Category Archive 'Architecture'
01 Jun 2016

Art Nouveau Stairway

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Stairway
Musée National Gustave-Moreau, Paris, view of the stairway, Albert Lafon architect, 1895.

26 Apr 2016

Disgruntled

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DisgruntledGargoyle

30 Mar 2016

Folk Architectural Detail

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HandDoorknob

18 Jan 2016

Le Curieux aka Kilroy Was Here

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SainteFoy
Abbey of Sainte Foy, Conques, France, c. 1050.

20 Nov 2015

Light Reflected from City Skyscraper Buckles Bodywork and Mirror of Businessman’s Car

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Daily Mail story

11 Jul 2015

Eschenheimer Turm

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eschenheimer-turm

Amazing Planet:

Standing right in the middle of downtown Frankfurt, surrounded by modern high-rises, is an early 15th century tower called Eschenheimer Turm. The tower was once part of a massive fortification that consisted of nearly sixty towers and walls that encircled the city. Most were demolished between 1806 and 1812 when the old city walls were torn down. Eschenheimer Turm, along with two other towers, were saved from demolition at the request of French ambassador Count d’Hédouville. Today the tower is one of Frankfurt’s most famous landmarks.

Read the whole thing.

06 Apr 2015

A Dozen British Buildings Which Were Around When Richard III Was King

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SaltfordManor
Saltford Manor House, near Bath, Somerset

Saltford Manor House claims the title of Britain’s oldest continuously occupied home. The house has details, particularly in the ornate windows, which date it to around 1148 – the same completion date of Hereford Cathedral, which has similar Norman features. It is believed that the house originally consisted of a large single room on each floor with a vaulted chamber on the ground floor. Remodelling was carried out in the 17th century. Important features in the house include a rare fragment of a medieval painting and a Norman window in the main bedroom.

Abroad in the Yard profiles a dozen British buildings still surviving today which date back to the time of Richard III or even earlier.

05 Mar 2015

Flatiron Building, NYC

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FlatironBuilding

Ten Interesting Facts About the Flatiron Building. Untapped Cities

14 Nov 2014

I Hate New York, Part 2

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All-GlassBathroom

The Times also describes a developing fashion for all-glass high-rise bathrooms.

Among the many vertiginous renderings for the penthouse apartments at 432 Park Avenue, the nearly 1,400-foot-high Cuisenaire rod that topped off last month, is one of its master (or mistress) of the universe bathrooms, a glittering, reflective container of glass and marble. The image shows a huge egg-shaped tub planted before a 10-foot-square window, 90 or more stories up. All of Lower Manhattan is spread out like the view from someone’s private plane.

Talk about power washing.

The dizzying aerial baths at 432 Park, while certainly the highest in the city, are not the only exposed throne rooms in New York. All across Manhattan, in glassy towers soon to be built or nearing completion, see-through chambers will flaunt their owners, naked, toweled or robed, like so many museum vitrines — although the audience for all this exposure is probably avian, not human.

It seems the former touchstones of bathroom luxury (Edwardian England, say, or ancient Rome) have been replaced by the glass cube of the Apple store on Fifth Avenue. In fact, Richard Dubrow, marketing director at Macklowe Properties, which built 432 and that Apple store, described the penthouse “wet rooms” (or shower rooms) in just those terms.

Everyone wants a window, said Vickey Barron, a broker at Douglas Elliman and director of sales at Walker Tower, a conversion of the old Verizon building on West 18th Street. “But now it has to be ­ a Window.” She made air quotes around the word. “Now what most people wanted in their living rooms, they want in their bathrooms. They’ll say, ‘What? No View?’ ” …

If there’s a view, there should be glass,” [Minimalist architect John] Pawson said. “It’s not about putting yourself on show, it’s about enjoying what’s outside. Any exhibitionism is an unfortunate by-product. I think what’s really nice is that at this level you’re creating a gathering space. You can congregate in the bathroom, you can even share the bath or bring a chair in.”

On a recent Thursday, there were seven people standing in the master bathroom of an apartment on the 20th floor of 737 Park, another Macklowe project that’s a new conversion of a 1940s building by Handel Architects. (The apartment, three bedrooms in 4,336 square feet, is listed for $19.695 million.) At 21 by 11 feet, there was certainly room in the bathroom for a few more. Along two opposing walls, two toilets and two showers faced off behind glass walls. The by-now-familiar egg floated in the center of the room.

“Some people don’t mind showing a little, and some don’t mind showing a lot,” said Gary Handel, the principal of Handel Architects. “They are totally comfortable in their bodies.” …

Nine of the building’s C-line apartments expressed an even clearer idea: a wall of glass with two toilets at either end and a shower in the middle, which raised many an eyebrow among brokers and their clients because the toilets face each other. Design clarity — and a well-lit room — suggests questions about how private we want to be in our private spaces.

Jill Roosevelt, a broker at Brown Harris Stevens who has been leading her clients through a few of the new, glassy offerings, said 737 in particular sparked conversations about habits of intimacy. “It’s about how much proximity do you want to your partner who is performing these tasks?” she said. “It doesn’t affect sales, but there is always a reaction, ranging from nonchalant to amusement. It depends on how comfortable you feel with your spouse or partner. My traditional couples will say, ‘We’ll frost the glass.’ ”

One couple — “this would be the amused couple,” Ms. Roosevelt said — pondered the dueling commodes of the C-line at 737 Park with interest. “Well, I guess we could watch each other read the newspaper,” the wife said finally. …

Privacy, of course, is not an absolute value, but a value that has changed over time and circumstances, as Winifred Gallagher, an author who has written about the behavioral and psychological science of place, pointed out.

“And like everything else, the rich can buy more of it,” she said. “In the city, privacy is about shielding yourself from all the stimuli. Most of us can’t drop the shield entirely even when we’re in our own homes, because the city is right outside. But if you’re high enough, you can waltz around pretending you’re in the garden of Versailles.”

Furthermore, Ms. Gallagher added, for many the bathroom can be the focus of a lot of anxiety. “You have the scale and there’s the magnifying mirror so you don’t put your makeup on and look like a clown,” she said. “And imagine yourself striding around the bathrooms with all that glass. It puts the pressure on you to be thin and fit, which are also perks of the rich. If you’re thin and fit, why wouldn’t you have this jewel box to show yourself off in?”

Read the whole thing.

Ann Althouse observes: “the rich folk of New York don’t mind if you look at them naked while they use the bathroom… as long as you have to look way, way up.

26 Oct 2014

Denver Post Critic Deplores Union Station’s Racist Architecture

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DenverUnionStation
Denver’s Union Station.

Denver is in the process of renovating its long-neglected Union Station, built in 1914 in the Beaux Arts style. Denver Post Fine Arts Critic Ray Mark Rinaldi has serious issues with the renovation of a building designed exclusively in European styles, which thus inevitably celebrates European culture and civilization, while neglecting to represent all those various peoples of colors which our liberal friends all tell us are destined very soon to displace us as the American majority. Evidently Mr. Rinaldi thinks that Denver ought to be consigning European culture, architecture & European history to the ash-heap of history right now.

Union Station is a neo-classical mix of styles — European styles. The symmetry, arched windows, ornate cornice and stacked, stone walls have their roots in the glory days of France, England, Greece and Rome, in empires that were nearly absent of ethnic minorities and who felt fully at ease invading, exploiting and actually enslaving the people of Africa, subcontinent Asia and South America.

Yes, that’s all in the past; things have changed. But the $54 million renovation of Union Station doesn’t take that into account. It restores the symbols of an old world with no updates. The gilded chandeliers have been rewired, the marble polished, but there’s no nod to the present, no interior walls in the bright colors of Mexico, no Asian simplicity is in the remix. There are no giant sculptures by African-American artists bonused into the lobby, no murals on the basement walls.

Would any of those updates have made Union Station more welcoming, made it “Ready for the Next 100 years,” as its marketing proclaims ? Could they still?

A preservationist might object to physical updates. Restoration is about the exact, the original. History has its ups and downs, the thinking goes, and you can’t blame buildings for the good or bad that happened. But a preservationist just might end up with a building that draws mostly white people — with a Union Station.

The present restoration harkens back to Union Station at its height, in the first half of a 20th century when many Americans suffered the social indignity and economic disadvantage of a segregated America. Denver’s neighborhoods, parks, schools and social amenities were divided sharply by race. Denver’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan, one mayor a member, kept things in their place.

The trains themselves were not officially segregated here, but you can bet many people on them boarded or disembarked in stations where blacks entered in separate doors and rode in restricted cars.

Denver’s bigshot bigots are gone, schools and workplaces desegregated. But the structures of back then look the same — are they to be honored or altered to make the past palatable for everyone?

The programming does little to mitigate the obstacles. The local restaurants and chefs that made it onto Union Station were the city’s highest-profile operators whose establishments serve mostly white clientele, and their fans have followed along. Minority businesses were part of the station’s redevelopment, but many of the key players were white, too. These people are not racists. They are our among our best, most creative thinkers.

Still, something is missing. There’s no traditional Mexican restaurant, no soul-food restaurant, no sushi bar, as if no one noticed that the Mexican-American, African-American and Asian-American families that own and operate those places across the city are also our best food purveyors. …

Union Station is programmed toward wallets. You need a password to use the Wi-Fi. Its product is elegance, even exclusivity. You can’t even find the Cooper Lounge unless you know where you are going; it’s set up for insiders. Exclusivity has its own historic baggage. Whether it’s about keeping Jewish people out of a subdivision or gay people out of the military, it historically benefits the majority.

That’s only part of it, of course. Because today’s Denver has a growing middle-class of minorities. Plenty of blacks and Latinos could afford to play at Union Station. The surrounding neighborhoods are diversified with residents who could simply bike over or take the light rail or downtown shuttle. There is no one at the door looking folks over. The workforce is mixed. There’s no open policy of exclusion.

But there may be an institutional one. RTD had a thousand choices when it was rehabbing the station. It could have put in a farmer’s market or a suite of micro-offices. It could have let its imagination run wild and installed a basketball court or a rec center, day-care facility, museum, a theater that any group could rent, an indoor playground, or yes, a Subway.

But it chose a different path. RTD, whose buses and trains are the most diverse places in Denver, created a monster of separation. You can’t keep private enterprise from doing this sort of deed, but a public entity, a common asset, might have more democratic obligations.

Union Station will make plenty of money and that will help keep our transportation system solvent. But how much is lost?

This really was a chance to define today’s Denver, to show off to the world, to say we are as interesting and relevant as anywhere you can name. But this project has defined us narrowly, darkly, negligently. There is danger in that, too.

22 Sep 2014

Sigiriya, Lion Gate

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Sigiriya, built by King Kassapa I (477–95), Sri Lanka.

Hat tip to Madame Scherzo.

20 Aug 2014

English Medieval Architectural Gaffes

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Durham Cathedral, eastern transept of the Nine Altars, begun 1242, probably vaulted in late 1250s, possibly into 1280s.

James Alexander Cameron pokes fun at mistakes in English Medieval architecture.

I’ll come clean, Prior, when we measured up that copy of the eastern transept at Fountains Abbey for you, we didn’t take into account that your church is kind of a completely different width.

Is this going to be a problem?

Well when we put the vault on there might be a teensy teensy mistake.

Is anyone going to notice?

We’ll carve a ring of really nice angels to cover it up.

Ah, distracting surface ornament, good job.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

01 May 2014

3D Printed Homes For $5000 Each

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3d-printed-home

Mish’s Global Economic Analysis has some big news out of China.

Chinese construction firms can 3-D print 10 low-cost houses a day with machines that add layer after layer of quick-drying cement in a process called “contour crafting”.

    A private company in east China recently used a giant printer set to print out ten full-sized houses within just one day.

    The stand-alone one-story houses in the Shanghai Hi-Tech Industrial Park look just like ordinary buildings. They were created using an intelligent printing array in east China’s city of Suzhou.

    The array consists of four printers that are 10 meters wide and 6.6 meters high and use multi-directional automated sprays. The sprays emit a combination of cement and construction waste that is used to print building walls layer-by-layer.

    Ma Yihe, the inventor of the printers, said he and his team are especially proud of their core technology of quick-drying cement. Ma said he hopes his printers can be used to build skyscrapers in the future.

    This technology allows for the printed material to dry rapidly. Ma has been cautious not to reveal the secrets of this technology.

21 Apr 2014

Cincinnati’s Old Main Library

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CincinnatiLibrary375
Cincinnati Old Main Library, built 1874, demolished 1955.

History

More photos

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