Feature Friday: Music in Architecture — Architecture in Music

Today’s Feature Friday doesn’t stray far from home. In fact, we travel all the way to Battle Hall’s first floor to the Center of American Architecture and Design (CAAD) to remind all of you that their incredible Center books exist. More specifically, their most recent publication: Center 18: Music in Architecture — Architecture in Music.

I personally am drawn to the focus of this palindromic-titled publication because I am always interested in reading pieces that explore the influences that are woven into architectural practice. This is something that continually fascinates me about architecture and environmental design in general: so many multidisciplinary topics and professions, some that may seem totally unrelated at the surface level, are used as inspiration for or deeply influence design decisions. Also, music is an integral part of my life; I fall deeply in love with songs to a point where they become the literal soundtrack to my life, and listening to specific songs has the power to vividly place me into a specific place or point in my life (as I’m sure is true for most of you reading this). I also find myself utilizing songs as direct design inspiration for my own projects, envisioning what genre of music would play in a restaurant, retail store, public plaza, and the like. Each essay in Center 18 reminds me of the power that music has on our lives — in ways I haven’t previously thought possible.

For example, yesterday on the bus to one of my summer classes I read the essay titled “Louis Sullivan, J.S. Dwight, and Wagnerian Aesthetics in the Chicago Auditorium Building” by Stephen Thursby. I have been reading through Center 18 haphazardly, selecting essays based on what topics I’m initially drawn to. This piece immediately caught my interest, as I have a deep love for Chicago and am spending a lot of my summer with the writings of Louis Sullivan (he’s on my summer reading list, after all!). This piece left me in awe after bringing to light the influences of nature, poetry, and the work of composer Richard Wagner in Sullivan and Adler’s design for the Auditorium’s theatre. With Andrew Bird’s new album I Want to See Pulaski at Night filling my ears with beautifully arranged strings and melodies whilst I read, I felt an overwhelming understanding of the sheer power of music on not only life itself, but how it can challenge people to live their lives better.

Now, some of you may be thinking, “Steph, what the heck? You go to school here; you should have known of the greatness of these publications. They’re always one of the top headlines on the UTSOA website and their exhibitions are held IN THE BUILDINGS YOU STUDY IN.” I know, I know — but as a graduate student about to celebrate my first anniversary of moving to Austin, I’m still uncovering the myriad opportunities and elements that make our School of Architecture such an engaging and inspiring place to learn. This takes time; I see it as an exploratory journey that affords me the ability to be pleasantly reminded, time and time again, by how lucky I am to be earning my degree from a School that prides itself on academic research and educational pursuits that bring multiple disciplines together.

Center 18 is now available for check out in the Architecture & Planning Library. I’ve already checked one out for myself, but I promise there’s more! All of CAAD’s publications are also available for purchase through the UT website or Amazon if you prefer to have a copy of your own (I’m saving up for mine!).

Call Number: 2542.35 C467 V.18 2014

This week’s #FeatureFriday was suggested by Martha Gonzalez Palacios but enthusiastically selected by Stephanie Phillips. I emphasize enthusiastically because I probably concerned Martha a bit over my excitement to dive into this book when she brought it to my attention. Sorry, Martha. 

Add comment July 18th, 2014 Stephanie Phillips

Modern British Domestic Architecture and Decoration

Charles Holme, ed. Modern British Domestic Architecture and Decoration. London: Offices of the Studio, 1901.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Charles Holme issued a call for a new architecture for the homes of Britain. He collected a series of essays on architecture, furniture, metal-work, stained glass, and decoration & embroidery. The treatise is highly illustrated with works by the Mackintoshes, the McNairs, and M. H. Baillie Scott- leaders in the Scottish Arts & Crafts Movement- among other architects and designers.

Edward S. Prior (1855-1932), architect & writer, wrote the essay  on domestic architecture, “Upon House-Building in the Twentieth Century,” for the publication, which was influenced by theories of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Like Holme, he issued a challenge to the architects of the twentieth century to abandon the adoration of the three great gods, Science, Commerce and Nature of the nineteenth century (pg. 10). He argues that through Science and Archaeology, architects reproduced the works of the past, latching onto various styles.  Prior suggests: A better understanding of his worth [Science] to us would cause him to be appreciated as the science of construction, not as the knowledge of other people’s ornament (10-11). Commerce too  had a detrimental effect on architecture. Houses were designed with profit as the driving force, loosing all individuality. The bottom line, Prior argues, has also affected the quality of workmanship and material. He writes: We have to take not only what does not suit us, but what is not the real thing at all- fatty compounds for butter, glucose for sugar, chemicals for beer: and just as certainly the sham house for the real building, its style a counterfeit, its construction a salable make-believe, its carved wood a pressing from machinery, its panelling linoleum, its plaster some pulp or other, its metal work a composition, its painted glass only paper- everything charmingly commercial and charmingly cheap (11-12). Finally, Prior is critical of the nineteenth century’s relationship with Nature. He proclaims: And to add insult to injury, we not only lay waste Nature’s palaces, but we talk glibly enough of taking her into our gardens, and to this end we set out puny landscapes in place of wide ones so rashly destroyed (12).

Prior hopes that the architects will reflect upon their relationship with the nineteenth century’s gods and overcome the challenges that such worship has imposed upon them. He concludes: And architects, delivered from the thralldom of design and required to provide neither orders nor styles, neither nooks nor symmetries, might be allowed the money for building with brains: that is to say, for a progressive experimental use of what science and commerce bring their hands, a controlling grasp of the new practices of construction, for the purposes not of champ construction but of good building. Thus alone may we cease to be purveyors of style. And when, at last, we shall have ceased to be artistic, perhaps we may grow, unselfconsciously, into artists (14).

Add comment July 17th, 2014 jessica

Feature Friday: 25 Buildings of Chicago

This week’s Feature Friday takes us to a city quite a bit north from here – Chicago! This comes at an opportune time, as the AIA National Convention took place in the beautiful Windy City a few weeks ago, and many of the UTSOA faculty attended.

For me, Chicago will always hold a dear place in my heart. Growing up in Milwaukee, a mere 1 1/2 hour drive from Chicago, afforded me with many opportunities to visit the third largest city in the United States. From school trips to Navy Pier to visting family, Chicago has been an integral part of my upbringing. My favorite memory, even to this day, is of visiting my aunt when I was around ten years old. She was a professional ballet dancer at the time and was always moving from place to place, and one weekend, my family and I stayed in her apartment located directly above the brown line train tracks. And when I say directly above, I mean directly above. The whole apartment would shake when a train would pass, and although most people would find this to be a major annoyance, I loved it. I can still remember running to the window in the middle of the night to see the trains pass. I barely got any sleep that weekend, but it was totally worth experiencing what I percieve to be part of Chicago’s inherent romanic aura, and the trains that snake through its many brownstones are an integral part of that experience.

…but I digress! As to be expected, I was thrilled when Martha presented me with a new library item entitled 25 Buildings of Chicago: Elevation of the Fittest. A two-part series, these brief books showcase 25 Chicago buildings, built from 1879-1971, through immaculalty-drawn plans, elevations, sections, and detail drawings. Interestingly enough, these drawings were produced by students at the Technical University of Munich in Germany (Technische Universität München) as a visual study of the language of architecture. As phrased by the editor:

“(This publication) simply tries to demonstrate the astonishing presence and richness of some big, that is, tall buildings of Chicago… Focusing on the detailed display of these buildings in tall elevation drawings the viewer is given the possibility to follow and listen to this very fine and sometimes even audacious language of architecture arising from the mostly simple orthogonal plots and an equally clear facade elevation.”

From the Wrigley Building to the Monadnock Building, to the Chicago Motor Club to three bonus buildings by Mies van der Rohe, these two tandem books utilize the technical skill of computer-aided architectural drafting and translate the grand historical language of these structures into beautiful elevation representations. These books are truly fascinating to look through even if you’ve never been to Chicago before, as the students’ expert use of lineweight and shadow create some of the most detailed, yet incredibly clear, architectural drawings that I have seen. As a student of both architecture and historic preservation, I am completely impressed by this publication, as it reminds me of the importance of careful craft when creating drawings for communication and historic documentation.

Here are a few sneak peaks. Come check ‘em out for yourself!

 

Call Number: NA 737 C4 A12 2013

This week’s #FeatureFriday was selected by Martha Gonzalez Palacios, the Architecture & Planning Librarian. She is responsible for collection development, reference, instruction and digital projects at the Architecture & Planning Library – and is the ultimate student resource during busy semesters! Thanks, Martha!

Add comment July 11th, 2014 Stephanie Phillips

Das sächsische Bauernhaus und seine Dorfgenossen

Bruno Schmidt. Das sächsische Bauernhaus und seine DorfgenossenDresden: Holze & Pahl [19--]. (There are several  editions listed in WorldCat with publication dates between 1900-1921.)

The text of Das sächsische Bauernhaus und seine Dorfgenossen may not be accessible to everyone. I will admit that my German is too rusty to translate this work; however, as the book was shelved with other works on farm buildings, I guessed that bauernhaus perhaps meant “barn”. Google Translate informs me that it means “farmhouse” and dorfgenossen is related to “villages”. Despite the linguistic barrier, the illustrations are accessible and informative. Some of the drawings illustrate traditional construction techniques, others appear to represent types and plans, and some are simply picturesque and a bit Arts & Crafts.

July 10th, 2014 jessica

Deanston House, The Seat of James Smith Esquire

Edward W. Trendall. Original Designs for Cottages and Villas in the Grecian, Gothic and Italian Styles of Architecture. London: Published by the Author, to be had by J. Carpenter & Son, 1831.

Edward Trendall published a series of original plans, elevations, and details as a pattern book in 1831. In his address to his reading public, he notes that “excellent works exist on the subject of Cottage and Village Architecture, yet one of more detailed and simple nature still appeared to be wanted…” Thus, he hoped to fill this niche. In addition to the designs, Trendall also calculated the cost of each house, assuming that the highest quality of materials were employed. Prices ranged from 350-3000 pounds; a cottage in the Greek style at the low end, while an Italian villa at the high.

While Trendall’s pattern book is straight forward, the edition held by Special Collections of the Architecture and Planning Library contains a bit of a mystery. The book was added to the collection in 1991, possibly as part of the Weinreb Architectural Collection. Bits of the book’s history have been collected between its unassuming covers that cause both delight and speculation regarding its journey.

On the inside cover, the book contains two book plates. The original is apparent beneath the second though unreadable. The second plate indicates that the pattern book was once housed by the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow. On the free endpaper, a note has been pasted, which references three titles, including this one, and a series of dates. A bookseller has penciled the asking price in the corner of this page as well. On the title page, John Fisher has inscribed his name. A search in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography did not prove fruitful for Mr. Fisher; nor did searching for an architect of this name in Scotland during the nineteenth century. Plates 20 and 28 were altered. An unknown hand sketched slightly different profiles for two of the roofs on Plate 20, while also labeling the six examples of exterior cornices on Plate 28. On the inside of the back cover, a plan of the first floor of a house has been sketched. The plan was labeled as the Deanston House, the Seat of James Smith Esquire 1831, though the date has been corrected. Beneath the label, a second name was placed: Muir. Esquire 1887. Searching for “James Smith of Deanston” in DNB proved more useful. According to Hugh Cheape, James Smith (1789–1850), a graduate from the University of Glasgow, was a “textile industrialist and agricultural engineer”. He made significant contributions to the Industrial Revolution and agriculture. Smith left Deanstson permanently in 1842 for London. It seems plausible that Smith would have commissioned a house in Deanton, though I could not readily identify one.

Hugh Cheape, ‘Smith, James, of Deanston (1789–1850)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/25822, accessed 3 July 2014].

July 10th, 2014 jessica

Feature Friday: Summer Reading List – The Manifestos

This week’s Feature Friday recognizes one of my favorite opportunities of a three-month break (for those of us students, at least): summer reading! Though many of us do a LOT of reading during the school year as well, summer reading allows us to pick out books that interest us specifically, even from the fiction section. *gasp!*

Though none of the following are fiction, I thought I would share my summer reading list with you all, as each book is available here at the Architecture & Planning Library. I’ve made it a goal to read at least four of the most influential manifestos written by four equally influential architects – manifestos that are still incredibly vital to architectural theory and education today. And thus, I give to you: The Manifestos – a reading list!

Kindergarden Chats and Other Writings by Louis Sullivan, NA 2560 S82 1979

Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier, NA 2520 L3613 1986

Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture by Robert Venturi, NA 2760 V46 1977

Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaus, NA 735 N5 K66

I’ve chosen the above four for several reasons:

  • In both the architectural and art history courses I’ve taken throughout my undergraduate and graduate education, I’ve come across references to these manifestos, and have only really read excerpts or passages from each to facilitate discussion. I’ve always been interested in reading the full manifestos, down to each chapter and each paragraph, with aims to weave together the main points I’ve read into a cohesive whole.
  • After working with the Karl Kamrath Collection for special collections last fall, books by most of these architects surfaced, especially Louis Sullivan, whom Kamrath had admired. Seeing these books in the collection of another successful architect solidified their importance in acting as a foundation for an architectural education.
  • This fall, I am taking Theory of Architecture with Professor Larry Speck, and I know the above titles are on his reading list. I admit it – I’m taking an opportunity to get ahead! Let’s be honest – you can never really take a break from learning if you truly love what it is you’re studying.

In addition to the above, I’ve amassed a few more that make a great addition to any reading list:

Learning from Las Vegas by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, NA 735 L3 V4 1977
In The Cause of Architecture, essays by Frank Lloyd Wright, NA 737 W7 D37
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs, NA 9108 J3
The Architecture of the City by Aldo Rossi, NA 9031 R6713

Happy reading!

This #FeatureFriday was curated by Stephanie Phillips, a graduate student in the School of Architecture and a Graduate Student Assistant for the Architecture & Planning Library.  Much of her work involves coordinating with several interdisciplinary staff to promote events, exhibits, and new material of interest to all users of the library.

June 27th, 2014 Stephanie Phillips

Feature Friday: Rural Studio at Twenty

Here at the Architecture & Planning Library, we’ve decided to implement a fun new tradition: #FeatureFriday. Starting today, every Friday we’ll feature an object (or objects) of interest – whether it be a book, journal, archival piece, or otherwise – that has been brought to our attention by one of our many staff members. We hope our selected features not only give a glimpse into the many items we have here at the library and in the archive, but also inspire you to explore what’s available on your own! These features will also shed light on the interests, various job titles, and personal profiles of our staff – many of which work behind the scenes to make the library what it is every day.

This week, we’re starting off strong with a recent publication: Rural Studio at Twenty: Designing and Building in Hale County, Alabama. From the publisher:

“For two decades, the students of Auburn University’s Rural Studio have designed and built remarkable houses and community buildings for impoverished residents of Alabama’s Hale County, one of the poorest in the nation. This book describes the complex mix of attributes that has made the Rural Studio unique: its teaching methods, the design and construction processes of its student teams, the relationship it has forged with its West Alabama community, and much more.”

Hale County is located about a 45 minute drive south of Tuscaloosa, the home of the University of Alabama, and three hours west of Auburn. This publication marks the 20th anniversity of the Rural Studio program, and features a detailed history of its roots, commentary from many of those involved, and a comprehensive portfolio of their projects.

Over the years, Rural Studio’s projects have dabbled in both the public and private spheres, all while striving to be a “good neighbor and friend” to the Hale County community. The depth of this book is incredible – detailed accounts of experiences, project schedules, finances, community outreach, client relationships, construction methods, and more are candidly recounted and shared.

I personally had been first introduced to Rural Studio in Cisco Gomes‘ Construction II course this past semester. We had explored the Hale County Animal Shelter, pictured above, as a case study while learing about wood as a material and in terms of its assemblies. The Animal Shelter utilized a lamella system, or diagonal grid structure, of 2×10 wood members cut gently to achive a stunning half-cylindrical form. This method of construction, despite its percieved complexity, was actually fairly low-tech and incredibly cost-effective. The Animal Shelter is just one of several community projects that are explored in detail, complete with drawings and in-progress photographs, within this book.

What fascinates me most, however, out of Rural Studio’s projects is their line of 20K Houses. Launched in 2005, Rural Studio set out a goal to design a market-rate model that could be built by contractors, considering both materials and labor, for $20,000. So far, twelve models have been designed and built by Rural Studio, each for a low-income client in the community. Rural Studio worked extensively with each client, addressing their needs while continuously learning from each prototype. This book, like the aforementioned community projects, recounts each house in detail, providing plans, sections, before-and-after photographs, and more to guide the reader through not only the building phase, but the design thinking that took place both before and after each house’s completetion. My favorite part of each spread are the images of the clients within their respective 20K homes – putting a face to the home they live in.

This book is perfect for readers who have any interest in community architecture, design-build projects, or truly design in general. I couldn’t help but notice the timing of this feature, as the School of Architecture’s annual Public Interest Design program’s studios are getting into the thick of things with their community-centric designs within Austin. What an incredibly inspirational #FeatureFriday – showcasing the tangible positive impact that design can have on a community!

Call Number: NA 2300 A9 F74 2014

This week’s #FeatureFriday was selected by Martha Gonzalez Palacios, the Architecture & Planning Librarian. She is  responsible for collection development, reference, instruction and digital projects at the Architecture & Planning Library – and is the ultimate student resource during busy semesters! Thanks, Martha!

June 20th, 2014 Stephanie Phillips

Semester Recap: “Inside Modern Texas: the Case for Preserving Interiors”

The Spring 2014 semester was an incredibly exciting one at the Architecture & Planning Library – especially for events! My personal favorite brought together multiple facets of the library and beyond: Emily Ardoin’s curation of the exhibition “Inside Modern Texas: the Case for Preserving Interiors.”

Beginning as a Graduate Research Assistant appointment in the Fall 2013 semester, Emily, a recent May 2014 Master of Science in Historic Preservation graduate, was tasked with the goal of pulling together an exhibition for the Architecture & Planning Library’s Reading Room that would be on display from early April through September 2014. This was no easy task, as she started completely from scratch! For inspiration on finding a topic, she sifted through myriad issues of Interiors magazine, Texas Architect, and more journals from the Architecture and Planning Library. Ultimately, Emily utilized her Interior Design background and Historic Preservation studies to create an exhibition topic that was specific enough to pin down a clear focus, yet broad enough to include a wide array of archival materials from the library and Alexander Architectural Archive.

The end result was “Inside Modern Texas: the Case for Preserving Interiors,” which aligned perfectly with the Society of Architectural Historian’s Annual Conference, held in Austin in April. We were lucky enough to go behind the scenes with Emily in the final weeks of her curation process. The exhibit’s opening reception on April 10th brought together conference visitors, library and archive employees, UT professors, students of myraid majors, and more.

Emily’s exhibition is a visual testiment to the incredible depth of resources available for researchers at the Architecture & Planning Library and the Alexander Architectural Archive, as well as the vital research endeavors that are created from endowments and scholarships. Says head librarian Beth Dodd:

“We are always looking for ways to enhance the student experience, and curating an exhibit is an incredibly rigorous process that demands thorough research, careful selection and interpretation of materials, and exhibit design,” says Dodd.  “The endowment created by the late Professor Blake Alexander now enables us to offer our students this funded internship.”

Now, as we approach the official first day of summer, we want to remind you that “Inside Modern Texas” is on display in the Reading Room until September! We can’t think of a better way to beat the heat than to go on the beautiful visual journey that Emily has curated for us.

June 16th, 2014 Stephanie Phillips

Flats, Urban Houses and Cottage Homes

W. Shaw Sparrow, editor. Flats, Urban Houses and Cottage Homes: A Companion Volume to the British Home of Today. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1906.

The collection contains a series of articles by Frank T. Vertity, Walter Shaw Sparrow, Edwin T. Hall, and Gerald C. Horsley. The highly illustrative text offers advice for designing and planning flats as well as a comparison between English, French, and Viennese types. The final article is an extended advertisement, written by an “expert” from Waring’s (Waring & Gillow, Ltd.) – a department store in England- who discusses the best way to decorate and furnish a flat. According to Waring’s expert:

But I cannot refrain from repeating the warning given above against crowding massive pieces of furniture, suitable for a large rooms, into the lilliputian apartments of ordinary flats. This applies particularly to such articles as sideboards, bookcases, cabinets and wardrobes. The users of the rooms must have some place in which to move about. It is not desirable to have to step on the dining table in order to get from one side to the other. An 8-ft. sideboard in a 10-ft. square room suggests the imprisonment of an elephant in a mouse-trap. In the average flat everything has to be more or less on the diminutive scale. A room blocked up with oversized pieces of furniture is in many ways more uncomfortable than a room without any furniture at all. So, let this be your watchword- “Don’t overdo it.” Let your arrangements err, if at all, on the side of modesty. Don’t entertain your bosom friend with a noble sideboard which he is compelled to use a dining chair, because there is no room for him to sit anywhere else. Don’t force your lady visitors to sit on each other’s laps in the drawing room because the grand piano occupies four-fifths of the floor. (“How to Furnish a Flat,” pg. 6-7)

June 12th, 2014 jessica

Royal Festival Hall

London County Council. Royal Festival Hall. London: Max Parrish, 1951.

For this week’s entry, it was the retention of the book jacket that piqued my curiosity rather than the subject matter. The spine of the jacket was delightfully simple and bold. And perhaps one should not judge a book by its cover, but the Royal Festival Hall did not disappoint. The actual building was commissioned for the Festival of Britain in 1951, designed by Robert Matthew (1906-1975) and J. L. Martin (1908-2000). The official guide was written by Clough Williams-Ellis (1883-1975).

Williams-Ellis begins his account of the building with a discussion of the style and design:

Yet undoubtedly the building is a challenging one, which means that it is bound to make sincere enemies as well as friends. But enmity can be paraphrased as ‘a misunderstanding’ and there will surely be many who will not at first take kindly to a monumental building so devoid of all the familiar and traditional trapping of a ‘monument’, so frankly nothing but glass where it is convenient to be, so brisk in its changes of scale; in short, so little like anything to which we are  accustomed, and, above all, so utterly different from the concert halls and opera houses that we ever saw and with which we have come to associate ‘music’. (pg. 13-14)

He praises the subtlety, the spatial harmonies, view points and vistas, the lighting effects, and the ability of the architects to overcome the numerous challenges construction imposed. As the building was commissioned for the Festival of Britain, they had a strict deadline; moreover, they had to address the challenges of postwar Britain- a scarcity of labor and materials. The site was small, and the building intended to house a variety of purposes- from concerts to rehearsal space to exhibitions and galas. In a state of continuous design, the architects met these challenges and created a concert hall that placed a premium on the experience of listening to music. Ellis-Williams discusses how Matthew and Martin designed the spaces and systems to address issues of noise, acoustics, lighting, ventilation and heating, the movement of the crowds, and finally the desire to create spaces for an enjoyable experience.

While the Royal Festival Hall may retain a bit of the “to see and be seen”, Ellis-Williams makes clear that many of the design decisions of the Hall were connected to the quality of sound. Gone from the designs are the gilt and shine of the Paris Opera House. It is all clean lines and simplicity. And Ellis-Williams’s final thoughts are a lament for the luxury. He writes:

I will confess a nostalgic weakness myself for the shadowed privacy of the traditional box as the very symbol of gilded and softly upholstered luxury- an appropriate bower for the necessary digestive interlude between dinner at the old Romano’s and supper at the Grand Babylon, with transport of course by private hansom. And even from the pit I liked simply to behold these cosily glowing little booths with their fully jeweled and often decorative tenants, high-life tableaux vivants about whose members one might speculate agreeably as did Henry James’s Hyacinth Robinson in The Princess Casamassima. In short, I am of the fleshly Walter Sickert school in this mater of theatre decor, for scarlet and gold as against beige austerity, for sparkling chandeliers against florescent tubes, for an exuberant fancy even, rather than a too reasonable or reproachful restraint.

For me, at least, any concert or indeed any public performance of any kind is definitely something in the way of a treat, a gala occasion, a ‘night out’, and to be perfectly happy I do need the architecture to conform to and reflect, and so enhance my festival mood. (81-82)

June 12th, 2014 jessica

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