New Books: Stefan Sebök

Dubowitz, Lilly. In Search of a Forgotten Architect: Stefan Sebök 1901-1941. With essays by Èva Forgács and Richard Anderson. London: Architectural Association, 2012.

While looking through book catalogs on recent architecture publications, I discovered this work on Stefan Sebök. Though the architect was unknown to me, I recalled that a couple of our patrons in the spring semester had interests in Hungarian architecture and El Lissitzky, respectively. His connections to László Moholy-Nagy, Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus, and Moscow further suggested that this work would be a welcome addition to our collections.

DubowitzLilly Dubowitz traces her journey through family memory (she is Sebök’s niece) and archives in Europe, Moscow, and the US, encountering both silences and truths. She was aided by archivists, scholars, and relatives of Sebök’s colleagues and peers. She writes of one aspect of her research, “Levente [Nagy] suggested that I should contact his cousin, Erwin Nagy, who had unearthed all the KGB files on his father’s trial and execution, which not only told him about the false charges, but also gave him information on his family about which he was completely unaware (as part of their interrogation prisoners had to give a detailed account of their whole family history). It was through this lead, and a visit to the KGB archives, that I was later able to discover not only Sebök’s eventual fate and details of his work in the Soviet Union but also many other aspects of his life.” (pg. 43) While not everyone may not be interested in the architecture of the Modernists, the book offers a narrative on discovery through archival research. The work is also heavily illustrated with the materials Dubowitz discovered – drawings, photographs, letters, and government documents.

Friday Finds: Domestic Architecture

North American Construction Company. Aladdin Homes. Bay City, Mich. : The Company, [1916].

Special Collections houses catalog no. 28 (1916) from Aladdin Homes. The catalog offered “Readi-Cut Houses” in which one would purchase the material and plan directly from the company. The company offers several arguments for purchasing an Aladdin Home.

An appeal to modernity:

“The Aladdin System of Construction is Built on This Principle”: Modern power-driven machines can do BETTER work at a lower cost than hand labor. Then every bit of work that CAN be done by machines SHOULD be so done. The steel worker with a  little hack-saw trying to cut and fit the steel girders of the modern skyscraper should be no more out of place than the modern carpenter cutting sills, joists, and rafters. The skyscraper framework is cut to fit by machines in the steel mills, marked and numbered ready for erection. The lumber in the Aladdin house is cut to fit by machines in the Aladdin mills, marked and numbered ready for erection. The steel system is twenty years old – the Aladdin system eleven years old. (pg. 3)

Man’s ability to conquer nature:

“Waste- and What It Means to You”: Our buyers go actually into the woods, confer with the owners and cutters of the timber and buy the right lengths that will come out of the woods, through the sawmills and into our own mills in the right lengths. We don’t take raw material in lengths and sizes as chances to come, but as it should come to conform to our standards. In many instances the cross-cut saw in the hands of the woodsman is directed by our needs so that no other saw is touched to the lumber at any time. (pg. 6)

An appeal to family:

The Thelma: Home! Who loves their home more than the American family? Every day, father is looking forward to the time when he can provide a home for his loved ones – a place of comfort and enjoyment, shelter and protection. Mother has it all planned, has everything arranged. Her highest ambition is a home and its comforts. And every mother should have a home. The children – the ruddy faced kiddies – are anxious too for the great day. They want a home of their own and will love it and prize it as much as mother and father.

To this type of American family is dedicated the Aladdin home. (pg. 15)

Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University maintains the company’s archive and has digitized the catalogs and additional records, if you find ours intriguing.

Enger, Kristen. Hytta Mi. Oslo: Mittet & Co., [1946].

I discovered Enger’s work near the Aladdin Homes and was intrigued by the log cabin on its cover. Google Translate informs me that Hytta Mi translates from Norwegian to My Cabin. The work is a collection of 65 cabins designed by architects for summer, weekend, hunting, or fishing cabins. Most of the designs have the rustic exterior of log construction; however, a couple appear to have the clean lines of  mid-century design.

 hytta_mi

New Books: Palladio

Architecture and Planning recently received two texts assocciated with recent exhibits on Andrea Palladio from the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Palladio Museum, respectively.

Mortensen, Marie Bak, ed. Palladian Design: The Good, The Bad and The Unexpected. London: RIBA, 2015.

RIBAPalladioGuido Beltramini, who is one of the editors of Jefferson and Palladio (below), Pier Vittorio Aureli, and Daniel Maudlin each contribute a short essay to the catalog. Mortensen notes that each author was selected to offer a specific reading of Palladio’s work and influence. She writes, “The contributed essays are not beholden to the exhibition’s raison d’être. Rather, they are intended as fresh contributions to a continuing polemical conversation around Palladio and Palladianism, which extends beyond the curated confines of any single exhibition project.” (Mortensen, Charles Hind, and Vicky Wilson, “Introduction,” 9.) The catalog primarily focuses on the content of the exhibit itself. Accordingly, “Through three themed sections this exhibition introduces Palladio’s unique design principles and explores the very different ways in which they have been interpreted, copied and re-imagined, and how they continue to inspire architects today.” (“Palladian Design:  The Good, the Bad and the Unexpected,” 22.) The three themes include Revolution (subset themes: Andrea Palladio: Reinventing Antiquity; The Rise of Anglo-Palladianism; Spreading the Word), Evolution (subset themes: Bending the Rules; From Architectural Ideal to a Choice of Style; Statement Architecture; Pattern Book Architecture), and Eternally Contemporary (subset themes: The Comfort of the Familiar; Postmodern Palladianism; Abstract Palladianism).

Beltramini, Guido and Fulvio Lenzo, eds. Jefferson and Palladio: Constructing a New World. Vicenza: Centro internazionale di studi di architetttura Andrea Palladio; Milano: Officina Libraria, 2015.

I have not been lucky enough to see Palladio’s work in person; JeffersonPalladiorather, my engagement with his architecture has been through the lens of Thomas Jefferson. I was, thus, excited to see Jefferson and Palladio: Constructing the New World come through our new books. Beltramini and Lenzo, write, “The ‘seasons’ of the relationship between Jefferson and Palladio are revisited, focusing on the thread of affinity and a shared vision in their project to build a new world based on the example provided by the ancients.” (“Preface,” 10.) The work includes numerous articles with contributions by James S. Ackerman, Richard Guy Wilson, and Bruce Boucher. The book also includes a photo essay by Filippo Romano and documentation of the works designed by Jefferson.

New Books for Summer Reading

This week we received quite an assortment of new books. To follow are the ones I am most excited about, but you should stop by the new books table at APL to find one that excites you!

American Furniture 2015. Edited by Luke Beckerdite. Lebanon New Hampshire: Chipstone Foundation and University Press of New England, 2015.

AmericanFurnitureThis year’s American Furniture includes two articles on sulfur inlay, an article on Barnard Eaglesfield, and one announcing a new research project at the Chipstone Foundation on John Widdifield. According to the Chipstone Foundation:

The collector who acquired the book [notebook of John Widdifield] has generously allowed the Chipstone Foundation to publish it in this volume of American Furniture and make it, along with a keyword searchable transcription, available on the foundation’s website, www.chipstone.org, and that of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Widdifield’s notebook will also be designated as an ongoing research project on Chipstone’s website, thus allowing scholars, students, and others to publish work related to that manuscript. This introduction to the book is intended to begin that dialogue. (“The Notebook of Philadelphia Joiner John Widdifield,” 17.)

I could not find the digitized material on Chipstone; however, the Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture, University of Wisconsin does have the digitized copy available with full text searching. If you are interested in early American furniture, the notebook and larger project  might be of interest to you.

Taut, Bruno. The City Crown. Translated and edited by Matthew Mindrup and Ulrike Altenmüller-Lewis. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015.

Mindrup and Altenmüller-Lewis  write: The texts and images in thisTautCrown translation are organized to retain the original format of the book – a composition of layers intended to guide the reader to understand the efficacy of his city crown proposal. Mindrup and Altenmüller-Lewis continue: As a work, we hope this first English translation of Tuat’s seminal anthology will become a critical text in architectural studies on the history of European Modernism, urban design theory and Taut’s oeuvre in general. (Preface, xii)

In addition to the translations of the works of Bruno Taut, Paul Scheerbart,  Erich Baron, and and Adolf Behne, the editors also wrote an introductory essay and afterword.

Köhler, Thomas and Ursula Müller. Radically Modern: Urban Planning and Architecture in 1960s Berlin. Berlin: Ernst Wasmuth Verlag, 2015.

RadicallyModernRadically Modern is the publication that accompanied the exhibit at Berlinische Galerie. Müller writes:

The focus is on the implementation, in both halves of the city, of modern planning objectives which – for all the heterogeneity and the efforts made during the Cold War to draw distinctions – can be interpreted today as emphasizing common ground between the two cultures of construction. Deeply unsettled by the events of the Second World War, and visually confronted by urban destruction, planners and architects rigorously refused – apart from a few exceptions – to rebuild the traditional city. (Introduction, 18)

The catalogue is extensively illustrated with archival materials, photographs, and models. Additionally, nine essays explore the topics- Risen from Ruins, Urban Spaces/Urban Dreams, Techno-Geometries, Serial Diversity, Large Housing Estates and Oppositions.

AASL Seattle 2016

This past March several members of the staff from the Library and Archives attended the Association of Architecture School Librarians Annual Conference held this year in Seattle with ARLIS/NA and VRA. Beth Dodd, Katie Pierce Meyer, and myself were all part of the programming committee. We were charged with organizing the conference sessions, which included both traditional sessions and lightning rounds. The topics included: Building New Models: Library as Learning Lab; Engaging the School: Making Scholarship Visible; Co-constructing and Documenting Place; and Evolving Architectural Collections and Connections.  Stephanie Tiedeken had the chance to present her capstone project on Islandora, a data asset management system, while I spoke about a DH project, Still Looking for You, which I worked on at Lehigh University.

In addition to the conference sessions, we also had the chance to explore Seattle, both on our own and with guided tours. I attended the tours: University of Washington Campus Architecture Tour: “Building a Polyvalent Campus, 1895-2015″ and “Pike/Pine: Change on a Urban Scale.” The latter was led by the Seattle Architecture Foundation Tour Guide.  I greatly enjoyed the Pike/Pine tour which examined the challenge of preserving the neighborhood identity and fabric in the face of urban renewal and the changing demographic of residents.

Katie and I also made the pilgrimage to see Hat ‘n’ Boots. We spent months talking about visiting this restored example of roadside architecture, now part of a neighborhood park!

HatBoots

 

Friday Finds: Grotesque Architecture or Rural Amusement

Wrighte, William. Grotesque Architecture; or, Rural Amusement: Consisting of Plans, Elevations, and Sections, for Huts, Retreats, Summer and Winter Hermitages, Terminaries, Chinese, Baths, Mosques, Moresque Pavilions, Grotesque and Rustic Seats, Green Houses, &c. Many of which may be executed with Flints, Irregular Stones, Rude Branches, and Roots of Trees. The Whole Containing Twenty-Eight New Designs with Scales to Each. To which is added an Explanation with the Method of Executing Them. London: J. Taylor, 1802.

Wrighte_Frontispiece

April is World Landscape Architecture Month, and I realized today that I have nearly let April slip by without recognizing it. I thus selected William Wrighte’s work which includes designs for follies, bridges, baths, and water features. The style of the designs reflects rustic and Gothic architecture as well as an influences from Eastern cultures. Each plate is accompanied by a brief description to aid in the construction of the structures with tips on its ornamentation or siting.

Friday Finds: Built in USA

Museum of Modern Art. Built in USA since 1932. Edited by Elizabeth Mock. Forward by Philip F. Goodwin. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1945.

Museum of Modern Art. In USA Erbaut, 1932-1944. Edited by Elizabeth Mock. Forward by Philip F. Goodwin. Wiesbaden: Metopen Verlag, [1948].

While I was in Special Collections, pulling books for a class  visit in a few weeks,  I came across MoMA’s Built in the USA, both the American and German editions. Each still had its original cover. What I found particularly striking about the covers was the different representations of American architecture. The American cover is a black and white photograph of Heckendorf House (1939) in Modesto, CA by John Funk. The German cover rather has a stylized drawing of a modern skyscraper.

The Architectural Archives Make the Leap to Schema

The Alexander Architectural Archives are undergoing some renovations—and not just in the East Wing: the Archives’ EAD-encoded finding aids are being converted to schema-compliant documents. As one of the University of Texas’s smaller campus repositories, we at the Architectural Archives are serving as a test case for a larger university-wide (and broader TARO) effort to adopt the XML Schema standard. During this transitional period, my job has been to fix any errors that result from the batch-conversion process; however, as part of the larger scope of this project, my job also entails modifying certain elements in our finding aids to better reflect current descriptive practices with respect to use policy, sponsorship, and materials stored within Texas ScholarWorks (formerly the University of Texas Digital Repository).

If you’re still wondering what “Schema-compliance” means, XML schemas (note the little “s”) define the grammar of XML documents, since XML by definition has no set tag vocabulary or structure; these schemas fall into different families. The two families that we’re primarily concerned with are the DTD and XML Schema (big “S”). Encoded Archival Description (EAD) is the standard data vocabulary (with a tag library maintained by the Library of Congress) for describing archival records and the schema (whether it conforms to a DTD or a Schema document) controls the ordering and structure of your XML instance. Although XSD (XML Schema Definition) has been around for a while and has been a W3C recommendation since 2001, many of our local UT archives have used DTDs to define the structure and semantics of their XML-encoded finding aids. The reticence to use Schema is owing to the fact that the technology hasn’t necessarily been fully supported by XML parsers and that the EAD schema for use in finding aids was not released until 2012.

Yet the question remains: why convert now?

One motivation for switching to XSD-compliant XML is that it’s namespace aware, meaning it imposes more restrictions and offers more detailed enforcement on values (date, language, and repository encodings, for example). Being namespace aware also means that an XML file can refer to specific structured vocabularies when linking elements—this is what enables large-scale interoperability and data synchronization. The XLink capacities of XSD-compliant documents also allow for more complex links between digital objects. Additionally, the newest EAD tag library (EAD3), which we haven’t adopted yet, gravitates toward deprecating ambiguous elements. These EAD emendations form part of a larger trend toward standardizing archival description: by reducing EAD’s flexibility, we reduce inconsistencies among repositories by discouraging idiosyncratic institutional practices. Finally, looking forward, the EAD tag library revisions and the widespread adoption of XSD as our standard document grammar is part of the movement toward linked data and the semantic web.

 

Exhibit Opening – To Better Know a Building: NexusHaus

TexasGermany4 copyThis exhibit series seeks to explore buildings through drawings and other visual items found in the Alexander Architectural Archive and Architecture & Planning Library with a focus on working drawings.

The fourth installment in the series features the NexusHaus. The University of Texas at Austin and the Technische Universität München U.S. Solar Decathlon 2015 house combines the efforts of an international group of students in an affordable, modular residential green building design. The house demonstrates transformative technologies that make it Zero Net Energy, Zero Net Water capable and carbon neutral in its use of sustainable building materials.

Among the UT students on the Nexushaus team, 41 were from the Cockrell School of Engineering, 36 were from the School of Architecture, four were from the McCombs School of Business, three were from the College of Liberal Arts and there is one each from the Jackson School of Geosciences, the College of Natural Sciences and the Moody College of Communication.

UT Austin students placed fourth overall in the prestigious 2015 Solar Decathlon competition.The Nexushaus team also finished third in the Solar Decathlon’s Engineering Contest and second in the Affordability Contest.

After the competition, NexusHaus was shipped to McDonald Observatory in West Texas and reassembled to house scientists and other University staff members.

We would like to thank UT School of Architecture faculty members Michael Garrison, Petra Liedl and Adam Pyrek for their willingness to donate to the Alexander Architectural Archive the documentation for the NexusHaus for future researchers to access.

These drawings of the NexusHaus are a fine example of the current art of construction drawings.

The opening reception is Monday, March 28 at 6pm in the Reading Room of the Architecture & Planning Library in Battle Hall.

Southern Architect and Building News: Update

In the summer of 2010, Amanda Keyes blogged about the journal  Southern Architect and Building News housed in APL’s Special Collections  (for reference: Architectural Drawing, Now and Then). I wanted to provide an update regarding the work that was done, as researchers pepper us with questions now and then.

Ms. McDougal’s kind gift provided APL the opportunity to build and test a prototype database to index the material in Southern Architect and Building News. Additionally, a cataloging manual based upon the guidelines established by the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals was also written. Unfortunately, the initiative to index and digitize the journal was never fulfilled. APL has not had the resources to either digitize or create article level metadata around the journal content. We are excited to have the opportunity to revisit this project by applying for CLIR’s Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives: Enabling New Scholarship through Increasing Access to Unique Materials grant competition.

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