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

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