Category Archives: architectural history

21st Century Architects Reinterpret 20th Century Skyscraper

Image Credit: Kendall McCaugherty

In honor of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, director Johnston Marklee invited young design studios from Europe and the Americas to submit large scale, modeled towers reinterpreting the original Tribune Tower brief. The exhibition mirrors a design competition in 1922, asking architects to conceive of a home for the Chicago Tribune Newspaper. The resulting tower, a neo-Gothic structure designed by John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood, was built in 1925.

Some of the towers are abstract, others deeply detailed. Sam Jacob Studio’s design borrows elements of architect Adolf Loos’ 1922 proposal for the tower, and gives it a modern twist. The exhibition uniquely shows the evolution of design throughout the last 95 years.

The Biennial opens to the public on September 16 2017, and runs until January 17, 2018.

Source: Dezeen

The Covert Stepwells of India

Stepwells often have no above ground presence, but beneath the ground intricately carved steps lead into a pool of water displaying a beautiful and illusive architectural character. Tucked away in fields or hidden in cities, the Stepwells of India remain an architectural mystery. The scholarship of Stepwells is limited, but it is believed that the Stepwells once served as a communal place for washing, bathing, and drinking water. The Stepwells acted as a rest stop for travelers and ranged in intricacy and size. Many of the Stepwells are believed to be created or funded by women honoring their dead husbands. Interest in the Stepwells has risen in the past years. Hotels are using the Stepwells as a tourist draw, and others are revitalizing the Stepwells to be used in the communal way that they were originally intended.

Source: Archdaily

Aerial Photographs of Cities in the 1930s by Walter Mittelhozer

Photo Credit: Walter Mittelhozer

Walter Mittelhozer was a pioneering aviator and the co-founder of Swissair. He photographed many cities in the Middle East and Africa. Mittelholzer always flew with a co-pilot so that he could photograph from the air. A new book, published by Scheidegger & Spiecss documents his ariel shots.

Source: Guardian

The Mystery of Roman Concrete

Photo Credit: Colin Knowles

Modern concrete on seawalls will eventually erode and need repair after only a few decades, yet the Roman pier at Portus Consanus in Orbetello, Italy has withstood the sea for millennia.  The secret to this concrete’s longevity is a mineral growth after the concrete has cured. When Roman engineers mixed volcanic ash, lime, and seawater to make mortar, the combination also created a pozzolanic reaction. This reaction, named after the city Pozzuoli in the Bay of Naples, caused the formation of crystals in the spaces of the concrete mixture making the concrete incredibly strong.

Source: Archinect

Beautiful, Obsolete Technology

Giant concrete acoustic mirrors speckle the British coastline. These massive concrete dishes were used as sound mirrors to warn the United Kingdom of enemy airplanes approaching from across the English Channel and the North Sea. The concrete dish acted almost as a radar, by responding to the sound of the aircraft and focusing the waves to a single point, then, a microphone would catch the sounds. The structures were also able to determine the direction of the attacking plane. After airplanes became faster in the 1930s, the sounds dishes were no longer usable.

Source: ArchDaily

Famous Architects without an Architecture Degree

Photo Credit: Archdaily

Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Buckminster Fuller, Luis Barragán, Carlo Scarpa, Tadao Ando, and Peter Zumthor all reached critical acclaim as architects without possessing a design degree. Many of these men attended school for a short time and then moved on to apprenticeships. This article explains how each architect encountered obstacles in their education, yet, ultimately became successful.

Source: Archdaily

Wright Home Serves as a Resource for Architecture Students

Photo Credit: wikimedia.org, CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)

To celebrate what would have been Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday, Zach Rawling donated his Phoenix home that was designed by Wright, to the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. The home—originally designed for Wright’s son—was saved by Rawling from demolition in 2012. Rawling originally wanted to make the home a museum, but now the house will become a resource for hands-on restoration and renovation for the architecture students at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

Source: Archinect

The 200-Acre Model

In 1927 the Mississippi River flooded the Midwest causing mass devastation. The number of people who died in the tragic event is unknown; Herbert Hoover called it “the most dangerous flood our country has ever known.” Congress passed the Flood Control Act of 1928, and the Army Corps build a sophisticated model to test flood prevention strategies. The model was a three-dimensional map of the United States at 1/2000 scale. The model was used to successfully predict which levees were overtopped in floods in later years. Although computer models have replaced this massive model, physical models are still useful for running advanced simulations that computers cannot adequately process.

Source: 99 Percent Invisible

MoMA Celebrates Frank Lloyd Wright’s Birthday With Special Exhibition

The Museum of Modern Art is celebrating Frank Lloyd Wright with a new exhibition titled Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive. The exhibition features drawings, building fragments, photographs, models, and other ephemera related to Wright’s career—including an original physical model of the Guggenheim—on view through October 1, 2017.

Source: Archinect

The Question of the Alamo

Image Credit: Next City

The site of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, has been an item of contention lately. Complaints about the World Heritage site’s lack of a prominent visual presence have prompted a rethinking of the site’s layout. Preservation Design Partnership has proposed a large, enclosing glass wall that will mark the bounds of the original structure. Critiques against this proposal assert that the area that will be enclosed by the wall currently functions as a completely public plaza. Critics argue that this proposal could be the end of the “street preaching, panhandling, raspa vending, trinket shopping, [and] photo posing” that constitute the role of the square in the city.

Source: Next City

Photographer Documents the Same Buildings Year After Year

Image Credit: Camilo Jose Vergara

Image Credit: Camilo Jose Vergara

Photographer Camilo Jose Vergara has spent the past forty years photographing decaying buildings in low-income American neighborhoods in his project titled “Tracking Time.” Vergara’s image sets reveal the life span of several buildings as they decline, are demolished, or are restored. The photographs reveal both gradual and drastic changes in the built environment, showing how social and economic factors impact the world we live in. In some cases, Vergara documented entire streetscapes, illustrating the loss and change low income communities face.

Source: Messy Nessy

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Missing Works Become Photorealistic Renderings

Trinity Chapel rendering Image Credit: David Romero

Trinity Chapel rendering
Image Credit: David Romero

Spanish architect David Romero has created a series of renderings that portray the missing works of Frank Lloyd Wright. Two of the works were demolished, including the Larkin Administration Building and the Rose Pauson House, while one of the works—the Trinity Chapel—was never built. Using AutoCad, 3dsMax, Vray, and Photoshop, Romero recreated these works of architecture so that current generations could enjoy them. Although Romero was forced to take some liberties with the buildings, the renderings are meant to portray Wright’s ideas as accurately as possible.

Source: Archdaily