New Books This Week at the Architecture and Planning Library

When you visit the Architecture & Planning Library be sure to check out the New Books table immediately to the right of the circulation desk.  There is always an interesting mix of books guaranteed to provide  inspiration and information for your next project.  Here are some of my favorites this week:

R. Buckminster Fuller: World Man edited by Daniel Lopez-Perez contains the original typescript of “World Man,” the Princeton University School of Architecture Kassler Lecture Series Inaugural Address delivered in 1966 by R. Buckminster Fuller, accompanied by photos, notes, clippings, and blueprints. Fuller was arguably one of one of the most prescient and influential architectural theorists of the twentieth century and this book  documents some of his creative output at a very interesting point in his career. (Extra points to the editors for use of a nice variety of archival materials!)

Culture, Architecture and Nature: An Ecological Design Retrospective by Sim Van der Ryn is a collection of Van der Ryn’s essays and addresses from the last fifty years arranged by decade, which  allows the reader to understand the progression of his design philosophies as well as key concepts in the field of ecological design. The book is also beautifully illustrated with a selection of Van der Ryn’s paintings.

Kinetic Architecture: Designs for Active Envelopes by Russell Fortmeyer examines new developments in architectural facades that respond to the flow of energy that affects the comfort of people within a building. Dynamic facades from twenty-four recent projects in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia are beautifully documented with photographs, site plans, elevations and sections.

Florence Lost

Giovanni Fanelli. Florence Lost: As Seen in the 120 Paintings by Fabio Bortottoni. Translated by Forrest Selvig. Introduction by Italo Calvino, translated by William Weaver. Milan: Franco Maria Ricci, 1985.

The silence entered the city in the early afternoon. It slipped through the turreted, battlemented gates, occupied the loggias arch by arch, flowed along the streets grazing the walls, huddled against the embankments, filled the ramparts.

Italo Calvino’s short essay, “Silence and the City”, is included in the work on the paintings of Fabio Bortottoni (1820-1901). The opening sentence quoted above opens both the essay and the larger work. After a passage describing the fall of silence across the city, Calvino describes the material of silence.  He writes:

Silence is made of stone; it is something that is inside walls, in building materials. It is the living of a masonry world, all facades, rough and smooth, rusticated, stuccoed. Silence is a solid: it speaks through volumes, edges, outcrops, and niches in the surfaces, through tympana and apses. It expresses itself in the multiple facets of those opaque crystals, the concretions of buildings in the taciturn cities. Those who attempt to make walls talk by sticking written words onto them have missed the whole point of walls: walls express themselves in the long silences of light and shadow that fall on their uniform surfaces, in the blind stare of rows of windows. (pg 14-15)

Through the lens of Calvino, the reader comes to the paintings of Borbottoni. One cannot help but feel that Calvino’s silence has befallen the city of Florence. Borbottoni included figures in many of his paintings; however, it is the mass of the buildings, the light and shadow that dominate the paintings. Even in the busy markets, there is a quietness among the people.

According to Fanelli, Borbottoni hoped to document the lost and changing fabric of the city of Florence with his 120 paintings. Fanelli argues, however, that these images are not accurate representations of the city. Borbottoni used various documents to create paintings for the no longer extant structures. Even with those buildings or parts of the city that he would have known first hand, Borbottoni used artistic license. Fanelli concludes, “Together the pictures in the collection constitute a long tale of lights and shadows.” (pg 19-26)

For those interested in the architecture and the city fabric of Florence, the two volume set would be most useful so long as one follows Fanelli’s cautionary remarks. And for those that are not, Borbottoni’s works are beautiful studies of light, shadow, and silence.

Arnold Lyongrün

Arnold Lyongrün. Neue Ideen für Dekorative Kunst und das KunstgewerbeBerlin: Kanter & Mohr, [n.d.].

Neue Ideen für Dekorative Kunst und das Kunstgewerbe is part of the Martin S. Kermacy Collection. Martin Kermacy was a  professor at the Architecture School at UT from 1947-1983. The collection reflects an interest in the Vienna Secession and Jugendstil. According to Oxford Art, Arnold Ernest Lyongrün falls into the latter art movement.

Lyongrün created of a series of twenty-four monochromatic plates of blues, greens, and browns.  Each plate mixes natural motifs of various species of plants and animals, whether real or fantastic, with human figures and stylized decorative patterns. The layout of the plates appears symmetrical; however, upon closer observation the decorative patterns are in conflict with the perceived symmetry.  Lyongrün invites careful study of his motifs. What the eye initially takes in as pattern yields many delights and surprises. Looking upon the plates reminds me of the Book of Kells or other similar medieval manuscripts, though the style and intent are different. It will be quite difficult to choose which plates to share!

“LYONGRÜN, Arnold Ernest.” Benezit Dictionary of ArtistsOxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed September 4, 2014,http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/benezit/B00113028.

Shades and Shadows

William R. Ware. Shades and shadows, with applications to architectural details, and exercises in drawing them with the brush and penScranton: International textbook company, [c1912-c1913].

Whenever I select a book to share from Special Collections, I tend to keep my focus rather narrow to reflect my research interests in either Medieval Architecture or more broadly British Architecture. Today, however, I am breaking with tradition because I made a delightful find- a piece of architectural history- in Special Collections. The library’s copy of Shades and Shadows was the personal copy of Goldwin Goldsmith (1871-1962), who was a member of the Department of Architecture at UT between 1928-1955. He presented his copy to the library.

According to the note pasted inside the cover and dated March 18, 1914, William Ware (1832-1915) sent Goldsmith copies of Perspective, American Vignola, and Shades and Shadows. Ware writes:

This I have done, not only to testify my personal confidence and regard, but to make sure that your new undertakings have the benefit of whatever there is in these books of interest and novelty. But the only thing that will be new to you is what was new to me. I was surprised to find in writing out the Shades and Shadows that the phenomena attending Concave Surfaces and [Re-centering?] Angles had escaped the vigilance of pervious writers.

Ware concludes his brief letter with a personal note:

Some time when you are at leisure I shall be glad to know how you find things where you are.

I keep pretty well, though I have no longer any fist for penmanship, and find my legs quite untrustworthy. So I hardly walk at all, though I drive about, an hour or so, two or three times a week. 

Yours most sincerely, 

William R. Ware.

Alexander Architectural Archive Open House: Modernism(s)

Join us for the annual Alexander Architectural Archive Open House which showcases drawings illustrating Modernism(s).

The open house is taking place August 27-29 from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Access to the archive is typically by appointment only but for the first three days of class we throw open the doors of the archive to welcome and inspire new and returning students.

The Archive is featuring hand drawn drawings, from sketches to polished presentation pieces, to motivate the student to get out and draw! See below for the official flier with additional details. We hope to see you there!

 

Open House: Welcome to the Architecture & Planning Library!

It’s one of our favorite times of the year once again: the arrival of both new students and familiar faces for the beginning of the fall semester! We’ve had a great summer here at the Architecture & Planning Library, but we always feel a little empty without students mulling about our stacks or studying in our Reading Room throughout all hours of the day.

To welcome new UTSOA students, the Architecture & Planning Library will be hosting an Open House tomorrow between key orientation presentations. Details are as follows:

What: Architecture & Planning Library Open House
Where: Battle Hall – both the Library and Archive will be open for visits!
When: Tuesday, August 26th from 5:00-6:00pm, between scheduled orientation sessions
Why:  To introduce you to your ultimate best friend in research for the next few years!

For incoming students planning on attending UTSOA’s orientation activities, you’ll notice that 5:00-6:00pm is directly between the mandatory orientation welcome and Dean Steiner’s back-to-school address at 6:15pm in the Jessen Auditorium. During that time, Dean’s Ambassadors will be offering tours of the Libraries and Resource Centers pertinent to life at the UTSOA. We invite you to stroll in at any time during that hour to explore both our stacks, Archive, and Reading Room. Did we mention we’ll have cool refreshments and warm cookies as a reprieve from the busy schedule of activites?!

Both new and returning students are happily welcomed. We can’t wait to see you there!

Thomas Tresham

J. Alfred Gotch. A Complete Account, illustrated by measured drawings, of the buildings erected in Northamptonshire, by Sir Thomas Tresham, between the years 1575 and 1605. Together with many particulars concerning the Tresham family and their home at Rushton. Northampton: Taylor & son, 1883.

I first encountered Thomas Tresham (1543-1605) in the second half of the architectural survey course and sadly have not since crossed his path until today. Tresham’s Triangular Lodge is one of those delightfully enigmatic buildings that remains with you, so I was most excited to discover two other buildings associated with Thomas Tresham– Rothwell Market House and Lyveden New Building.

J. Alfred Gotch’s sought both to document the three structures and to study them as an architectural unit under the patronage of Thomas Tresham. He concludes that Triangular Lodge at Rushton Hall, Rothwell Market House, and Lyveden New Building should be attributed to the architect John Thorpe, who designed three houses in Northamptonshire during this period. He writes:

It is highly probable that the leading ideas, the curious emblems, the legends, and the insoluble enigmas were supplied by Tresham, being wrought into practicable form by Thorpe; all the buildings have clearly been worked out by an expert, and are free from the makeshifts and crude errors of the amateur. (pg 44)

While Gotch identifies the Triangular Lodge as a garden folly, he also argues that the symbolism contained within and the inscriptions upon the building are a reflection of Tresham’s religious beliefs. Tresham was a devout Catholic under the rule of Queen Elizabeth I, and the folly is an expression of the Trinity (pg 30). The building is a study of three.  It is an equilateral triangle with three floors, while the various details are groupings of three or multiples of three. Over the doorway the inscription reads, TRES. TESTIMONIVM. DANT., which Gotch translates as There are three that bear record. (pg 23) Gotch leaves us with this final thought regarding the Triangular Lodge:

…the Triangular Lodge is now and always must have been of very little practical use….It must always have been a “Folly;” an elegant, quaint, and expensive freak of its author; and therein lies its chief significance to us- in the light it throws on the manners and modes of the thought of the age in which it was built. (30)

Feature Friday: A Guide to Dallas Architecture

Happy Feature Friday! Only a few more posts until the fall semester – time sure flies when you’re sweating uncontrollably in the Austin summer heat. (Or is that just me?)

This Friday, we’re once again shedding light on a unique subset of books at the Architecture & Planning Library: city guides. These range from self-guided architecture tours to city overviews that delve into historic facts and figures. Though many of these titles may come up in research, they’re also great to turn to when planning a visit to a new city.

Sure, Google and travel-assisting websites like Yelp and Foursquare may have overtaken print as the modern technological “guidebooks,” but there’s something both comforting and convenient about having a complete tour guide in written word. Personally, nothing will top being able to easily flip through a few pages, scour various custom maps, and decide on my next destination – all without worrying about draining my phone’s battery!

The Architecture & Planning Library holds an extensive amount of titles for both present-day tours and ones that reveal the past. I absolutely love finding guidebooks from a decade ago or older for cities that I’ve been to many times and comparing my internal map to what was there before. For example, when I added provenance notes to the Karl Kamrath Collection in late 2013, I came across an architectural walking tour of Chicago from 1969, complete with illustrations and maps. I was enthralled with photographs that depicted ornate skyscrapers that had been sacrificed over the years for towering glass symbols of prestige, the very symbols that define Chicago’s skyline today. By studying the tour book intently, I feel like I now have a greater depth and understanding of the city’s timeline and urban development, and now picture the ghosts of former buildings when passing their replacements. There’s something both beautiful and haunting about reading a first-hand account of a tour through a city so many years ago – only to realize how vastly different our present-day experience of the same city is.

Historical treasures stud our stacks, but so do more modern titles of guidebooks, which may surprise some readers. For example, The American Institute of Architects Guide to Dallas Architecture from 1999 is a great example of more recent efforts to present an American city clearly, cohesively, and comprehensively in one book.

This differs from the tour books you may find on a bookstore’s self in that it’s primary focus is architectural – in its descriptions, tour arrangements, photography, and significant features. Where most off-the-shelf guidebooks might direct you towards the latest restaurants or nightlife, this book details parks, key structures, historic neighborhoods and districts, as well as sculpture and gardens. The maps are tailored to custom walking tours and guide you through one of Texas’ and America’s great cities to places even Dallas natives may have overlooked. And although this publication is much more modern than the 1969 Chicago tour, 1999 is still well over a decade ago – and the comparisons to the present city are likely staggering!

The next time you plan a visit to a new city, I highly recommend searching for a tour or guidebook in our catalog beforehand to see if you have the opportunity to check out one of the myriad architecturally-centric ones in our stacks. If coupled with a bookstore guidebook, your trip will likely be full of surprises – ranging from off-the-beaten-path monuments or neighborhoods to ghosts of city’s past.

Happy exploring!

Mudejar

Georgiana Goddard King. Mudejar. Bryn Mawr: Bryn Mawr College, 1927.

New territory again this week: Medieval Spain. I must confess that I know little about this subject. Whenever I teach medieval survey, my discussion of medieval Spanish architecture has been limited. I only tend to lecture on the architecture of Spain as it relates to Compostela and the Pilgrimage Routes or to the Architecture of Islam with the Great Mosque of Cordoba as an example. After the last round of medieval survey however, I resolved to revamp my course to include more diverse topics, to expand further into areas in which I am less knowledgeable, and to move away from the traditional canon. So I bring you Georgiana Goddard King’s Mudejar.

Georgiana Goddard King (1871-1939) both studied and taught at Bryn Mawr. She established the Art History Department at the college in 1913 (“King, Georgiana Goddard,” Dictionary of Art Historians). Harold E. Wethey writes of her passing in Parnassus, “At Bryn Mawr Miss King became a tradition and cult; and now she is a legend.” (Wethey, 33) He discusses at length the contributions she made to the field of art history. He notes:

Mudejar, which the author considered her best book, is an inclusive study of that peculiarly Spanish style, which she analyzed in relation to history and culture, as well as to earlier Spanish monuments and to Islamic sources. (Wethey, 34)

Georgiana Goddard King’s works, especially that of Mudejar, seem like a natural place to begin for those interested in pursuing medieval Spanish architecture, as she was an founding member of the field of study. In the preface she positions this work against an earlier definition of “Mudejar” that she herself established. She quotes her initial definition:

Mudejar is a dangerous word, easier to use than to account for. It implies brickwork often, and plaster, being applicable to those forms of art where the material is contemptible and perishing, and the work is more utterly priceless; it implies cusping always, and usually an interlace of forms, and horseshoe arches where practicable. The character is apparent in the colored tile and cut plaster and inlaid wood of King Peter’s building at Tordesillas and in Alcazar at Seville; in the modified flamboyant of King Henry’s building in the region of Segovia, even to the strange fleeting and restlessly-recurrent yet baffling designs of the vault in the cathedral there; in the brick towers and apses at Toledo and Calatayud. Whenever and wherever it was executed it bears the sign that a different and non-European imagination was at work, in the use of color, in the invention of the composition, and in the very shape and curves and angles. It is visibly unlike to other things, as art-nouveau is, and steel structure. It can hardly be defined more exactly; but it can be recognized. It gives always a special pleasure, of delicacy, intricacy, subtlety, incredible elusive refinement. Like other things that came out of the East, it is always a little intoxicating. (King, vii-viii)

This is where we must begin. King organizes her work into sections which address the History, Characteristic Features, Materials, Secular Buildings, Style, and lastly Other Arts. The work is also highly illustrative with both photographs and drawings.

“King, Georgiana Goddard.” Dictionary of Art Historians (website). http://www.dictionaryofarthistorians.org/kingg.htm, accessed August 7, 2014.

Harold E. Wethey. “An American Pioneer in Hispanic Studies: Georgiana Goddard King.” Parnassus 11.7 (1939): 33-35.

Feature Friday: Perusing the Past

Happy August, everyone! Where does the time go?! Aptly, for this week’s Feature Friday, we’re getting a bit nostalgic.

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post revealing how a library is actually so much more than just a place to rent books for research. It’s often a place of communal solitude, where the focus of those surrounding you miraculously rubs off on you during a study crunch; a place of calmness, predictability, and ease, where methodical sounds of footsteps pacing the stacks, the beeping of barcodes, and the flipping of pages enfolds you and makes you feel truly comfortable in the space you’re in; and, most importantly, a place for inspiration, a place where you’re completely surrounded by thousands of books that you know you’ll never even touch, but could if you had the chance. I mean truly, what is more beautiful than a place that habors an endless amount of knowledge?

That’s why this particular Feature Friday focuses on something that’s not a unique feature to this specific day, week, month, or even year; it’s a feature that is present each and every hour, minute, second that we’re open: our stacks.

More specifically, here at the Architecture & Planning Library, our second floor harbors hundreds of solid-color, stately-looking hardcover books that are actually a few issues of journals bound together to form one convenient package. Those of you that have done research in our library likely know exactly what I’m talking about: the rows and rows of navy blue, evergreen, and maroon shells that make you feel like you gain intelligence simply by walking through (“contact intelligence” if you will – can I trademark that term?). Most researchers, however (including myself!), tend to start by looking up a specific topic in the catalog, jotting down a call number, journal name, issue number, and page range, and beeline straight to that specific journal.

There’s nothing wrong with that by any means, and I love when I have the opportunity to utilize sources other than the internet. However, today I’d like to encourage you to consider exploring these journal archives without a particular goal in mind, just to see what you find – especially if you’re studying an architecture or design-related major!

…Why, you may ask? The idea of blindly pulling a plain-covered book and flipping through its pages seems a little counter-productive versus the typical strategy of spine shopping in a library or bookstore. However, I’ve come to realize that discoveries found without a clear-cut end product in mind are often the most fruitful. Here’s an example:

Above is a photo of a two-page leaflet found in the July 1964 issue of Architectural Forum. (Yes, you read that right – 1964 – and we have issues dating back to 1917!) Aside from staring wide-eyed at the advertisements that made me immediately want to rewatch seasons one through six of Mad Men, this article caught my eye due to its detailed plans, sections, and sketches that were 100% created by hand. The spread depicts the plan to bring Pennsylvania Avenue – Washington D.C.’s most prominent thoroughfare – back to its original grandeur. The White House is located in the top left corner, and the avenue runs to the Capitol at the bottom left. Immediately, I went to the ever-useful Google Maps to compare what was so beautifully illustrated in 1964 to what the exact area looks like today.

So. Awesome.

It’s discoveries like these that continually drive my insatiable curiosity to explore beyond what I’m required to. I’ve only been to Washington D.C. once – when I was in elementary school – and can assuredly tell you that I was not particularly fixated on assessing the quality or design of the public spaces around some of our nation’s most prominent and vital monuments at the time. I am now, however, fascinated by comparing elaborate plans conceived decades ago to how they were ultimately implemented into city fabric. Additionally, I was flooded with questions: how was this space adapted over the years? What concepts of the 1964 plan were removed from the final product? Were they actually there originally, but replaced over time by something else? How does this comprehensive scheme work today? Is the social experience as lively as intended? Did it ever function as intended?

By simply paging through a journal from decades ago, I have stumbled upon a topic that I could potentially develop a research paper on – or even a thesis or dissertation that expands its sample into a broader inclusion of major city plans over the years. How rewarding is that?! This is why I encourage you – or any user of any library across the globe – to peruse the past without a purpose. You’ll learn what interests you without an assignment looming over your head – which is a peril of many students!

Summer is as good of a time as ever to explore, and we’ve but a mere month of it left. What better way to beat the heat than jumping into a visual time machine and uncovering traces of the past that you had no idea existed?

Sounds like a great bucklist item to me.