Out from the Master's shadow: Just as Alvar Aalto pioneered a softer, less severe form of Modernism, a young Finnish firm innovates with social spaces that point a library addition—and a small town—in the direction of the future.
Designing an addition to an Alvar Aalto building is hard enough—try doing it with five other Aalto structures hovering nearby, in a Finnish town whose identity has been indelibly linked to the master since the 1960s.
Odile Decq and Thom Mayne Watching the presentations at this year’s Monterey Design Conference in northern California, attendees got a multiple-image portrait of architecture in the early 21st century. Elegant buildings with refined details alternated with exuberant installations that relied on digital know-how and student labor. Snapshots from Arkansas, Minnesota, and California appeared between reports from France, Japan, and Brazil. And a tribal elder told stories of working with Louis Kahn, as newer members of the profession listened raptly. More than 600 people gathered at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove at the end of September for the event,
Architects Hitoshi Abe and Peter Ebner help 3M rethink the way its employees work, taking the company and its headquarters on a journey from the past to the future. More than just Post-it notes and Scotch tape, 3M produces a vast array of items—electronic stethoscopes, solar mirror films, abrasives—and likes to think of itself as an innovative company. But until recently, its headquarters in St. Paul was stuck in the 1970s, its offices a throwback to an era when you programmed a computer with punch cards and used a slide carousel for presentations. This time warp separating appearance and reality
By Vishaan Chakrabarti. Metropolis Books, 2013, 252 pages, $30. Bright Lights, Big Cities Architect, planner, and one-time developer Vishaan Chakrabarti asks us to imagine a United States in which government invests in high-speed trains linking high-density cities and does not subsidize suburban sprawl. He admits this sounds a bit naive in an era of political paralysis and at a time when the middle class and wealthy—no matter their political affiliation—enjoy perks like the mortgage-interest deduction that help perpetuate the status quo. But he builds his argument with straightforward prose and lots of easy-to-read charts and graphs. Hyper-dense cities are more
By Brian Lutz. Pointed Leaf Press, November 2012, 224 pages, $85. This is a book on the model of Marilyn and John Neuhart’s The Story of Eames Furniture (Gestalten, 2010). It shares with that two-volume set an agenda—an emphasis on process and manufacturing—and a large size (14.2 by 11.8 inches) that does neither the reader nor the illustrations great service. Eero Saarinen: Furniture for Everyman, by Brian Lutz. Pointed Leaf Press, November 2012, 224 pages, $85. First, the agenda. Lutz, a former Knoll associate, argues in his introduction that Saarinen’s furniture has never attracted the same scholarly interest as his
EcoArchitecture: The Work of Ken Yeang, by Sara Hart. John Wiley & Sons, 2011, 272 pages, $75. WOHA: Selected Projects, Volume 1, by Patrick Bingham-Hall. Pesaro Publishing, 2011, 280 pages, $65. In the present environment of instant communications and global architectural practices, the swirl of influences between East and West is as dynamic and complex as the trade winds that blow between continents. This pair of publications, EcoArchitecture, The Work of Ken Yeang, by Sara Hart, and WOHA: Selected Projects Volume 1, by Patrick Bingham-Hall, captures the complexity and promise of this moment. WOHA: Selected Projects, Volume 1, by Patrick
This Trey Trahan-designed 28,000-square-foot building, set in the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase, aims to resolve a number of conflicting demands—bringing contemporary design to a historic context and finding a common language for a program that involves both a history museum and a sports hall of fame. In deference to its neighbors on Natchitoches’ main public square, the $12.6-million museum maintains the area’s two-story scale and wraps itself in a louvered copper rainscreen that alludes to the shaded porches of Creole architecture. The architects pinched the copper louvers at various locations to create a pleated effect that animates the