ArchiWEB Explorer: America

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AD Classics: AT&T Building / Philip Johnson and John Burgee

© David Shankbone © David Shankbone

It may be the single most important architectural detail of the last fifty years. Emerging bravely from the glassy sea of Madison Avenue skyscrapers in midtown Manhattan, the open pediment atop Philip Johnson and John Burgee’s 1984 AT&T Building (now the Sony Tower) singlehandedly turned the architectural world on its head. This playful deployment of historical quotation explicitly contradicted modernist imperatives and heralded the mainstream arrival of an approach to design defined instead by a search for architectural meaning. The AT&T Building wasn’t the first of its type, but it was certainly the most high-profile, proudly announcing that architecture was experiencing the maturation of a new evolutionary phase: Postmodernism had officially arrived to the world scene.

Boarding School at the Bella Vista Agronomy Campus in Bolivia / CODE

© Cristobal Palma / Estudio Palma © Cristobal Palma / Estudio Palma

Steven Holl: Seven Houses

Steven Holl: Seven Houses
Steven Holl with Philip Jodidio
Rizzoli, November 2018

Hardcover | 9-3/4 x 9-3/4 inches | 192 pages | English | ISBN: 978-0847861590 | $75.00

Publisher Description:
This book takes a close look at seven houses designed by Steven Holl, considered one of America's most influential architects. It offers the reader unprecedented access to the thought processes and work of this groundbreaking, cutting-edge architect through his own words and watercolors―and more than 100 photographs.

This volume features seven of his residential houses and looks at his approach to modernist suburban residences, including two new homes finished in 2017. Viewed as a collection, these houses serve to demonstrate the wide range of Holl's prodigious genius through lavish and striking photographs as well as Holl's own descriptions. Considered one of America's most important architects, Holl is recognized for his ability to blend space and light with great contextual sensitivity and to utilize the unique qualities of each project to create a concept-driven design. Time magazine declared Holl "America's Best Architect" for his "buildings that satisfy the spirit as well as the eye."
dDAB Commentary:

The Abandoned Architecture Series for your Next YouTube Binge

Designers and the general public alike have an endless fascination with abandoned architecture. Throughout history shifting economies, disasters, regime changes, and utter incompetence have all caused the evacuation of impressive architectural structures, which today serve as curious, sometimes eerie monuments to a bygone era.

Such is our fascination with these structures, YouTube is awash with videos and series of curious explorers documenting their daring, sometimes dubious adventures within abandoned architecture. One such channel, with a keen eye for architectural cinematography, is The Proper People.

With 135 videos and over half a million subscribers, the channel’s founders Bryan and Michael have amassed an impressive series of videos, exploring, filming, and photographing abandoned buildings from the USA and beyond. To date, notable episodes include documentation of America’s largest abandoned subway system in Cincinnati, a majestic 150-year-old Gothic cathedral, art deco and postmodernist hotels, an Ancient Order temple, and countless unnerving explorations of asylums, prisons, and nuclear plants.

Sheet Happened: Page Turns On Abandoned Paper Mill

[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

A proud chapter in the story of American industry came to a close when an abandoned paper mill in Richmond, VA was re-purposed into loft-style apartments.

Richmond, a city of approximately a quarter-million, is the state capitol of Virginia and the former capitol of the Confederate States of America. Founded in 1737, Richmond has long been a center of economic activity though some of its more traditional industrial pursuits – railroads and tobacco processing, for example – have largely given way to post-industrial profit hubs in the legal, financial and governmental sectors.

Pulp Friction

"I Failed to be an Artist but I Became an Artistic Architect": Interview with Yung Ho Chang of Atelier FCJZ

© TIAN Fangfang © TIAN Fangfang

Beijing architect Yung Ho Chang together with his wife Lijia Lu started his practice in 1993 under the name Feichang Jianzhu, atelier FCJZ. It literary means “not ordinary architecture,” a symbolic name for the practice that became China’s first independent architectural office, laying the foundation of contemporary practice in the country. Chang is referred to as the father of contemporary Chinese architecture. He grew up in the prominent architect’s family. Chang’s father, Zhang Kaiji [Yung Ho Chang’s Chinese name is Zhang Yonghe] was a classicist. He was one of the chief architects of the Beijing Architectural Design Institute and the design architect in charge for what is today the National Museum of China on Tiananmen Square. Chang studied architecture in Nanjing, then received his Bachelor degree from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, and Master of Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley. He has taught in both China and America, including at Harvard’s GSD and headed MIT’s architecture department from 2005 to 2010. In 2012, the year he joined the Pritzker Prize Jury, his fellow countryman Wang Shu became the first Chinese architect who won the Prize. The following is an excerpt from my conversation with Yung Ho Chang at his Beijing office.

Best Books I Read in 2018

The end of the calendar year means best-of lists, and for this blog that means architecture books. Unlike traditional publications that limit their lists to books, buildings, or some other output released or completed between January 1 and December 31, I lean toward the way film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum would include only movies he saw and reviewed during the year (so if a film opened in NYC around Xmas to be eligible for an Oscar but didn't play in Chicago that year he didn't consider it) and therefore have limited my list to books I reviewed on this blog at some point in 2018. In turn, half of these dozen books were published this year but the other half came out last year. Accordingly, the alphabetical list is split into two based on the years the books were released, with links to my reviews or "briefs."


Dimensions of Citizenship edited by Nick Axel, Nikolaus Hirsch, Ann Lui, Mimi Zeiger

The Divided City: Poverty and Prosperity in America by Alan Mallach

Letters to the Leaders of China: Kongjian Yu and the Future of the Chinese City edited by Terreform

Schmidt Hammer Lassen's First U.S. Project Breaks Ground in Detroit

© Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects © Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects has broken ground on its first U.S. project, a mixed-use tower and associated masterplan in Detroit, Michigan. “Monroe Blocks” will stitch together the heart of one of America’s most storied cities with a mix of modern office space, residential units, restaurants, retail, and outdoor public areas.

The 12,500-square-meter site in Detroit’s Campus Martius Park, vacant for a generation, will be activated by 4,800 square meters of outdoor space, with the design team drawing on historical influences for the form and materiality of the new masterplan.

Iconic American Buildings Re-Envisioned in the Gothic Revival Style

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright. Image Courtesy of Angie's List Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright. Image Courtesy of Angie's List

With its intricate ornamentation and complex ribbed vaulting, Gothic architecture introduced a slenderness and exuberance that was not seen before in medieval Europe. Epitomized by pointed arches, flying buttresses, and tall spires, Gothic structures were easily identifiable as they reached new heights not previously achievable, creating enigmatic interior atmospheres.

Several centuries later, a new appreciation for Victorian-era architecture was reborn in the United States with the Gothic Revival movement most famously depicted by Chicago's Tribune Tower. A series of computer-graphics (CG) renderings done by Angie's List reinterpret some of America's iconic architecture from the 20th century to mirror buildings from the Middle Ages. View the republished content from Angie's List complete with each building's informative descriptions below.

Architecture without Architects: The Cut-Paste Typology Taking Over America

Tejon 35 / Meridian 105 Architecture. Image © Raul Garcia Tejon 35 / Meridian 105 Architecture. Image © Raul Garcia

This article was originally published on CommonEdge as "When Buildings Are Shaped More by Code than by Architects."

Architects are often driven by forces which are stronger than aesthetics or even client whims and desires. To some extent we’re captive to the tools and materials we use, and the legal limitations placed on us as architects. Today a new code definition has changed one type of building in all of the ways architects usually control.