Today’s News - Thursday, April 30, 2020
EDITOR'S NOTE: Tomorrow and Monday will be no-newsletter days. We'll be back Tuesday, May 5. In the meantime, we could have filled Today's News with nothing but COVID-19 news - but the weekend is coming, so we decided some diversions would be in order. 'Til then, stay well. Stay safe. Stay in!
● ANN feature: Weinstein cheers Impelluso & Fusaro's "Villas and Gardens of the Renaissance": What better escapist yet relevant book could an architect desire? The splendors of Italian Renaissance architecture illuminate our Dark Age and transform eye candy into brain food.
● On Monday, May 4, 6:30pm EST, Diana Darling and Pratt are hosting an online memorial Bill Menking, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Architect's Newspaper and Pratt professor, with remarks by: Bergdoll, Darling, Hanrahan, Harriss, Iovine, Ivy, Weisz, Wines, and many, many more.
● Belogolovsky's Q&A with Beijing-based Li Hua of TAO (Trace Architecture Office): "I try to find my own path, to establish my own history. It is all about questioning and testing - there will always be new questions and new alternatives."
● A cautionary tale: Zaha Hadid Architects' servers attacked by hackers, who demanded a ransom, but the firm had everything backed up - ZHA "warns other companies that such breaches may become more common with staffs working from home."
● Kimmelman's next 3 virtual tours with exquisite photos by Vincent Tullo (out from behind a paywall!): He tours the sleek "Mad Men"-era buildings of Park Avenue with Annabelle Selldorf: "The Landmarks Preservation Commission can only protect so many buildings, which means some children are left behind, and Union Carbide is one of them. But it's a loss."
● He tours the "Art Deco marvel" that is Rockefeller Center with the historian Daniel Okrent, who wrote a book about it - a floor piped for nitrous oxide, a.k.a. laughing gas "to entice dentists," and how the Rockefellers were "no match for a speakeasy business" included.
● He learns about the "hidden feats that built New York's towering skyscrapers" because of "the ingenuity of structural engineers" from Guy Nordenson, himself one of the best (plan to spend time with all 3 tours!).
Weekend diversions - films, free online + Page-turners:
● Bradshaw parses Moore and Gibbs' "Planet of the Humans" that "takes a pop at green, liberal A-listers" like Al Gore & Bill McKibben as "a pompous and complacent high-priest caste of the environmental movement, who are shilling for a fossil fuel industry that has sneakily taken them over" ("but doesn't dare criticize Greta Thunberg").
● Stokes, who focuses on energy, climate and environmental politics, calls "Planet of the Humans" a "gift to Big Oil - it's a nihilistic take, riddled with errors" and "peddles falsehoods. I will lay out the case for why this film should have stayed on the cutting room floor."
● Milman reports on the climate experts who are consider "Planet of the Humans" to be "dangerous" and "full of misinformation" that "trades in debunked fossil fuel industry talking points" - and want it taken offline (the filmmakers consider it a "full-frontal assault on our sacred cows").
● "A Machine To Live In" is "an impressionistic portrait" of Brasilia that "boasts a wealth of gorgeous visuals" of Niemeyer's "awe-inspiring buildings" and "startlingly conveys the beauty and coldness of these structures, depicting a city both ahead of its time and in disarray."
● Ciampaglia considers "Building Notre Dame" on PBS to be "a welcome distraction in these pandemic times" that "will leave you with a new appreciation for this marvel of engineering, design, and ingenuity," and "inspires hope that this fragile icon will be rebuilt and restored to stand for another 800 years" (with link to full episode).
● The best 22 minutes we've spent in a long time: Buster Keaton in "One Week" (1920) - h/t to Esto's Erica Stoller: "All architects should see this early silent film about a pre-fab house project gone awry - the end is the best part."
● Medina parses Sarkis, Salgueiro Barrio & Kozlowski's tome "The World as an Architectural Project" that "dives into 50 planet-scale proposals from some of the most interesting architectural thinkers of the 20th century. Not content with despoiling cities and landscapes alone, architects would claim the entirety of the planet as their sandbox!"
● Wainwright cheers "Eileen Gray, Designer and Architect," a book about "the design genius who scared the pants off Corbusier," and "reveals how her sensuous, surreal and sometimes mystical work defied categorization and convention."
● Welton's Q&A with Stoppard, who "offers the promise of sunshine and youth" in "Pools": "What could be more appealing in a time of pandemic than a leisurely tour of the world of summer and swimming pools?" (luscious images!).
● Mortice reports on "The Landscape Architect's Guidelines for Construction Contract Administration Services" - the "long-planned guide" is "the result of input from many landscape architects."
COVID-19 news continues
● Yale's Phil Bernstein: "It's too early to be making nuanced arguments about the future. So, here are 10 first thoughts about how our profession may be impacted, and potentially transformed."
● Lubell parses how "past pandemics changed the design of cities," and offers "6 ways COVID-19 could do the same. Let's learn from this tragedy. Let's find the silver lining" (and he does).
● Adele Peters gets Mike Lydon's take on "how cities are reshaping streets to prepare for life after lockdown," from Milan, Berlin, and Paris, to Brussels, Budapest, and Oakland, California.
● Russell on MASS Design Group's project to adapt NYC's Mount Sinai Hospital "on the fly - to protect health workers as rooms and suites were drastically transformed" - and now "an online case study, available for free - architects are beginning to assemble a roadmap to the future as health care runs as fast as it can into uncharted territory."
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ANN feature: Norman Weinstein: Book Review: "Villas and Gardens of the Renaissance" by Lucia Impelluso with photography by Dario Fusaro: What better escapist yet relevant book could an architect desire? The splendors of Italian Renaissance architecture illuminate our Dark Age and transform eye candy into brain food.- ArchNewsNow.com
Online Memorial for Professor William (Bill) Menking, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Architect’s Newspaper and Professor at Pratt Institute School of Architecture. May 4th at 6:30 PM (EST), live-streamed via Facebook. Remarks by: Barry Bergdoll, Diana Darling, Thomas Hanrahan, Harriet Harriss, Julie Iovine, Robert Ivy, Rob Rogers, Joel Sanders, Ken Saylor, Michael Webb, Claire Weisz, James Wines, etc.- Pratt Institute School of Architecture
Vladimir Belogolovsky: “I See My Work as Autobiographical”:Q&A with Li Hua of TAO [Trace Architecture Office]: "I try to find my own path, to establish my own history." What would you say are the main intentions of your architecture? "I don’t start my designs with preconceptions. It is all about questioning and testing." What new questions would you raise? "For me, the new question is always this - Then what? What is next? What are our limits? ...we will never be satisfied because there will always be new questions and new alternatives." -- Universal Architecture Studio (UAS); Yung Ho Chang- ArchDaily
Hackers Broke Into Zaha Hadid Architects’ Servers and Demanded Ransom for the Return of Stolen Data: The firm warns other companies that such breaches may become more common with staffs working from home: Fortunately, the security breach was less serious than it could have been, as the stolen data had been previously backed up.- artnet News
Michael Kimmelman: Classic Skyscrapers Define New York. Take a Virtual Tour: The epitome of the ‘Mad Men’ era, the sleek midcentury buildings of Park Avenue glimmer. Our critic strolls with Annabelle Selldorf: She proposed we “meet”...on the pink granite plaza in front of the Seagram Building..."The Landmarks Preservation Commission can only protect so many buildings, which means some children are left behind, and Union Carbide is one of them. But it’s a loss...Citicorp Center..." that awkward, 45-degree angle on the skyline and that crazy cantilever. I still find the gesture of the angle loud and brash." -- Selldorf Architects; Mies van der Rohe; Philip Johnson; Walter Gropius; Pietro Belluschi; Emery Roth & Sons; Gordon Bunshaft/Natalie Griffin de Blois/Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM); Norman Foster; William LeMessurier; Hugh Stubbins; Hideo Sasaki- New York Times
Michael Kimmelman: Rockefeller Center’s Art Deco Marvel: A Virtual Tour: When the complex opened in the 1930s, some mocked it. Now it’s a symbol of New York’s glory. Our critic chats with the historian Daniel Okrent: Okrent happens to have written the book on Rockefeller Center: “Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center.” He suggested we “meet” on Fifth Avenue, between 49th and 50th Streets, at the entrance to the Channel Gardens...what happened with the triumphal boulevard? "No matter how powerful the Rockefellers were, in the end even they were no match for the speakeasy business." -- Raymond Hood; Edward Durell Stone; Donald Deskey- New York Times
Michael Kimmelman: The Hidden Feats That Built New York’s Towering Skyscrapers: The ingenuity of engineers helped build landmarks like Black Rock and the new supertalls...a virtual tour with Guy Nordenson: ...structural engineers, practical poets of often towering imagination and import, have figured out how to scale those heights. "For me, Seagram is the most remarkable high-rise in New York...Fred Severud...The most creative engineer of his time...Structurally, Black Rock is an important precursor to the Twin Towers." -- Isamu Noguchi; Buckminster Fuller; Eero Saarinen; Eero Saarinen; Phyllis Lambert; Mies van der Rohe; Philip Johnson John Burgee; Charles Luckman; McKim, Mead & White; Frank Kornacker; Paul Weidlinger; Leslie Robertson; Rafael Viñoly; Ahmad Rahimian/WSP; Bill Baker/SOM- New York Times
Peter Bradshaw: "Planet of the Humans" - contrarian eco-doc from the Michael Moore stable: Jeff Gibbs’ film...takes a pop at green, liberal A-listers such as Al Gore - but doesn’t dare criticise Greta Thunberg: Bill McKibben, Van Jones, Robert F Kennedy Jr are attacked...as a pompous and complacent high-priest caste of the environmental movement, who are shilling for a fossil fuel industry that has sneakily taken them over...makes a refreshingly sceptical case...suggesting that unfettered capitalism...is also what is leading us to the cliff edge...Most chillingly of all...appears to suggest that there is no cure for any of this...a little lamely...has no clear lesson or moral, other than the need to take a fiercely critical look at the environmental establishment. Well, it’s always valuable to re-examine a sacred cow.- Guardian (UK)
Leah C. Stokes: Michael Moore produced a film about climate change that’s a gift to Big Oil: "Planet of the Humans" deceives viewers about clean energy and climate activists: The film...is not the climate message we’ve all been waiting for - it’s a nihilistic take, riddled with errors about clean energy and climate activism. With very little evidence, it claims that renewables are disastrous and that environmental groups are corrupt...Given the film’s loose relationship to facts, I’m not even sure it should be classified as a documentary...it peddles falsehoods...As a scholar...I will lay out the case for why this film should have stayed on the cutting room floor. -- Josh Fox- Vox.com
Oliver Milman: Climate experts call for 'dangerous' Michael Moore film to be taken down: "Planet of the Humans"...is ‘full of misinformation’ says one distributor: ...documentary that takes aim at the supposed hypocrisy of the green movement is...Describing itself as a “full-frontal assault on our sacred cows”, the film argues that electric cars and solar energy are unreliable and rely upon fossil fuels... has provoked a furious reaction from scientists and campaigners...“trades in debunked fossil fuel industry talking points”...Climate activist Bill McKibben, one of the targets for the film: “I am used to ceaseless harassment and attack from the fossil fuel industry...It does hurt more to be attacked by others who think of themselves as environmentalists.”- Guardian (UK)
"A Machine To Live In": Brasilia, through the highly-subjective lens of Yoni Goldstein and Meredith Zielke: ...an impressionistic portrait that evokes the city’s spiritual character - an ambitious undertaking...a generally wandering, meandering air. The result is a fitfully fascinating abstraction that requires patience...hybrid documentary boasts a wealth of gorgeous visuals - many of them courtesy of...awe-inspiring buildings... [it] caters to those who enjoy a little cinematic provocation...startlingly conveys the beauty and coldness of these structures, depicting a city both ahead of its time and in disarray...there’s something entrancing...Visions du Réel Festival, thru May 2 -- Oscar Niemeyer- Screen Daily / Screen International
Dante A. Ciampaglia: "Building Notre Dame" Premieres on PBS: A chance to virtually visit the world’s most famous Gothic cathedral - and see how it was created - is a welcome distraction in these pandemic times...touches on the 2019 fire in its opening and final moments...will leave you with a new appreciation for this marvel of engineering, design, and ingenuity. And it inspires hope that this fragile icon will be rebuilt and restored to stand for another 800 years. -- Eugène Viollet-le-Duc; Philippe Villeneuve; Ken Follett- Architectural Record
Buster Keaton in "One Week" (1920, 22 min.): Buster and Sybil exit a chapel as newlyweds. Among the gifts is a portable house you easily put together in one week.- Internet Archive
Samuel Medina: Is No Problem Too Big for Architects to Tackle? "The World as an Architectural Project" dives into 50 planet-scale proposals from some of the most interesting architectural thinkers of the 20th century: To the bien-pensant commentator...contemporary architecture is an implacable force of banalization, and [the book] would seem to play right into this characterization: Not content with despoiling cities and landscapes alone, architects would claim the entirety of the planet as their sandbox!...according to Hashim Sarkis and Roi Salgueiro Barrio with Gabriel Kozlowski, derives its cohesion from two prompts: “What does architecture do for the world? And...what does the world do for architecture?”- Metropolis Magazine
Oliver Wainwright: A €22m chair? Eileen Gray, the design genius who scared the pants off Corbusier: Her ravishing interiors shocked Paris, thrilled the avant-garde and gave the world its most expensive chair. But the fast-living aristocrat wasn’t just overlooked - Le Corbusier actually vandalised her work naked: "Eileen Gray, Designer and Architect" a substantial new book...published to accompany the exhibition t the Bard Graduate Center Gallery in New York...paints a complex picture of Gray...as a creator of strange, haunting interiors, unrealised designs of housing for the homeless and the author of an animal-themed ballet...[book] reveals how her sensuous, surreal and sometimes mystical work defied categorisation and convention...she spent the 1930s and 40s designing unrealised hypothetical projects, mostly public...all driven by a desire to extend the privileged domain of architecture to the many...If only she’d had more chances to realise them.- Guardian (UK)
J. Michael Welton: Picturing Life at the Swimming Pool: What could be more appealing in a time of pandemic than a leisurely tour of the world of summer and swimming pools? ...Lou Stoppard offers the promise of sunshine and youth in...“Pools,” along with some of the best swimming-pool photography possible - some of it reaching back to the 1930s.- Architects + Artisans
Zach Mortice: Build it Right: "The Landscape Architect’s Guidelines for Construction Contract Administration Services": A long-planned guide on construction documents for landscape architects is aimed at experienced and emerging professionals alike... the result of input from many landscape architects- Landscape Architecture Magazine / American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA)
Phil Bernstein Shares Ten Thoughts on the Future of Practice: It’s too early to be making nuanced arguments about the future...So, here are 10 first thoughts about how our profession may be impacted, and potentially transformed...Choose two or three as prompts to consider the future once the crisis has passed...The duration and depth of the downturn will determine the potency of the ideas suggested [here]. -- Yale School of Architecture- Architectural Record
Sam Lubell: Past pandemics changed the design of cities. Six ways COVID-19 could do the same: It’s shaking loose notions of what is “normal” in a field still employing many of the same techniques it did a century ago. And it’s pushing forward promising but still emerging currents, from prefabrication to telecommuting...Let’s learn from this tragedy. Let’s find the silver lining. -- modular construction; adaptive reuse; lightweight fabric construction; Healthy Building Movement; The town square, reconsidered- Los Angeles Times
Adele Peters: How cities are reshaping streets to prepare for life after lockdown: How to prepare for a future where people can’t crowd into trains and buses? Make sure you get more bikers - not more drivers: Milan is beginning to transform 22 miles of local streets, adding temporary bike lanes and wider sidewalks...In Berlin, some parking spots have also become pop-up bike lanes. Paris is fast-tracking long-distance bike lanes that connect suburbs to the city center...Brussels city center will become a priority zone for people on bikes and on foot...if subways and buses can’t be as full as usual...biking and walking will need to fill the gap. But it’s also a way to accelerate plans to cut car use that were already underway.. -- Mike Lydon/Street Plans- Fast Company
James S. Russell: MASS Design Group Offers Guidance for Adapting Hospitals on the Fly: Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan engaged Boston’s MASS and Ariadne Labs...Their task was to protect health workers...as rooms and suites were drastically transformed...MASS has now released “Redesigning Hospital Spaces on the Fly to Protect Health Workers” (PDF), an online case study of Mount Sinai’s response, available for free to all...focuses...on helping caregivers find their way through bafflingly labyrinthine environments temporarily configured to isolate those exposed or infected...architects are beginning to assemble a roadmap to the future as health care runs as fast as it can into uncharted territory. -- Michael Murphy; Atul Gawande- Architectural Record
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