Holiday Week + Astoria Talk & Walk

Today is Memorial Day, so I’ve decided to take the week off, not just today; regular posts will resume on Monday, June 3. One thing I’ll be doing this week is researching and finalizing a new walking tour of Astoria and Long Island City, Queens, that will take place on Sunday, June 2, as part of a book talk I’ll be giving at my neighborhood bookstore, Astoria Bookshop. The walk will immediately follow the talk and go from the bookstore (31-29 31st Street) to MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Avenue). We will wind our way around parts of the Astoria, Dutch Kills, and Hunters Point neighborhoods, looking at new buildings and learning about the rezonings that have reshaped the area. Info about that event is below, on my Walking Tours page, and on the Astoria Bookshop website.

Astoria Bookshop
Sunday, June 2: 1pm
John Hill on NYC Walks: Guide to New Architecture
Join local Astoria author John Hill for a discussion of his book, NYC Walks: Guide to New Architecture, followed by a walking tour of Astoria and Long Island City, from Astoria Bookshop to MoMA PS1, looking at recent buildings of note as well as discussing the building boom in LIC.

Future Systems

Future Systems
Marcus Field
Phaidon, October 2000

Hardcover | 10 x 11-3/4 inches | 208 pages | English | ISBN: 9780714838311 | $X.00

Publisher Description:

Examines the continuing development of Future Systems, considered by many to be one of the most inspirational practices working today. The book features 30 recent projects, including at least eight built works, and designs for products and furniture, and also a glossary of projects from 1958-92. The recent and current building included in the text are the Media Centre at Lord’s Cricket Ground, a yellow pontoon bridge at Canary Wharf, and one of the first millennium projects – the Earth centre, outside Doncaster.

dDAB Commentary:

On pages 190 and 191 in Phaidon’s new book Houses: Extraordinary Living, Gaetano Pesce’s Bahia House (1998) in Brazil and Future Systems’ Malator House (1994) in Wales face each other. They do this almost literally, since the round and slotted windows of the former make it appear like a face, while the round vents of the latter appear like two eyes set into the small glazed entry. Seeing the Malator House prompted me to dig into Phaidon’s earlier, eponymous book on Future Sytems, in which the House in Wales, as it’s called simply, is accompanied by dozens of other built and unbuilt projects. Published in 2000, Future Systems arrived at a hinge moment: between manual and digital processes in architectural production, for sure, but also between small and large projects and between good and bad times for Future Systems. One year before publication, the small UK firm led by husband-and-wife architects Jan Kaplický and Amanda Levete completed the Natwest Media Center in London, which earned them the Stirling Prize. In 2003, they would see the completion of their largest project, Selfridges in Birmingham, which I included in 100 Years, 100 Buildings. But by the end of the first decade of the millennium, Kaplický and Levete would divorce, they would split the firm into two, and Kaplický would die, in 2009 at the age of 71.

So flipping through the pages of Future Systems is an ironic experience, its optimism tinged with the knowledge of what would happen in the ensuing years. Everything in the book — its words by Marcus Field, the generous illustrations of projects and influences, even the rounded corners of its pages — looks to the future, an optimistic future of technology harnessed for good. Of course, events well outside of Future Systems’ control would steer the 21st century in a different direction, from the events of September 11 and the use of technology for surveillance, to the rise of social media and the shift of capitalism toward one of surveillance as well. Kaplický’s preference for blobs was rooted in an effort to apply technologies from, for instance, boat building to architecture (it happened with Natwest), but it was also one source of the split between him and Levete, who moved toward more “rational” and “practical” forms. Although architects have moved on from blobs, those who embrace technology to create flowing forms or even more rational forms through advanced means owe a lot to the pioneering work of Future Systems. In turn, this book is a great snapshot of a moment when history’s lessons were applied to architecture’s optimistic future.

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Author Bio:

Marcus Field is a freelance arts and architecture journalist. He has worked as an editor on the Architects’ Journal, Blueprint and The Independent on Sunday. He lives in Devon and London.

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MONU #30

MONU #30: Late Life Urbanism
Bernd Upmeyer (Editor-in-Chief)
BOARD Publishers, Spring 2019

Paperback | 7-3/4 x 10-1/2 inches | 128 pages | English | ISSN: 1860-3211 | $23.99

Publisher Description:

Retirement Utopianism – Interview with Deane Simpson by Bernd Upmeyer; Sun City by Peter Granser; The Great Escape: Domesticity for Nomadic Retirees by Hannah Wood and Benjamin Wells; Stayin’ Alive – Interview with Frits van Dongen by Bernd Upmeyer; Bucephalus by Nicolò Calandrini; The Future We Don’t Want to Know About by Anuschka Kutz; A Knock on the Door by Rachel Marlene Kauder; Ageing UK High Streets: Adding Life to Years by Luca Brunelli; Developing an Age-friendly Urbanism by Chris Phillipson; Traversing Heterotopias by Rafael Luna; What Kind of Care Do We Want? by Arjen Born; God’s Waiting Room by Julienne Gage; Intergenerational Living by BETA; Home for the Elderly by Junya Ishigami; Urban Neurodegeneration: Future Approaches to the Architecture of Care by Jack Sardeson; Mega Family Communities for China’s Aging Society by Apple Yi Jiang; Live Smarter Now to Live Better Forever by Matthias Hollwich; Emmy’s World by Hanne van der Woude

dDAB Commentary:

Has MONU gone mainstream with its 30th issue? With previous issues focused on “Brutal Urbanism,” “Border Urbanism,” “Exotic Urbanism,” “Non-Urbanism,” “Transnational Urbanism,” and other sometimes marginal or avant-garde approaches to discussing cities, “Late Life Urbanism” feels fairly tame and highly practical. What comes to mind when thinking about urbanism for retirees and other people late in life? For me, it’s retirement communities such as The Villages, where my parents and 122,458 other seniors live. The place — studied by Deane Simpson in one of my favorite books, Young-Old: Urban Utopias of an Aging Society — is a cluster of gated “villages” oriented about dozens of golf courses and anchored by a trio of “town centers.” The town centers are themed (Spanish, Seaside, Western) but pedestrian-oriented, while the villages are sprawling, requiring a car or golf cart to get around. Outside of the miles of golf cart paths, the most interesting aspect of The Villages, the place is very conservative, bland. So how can late life urbanism move beyond conservative, age-restrictive versions of the suburbs?

Bernd Upmeyer, editor in chief of MONU, begins the 30th issue with an interview with Simpson, who describes Young-Old in depth and points out the problematic issues of places like The Villages (exclusivity, segregation, etc.). Later he interviews Frits van Dongen, the former Chief Government Architect of the Netherlands, about projects and urban situations that work for old people but are not restricted to them. In essence, the Dutch model and The Villages model are at either end of the late life urbanism spectrum, meaning there’s plenty to explore in between. Beyond those interviews, MONU #30 has sixteen contributions that range from essays (e.g., “Traversing Heterotopias,” in which Rafael Luna applies Michael Foucault’s notion to Seoul in the future) and projects (Junya Ishigami’s project for people with dementia that consists of old, familiar houses slated for demolition but rebuilt together in one location) to photography (Peter Granser’s look at Sun City, Arizona, the USA’s oldest adults-only community. While there’s nothing overtly avant-garde here, the work, ideas, and research around design for aging —  in a world that is getting increasingly older — is too important to ignore.

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Author Bio:

Bernd Upmeyer is the founder of BOARD and editor in chief of MONU – Magazine on Urbanism. He studied architecture and urban design at the University of Kassel (Germany) and the Technical University of Delft (Netherlands).

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Houses

Houses: Extraordinary Living
Phaidon Editors
Phaidon, May 2019

Hardcover | 9-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches | 448 pages | 400 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-0714878096 | $59.95

Publisher Description:

Throughout history, houses have presented architects the world over with infinite opportunities to experiment with new methods and materials for domestic living. Houses: Extraordinary Living celebrates the incredible diversity and beauty of the house as never before, from Modernist icons to feats of technological, material, and spatial innovation in the 21st century.

The 400 houses in this collection are organized in curated pairings, with each entry featuring an evocative image and an engaging description. Styles presented include Modernism, Postmodernism, Brutalism, Regionalism, Deconstructivism, and International Style. Houses are from countries and locations worldwide that are famed for their houses, such as Australia and Japan, the Case Study Houses in Los Angeles, New Canaan in Connecticut, and Fire Island in New York.

Explore the creative imaginations of hundreds of internationally renowned architects past and present, as well as dozens of awe-inspiring houses by lesser-known and emerging talents. Iconic architects of the twentieth century, including Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Marcel Breuer, as well as the very best of contemporary architects working around the world today, such as Tadao Ando, Grafton, and Steven Holl are included.

dDAB Commentary:

Earlier this year I reviewed Drawing Architecture, noting how the book, published by Phaidon and authored by Helen Thomas, paired two drawings per spread in “an associational approach” meant to, as described in the book, “provide imaginative space for the reader to make their own connections between the images.” Similarly, the 400 houses from 1901-2018 in Houses: Extraordinary Living are presented as “visual pairs” rather than in alphabetical, chronological, or geographical order. As Sam Lubell writes in the Introduction, with echoes of Drawing Architecture, this approach is used “to provide imaginative space for the reader to make their own connections.” So in the case of Andrew Geller’s Pearlroth House (Long Island, NY, 1959) and Moon Hoon’s Simple House (Jeju-si, South Korea, 2017), as seen in the bottom spread, we’re drawn to the diagonals, which we’d be focused on anyways, even if each house were seen separately. But together, we’re inclined to consider how the diagonals are used in each house: as boxes rotated 45 degrees to contain rooms and as structural members used to brace the house’s concrete boxes against strong winds.

With 200 such pairs, the book can be read in a number of ways: comparing and contrasting the visual pairs, learning about new houses never encountered before (my preferred way), learning about the houses through the short descriptions that accompany the photos, or using the timeline at the back of the book to hone in on contemporaneous creations. Whatever the case, this compilation, like Drawing Architecture and other titles with one item per page, is a jumping-off place for learning about houses and architects of interest. After all, how much information can be conveyed with one exterior photo and a dozen lines of text? The photos serve to pique the readers interest, while the descriptions expand upon the qualities of each house and give readers a better idea if they want to look for more information elsewhere. For fans of modern residential architecture, there is an abundance of interesting projects. I write about architecture for a living, but I came across many houses I’d never seen before or architects I’d never heard of — a testament to the diversity of house assembled by the editors at Phaidon.

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Author Bio:

N/A

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Bernard Trainor

Bernard Trainor: Ground Studio Landscapes
Bernard Trainor
Princeton Architectural Press, May 2019

Hardcover | 12 x 9 inches | 224 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1616897826 | $55.00

Publisher Description:

Bernard Trainor’s newest book celebrates the wild and elemental landscapes of California, from the craggy coasts of Big Sur to the fertile hills of Sonoma wine country. His award-winning work combines an awareness of regional context with materials, collaboration, and deep connection to the land. Beautifully photographed and documented with full color plans, the projects in this survey of his recent work include a range of scale, from compact urban gardens to expansive rural sites. Trainor’s regional, sustainable approach inspires wonder and respect for nature as it aims to preserve and restore it.

dDAB Commentary:

Not long before this week’s publication of this monograph, Bernard Trainor + Associates changed its name to Ground Studio, “honoring the collaboration inherent in [their] team of artists and designers working together to envision and craft contextual California landscapes.” Based on this book and Ground Studio’s website, the California landscapes that Trainor has crafted are exclusively residential, many of them accompanying modern houses designed by some familiar names: Feldman Architecture, William McDonough + Partners, Sagan Piechota Architecture (now Piechota Architecture), and Swatt | Miers Architects, to name a few. More than the style of architecture – building or landscape – what comes across in this monograph is the unity of the two. These are residences where house and yard become one, where indoor and outdoor spaces sometimes blur, and where landscapes are anything but leftover spaces.

A few projects stand out from the dozen presented in these pages. Arroyo Sequoia (first three spreads below and the cover photo) has the house in Carmel, designed by Daniel Piechota, bridging an exterior stair that unites the site’s low and high levels, and includes some creative details and outdoor rooms. Elsewhere in Carmel, Trainor softens the concrete walls of Feldman Architecture’s Butterfly HouseBig Rock (fourth spread), also done with Piechota, is a balanced mix of building and landscape, following the site’s slope and integrating itself into the Napa setting. There’s something to like in every project, and with colored plans, short descriptions, and plenty of photographs, there’s plenty for both architects and landscape architects to enjoy. Landscape architects in particular should appreciate the project details at the back of the book, where Trainor generously lists the hardscape and plant materials used on each project.

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Author Bio:

Bernard Trainor is an Australian-born designer and founding principal and design director of Ground Studio Landscapes, based in Monterey, California. His projects have been featured in a wide range of books and publications and are the recipients of numerous awards. His previous book is Landprints.

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The Other Tradition of Modern Architecture

The Other Tradition of Modern Architecture: The Uncompleted Project
Colin St. John Wilson
Black Dog Publishing, January 2007

Paperback | 6-1/2 x 9 inches | 192 pages | 210 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1904772620 | $29.95

Publisher Description:

The Other Tradition of Modern Architecture: The Uncompleted Project is a re-edition of an essential work by Colin St John Wilson, architect of the British Library and one of the most eminent voices in architectural theory and practice of the last 50 years. Re-edited and re-designed to Wilson’s specifications, and with a new introduction by architect and writer Ellis Woodman, this indispensable title is here made available to a new readership.

In The Other Tradition St John Wilson sets out to examine the underlying themes of modern architecture, assessing their impact, influence, and continuing development. Rather than positioning Modernism as a completed historical moment that occurred in the past (and that was formulated in terms of abstract theory and in no way responding to the historic role of architecture as a practical art and the unpredictable necessities of life), Wilson argues for a continuing tradition, an “uncompleted project”, sustained against CIAM’s rigid orthodoxy by a “resistance movement” exemplified by architects such as Alvar Aalto, Hans Scharoun, Hugo Häring and Frank Lloyd Wright. Figures like Aalto and Scharoun couldn’t compete with Le Corbusier’s powers on the soapbox and showed little inclination to do so. In a sense, The Other Tradition is the manifesto that these laconic masters never wrote.

dDAB Commentary:

In my review of Beatriz Colomina’s X-Ray Architecture, which looks at the influence of tuberculosis and x-rays on the evolution of modern architecture, I mentioned Colin St. John Wilson’s The Other Tradition of Modern Architecture. First published in 1995 (this new edition came out same year as the author’s death), Wilson’s book, like Colomina’s, uses the architecture of Alvar Aalto as a source of his argument; the other being, for Wilson, Hans Scharoun. The Other Tradition is an anti-CIAM polemic, an argument for contemporary architects to learn from Aalto, Scharoun, and other “other” modernists instead of Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Wilson, who is best known as an architect for the Grade I-listed British Library in London, is careful to explain that he is not advocating for Expressionism as an alternative to International Style modernism; he is embracing architecture whose plans were based on the lives of their occupants rather than the styles of their forms and enclosures.

Wilson’s book unfolds in three parts, all of them heavily illustrated: The Historical Context: What Went Wrong?, Doctrine, and Four Case Studies. Broadly, the first part’s two chapters serve to dismantle CIAM as the doctrine for modern architecture, while the two chapters in part two argue for the antithesis: “architecture as a practical art,” as the author describes it. Wilson’s prose is clear and highly enjoyable. And having visited the British Library (designed with MJ Long) a couple years after its 1998 opening, I can attest to him practicing what he preached: the building was hard to photograph and grasp formally, though inside it was delightful, clear in its layout, and functional for its users (the last is based on accounts I’ve read rather than my experience, since I couldn’t access the spaces used by scholars). The book’s last part, the four case studies, pairs buildings from both sides, not just focusing on his preferred mode of design. So in one of the case studies we see two art galleries side by side: Mies’s National Gallery in Berlin and Alvar and Elissa Aalto’s Art Museum in Aalborg. Which one, for instance, controls natural light more appropriately for the display of art? At this late stage in the book the answer should be clear to readers, who should also be convinced by Wilson’s strongly crafted argument for life and difference over style and orthodoxy.

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Author Bio:

Colin Alexander St John (“Sandy”) Wilson, (1922–2007) was a British architect, lecturer and author. He spent over 30 years progressing the project to build a new British Library in London, originally planned to be built in Bloomsbury and completed near Kings Cross.

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New York City Brick by Brick

New York City Brick by Brick: The Art of LEGO Construction
Jonathan Lopes
Abrams, May 2019

Hardcover | 7-1/2 x 9-1/2 inches | 192 pages | 100 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1419734687 | $24.99

Publisher Description:

New York City Brick by Brick is the ultimate exploration of the architecture and history of New York City through the creative medium of LEGO. Expert builder Jonathan Lopes presents iconic structures of his own design, including the Flatiron Building, the Woolworth Building, the Manhattan Bridge, Grand Central Terminal, Junior’s Diner, brownstones, fire houses, and much more! Each model has been beautifully photographed with full-scale views and close-up details, as well as brief instructional breakouts. Lopes’s masterful constructions will inspire builders of all ages.

dDAB Commentary:

If there were ever a toy destined to be loved by architects, it’s LEGO, the plastic construction toy first created in Denmark in 1949. After all, what are the building blocks of Lego called? Bricks. And what better to build with than a brick? Appropriately, some architects use Legos to build architectural models and one architect was slated with creating the Lego House in Billund (of course, a Lego kit was made for that very Lego-inspired building). Architects have also created special Lego architecture kits, and books devoted to Lego architecture have been published. Most recent is New York City Brick by Brick, which presents a couple-dozen NYC buildings made out of Legos by artist Jonathan Lopes. Some of them are quite big: a photo of Cass Gilbert’s Woolworth Building in the Introduction is a good foot-and-a-half taller than the Lego artist/author!

The many Lego builds shared in the book fall into four chapters: A Historic Skyline, Neighborhoods, Firehouses, and New York City-Inspired LEGO Art. The super-sized constructions fall into the first chapter, including Woolworth but also Grand Central Terminal and Chrysler Building, both of which are included as a double-sized poster. With Grand Central Terminal, for example, requiring 62,500 pieces to construct, Lopes does not provide step-by-step instructions on the buildings in the book, but he does provide them for some details. For Grand Central he shows how he builds the steel girders, which use fairly standard pieces but display their backs (or is it bottoms?) to provide some appropriate visual detail. A couple surprises in the book include Ennead’s Rescue 3 in the Bronx, a contemporary “now” building accompanied by its “then” precursor; and “High Line: Then and Now” in the last chapter, which incorporates Neil Denari’s HL23 (not an easy one to figure out, I’m guessing) and manages to capture the feeling of the raised park through the appealing yet admittedly limited means of Lego bricks.

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Author Bio:

Jonathan Lopes is an artist who works within the medium of LEGO bricks. He has done commissions—large and small—for private groups, nonprofit organizations, galleries, book publishers, authors, and retail shops as well as for Toys “R” Us and the LEGO Group itself.

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X-Ray Architecture

X-Ray Architecture
Beatriz Colomina
Lars Müller Publishers, Year

Hardcover | 6 x 7-3/4 inches | 200 pages | 277 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-3037784433 | $40.00

Publisher Description:

X-Ray Architecture explores the enormous impact of medical discourse and imaging technologies on the formation, representation and reception of twentieth-century architecture. It challenges the normal understanding of modern architecture by proposing that it was shaped by the dominant medical obsession of its time: tuberculosis and its primary diagnostic tool, the X-ray.

Modern architecture and the X-ray were born around the same time and evolved in parallel. While the X-ray exposed the inside of the body to the public eye, the modern building unveiled its interior, dramatically inverting the relationship between private and public. Architects presented their buildings as a kind of medical instrument for protecting and enhancing the body and psyche.

Beatriz Colomina traces the psychopathologies of twentieth-century architecture—from the trauma of tuberculosis to more recent disorders such as burn-out syndrome and ADHD—and the huge transformations of privacy and publicity instigated by diagnostic tools from X-Rays to MRIs and beyond. She suggests that if we want to talk about the state of architecture today, we should look to the dominant obsessions with illness and the latest techniques of imaging the body—and ask what effects they have on the way we conceive architecture.

dDAB Commentary:

The first sentence in the Wikipedia entry for “Modern architecture” is closely aligned with how I learned about it in architecture school: “Modern architecture … was based upon new and innovative technologies of construction, particularly the use of glass, steel and reinforced concrete; the idea that form should follow function; an embrace of minimalism; and a rejection of ornament.” Although it broke with the past, modern architecture was seen as an extension of the train sheds and other industrial architecture of the 19th century. Iron, glass, and concrete were appropriate materials for the new typologies born from the industrial age. What this accepted view of modern architecture ignores are outliers like Alvar Aalto, whose version of modernism departed from Corbu and Mies and fell into what Colin St. John Wilson called The Other Tradition of Modern Architecture. Aalto was an important part of Wilson’s 1995 book and also Beatriz Colomina’s new book, a fascinating essay on the relationship between architecture and medicine in the early 20th century.

Although the name of the book, X-Ray Architecture, points to the x-ray as the most important medical technology influencing architecture, the most interesting part of Colomina’s book is the chapter devoted to tuberculosis. Before a vaccination was developed for TB and antibiotics was used to treat it, people with the infectious disease were sent to sanatoriums, which were designed since the mid-1800s to maximize patients’ exposure to fresh air and sunlight. For Colomina, TB was the perfect typology for form to follow function, in that the building, not medicine, was the treatment. Architects, including Aalto, designed sanatoriums that became masterpieces of modern architecture. (That their highly specific designs were no longer needed post-antibiotics meant they were either demolished or preservationists had to fight to save them.) The approach used in designing them ultimately infused other typologies, like schools, such that architecture as treatment became architecture as preventative medicine. After the chapter on TB, Colomina’s reading of x-rays relative to architecture feels shallow, as it is based on some architects incorporating x-rays into their books and designing buildings with x-ray-like qualities. In the end, although she can only touch upon the newest technologies (M2A) and the maladies affecting people today (sick building syndrome), the preceding chapters make a strong enough case for architects to seriously consider how the interiors of buildings relates to our interiors — if anything, so the former does not (continue to) harm the latter.

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Author Bio:

Beatriz Colomina is an architecture theorist, historian, curator, and professor at the Princeton University School of Architecture. One of her research focuses are sexual fantasies in association with architecture.

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São Paulo

São Paulo: A Graphic Biography
Felipe Correa
University of Texas Press, October 2018

Hardcover | 9-1/4 x 11-3/4 inches | 348 pages | 420 illustrations | English/Portuguese | ISBN: 978-1477316276 | $65.00

Publisher Description:

While the history of São Paulo dates back more than 450 years, most of its growth took place after World War II as the city’s major economic engine shifted from agriculture to industry. Today, as São Paulo evolves into a service economy hub, Felipe Correa argues, the city must carefully examine how to better integrate its extensive inner city post-industrial land into contemporary urban uses. In São Paulo: A Graphic Biography, Correa presents a comprehensive portrait of Brazil’s largest city, narrating its fast-paced growth through archival material, photography, original drawings, and text. Additional essays from scholars in fields such as landscape architecture, ecology, governance, and public health offer a series of interdisciplinary perspectives on the city’s history and development.

Beyond presenting the first history of Paulista urban form and carefully detailing the formative processes that gave shape to this manufacturing capital, São Paulo shows how the city can transform its post-industrial lands into a series of inner city mixed-use affordable housing districts. By reorienting how we think about these spaces, the volume offers a compelling vision of a much-needed urban restructuring that can help alleviate the extreme socioeconomic divide between city center and periphery. This twenty-first century urban blueprint thus constitutes an impressive work of research and presents a unique perspective on how cities can imagine their future.

dDAB Commentary:

When I think of São Paulo, Brazil, a handful of buildings come to mind: Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s Brazilian Museum of Sculpture, Lina Bo Bardi’s Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) and SESC Pompeia Leisure Center, the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo by Joao Batista Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, and Oscar Niemeyer’s Edifício Copan. While these modern buildings are considered masterpieces and are known well beyond the Brazilian metropolis, they are just a few blips in the massive conglomeration that is São Paulo. With “its seemingly endless expanse of over 6,000 high-rise buildings,” per Edward Glaeser’s foreword to this book, São Paulo is a city that could hardly be understood by a handful of buildings, no matter how impressive they are. Felipe Correa’s impressive, heavily illustrated “graphic biography” of São Paulo thoroughly conveys the layered complexity of the city’s physical past and present, allowing someone like me, who hasn’t set foot on Brazilian soil, to start to understand the place.

Correa’s book is organized in five “units.” Unit A, which makes up the bulk of the book, is the “graphic biography” of the book’s subtitle, comprised of multiple sections (“City of Ridges and Valleys,” “City of Points,” “City of Warehouses,” etc.) that use maps, archival and contemporary photographs, and essays by scholars to explain the city’s urban morphology. The other four units present “a series of design strategies and examples of relevant urban projects” focused on housing, transportation, planning, and infrastructure. Although São Paulo appears chaotic (one section in the book even presents maps of the various urban “grids,” many of them very un-grid-like), São Paulo: A Graphic Biography is structured logically and presented clearly. Green pages that match the cover separate the various units, and each one is notched to illustrate the book’s progression (see bottom spread). In between are pages that alternate between white and blue: white for the graphic biography and projects, and blue for the scholarly essays. This design makes the book look like a layer cake of information when seen from the side, and it makes me wish I’ve been to São Paulo so I could more fully appreciate the book’s contents.

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Author Bio:

Felipe Correa is an associate professor of urban design and Director of the Urban Design Program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. An architect and urbanist, he has developed numerous international projects through his practice, Somatic Collaborative. His previous books are Beyond the City: Resource Extraction Urbanism in South America, Mexico City: Between Geometry and Geography, and A Line in the Andes.

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Color for Architects

Color for Architects
Juan Serra Lluch
Princeton Architectural Press, May 2019

Paperback | 7 x 9-1/2 inches | 192 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1616897949 | $34.95

Publisher Description:

As far back as the earliest Greek temples, color has been an integral part of architecture but also one of its least understood elements. Color theory is rarely taught in architecture schools, leaving architects to puzzle out the hows and whys of which colors to select and how they interact, complement, or clash. Color for Architects is profusely illustrated and provides a clear, concise primer on color for designers of every kind. This latest volume in our Architecture Briefs series combines the theoretical and practical, providing the basics on which to build a fuller mastery of this essential component of design. A wealth of built examples, exercises, and activities allows students to apply their learning of color to real-world situations.

dDAB Commentary:

Over the years I’ve reviewed many books in Princeton Architectural Press’s “Architecture Briefs” series: on model making, on writing about architecture, on design/build, and on lighting, materials, architectural transformations, and sustainable design. The Architecture Briefs, subtitled “The Foundations of Architecture,” are compact books but are packed with information geared to students and young professionals. The newest title in the series, Color for Architects, is particularly suited to students, since ten of its fifteen chapters end with activities that can be as easy as looking at some photos or answering a couple questions, or they may ask readers to watch a video or even take a quiz. The activities recap the preceding pages and serve to embed the information in the minds of readers by having them actually do something. Though not unique to this Brief, this format should help in getting students to consider an important aspect of design — color — that is all too often ignored in favor of white or gray.

Juan Serra Lluch, an architecture professor in Spain — a country that has embraced color more than just about any other in modern times — structures the book’s fifteen chapters in three parts. The four chapters in part one describe how color works, in scientific terms and in regards to perception, particularly important for architects. The second part — the bulk of the book, with six chapters — addresses color for architectural projects. Here there are plenty of precedents to look at but also the author tackling “the myth of white in modern architecture,” something that seems to be letting up in this decade’s embrace of Postmodern design but still lingers, even though Le Corbusier and other Modernists actually used lots of color. Part three’s five chapters are the most practical, focused on workflow and loaded with information on manipulating colors in Photoshop, calibrating a monitor, and other ways of dealing with color in digital environments. These chapters are really helpful for me, someone well beyond student or young professional, and a sign that the Briefs have something for every architect.

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Author Bio:

Architect Juan Serra Lluch is a lecturer and member of the Color Research Group at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain, with expertise in modern and contemporary architecture.

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