Thursday, April 28, 2011

Unit Summary 3: 4/29/11

Exploration in Architecture
In this unit we looked at the World's Fairs, Frank Lloyd Wright, Art & Crafts Movements, the search for Modernism, Reform, Art Deco and Art Nouveau, and Modernism.

When we discussed the World's Fairs we talked about
  • what a fair is 
  • the purpose of the world's fairs
  • the architecture and design associated with the world's fairs
  • the objects and ideas associated with the world's fairs
  • the different world's fairs and their locations and the most important things that came out of each of them
  • the products that came out of the world's fairs
The world's fairs are festivals, exhibitions, expositions, or expos for people to flaunt their stuff and show off to others.  These world's fairs were seen as world spectacles at the time and they still take place today although they are not nearly as important.  The purpose of these world's fairs was to commemorating, commercializing, collaborating, and celebration.  When looking at the architecture and design aspect of the world's fairs they used the past and the future for their inspiration in their architecture, the buildings they designed were very expensive and lavish, the venues for the fairs were important and after the fairs were hosted there they because institutional legacies, the buildings used in the worlds fairs were usually "temporary" and they were made out of transportable materials that could be carried long distances to get to the fairs location.  Some products that came out of the worlds fairs are cracker jacks, the first dishwasher, wrigley's gum, zippers, and blue ribbon beer.  
World's Fair

Then before we went on our field trip we covered the works of Frank Lloyd Wright.  These works included:
  • His own home and studio
  • "Bootleg" house
  • Ward-Willets House
  • Robie House
  • Unity Temple
  • Larkin Building
  • Fallingwater
The Ward-Willets House in Highland Park, IL was the first house where Wright used the idea of the hearth as the heart of the house by placing the chimney at the center of the house where the heart would be.  He also used the idea of creating horizontal bands out of the building material to ground they house into the landscape.  Later he used these same ideas in the Robie House and Fallingwater.  The Robie House in Chicago, IL he hid the front door so that visitors would be forced to search for the door and experience the building.  This building was when he started designing all the furniture that went into his houses and he designed the windows of this house so that people would not be able to see into the house even without curtains.  Just like the Ward-Willets House he used the building materials such as the brick mortar to emphasis the horizontal nature of the house.  These techniques were also used in his design of Fallingwater in Bear Run, PA.  Frank Lloyd Wright was a man who worked with nature instead of against it.  

The Robie House

The two different major art movements from this time period were art nouveau and art deco.  Art nouveau was in Europe whereas art deco was in the United States.  These art movements are reflected in object design today.  During these movements people focused on breaking the rules so that things would not fit perfectly within the "box" of design.  They also focused on using materiality to make the buildings stand out and in some cases seem to make the buildings come alive.  One example that we covered in class was the Postal Savings Bank in Wagner.  In this building the systems are used as decorating in the space.  This technique is also used in our studio building where the building systems are exposed and a somewhat kind of decoration.

Postal Savings Bank in Wagner

Interior of Gatewood Studio Arts Building

Then the last thing that we covered in this last unit was the idea of modernism and why everyone was trying so hard to be modern.  The critiques of the buildings from the modernism era say that the problem with modern buildings is that all the buildings speak a similar language but that language is hard to understand.  Some of the designers that we talked about that were involved in modernism were Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, Phillip Johnson, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Edward Loewenstein.  The building that we talked about that I found the most interesting was the Edward and Frances Loewenstein House in Greensboro designed by Edward Loewenstein.  This house was designed with slanted windows to help with heating in the winter when the sun hits the stone and heats it and then cooling in the summer because the slanted windows keep the sun out.  Then the fireplace is designed to filter the smoke and heat down and out of the house.  Edward Loewenstein was the first to employ women and african-americans on his staff.

Edward and Frances Loewenstein House
Overall in this unit we discovered that everything within design and its history is connected in some way shape or form to everything else.  It is just like how we previously discussed this semester with the nautilus shell and how architecture is constantly building upon its history to create a better future.

Images from Google Images.
Information from Roth and Ching Textbook and personal notes.

Blog Post 14: 4/29/11

Object, Space, Building, and Place that I find Inspirational

Light bulb designed by Solovyov Design
I find this light bulb by Solovyov Design inspirational because it is an interesting twist on the common everyday fluorescent light bulbs.  I think it is interesting when people find new ways to design a common product to make it stand out from the rest.

Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center 
I find the courtyard inside the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee to be an inspirational space.  I think it is fascinating how they managed to create this giant courtyard at the center of the building filled with restaurants, shops, fountains, and sitting areas while still allowing the sunlight to enter the space through the giant skylight ceiling.

Sydney Opera House
I find the Sydney Opera House inspirational because of how it broke the rules and stands out from the other architecture of its time.  Although the opera house does not function as well as it should for the purpose which it was designed for I still find it to be a very beautiful building and I think it is fascinating how the inspiration for the design came from seeing sails on the harbor because when I see the building that is what it looks like to me.  I find this building to be one of the most beautiful buildings ever built.

San Francisco 
I find the city of San Francisco to be inspiration and it is my favorite city I have ever been to because of how beautifully it is constructed.  I think it is fascinating how the city is built on the hills with all of the winding little streets snaking their way between the buildings.  However, the city is very difficult to travel in a car but I’m sure it just takes some getting use to like living in New York City would.  I found this city to be the most fun to explore on foot because of all the interesting buildings, like these townhouses, built along the gently sloping hills in the city.

Images from Google Images

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bright Idea

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Reading Response 13: 4/18/11

Born to Stand Out
"Advances in technology and computers enabled architects to build structures that just the decade before would have been unthinkable."
-Francis D.K. Ching

This office building in downtown Prague, Czech Republic is
nicknamed the Dancing House.
It was designed by  Vlado Milunic and Frank Gehry.

Building designed by Norman Foster

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain
designed by 
Frank Gehry

Disney Theater in Los Angeles, California
designed by Frank Gehry

The Empire State Building stood out from the
New York skyline when it was first built in 1930-1931

 The Sydney Opera House
The idea for the Sydney Opera House came from Danish architect Jorn Utzon's prizewinning contest drawing.  The design has a series of interlocking shells of different sizes that sit on top of a huge platform base.  It was built in 1965-1973 on the tip of Bennelong Point so that it sits in the middle of the harbor of Sydney.  The rising shells of the structure look like the sails of boats in the harbor and the interior ceiling mimicked that of the water in the harbor and the rhythm of sound waves.  Utzon himself worked on the design until 1965 when he resigned and the details to complete the design were then worked out by an engineer named Ove Arup.  The original estimated cost for this building was $9 million but in the end the building ended up costing $400 million.  The structure was completed in 1973 and opened to the public and although the space does not work as well as it could it has become the permanent worldwide symbol Sydney, Australia.
Sydney Opera House 


The Guggenheim Museum
 In 1943 Frank Lloyd Wright was asked by Solomon R. Guggenheim to design a museum to display and house the Guggenheim's modern art collection.  However, later on in 1952 the museum expanded to house more than just the Guggenheim's art collection.  With his elaborate design he had to first persuade the New York building officials that the building was safe and then he was able to construct the building in 1956-1959.  What Wright designed was a giant spiral shaped building made of reinforced concrete and as the spiral twisted upward the ramp on the interior of the spiral would expand outward as it got higher. At the very top of this spiral he put a large circular skylight to allow light to enter straight down the center of the spiraling space.  The result of this design created a somewhat modern day Pantheon with its circular area with an oculus at the center to allow for light only this time instead the oculus is closed off with glass to protect the interior and there is no front portico on the front facade.  The circular nature of this building was a great contrast to the sharp rectilinear buildings that surround it and fill the rest of Manhattan.  In a way Wright created a place like the Paris Opera in the aspect that they both created a place to see and be seen.  Although this building is without a doubt a beautiful masterpiece of architecture it has some conflicts with what it was designed for.  For example, curved walls are really hard to display paintings on and a ramped spiral is hard to display sculptures on.
Guggenheim Museum


Apart From the Rest of the Crowd
Each of these buildings show above:
  • The Dancing House
  • The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain
  • The Disney Theater
  • The Empire State Building
  • The Sydney Opera House
  • The Guggenheim Museum in New York
 were meant to stand out from their surroundings as a statement of architecture and design.  The Empire State Building, although it does not stand out so much anymore, at the time it was built it over powered the rest of the New York skyline with its enormous form.  The buildings such as the Sydney Opera House and the Guggenheim Museum drastically stand out from their surroundings and have become symbols of the cities in which they are both located.  However, with these two buildings their designs stretch so far out that they pose some problems with their purpose somewhat like the gothic cathedrals did.  The original designs had to be somewhat altered for the buildings to even remain standing and even then although the accomplished the challenge of standing out  there was some difficulty in using the buildings in the way they were meant for.  The spaces within the Sydney Opera House were too small and did not always work very well and the sloping, ramped, spiral that makes up the circular main area and the curved walls of the Guggenheim Museum do not work very well for displaying art.  Despite these draw backs these buildings are still marvelous pieces of architecture.

Images from Google Images
Information from Roth and Ching textbooks

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Blog Post 13: 4/18/11

The Impact of Scandinavian Modern Design on Today's Design

Scandinavian modern design has had a substantial impact on the modern design of today.  Scandinavian modern design was a design movement that started in the 1900's.  The major focuses of the design created during this movement were simplicity, fundamentalism, and performance of the products being designed.  The majority of the products that were created during this movement were inexpensive due to the fact that they were being mass produced in factories so they were not as hard or as time consuming to make.  One product in todays design world that follows this idea is the Cricket Chair made by Loll Furniture in Minnesota.  Each of these chairs is made from 140 recycled milk jugs.  These chairs are durable and can be used either indoors our outdoors in any kind of conditions and are heavy enough not to blow away in the wind.  As shown in the picture they come in several different colors and designs.
Cricket Chairs

Information from: 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chairs, chair, and more chairs

I want this chair!

Even though it is technically not an actual chair I still thought it was really cool!

A spin on the S Chair? By Wild Design

Monday, April 11, 2011

Reading Response 12: 4/11/11

A Man of Natural Architecture
Frank Lloyd Wright was one of few architects that was more concerned with working side by side with nature rather than beating in into submission.  His work can be divided into several different phases:

  • The time between when he opened his office in 1893 to the building of the Robie House (1908-1910)
  • The Taliesin Phase (1911-1914)
  • The time between the design of the Imperial Hotel to the construction of Fallingwater in 1934 and Taliesin West in 1938
  • The time between the construction of the Johnson Wax Administration Building in 1936 to the building of the Marin County Civic Center in 1957
  • He died in 1959
Frank Lloyd Wright
The buildings he designed include four hundred houses and about a dozen other major buildings.  Wright liked to break away from tradition and create his own personal stylistic development and he was always looking for ways to further abstract his architecture.  One idea that is carried out in all of his residential buildings that we have looked at is that the fireplace/hearth is the heart of the home located at the very center and the rest of the house unfolds from there. 

The Robie House
The house stretches horizontally across the rectangular lot that it is contained in and has several separate horizontal bands that lead your eye across the front of the building.  The walls that run across the front of the house almost make it seem like a guarded fortress but at the same time with the long horizontal bands across the house it reflects the horizontal linearity of the street and the sidewalk running across in front and on one side of it.  He also used different colored mortar in the brick work to make the horizontal lines stand out while the vertical ones seem to melt away into the same color as the bricks to emphasis the horizontal nature of the structure.  Wright purposefully hid the front door in this building so that you would have to walk around the front of the house and experience the architecture before entering the structure.  Every aspect of this house was designed by Wright him self right down the to the carpet and the windows.  The windows of which were artistically designed almost like stained glass so that they would allow for light to enter the space but at the same time allow enough privacy so curtains would be unnecessary.
The Robie House

Robie House Vs. Steiner House
The Robie House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright has many similarities to that of the Steiner House by Adolf Loos.  However, most of these similarities are hiding beneath the blatantly obvious.  Both buildings have an interior that is 
  • intimate
  • richly detailed
  • crafted down to the simplest of details
However, the clear difference between these two buildings is there relationship to the world outside the building.  The Robie House has a lot of porches and platforms extending off front the house where as the Steiner House has all exterior detail stripped away to give a very simple exterior.  

The Robie House
Steiner House

Taliesin East
Wright designed this house after a trip to Italy in 1909.  It was first intended to be a retreat in Spring Green, Wisconsin and then he transformed it into a home instead.  Its name comes from the Book of Taliesin, which is a collection of poems and prophecies attributed to a 6th-century Welsh court poet.  This building represented to drastic changes away from his earlier architecture which had to be built on a certain size lot in a suburban neighborhood and were designed to gradually move from formal spaces to informal spaces within the building.  This house was built on the top of a broad hill and had plenty of space to expand into and lacked this clear division seen in his previous buildings.  Wright designed this building with what he though was a uniquely American receptivity to the landscape around the house.  He said it was not "on" the hill but "of" the hill,  for it was not easy "to tell where pavement and walls left off and ground began," because of gardens with low walls and stone steps leading from them up to the house.  The low horizontal roof reflects the low and slowly rolling hills of the landscape and the rough stone walls that are clearly manufactured seem to still have a natural experience to them.  All of these aspects of having the house be "of" the hill give people inside of the house a sense of being embedded in the landscape.  Wright described this house as a "natural house" in that it is "native in spirit."  This house is a reflection of the things that Wright saw in his visit to Italy, such as the great Renaissance, the Baroque villas, and the gardens.  Taking what he saw in Italy he designed this house to be not only a house but also a country estate, a farm, a studio, a workshop, and a family seat all wrapped up into one.
Taliesin East

Robie House, Taliesin East, and Fallingwater
In looking at all three of these houses Wright designed in all different periods of his career you can still see the underlying themes of what was important to him in his designs that never really changed much but that he expanded upon and worked them further to get exactly the effect he wanted in his buildings.  For example, all three of these structures are focused on a horizontal form, the hearth is the heart of the home at the center, and he found it very important to work along side with nature rather than over powering it.  This idea of working with the natural aspects rather than demolishing them is what I think makes his architecture so enjoyable and interesting.  Fallingwater and Taliesin East represent this idea better because they were not as restricted as the Robie House was in its design but he still worked with that building to make it reflect the landscape around it even though the landscape around it was not as natural.  
The Robie House

Taliesin East

Information from Ching Textbook
Images from Google Images

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Blog Post 12: 4/11/11

A building/place that I think represents "good design for all" is Numba Parks in Osaka, Japan.  The reason that I think this represents good design for all is because it has so many elements combined into one.  It has an office space for working, a shopping mall for playing, and natural garden areas for just relaxing and enjoying some sun.  If you compare it to the architecture surrounding it it has a much earthier and greener look to it that makes it stand out from everything around it.  The location of this building/place is across the street from a train stop which just happens to be the one right after boarding the train from the airport which means that it is easily accessible for both locals and tourists.  Also, I think this building/place is aesthetically pleasing and is very interesting to look at and I will bet its an even more interesting place to go.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Unit Summary 2: 4/8/11

Week 5: Eyes dance across surface, music enfolds, light washes from above.  Worship spaces stand as tangible expressions of faith in glass and stone.

Week 6: The first millennium ends, the modern world map unfolds. We see more enlightened places and people than in previous notions of the "dark age".

Week 7: Making rules to break with gothic ideas and re-link to the ancients of the western world. Observing continuities with the past in the east.

Week 8: As western rules made and written, designers work across genre and scale to bend and break the rules. Eastern designers maintain a continuous approach.

Week 9: Colonial expansion brings ideas and people around the world. In these encounters, emulations and maintaining differences both become important.

Week 10: Architecture and design obscure significant political, social, and cultural change brought by revolution and invention throughout the world.

Building on the past to create a better future
During the fifth week of class we talked about the ideas of expressing of faith through glass and stone and architecture being frozen music.  People of this time expressed their religions by building elaborate places of worship in which to house their religious practices or places that were symbolic of their faith.  For example, the pyramids, the parthenon, the pantheon, the basilica of constantine and this is also still done with churches today.  They also tended to build religious buildings on important religious sites such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which marks where Jesus is buried and the Church of the Nativity marks where he was born.  Santa Costanza in Rome marks where Constantine's daughter's burial site.

Evolution of the Early Churches

Then there was the concept of architecture being frozen music and how they both shaped one another.  For example, in this video the although the cathedral shown is not one of the ones we reviewed in class the music being played within its  hall still seems to fit with the architecture around it.
This and many other spaces the music and the architecture seem to reflect one another and fit together as one.

"I call architecture frozen music."
-Joham Wolfgang von Goethe 

"Architecture is music in space, as it were, a frozen music."
-Friedrich von Schelling

In the sixth week of class we discussed the unfolding scenes of world maps.  Every topic that we have studied in this class has been a cognitive map and their under lying ideas have been based on cognitive maps.  These maps talk about the rules and the physical space of the buildings and the architecture.
Circle, Groves, and Stacks

Combination of circle and cross marks
very sacred space

Everything can be a cognitive map and can be interpreted included the spaces and places within architectural buildings.

Then we moved on later in the week to talking about gothic cathedrals which are also planned out using cognitive maps such as:

gothic cathedral layout
The cognitive map in the upper image is demonstrating the purpose of the layout of most gothic cathedrals including this one which is the Cologne Cathedral.

Cologne Cathedral

Cognitive map of planning of
Amiens Labyrinth 

This cognitive map is used in the planning out of the labyrinth of the Amiens Cathedral.  At the very center of this labyrinth is a stone with images honoring the architects and the bishop.

Amiens Labyrinth

These miraculous cathedrals were massive in size with elaborate decoration and ornamentation.  These buildings were intended to show the relationship between man and God by stretching as far skyward as possible without collapse.  Which unfortunately the majority of these gothic cathedrals did collapse because they did not yet have the proper means to create a building of this size and extravagance however the ones still standing today managed to be saved.  With these churches they were trying to create a glass lantern which goes back to the earlier idea of expressing faith through glass and stone which is the two major materials in these cathedrals.

Amiens Cathedral
During the seventh week we talked about the great western and eastern design rule book.  The western world was trying to explain the world around them through use of architecture and taking broad ideas from the past and using them to make new things.  Whereas in the eastern world they tend to build upon the same ideas over and over again and never really change much instead they just replace the things that do not work and stick with the things that do.  Both the eastern and western worlds speak the same design language just in their own unique ways.

In the eight week of class we learned about the rules from the previous week and how designers began to go out of their way to break these rules.  We also talked about how during their breaking of the rules they spared no expense in doing so through either elaborate decorations, extragerating details, they put an emphasis on materials, made elaborate front facade to strut their stuff.  Also, they focused more on spreading out horizontally and controlling the landscape rather than stretching the building vertically.  Some buildings of this time period followed some of the rules while breaking others to make the building stand out from the rest.  
Baroque style
One of these buildings known as the Villa Rotunda designed by Palladio resembled the Pantheon but instead with a porch on each of the four sides of the building which broke the rules of being on axis because the building did not have a specific sense of direction due to the four identical porches that did not specify which way to enter the space.  This building influenced Monticello which we visited on our field trip earlier this week.  With Monticello I think that the back of the building or the garden entrance looks more like it should be the front entrance than the main entrance itself.  Another designed space that influenced Jefferson's work at the University of Virginia is the Piazzo Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo.  In this space there are two buildings angled slightly towards the main building to create emphasis on the central building.  Jefferson uses this in the design of the UVA lawn in front of the library to put emphasis on the large domed library as the most important building.

Piazzo Campidoglio
University of Virginia lawn
Throughout all of the architecture that the have studied water has been a very important element.  From the aqueducts to the detailed decoration in the Baroque time period.  They can all be linked back to an important aspect of water.
Water, water, water

We also discussed how architecture is constantly changing and building on what previous designers have done and improving it based on the past.  We used the nautilus shell to demonstrate this idea of constantly changing and expanding forms of architecture and design.  

Nautilus shell picture with my added information and theories

In week nine we started talking about colonial expansion and how people and ideas started to move all around the world.  The ideas of needing commodity, firmness, and delight in design are still as prevalent in this time period as they were before.  During this time everything was in revolution and being modern became very important.  Then we covered the semiotics and language of design.  The semiotics are the latent meanings in everyday life that need to be uncovered to truly understand the design.  

"There exists a normally hidden set of rules, codes, and conventions through which meanings particular to specific social groups are made universal."
-Ronald Barthes 

Then in the tenth and final week of this unit we talked about the idea of taking matters and turning them over on themselves and the idea of a design cycle.  The design cycle would resemble that of a cartwheel, which Patrick demonstrated in class for us, because it is a continuing loop that in architecture and design that goes from revolution to revolution.  In an ideal world each of these loops and periods are even to one another.  However, in reality they are very different.  We also again looked at the idea of object, space, building, and place which has been an important idea throughout this entire semester and not just this specific unit.  Viewing architecture in this way helps us to look at the connections between all of the aspects of design.  The connections of the object to the space, the space to the building, and the building to the place.  All of these things are interconnected.  We also covered the revolution and how ironically the rules were being followed in the "revolution" whereas they were being broken and stretched in the Baroque time period just before this one.  This causes it hard to identify objects, spaces, and buildings because usually the ones that looked revolutionary actually were not.  Then we finished off the unit with briefly talking about the worlds fairs but there are covered in more detail in the next unit.

So overall we are still dealing with the general overall ideas still being passed down through time.  These ideas include circles, groves, and stacks; the ideas of cognitive maps that can be used to explain architecture; the importance of water; importance of commodity, firmness, and delight; connections between object, space, building, and pace; and the idea of viewing architecture and design as nautilus shell because it is constantly building on pervious ideas from previous time periods but trying to out do them at the same time.  Architecture and design is ever changing and always expanding in its ideas, forms, and underlying concepts to create a spectacular history and an even more extraordinary future.

 Images from Google Images