Tag Archives: construction

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.

Books of the Trade

Valentin Biston. Nouveau manuel complet du charpentier, ou, Traité simplifié de cet art : suivi d’un petit traité de géométrie descriptive renfermant la solution des problèmes dont on fait le plus fréquemment usage / par MM. Biston et Hanus ; avec une introduction et un appendice par C. BoutereauParis: Librairie encyclopédique de Roret, 1861 (1865 printing). 

Batty and Thomas Langley. The Builder’s Jewel: or, The Youth’s Instructor and Workman’s Remembrancer. London: J. Tiranti [1928] (originally published 1741).

Today I wanted to share two well used books I found in Special Collections. The first is a handbook on carpentry written by  Valentin Biston and published in 1861.  The text includes chapters on the elements of geometry, types of trees, theories of force, construction, and tools & instruments. It concludes with an appendix to include numerous plates and a glossary.

The second is a collection of plates by Batty and Thomas Langley, originally published in 1741 but reprinted again in 1928. According to Thomas Langley, the book was intended as a pocket guide for the job site:

Notwithstanding there are many Volumes already extant, on the Subject of Architecture; yet as not one of them are made a fit size for the Pocket; and it being an Impossibility for the general Part of Workmen to retain and carry in their Minds, all the useful Rules and Proportions, by which Works in general are performed: I have therefore at the Request of many good Workmen, and for the Sake of young Students, compil’d this work; wherein I have reduced the whole of such short and easy Rules, that the Workman not only at his first view, renew his Memory, as Occasions may require, but Apprentices, who may be absolutely unacquainted with this noble Art… (Introduction)

A previous owner of this edition appears to have made well use of The Builder’s Jewel and Treasury. On front endpapers, he has pasted in his own drawing, entitled “Improved Compass Spiral Volute”. Furthermore the plates appear to have been set out of order and do not match the list in the Table of Contents. Someone has renumbered the illustration list to correspond to the order of the plates.

New Books at the Architecture & Planning Library: Tradition and Modern Design

This week we have many inspiring and intriguing new books at the Architecture & Planning Library. Fall is a time of transition, which might be why I was drawn to books about reworking traditional design and materials to create something modern. These are some of my favorites from the New Books table:

Here, there, everywhere edited by Renny Ramakers and Agata Jaworska is a compilation of 16 projects by design company Droog  in locations ranging from the Canadian Arctic to the deserts of Dubai.  The book includes realistic and purely imaginative projects that address economic, social, and ecological issues at a local level.  Content includes essays, conversations and talks accompanied by photos and illustrations.

Holz = Wood: best of Detail edited by Christian Schittich discusses theory and knowledge about the use of wood as a modern construction material. This book contains thirty case studies of interior and exterior construction projects using wood as the primary design element. Projects are beautifully documented with photographs, floor plans, and cross section drawings.

Village Textures edited by András Palffy documents the concepts and designs of an international study-group on the development of historical village structures in Eastern Austria. Participants planned the addition of thirty housing units for seven sites to test strategies to counter urban sprawl in villages. Photographs and information about the villages are followed by multiple models and site plans.

*Clicking the title of any book in this post will link you directly to the library catalog.

New Books at the Architecture & Planning Library: System Structures, Engineering, and Construction

To paraphrase Larry Speck’s address at the opening of the exhibit “To Know a Building” at the Architecture and Planning Library reading room last week: A great building doesn’t just spring complete from the mind of the architect; it’s creation depends on the collaboration and work of a great team  that includes engineers, construction teams, building managers and clients. Some interesting new books at the Architecture & Planning Library this week focus on this collaborative process of the realization of architectural design.

Architectural System Structures: Integrating design complexity in industrialised construction by Kasper Sánchez Vibaek proposes a system structure in architectural design based on the use of flexible constituent elements (determined by what the current and future building industry is capable of producing) to make decisions about the assemblage of a building.

Collaborations in Architecture and Engineering by Clare Olsen and Sinéad Mac Namara focuses on team-building and problem solving between architects and engineers. The authors, an architect and an engineer with extensive teaching experience, use case studies to discuss architect and engineer collaborations that show how to solve real-world problems and engage creatively with technological challenges.

1 Angel Square by Len Grant documents the construction process of an iconic new building in Manchester, England. The author includes interviews with the project team (clients, architects, engineers, and builders) along side photographs documenting the process from the archeological dig of the site before construction began, to the completed stucture in use.

*Clicking the title of any book in this post will link you directly to the library catalog.

Feature Friday: Rural Studio at Twenty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Call Number: NA 2300 A9 F74 2014

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

New Arrival: Flexible Composite Materials

In our flurry of interior design-centric posts these past few weeks, we lost sight of one of the coolest features of  the Architecture & Planning Library: the NEW BOOKS TABLE! As someone who frequently makes impulse purchases of books over fashion (seriously – my roommate was totally confused by the three boxes of books that arrived in one week, and equally confused by my uncontrollable excitement), few things make me happier than a table full of new opportunities for discovery.

In one of my courses, we’ve spent a number of weeks documenting campus buildings and figuring out exactly how their components work together to form a both a functional and beautiful architectural system. This has rekindled my awareness of one of the reasons architecture fascinates me so much: how in the world does it work?

In a new book called Flexible Composite Materials in Architecture, Construction and Interiors, the behind-the-scenes is revealed for built projects around the globe that employ complex textile membranes as major design features. The book is divided into three sections: textile materials and their properties; materials and their uses in architecture, interior design, solar protection, and facade treatments; and various examples of applications with a series of select projects in countries ranging from Switzerland to Saudi Arabia.

This book starts by addressing exactly how textile membranes are engineered, delving into fiber recycling and the principles of load analysis, cable tension, curvature, and more. The steps involved in realizing intended forms are explained with a high degree of clarity, boiling down the processes of solving complex equations and making underlying concepts accessible by anyone. (I sent a few snippets of text to a friend who works as a structural engineer, and even he said that the descriptions were more clear than some of his former textbooks; I’ll take his word on that!). I especially appreciate this insight into manufacturing details, as many texts that highlight architecture projects tend to pass the early phases up in favor of more impressive photographs of the end result. In my opinion, the design process is just as interesting as the final product.

Featured applications include bicycle shelters, major athletic stadiums, pop-up exhibition and performance spaces, building cladding, external branding, solar protection through translucent panels, and much more. The text mentions that textile research closely observes our natural environment, and has the opportunity to evolve from being our second skin to “our building’s second skin”, all while being protective AND visually inspiring. This concept lines up with architecturally-related sustainability ventures that are consistently being pursued around the world today.

If you’re like me and easily fascinated by feats of architecture and construction, or interested in the research of new materials that contribute to breakthroughs in the fields of sustainability or structural engineering, I highly recommend immersing yourself in the processes and results outlined in this book. If anything, it will really make you want to attend a major European soccer game – those stadiums are out of control!

Call Number: NA 4160 F59 2013

Check out more new available books on our Recent Arrivals Feed.

Wait – a Library Isn’t Just a Library?

Many students perceive a library solely as place to read, study, or perform research for their school-assigned projects. As an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I shared this sentiment; I rarely encountered projects in my specific courses that required me to do extensive research, and so the stacks that surrounded me while I studied and wrote papers went largely unnoticed.

Now, as a first-year UT graduate student and Graduate Research Assistant at the Architecture & Planning Library, I feel like I am getting a second opportunity to explore the riches that lie within the walls of a library. In some ways, I almost feel like many of the undergraduates using the library for the first time: in awe and slightly overwhelmed at the sheer amount of information that’s accessible. How had I never come across or searched on my own for a goldmine like this before?

My first stop in my exploratory journey to better familiarize myself with the Architecture & Planning Library was only a few feet to the right of the circulation desk: the New Books table. This table is full of recently published, newly purchased books, which are updated on most Tuesdays. Martha, the Architecture and Planning Librarian (if you haven’t met her before, absolutely seek her out – she’s an amazing resource!), instructed me to pick out whatever looked interesting. As I sifted through books ranging from The Collected Letters of A. W. N. Pugin to Europe’s Changing Geography, I settled upon a clean, white, modern-looking hardcover, whose spine was simply adorned with the word “Architecture” in pale blue text.

I had ended up selecting volume one of four in a series entitled Meuser Architekten / Building and Projects 1995-2010, written by the principals of Mueser Architekten, a comprehensive design firm based in Berlin, Germany, with work done across the world.  Volume one focuses on Architecture, as expected; the other three encompass Interior Design, Diplomatic Missions, and Exhibitions/Signage.

Meuser Architekten / Building and Projects 1995-2010 - DOM Publishers

Mueser Architekten: Architecture offers valuable insights into the philosophy and influences behind the firm’s modern design practice in Europe and Asia, focusing on three topics: urban construction, prefabrication, and conservation. In addition to summaries, photographs, and drawings of both their built and conceptual work, the Mueser principals preface each topic with beautifully arranged and thoughtful essays commenting on how they perceive their world, all while bringing in personal anecdotes and discourse from other experts in the field. Their written work touches on hot topics such as new construction materials, sustainability, the goals of modern architecture practice, conservation rationales and their morality, and more – and keep in mind, this is just volume one of four!

Architecture is a fascinating profession in the sense that it’s a career of continuous learning. Being versed in architectural history is imperative to its practice, yet history is also being written as we speak by today’s practitioners. Year after year, the field of architecture and design is always full of new interpretations, goals, conditions, perceptions of beauty and form; it’s never a static field, and that is certainly part of its draw.

It’s incredible how insight into professional practice and theory can influence your own design thinking and standards. Bold claims on new or controversial topics can help you develop your own personal design ethos, which has the potential to define you throughout your entire career. Mueser Architekten’s volume set offers up such claims, and whether or not you agree with all of them (I certainly didn’t!), they stimulate thinking through articulate and conversational writing. For example:

Truly modern construction methods must address the deficits of previous generations of builders and continue to spin the thread of history rather than scheming to come up with sensational architectural gimmicks. There is more at stake than who gets to appear on the covers of glossy magazines. (V.1, p. 42)

Clear claims such as these are found woven into each essay, and all of them made me consider both specific trends as well as the bigger picture of modern architecture as it’s practiced today. And to think, my total mind journey started just by picking up a book on a table that I’d never seen before – who would have thought?

As a newcomer to this library and university, my advice to all users of the Architecture & Planning Library is to explore beyond its preconceived boundaries. Bored with your assigned reading or struggling to make headway on your paper? Head to the New Books table or even the stacks. Pick out something that catches your eye. It just may end up being a source of inspiration.

Interested in reading the title discussed above?
Meuser Architekten GmbH. Meuser Architekten: Buildings and Projects 1995-2010. Berlin: DOM Publishers, 2011.
Here is the Library of Congress Call Number: NA 200 M48 2011 (click on the link to check its availability status)

For a list of recent Architecture & Planning Library arrivals over the past few weeks, please visit our Recent Arrivals feed.

Franzosische Architektur-und Stadtebau-Ausstellung

Perret, August, José Imbert, Le Corbusier, and André Lurçat. Französische Architektur- und Stadetbau-Ausstellung, 1948/1949. Greiser: Rastatt, 1948

In 1948 and 1949, the French Bureau de l’Expansion Artistique Commandement en Chef Francais en Allemagne sponsored a traveling exhibition of French architecture in Germany. Produced through the participation of “Technique et Architecture” editor-in-chief André Bouxin, the complementary Französische Architektur- und Stadetbau-Ausstellung, 1948/1949 documents the full scope of the exhibition which examined French architecture from the medieval period forward focusing specifically on contemporary design and construction practices. The catalog includes a number of photographs of buildings, construction details, models and plans as well as essay contributions from well known architects including Le Corbusier and August Perret who celebrate the architectural practice and discuss the responsibilities of the profession in the contemporary era.

 

Library of Congress call number: NA 1041 G476 P477

The Artists’ Society’s Pugin

Pugin, Augustus Welby. Details of Ancient Timber Houses of the 15th & 16th Centuries: Selected from Those Existing at Rouen, Caen, Beauvais, Gisors, Abbeville, Strasbourg. London: Ackermann, 1836.

In 1836, Augustus Pugin, England’s renowned Neo-Gothic architect, completed a series of studies that document French timber architecture from the 15th and 16th centuries. “Drawn on the spot and etched” in Rouen, Caen, Beauvais, Gisors, Abbeville, Strasbourg and more, these sketches and etchings largely record timber design details on architectural elements embellishing pubs, manor houses, churches–largely vernacular architecture. From time to time, Pugin sees fit to establish scale and even intimate construction technique. However, as a source, Pugin’s studies tell us more about iconography than construction practices.

Notably, our copy of Pugin’s Details of Ancient Timber Houses of the 15th & 16th Centuries once belonged to the Langham Sketching Society, one of London’s artist collectives which became so popular in the 19th century and an important precursor to the establishment of true professional societies. The circulation manifesto appears fixed to the book’s front binder and establishes basic circulation practices. Interestingly, these “bye-laws” also provide some insight into the activities of the society–“All Costumes or draperies must be returned on the Saturday evening before the Monday on which the draped figure is to be set.”

Library of Congress call number: NA 1042 P755