems. The problems suggest themselves as soon as you enter the gallery. Architects draw for different reasons than artists do - for one thing, to work through ideas with a freedom that cannot be replicated by using computer software. It's also a way to seduce a client. Mr. Calatrava is adept at this: he likes to sketch the outline of a bird or a human figure as he explains a design, drawing you into more intimate contact with his work."


Pushing new heights  

2,000-foot TV tower may pierce skyline

Chicago Tribune October 25

"Imagine this addition to Chicago's fabled skyline: a futuristic, tweezer-shaped broadcast tower looming 2,000 feet over the lakefront as one of the world's tallest structures. The digital age may soon bring this sleek, scissors-like conversation piece to the city, within clear view of the tourists at Navy Pier who will either ooh with awe or laugh with disbelief. To be designed by prominent architect Cesar Pelli, the tower would help redefine Chicago's horizon. Rising above the skyline between the John Hancock Center and the Sears Tower, it would usher in a new era of daring, ultramodern architecture for the city. The $300 million Pelli tower would function as a platform for local television stations to mount their new high-definition broadcasting antennas."

Taller, higher, bigger, Foster: Norman Foster may be 70, but he shows no sign of flagging.

Guardian UK October 24

"Norman Foster stands on the shoulders of ... well, Norman Foster, really. He is the world's most famous and most productive architect. A giant. From a modest working-class background, he has risen to the highest ranks of professional and social esteem. Knighted and awarded the Order of Merit, he has won many of the world's top architectural and cultural prizes...

He's spending more time thinking about the Beijing terminal, though. "It's the largest covered structure ever built," he says. "There are 40,000 workers on site, working eight-hour shifts around the clock. Construction began on April 6 2004 and will be complete on December 31 2007, well in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympics." The roof of the dragon-like structure covers a space 3.25km long by 785m wide. A train will connect various parts of the terminal, along with 175 escalators, 173 lifts and 437 travelators. By 2020, it is estimated, 55 million people will pass through each year."

A Challenge for Six Days: Planning Mississippi's Coast

New York Times October 19

"Architects and urban planners have been known to pull all-nighters wrapping up big presentations. But the group of 200 who emerged bleary-eyed on Monday in Biloxi, Miss., had struggled with an unusually daunting task: rebuilding the state's entire coastline. What they came up with over six days for the 11 towns in their mandate ranged from gentle restoration plans to extremely aggressive reconstruction proposals. In general, the effort amounted to "a retrofitting of suburbia," said Andrés Duany, the forum's leader, to "create a neighborhood structure." Most participants embrace an urban design movement that advocates walkable streets and a denser mix of houses and stores rather than urban sprawl...

While the overall mood at the conclusion of the forum - at the Isle of Capri casino hotel in Biloxi - was upbeat, some architects expressed frustration that clear guidelines for rebuilding were not yet available from FEMA. During the forum, the architects had only advisory maps of so-called high-velocity zones to work from. "We spent a lot of time trying to understand the new FEMA rules," Mr. Duany said. "That has not been a satisfying experience." "

New Orleans Reborn: Theme Park vs. Cookie Cutter

New York Times October 18

"NEW ORLEANS - Optimism is in short supply here. And as people begin to sift through the wreckage left by Hurricane Katrina, there is a creeping sense that the final blow has yet to be struck - one that will irrevocably blot out the city's past. The first premonition arose when Mayor C. Ray Nagin announced that the model for rebirth would be a pseudo-suburban development in the Lower Garden District called River Garden. The very suggestion alarmed preservationists, who pictured the remaking of historic neighborhoods into soulless subdivisions served by big-box stores. More recently, Mr. Nagin contemplated suspending the city's historic preservation laws to make New Orleans more inviting to developers - evoking the possibility of architectural havoc and untrammeled greed. But politicians and developers are not the only culprits here. For decades now, the architectural mainstream has accepted the premise that cities can exist in a fixed point in historical time. What results is a fairy tale version of history, and the consequences could be particularly harsh for New Orleans, which was well on its way to becoming a picture-postcard vision of the past before the hurricane struck."




An Interview With Architect Charles Jencks

California Literary Review October 16

"The iconic building shares certain aspects both with an iconic object, such as a Byzantine painting of Jesus, and the philosophical definition of an icon, that is, a sign with some factor in common with the thing it represents. On the one hand, to become iconic a building must provide a new and condensed image, be high in figural shape or gestalt, and stand out from the city. On the other hand, to become powerful it must be reminiscent in some ways of unlikely but important metaphors and be a symbol fit to be worshipped, a hard task in a secular society. Best examples? The first post-war icon was the little church at Ronchamp by Le Corbusier. This building set the standard for all subsequent work in the genre. Other recent ones I could mention include Daniel Libeskind (Imperial War Museum, North Manchester; Jewish Museum, Berlin), Norman Foster (Swiss Re headquarters, London), Frank Gehry (New Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao; Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles)."


Homes Of The Billionaires 2005

Forbes October

"How does the other half live? Well, it depends. Try more like how does the other 0.00001% live?"

Slideshow including Michael Dell's 33,000 sq. ft. Austin home



An Anatomy of Megachurches

Slate October 10

"The 16,000-seat sanctuary of Lakewood Church in Houston, the nation's largest nondenominational congregation, has padded theater seats instead of wooden pews, a stage instead of an altar, and video projection screens instead of stained-glass windows. Hardly a classic place of worship, although the expansive expression of religious community in this vast space is as impressive, in its way, as any soaring medieval nave."

Cheap = Good: Affordable housing

Salon October 5

"While today's architectural headlines are generally about glittering new museums or soaring condo towers, with limitless budgets and superstar designers, an important trend is blossoming closer to the ground. In part the movement is fed by the growing popularity of design/build programs in architecture schools across the country -- Fayetteville, S.C.; Seattle; Lawrence, Kan. -- inspired by the success of the late Samuel Mockbee's Rural Studio in Alabama. Ten years ago, students graduated from architecture school burning to build computer-generated blobs. These days, the architectural vanguard is just as likely to emerge with a diploma and a desire to build dirt cheap."

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After a Disaster, Houses That Feel More Like Home

Washington Post October 1

"The HELP house -- the acronym stands for Housing Every Last Person -- is more than a tent but less than a home. The basic structure, which measures 8 by 12 feet, includes a kitchenette, bathroom and sleeping space for three. Solar power, a gravity-fed water supply and a composting toilet would make it self-sufficient. Units can be combined, moved and reused.

The HELP house and Global Village Shelter are the latest in a distinguished line of ideas from designers. They stand as eloquent protests against the global status quo, but they have rarely reached the displaced people who might benefit. Relief is complex, costly and unpredictable, but designers are right to focus attention on transitional dwellings. In the immediacy of disaster, the United Nations favors canvas tents and plastic sheeting, which are easy to stockpile and cheap to airlift virtually anywhere. Rich countries don't do tent cities. FEMA relies on manufactured housing, perhaps to a fault. The agency has bought or ordered more than 115,000 mobile homes, RVs and trailers costing $10,000 to $20,000 each."

  The HELP temporary dwelling erected by architect Carib Daniel Martin and builder Rob Bragan in Bethesda.

We need more truly public spaces

San Antonio Express-News October 2

"The delightful pedestrian spine of The Shops at La Cantera calls to mind the pleasant walking streets and plazas of many towns in Europe, and some in the U.S. I'm thinking of the kinds of urban streets and plazas that partly serve the needs of commerce and purposeful movement, but that also are places of aimless strolling, enjoyment and sociability. The common area at The Shops was designed (by Alamo Architects of San Antonio and landscape architect J. Robert Anderson of Austin) to look and feel like a fine urban public space, but there's one crucial limitation: Though open to the public (on good behavior), The Shops is in the private realm, not the public realm."

Reading symbolism in the Sept. 11 era

Los Angeles Times October 5

"Maybe spelling out the words "Let's Roll!" across the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania will do the trick — you know, like the Hollywood sign, but with bigger letters and a star-spangled exclamation point. Truthfully, it's hard to know what advice to give Paul Murdoch about the best way to recast his politely streamlined but politically controversial design for the Flight 93 memorial, slated for a wind-swept site 80 miles outside Pittsburgh. The Los Angeles architect barely had time to enjoy his victory over four other finalists before his design was savaged by angry bloggers and a congressman, Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), who charged that its crescent of red maple trees is a sign of sympathy for Islamic terrorists."


2005 National Preservation Award Winners

"The National Preservation Awards are annually bestowed on distinguished individuals, nonprofit organizations, public agencies and corporations whose skill and determination have given new meaning to their communities through preservation of our architectural and cultural heritage. These efforts include citizen attempts to save and maintain important landmarks; companies and craftsmen whose work restores the richness of the past; the vision of public officials who support preservation projects and legislation in their communities; and educators and journalists who help Americans understand the value of preservation."



Architectural Heritage Center, Portland Oregon

The virtues of sprawl

Boston Globe October 2

"Density is only one factor in the analysis of dispersed development. Because all the functions of life—homes, stores, entertainment, and work-places—are rigidly separated and spread out, everyone needs a car to get around. That means long commutes, traffic jams, and less quality time with family. Local governments are going broke trying to extend water and sewer lines and other infrastructure to outlying areas, even if it's dense once you get there. Sprawl eats up farmland and open space, and investment in sprawling areas has tended to be at the expense of inner cities, worsening social and economic fragmentation.

But is all that a bad rap? Maybe, says Robert Bruegmann, a professor of art history, planning and architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who identifies many good things about sprawl. ''It's no better or no worse than any other settlement pattern," Bruegmann says. ''It works because it satisfies a lot of needs. When people have been able to afford it, people move out of cities. We now have tens of millions of people who can do what only a small minority once could do." "























Crown Hall at IIT reopens after restoration.


Photos, links and a 1m47s video set to a Steve Reich soundtrack.

Some Experts Say It's Time to Evacuate the Coast (for Good)

New York Times October 4

"Harry Simmons, president of the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, which advocates for beach replenishment and other infrastructure support for coastal communities, said that 3,600 Americans moved to the coast every day.

"You cannot draw up a worse case scenario for increased property damage, risk to human life and cost to taxpayers," said Robert S. Young of Western Carolina University, who studies coastal development. Just as a commission was formed to identify military bases for closing, he said, a commission should be formed to identify "those sections of shoreline that are clearly so vulnerable to storm damage that they should no longer receive any federal subsidy of infrastructure rebuilding, they should be yanked out of the flood insurance program, those sorts of things." Mr. Young said the commission should be made up of representatives from FEMA, the United States Geological Survey, the Army Corps of Engineers and university researchers. "It could not have politicians on it because coastal politicians, even if they are fiscal conservatives, would want to defend their coastal turf," he said."

Nasher makes dream come true at Duke

Dallas Morning News October 2

"At the Nasher Sculpture Center, visitors look at art in the context of nature and natural light, as though the building were a downtown variation on Mr. Nasher's house and grounds in North Dallas. The scale is domestic, with interior and exterior, galleries and garden flowing seamlessly together.

At Duke, the merging is less between art and nature than site and structure. The heart of architect Rafael Viñoly's design is a 13,000-square-foot atrium framed by five discrete pavilions containing galleries, an auditorium, offices and a museum shop. It is a stunning space – tall, luminous and welcoming, with large windows between pavilions looking out to woods and the remains of a meadow. The combination of a simple functional plan and abundant natural light means that you know instantly where you are and how to navigate the building, with no maze of corridors and partitions to throw you off course."



The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University

Martha's Touch: After a Botched Renovation, Gordon Bunshaft's Modern Home Was Demolished.

National Trust for Historic Preservation September 30

"Willed to the Museum of Modern Art along with the architect's art collection after Bunshaft's death in 1990, the house was sold to Martha Stewart for $3.2 million in 1995 without any protective covenants beyond what a MoMA spokeswoman, quoted by the East Hampton Star in 2002 referred to as an offer "to maintain the integrity" of the building. Despite these seemingly exemplary intentions, Stewart hired London architect John Pawson to redo the two-bedroom house. Interior partitions and detailing were removed and windows boarded up; a portion of the house's signature travertine floor was reportedly removed and installed in the kitchen of Stewart's new Bedford, N.Y., home—a perhaps more typically "Martha" complex of New England saltbox-inspired architecture.

Soon after the ImClone insider-trading scandal broke, Stewart transferred the property to her daughter, Alexis, who then put the deteriorated house on the market for $10.5 million. Last spring, Donald Maharam, a textiles magnate noted for reissues of classic mid-century designs, purchased the waterfront house for approximately $9.5 million. Despite his interest in modernism, Maharam announced that he was going to demolish the house. In a statement released in June, Maharam described the structure as "decrepit and largely beyond repair," claiming that Stewart's attempts at renovation had ended with "substantial demolition of all but the existing roof." Travertine House was demolished on the last weekend of July."

For Ground Zero Building, It's Back to Drawing Board

New York Times October 3

"The practice of recycling buildings goes back millennia. But the World Trade Center project may claim a new distinction by recycling a structure that has not yet been built. The Norwegian firm Snohetta was chosen last October to design the cultural building at ground zero to house the International Freedom Center and the Drawing Center. Because Gov. George E. Pataki evicted the Freedom Center last week as too controversial, and the Drawing Center is looking for space elsewhere, state officials say that the "Snohetta building" will instead be used in conjunction with the underground memorial nearby, to tell the story of 9/11.

The beautiful Snohetta-designed building is now a relic - a design without a program or a purpose," Agnes Gund, president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art, said on Thursday, in the letter she wrote resigning from the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation to protest the Freedom Center's eviction."


3 Year Rebuilding Timeline at Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Corporation

Building to offer breath of fresh air

Seattle Times September 27

"Seattle's rage for environmentally sensitive buildings has prompted some gimmicky things, like shrubs growing on the roof of City Hall and library furniture held together without nails or screws. For its new, 40,000-square-foot headquarters in the South Lake Union area, Weber + Thompson architecture envisions something more far-reaching, a plan the firm hopes could make its offices more pleasant and interesting year-round — even if it gets sticky at times in the summer. The Seattle firm is planning the city's first significant new office building in decades designed for "passive cooling." Translation: windows that open, no air conditioning."


Shaping the future of the seaside

BBC September 26

"He's designed some of the most spectacular buildings of the modern age, now Frank Gehry - credited with almost single-handedly regenerating a Spanish city - has set his sights on the English seaside. So why have his plans split local opinion?

Brighton and Hove - which became a single city in 2000 - has done just that, having agreed in principle to a £290m Frank Gehry landmark right on the seafront. The fact that Gehry's friend, film star Brad Pitt, wants a hand in the design only adds to the glamour.

Many local residents, some of whom will lose their sea view, call the plan a "monstrosity". They say it is completely out of kilter with the character of Hove, which has always been seen as the more genteel sister of brash Brighton."


Now at Design Schools, Big Concepts on Campus

New York Times September 26

"Amid growing student interest in their programs, New York architecture and design schools are moving to add new buildings conceived by hot architects of the moment. Aside from Mr. Holl's glass-and-concrete center at Pratt's School of Architecture, a new main building by Lyn Rice is rising at Parsons School of Design in Greenwich Village, and City College has thrown up construction tents around what is to become its new architecture hall in Harlem, designed by Rafael Viñoly. Next summer, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art will break ground on a $105 million expansion of its art studios and engineering school designed by the Los Angeles architect Thom Mayne.

In a sense, the schools are coming to realize that they, of all institutions, should be embracing high-concept architecture for their campuses."


Trying to Resurrect the Body of a City Buried in Sludge and History

New York Times September 21

"Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, toured several historic neighborhoods here on Monday, accompanied by a host of local housing preservationists, in an effort to remind officials that in the rush to clean up New Orleans, all should be mindful of its architectural legacy.

Fully half of New Orleans is part of a historic district, some 20 of them across the city, encompassing 37,000 buildings, according to Mr. Moe. In American terms, New Orleans is ancient, laid out according to a plan developed in 1720. By 1850, it was the third-most-populous city in the country, much of it arrayed around grand promenades and squares. Jackson Square, a stop on the rolling tour led by Mr. Moe, is home to the magnificent St. Louis Cathedral, which survived both the wind and the subsequent flood."


Shotgun house a unique, ingenious and dazzling style

Chicago Tribune September 18

"Just what is a shotgun? One of the best definitions I've run into is published on the Web site of the Bywater Neighborhood Association. Bywater is (or was) a lively, chockablock neighborhood of houses, warehouses, churches, stores and schools northeast of the French Quarter. It sustained heavy flooding after Katrina, but parts of it have dried out.

The Web site says: "The Shotgun house is a narrow one-story dwelling without halls. Each room is placed behind the other in single file. . . . The traditional description of why these houses are called `shotgun' is that if one fired a shotgun through the front door, the shot would pass through the lined-up doors of each room and out the back door. This description does not really fit most shotgun houses, because the doors of the successive rooms don't usually line up."

There are single-unit and double-unit shotgun houses, as well as camelback houses, which are two-story shotguns. Thoroughly Victorian in spirit, the shotguns flourished from after the Civil War through the 1920s. They are typically sided in boards of cypress, a local water-resistant material, and raised on brick footings to discourage rot. Some people think of shotguns as low-rent, but that is to confuse economic status with architectural quality."

Using Technology to Combat Nature Has Environmental and Economic Costs

Washington Post September 17

" "Design with Nature" is the title of a weighty book written in the 1960s by landscape architect Ian L. McHarg -- and it is also precisely what we have not done in the Gulf Coast region, as Hurricane Katrina tragically demonstrated.

The environmental bible of its time, "Design with Nature" graphically described the form and interdependence of Earth's fundamental ecosystems -- climate, geology, topography, hydrology and botanical and zoological habitats. McHarg sets forth, often in moralistic terms, fundamental principles and analytical strategies for determining how and where humans should use land."

When Architects Plagiarize

Slate September 14

"An architect has brought a lawsuit alleging plagiarism against David M. Childs and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, claiming that an early version of the Freedom Tower was copied from his project of six years ago. Whatever the merits of the claim, the suit raises a broader issue, one that is particularly relevant in an age in which "starchitect" buildings have become the norm: How important should artistic authorship be in the world of architecture?

For most of the last 500 years, imitation was the sincerest form of architectural flattery. The pattern was established during the Renaissance, whose architects were trying to re-create the buildings of ancient Rome. The fact that most of these buildings lay in ruins meant that designers had to do a lot of creative reconstruction, but that didn't alter the principle of learning from—and copying—the past. Invention was necessary, but it was not the most important factor."

Extreme Makeover: Museum Edition

New York Times September 18

"It would seem embarrassing for any architect, let alone one as prominent as Peter Eisenman. You design a museum - your first large-scale work, a breakout project whose exterior scaffolding design, a virtual celebration of impermanence, sets the architecture world buzzing. Within just a few years, however, cracks start to show. Quite literally: the skylight leaks. The glass curtain wall lets in too much light, threatening to damage delicate artwork. The interior temperature swings by as much 40 degrees some days.

But the building's original creator says he is unconcerned. "There's not an architect I know that doesn't have problems with important buildings," Mr. Eisenman said in a recent interview in his New York office. He cited a comment that Frank Lloyd Wright is said to have made when a client called to complain that a house was leaking: You mean you left my building out in the rain? "Do you know any architect that's been free of that? I don't know any," Mr. Eisenman said. "Frank, Rem - they all do," he said, referring to Frank Gehry and Rem Koolhaas. "Wright, Corbu, Mies. Look at Mies and the Farnsworth House - enormous problems."

When the Wexner Center opened on Nov. 17, 1989, the building was hailed as a major cultural happening. Writing in The New York Times, the architecture critic Paul Goldberger called it "one of the most eagerly awaited architectural events of the last decade," and since then it has helped turned Columbus into a cultural destination.

As a result, the renovation was treated almost as a historic-preservation project. "That might sound odd, in that it's only 16 years old, but this is a landmark of a kind of architectural practice at a certain point in time," Ms. Geldin said. "We recognized the importance of preserving the architectural intent." "

Making the Desert Bloom With Architecture

New York Times September 15

"In a powerful reminder that big-name architects have become big business, the casino operator MGM Mirage has enlisted a celebrity roster - Rafael Viñoly, Lord Norman Foster, James KM Cheng, Cesar Pelli, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates - to design various parts of a $5 billion, 66-acre development in the heart of Las Vegas.

A design scheme for Project CityCenter in Las Vegas, a 66-acre development on the strip. Called Project CityCenter, the complex of hotels, casinos, retail and residential space is to be built by November 2009 on a site between the Monte Carlo and Bellagio hotels on the city's famous strip. MGM Mirage plans to announce the architectural team at a news conference today. At 18 million square feet - about the same size as Rockefeller Center, SoHo and Times Square combined - the project is described by the company as the largest privately financed development in the country.

Whether the MGM Mirage project signals a shift in Las Vegas from gaudy architecture to tall and sleek modern towers remains to be seen. But architects say that either way, it will be a new architectural chapter for the city. "The Las Vegas we studied in the 1960's is long, long gone," said Denise Scott Brown, the architect and urban planner who with Robert Venturi wrote "Learning From Las Vegas" (1972), a seminal work on signage in Las Vegas and its effect on the city's architectural vernacular. "They have gone back to the industrial revolution - steel and glass." Asked if she thought the city's signature glitz and kitsch would be missed, she replied: "Take away the decoration and the neon and you leave the beauty and purity of a modern building. I don't know how many takers you will have, even if there is a great name attached to it." "

Rebuilding, and Redesigning, New Orleans

National Public Radio September 14

"Since Hurricane Katrina, there have been promises that New Orleans will be rebuilt. But those plans will also likely include a redesigned New Orleans. Reed Kroloff, dean of Tulane's architecture program, says the city's "fine grain" must be preserved. Sociologist George Wooddell shares his pessimism that the population will return. Landscape architect Walter Hood, a University of California-Berkeley professor, says New Orleans must become a denser, more integrated city, both in race and class."


Sorry I cannot link directly to the audio. Click the "Listen" icon on the story page.

12min 32sec

(Windows Media Player format)

At about 3:15, note the comments on "neo-precious" design and new urbanism.

Reviving a City: The Design Perspective

New York Times September 14

"Among the questions facing architects are whether the city's footprint should be irrelevant, given that so many residents may not return; whether surviving industries should be pivotal to what is built; whether preservation should trump other priorities; and whether bold new architecture can or should rise from the muck and devastation. Many experts also warned against moving too quickly, arguing that being away from the city could help residents clarify what was most valued and should be reclaimed.

Architects and planners worry that developers might try to recreate some fairy-tale version of the city, compromising its 300-year-old character. "My big concern is that it will become a Disneyland," said Raymond G. Post Jr., a Baton Rouge architect. "If we come up with a plastic New Orleans, then you've got a plastic New Orleans. You lose the charm and the quaintness and the crooked walls and the old shutters." Without the rejuvenation of the city's varied industries, and with too much reliance on tourism, the city could become something of a stage set where people work but do not live, some experts said."


Complete Coverage Hurricane Katrina: Storm and Crisis

New York Times

Multimedia and Interactive Graphics

Why New Orleans must be rebuilt

Chicago Tribune September 14

"Cities are collective works of art, and New Orleans is one of America's masterpieces -- a delectable multicultural gumbo whose value is only more pronounced in a nation where the same stores, banks and malls make every place feel like every other place. For that reason alone, the much-hyped "should we rebuild New Orleans?" debate is preposterous. Of course we should save New Orleans. To abandon it would be like Italy abandoning Venice. Besides, anybody who sets foot in this town knows that the best parts of New Orleans don't need to be rebuilt. They're still there.

You don't abandon cities if they are plagued with deadly infrastructure problems. You solve those problems, which is precisely what Chicago did in 1900 when it reversed the flow of the Chicago River. That prevented a recurrence of the typhoid and cholera epidemics that resulted from the river spewing sewage into Lake Michigan, source of the city's drinking water. It already is a cliche to say that the flood gives New Orleans a chance to turn disaster into opportunity and to build a truly 21st Century city. But the most progressive rebuilding plan of all may be based on a new interpretation of an old idea: Building with respect for nature rather than arrogantly dismissing it."


Should we even rebuild New Orleans?

Chicago Tribune Sept. 13

"If you were looking for a place expressly designed to endanger people and property, it would look a lot like New Orleans. No one today would ever think of building a city on a plot of ground below sea level, surrounded by water, endlessly vulnerable to floods and hurricanes. So why would anyone think of rebuilding a city in exactly the same place?"

A twinkle in the eye of the storm

Times (UK) September 13

"Libeskind is most famous for designing the masterplan for the building that will eventually emerge from the crater of Ground Zero. Top-dog architects have to be showmen, but it can be an awkward marriage: his angular, challenging architecture, such as Berlin’s Jewish Museum, sits uneasily with appearing on Oprah. Their bond? Emoting: he wants his buildings to stir your heart."


Eisenman Urges New Language of Architecture

Cornell Daily Sun September 14

"In the question-and-answer session that followed his talk, Eisenman spoke of his early desire "to change the world," wondered if today’s architects’ goals are as lofty and noble and reiterated his belief that architects must reinvent their language. "If we are to begin to act again, the suggestion is that we must rethink how architecture communicates," Eisenman said. "Not for change itself, but change for some social purpose." "


Architect Ralph Rapson at 91

Minnesota Public Radio September 13

"At the age of 91, architect Ralph Rapson is still hard at work. Many in his field consider him to be Minnesota's most important architect of the 20th century. The public knows him best for designing the original Guthrie Theater, which is slated for demolition in the coming year. But he's also credited with making modern design more accessible, and with shaping two generations of young architects."



Listen 7min 6sec

(RealAudio format)


For Architects, No Blueprints for Recovery

Los Angeles Times September 11

"Many New Orleans firms that will help rebuild their city set up in Baton Rouge, where they struggle to salvage their practices and plot uncertain futures.

The displaced architects, who come from established corporate firms and modest boutique offices, are doing their best to piece their practices back together. They are dialing and redialing balky cellphones to reach clients and figure out which of their New Orleans projects will move forward and which will remain on hold.

The discussions swing wildly between hopeful musings — about the opportunity to design architecturally progressive, mixed-use buildings in the place of isolated slums, for example — and litanies about the corruption of Louisiana politics and the stunning percentage of the city's housing stock that remains submerged more than 10 days after the storm."



Complete Coverage: Hurricane Katrina

Los Angeles Times

Photo Galleries, Graphics, and over 140 "key articles, commentary and information on the disaster."

A Deepening Gloom About Ground Zero's Future

New York Times September 10

"There has been no healing, really. Four years have passed since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, and the road to recovery at ground zero looks bleaker than ever. A rebuilding effort that was originally cast as a symbolic rising from the ashes has long since turned into a hallucinogenic nightmare: a roller coaster ride of grief, naïveté, recriminations, political jockeying and paranoia... It's a stubborn situation, justified by those who believe that any development at ground zero is good for the city's economy. If the 10 million square feet of commercial space at ground zero is not rebuilt, the thinking goes, our fragile confidence will be erased, and the terrorists will have won."

In Mississippi, History Is Now a Salvage Job

New York Times September 8

"For preservationists in Mississippi no less is at stake than the region's architectural patrimony."



New York Times Slideshow

Can Design Prepare for Disaster?

New York Times September 8

"Beginning Oct. 16, the Museum of Modern Art will examine issues of safety, including emergency preparedness, with its first major design show in its new home. "Safe: Design Takes On Risk," will display products, prototypes and proposals by designers from around the world...

Rob Rogers, partner, Rogers Marvel Architects: When we started dealing with security architecture, we met with this very interesting guy from FEMA who comes in and does analysis after hurricanes, after earthquakes. And he talks about an awareness window of about three years, where, after a catastrophic event, new buildings will respond to whatever the last disaster was, whether it was a hurricane or an earthquake or a terrorist event. And then it just begins to kind of drift because it's nobody's favorite topic. And it begins to slip away. So it's very episodic and really based on what happened last time, not necessarily what is the most likely event to take place."



TTU Fall Semester classes began August 29. Glenn Hill in the Computer Lab and Mike Peters in Design III.

The Sunken City

The New Yorker September 3

The New Yorker reprints an excerpt on the Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts to tame the waters of Louisiana.

"New Orleans, surrounded by levees, is emplaced between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi like a broad shallow bowl. Nowhere is New Orleans higher than the river’s natural bank. Underprivileged people live in the lower elevations, and always have. The rich—by the river—occupy the highest ground. In New Orleans, income and elevation can be correlated on a literally sliding scale: the Garden District on the highest level, Stanley Kowalski in the swamp. The Garden District and its environs are locally known as uptown.

Many houses are built on slabs that firmly rest on pilings. As the turf around a house gradually subsides, the slab seems to rise. Where the driveway was once flush with the floor of the carport, a bump appears. The front walk sags like a hammock. The sidewalk sags. The bump up to the carport, growing, becomes high enough to knock the front wheels out of alignment. Sakrete appears, like putty beside a windowpane, to ease the bump. The property sinks another foot. The house stays where it is, on its slab and pilings. A ramp is built to get the car into the carport. The ramp rises three feet. But the yard, before long, has subsided four."



The original article prints about 39 pages.
The Control of Nature: Atchafalaya
by John McPhee, Feb. 1987


The full article is a fascinating account of the efforts to redesign the watershed of 42% of the United States.

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 Texas Tech University  College of Architecture  Robert D. Perl 


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Associate Professor Robert D. Perl, AIA

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

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