Category Archives: exhibition

The new Architecture Exhibits site on Omeka!

On Omeka: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Hello y’all!  Katie (2.2) here.  I admit that Battle Hall Highlights has not been quite as active on the blog front from the Library compared to other years – apologies for that, but it was for a very good reason!  The University of Texas at Austin Libraries have been working on implementing Omeka as a platform for publishing digital collections and exhibits from UT institutions.  Our own Katie Pierce Meyer (the Librarian here at the Architecture and Planning Library) was instrumental in bringing Omeka to UT, and APL is proud to now have three exhibits available via Omeka.  As GRA for the Library, I spent the majority of my semester migrating content from our website, which was housed and designed via Drupal 6, to UT’s Omeka.  The three exhibits on Omeka now are “Our Landmark Library: Battle Hall at 100,” “Their Maya Story: George and Gerrie Andrews,” and “Eugene George: Architect, Scholar, Educator, Photographer.”  Each exhibit posed unique challenges in migrating the content, and have provided invaluable experience in creating exhibits via Omeka.

So, what is Omeka?  It is a free, open-source platform for publishing digital collections and exhibits.  Developed and updated by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, Omeka has several iterations (Omeka S, Omeka.net, and Omeka Classic), but originally started out as a platform designed for small institutions with limited resources.

The Administrator view of Omeka.org.
The Administrator view of Omeka.org.

Omeka is meant to be easy to use and simple to upkeep, especially for those with limited technological know-how (e.g., me).  So, with some persistent encouragement from Katie Pierce Meyer, UT eventually decided to install Omeka as a platform for the UT Libraries to upload digital collections and exhibits.  So only our three exhibits, and one about South Asian Popular and Pulp Fiction Books, are available via Omeka.  There are various reasons Omeka has not gained traction: it is necessary to first have a digital collection about which to build an exhibit which takes a great deal of time, it has been time consuming to try to coordinate with the UT Data Asset Management System (DAM) to develop a metadata standard, and, simply, Omeka is not perfect.

Omeka's Exhibit Builder from the Administrator view.
Omeka’s Exhibit Builder from the Administrator view.

Where other exhibit builders (such as Scalar) are more image-focused, Omeka is quite metadata-heavy.  This is evident in the limited theme options (basically, themes are the design layout, or style, of the exhibit) currently available on UT’s Omeka, which tend to be text-based with smaller images.  Hopefully, as more institutions digitize items and see the existing exhibits on Omeka, the site will grow in popularity as a platform for UT’s Libraries to share more of their unique collections.

The former UT Omeka homepage on Omeka.org.
The former UT Omeka homepage on Omeka.org.

In late December of 2017 to early January of 2018, all Omeka content was migrated from Omeka.org to Omeka.net.  What the Libraries and the IT team decided to do was host content via Omeka servers rather than host it themselves.  This created the opportunity for each institution to have their own independent Omeka site that they control.  When we worked in Omeka.org (the homepage of which is pictured below), everything was in the same bucket, so to speak.  At that point, two of our exhibits were completed, and the Architecture Library and the South Asian Pop Culture Collection were the primary users of Omeka.  Now, the South Asian Popular and Pulp Fiction Books has its own site, and we have our own website now (which you can see here: http://utlibrariesarchitecture.omeka.net/) that we can customize to fit our needs as an institution.  The site is still a work in progress, as we are working on adding more content, but we now have three exhibits (all discussed thoroughly below) publicly available for everyone to enjoy and explore!

Battle Hall at 100: Our Landmark Library

Pros: Learned how to import items one at a time

Cons: Took three to four months to complete, took a while to standardize metadata (had to go back and change early entries), and there was a lot of trial and error (in both uploading items and in building the exhibit and making it look well-done)

Theme: Thanks, Roy (the fullsize image display is rather small, as are the thumbnails, menus are confusing because Omeka menu is on left and exhibit menu is on right of the text, and the metadata page is text-heavy with a thumbnail image at the very bottom, nice galleries of images, though)

Our Landmark Library Exhibit as built in Omeka.
Our Landmark Library Exhibit built in Omeka in 2017, migrated from Drupal 6.

The first of the three exhibits I migrated was Our Landmark Library: Battle Hall at 100.  This one was migrated “by hand,” if you will, meaning I moved each item individually, entering in the metadata and adding the image files myself.  The main takeaway?  This method of importing items is slow.  Containing approximately 140 items, there was a lot of trial and error (mainly human error) in migrating Our Landmark Library.  Namely, it took time to find the best standard  for the metadata, because I wanted to be sure to include all the information included in the old exhibit on Drupal.  Eventually, I found a standard, wrote it down, and followed it for the remainder of the items, before going back and changing the ones I had already uploaded.  So uploading the items was the first phase of this project.  The second phase was reconstructing the exhibit in Omeka.  I

The Battle Hall at 100 Exhibit as built in Drupal 6 on our legacy site.
The Battle Hall at 100 Exhibit as built in Drupal 6 on our legacy site.

wanted to maintain the original order of the exhibit, which was simple enough.  The hardest part of building the exhibit was putting together the galleries, which were pretty big in this exhibit.  Formatting the exhibit to have a nice flow to it (no big gaps or spaces between what are called “blocks” on Omeka, a means of separating and formatting parts of a page), keeping the images in the correct order, and writing captions for each image was not challenging so much as time-consuming.  Even though this exhibit took a long time to complete because of the method of uploading each image myself, I am glad I had the experience.  I became intimately familiar with how Omeka works, and the rhythm you can get into when uploading every item and formatting an exhibit.  I definitely have a great appreciation for how long building a digital collection can take.  I did not have to digitize any of the items or create original content for the exhibit, but it still took a long time to move everything.  If it took three, almost four, months for me to migrate an exhibit of only 140 items, I can only imagine how long it would take for large collections.

The new exhibit on Omeka!
An example of a gallery built in Omeka!

 

 

 

 

 

Their Maya Story: George and Gerrie Andrews

Pros: Quick with CSV import, less trial and error, building the exhibit only took two days; Easy metadata standardization when done in Excel ahead of time

Cons: Figuring out the CSV import (must be done very quickly or it has to be started all over again); Mapping elements (sometimes difficult to match column headings with element names for DublinCore metadata)

Theme: Neatscape (nice display of the images,  and large, easy-to-read text, the menu at the bottom is the only downside, only available in Omeka.org); Big Picture (current display in Omeka.net, large image display, allows easy navigation between items in galleries and between pages in the exhibit)

Their Maya Story Exhibit on Omeka.
Their Maya Story Exhibit on Omeka.

After (finally) finishing the Battle Hall at 100 exhibit, I moved on to the George and Gerrie Andrews exhibit, Their Maya Story.  This exhibit Katie Pierce Meyer and I imported into Omeka via a CSV (Comma Separated Value) file that had been generously created for us.  When importing a CSV file, you choose “elements” of metadata that align with the columns in the file (e.g. the “Title” column matches to the “Title” element in Dublin Core, or the “Geographical Location” column might match to the “Spatial Location” element); it is important to note that not all column headings have a corresponding element to match to, so it helps think about this somewhat beforehand.  After a mishap during which Katie and I took too long matching columns to elements, we successfully uploaded all 116 items to Omeka in less than two minutes, complete with metadata and attached image files.  I then began to build the exhibit in Omeka.  I again wanted to be faithful to the original exhibit.  I wanted to try a different theme this time, so I chose the theme called “Neatscape,” which does not permit any customization or changes to the display the way some other themes do.   The only

The original Their Maya Story Exhibit in Drupal 6.
The original Their Maya Story Exhibit in Drupal 6.

problem I have with Neatscape as a theme is that the menu for the exhibit is at the very bottom of the page, so you have to scroll through the whole page in order to reach the menu.  One of the perks of Omeka is that it allows users to change themes without changing the content or layout of the

Metadata display in Drupal 6.
Metadata display in Drupal 6.

existing content of the exhibit.  We decided to go with Neatscape so that we have an example of what it looks like as an exhibit, though we may change it in the future if we find a theme that works well for our content.  A major asset of Neatscape is that the metadata pages for individual items does include a small thumbnail immediately to the right at the top of the page, meaning that (unlike in the Thanks, Roy theme in the Battle Hall at 100 exhibit) users do not have to scroll all the way down the page to see only a small thumbnail image that, when clicked on, then leads to a larger image.  Building the exhibit was much the same as before, only this took merely two days, between using the CSV import and having had the experience of building an exhibit.  It is amazing how much time the CSV import cut out, so I definitely learned that it is necessary to have all the metadata standardized in a CSV file in order to make the process much easier and more enjoyable.

The image and metadata display in the Big Picture Theme used for the Andrews Exhibit.
The image and metadata display in the Big Picture Theme used for the Andrews Exhibit.

After the migration from Omeka.org to Omeka.net, the Neatscape theme was no longer an option, so I chose to use the Big Picture theme, which emphasizes images.  The thumbnails for the galleries are large, and the images displayed when a user clicks on an item is larger than any of the other themes.  We still have not figured out how to add zoom functionality to our exhibits.  That is a task that the Library’s new Digital Initiatives GRA, Zach, is going to be working on in the coming months.  So the Andrews exhibit required a little bit of tweaking after the migration from Omeka.org to Omeka.net, but we wound up with a better outcome because of it.  The Big Picture theme is currently my favorite among the three I have tried so far because of the large image display, which is preferable for some of the items we might include in future digitization efforts.

Eugene George

Pros: More theme options because of the move to Omeka.net, quick because of CSV import, nice to have the exhibit ready to go whenever the CSV file was done so that all that remained was to add images and galleries; took only one day to complete the exhibit

Cons: Harder to build an exhibit without the images ready to go in, quite a bit of wait time due to the migration of all Omeka content from UT’s servers to Omeka.net

Theme: The Daily (there is a nice menu that scrolls down alongside the content to navigate between pages, large text, large image display)

Eugene George Exhibit built in Omeka in 2018.
Eugene George Exhibit built in Omeka in 2018.

This exhibit about Eugene George was done in a slightly different order from the others: instead of importing the items and then building the exhibit, I built the exhibit first since our CSV file was not ready to import.  So I copied over all the text from the exhibit, and created blocks of text and galleries to mimic the original order of the exhibit.  We had to wait on the CSV import until after the migration from Omeka.org to Omeka.net, which took longer than expected, but in early February, we received the go-ahead to import items into the new site.  Katie, Zach, and I sat together and worked on standardizing the metadata in the CSV file before importing it into Omeka, which mostly consists of renaming columns and copying

The original Eugene George Exhibit built in Drupal 6.
The original Eugene George Exhibit built in Drupal 6.

over the desired metadata content.  After several failed attempts at importing the CSV file, we realized that because our website is now a legacy site (http://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/apl) that the links included to connect the JPEG images with their respective metadata would not work.  So, we changed those links to include “legacy” before the link, and

Metadata display in the Eugene George Exhibit, which used the theme The Daily.
Metadata display in the Eugene George Exhibit, which used the theme The Daily.

the CSV import worked perfectly!  With those items now in Omeka.net, I was able to add them into the pre-built exhibit.  I then went back and made sure that the galleries and text looked nice, made the necessary edits, and the exhibit was ready to go!  For this one, I chose The Daily as the theme.  Overall, the theme looks nice, with large text, large image display within the exhibit.  The menu that scrolls along beside the content allows for quick and easy navigation among the pages of the exhibit.  The pages where item metadata is displayed are less text-heavy than in the Thanks, Roy theme used for the Battle Hall exhibit (and feature the image at the top of the page instead of a thumbnail at the bottom), but the image displayed is not as large as that in the Andrews exhibit.

By the time I built the Eugene George exhibit, I had a far greater understanding of how Omeka works and how long it might take.  With the CSV import and the exhibit pre-built, this exhibit took only one day to complete.  This means that just one day of intensive work is needed to build an exhibit when the CSV import is used to add the items, versus nearly four months doing an item-by-item import for the Battle Hall exhibit.  It is easier to build the exhibit as you go, as I did with the Andrews exhibit, rather than having it already built.  I found it far easier to make changes as I went along building the Andrews exhibit than to have to go back afterwards as I did with Eugene George.

Conclusion

In spite of my limited technological expertise and lack of knowledge about Omeka, I found the platform very easy to use.  Exhibits and importing items (whether individually or via CSV file) takes time and patience.  For collections less than 50 items, importing items one-by-one is fine, but for larger collections, the CSV import saves a great deal of time.  It is intensive to create a CSV file with all the pertinent metadata, but it is preferable to having to individually import 200 items and type in metadata for each.  With a CSV file, the standardization is done before the items ever make it into Omeka.

In terms of Omeka.org versus Omeka.net and the Administrator side of things, not much has changed.  However, it is nice to have our own site to manage and customize.  Since the change to Omeka.net, we have been able to play with the website and are working toward making it exactly what we want.  It is still a work in progress, but it looks pretty sharp!  The ability to manage our own content, look, and navigation is something we never could have achieved through Omeka.org.  Once the Libraries adds links to the UT Libraries website to reach all of the Omeka sites (the South Asian Popular and Pulp Fiction Books site, the Benson’s site), it will allow users to easily access the incredible digital collections that are forming on Omeka.  Additionally, Omeka.net provides more options in terms of themes than Omeka.org.  Though some do not translate between the two, the increased options have allowed us to try different themes for each exhibit to see what is the best display and format for Architectural exhibits.  Hopefully Zach or someone with more technical coding expertise can find a way to add zoom functionality to our images, something that will increase the usability of our items.

The new Architecture Exhibits site on Omeka!
The new Architecture Exhibits site on Omeka!

Overall, working with Omeka was an enriching experience for me.  Coming from a library/archives background, getting to do a project like this was incredibly rewarding.  With a free platform like Omeka, anything is possible.  Even a relative luddite like myself can use it to build digital collections.  For the most part, I am handing off the reigns of digital projects to Zach, but I’m proud of the work I have done on these three collections.  They are not perfect, but I learned so much about building digital collections from the experience of migrating this content.  And currently the Architecture and Planning Library is paving the way for other UT institutions in using Omeka as an exhibit platform, about which we are extremely excited.  Please explore our Omeka site and enjoy the exhibits as much as I enjoyed building  them!  Signing off for now, your Friendly Neighborhood Omeka Semi-Guru.

We’re going (Way)Back in Time!

Hiya!  I’m Zacharia (Zach if you’re feeling friendly) and I’m the new Digital Initiatives GRA here and APL.  I’m going to be in charge of making sure you wonderful people will still be able to find our online exhibits once the sites have gone offline.

So I thought I’d give you a little how-to guide about how you can access our old exhibits while they’re in migration.  So without further ado let me introduce you to our new best friend: The Wayback Machine!

The Wayback Machine is a delightful little site hosted by the Internet Archive that is dedicated to archiving the entire internet forever (give or take a few hundred thousand versions).  Today I am going to walk you through how to access the old APL legacy site and all the associated content.

Step 1: Accessing the Site

The Wayback Machine works by automatically scraping webpages, creating exact replicas of the site on a given day which can be accessed from the main interface.  These are stored versions of a site at the time of scraping, and will not reflect any changes made to the site following the date of scraping.  Think of it as visiting a historical site.

The url for our old site is https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/apl.  So we’re going to copy that and paste into The Wayback Machine, which should look something like this: (Please note that the images are best viewed in full screen so don’t fret if you can’t quite make out specific text, just click on the image.)

The Wayback Machine

Now I have already scraped the legacy site as of January 31 and February 6.  The next screen you see should contain the url you just entered and a series of calendars with the dates January 31 and February 6 highlighted.  These represent specific “images” or captures of the site as it looked on those days.  There shouldn’t be any difference between the two so pick your favorite date!

Step 2: Navigation

Now those of you familiar with the old site should recognize a lot of what you see, with the exception of the Wayback Machine interface, which will look like this:Capture

This is the Wayback Machine navigation bar.  From here you can navigate between different captures of the site at will and see a timeline of their development.  Now the navigation of the old site works the same as it once did, however when you select a link you may see this image:

Capture2The Wayback Machine archives each webpage individually, and must redirect and access different versions when you go to a new web page.  What that means is that when you click on a link you are redirected to the Wayback Machine’s most recent or closest temporal capture of the webpage that is being linked.

Step 3: Accessing the old Online Exhibits

My work at APL primarily revolves around making sure you fine folk can still access all of our old online content, so let’s see if we can’t access one of our old exhibits:  The Architectural Legacy of Herbert Greene.  As we are still on the main web page we will need to move over to the Works and Projects page.  Before moving on I would like to point out that the entire legacy UT Libraries site is not fully accessible on the Wayback Machine, just these exhibits which I have manually captured.  So keep that in mind as we go forward.

In any case, the Works and Project page should look like this:

Capture3

If your screen does not look like this please select the “Works + Projects” button. All of our exhibits are housed under Exhibits and Curated Resources, but all the other pages found here are fully accessible so feel free to look around.

Once you’re  looking at the Exhibits page, select the hyperlinked text Online Exhibits and Curated Resources to find the list of old online exhibits.  Fun fact, you can also access this delightful blog from here and see all the archived posts!

The Architectural Legacy of Herbert Miller Greene is the first item on the list.  If you click on it should take you to:

Capture4There is a chance that the images or other script may not load.  This is a result of a problem with the given date of capture.  If you are having this issue, access a different capture from the navigation bar (such as January 31) to see the full site.

Perhaps the most important function of The Wayback Machine  is the ability to emulate and preserve JavaScript and Flash programs, so applications and other non-still image media are accessible in their original forms.  This is especially important for an exhibit like The Architectural Legacy of Herbert Miller Greene, which is based heavily around an applet called Zoomify, which allows users to zoom in and examine blueprints and photos at a high resolution.  Select Firm Brochures from the navigation bar on the site to take a look.

Capture11Ta-da! It’s like the site was never taken down!  You can freely explore the exhibit to your heart’s content.

All of old exhibits will be available in new formats on the new libraries site, but in the meanwhile (or if you’re feeling nostalgic) you can use The Wayback Machine to find all of your favorite content just the way you liked it.

I’m looking forward to sharing our progress on the new site as time goes on, and I’ll be back real soon with more awesome stuff to show you!

To Better Know a Building: The University of Texas Tower, 80th Anniversary

TBKB-Tower2

The Architecture & Planning Library and the Alexander Architectural Archives are pleased to recognize the 80th anniversary of the University of Texas Tower’s dedication by featuring the iconic structure in its fifth installment of the To Better Know a Building exhibition series.

The Alexander Architectural Archive is fortunate to have an abundance of documentation for the building including construction drawings, shop drawings, construction photographs and project files from the University of Texas Buildings collection. Correspondence between the architects and the University can be found in the Faculty Building Committee records kept by Robert Leon White, supervising architect.

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

Plans, elevations, sections and details communicate the realization of design intent and can be used as a vehicle in teaching through example.

The exhibit opens on February 27, 2017, with a reception, and the exhibit extends through August 7, 2017. Free and open to the public.

Opening Reception: “To Better Know a Building: The Charles Moore House, Orinda, California”

Exhibt_OrindaOn 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 Alexander Architectural Archive’s  Press Release:

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.

The Alexander Architectural Archive — a special collection of the Architecture & Planning Library — has among its collections the Charles W. Moore Archives. The exhibit will present correspondence, notes, sketches, drawings and printed materials related to the design and construction of Moore’s private residence in Orinda, California.

“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.

 UPDATE:

The reception was photographed by the Visual Resource Collection in the School of Architecture. Please visit their Flickr Album to see the photos.

On the Road with Charles W. Moore

A Selection of Watercolors and Drawings from the Alexander Architectural Archives

 

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Charles W. Moore. Photograph. aaa-cwm00038. Charles W. Moore Archives, Alexander Architectural Archive, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.

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 were somewhere. (Charles Moore, “Principles and Enthusiasms,” in Keim, An Architectural Life, 283).

Bibliography

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.

Keim, Kevin. An Architectural Life: Memoirs & Memories of Charles W. Moore. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1996.

Keim, Kevin, ed. You Have to Pay for the Public Life: Selected Essays of Charles W. Moore. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 2001.

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.

Moore, Charles W. Water and Architecture. Photographs by Jane Lidz. H. N. Abrams, 1994.

Kimbell Art Museum- Drawing Collection

A+ULast week, Katie Pierce Meyer received an advanced copy of Architecture and Urbanism’s  (A+U) special feature issue on the Kimbell Art Museum in Dallas Texas, which was designed by Louis I. Kahn (1972).  Much like the theme of this issue- highlighting the collaborative design process between Louis I. Kahn, Dr. Richard Fargo Brown, and the office of Preston M. Geren & Associates- this special feature was a collaborative effort between the School of Architecture, the Architecture & Planning Library, and the Alexander Architectural Archive.

The seed for the issue began with the archive’s exhibition series, To Better Know a Building. The first exhibit featured the construction drawings of the Kimbell Art Museum from the Preston M. Geren Drawings. Through the coordination of Professor Wilfried Wang, O’Neil Ford Centennial Chair in Architecture at the University of Texas School of Architecture, and Nancy Sparrow, the archive’s Curatorial Assistant for Public Servicesthis special feature issue came to fruition. Professor Larry Speck, The W. L. Moody, Jr. Centennial Professor in Architecture at the University of Texas School of Architecture, contributed an essay. Katie Pierce Meyer, the interim APL Librarian,  interviewed Frank H. Sherwood and Dewayne Manning, who both worked on the Kimbell project through the office of Preston M. Geren & Associates. The Alexander Architectural Archive contributed numerous drawings from the collection. In addition to the drawings included in the issue, the archive also holds structural, mechanical, and electrical drawings as well as photographs. Finally the Kimbell Art Museum and Carlos Jimenez from Rice University made contributions to the publication, photographs and an essay, respectively.

The library has not yet received a copy of this issue; however, it should hopefully be available on the new book table by late summer or early fall!

To Better Know a Building Exhibit: Little Chapel in the Woods

Little Chapel in the Woods
Little Chapel in the Woods

The Architecture & Planning Library and the Alexander Architectural Archive are pleased to announce the second installment in the To Better Know a Building series.  Buildings featured in this series are selected by popular vote and exhibited the Battle Hall reading room.  The Little Chapel in the Woods, designed by architects O’Neil Ford and Arch Swank, is this semester’s winning entry.  It will be represented by the original construction drawings and photographs from the Ford collection. These pencil on paper drawings are a fine example of the art of construction drawings.

The To Better Know a Building series seeks to explore buildings through the drawings and other visual items found in the archive and library. Working drawings, including plans, elevations, and sections, often communicate the realization of design intent and are ideal  vehicles in teaching through example. 
 Exhibit openings include remarks by architects, and observations are encouraged from attendees to help promote discussion in understanding both the building and the profession.

Brantley Hightower will help celebrate the exhibit opening by offering remarks about the Little Chapel in the Woods. Hightower is an educator, author and founding partner in the San Antonio firm HiWorks.  He received a BA and a BArch degree from UT Austin as well as a MArch degree from Princeton.

Attendees will also have an opportunity to vote for the next building featured in this series from a list provided by the Alexander Architectural Archive.

Please join us for the exhibit opening reception Monday, February 16 at 6pm in the Architecture and Planning Library reading room. Austin’s Pizza will be provided while it lasts.

To Better Know a Building Exhibit Opening: This Monday!

The Architecture & Planning Library and the Alexander Architectural Archive are pleased to announce a new series of exhibits in the Battle Hall Reading room starting this October! Join us this upcoming Monday, October 13th at 6:00pm for our opening reception.

The “To Better Know a Building” series seeks to explore buildings through the drawings and other visual items found in the archive and library with focus on working drawings. Plans, elevations, and sections usually communicate the realization of design intent and can be used as a vehicle in teaching through example.

The first in the series will feature the Kimbell Art Museum by Louis Kahn. The Alexander Architectural Archive has the original construction drawings in the Preston Geren collection. Preston Geren was the associate architect for the Kimbell Museum. These pencil on paper drawings are a fine example of the art of construction drawings.

The next building featured will be chosen by a vote by students, faculty, and staff in the UT Austin School of Architecture from a list provided by the Alexander Architectural Archive.

Exhibit Opening & Remarks by Larry Speck – Monday, October 13, 6:00 p.m.
October 13 – January 30
To Better Know a Building: Kimbell Art Museum
Architecture & Planning Library
Battle Hall Reading Room

Austin’s Pizza will be provided while it lasts.

See below for the official exhibition flier. We can’t wait to see you there!

To Better Know a Building

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!

 

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.