While all buildings are subject to the decay and ruin brought by time, historian Daniel Abramson is concerned in this book with a different culprit: obsolescence, or the process of becoming “obsolete.”
The impending renovation of the 1967 Ford Foundation headquarters in Manhattan presents an unusual dilemma: the very elements that distinguish this landmark of Midcentury Modern architecture are those that threaten it.
By Stephen Cairns and Jane M. Jacobs. MIT Press, April 2014, 298 pages, $33. Everything Falls Apart There's something funny about architectural theory. It takes the building—one of the heaviest and most solid artifacts of human production—and evacuates it of any relation to the physical world. Houses cease to be made up of two-by-fours and vinyl siding and become ethereal conduits for spatial memory. Bricks and stone are obsessed over for their psychic weight, but little effort is made to understand how a wall is constructed, or the tortuous paths of a material to the construction site. Buildings Must Die
By Witold Rybczynski, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October 2013, 368 pages, $27. Sense and Sensibility in Design Today At several points throughout his new book, Witold Rybczynski invokes Steen Eiler Rasmussen's classic text Experiencing Architecture (1959). Rybczynski, until recently professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has served as an architectural critic for an array of publications. When he studied architecture in the late 1960s at McGill University, he tells us one of his teachers was a Rasmussen disciple. In How Architecture Works: A Humanist's Toolkit, Rybczynski follows faithfully the central tenets of his predecessor. Both books organize architectural design into
By Rowan Moore. Harper Design, August 2013, 400 pages, $30. The View From Across the Pond As he indicates in the title of his new book, British architecture critic Rowan Moore sets out to joust with Big Questions. What is the relationship between political and economic power and architectural patronage? How does active human desire translate into the latent desires embedded in architectural space? What is the relationship between the longing for home and the urge to wander? In addressing these concerns, Moore revels in ambiguities, selecting examples to support widely differing interpretations. Drawing mostly from the 20th century, he
By Anthony Vidler. The Monacelli Press, 2011, 368 pages, $50 Some first impressions about this new collection of old essays by Anthony Vidler are misleading. The title, for instance, The Scenes of the Street, and the city plan on the cover indicate a broad coverage of topics regarding the city. In fact, two thirds of the book is dedicated to Paris and most of that to Paris before the turn of the 20th century. Those essays that do not deal with Paris directly are mostly concerned with theories created by 19th century French male architects, authors, and humanists. Vidler’s texts
The Trenton Bath House, just restored by Farewell Mills Gatsch, respects Louis Kahn’s original design, even if his full vision remains unrealized. To many architects, Louis Kahn’s 1955 Trenton Bath House in Ewing, New Jersey, just restored by Farewell Mills Gatsch Architects (FMG), exudes everything that worked in 20th-century architecture. This concise design for the Jewish Community Center in a Trenton suburb engages in a thoughtful dialogue with history using modest materials. But the Bath House also is a disappointment. It began crumbling soon after completion, and Kahn’s larger civic vision for the site proved too idealized for the clients
The American Institute of Architects has announced the 18 winners of the 2010 Housing Awards. Now in its tenth year, the awards program recognizes exemplary residential design and promotes "the importance of good housing," according to the AIA. Awards were bestowed in four categories—one/two family custom housing, one/two family production housing, multifamily living, and special housing. Diamond Project; San Francisco Click on the slide show icon to see additional photos. Related Links: RECORD Houses 2010RECORD Houses 2009AIA 2009 Housing Awards Members of this year’s jury were: Jury Chair Andrew V. Porth, AIA, of Porth Architects; Jane Kolleeny of Architectural Record