trend spotting

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2001.09.18 15:15
Re: travels in hyper-reality
The more one looks at Wildwood, the more it becomes apparent that themed hotels there are truly abundant. There is even a section in Wildwood Crest that 'reenacts' the Pacific Rim/Oceania--hotels themed Wai Kiki, Kon Tiki, Tahiti, Singapore Inn, etc. all next to and across from each other. Given the fact that practically all these hotels were well in place by 1970, I now wonder if it is not entirely possible to say that Wildwood's hotel architecture unwittingly is the precursor to today's Las Vegas, and to major portions of Disney World as well. This is not to say that Wildwood architecture somehow started a trend, but rather to regard Wildwood's architecture as a profoundly dense and extremely well preserved forerunner to what is today a global tourist architecture phenomenon.
Does anyone know of a good historical (i.e., chronological) survey of the 20th century's themed buildings?
Also, does anyone know of older (i.e., pre-1975) resort cities in other parts of the world that contain numerous themed hotels?

2001.09.20 08:48
Re: travels in hyper-reality
The use of the word artificial in your argument is the tricky one. The reality is that themed environments are very real, and the money they produce surely goes a long way to prove that. Moreover, the notion of reenactment in architecture is not limited to themed environments/buildings. Within reenactment there is always a play of degrees of separation from that which is being reenacted, therefore where exactly is the authenticity that you see in reenactments that keeps them from being artificial? It might now not be prudent to make a case based on artificial versus authentic, because that distinction is completely blurred anymore. For example, Wildwood, New Jersey is full of themed hotels that artificially evoke other places on this planet and even sometimes other places in the solar system, yet it is now exactly this concentration of artificiality that gives Wildwood its unique identity (i.e., authenticity).
Not to confuse the issue, but Wildwood is overall a concentration of what is being called the "doo-wop" style, which is basically hotels and other buildings all done in playful 50s and 60s modernism. Even back then, however, each hotel evoked a different theme via the hotel name and stylistic quirks in the building details.

2001.09.21 16:09
Re: travels in hyper-reality
Theming comes in many, many varieties, of which the sanitized version is only a subset of general theming. Theming, like theater, however, is a subset of reenactment.
In the United States of America we celebrate Thanksgiving Day the last Thursday of November. Virtually every family in the USA has a turkey dinner with all the trimmings on that day. This dinner is a reenactment of a supposed dinner the Pilgrims and the Indians shared at one of the first harvests of the new settlers in America. Is the modern day Thanksgiving Dinner in the USA an authentic reenactment? It's probably more an artificial reenactment, yet, nonetheless, it is now also as authentically 'American' as any dinner can get.
At this point, I'm seriously wondering whether the specialness of reenactment is that it combines both the authentic and the artificial. For example, authentic Chinatowns (like the one in Philadelphia) are full of artificial, albeit unsanitized, theming. Yet for the generations of Chinese citizens living there, it is their reenactment of 'home'.

2001.09.21 18:02
metabolic/delivery, etc.
In the recent Barbara Flanagan article in Metropolis on Venturi and Scott Brown it states:
And when Venturi envisions an electronic "facade of glittering information," the inevitable political question (what does it say and who decides?) can be a vexing one. "What the message is I don't know, and I'm not too ashamed of not knowing," Venturi says. "Content is not the architect's job."
I think Venturi here admits his most present flaw, and even goes on to make a big mistake about the future. As the architect of the first online virtual museum of architecture, I see content as very much the job of the architect.
Can it be said that precisely attacking flaws engenders paradigm shifts?
Kind-of like going into a black hole and then being in the other side.

2001.10.18 13:13
Re: building text
You know, if I were a blind person, encountering a building covered with braille might be something that takes my appreciation of both history and architecture to a new level, because then I might have a pretty good idea of how ancient Egyptians felt when they 'sensed' their buildings.

2001.12.10 13:12
land of truths?
...the recent phrase "and not a oak tree to be seen, less, land of oak trees" has resonated in my mind since reading it. Albeit sad, its truth can hardly be disputed. It really does make one think about what's real and what isn't. For example, does Philadelphia ever truly live up to it's name which means brotherly love? Or does New York have much to do with Old York (which I assume is York, England)?
Quite by accident (on Friday) I found a new book entitled The Geometry of Love by Margaret Visser. This book is all about the church St. Agnes Outside the Walls, Rome. Visser essentially describes every aspect of the church, and in so doing delivers an amazing portrait of a single place and all its (space/time) meaning.
In yesterday's NYTIMES, the article about Philadelphia's new concert hall begins with describing Philadelphia as "a city that time often seems to have forgotten." Maybe I should start referring to myself as Steve, from Tempobliviopolis.

2002.04.03 09:37
[art] being/appositional [to architecture]
Is it correct to think of art as being largely appositional to architecture?
I'm not only thinking of how painting and/or sculpture and/or electronic display screens, etc. are added layers to architecture, which in turn manifest a 'new' entity, but I'm also thinking/wondering about the 'art of architecture' also being appositional to architecture itself.
This leads to now wonder if electricity (and other utilities) might also be (rightly) considered as appositional to architecture.
Conversely, is it (ever) possibly for architecture to be appositional to art? Or is it (ever) possible for architecture to be appositional to electricity?

2002.04.03 11:01
Re: [art] being/appositional [to architecture]
David wrote:
It depends on how abstruse and removed from the common use of the word [ie, apposition] you would like to get...and beyond that, how much faith you have in that interpretation.
Steve replies:
Personally, I do have faith in 'apposition' being apposite the notion of art being a successive layer to architecture. Moreover, common usage of 'apposition' does not necessarily preclude successive layers of meaning being added to the common usage.
My line questioning was not directed so much to the usage of the common word, rather to the notion of successive layers relative to the makeup of art vis-a-vis architecture, a reality that exists no matter what word is used to descibe it. [And if anyone can offer a better word that applies to this reality, then please do.]
If all this questioning and labeling is 'uncommon', then all the more reason for opening it to "public disputation."
As Lao-Tzu said, "If the shoe fits, the foot is forgotten. And if the belt fits, the belly is forgotten."
Or as I once wrote in a square poem, "All reality is relative to the vastness of its container."

2002.04.03 11:15
Re: [art] being/appositional [to architecture]
In Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1969) you will find the following definitions:
apposition beach : one of a series of beaches successively formed on the seaward side of an older beach
apposition eye : a compound eye that is characteristic of diurnal insects and in which entering light reaches the retina of each ommatidium as a single spot and the image is a composite of all the spots

2002.05.22 14:01
Re: Splintered Urbanism
What seems to missing though is any addressing of the wide spread decay that large cities manifest in parts throughout their 'life'. It seems that parts of many US cities are treated as trash and thus disposable, but where exactly does one throw out parts of cities?

2002.06.21 11:55
Re: genetic architecture
The forms don't bother me, and the method (i.e. using CAD, etc. software) doesn't bother me. What I think is wrong, however, is the hype, specifically, in this case, that all this is somewhat more authentic because it is more natural, more 'genetic' and therefore more correct. Where, in reality, it is all just more arbitrary.
I remember back in school where there had to be a reason for ones design, and the worst thing possible to be criticized for was for being arbitrary. I more or less had to comply then, but I know better now--for example, I venture to guess that most architectural clients are almost fully arbitrary, as is almost all of the architecture being built today--how else would you explain the way things really look out there.
arbitrary 1: depending on choice or discretion; specif : determined by decision of a judge or tribunal rather than defined by statute   2 a (1) : arising from unrestrained exercise of the will, caprice, or personal preference : given to expressing opinions that arise thus (2) : selected at random or as a typical example   b : based on random or convenient selection or choice rather than on reason or nature   3 a : given to willful irrational choices and demands : IMPERIOUS : characterized by absolute power or authority : DESPOTIC, TYRANNICAL
There really are no statutes of architectural design, except for building codes, and even they are not beyond being side-stepped, and there certainly is no definitive common ground as to what is good design and what good design isn't. So-called 'Genetic Architecture' is no better or worst an any other architecture available; right now it's just more trendy.
Teaching designers/architects (how) to be arbitrary might just be the real natural, rational thing.

2002.07.05 11:19
critical tools
One is tempted to prove that criticism/critical thought is indeed still possible today, just as critical actions are still possible today. Critical reenactment, for example, is often practiced within the architectural design process, but the modern mind-set, with it emphasis on progress and the ever new, has (psychologically) denied reenactment's 'critical' existence, thus manifesting a truly strange situation where reenactment (in design) occurs all the time, yet without designers really being aware of it (or at least not admitting it).

2002.10.20 09:44
Re: Automotive Feedback
In terms of architecture training, it would be interesting to categorize which courses teach what amounts to design and which classes teach what amounts to over-design.

2002.10.26 11:06
Re: Monkeys and designers
You raise an interesting point. I've never heard of the 100th monkey notion, but I have from time to time wondered about the fact "that designers, that have never seen the work of another, and living across geographic bounds, can create similar art." In the mid-1980s I thought (to myself) that wavelengths, somehow literally and/or figuratively, had to do with an otherwise serendipitous creative/cognitive commonality. The wavelengths (if I try to expand this 'theory') emanate from individuals and these same wavelengths are picked up by other individuals, and in either case heightened sensitivity is involved. Like the 100th monkey notion, as more individuals incorporate a wavelength that is out there, the stronger the wavelength 'signal' becomes. Admittedly, this idea is easily flawed, and I only mention it now as something I used to think (about).
While your question (rightly) centers on creative similarities between disparate artists/designers, a related phenomenon in our time is the effective role of the hired publicist. Recently, I mentioned that Frank Gehry's cardboard furniture was featured in a 1972 issue of Life magazine. I have my own collection of 1972 Life magazines that I received by subscription back then and which I've been taking apart over the years, but I also recently purchased a lot of them via eBay, thus my renewed knowledge of what is in these magazines. I wanted to show the Gehry feature but I didn't bookmark it. So, instead of looking through all the magazines again, I looked up the article in a Gehry bibliography, and I was surprised to find that there were over a dozen 1972 publications that featured an article on Gehry's cardboard furniture. In this case, the 100th monkey is more specifically the 100th magazine editor contacted by a publicist.

2002.10.29 09:49
Re: Traffic Design
In describing what is now a somewhat ubiquitous housing type in the USA, Brian wrote, "not like townhouses with the 1st floor dedicated to parking, and housing above." My mother lives in such a model of early 1970s vintage, and most of Northeast Philadelphia is of like ilk. I too have seen this paradigm as more regrettable than not, yet at the same time I realize that my mother's house is oddly related to Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye, though without the pilotis, ramp and roof garden. The genealogy goes like this. First there is Savoye and Le Corbusier's housing project at Pessac. Savoye over the years decays but is rescued and restored as museum piece, all the while being an icon in print. Pessac is rather quickly transformed from Purist manifestation into what is essentially ur-postmodern design by its individual inhabitants. The house my mother lives in is then post ur-postmodern Pessac (but because it is part of a twin rather than part of a row, it still harbors buried evocations of Savoye).
The (row) house I live in, built in 1938, is (I believe just still) within the first generation of US housing to incorporate a garage. Here, all the designated parking happens in the back at ground level via a communal driveway, which in reality is a semi-private/semi-public street. From the back my house shows three stories, yet from the front the houses were made to look like two story dwellings via bermed lawns.
I sometimes wonder what Northeast Philadelphia would be like if its housing had more closely followed the design of Savoye and Purist Pessac. (Incidentally, Stonorov's and Kahn's Pennypack Woods housing, certainly among the first planned housing communities of Far Northeast Philadelphia, has a strong affinity with Pessac, kind of a combination of both Pessac's Purist and post-Purist manifestations.)

2002.12.17 17:25
Re: a Bemused Tadao Ando observation
I have studied the evolution of Kahn's architecture beyond Kahn since my own architecture thesis 1981, and Ando's Museum of Literature design appears to be a late descendant of Kahn via late 1970s Stirling and early 1980s Isozaki.
Kahn's Levy Memorial Playground designs with Isamu Noguchi (1961-66, unbuilt), and his Dominican Motherhouse of Saint Catherine de Ricci (1965-69, unbuilt) engendered much formal architectural play, a genealogy that goes mostly unnoticed by architectural historians. Much of Predock's, work, for example, especially "reenacts" the Levy Memorial Playground designs.
Interesting how you relate the Museum of Literature to a kind of themepark. It could easily be said that Kahn's formal playfulness was inspired by Piranesi's Ichnographia Campi Martii, an ultimate plan of an ancient Roman themepark if there ever was one.

2003.02.23 13:49
Re: more on wtc
"Nothing is more difficult than talking architecture to a non-architect."
That's odd, because from my experience it is often very difficult talking architecture to architects. They will right away insist you are wrong (or trivial) whenever you present a 'theory' which is contrary to what they have been taught to believe. Without ever wishing it to be so, architecture is now-a-days very much a profession of doubt.

2003.04.16 11:18
Re: Do we live in some virtual Zoos ?
Museums have over time become my favorite type of building, specifically as architecture as delivery of content, even the 'secret' content.
It really is amazing that something that remains basically the same all the time (ie, the design/plan of the human body) nonetheless manifests so many, many differences. I sort of stopped looking at humanity as an animal, and (since 1981) starting looking at humanity (specifically the male/female human body) also as architecture as the delivery of content.

2003.04.24 17:26
Re: liberty architecture moving to ground zero?
All buildings, whether they be 'architecture' or not, function as symbols.

2003.04.25 12:12
Re: liberty architecture moving to ground zero?
4. What do the first Stock Exchange of the USA and the Grosse Neugierde have very much in common?
They both reenact the choragic monument of Lysicrates from ancient Athens.
The Merchant Exchange is designed by William Strickland, 1832, and the Grosse Neugierde is designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, 1835-37. Both designs represent an 'international style' of architecture at the time, specifically a style of architecture "learning from" the then recent French documentation of ancient Greek architectures/sites, and hence seen as symbolic of democracy. The Grosse Neugierde now stands at the quondam West Berlin end of the famous Glienicke Bridge where spies were exchanged during the Cold War. The Merchant Exchange, all clad in what looks like and probably is King of Prussia marble, first stood as a beacon for the early commerce of the USA, and today houses the National Park Service's offices of Independence National Historic Park.
5. There are a few other examples were Strickland/Philadelphia architecture coincides with Schinkel/Berlin architecture.



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