New to our collection is this monograph on Mark Foster Gage and his ideologies especially “Object Oriented Ontology” and “Speculative Realism”. Gage can be called an anomaly as he started off at the University of Notre Dame learning classical architecture and turned into a leading avant-garde architect of the present day.
The book features an afterword by Peter Eisenman and divided into seven chapters that is loosely based on a particular theme. These are cut across by transcribed texts from interviews and conversations between the biggies in Architecture. I HIGHLY recommend reading the one in honor of Zaha Hadid along with Frank Gehry, Peter Eisenman, Deborah Berke and MFG.
For people who aren’t into extensive texts and reading (meh!) the book also offers a excellent collection of 3D visualized images that gives an insight into the architect’s mind. A cursory look at them is enough for us to understand what his design philosophy is all about. “The Tower for New York’s 57thstreet with mouth like balconies on giant wings or a retail space bedecked with a hundred faceted mirror, Gage’s work at once challenges expectations of what architecture might be and as well frequently fills one with a sense of excitement.”
P.S: Did I tell you he 3D printed Lady Gaga’s outfit in collaboration with Nicola Formichetti in 2011?
This book is excellent if you love visual fodder, new design philosophies or Lady Gaga.
This is one of those rare books that will be placed in a capsule for the future along with Monalisa and Klimts’ if the civilization is about to end. Its cultural importance and documentation that follows military precision are the key factors as to why this book is forever in our special collection.
It covers the design and details of the Alhambra fortress and palace complex in Spain. This is a two-volume publication, with complete translations of the Arabic inscriptions and historical notice of the kings of Granada, Spain. It also consists of a detailed history from the conquest of the city by Arabs to the expulsion of the Moors. The second volume consists of detailed lithographs by Owen Jones and Jules Goury.
More importantly this is a book about friendship. In 1834, after staying in Granada for 6 months, Jules fell victim to Cholera while documenting this book. Devastated by the loss, Ar. Jones took over to the publication of the project and further archived the palace. Impressions of every ornament is meticulously taken either in plaster or unsized paper. These casts have been tremendously important for preparing drawings for this publication.
The site plan of the Alhambra shows the most significant spaces in the palace like the Court of Lions, Court of the Fish pond and the Hall of the Two sisters.
The Court of Lions
This perfect portion of the palace is a parallelogram surrounded by portico with small pavilions at each end. This space consists of a hundred and twenty-eight columns. Due to the restoration works undergone by the court from time to time, the walls are defaced with several layers of whitewashing, beneath which it is still possible to see traces of the original coloring.
Court of the Fish Pond
This lithograph shows the view of the Fishpond from the Hall of the bark
Hall of the two sisters
This is a view taken from the Hall of the Two Sisters, looking towards the garden and a portion of the corridor which separates the Ventana from the Hall. “The lattice window gives light to the upper corridor, leading to the apartments appropriated to the women. It was through these lattices that the dark-eyed beauties of the Hareem viewed the splendid fetes in the hall below, in which they could only participate as distant spectators.”
The most common pattern that crops up in several halls are the interlacing lines done in plaster. It is remarkable both for their variety of designs and for the simple means by which they are produced. They are formed by two principles exhibited in the diagram.
To review this massive book, make an appointment with our special collections department of Architecture and Planning Library.
New books newsletter is back a second time this month! Surprisingly, both the books kind of belong to a similar category: Social Design. These books give an in-depth look into designing, especially, addressing social issues of our times.
Studies show that about 3 million people move to the cities every week! Apart from the privilege of having SoulCycle at every corner, cities provide better education, infrastructure and more importantly, culture. Therefore, getting our cities right should be the order of the day. There are two ways to do this, one is getting on to the suburban craze of “sprawl” (ugh! Boring!) or retrofitting our inner cities to suit the incoming populace. This book deals with the latter.
This essentially means that “even the smallest building gaps are closed, peripheral block buildings are complemented, small buildings are replaced by larger ones, living spaces are created by reuse, plots are divided and inner courtyards are used for construction.” If you’re good at Tetris, you will probably be good at this urban retrofitting thing. One such example is the Cordoba-Reurbano Housing building in the historical La Roma neighborhood of Mexico City. As a part of an urban recycling initiative, it adds on a succession of terraces and built residential volumes on top of a historic building.
Design Solution for Urban Densification presents 41 outstanding projects of urban redensification that illustrate the different approaches adopted by architects and planners to build for the cities today. Explore a range of amazing and surprising unconventional buildings and creative solutions across the entirety of the book with graphical plans and detailed sections and of course lots of beautiful photo spreads.
Social Design talks about designing for the society… with the society, addressing complex social issues of our times through the perspective of interdisciplinary design. It addresses 25 international projects that represent unique solutions and tackle the redesign of social systems. The projects range a wide breadth of topics from creating human scale neighborhoods in China to sustainable weaving communities in Ethiopia. These are framed by three essays that talk about Social design in the past and present, it’s job in education/ research and the concept of plan making in shaping socially conscious societies.
Some of the feature projects include Fairphone, 10,000 Gardens for Africa (Slow Food Foundation), Paper emergency shelters for UNHCR by Shigeru ban among a few.
“A meaningful architectural experience is not simply a series of retinal images. the ‘elements’ of architecture are not visual units or Gestalt; they are encounters, confrontations that interact with memory.”
We see an architectural marvel and the first thing we do is record it. We sketch, we take pictures, we remember how it looks. But do we feel it? Sense it? Smell it? “The inhumanity of contemporary architecture and cities can be understood as the consequence of the neglect of the body and the senses, and an imbalance in our sensory system.” This book challenges the hegemony of vision and the ocular-centrism of our generation. Pallasmaa calls it the violation of the eye, he goes to the extent of calling it the Narcissistic and Nihilistic eye.
As if we actually need to convince you to read this book. We are sure most of you have already read it. And if not, you are missing out on realizing architecture to its full potential. This polemic book on architectural philosophy and teaching, was first published in 1996 as an extended essay to Questions of perception: Phenomenology of Architecture written by Steven Holl, Pallasmaa, and Alberto Pérez-Gómez. The eyes of the skinis broken down into two neat essays, the first runs us through the historical development of ocular-centric paradigm in western culture, starting from the Greek civilization and its effect on the architecture today. Part two examines the function and presence of our other senses in experiencing architecture and how they could potentially bring us to building spaces that are integrated and personable.
Now imagine the picturesque ancient towns of Croatia and the busy, dense streets of Malta. Compare it to the function-first, grid-locked planning of New York or Chandigarh. Yes, there is a reason why most people choose the former for vacations. These are the spaces of intimate warmth, of participation and integration, catering to all the senses of the body; smell, taste, touch, sound and of course vision. “The authenticity of architectural experience is grounded in the tectonic language of building and the comprehensibility of the act of construction to the senses. We behold, touch, listen and measure the world with our entire bodily existence, and the experiential world becomes and articulated around the centre of the body.”
We highly recommend it if you just started getting into the whole architectural philosophy readings. It is a particularly interesting book to start off with and debate over as well as most don’t really accept this idea of Pallasmaa’s. A good book to get some really romanticized quotes about architecture and planning for your class essays.
“Architecture, as design of artifacts, buildings, landscapes, cities and organizations, is the central battlefield where new relationship to nature is established”
New in our stacks is this little book on sustainability focusing on research of synthetic ecosystem particular to the Alpine region of Innsbruck. It is written by various trailblazers in the field of experimental architecture and showcases a few of their breakthrough projects. All the projects covered are linked back to the Institute for Experimental Architecture of University of Innsbruck and gives an overview of their design and research culture.
“The book shows different approaches united through a shared interest in developing a new relationship between architecture and nature. “
It is cleverly classified into three categories based on the classes of camera lenses. Wide angles, to give an inclusive and expansive view of the research. Portrait, to highlight and isolate the subjects from potential noisy background. Lastly, Macro lenses, to focus on smaller details or prototypes. From adaptive self-regulatory ecologies that build based on collective interaction between buildings, to self crystallising ice structures, the future of architecture 2.0 is imagined and reimagined throughout the book.
“The combination of historical events, myths and traditions has created a multiplicity of conflicts between competing religions, communities and affiliations regarding the ownership and rights of use of places and monuments. In turn these conflicts have led to the formation of an extraordinary concentration of intricate spaces, fragmented and stratified both historically and physically”
Love reading about Architecture, religion and politics? Then this is a book for you! Published as a part of the Israeli Pavilion at the 16thAnnual Biennale in Venice, the book traces the complex and delicate mechanism of co-existence, established in the 19thcentury, called the Status Quo. This has been described by chronicling five Holy sites situated in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron. The five featured sites being, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Western Wall Plaza, Ibrahimi Mosque, Rachel’s Tomb and Mugrabhi Ascent.
Rife with pictures, sketches and newspaper articles, the book sets the mood by detailing their history, rise of religious conflicts, controversy and the resulting ad hoc political solutions that redefined these spaces. More importantly the reading allows us to look at architecture beyond its order, form, immutability it usually stands for, to making it a palimpsest charged with the status of “permanent temporariness”
Art Deco: “Works that embrace naturalistic, geometric or abstract surface decoration, and those that have no surface decoration but whose forms are themselves decorative”
What does Metropolis and The Great Gatsby have in common? The stunning portrayal of visual style during the time, Art Deco. As the name suggests the book consists of architectural and design entries, each belonging to a broad current of Art Deco style that originated in the early 20thcentury focusing in the Chicago area. The book consists of carefully curated pictures and illustrations of architecture, industrial, fashion, product and graphic designs that embraced Art Deco expression. The book explores architects and designers beyond Sullivan, Wright and Mies to underdogs like interior designers Marion Gheen, Rue Carpenter and forgotten Industrial designer John Bollenbacher.
The heart of the book consists of 101 “Key Designs” commissioned, designed, distributed in the Chicago region between 1910 to 1950, the peak of Art deco movement. It also includes five thematic essays detailing the development and particular character of Art Deco in Chicago, to the way Chicagoans rediscovered the work that we now call Art Deco.
Hello! My name is Abbie Norris, and I am the current digital archives Graduate Research Assistant at the Alexander Architectural Archives. My primary job is processing the born-digital content received in the Volz O’Connell Hutson Collection. This collection contains the records of Volz O’Connell Hutson (VOH) Architects, a firm focused primarily on preserving and restoring historic buildings and interiors. The collection showcases notable buildings from Texas and United States history and is an excellent resource to discover how much is needed to keep historic buildings authentic and alive.
The VOH Collection is significant to the Alexander for several reasons, but most importantly, it is the archive’s first large-scale born-digital accession. In addition to analog records and building materials, the collection includes roughly 450 floppy disks, 250 CDs, 90 zip disks, and one lone flash drive. These materials document the life of the firm from the early 1980s to the mid 2010s. So far, we have imaged over 100 filetypes representing everything from office files to construction reports to historic photographs. It’s a diverse array, and as the project moves forward, we’re faced with many questions about how best to provide access to researchers.
As diverse as the filetypes are the kinds of buildings included in the collection – though many are tied by one important identity. VOH Architects worked on buildings of many functions, styles, and preservation needs. While these buildings span the United States, the majority of them are located in Texas. Included are the Governor’s Mansion, the Alamo, the Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch, and the Alexander’s own Battle Hall. I love working with this visual representation of Texas history. Whether it’s by noticing design similarities between county courthouses or the way historic landmarks are used and maintained, the collection is an in-depth look into how architecture shapes our state and its identity.
In my four months of working with this collection, I’ve learned an incredible amount about both the intricacies of born-digital archiving and the breadth of work architects do. Through the frustration of software bugs and the triumph of imaging previously unreadable disks, the VOH is a fascinating collection that provides many learning opportunities.
The next steps of the project are to finalize the creation of a finding aid for these born-digital materials and to determine methods of access once the collection is published. Check back here soon for collection updates and an in-depth look at the world of born-digital archiving at the Alexander Architectural Archives!
Ferris begins the book by providing historical context to better understand the sites he uses as examples in the second part of the book. The historical overview is crucial for making readers understand why the sites Ferris discusses are important and worthy of preservation. The vast majority of the book is spent on the sites themselves, with some attention to what is learned from each one and how it contributes to American history, as in the case of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in Maryland. Ferris gives a broad and short description of the history, as well as explaining the park itself and the surrounding area. Interestingly, Ferris leaves out some important elements from the story of Harpers Ferry: he denounces John Brown as only a man “who conceived himself as an instrument of providence…[and] led a violent raid on the town that helped goad the Nation closer to civil war” (Pg. 162). While what Ferris said isn’t untrue, it leaves out important parts of the story. John Brown did believe he was given divine permission to murder, specifically he believed it was time to bring the struggles over slavery to a head. Brown was, in fact, a fierce abolitionist who then turned to murder to try to achieve his goals. There are some instances like this throughout Founders and Frontiersmen, where Ferris provides his own interpretation without presenting the full story. This is less surprising, especially in the case of Harpers Ferry, when considering the book was published at the height of the Civil Rights Movement and fear of similar violence over race reached a zenith. But overall, Ferris’ overviews are useful and provide that information which best adds to his argument for preservation.
Founders and Frontiersmen makes a compelling argument for the importance of these historic places, and thereby argues effectively for their continued preservation. Ferris provides a fantastic overview, showing that the early United States was chaotic – a young nation finding its way in an experimental form of government, freshly broken away from the superpower of the day. Many colonists fought for independence and the promise of a greater destiny in the American Revolution. Ferris explains how that destiny then translated into the idea of Manifest Destiny: the notion that the United States was meant to expand westward. But despite all this spirit and belief in American greatness, some of the architecture, particularly that of the capital city, is inspired by foreign buildings, a fact which Ferris hints at but never fully states. Greek elements are clear in the Capitol building, as well as in Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Yet there are uniquely American elements to each building, too. The octagonal shape of Monticello is distinctive and representative of Jefferson’s own tastes. How did Americans go about adapting and developing their own architectural styles? Did the idea of Manifest Destiny aid in this? What role did climate, materials, and social needs play in developing frontier architecture? Ferris never satisfactorily answers these questions, and he never fully admits that Americans have a habit of borrowing and building upon the work of others. The idea of democracy itself was originally Greek, but the Founding Fathers adapted it to a new situation; the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution borrowed ideas from British philosophers John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. But in spite of this, no one would say that the Constitution or the Declaration are anything but American documents.
In the popular musical Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton says at one point, “I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy, and hungry, and I’m not throwing away my shot.” Though Hamilton is a piece of historical fiction intended for Broadway, there is some truth to this statement. The Founding Fathers and the frontiersmen had to be, if not young, then at least “scrappy” and “hungry.” These were men who took on the British army and (after many losses) won and then built a nation. Frontiersmen faced harrowing experiences themselves while seeking to fulfill the idea of Manifest Destiny – starvation, an unyielding geography and climate, or Native Americans who were understandably mistrustful of Americans – yet they kept moving West until they hit the Pacific Ocean. The early United States took elements of other nations’ architecture, culture, philosophy, and made it their own, so much so that now democracy, the Capitol, and the frontier house are strongly associated with the narrative of the United States. The Founding Fathers and the frontiersmen refused to throw away their shot: they adapted and created buildings, governments, and ways of thinking about American destiny that, though perhaps not entirely American in origin, are now closely intertwined with the American consciousness. Today, Americans are known for their creativity, tenacity, and innovation, in part because of United States history and belief in itself; contemporary generations have shown themselves to be just as scrappy, just as hungry, and just as unwilling to throw away their shot at shaping the American narrative, landscape, and destiny as those who came before.
First, I would like to call attention to William Allin Storrer’s two new books on Frank Lloyd Wright that just arrived – Frank Lloyd Wright: Creating American Architecture and Frank Lloyd Wright: Designing Democratic America. Storrer notes in both works, “It is, too, a personal memoir and distillation of what my 66 years ‘with Frank Lloyd Wright’ has come to mean to me” (Designing Democratic America, IV; Creating American Architecture, III). Each work focuses on domestic architecture – Creating American Architecture specifically on Wright’s Prairie architecture and Designing Democratic America on his Usonian designs.
Betancur and Smith examine Chicago as a case study for understanding the history and future of neighborhoods. They write:
We argue that current theories – the tools used by academics and policy makers to explain how and why neighborhoods change – limit our ability to interpret what is actually happening while at the same time advancing in a veiled form a specific position or point of view and mandate. In particular, long-standing assumptions about what a neighborhood is and its importance in our lives rely on an image from the past that never existed and ignores or hides the realities on the ground. (pg. vii)
I am particularly excited about Niall Atkinson’s book on Renaissance Florence. While I was not anticipating his work, I find medieval and Renaissance Florence incredibly engaging and it is always one of my favorite sections to teach. I am curious how The Noisy Renaissance will either act as a companion piece to Marvin Trachtenberg’s Dominion of the Eye: Urbanism, Art, and Power in Early ModernFlorence by enhancing our understanding of Renaissance Florence or perhaps challenge Trachtenberg’s interpretation of the city experience. Atkinson writes:
The Renaissance city was by no means a quiet place. In a variety of ways it spoke directly to its inhabitants, who, irresistibly, were drawn to speak back. With its buildings and spaces, walls and gates, doors and windows, it facilitated and obstructed the flow of information, the dissemination of official messages, the telling of stories, the performance of music, the rhythm of prayer, the trade in secrets, and the low-frequency murmur of rumors, lies, and gossip. The built environment was not a stage upon which a discordant urban drama played out, but the very medium that gave that drama form, shaped its meaning, and modulated its towns. The city expressed the most compelling aspects of its design when people danced on its surfaces, crowded its spaces, poked holes in its walls, and upended its hierarchical organizations. And it is through these exchanges that we can learn a great deal not only about how contemporaries understand the buildings and spaces that surrounded them, but how they participated in a collective dialogue that continually reinforced, undermined, and reconfigured architectural meaning (pg. 4).
Explore UT, that carnival of an open house, that invasion of miniature wide eyed students and their exhausted parents, whose scale rivals the world’s fair, will be held on campus one month from today on Saturday March the 5th. In order to do our part to help recruit some new students for the university and the School of Architecture, we at the Architecture and Planning Library have prepared a few quasi educational sideshows. There will be materials for coloring, a game to test your knowledge of fictional architecture, and a clown who will show you how to make a simple book. The activities will be held in the library’s reading room in Battle Hall from 11-5, except the book making which will be held from 12-3. If you don’t care for activities, then the classical beauty and grandeur of Battle Hall should be reason enough to pay us a visit, and should also be far more compelling to an impressionable young student than any game could be. Come explore our library!
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.