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Wednesday, May 28, 2008


posted by on May 28 at 11:45 AM


At the top of this hospital in Amsterdam is a kinderstad, a “children’s town,” a "place where children between 4 and 18 years old being treated in the medical centre can meet with family and relax outside of the hospital environment." For reasons that I will not explore in this post, the high location of the glass and titanium structure, and its sad function, has echoes with this passage from Eliot's "Burnt Norton":

The surface glittered out of heart of light, And they were behind us, reflected in the pool. Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty. Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children, Hidden excitedly, containing laughter. Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind Cannot bear very much reality.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Good South Africa

posted by on May 20 at 10:21 AM

South African architect Zenkaya designed these prefab homes.

Woza friday/
Friday my darling/
Woza friday/
Friday my sweetheart.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Ghost of a Building

posted by on May 16 at 11:26 AM

I'm not a big fan of Steven Holl...
AmazingMuseumArchitectureKansasCity.jpg ...but I'm enchanted by the image. The work, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Henry Bloch Building, is in Kansas City.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Re: The Engineer of Human Souls

posted by on May 14 at 3:11 PM

Err, the engineer of certain human souls...


Steve Saroff.

The Engineer of Human Souls

posted by on May 14 at 1:23 PM

Motherland-Kiev.jpg "Les nuages ... les merveilleux nuages."

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Death of Happy House

posted by on May 9 at 11:29 AM

It's old news...
...but it's still a lovely work.

Erwin Wurm's "House attack" on the MUMOK says everything that needs to be said about that kind of house and the values it represents.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Seattle Vs. Dubai

posted by on May 8 at 1:24 PM

Last year, Seattle-based Mithun Architects designed the Center for Urban Agriculture, tailor made for a site on 9th Avenue and Olive Way downtown. “We wanted to demonstrate that a project of this type is feasible in a downtown setting,” says Mithun’s Bonnie Duncan. Behold, a vertical farm for the city.



Fantastic, is it not?

Each residential unit is retrofitted from a combination of two or three recycled shipping containers to create studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments. The CUA employs a “shelf system” within its superstructure to speed construction time through off-site assembly and crane erection techniques.

The CUA reintroduces 1.35 acres of native habitat, farmland and community gathering space to its urban environment. Birds, insects and native plants would inhabit the 22,000 square feet of planters and upper terraces. The use of native plants increases the variety of insects that support the food chain. For example, maple trees support 18 species of insects while native oaks support 1,800 species of insects. The goal is to increase biodiversity in the city that will begin to support broader species of birds. A 19,000 sq. ft. chicken farm operates on the CUA’s lower terrace.

Other than the fact that it relates poorly to the street (which could be easily remedied), here’s the problem: Nobody has stepped up to the plate to build the thing. “Every once in a while there are murmurings; we just have to find a developer who is up for it," says Duncan. “I could get a call from the Sheik of Dubai to say that he needs a 100-story high-rise farm--that could be where it happens first.”

Seattle, don't let Dubai show you up again.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Speaking of Dying Hotels

posted by on April 24 at 11:36 AM

I stayed at an almost-deserted Egyptian hotel at Abu Simbel on Lake Nasser last week that seemed to be forever hungover from some heyday 20 years gone. The dilapidated nightclub bore a giant "welcome to 2006" painted on the rusting roof. The rooms were mosquito infested and mouse turds hid under the bed.
Nefertari Hotel pool, then:
and now:
More on my trip to Egypt when I recover from the nasty bugs that hitched a ride home in my guts.

The Dead Hotels

posted by on April 24 at 11:08 AM

BLDGBLOG has a lovely, lovely post on photographs of five-star hotels abandoned on "Egypt's Sinai Peninsula."
2424046564_98b11c8a9a_o.jpg A sample from the end of the post:

The hotels now look more like "architectonic sculptures" in the desert, the photographers claim, or derelict abstractions, as if some aging and half-crazed billionaire had constructed an eccentric sculpture park for himself amongst the dunes.

...The billionaire goes for long walks at night alone amongst the ruins, sweeping dust from recent sandstorms off windowsills and open doorways.
At night, when the stars come out, different constellations are framed by unglazed windows, as if justifying these concrete forms from above with the poetic force of celestial geometry.

The writing owes everything to Borges, and my post owes everything to Andrew Sullivan.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Oslo Opera

posted by on April 23 at 12:52 PM

The lead story on concerns this new building in Norway.
3oslo_opera.jpg The work was designed by Snøhetta and opened on April 12th. The images of the interior are far more striking than those of the exterior. Judging from the images of the inside, will not this work displace its purpose? Its purpose being made secondary to itself as a work. Few operas have in them the power to match or overcome such a staggering wealth of colors and materials.

Friday, April 18, 2008

2008 Green Architecture Awards

posted by on April 18 at 9:15 AM

There’s a lot of talk about green design: why we need it, which developers are doing it, when elected officials set goals for it. This is all good. But under-recognized are the architects who actually figure out how to reduce a building’s environmental impact, while still creating structures that meet the traditional challenges of good design.

So three cheers to the Seattle chapter of the American Institute of Architects. For the past ten years it has encouraged architecture firms to submit designs for a “What Makes It Green” gallery. This year AIA Seattle received 57 entries from around the Pacific Northwest. And last week, before about 250 industry bigwigs at a forum called Regeneration, the top ten submissions won awards for the first time.

“We wanted to inspire designers and policy makers to think about the future of the built environment in creating sustainable design,” say Lisa Richmond, Executive Director of AIA Seattle. The awards give architecture firms the recognition they deserve.

Here are two of the ten. The Bertschi School on north Capitol Hill, completed in April of last year, won the jury’s unanimous approval.


In addition groovy stuff like re-using rainwater and recycling building materials, the smart architects at The Miller|Hull Partnership were recognized for conserving energy.

The new project incorporates photovoltaic panels which will supply 6.1% of the school’s energy. … The gym has an integral natural ventilation scheme which uses fresh air coming in low at the roll up doors and the natural stack effect of hot air and vents high with operable louvers in the skylights tied to a thermostat. No CFCs or HCFCs are used in the mechanical units. The scale and proportion of the building enhance it’s ability to use daylight to illuminate the spaces. A daylighting study was used to optimize window and skylight size and placement for this use. Occupancy and daylight sensors are used to minimize the use of electric lighting.

Another winner--yet unbuilt--Portland City Storage will store 350 boats to reduce river contamination. It’s designed by MulvannyG2 Architecture and slated to be finished by 2010.


The project’s goal is to meet the USGBC LEED gold certification requirements and produce more power than it uses through alternative electrical power in the hopes of giving back to the Portland grid. The hybrid design will integrate a wind farm located at the top of the storage buildings and an innovative regenerative elevator system that feeds into the building system grid. … Using median average figures based on average wind speed for the Portland metropolitan area, the wind farm should produce approximately 800,000 KWH of usable system power output per year.

The full line-up of winners, including Seattle's Mosler Lofts by Mithun Architects, is over here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Foster for Seattle

posted by on April 11 at 11:57 AM

Look closely at this skyline of the future and you find a tower designed by none other than Norman Robert Foster:
Picture%2011.jpg Yes, Seattle is on the way to possessing what must be Foster's only tower on the West Coast. The local company heading the project is Triad Development, and the location of the tower will be across the street from the west face of the horrible City Hall--between third and fourth. Shooting for a gold LEED rating, the tower, 520 feet high, will be one with the underground, the light rail station--apparently one of the main reasons Foster took an interest in the project. Also in the works is the production of a public space that could be what Westlake Center never became, a civic core. I'll write more about this project in next week's paper.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Deborah Jacobs Is Leaving Seattle Public Library

posted by on April 9 at 12:02 PM

City Librarian Deborah Jacobs--who made the Seattle Public Library what it is, who has been written about a lot in the local dailies ("Whatever Deborah Jacobs wants, it sometimes seems, Deborah Jacobs gets through the sheer force of her will, drive and charisma"), who has been lauded as a genius in The Stranger, who has been praised by The New Yorker's architecture critic in this review of the downtown library in 2004 ("Deborah Jacobs seems to have been about as close to an ideal client as could be imagined, and she protected the architects from some of their worst instincts")--is leaving Seattle Public Library. She's accepted a job at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation leading their Global Libraries initiative. Her last day at SPL will be July 2.

"While I intended to stay at The Seattle Public Library until my retirement, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given me an opportunity to take the passion and values that guide my life to places where information is not as accessible as in Seattle," she says in the press release that went out today. I'll put the whole thing, with quotes from the mayor and stuff, after the jump.

Continue reading "Deborah Jacobs Is Leaving Seattle Public Library" »

South African Science Fiction

posted by on April 9 at 11:36 AM

Discovered this morning on this website is the current renovation of the tallest and strangest residential tower in Africa, Ponte City. Located in the Hillbrow neighborhood of Johannesburg, the core of the cylindrical building will leave its past...
(The cinema of Alien, Blade Runner, Robo Cop)

And enter its future...
800px-PonteCore.jpg (The cinema of Gattaca, Code 46, Sunshine)

The renovation has its cause in the 2010 World Cup, which will be hosted in Jozi, the most developed city in the most underdeveloped continent on the planet.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Happiness Together

posted by on April 8 at 12:23 PM

She and the house...
carreco07.jpg...are in Portugal. The architects are Nuno Grande and Pedro Gadanho. The home's defining feature is the suspended "baclony-terrace." The complication of the primary volume is the next significant feature. At the front of house, a large surface with a small round window looms over the glass door.

As for the woman. She is not old. She has a ponytail. She wears a black skirt. Her hand is on the wall. And her mind is elsewhere.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Death Rem

posted by on April 1 at 11:48 AM

For those who don't know, Rem Koolhaas, the man behind our famous Central Library, wants build the Death Star in Dubai:



...Rem Koolhaas, of the Office of Metropolitan Architecture, planning to build a a gargantuan 44-storey replica of the Death Star as a corner-piece for his planned city in Dubai. According to his office, the enormous sphere will be part of a masterplan for his concept of "the generic city", which has been described by the New York Times as a "sprawling metropolis of repetitive buildings centered on an airport and inhabited by a tribe of global nomads with few local loyalties".

What is this strange power that the Death Star exerts on our imagination? Is it the death drive of architecture? Is this the building that stands at the end of all architectural visions and missions? A planet that destroys planets is transformed into a building that destroys other buildings.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Chicken or the Egg

posted by on March 31 at 8:46 AM

Which came first? The Crate & Barrel in the University Village...
-tt3.jpg...or Zaha Hadid's Cincinnati Art Museum?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

No, In Fact, They Wouldn't.

posted by on March 27 at 10:28 PM

The Eiffel Tower goes untouched.

Fucking Towers in the Goddamned Park

posted by on March 27 at 3:15 PM

When will this idea die?

In the comments thread of almost every Boom post I write, regardless of the development at hand, Will in Seattle remarks that what Seattle really needs are 100-story residential towers to provide affordable housing. He’s also suggested they should be surrounded by green space.

Sorry, Will, nothing personal, but towers surrounded by green space is one of the worst urban planning concepts ever conceived. Buildings 100 stories tall – parks or no parks – cost a ton of money. When subsidized to make low-income housing, towers have resulted in slums in the sky and urban decay on the ground—because people will choose to live in isolation when packed into dense artificial “communities.” Slog comment hero Fnarf, thankfully, has rebuked the notion again and again. I agree with Fnarf's indictment over here, and I really love this one (even though it’s kinda mean) over here. The old idea, pushed by French architect Le Corbusier, is now widely discredited.

But that doesn’t mean developers have stopped pushing towers in the park. New York’s MTA chose Tishman Speyer to develop the West Side railyards. The buildings aren’t quite 100 stories, but here's the towers-in-the-park proposal.


The NYT doesn’t mince words about the project today, in an article titled Profit and Public Good Clash in Grand Plans.

Like the ground zero and Atlantic Yards fiascos, its overblown scale and reliance on tired urban planning formulas should force a serious reappraisal of the public-private partnerships that shape development in the city today. And in many ways the West Side railyards is the most disturbing of the three. Because of its size and location — 12.4 million square feet on 26 acres in Midtown — it will have the most impact on the city’s identity. Yet unlike the other two developments, it lacks even the pretense of architectural ambition….

Rising on a vast platform to be built over the train tracks, the project is conceived as a series of soaring corporate and residential towers flanking the northern and southern ends of a narrow park running from 10th Avenue to the West Side Highway, between 30th and 33rd Streets....

Designed by Murphy/Jahn, the buildings are a throwback to the days when corporate Modernism was taking its dying breaths. Towering glass blocks, their most original features are a series of deep cantilevers that allow the developer to suspend buildings over the High Line, the public park being built on a stretch of abandoned elevated tracks in Chelsea….

The full article is over here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

House of Hate

posted by on March 18 at 11:36 AM

The current negative response to Sterling Residence--which is on Queen Anne Avenue, and also at the center of this article--is apparently not as bad as the response another modernist house received when it was completed back in the early 90s:


The designer of the house, Larry Rouch, writes:

The back story on my Queen Anne House was much more dramatic than pB's [Sterling Residence]. I was accused of causing the death of a neighbor by building the house, and this by a Seattle cop in person, in uniform, son of the deceased! Also the neighborhood took up a petition against the house and a big stink was made about it in the QA community newspaper. Another neighbor physically accosted me and Steve Holl, who was along for a drive by, because the house had no fireplace and asked: "What's the matter with you, don't you believe in Santa Claus?!!" We literally had to drive away with her hanging on my car. Another neighbor, a realtor, asked to review the plans before construction started, then politely informed me that she wouldn't oppose the house if we would kindly remove the living room/study on the upper floor (the view side of the house). Yet another neighbor demanded that I review the house pans with his architect else he sue. The architect demanded a meeting and a copy of the plans. I told him to fuck himself.

The architectural hatred on Queen Anne is hardcore.

Friday, March 14, 2008

This is Not a Parody, This is Where I Want to Live

posted by on March 14 at 2:34 PM

I know this is old news to some, maybe many of you. However, I am posting these in case there are people unfamiliar with these houses as we all once were.

I was amazed and intrigued when I found out there was a residence in the top pyramid of the Smith Tower.


Notwithstanding the decorations inside, I can think of no other place I'd rather live in Seattle.

Okay, maybe either of these places would suffice...



I am obsessed with houseboats. Unfortunately, I cannot even afford this one. Or the mud beneath it.

The houseboats moored within 150 feet of the 1907 Lake Union shoreline are actually on owned real estate. Local legislators snuck a bill through the Legislature that required anyone owning property on Lake Union to buy the adjacent underwater property. The subsequent one million dollars funded the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition on the University of Washington campus.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The New Virtue

posted by on March 13 at 4:22 PM

The Chief Urban Designer for New York City, Alexandros Washburn, has a lovely little (and not too old) article on that names nature (green) as the civic virtue for the 21th century.
Agreed, it's not a profound article. But because it's thinking the current against the ancient Greeks (one of the most productive ways to think or construct a path for a problematic--the Greeks need to return to the center of our eduction system), it generates exquisite passages like this:

To be a better city, we must build green, use mass transit, and restore purity to our water and air, with park access for all. This is a vision of a new type of city for the 21st century: at once more urbane and more natural. It is a marriage of building and landscape that is challenging every notion we have ever had about design.

The paradigm has shifted, and we must change our direction: just as two millennia ago, a sculptor transformed the biomass of the acanthus plant into a template for architecture, using its stalk, leaves and flower as a model for the shaft and volutes of the Corinthian column, we today must transform the rigidities of architecture into the adaptations of nature. The stone column crumbles and is replaced with the growing stalk. Networks of green signify community in ways that the architecture of the past no longer can. City-initiated rezonings center around new public spaces or streetscape improvements and each is crafted in consultation with the community it serves.

"The stone column crumbles and is replaced with the growing stalk." For me, at every read, a spinal jolt of joy from this terrific connection of words and imagery.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Same Old, Same Old...

posted by on March 7 at 11:12 AM

The longest remodeling project in the history that no one cares to remember...

Seattle's historic King Street Station will get a new green-tile roof and repairs to its clock tower in a new round of restorations, starting this year.

Mayor Greg Nickels announced this morning that the city has signed a deal to buy the station from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway for $10. That deal allows $16.5 million in federal and state spending to go ahead, along with $10 million in city money from the voter-approved Bridging the Gap property-tax levy.

Within the next three years, a dingy false ceiling will be removed from the waiting room, to reveal the original ceiling and its frescoes. Some brick walls will be removed at the northwest corner so a granite-and-marble staircase can be widened and reopened to the outdoors. The building will also be strengthened against earthquakes.

When will this city take rail transportation seriously? More promises, more minor repairs, more broken promises. The King Street Station's regime of stupidity will never be defeated by the arrows of reason and criticism.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


posted by on March 5 at 12:09 PM


Fabrizio Troccol, a Perugian photographer, to me:

I met Amanda Knox. I used to own a gallery near the Piazza San Francesco. Paintings, pictures, that kind of thing. And she came to the gallery with a friend. Yes, I remember her because we talked about Seattle. She said she didn’t like it. Seattle did not have a center. Just a lot of houses that all looked the same. But no center to this place. Perugia is better, she said. It had a center and looked better. We talked about this for 30 minutes. She is an attractive woman. Don't you think?

Amanda Knox might be on to something. Seattle does not have a real center. It has neighborhoods, a downtown, club districts, but nothing that is clearly the center in the way that Piazza Novembre is the center of Perugia, Italy. The closet thing we have to a center is the Central Library, but a center should be open and not enclosed.

Note: At three today I will be on Northwest Afternoon talking about this Amanda Knox.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Water World

posted by on March 4 at 11:52 AM

What Steven Spielberg will miss this August:
3watercube-1.jpg What should we do at the sight of such a building? Laugh a little or laugh a lot? How can we take it seriously? Water as a leading motive for a structure? You must be kidding me. You must be kids. A grownup does not play such childish games with architecture.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Death Star Hotel

posted by on March 3 at 12:58 PM


This 521-foot-high hotel is coming to Baku, Azerbaijan, either to host a bunch of Imperial forces or obliterate the local population with a giant death ray. They call it "Full Moon" but they are not fooling us: this is a fully armed, fully operational battle station.

What is the power of the Death Star? What gives its idea so much force in the constellation of our thoughts? The Death Star is our sun gone terribly wrong. Our sun in a state of madness. This madness is much like the one that seizes Ajax in Sophocle's tragedy. The tragedy of being for and not against the void. For the void to turn black the sun is the absolute negative.

Monday, February 25, 2008

My Flicker Photo of the Day

posted by on February 25 at 3:19 PM

This powerful image has its sonic equivalent in the sounds and dubs of Burial:
Picture%204.jpg ...It's all in that touch/dub/dab of blue in the tunnel.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Top Building

posted by on February 20 at 12:52 PM

To use a line by MC Milk...
pub_18636_w500h500q75bw1_208532533-1.jpg..."What more can I say?"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

England's not the mythical land of Madame George and Roses

posted by on February 14 at 2:54 PM

Remember this wonderful building?
Remember how the British press celebrated this building and two others like it? A sample from The Guardian:

One giant leap for Britain! You wait around for a building finally to reflect our multicultural society - and then three come along at once...

...[The] staff are moving into the new Stephen Lawrence Centre in Deptford, an educational and information facility developed by the trust set up in honour of the young, black would-be architect who was [stabbed to death by racist thugs] in 1993.

...The three projects represent a major shift in Britain's cultural landscape: for a country that often congratulates itself on its multi-ethnic vibrancy, Britain has built very little to show for it. These are just about the first publicly funded, purpose-built expressions of African-British culture in this country. They are not grand, expensive projects, but they are, in Adjaye's mind at least, prototypes for a new, inclusive definition of public space that challenges "established topologies".

Remember all that? Well guess what happened yesterday:

A £10m architectural centre built as a memorial to Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a racist attack 15 years ago, has been vandalised just a week after it opened, can reveal.

Eight windows each worth £15,000 and designed by the Turner prizewinning artist Chris Ofili on the front of the new building in Deptford, south-east London, were destroyed overnight.

A Metropolitan police spokeswoman confirmed the attack was being treated as a racist incident.

"A number of windows had been broken and police were informed at 5.46am today. The hate crime unit at Lewisham CID are investigating the incident," she said.

No arrests have been made and inquiries are continuing.

Attackers threw bricks at the windows from behind a 2.5m high metal fence surrounding the complex, said Karin Woodley, the chief executive of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.

A shift in the architecture does not represent a shift in the culture.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

For Charles

posted by on February 12 at 2:56 PM

Friday, February 8, 2008

Saying Someting

posted by on February 8 at 1:48 PM

Please, Seattle, open your ears and listen to David Adjaye.

I don't agree with all he has to say (intimacy of any kind is not my sort of thing), but we should not have him clear out of our minds when the matter of a moment happens to be the future of this city.

The Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver is his first major American project.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Future of Concrete

posted by on February 7 at 12:13 PM


Business Week reports:

Concrete is ubiquitous in the modern world, yet most people don't give it a passing thought. Why would they? It may be the most consumed substance on earth after water, but the stuff of pavements and parking garages is also a bit dull—or so most of us thought. In fact, innovations in the science of concrete have enabled architects and designers to achieve remarkable feats that would have been impossible in earlier years—everything from ultra-thin bridges spanning hundreds of feet to furniture made from lightweight blends.

One of the big factors behind the resurgence of concrete is the environmental movement. Scientists and architects have rediscovered concrete's potential to save energy, since its thermal efficiency reduces the need for air conditioning and heating. But with this reawakening has come demand for more lightweight, durable, and aesthetic concrete by the designers who use it.

The world's three largest concrete producers—Lafarge (LAFP.PA), HeidelbergCement (HEIG.DE), and Cemex (CX)—have responded with a slew of innovations that have dispelled traditional assumptions about concrete: that it has to be thick when poured, reinforced with steel, mechanically vibrated to ensure even distribution, and, of course, opaque.

Very exciting! Very sexy! Bionic concrete! How can you beat that? But it is sad to lose the thick and reinforced stuff, to lose the beauty of the pour, to the lose the resistance and moodlessness of the ultimate substance. Old concrete is honest; the new concrete is a whore.

The Two

posted by on February 7 at 10:32 AM

After passing this impressive point in the construction, we can expect the project to go downhill:

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

More Than This?

posted by on February 5 at 9:59 AM

In the area of the 80s, there is nothing more than this:
lloyds_london_building.jpg Let's agree on that.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Other Rooms and Other Voices

posted by on January 31 at 2:45 PM

This is a view from a posh condo near the middle of the new 24-story 5th and Madison building:
3750437_0671e1a47f.jpg Two days ago, the PI's architecture critic, Lawrence Cheek, had this to say about the tower and its situation:

The more of these towers that sprout downtown (and likewise in Bellevue), the less view remains for each resident and office tenant. The Seattle skyline may look increasingly impressive from the deck of the Bainbridge ferry, but it's not so enchanting from inside the thicket. Nine new towers are under construction downtown, and there are 25 more undergoing permitting or design review.

When the view consists mainly or entirely of other buildings, is there any point to it?

Traditionally, yes -- the fundamental rationale for the American skyscraper has always been to express power, wealth and urbanity. Seattle, though, is different -- or at least it used to be. Our great value resides in the city's natural setting, not in its buildings.

The point? Look, if you want to see nature, leave and stay out of the city; if you want to see other people and other buildings, stay in the city. You can't have it both ways. It must be one or the other.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Lesson in Architecture

posted by on January 21 at 4:53 PM

This is a brick house:

This is not a brick house:

For Once

posted by on January 21 at 3:53 PM

This might be the first Gehry building that's worth something:
3princeton.jpg It certainly doesn't look like something that crawled out of the sea and died.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Truth About Buildings

posted by on January 3 at 11:55 AM

The Seattle City Hall is bad because is does not tell a truth or offer a course to a truth.
SeattleCityHall.jpg Yes, truths exist. They exist as much as untruths exist. One proof of the existence of untruths is the war in Iraq. There is no truth in that war; it was made possible by a systematic negation of actual facts.

Let's turn to local architecture.

Bellevue's City Hall is better than Seattle's because it tells a truth: Bellevue must awake from the stupid sleep of suburban architecture. And a successful awakening will occur by a public rather than private process. Seattle's City Hall is worse than Bellevue's because it says something that is not a fact of life: political and economic power in Seattle is racially and culturally diverse. The management of this city, however, is uniform; nor was there any diversity in the making of the Seattle's City Hall. Because diversity does not exist in a powerful or actual way in this city, and because there is no real public or private effort to diversify power in Seattle, the City Hall's diverse look has no reality, it is empty. The lack of a truth has resulted in a building that is not dialogical but an idealogical mess.

What are the greatest truths are the greatest buildings.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Boxes of Bowery

posted by on January 2 at 2:47 PM

More than this?

The New Museum is located on the Bowery...
The building, a dramatic stack of six rectangular boxes, is clad in a seamless, anodized expanded aluminum mesh to emphasize the volumes of the boxes while dressing the whole of the building with a delicate, softly shimmering skin.
With windows just visible behind this porous scrim-like surface, the building appears as a single, coherent form that is nevertheless mutable, dynamic, and animated by the changing light of day.

How can we feel anything but happiness at the sight of such a work? It is a stack of happiness.

As for this:
-3.jpg A heap of rubbish.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Dead Island

posted by on December 20 at 12:34 PM

Let us for a moment leave the city of your living...

...and journey to the city that begins at the of end of your life.

Over the wall and you are in place that is so dead...

...that even ghosts have abandoned it.

Nothing walks down those crumbling steps...

...nothing lives in that cage.
15-m.jpg To be alive and trapped is better than being dead and gone.

The story of Gunkanjima:

Off the westernmost coast of Japan, is an island called "Gunkanjima" that is hardly known even to the Japanese. Long ago, the island was nothing more than a small reef. Then in 1810, the chance discovery of coal drastically changed the fate of this reef. As reclamation began, people came to live here, and through coal mining the reef started to expand continuously. Befor long, the reef had grown into an artificial island of one kilometer (three quarters of a mile) in perimeter, with a population of 5300. Looming above the ocean, it appeared a concrete labyrinth of many-storied apartment houses and mining structures built closely together. Seen from the ocean, the silhouette of the island closely resembled a battleship - so, the island came to be called Gunkanjima, or Battleship island.

Eventually, the mines faced an end, and in 1974 the world's once most densely populated island become totally deserted. The island, after all its inhabitants departed leaving behind their belongings, became an empty shell of a city where all its peopl disappeared overnight, as if by some mysterious act of God.