Viollet-le-Duc and Michel Jordy. The City of Carcassonne and A Visitor’s Guide. Paris: Albert Morancé, [n.d.]. Jean-Pierre Panouillé et al. The City of Carcassonne. [Paris]: Caisse nationale des monuments historiques et des sites, Ministère de la culture, c1984.

Today I broke into new call number territory in Special Collections: Medieval France. I discovered a small guide book to Carcassonne, which is on the list of places that I have not visited but would like to do so. It thus struck a cord. I was surprised to discover that the book had been written by Viollet-le-Duc. I had not realized that he had led the restoration of the fortification. UNESCO highlights Viollet-le-Duc’s importance as culturally significant to the monument: In its present form it is an outstanding example of a medieval fortified town, with its massive defences encircling the castle and the surrounding buildings, its streets and its fine Gothic cathedral. Carcassonne is also of exceptional importance because of the lengthy restoration campaign undertaken by Viollet-le-Duc, one of the founders of the modern science of conservation (UNESCO, “Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne,, accessed July 31, 2014).

Viollet-le-Duc wrote the historical narrative of the site. His account is very much that of a military history as it relates to construction and destruction. Michel Jordy provides a brief description of the major architectural features of Carcassonne– the towers, the gates, the castle, and church. Jordy writes in the conclusion: This summary description of the City of Carcassonne may perhaps bring out the value of these remains, their interest and importance from preserving them from decay. I doubt whether there be elsewhere in Europe as complete and formidable an ensemble of 6th, 12th and 13th century defensive works, a more interesting subject of study, a situation more picturesque (pg. 29). While I was disappointed that Viollet-le-Duc did not discuss the restoration process, I understand that the authors’ purpose was rather to impress upon the visitors the historical and architectural significance of the site itself.

The library also posses in the lending collection a more recent guide book of Carcassonne, The City of Carcassonne, with more detailed information including a brief overview of the restoration and diagrams of the evolution of the site from the sixth century B.C. through the thirteenth century. Both UNESCO and Stephen Murray’s Mapping Gothic France have more extensive images of the site.

Feature Friday: OnArchitecture Database

We are so excited to announce – and subsequently feature – our recent subscription to OnArchitecture, an online audiovisual database that functions as an artistic archive exclusively for professional and educational institutions around the world. OnArchitecture contains original material focusing on key individuals, buildings, and installations in contemporary architecture, and highlights them through interviews, documents, audiovisuals, and more. In their own words, this database provides “a synthetic, deep and detailed panorama of the world’s main authors, works, experiences and problematics related to the field of architecture.

OnArchitecture boasts an extensive catalog of buildings and installations, including influential works like the Sendai Mediatheque by Toyo Ito; Capitol Complex in Chandigarh, India by Le Corbusier; and Ai Weiwei’s Fake Design. The catalog is presented clearly and cleanly, meaning that it’s exceptionally easy to maneuver through and explore. The main page for each work features a brief video, a summary of the work, additional documents, and – my personal favorite – a suggested bibliography of additional information on the building or piece. I love this setup, as the page serves as a key introduction to the main aspects of a work of art, and then both encourages and facilitates additional research. As a student, I cannot even begin to express how handy this is!

Perhaps the most unique aspect of this database is its extensive collection of video interviews with various influential artists, architects, and curators from all over the world. These interviews candidly cull out the critical reivew of works from the artists themselves. So often in research we are presented with an interpretation of a building or piece through a secondary observer or scholarly source; while vital, these interviews reveal the fundamental process behind a piece that can only be expressed through the mind of its creator. Think of this portion of the database as a collection of TED talks for artists and designers. And, as you can see in the screen grab below, you can travel the world in just one sitting!

I cannot express enough how thrilled I am that the Architecture & Planning Library has invested in this inimitable database. I am already certain that this will serve as a key source for research when my studies resume in fall, and I’ve already watched several interviews out of pure interest and fascination. Follow the link below to start exploring yourself!

OnArchitecture – access this database

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. 

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).

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!

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.

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 [, accessed 3 July 2014].