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2013.07.23 11:27
Architectural history: Moorish domes
Interesting quest. I'm no expert, but I'll offer some pointers that may lead to further 'discoveries.'
Arch of Janus Quadrifrons, Rome, c. 315
According to Banister Fletcher, "It has a simple cross-vault with embedded brick box-ribs at the groins, affording a further instance of the progressive character of Roman constructive techniques: such ribs are possibly the prototypes of Gothic ribbed vaults."
The Roman Empire of the early 300s was more Eastern centric than Rome centric, with the emperors having more government centers in Asia Minor and Northern Europe than at Rome. For example, Diocletian (c. 300) ruled from Nicomedia (Izmet, Turkey), and before Constantine founded Constantinople (c. 330), he ruled two decades from Treves (Trier, Germany), having spent only about a total of two months in Rome over the course of 30 years. The point being there was a lot of back and forth between Northern Europe and Asia Minor, bringing about a 'cultural exchange' moving mostly from East to West. The Romanesque style very much grew out of this Eastern influence.
I'd try to do a parallel chronology of Moorish architecture and Romanesque architecture. I think you'll start finding similarities, with the Moorish evolving much quicker into elaborate vaulting and the Romanesque striving toward greater and greater height.

2013.08.29 12:30
Learning from Learning from Las Vegas (again)
Here is an extended passage from the 'Introduction' of Tom Wolfe's The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965):
"Jane Holzer--and the Baby Jane syndrome--there's nothing freakish about it. Baby Jane is the hyper-version of a whole new style of life in America. I think she is a very profound symbol. But she is not the super-hyper-version. The super-hyper-version is Las Vegas. I call Las Vegas the Versailles of America, and for specific reasons. Las Vegas happened to be created after the war, with war money, by gangsters. Gangsters happened to be the first uneducated . . . but more to the point, unaristocratic, outside of the aristocratic tradition . . . the first uneducated prole-petty-burgher Americans to have enough money to build a monument to their style of life. They built in an isolated spot, Las Vegas, out in the desert, just like Louis XIV, the Sun King, who purposely went outside of Paris, into the countryside, to create a fantastic baroque environment to celebrate his rule. It is no accident that Las Vegas and Versailles are the only two architecturally uniform cities in Western history. The important thing about the building of Las Vegas is not that the builders were gangsters but that they were proles. They celebrated, very early, the new style of life of America--using the money pumped in by the war to show a prole vision . . . Glamor! . . . of style. The usual thing has happened, of course. Because it is prole, it gets ignored, except on the most sensational level. Yet long after Las Vegas' influence as a gambling heaven has gone, Las Vegas' forms and symbols will be influencing American life. The fantastic skyline! Las vegas' neon sculpture, its fantastic fifteen-story-high display signs, parabolas, boomerangs, rhomboids, trapazoids and all the rest of it, are already the staple design of the American landscape outside of the oldest parts of the oldest cities. They are all over every suburb, every subdivision, every highway . . . every hamlet, as it were, the new crossroads, spiraling Servicenter signs. They are the new landmarks of America, the new guideposts, the new way Americans get their bearings. And yet what do we know about these signs, these incredible pieces of neon sculpture, and what kind of impact they have on people? Nobody seems to know the first thing about it, not even the men who design them. I hunted out some of the great sign makers of Las Vegas, men who design for the Young Electric Sign Co., and the Federal Sign and Signal Corporation--and marvelous!--they come from completely outside the art history tradition of the design schools of the Eastern Universities. I remember talking with this one designer, Ted Blaney, from Federal, their chief designer, in the cocktails lounge of the Dunes Hotel on "The Strip." I showed him a shape, a boomerang shape, that one sees all over Las Vegas, in small signs, huge signs, huge things like the archway entrance to the Desert Inn--it is not an arch, really, but this huge boomerang shape--and I ask him what they, the men who design these things, call it.
Ted was a stocky little guy, very sunburnt, with a pencil mustache and a Texas string tie, the kind that has string sticking through some kind of silver dollar or something situated at the throat. He talked slowly and he had a way of furling his eyebrows around his nose when he did mental calculations such as figuring out this boomerang shape.
He stared at the shape, which he and his brothers in the art have created over and over and over, over, over and over and over in Las Vegas, and finally he said,
"Well, that's what we call--what we sort of call--'free form.'"
Free form! Marvelous! No hung-up old art history words for these guys. America's first unconscious avant-garde! The hell with Mondrian, whoever the hell he is. The hell with Moholy-Nagy, if anybody ever heard of him. Artists for the new age, sculptors for the new style and new money of the . . . Yah! lower orders. The new sensibility--Baby baby baby where did our love go?--the new world, submerged so long, invisible, and new arising, slippery, shiny, electric--Super Scuba-man!--out of the vinyl deeps."
- - - - -
There's no question that Wolfe (already) learned something very new from Las Vegas. And there's no question that this passage precurses and inspired Venturi, Scott Brown and Izenour. What's interesting now is the difference between Wolfe's focus and V,SB&I's focus--a journalistic focus versus an academic focus, sort of. There is also the difference that V,SB&I probably felt they had to introduce so as not be 'copying' Wolfe. For example, V,SB&I do not exactly pursue the study Las Vegas as a rare case of an "architecturally uniform city in Western history." Right now, I kind of wish they had.

2013.09.07 10:35
Are you into modernism or do you also like historical architectural styles?
Cooper & Pratt House   4800hi01
Mayor's House   4800hi02
Ur-Ottopia House   4800hi03
Stoner Food Resturant   4800hi04
Gooding trice House   4800hi05
Headquarters of D.A.T.A.   4800hi06
Courthouse Plus Ultra   4800hi07
Zany House 01   4800hi08
Lauf Haus der Kunst   4800hi09
Schizophrenic Fold   4800hi10
House for Otto 3   4800hi11
House for Otto 7   4800hi12
Obviously, I'm into (creating) 'dys' architecture styles: dyskenesic architecture, dyslexic architecture, dyslalic architecture. Hopefully, I'll continue to design even more dys-architecture styles.

2013.09.09 21:43
Obama names critic of Gehry's design to Eisenhower Memorial Commission to oversee DC project
And here I thought the first complaint was going to be that the scale is completely inappropriate for the context and site.
I'm still hoping no body notices that the design is much more Stalin/Soviet style than US/Patriotic style, though. Talk about completely inappropriate symbolism for the leading cold war president!
Hey, if you're gonna be black-listed, you might as well do it right, right?

2013.09.20 18:19
Interesting quote
The entire quotation reads:
"When Modern architects righteously abandoned ornament on buildings, they unconsciously designed buildings that were ornament. In promoting Space and Articulation over symbolism and ornament, they distorted the whole building into a duck. They substituted for the innocent and inexpensive practice of applied decoration on a conventional shed the rather cynical and expensive distortion of program and structure to promote a duck; minimegastructures are mostly ducks.

It is now time to reevaluate the once-horrifying statement of John Ruskin that architecture is the decoration of construction, but we should append the warning of Pugin: It is all right to decorate construction but never construct decoration."
This is essentially the last paragraph of Learning from Las Vegas, specifically the end of "Theory of Ugly and Ordinary and Related and Contrary Theories" (page 163, 2nd edition).
It really didn't matter whether construction was decorated or decoration was constructed, and it still doesn't matter. Architects can design in any way (or style) they want.

2013.10.03 12:51
12 September
"The contrasting movements, outwards and inward, are easier to detect because of the external structure, but in themselves they are formal rather than structural principles of order because they work upward from specific characters and events. In this loose sense, form is inductive, working from the particular to the general, while structure is deductive, starting with a generalization or a pattern and fitting details into it.
In practice, form and structure are not mutually exclusive. . . .By creating unstable and progressive oppositions, he [Waugh] establishes a pattern in which characters compliment, contradict, and qualify one another, and he creates a form in which the process of incorporating experience and reconciling then and now, there and here, is more important than any mere succession of events.
Of course novelists can impose structure only upon material that they have formulated or are in the process of formulating. Decisions about structure, form, development, style, character, plot, and point of view take place in rapid succession if not simultaneously; each choice precludes or influences a number of other choices; and no decision can be final until the whole structure is complete."
--Robert Murray Davis

2013.10.29 08:34
Why won't you design what we (the public) want?
...something's not making sense: you say, "they [the public] simply want good housing," yet most of the housing in the US is currently done in a "traditional" style. Are you saying that this "traditional" housing currently produced in the US (which for the most part is developer designed) is not what the public wants?
If so, then why are you blaming architects and their education? You and the public should be aiming your complaints at home developers.
Also, if there are a good number of architects out there that design "traditionally", and if there are also a good number of people that want "traditional" architecture, and, for some reason, you are still not satisfied with the results, then it's the architects that practice "traditional" architecture that are to blame for not doing a better job.
If, however, what you really want is to see modern architectural design somehow eradicated, then you better face the facts and realize that that is just not going to happen.

2013.11.04 19:29
Why won't you design what we (the public) want?
Was just inspired to write a 'historical' novel where Schinkel uses the 'influence' of the Crown Prince to get to do the designs he, Schinkel, wants. The Crown Prince figures out Schinkel's stratagem and thus starts changing his mind like every week or so as to what style a project should be designed in, just to drive Schinkel a little crazy, but also to see just how clever Schinkel can be. Schinkel, in turn, figures out the Crown Prince's stratagem and hence the architecture just starts getting more and more weird. [Wolfhilde von Schlittenfahrt, the sexy, new intern in Schinkel's office quickly becomes aware of the dueling stratagems and immediately starts 'busting' in her own stratagems.] Add to that that both Schinkel and the Crown Prince are obsessed with the life and works of Heinrick von Kleist and participate in a secret Von Kleist Society where all forms of strangeness ensue. Working title: Kohlhaas wo bist du?
Of course, if I wanted to write something in the 'theater of the absurd' genre, I'd find all the inspiration I need right here in this thread.

2013.11.09 15:57
Why won't you design what we (the public) want? say, "My issue is that there are not enough to prevent a great deal of poorly designed traditionally styled buildings from being built today, thus the need for some training in traditional architecture in the schools today." Why not make your case? Show us a poorly designed traditionally styled building and demonstrate how some training in traditional architecture would prevent such a poor design from happening. I'm assuming, too, that your issue does not involve the public.
I wonder, can "the public" even tell the difference between a "poorly designed traditionally styled building" and a "traditional architecture trained designed traditionally styled building?"

2013.11.23 18:32
Parametric smackdown: Patrik Schumacher and Reinhold Martin debate at CalArts conference
From the Schumacher quote: "Here the collective value is the unique character and coherent order of the urban field. All players benefit from this if adherence can be enforced."
And the irony seems to come with the notion that Parametrics deals with and draws conclusions from many variables, yet, once the design is set, there is then (a prescribed enforcement of) no more dealing with variables,
...what an imagination! I can see a whole new future architecture: the Le Corbusier Unplugged Style. Look out, Villa Savoye!

2013.11.23 19:20
23 November
Poetic Parameters
Don't make waves, or they might just pull the plug?
Don't make plugs, or they might just iron out the waves?
Irony makes waves, feel the pull?
Jung Zaha House, 2007.08.10:
images 3735d
Precursor to the Le Corbusier Unlugged Style?
The least I can do now is combine the two databases. There goes the neighborhood.

2013.11.27 18:06
Parametric smackdown: Patrik Schumacher and Reinhold Martin debate at CalArts conference
I'd rather see what I propose tested, then immediately dismissed. The whole advantage of designing (first) within the virtual/parametric realm, after all, is that the results there are very close to (visualizing/imagining) a reality. And, for me at least, jla-x's description of his thesis only comfirms that parametrics could be utilized with existing conditions as a parameter.
Now, whether such a use of parametrics goes against the 'style' of parametricism, I think Patrik may best answer that.

2013.12.20 19:45
What is "traditional"?
...architects, as is already evident, are not able to easily answer your question, but I don't doubt that realtors are able to easily answer your question. If you really want to formulate an answer, I suggest you watch House Hunters and House Hunters International for at least a month. While watching, take note that "traditional" is as much a matter of (personal) taste and comfort level as it is a style.
Next time an architectural client tells you they're interested in something 'traditional', expand the conversation by asking them about their tastes and their comfort levels. I'm sure there will then be lots of issues to start designing around.

2014.01.22 10:21
Architecture encyclopedia?
Quondam, a Latin and English word, has acquired a number of specific to architecture meanings which come and go, sometimes pertain and sometimes not:
quondam   1 : an enormous online collage   2 : some incompletely architectural museum   3 : architecture as delivery of content (in the enfilade slash labyrinth style)   4 : a practice hypermuseum   5 : the architecture [publishing] domain of Stephen Lauf   6 : a virtual place in architectural history   7 : a premier unbuilding that continually undoes itself   8 : the first virtual museum of architecture online   9 : once, at one time, formerly; at times, sometimes, once in a while; some day, one day (in the future)

2014.01.25 10:00
Sam Lubell examines the U.S.'s trouble keeping top design talent
Architectural history has a very interesting and very diverse timeline when you strictly follow chronological order. Take a look at just a small sampling of the architectural diversity of the 20th century in chronological order, for example, 1924, 1926, 1932, 1939. The notion that one architectural style/attitude dominates or is better than another (coexisting) style or is best suited to its time is really only artificial historiography. The real fact is that architectural history (on a strictly chronological and global scale) is extremely diverse and always has been. Thus, it's fairly certain that the 21st century is going to turn out being extremely diverse architecturally as well, and it might just help for all architects and historians to just generally realize that fact.

2014.01.26 19:13
Sam Lubell examines the U.S.'s trouble keeping top design talent
...when exactly hasn't it been "a suum cuique (to each his own) style of American Architecture"?

2014.01.27 12:32
Sam Lubell examines the U.S.'s trouble keeping top design talent exactly can/should the world of Architecture push-back the rise of exurbia and McMansion-style luxury? creating signature statement buildings is how architectural boundaries are pushed, and that's what will make the state of architecture in the U.S. better?

2014.03.12 16:07
10 March article, at Dezeen yesterday, regarding Koolhaas and the curatorial intentions of the Venice Biennale 2014 is perhaps an interesting coincidence to the topic here:
The research-driven exhibition, entitled Fundamentals, will examine the essential elements of architecture and chart the emergence of a global architectural style. As well as encompassing the Arsenale and the Central Giardini Pavilion, this theme will extend to the 65 participating national pavilions for the first time in the biennale's history.
"After several architecture biennales dedicated to the celebration of the contemporary, Fundamentals will look at histories, try to reconstruct how architecture finds itself in its current situation, and speculate on the future," said Koolhaas.
"With great courage and ambition, after having traced the history of modernity over the past 100 years to the present, he identifies and presents the elements that should act as references for a regenerated relationship between us and architecture," added Baratta.
For me, the main issue is the dissemination of histories, how the various 'narratives' are taught and/or used to create a common understanding of what and how things happened and, like the biennale example above, thus also "speculate on the future." As you mentioned, the histories disseminated can be 'true' as well as 'false'. Is the common understanding of the history of 20th century architecture more true or more false? Is the common understanding a full picture of what actually happened when? Unfortunately, I think the common understanding is not all that it could be. In a sense, I would rather a 1:1 scale appraoch where the common understanding is more in tune with just how diverse each year of 20th century architecture (considered globally) actually has been. At this point, I can only begin to speculate what the future of architecture would be if architecture students were taught just how diverse 20th century architecture actually was. Will "the emergence of a global architectural style" to come out of the 2014 Venice Biennale be a true history? Or will it turn out to be yet another partial truth?
I just today borrowed Vidler's 2008 Histories of the Immediate Present: Inventing Architectural Modernism (which I read most of like five years ago), and it seems important to read again in light of the topic here.



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