While in Special Collections last week, I happened to look up and I caught sight of the word “Bethlehem” on one the supporting beams. And then I got super excited, which may not be everyone’s reaction.
Prior to the Architecture and Planning Library, I worked at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. Whenever I told people that I lived in Bethlehem, their reaction was usually: Oh like Mad Men.
If you are familiar with the episode, New Amsterdam (Season One), you might remember that Bethlehem, PA was home to Bethlehem Steel. And I am madly in love with the factory ruins. The history of the steel mill is complicated, and I am an outsider. However, I care very deeply about the town and the factory. I recognize, however, that my appreciation for the site comes from a different place than those that worked at the steel mill and lived in Bethlehem while it was in operation. Whenever the weather was good, I would walk home from the university and cross the New Street Bridge to the north side of town. I often would pause for moment, captivated by stacks. Occasionally, they would be artfully illuminated at night and would glow the like the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz.
On behalf of the Alexander Architectural Archive, I would like to invite you all to the opening of their new exhibit, To Better Know a Building: The Charles Moore House, Orinda, California. The exhibit opens on Monday, October 19 and will be on view in the Architecture and Planning Library until March 20, 2016.
The Architecture and Planning Library and the Alexander Architectural Archive will host an opening reception on Monday, October 19 at 6pm in the Reading Room of Battle Hall. The opening address, sponsored by the School of Architecture in the lecture series, Goldsmith Talks, will be delivered by Kevin Keim, Director of the Charles Moore Foundation.
The personal residence of renowned architect, author and award-winning architectural educator Charles W. Moore is the focus of the third installment of the Alexander Architectural Archive’s “To Better Know a Building” series.
The Charles Moore House at Orinda, California, was designed by Moore for himself and built in 1961. With its small footprint, the building was viewed as a quintessential expression of third bay region residential architecture.
“The site was bought one day on impulse simply because it seems full of magic,” wrote Moore in The Place of Houses (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1974). “Years before, a bulldozer had cut a flat circular building site, which had since grown grassy and now seemed part of the natural setting, like those perfectly circular meadows that inspired medieval Chinese poets to mediate upon perfection.”
The significance of Moore’s Orinda house is expressed by Kevin Keim in his book An Architectural Life: Memoirs and Memories of Charles W. Moore.
“In a decisive move of great clarity and wit, Moore broke from the shackles of modernist ideology,” wrote Keim. “It was astoundingly fresh. Modernism’s sacred flat roof was swept away and replaced with a pyramidal roof. Even more to the point, the house was a simple pavilion of banal materials, defying the convention that a building had to be monumental in order to be architecture.”
In a tragic circumstance, the home was, at some point in recent years, renovated so dramatically that the original structure has been all but consumed by new construction.
Throughout his career, Moore established firms across the country, developing collaborative relationships within and between practices, often involving students from his academic positions in his architectural work. He professional life was a blend of architectural practice, educational engagement, and authorship.
He also taught at six universities while simultaneously maintaining his architectural practice and writing. From 1965 to 1970, Moore served as Chairman, and then Dean, of the Architecture Department at Yale University. In 1967, he created the Yale Building Project, an ethically minded construction project for first-year graduate students. He stayed on as a professor once his term as Dean ended, until 1975, when he accepted a faculty position at the University of California, Los Angeles that included joining Urban Innovations Group (UIG), a teaching practice at the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Planning. In 1985, Moore took on his final teaching position as the O’Neil Ford Chair of Architecture, at the University of Texas at Austin.
An avid traveler, Moore documented his extensive travels through painting, photography and collecting folk art and toys. He was awarded the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education and the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal for the scope and importance of his contributions to architecture.
Charles Moore died in Austin, Texas, on December 16th, 1993.
“To Better Know A Building” seeks to explore buildings through the drawings and other visual items found in the archive and library, promoting the records of a single building. Plans, elevations and sections visually communicate design intent and can also be used as a vehicle in teaching through example.
An opening reception will take place at 6 p.m., Monday, October 19, in the reading room of the Architecture & Planning Library, located in historic Battle Hall. The event is free and open to the public. As part of the School of Architecture’s Goldsmith Talks series, Kevin Keim — founding director of the Charles W. Moore Foundation in Austin and author of numerous books including a forthcoming book on the Orinda house — will offer the opening remarks. Austin’s Pizza will be served while it lasts.
“To Better Know a Building: The Charles Moore House, Orinda, California” will be on view in the library’s reading room through March 20, 2016.
This summer (June 4, 2015) we started a one year trial of Kanopy. From their website:
Kanopy is an on-demand streaming video service for educational institutions that provides 12 million students and faculty with access to more than 26,000 films each year….Kanopy works directly with filmmakers and film distribution companies to offer award-winning collections including titles from PBS, BBC, Criterion Collection, Media Education Foundation and more. (Accessed October 12, 2015; https://www.kanopystreaming.com/about-us.)
Of the 26,000 plus films, 327 have been designated as Architecture. Within this category, the films are currently organized thematically:
Iconic 21st-Century Architecture
20th-Century Modern Architecture
Architectural Instruction and Lecture
Understanding the World’s Greatest Structures: Science and Innovation from Antiquity to Modernity
Please take a look around and explore the site. We at APL would like to hear from our faculty and students regarding Kanopy. Are the collection of films useful to your teaching or do they enhance your learning experience? Please feel free to post comments about the resource or email them to Katie Pierce Meyer.
If you are a consistent reader of New Books at APL, you might rememer that I am strangely attracted to publications coming out of the Venice Biennial, but then how could you not be curious about a title like A Clockwork Jerusalem? It is both the title for the British Pavilion and its associated publication. Unlike the previous publications highlighted in the blog, this work does not focus on the architecture of the pavilion itself. Wouter Vanstiphout explains in an interview, “We chose not make a show that would consist entirely of architecture but to focus on ideas that shaped British architecture…and the imagination that more or less fed into British Modernism.”
Three essays- “A Clockwork Jerusalem” by Sam Jacob, “Experiments in Freedom” by Wouter Vanstiphout, and “Four Transformations of British Modernism” by Owen Haterley- proceed “A Clockwork Jerusalem Illustrated.” This latter half of the work explores the themes and ideas associated with British Modernism through both architecture and culture- Utopia of Ruins, Historic Futurism, Paleo Motorik, Electric Pastoral, Concrete Picturesque, History’s Return, and The People: Where will They Go?
Sam Jacob concludes in his essay:
A Clockwork Jerusalem argues for architecture and planning as part of a national project, part of a wider culture spanning politics and pop culture, summoning new visions of how we might live. The landscape of Britain is the ground on which we must continue to construct our national narrative. Through architecture as a joined-up part of political, economic and social ambition, we too can build our own Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land. (Jacob, 14)
British Council. British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014: A Clockwork Jerusalem. Accessed September 30, 2015. http://design.britishcouncil.org/venice-biennale/venice-biennale-2014/.
After a brief introduction to Charles Bueb, a photographic essay follows of photographs taken of Ronchamp by Bueb between 1953-1963. The black and white photographs are quite stunning of the chapel. Additionally, Bueb documented the construction of, visitors to, and interesting perspectives and scales of Notre Dame du Haut. The work also contains three essays by Claude Parent, David Liaudet, and Jean-François Mathey, respectively.
Brontë, Emily. Two Poems: Love’s Rebuke and Remembrance. With the Gondals Background of her Poems and Novel by Fannie Elizabeth Ratchford. Austin, Texas: Charles E. Martin, Jr.- Von Boeckmann-Jones Co., 1934.
Wait, Emily Brontë at the APL?
Occasionally, I find books in Special Collections that take me by surprise. Two Poems: Love’s Rebuke and Remembrance by Emily Brontë begs the question- Why do we have it. Upon opening the work, I discovered a tipped in watercolor signed by Wolf Jessen. There was also a card paper-clipped to end paper with the following text:
This is the only copy of this book at TxU. It might be considered a rare book because of its associations with Austin and The University, and should not circulate, or should circulate only on a very limited basis. It is a limited edition (no. 20 of 60 copies) published in Austin, with background material by Fannie Elizabeth Ratchford (former rare books librarian), illustrations by Wolf Jessen (Austin architect), and is dedicated “To Mrs. Miriam Lutcher Stark.
I needed to know more.
I began naturally with Katie Pierce Meyer, APL’s librarian, and Nancy Sparrow from the Alexander Architectural Archives. Nancy sent me the biographies for Wolf and Harold Jessen. The brothers were both students of architecture at UT and opened a firm together here in Austin in 1938. Wolf Jessen was also a member of the faulty at the School. Nancy also sent along one of Wolf Jessen’s projects, Monumental Causeway, which he produced while still a student (dated October 4, 1935).
The illustrations he made for Two Poems were also undertaken while he was a student!
While I had discovered who Wolf Jessen was, I was still curious about Fannie Elizabeth Ratchford, whose biography I located on the Texas State Historical Association website, which discussed her work with the Wrenn Library and scholarship on the Brontës (Leach, “Ratchford, Fannie Elizabeth”). She also had an interest in architecture. The Texas State Archives houses a collection of papers from Ratchford regarding an unrealized book project on Texas architecture, which she worked on between 1933-1947.
I also located a book review for Two Poems written by Leicester Bradner. I had hoped that Bradner would discuss the book project; however, he focuses on the argument Ratchford presents. He does note, “In spite of the brevity of the present study, which was designed by the publishers only for a collector’s item, it adds immensely to our understanding of Emily’s poems” (Bradner, “Reviewed Work,” 210). While Bradner makes no reference to Jessen, he does highlight that the work was a special edition at the request of the publisher, which raises intriguing questions about the genius and development of the book project.
Finally, I would note that APL’s copy of Two Poems is not the only copy on campus anymore. The HRC has two as well. One is unnumbered according to the record, while the second belonged to Miriam Lutcher Stark and is copy 1 of 20.
Bradner, Leicester. “Reviewed Work.” Review of Reviewed Work: Two Poems by Emily Brontë: With the Gondal Background of Her Poems and Novel by Fannie Elizabeth Ratchford, Emily Brontë. Modern Philology 33.2 (1935): 209-210.
We also received Jimenez Lai’s Citizens of No Place: An Architectural Graphic Novel. Lai writes:
Citizens of No Place imagines alternate worlds and engages with the design of architecture through the act of storytelling. It offers narratives about character development, through which the reader can explore relationships, curiosities, and attitudes, as well as absurd stories about fake realities that invite new futures to become possibilities. (pg. 7)
The graphic novel contains an introductory essay by John McMorrough entitled “The Architecture of No Place and Eutopia, Infinite Earths, and Elseworlds.” Lai’s architectural treatise is then arranged in ten chapters, addressing topics such as rituals, power, projection, and history.
Our copy of this work belonged to Professor Owen Cappleman, who was a faculty member of the School of Architecture. On the first few pages are a series of sketches- two of faces and one of a drum, I think. It was the sketches that piqued my interest!
I cannot draw. It was not a skill I pursued but often think I should, especially when I am trying to sketch something into my field notes and end up relying on my camera. In his introductory essay, “Some Preliminary Considerations: Encouragement and Advice for the Beginner,” Arthur Guptil writes:
Drawing is, in our early youth- and should be throughout life- a far more natural means of expression than writing. For writing, like talking, must be learned. Drawing, of course, needs study, too, before one can go far with it. Yet what child does not draw well, relatively speaking, without the slightest tutoring? Give him chalk and a sidewalk, a stick and a beach of sand, or pencil and paper, and he produces results which, all things considered, are little short of marvelous. (pg. 1)
I rather like his perspective. Despite my inability to draw well, I often find that a quick sketch is far easier than words in certain situations.
Guptill illustrates the first half of the work with his own sketches and drawings “to illustrate points brought out by the text” (pg. vii). While he does showcase a variety of techniques like outlining and shading, his own style and choice of subject matter feels very 1930s to me, which makes the book interesting to look through even if one does not intend to learn to draw.
The three new books highlighted below all approach history through slightly different lenses: an architect’s engagement with history in his current practice; the legacy of one architect’s work on succeeding generations; and the preservation of the built fabric.
Goldberger, Paul.Building with History. Forward by Norman Foster. Photographs by Richard Bryant and Mark Fiennes. Munich: Prestel, 2014.
Building with History examines seventeen projects by Norman Foster that explore the relationship between old and new. The work consists of an essay, “Building with History,” by Paul Goldberg, a photo essay by Richard Bryant and Mark Fiennes, and finally, the Project Portfolio which includes the plans and drawings of the included works. Goldberger concludes his essay:
The presence and visibility of this [temporal] arc makes each of these works of architecture and civic space a living and changing thing, not an object frozen outside of time. In every project examined here, while the new would not have been brought into existence without the old, the old would have an entirely different existence – and a vastly diminished meaning – without a contemporary intervention beside it to provide the architecture of the past with constant challenge, protection and resonance. (Goldberger, 57)
Oliver Bradbury’s work is a collection of four essays arranged chronologically that examine the influence of John Soane (1753-1837) from 1791 through Modernism. Bradbury’s guiding thesis is as follows:
A Continuing Legacy features the work of famous architects such as Benjamin Henry Latrobe and Philip Johnson, as well as many not-so-well-known Soanean disciples, in the process arguing that Soane has been almost continuously influential for more than two hundred years… (Bradbury, Preface)
Longstreth’s new publication consists of a series of previously published but updated material alongside the presentation of eight case studies which include the visitor center at Gettysburg, Broughton Street in Savannah, and St. Francis Cabrini in New Orleans. Longstreth states:
The intent of all these case studies is to underscore how addressing historical significance, even for seemingly simple things, is not a simple process conceptually. Equally important is to emphasize how the nature of inquiry- the questions asked, the sources pursued, and ultimately the matters addressed- can vary to a considerable degree from case to case, demanding assessment predicated on the individual circumstances rather than on formulaic assumptions. The basic methods of inquiry are no different for the mid-twentieth century than for any other era, but the particulars of inquiry must be attuned to the particulars at hand, irrespective of period. (Longstreth, 5)
A Selection of Watercolors and Drawings from the Alexander Architectural Archives
I confess that when I began this project, I knew very little about the architect Charles W. Moore (1925-1993). In the architectural history surveys, he is there as a representative of Post-Modernism. His Piazza d’Italia is often included among the works of Robert Venturi, the Team Disney Building by Michael Graves, Philip Johnson’s AT&T Building, and Aldo Rossi’s Modena Cemetery. For me, he was member of the tail end of survey.
Joining the staff of the Architecture & Planning Library and the Alexander Architectural Archives, I discovered that discussions often turn to Charles Moore. His extensive travel is often remarked upon, and that theme was also quite apparent in the works of Kevin Keim. I was struck by how often friends, students, clients and colleagues remembered his love of travel. Bruno Miglio, a client of Moore, recalls time spent in Rome with the architect:
In 1992, we met Charles in Rome. We dearly preserve in our memories the images of him in Piazza Navona enjoying the music and water at the Four Rivers Fountain, in Villa Giulia absorbing the mysterious fascination of the Etruscans, and on the Appia Antica painting a lovely watercolor sketch until a sudden April shower chased us away. The frugal, creative glory of Borromini at the church of St. Ivo charmed him for sure, and at the Trevi Fountain, Rose and I quietly watched him slowly pacing around the bowl of the fountain, deep in his own private thoughts and memories, or maybe just entranced by the musical refrain of the cascading water…. And in the evenings we would slowly roam Trastevere in search of a piazza where old architecture, ambiance, and good food would strike an honorable balance. (Keim, An Architectural Life, 131)
As I expand my knowledge and understanding of Charles Moore through his writings and Keim’s An Architectural Life, I connect most strongly with his love of place. Moore writes:
We seek with all these devices to make places. I take it that one of the things about a place is that it is distinguishable from other places because of the specific circumstances that created it, so that when you are somewhere you are not somewhere else, and so that the particular characteristics of a spot on the earth’s surface are in some way understood and responded to in making a place, which in its ordering of the environment is a function of the civilization which created it. (Moore, “Creating of Place,” 296)
The watercolors and sketches below represent places. Some are specific, identifiable places; others are not, yet they still suggest the sense of being somewhere. I was surprised that many of the watercolors and drawings evoked a sense of loneliness within me. There seems to be a quietness to them, unexpected by someone initially only acquainted with the Piazza d’Italia.
Arranging the watercolors and sketches into galleries was challenging. It may surprise you that many of the works included were undated or unidentified. Thus, I could not necessarily tie them to specific experiences, projects, publications, or moments of travel. The narrative could not be linear. I settled, therefore, on a mixture of specific places: – Utah, France, and Guanajuato – and themes – Landscapes and Water, Urban Fabric, and Ruins.
Gallery One: Utah, 1951
Charles Moore: Each of us moves on an average once every five years to somewhere else we’re expected to be citizens of as interestedly and effectively as we were in the previous location. In this movement of people, just about the only thing that remains specific to places on the face of the earth is the land: the structures of the land and its particular characteristics. (Moore, “Creating of Place,” 296)
Gallery Two: Landscapes & Water
Charles Moore: Thin, silent glazes of undisturbed northern lakes reflect the heavens like hand mirrors for the gods. Forest streams glide through dense Appalachian growth. Plunging cascades in Venezuelan rain-forest waterfalls fill the atmosphere with mist, drowning the humid air with thundering silence. Fog banks arriving from the sea barely clear Irish coastal cliffs, then move inland to roll over hills and valleys like phantoms. Rains fall in a soothing drone and transform Tuscan cities of stone into watercolored mirages of pastel wetness. In Japan, water sweats up from thermal volcanic arteries collecting in steaming baths inches away from crystalline mounds of snow and ice. (Moore, Water and Architecture, 16)
Gallery Three: France
Except from a letter written by Charles Moore while on a tour through Europe, 1949: There’s just no way to tell you in a letter about the French food. We started with Escargots (snails), which were wonderful, and every meal since has been a delight- wine costs less per litre than gasoline. (Keim, An Architectural Life, 37)
Gallery Four: Urban Fabric
Charles Moore: Florence looked the way it did because of the important edifices which had something special about them, as well as all the other buildings which made up the urban milieu that made palaces possible. It is just as useful to take them together as to separate them. (Cook, Klotz, and Moore, “Interview with John Wesley Cook and Heinrich Klotz,” 203)
Gallery Five: Guanajuato, Mexico
Charles Moore: I am writing this in Guanajuato, a middle-sized town in the middle of Mexico, crammed into a narrow canyon, with just two narrow streets (one up and one down) in the bottom of a canyon, and with a maze of stepped pedestrian ways climbing up the canyon’s slopes through the most remorselessly picturesque townscape this side of Greece. (Moore, “You Have to Pay for the Public Life,” 138)
Gallery Six: Ruins
Charles Moore: It is altogether likely that inhabitants themselves can be trusted to know where the real places on the planet are, to go to them, from Disneyland to the Athenian Acropolis and to send postcards back when the places have spoken to them, and they perceived, with great good feeling, that they weresomewhere. (Charles Moore, “Principles and Enthusiasms,” in Keim, An Architectural Life, 283).
Cook, John W., Heinrich Klotz, and Charles Moore. “Interview with John Wesley Cook and Heinrich Klotz.” In You Have to Pay for the Public Life: Selected Essays of Charles W. Moore, edited by Kevin Keim, 167-207. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 2001. Originally published in John W. Cook and Heinrich Klotz, Conversations with Architects (New York: Praeger, 1973), 218-246.
Moore, Charles W. “Creating of Place.” 1984. In You Have to Pay for the Public Life: Selected Essays of Charles W. Moore, edited by Kevin Keim, 292-301. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 2001.
Moore, Charles W. “You Have to Pay for the Public Life.” In You Have to Pay for the Public Life: Selected Essays of Charles W. Moore, edited by Kevin Keim, 111-142. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 2001. Originally published in Perspecta, 9-10 (1965): 57-97.
Lykoshin and Cheredina’s work on Sergey Chernyshev, architect and urban planner, is our most recent addition from the Basics Series of DOM Publishing, Berlin, joining the works on other Russian architects Yakov Chernikhov and Felix Novikov in our library. The authors conclude of Sergey Chernyshev:
Chernyshev’s designs can be viewed as monuments to an extraordinary architect, a man who managed to preserve rich, old traditions and lay the foundation for new ones which will undoubtedly be taken up and continued by the new masters of new Moscow. Chernyshev’s designs are testaments to the master’s talent and his role in architecture, not only in Russia and not only in the Soviet era. (Lykoshin & Cheredina, 234)
The biography is extensively illustrated with a significant proportion of the material from the family archive. The authors also included brief bibliographies of contemporary architects.
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