Category Archive 'Architecture'
02 Nov 2018

Rockefeller Center

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Rockefeller Center in 1933, before it was surrounded by tall buildings.

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17 Sep 2018

1963: Jean-Marie le Guilcher Worked on Church Steeples Without a Safety Net

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09 Sep 2018

Coolest Buildings in America You Never Heard of


Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut.

Thrillist has some good ones.

01 Aug 2018

Best Door in Paris

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At 29 Avenue Rapp in the 7th arrondissement, very close to the Eiffel Tower. Built between 1899 and 1901, this Art Nouveau masterpiece by Jules Lavirotte is quite striking. The detailed door was designed by sculptor Jean-Baptiste Larrive and sculpted by a variety of others. If you happen to be in Paris, seek this beauty out!” (Photo: W. Brian Duncan.)

06 May 2018

Roger Scruton On the Architecture of Reading

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14 Mar 2018

Tallest Log House

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Amusing Planet:

When Sutyagin began work on his house in 1992, he only intended to build a two-storey structure — larger than those of his neighbors to reflect his position as the city’s richest man. But a trip to see the wooden houses in Japan and Norway convinced him that he had not used roof space efficiently enough and decided to keep building.

“First I added three floors but then the house looked ungainly, like a mushroom,” explained Sutyagin to the Telegraph in 2007. “So I added another and it still didn’t look right so I kept going. What you see today is a happy accident.”

Sutyagin even built a five-storey bath house in the garden, complete with rooms where he could entertain his colleagues from his construction company, and their girlfriends. But before he could complete his dream, Sutyagin was arrested on racketeering charges in 1998 and sent to prison for four years.

When he was released, he discovered that his rivals had robbed him blind, destroyed his equipment, and even threw his five cars into the river. And then his neighbors started complaining about the monstrosity of his house while city authorities pointed out to him that no wooden structure should be higher than two floors, and warned him that fire could cause the whole suburb to go up in flames. Finally in 2008, the court ordered the house to be demolished. Over the following year, the house was pulled down.

More photos

19 Dec 2017

Lohort Castle

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Lohort Castle, County Cork, Ireland
Lohort Castle was built near Cecilstown around 1496 by Donogh Og McDonagh McCarthy. It was taken by Irish forces during the Civil War. In 1647, one of the bloodiest battles of the War took place at the Castle and over 4,500 men were killed. In 1650 Lohort was bombarded and captured by Cromwell’s troops but the structure withstood the cannon fire due to the strength of its 10 foot thick walls. Lohort was rebuilt around 1750 by Sir John Percival, the Earl Of Egmont. The Percivals lived there until 1922 when Lohort Castle was burned down by the IRA.

31 Oct 2017

I Could Live There

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Červená Lhota Castle

Červená Lhota is a château about 20 kilometres (12 mi) north-west of Jindřichův Hradec in south Bohemia, Czech Republic. …Its name Červená Lhota* meaning “red lhota” can be explained by the colour of the château’s bright-red roof tiles. … [Acquired by the knightly family of Káb of Rybňan sometime around 1530. The family had the original Gothic castle rebuilt and the basic Renaissance remodelling carried out between 1542-1555. …The four-winged two-storey château, with a small courtyard in the center, occupies the whole rock and juts into the fishpond. A stone bridge, built in 1622, links the château with the banks of the pond, replacing the original drawbridge.

* Lhota, name of Czech villages, founded during the Middle-age colonization in Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia

01 Sep 2017

An Architecture Major from ’94 Reviews the New Colleges

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Alexandra Lange, a Yalie Architecture grad, reviews Peter Salovey’s new recently-opened colleges.

The colleges, designed by Robert A. Stern Architects (Melissa DelVecchio was the design partner), were intended as a kind of time travel. I graduated from Yale in 1994, and I could not remember what occupied the triangular block during my time, so undistinguished were its contents, but I do remember the deep sigh of having classes nearby “up Science Hill.” In order to shrink that distance psychologically, the university asked the architects to make more of what it had down below: James Gamble Rogers’s ten colleges of the 1930s, in a mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Georgian styles. Rogers loved a visual trick to create coherence, akin to that of the tower. My own college, Pierson, is red brick Georgian on the inside, but it has a grey neo-Gothic wrapper on Elm Street to match its neighbors across the road.

On a recent visit, as I toured the colleges, ducking in and out of courtyards and vaulted tunnels, I felt respect for the thoroughness of the pastiche. Franklin is roughly triangular, with one big rectangular and two small wedge-shaped courtyards within. Murray… is more regular, with three courtyards enfilade. The bricks, the slate roofs, the gates, the lawns: all very charming. The small courtyards are quaint; the giant courtyards, camera-ready for graduation.

The architects at RAMSA learned their lessons well, and have employed every possible means to make the new colleges as charming as the old. No one could argue that they are being assigned second-best. Given a few years, and a little grime, most people may not even realize these are from 2017.

The illusion dispels once you go indoors, and the conflict between the twentieth and twenty-first centuries begins to sap the energy from the rooms. The problem is scale, mostly. These residential colleges—what other universities might call “dorms,” but with the addition of on-site faculty housing, dining and recreation facilities, and generous courtyards—were built to accommodate a 15 percent increase in Yale’s undergraduate student body. Because the freshman dormitories on Old Campus can’t be expanded, the freshman of these colleges will live with the upperclassmen, meaning every facility needs to be sized for 450 students. That’s larger than all but the largest of Yale’s existing colleges, which were built in a simpler time—socially and mechanically.

So the public rooms at the Head of College’s house, where s/he might hold a lecture or a dinner, are sized for a 400-strong buffet line to march through the pantry. The hallways and doorways are wider so that all of the rooms and gender-neutral bathrooms are accessible. The architects, working to combine Yale’s preferred room configuration— suites of singles and doubles off a common room—with contemporary fire regulations had to create long hallways, which the old colleges’ design studiously avoid.

Student rooms were fine: three times the size of my freshman dorm room, with a vestigial chair rail and elaborately paneled doors, the world outside seen through leaded glass. The intimacy and delicacy of the tight neo-Gothic spaces (which could also be dark and uncomfortable) was gone. In its place, I often felt like I was at the hotel next to a university, which apes its style as a branding exercise.

The dining hall at Franklin College feels enormous, its bulk broken down by side nooks, housed in little classically-fronted rooms that can each seat 20 to 25 students. The chairs, the moldings, the round window providing a view: Everything felt gigantic, puffed up to cover the baronial proportions of the room.

The dining hall was one of few places the architects were expressing some native personality—postmodernism rather than historicism—via the deep moldings around every opening, the flamboyant round lighting fixtures, the chairs with their own rows of arches on the backs.

Stern’s choice of a Cole Porter (Yale College 1913) quote above the non-working fireplace, “It was just one of those things,” seemed to be trying to express joie de vivre, but that was not what I felt. The room felt wrong, proportionally, functionally, spiritually. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have a female alum quoted above the fireplace at the first opportunity? Or someone more beloved by the classes of the 2010s? Why build a non-working fireplace at all, especially opposite a 21st-century working kitchen? Why build such an enormous room at all, another place for haunches to be speared, when co-eds today would rather eat a salad on the lawn? The disconnect between the look and the mechanics showed through the skin.

I do not believe that residential colleges built in 2017 should look like those built between the first two World Wars, in turn an Americanization of Gothic colleges built in England in the fifteenth century. Who taught me to believe this? Yale, where I was educated in the history of architecture in buildings designed for the university by Louis Kahn and Paul Rudolph.

RTWT

HT: Tim of Angle.

There is, of course, plenty to infuriate intelligent older alumns.

Firstly, the preposterous names. One college is named for the worthy-enough Benjamin Franklin, as a concession to to the whim of Frankin Templeton Investments founder Charles B. Johnson ’54 who wrote the check. The problem is: Benjamin Frankin has no real connection to Yale.

The name of the second college is far worse. I’d prefer that it were named for Benjamin Franklin’s dog, rather than some colored lesbian who once attended the Law School, whom nobody not a communist had ever previously heard of. This level of Affirmative Action up-sucking to Identity Groups is just plain nauseating.

The deliberately non-working fireplaces are a nice symbol of today’s Yale, constituting a perfect example of the wussification of the place (some utter nincompoop fire marshal back in the 1980s, after most of two centuries in which working fireplaces had failed to burn down the university, concluded that fireplaces were a fire hazard, so Yale obediently closed them all up), along with offering an extremely apt metaphor for Yale itself. Yale being these days to real Education what a non-working fireplace is to Warmth & Light.

This Chicago Tribune piece has a slide-show of photographs.

23 Aug 2017

Yale’s Two New Colleges Open Today

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Blair Kamin, at the Chicago Tribune, reviews Yale’s new residential colleges which are open for business for the first time today.

When Yale built its signature Collegiate Gothic residential colleges between the two world wars, critics derided the buildings as “girder Gothic.” That term took aim at the disconnect between the colleges’ medieval-looking outer walls and their modern internal frames of structural steel — a sin against the modernist commandment that thou shalt express a building’s structure. The legend even grew that the leading architect of the residential colleges, James Gamble Rogers, had workers pour acid on the stonework to give his buildings an instant sense of wear, age and authenticity.

But that story, which provided terrific material for Yale tour guides, may be nothing more than an urban legend. More important, time has proved Rogers’ critics wrong.

Anyone who has visited Yale or Rogers’ buildings at Northwestern University, including the Deering Memorial Library, cannot fail to be impressed by Rogers’ masterful manipulation of scale and materials; his inventive, often whimsical, use of traditional architectural languages; and the way his buildings, which drew from the example of the ancient colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, engage their surroundings and encourage their users to interact.

So Yale’s new residential colleges, which New York architect and former Yale architecture school dean Robert A.M. Stern designed according to the Rogers model, have a very high bar to meet and some tough questions to confront: Do they refresh the Gothic tradition, as Rogers did, or are they a pastiche? Does it make sense for Yale, which claims to prize diversity and inclusion, to replicate the physical world of Rogers’ day, when the university’s student body was largely WASP and male?

It will be impossible to fully answer these questions until students move in Aug. 23, but a recent visit suggests that Stern has neared Rogers’ standard without matching him. The new colleges are strong, city-enhancing buildings and their interiors are graced with commodious, tradition-tinged rooms that students who grew up reading Harry Potter novels can be expected to appreciate. Yet Stern’s traditionalist architecture, which is draped like a Ralph Lauren suit over an underlying frame of steel and concrete, is uneven in quality, wavering between self-assured reinterpretation and over-the-top eclecticism.

Named for [a dual identity group token nobody not a Communist has ever heard of] and founding father Benjamin Franklin [who has no real connection to Yale], the colleges will allow Yale to gradually increase its undergraduate student population by 15 percent, to about 6,200. The university is not disclosing the colleges’ cost. Like Yale’s 12 previous residential colleges, 10 of which were completed under Rogers’ leadership, each of the new ones contains student rooms, a dining hall, a library and residences for faculty members who administer the college and advise its students. Yet there are crucial differences: With roughly 450 students apiece, the colleges are larger than their predecessors — in some cases, more than half again as big. And they are separated from Yale’s central campus by a large cemetery that sits south of their triangular, 6.7-acre site.

RTWT

HT: Matthew MacLean.

11 Aug 2017

PC Vandalism to Architecture of Sterling Memorial Library at Yale

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Yale Alumni Mag:

If you were especially observant during your years on campus, you may have noticed a stone carving by the York Street entrance to Sterling Memorial Library that depict a hostile encounter: a Puritan pointing a musket at a Native American (top). When the library decided to reopen the long-disused entrance as the front door of the new Center for Teaching and Learning, says head librarian Susan Gibbons, she and the university’s Committee on Art in Public Spaces decided the carving’s “presence at a major entrance to Sterling was not appropriate.” The Puritan’s musket was covered over with a layer of stone (bottom) that Gibbons says can be removed in the future without damaging the original carving.

HT: Instapundit.

07 Jul 2017

Oldest Wood-Frame House in the United States

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Vintage News says that the Fairbanks House in Dedham, Massachusetts is the oldest:

The west wing of the house was built around 1654, and the east wing was added in the 18th century. After its construction, a chimney was built at its top, and around 1800 expansion of the parlor was made on this side. At the same time, a new wing with two rooms was added to the west side, and behind this side, a toilet was made as the last addition to the house.

The early inhabitants of the house carved hex signs into the mantle in order to protect themselves from witches. Also, shoes have been found in the attic to chase away evil spirits. In 1895, one of the heirs, Rebecca Fairbanks, was in a difficult financial situation, so she sold the house to John Crowley who after the selling allowed her to live there.

Later, Rebecca sold many of the family items including a unique wooden chest which was made by John Houghton in 1658. This item was purchased back by the family in 2003.

When Crowley wanted to tear down the house in 1897, it was immediately purchased by Mrs. J. A. Codman and her daughter. In 1904, the newly established Fairbanks Family took the house over, and in 1905 it became a museum. In 1960, it was declared a National Historic Landmark and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Two buildings, the La Maison Puisseaux and La maison des Jésuites in Quebec City, date from 1637, but it unclear if they were wood-frame houses.

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