Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks, edited by Donald Albrecht and Andrew S. Dolkart. Photographic portfolios by Iwan Baan. The Monacelli Press, 2015, 208 pages, $50.
Filled with Iwan Baan's people-centric photographs of New York City's five boroughs and his famous helicopter aerials, Saving Place celebrates the 50th anniversary of the New York City Landmarks Law. “Much of what we love about New York today we owe to the law and its administering body,” writes Robert A.M. Stern in the introduction. With archival photographs, too, the book narrates the preservation movement, from its origins to its later successes and failures. A case study dives into the historic-district designation of Bedford-Stuyvesant, a mostly African-American neighborhood in Brooklyn. But given the impact that the law has had on other cities across the country, the entire book serves as a case study. As the director of the preservation program at Columbia, Andrew S. Dolkart, and his coeditor Donald Albrecht, a respected design curator, are the ideal team for this project.
Hawaiian Modern: The Architecture of Vladimir Ossipoff, edited by Dean Sakamoto with Karla Britton and Diana Murphy. Honolulu Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2015, 304 pages, $45.
In his forward to the first book to focus on Vladimir Ossipoff (1907–98), the “master of Hawaiian architecture,” Kenneth Frampton writes: “We may take it that finding himself in an offshore paradise in a far-flung imperial fragment that was more or less unspoiled, Ossipoff decided, however unconsciously, that the role of the architect was to facilitate and refine the natural, unpretentious requirements of a colonial society as directly as possible, in a climate that, apart from tropical downpours, was benevolent the year round.” The Siberian-born Ossipoff grew up in Japan and received his architecture degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1931, but Hawaii was the beneficiary of his 67-year-long career. There he became known for residences, public commissions, and corporate projects with a mix of modern and Japanese elements that became his own brand of tropical regionalism. Many of them rarely needed air-conditioning. As tourism became a driving economic engine on the islands, Ossipoff took a stand against overdevelopment. This book, a companion to an exhibition, features in-depth studies of Ossipoff's design approach, and is richly illustrated with black-and-white photographs as well as an evocative color portfolio by Victoria Sambunaris.
The Japanese House Reinvented, by Philip Jodidio. The Monacelli Press, 2015, 304 pages, $60.
Readers of architecture blogs (and this magazine) will be familiar with many of the often diminutive houses featured in The Japanese House Reinvented, but writer Philip Jodidio—who traveled in Japan to see the featured projects and meet designers—places the 50-odd structures in their rightful context. Extreme density, the threat of natural disasters, a love of kitsch as well as simplicity, and laws pertaining to access of natural light all have a role in sculpting the orderly jumble of Japanese houses. With each house, whether by Shigeru Ban, Atelier Bow-Wow, Tadao Ando, or Jun Igarashi, Jodidio explains materials, site, programmatic needs, and challenges faced by the architects or clients. Roughly three pages are devoted to each project, accompanied by large photographs and an explanatory drawing or two. Though the result is an inspiring encyclopedia of ideas, one wishes that more space could be devoted to a deeper analysis of some of the unique forms and sites.
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