Louvre Abu Dhabi

Louvre Abu Dhabi: The Story of an Architectural Project
Jean Nouvel, Olivier Boissière
Skira Paris, May 2019

Paperback | 8-1/4 x 11-1/2 inches | 128 pages | 150 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-2370740816 | $34.95

Publisher Description:

Louvre Abu Dhabi is a comprehensive exploration of Jean Nouvel’s (born 1945) latest masterpiece, from the first sketches and through each phase of its conception and construction. From its majestic, novel dome to its exhibition halls, this book walks the reader through this architectural jewel.

dDAB Commentary:

The first page of this monograph on Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened to the public in November 2017, is a tribute to Olivier Boissière, who wrote many books on Nouvel’s architecture, including one of Birkhäuser’s Studio Paperbacks. “Olivier Boissière wrote all of his life,” Nouvel writes. “Books of art and architectural critique, a novel and some articles distinguished by common sense, pertinence and impertinence … As attested by this, his last written work …” Although I don’t know when Boissière, who was born in 1939, died, nor can I find mention of his passing online (as of today, his Wikipedia entry is in the present tense), it makes sense that Nouvel’s longtime collaborator would write about one of his most amazing projects: Louvre Abu Dhabi, a museum with a massive, double-layered filigreed dome shading a plaza, a series of boxy galleries, and in-between spaces. While the book provides plenty of insight into the project, particularly the layout and articulation of the galleries and other enclosed spaces, ultimately it is an overly praiseworthy celebration of the design — more a work of promotion than architectural critique.

The book moves from the inception of the project, complete with Nouvel’s early sketch of “the dome and its microclimate,” to its realization. Yet with a publication date of early 2019 and an opening of late 2017, I don’t understand why there are so many renderings and so few photos of the completed building. The photos I’ve seen, with rays of light streaming in through the filigreed “parasol,” are as stunning as the renderings, making the deficit of photos perplexing. Furthermore, although the book goes into some detail on parts of the project not discussed much elsewhere (restaurant, children’s museum, VIP area, site-specific artworks), these pieces are not keyed to the plans, making it hard for readers to get their bearings in a highly complex layout. Another questionable piece is the conclusion, described as (no joke) a “recapitulation in the form of evocation-accumulation presented in a deliberately random order.” It’s basically eight pages of low-resolution thumbnails of the images that came in the preceding pages (and some that didn’t), here accompanied by such non-revealing filenames as “DSC03448.jpg” and “G14-2.jpg.” Though I haven’t seen it in person, I’m inclined to recommend GA Document 145 over this book for people who want a stronger focus on architecture and more photos of the completed Louvre Abu Dhabi.

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Author Bio:

Olivier Boissière was a French writer and art critic of contemporary architecture. His articles and interviews were published in international magazines such as Domus, Abitare, L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui and Vogue France. Boissière was the author of several books on renowned architects and designers: Le Corbusier, Frank Gehry Jean Nouvel, Ron Arad et Philippe Starck.

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Home Futures

Home Futures: Living in Yesterday’s Tomorrow
Eszter Steierhoffer, Justin McGuirk (Editors)
The Design Museum, April 2019

Paperback | 6-3/4 x 9-1/2 inches | 308 pages | 260 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1872005423 | $49.95

Publisher Description:

The “home of the future” has long been a topic of fascination in popular culture and an intriguing prospect for designers, and the 20th century offered up countless visions of the future of domestic life, from the aspirational to the radical. Whether it was the dream of the fully mechanized home or the notion that technology might free us from the home altogether, the domestic realm was a site of endless invention and speculation.

But what happened to those visions? Are the smart homes of today and patterns of use in the sharing economy the future that architects and designers once predicted, or has the “home” proved resistant to radical change?

Home Futures: Living in Yesterday’s Tomorrow explores different approaches to reinventing domestic life, tracing the social and technological developments that have driven change in the home. The first comprehensive survey of the 20th century’s aspirational, radical and futuristic visions of the home, this richly illustrated publication showcases a range of ideas and plans for the future—from the prescient to the fantastical—that designers produced as they imagined new ways of living at home and on the move, independently and collectively, with more and with less.

dDAB Commentary:

I’m surely not alone in finding great value in catalogs to exhibitions I’ve seen in person. They serve as mementos of visits — visits that are often too short and therefore benefit from the prolonged intake afforded by books. Furthermore, most catalogs have additional scholarship in the form of essays that expand upon the themes developed by curators and explored by the contributing artists or architects. Visually, the plates of most catalogs combine with my photos of the installations to keep exhibitions fresh in my memory for a long time. But when it comes to exhibitions I missed, that I wasn’t able to travel to and that didn’t travel to my part of the world, that’s a different story. I find the omission of installation photos — a necessary omission considering that catalogs should be done when an exhibition opens — detrimental to fully understanding an exhibition. Without moving through a space to look at displays and therefore orient myself to their contents through the actions of my body, such exhibitions and catalogs are only partial at best.

These thoughts come to mind in regards to Home Futures, which was on display at the Design Museum in London earlier this year and was in turn inspired by MoMA’s Italy: The New Domestic Landscape from 1972. I missed both shows (the earlier one because I wasn’t born yet) so can only try to understand them through their catalogs and from reviews of the exhibitions. Home Futures, done in collaboration with the IKEA Museum, is a visual feast of future-minded living, much of it from the era of the earlier MoMA show. Presented in six easy-to-digest chapters paralleling the structure of the exhibition (or so I read, on a website with photos of the show) — e.g. “Living with others” and “Living autonomously” — the book is loaded with examples of future visions unfulfilled. This is not a book of failures; rather it explores unexpected outcomes, by presenting, for instance, a still from The Jetsons, in which the robot-maid is cleaning up after George Jetson, opposite the Roomba. Not all dots are so easy to connect, but the hundreds of images allow for just as many interpretations on the part of readers. Interspersed among the many images spread across six chapters are short, one-page “What happened to…” essays, while longer essays come at the back of the book, including one by Jing Liu of SO-IL, who designed the exhibition at the Design Museum. Presented across a Supersurface-like gridded graphic design (complete with transparent wrapper), the images and texts add up to a cohesive, intriguing document that makes me wish I was in London before the exhibition wrapped up in March.

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Author Bio:

Eszter Steierhoffer is Senior Curator at the Design Museum and editor, among other books, of Imagine Moscow: Architecture, Propaganda, Revolution. Justin McGuirk is a writer and Chief Curator at the Design Museum, formerly the design columnist for the Guardian, and editor of Icon magazine.

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Sigfried Giedion

Sigfried Giedion: Liberated Dwelling
Reto Geiser (Editor)
Lars Müller Publishers, January 2019

Hardcover/paperback in two volumes w/transparent slipcase | 5 x 7-1/2 inches | 100/96 pages | 86 illustrations | English/German | ISBN: 978-3037785683 | $40.00

Publisher Description:

Sigfried Giedion’s small, but vocal manifesto Befreites Wohnen (1929) is an early manifestation of modernist housing ideology and as such key to the broader understanding of the ambitions of the International Congresses of Modern Architecture (CIAM) and the debate on the industrialization of construction processes and its impact on public housing at the beginning of the twentieth century. An important step in Giedion’s rise as one of the foremost propagators of modern architecture, this manifesto is based on the argumentative power of visual comparisons, and the only book the art historian both authored and designed.

The German facsimile edition of Giedion’s Befreites Wohnen is completed by an English translation and a scholarly essay that anchors the work in the context of its time and suggests the book’s relevance for contemporary architectural discourse.

dDAB Commentary:

One of the many things I learned when reading Reto Geiser’s excellent Giedion and America was that the Swiss, German-speaking Sigried Giedion wrote his most famous work, Space, Time and Architecture, in English. In fact, the German translation followed much later than the 1941 first edition, the opposite of his earlier books, which were written in German then translated into English decades later. Bauen in Frankreich, Bauen in Eisen, Bauen in Eisenbeton, for instance, was published in 1928 but wasn’t translated into English, as Building in France, Building in Iron, Building in Ferroconcrete, until 1995. Likewise, Befreites Wohnen, from 1929, is just now hitting the shelves in English, courtesy of Lars Müller Publishers and Geiser, who edited Sigfried Giedion: Liberated Dwelling and translated the original with Rachel Julia Engler. The “facsimile edition” consists of the original German text with illustrations in a handsome hardcover accompanied by a paperback with the text in English (keyed to the original through thumbnails of the spreads) and an informative introduction by Geiser.

Geiser’s long introduction (I think it has more words than Giedion’s book) illuminates a few significant things that make the translation of Befreites Wohnen 90 years later worthwhile. For Giedion, the book was a quickly written “punchy manifesto” for the modern architecture he had recently embraced and first promoted one year before with Bauen in Frankreich (before those two books, he was an art historian interested in the past). As part of a series of compact books for publisher Orell Füssli, the book was geared to a larger, lay audience rather than to architects or design scholars, as in all of Giedion’s other books. And focused on housing — specifically on how modern design and technology could provide affordable dwellings with lots of light (licht), air (luft), and openness (oeffnung) — the book still resonates today, when many cities and countries face crises of affordable housing. Furthermore, as Geiser brings up in his introduction, the construction advances being explored in Giedion’s time (prefabrication, mainly) are still being worked out close to a century later. Although the original is a historical document, its translation reveals how much work still needs to be done, especially with educating a wider audience about the benefits of modern solutions for affordable housing.

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Author Bio:

Sigfried Giedion (1888–1968) was born in Prague on April 14, 1888, a son of Swiss textile entrepreneurs. … In 1931, He was appointed Charles Eliot Norton Professor in Poetry at Harvard University for the academic year 1938–39. The collected lectures were published as Space, Time and Architecture in 1941. … Giedion was a prolific writer and authored more than ten monographs in a half dozen languages. On April 9, 1968, he died in Zurich.

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Zoned Out!

Zoned Out! Race, Displacement, and City Planning in New York City
Tom Angotti, Sylvia Morse (Editors)
UR Books, 2017

Paperback | 6 x 9 inches | 176 pages | English | ISBN: 978-0996004138 | $20.00

Publisher Description:

Gentrification and displacement of low-income communities of color are major issues in New York City and the city’s zoning policies are a major cause. Race matters but the city ignores it when shaping land use and housing policies. The city promises “affordable housing” that is not truly affordable. Zoned Out! shows how this has played in Williamsburg, Harlem and Chinatown, neighborhoods facing massive displacement of people of color. It looks at ways the city can address inequalities, promote authentic community-based planning and develop housing in the public domain.

dDAB Commentary:

In March, when my book NYC Walks was released, I was fortunate enough to be in conversation with Michael Sorkin at Rizzoli Bookstore. Following our talk and me signing a few copies of my book, I passed by titles from Sorkin’s UR Books (an imprint of his nonprofit Terreform) conveniently located by the register. The product placement worked and I walked out with a copy of Zoned Out!, the best-selling book out of UR’s roughly dozen titles to date. Previously I’ve reviewed a few UR titles: Downward Spiral: El Helicoide’s Descent from Mall to PrisonLetters to the Leaders of China: Kongjian Yu and the Future of the Chinese City, and Spaces of Disappearance: The Architecture of Extraordinary Rendition. The diversity of subject matter, the quality of the scholarship, and the progressive ideals shared by the various subjects are highly commendable in the case of those three books. The same can be said of Zoned Out!, which features six chapters on the role of zoning in displacing low-income communities of color in New York City.

The first and last chapters come from Angotti, a stalwart of community-based planning and an enemy of REBNY and YIMBYs throughout the city. In the first chapter Angotti spells out how zoning is legally defined and is used by the city at the behest of “the land market” to promote new development: in 140 areas by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and 15 to date by his successor, Bill de Blasio. The last chapter focuses on community-based planning and, in concert with the first chapter, is aligned with his assertion that planning is not practiced in New York City but needs to be. (In between is a chapter on race and zoning, and three chapters with case studies of zoning displacement in action: in Williamsburg, Harlem, and Chinatown.) Right around the time of my conversation with Sorkin, Angotti spoke to the Charter 2019 NYC Revision Commission, arguing for the Department of City Planning to actually do community planning rather than relying on zoning for shaping the city. (His remarks and those of other pro-planning advocates are on YouTube.) The side of me that believes in the benefits of urban planning hope he sways the commission, but the cynical side of me sees the continuation of zoning as-is, with land-use decisions benefiting developers and new residents rather than people who actually live and work in the communities targeted for rezonings. With zoning so far entrenched in the machinations of city government, real estate, and architecture, reorienting it toward more just ends seems insurmountable. Zoned Out! is a perfect place for pro-planning progressives to prepare their protestations.

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Author Bio:

Tom Angotti is Professor of Urban Policy and Planning at Hunter College, the Graduate Center, and City University of New York, and Director of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning & Development. He is author of New York For Sale: Community Planning Confronts Global Real Estate, which won the 2009 Davidoff Book Award.

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Fundamentals

Fundamentals: 14th International Architecture Exhibition
Rem Koolhaas
Marsilio, 2014

Paperback | 5-1/4 x 6-3/4 inches (mini version) | 582 pages | English | ISBN: 978-8831718691

Publisher Description:

Fundamentals is the official catalogue of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale and it describes its three interlocking components: Elements of Architecture; Monditalia; and Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014. Together, these chapters presents the 2014 Architecture Biennale as a whole, illuminating the past, present and future of the architectural discipline.

dDAB Commentary:

Reviewing A Moving Border the other day prompted me to pick up my copy of Fundamentals, the catalog to the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. The former arose from a project in the Monditalia section of the Biennale, one of three sections that Rem Koolhaas created when he curated the exhibition. The others were Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014 and Elements of Architecture. Basically, Monditalia occupied the Arsenale and focused on Italy, Absorbing Modernity was the theme addressed by each of the country pavilions (usually they are free to develop their own themes), and Elements of Architecture, located in the Central Pavilion, presented the basic elements upon which architecture is built: facades, roofs, doors, even toilets. Each section is presented in the hefty catalog (I own the miniature version, but the larger, more expensive catalog is what’s available online and linked below). Like most exhibition catalogs, the content expresses what the curators and participants wanted to achieve with their contributions rather than what was actually presented. So drawings, renderings, and historical photos prevail, while the experience of the exhibition and photos documenting it followed online and in magazines (my articles for World-Architects are linked above).

The catalog’s 582 pages break down as follows: 166 pages for Absorbing Modernity, 158 for Elements of Architecture, and 180 pages for Monditalia, which includes descriptions for the cinema, dance, music, and theater interactions done during the course of the Biennale. (The difference is taken up by some advertising, a photo essay by Wolfang Tillmans, and the presentation of the collateral events.) For the most part, each contribution is given just a couple pages in the catalog — enough space for a short description and one or two images but not much else. While each country produced a booklet or full-blown book for their participation — and in the case of Studio Folder’s “Italian Limes,” their contribution led to a publication — Elements of Architecture had the largest printed life during and beyond the Biennale. It was published as a fifteen-volume set in 2014, with each element given its own booklet (e.g. Façade), and was repackaged with Irma Boom (she also designed the catalog) as a 2,528-page book for Taschen. Ironically, it was Elements of Architecture that received the harshest criticism from architects and architecture critics when the Biennale opened. It was also the most accessible section for the general public — which says a lot, considering most architecture exhibitions are only understood and appreciated by architects.

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Author Bio:

Rem Koolhaas, winner of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Biennale Architettura 2010, and the Pritzker Prize in 2000, founded OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) in 1975 together with Elia and Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp.

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Spots in Shots

Spots in Shots: Narrating the Built Environment in Short Film
Mélanie van der Hoorn
nai010 Publishers, March 2019

Hardcover | 8-1/2 x 10-1/4 inches | 240 pages | 120 illustrations | Dutch/English | ISBN: 978-9462084568 | $50.00

Publisher Description:

Spots in Shots explores a selection of little-known but fascinating short films made in Europe and the US between 1990 and 2017 that tell stories about architecture and urban development. Based on interviews with the filmmakers, the book asks how cinema can stir public interest in the oeuvres of architects.

Among the numerous cinematic gems discussed here are John Smith’s Blight (1996); Kibwe Tavares and Factory Fifteen’s Jonah (2012); Assembly Studios’ Fort Dunlop Green (2004); The Neighbourhood’s Saxton Leeds (2008); Imagen Subliminal’s El Espinar House (2013); Squint/Opera’s Post Barnsley (2003); Jem Cohen & Luc Sante’s Le bled (Buildings in a Field) (2009); Gabriel Kogan & Pedro Kok’s Casa Redux (2014); and Jordi Bernadó & 15-L Films’ Hic Sunt Leones (2013).

dDAB Commentary:

I have a sometimes unhealthy obsession with architecture and film, to the point that I’ll be drawn to settings in films rather than stories. Likewise, I’m also a big fan of books about architecture and film, although there aren’t many that tackle the subjects together. Some of my favorites include Mark Lamster’s Architecture and Film, Juhani Pallasmaa’s The Architecture of Image: Existential Space in Cinema, James Sanders’ Celluloid Skyline: New York and the Movies, and Steven Jacobs’ The Wrong House: The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcock. With an apparent shared interest in architecture and film, I was surprised to not know any of the “cinematic gems” listed in the above description of Mélanie van der Hoorn’s Spots in Shots, the second in a trilogy on “alternative forms of representation and communication in architecture and urbanism.” (The first was Bricks & Balloons: Architecture in Comic-Strip Form and the third will be focused on architecture games.) I recognize the names Imagen Subliminal (Miguel de Guzmán) and Pedro Kok, but as photographers rather than filmmakers. Yet delving into the book, it’s clear that Van der Hoorn is open to all sorts of architectural shorts, be they documentary, narrative, or even publicity.

Spots in Shots is organized into six chapters, three expository chapters with fairly explanatory names (“Between Fact and Fiction: Understanding the Short Architecture Film”; “From Moving Snapshots to Refined Artworks: The Development of the Short Architecture Film”; and “Festivals, Websites, Museum Collections: Where Does the Short Architecture Film Call Home?”) and three chapters with the films themselves. The latter chapters partition the films – a dozen films per each – via narrative type and intent: “FEEL: Captivating the Imagination” (stories), “THINK: Challenging Reality” (documentaries), and “WANT: Gripping Positions” (promotion). A book about films can only explain them through words and still images, so the Spots in Shots website is helpful for watching the shorts. (That said, about half of the FEEL and THINK videos embedded on the website are password protected, while most of the WANT ones are, not surprisingly, available to watch.) A few highlights (and there are many), one from each chapter respectively: Jonah, which tells the story of Zanzibar’s transformation into “Fish Man Town” through Hollywood-level special effects and acting; Petra Noordkamp’s La Madre, il Figlio e l’Architetto, the first part of a documentary trilogy about Gibellina, Italy (yes, that Gibellina); and Bombastic Rubbish, a fast-paced, anti-modern reappraisal of UK theater architect Frank Matcham.

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Author Bio:

Mélanie van der Hoorn studied Cultural Anthropology at the Universities of Leiden and Amsterdam, where she specialized in Material Culture. In 2005, she obtained her doctorate at Utrecht University… Since her move to Vienna in 2007 and the foundation of Gratwanderung in 2007, she has been working as an independent researcher and curator, and since 2013 as an external lecturer at various Austrian universities.

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Designing TWA

Designing TWA: Eero Saarinen’s Airport Terminal in New York
Kornel Ringli
Park Books, 2018

Hardcover | 8-1/2 x 11 inches | 224 pages | 240 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-3906027753 | $60.00

Publisher Description:

When it opened in 1962, the TWA Flight Center at New York’s JFK airport was a sensation. Created by Eero Saarinen with a distinctly birdlike design, it was instantly seen as a striking emblem of the romance of air travel. More than half a century later, it remains a beloved icon of modern architecture.

Designing TWA is the first book to tell the whole story of Saarinen’s building, from its early planning through its closing in 2001 after the takeover of TWA by American Airlines. Documenting the terminal’s commission, planning, building, and use, architect Kornel Ringli reveals the constant tension between the operational needs of the airline and Saarinen’s visionary imaginings—revealing the TWA building as an incredible architectural achievement that nonetheless failed to meet the day-to-day demands of the business it housed. Lavishly illustrated with archival photographs, Designing TWA is an unprecedented look behind the scenes at the making of a modern masterpiece.

dDAB Commentary:

Last month I went on a press tour of the new TWA Hotel with the various designers involved, writing about the project for World-Architects. Basically, the project consists of the restoration and reuse of Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center, two new wings flanking it with 512 hotel rooms, and a conference center submerged beneath the “tarmac,” where an old airplane has been outfitted as a lounge. Thoroughly retro, sometimes to a fault (I’m thinking of the old phones that exist solely to spew old TWA recordings, among other things), the reuse is all-around amazing – a must-see for any architect or fan of modern architecture making their way through JFK. While there, people should also head to the gift shop in the old Flight Center and pick up a copy of this book, first published in 2015 and then reprinted last year; that’s what I did on my visit. The book, arising from Kornel Ringli’s 2012 doctoral thesis at ETH Zurich, is a illuminating look at an icon of modern architecture.

Those looking for a straightforward history of the TWA Flight Center might be disappointed though, since Ringli’s text – pared down considerably from his dissertation – is polemical. He uses the building as an ideal example of mid-century business, branding, and communications. This doesn’t mean that the history of the building’s design and realization isn’t told; it is, but through the “viewpoints of business organization (corporate architecture), design (corporate design), and media (corporate communications),” as described in Ringli’s introduction. His text is accompanied by hundreds of illustrations, most of which I’ve never seen before, and these alone make the book worthwhile, especially for people who are fans of modern architecture, Saarinen, and aviation. Most illuminating of the book’s three parts is the one on corporate communications, which focuses on Saarinen’s wife, Aline, who used her contacts from the New York Times and other places to shape her husband’s public persona. She helped turn him into a serious architect in the eyes of the public, not just a furniture designer, doing so even after his premature death at the age of 51 in 1961, one year before the TWA Flight Center opened to the public.

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Author Bio:

Kornel Ringli, born 1972, studied architecture and did his PhD at ETH Zurich. He works with a Zürich-based non-profit organization for real estate management and as a freelance architectural publicist.

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A Moving Border

A Moving Border: Alpine Cartographies of Climate Change
Marco Ferrari, Elisa Pasqual, Andrea Bagnato
Columbia Books on Architecture and the City with ZKM | Center for Art and Media, December 2018

Paperback | 8-3/4 x 11-1/2 inches | 228 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1941332450 | $30.00

Publisher Description:

Italy’s northern border follows the watershed that separates the drainage basins of Northern and Southern Europe. Running mostly at high altitudes, it crosses snowfields and perennial glaciers—all of which are now melting as a result of anthropogenic climate change. As the watershed shifts so does the border, contradicting its representations on official maps. Italy, Austria, and Switzerland have consequently introduced the novel legal concept of a “moving border,” one that acknowledges the volatility of geographical features once thought to be stable.

A Moving Border: Alpine Cartographies of Climate Change builds upon the Italian Limes project by Studio Folder, which was devised in 2014 to survey the fluctuations of the boundary line across the Alps in real time. The book charts the effects of climate change on geopolitical understandings of border and the cartographic methods used to represent them. Locating the Italian condition alongside a longer political history of boundary making, the book brings together critical essays, visualizations, and unpublished documents from state archives. By examining the nexus of nationalism and cartography, A Moving Border details how borders are both material and imagined, and the ways global warming challenges Western conceptions of territory. Even more, it provides a blueprint for spatial intervention in a world where ecological processes are bound to dominate geopolitical affairs.

dDAB Commentary:

A highlight of Monditalia, one of the three main components of the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale curated by Rem Koolhaas, was Studio Folder’s “Italian Limes,” which garnered one of three special mentions. The project consisted of a topographical model of the Alps illuminated by a projection depicting the border Italy shares with Austria, and a plotter redrawing that border based on GPS data that took the shifting watersheds arising from climate change into account. The latter was done on sheets that visitors to the Biennale could take home (I need to dig into my Biennale file and see if I still have mine), a memento that was also a sign of the great efforts that Marco Ferrari and Elisa Pasqual of Studio Folder went to, which even included placing a handful of GPS sensors in the Alps. The project was expanded in 2016 at the ZKM | Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, when new sensors were placed on a glacier in the Alps and another glimpse of the changing border was captured.

A Moving Border, by Ferrari and Pasquel with Andrea Bagnato, expands on the project even further, collecting findings from the two exhibitions, presenting archival maps and other data on the shifting borders, and providing a few essays. Some of the most rewarding information is found in the archives culled from the Istituto Geografico Militare (IGM) near Florence. The maps, sketches, photographs, charts, and other illustrations illuminate the various tactics and technologies used to mark the natural and political boundaries over the last century and a half. Although today’s computer-enabled measurements and our anthropogenic climate make for a unique situation, the archives make the longer context clear by situating our shifting present within a shifting past. Another highlight is the “project report” for the 2016 iteration of “Italian Limes,” which documents the means of collecting the data and some of the findings from the sensors embedded in the glacier. All in all, the book is a visually rich and deeply informative exploration of an intriguing and important subject.

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Author Bio:

Marco Ferrari, an architect, and Elisa Pasqual, a visual designer, are the founders of Studio Folder, a design and research studio based in Milan. Andrea Bagnato is an architect, researcher, and editor.

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Projects and Their Consequences

Projects and Their Consequences: Reiser + Umemoto
Jesse Reiser, Nanako Umemoto
Princeton Architectural Press, May 2019

Flexicover | 9 x 12 inches | 320 pages | 400 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1616897192 | $60.00

Publisher Description:

Projects and Their Consequences presents fifteen key projects from leading architectural thinkers Reiser + Umemoto. Projects and Their Consequences traces thirty years of innovative, multidisciplinary investigations of form, structure, technique, and planning. Projects include large-scale studies of infrastructure for the East River Corridor and Hudson Yards areas in Manhattan and the Alishan Railway in Taiwan, as well as schemes for cultural institutions including the New Museum, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and University of Applied Arts Vienna. Also included are thought-provoking “textual projects”: narrative works that blur the boundaries of art and architecture. Projects and Their Consequences balances incisive interviews and essays with more than 400 strikingly original drawings, collages, and paintings. Large-format and beautifully designed, it is a necessary volume for architects and those interested in the intersection of architecture, art, and culture.

dDAB Commentary:

My first thought upon opening Projects and Their Consequences and scanning its table of contents was, “Where’s O-14?” I wrote about the concrete diagrid tower in How to Build a Skyscraper and before that reviewed the book-length case study put out by the Architectural Association on this blog. It seemed odd that such an important project, as well as and other recent buildings or projects under construction, are not found in the pages of this new monograph on RUR Architecture, the studio of Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto. But the first paragraph of the Preface immediately explains the omission: the book “will be the first of three volumes.” As such the four thematic sections (Textural Projects – Narrative, Material Diagram – Scapes, Infrastructure – Territories, and Cultural Institutions – Environments) that present nearly twenty projects in roughly chronological order, from 1984 to 2012, function like an archive, a glimpse at the origin and evolution of Reiser and Umemoto’s New York studio. The lengthy Introduction, titled “It Could Always Be Otherwise,” accentuates this function, with stories of the partners’ (in work and life) upbringings and influences and numerous theoretical statements that are aligned with their footholds in academia, most notably at Columbia and Princeton.

What stands out from the many projects is not one or the other project, but the fact RUR was a consistent presence in high-profile competitions in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Here those include the Yokohama Port Terminal (1995, won by FOA) and Kansai National Diet Library (1996, finalist), both in Japan; the IIT Student Center (1997, won by OMA) in Chicago; and the Eyebeam Atelier (2001, won by Diller Scofidio + Renfro), the New Museum of Contemporary Art (2003, won by SANAA), and the ideas competition for the West Side Yards (1999, won by Peter Eisenman), all in New York City. Though not victorious in these competitions, the designs were influential through their publication in Assemblage, AD, and elsewhere. That their descriptions in Projects and Their Consequences are in the present rather than past tense makes them new again — or at least new to people only familiar with O-14 and other recent projects. With those still to come, I’m eagerly looking forward to the next two volumes of RUR’s three-part monograph.

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Author Bio:

Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto are the founders and principals of RUR Architecture DPC, an internationally recognized design firm based in New York City.

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Old & New Architecture

Old & New Architecture: Design Relationship
National Trust for Historic Preservation
The Preservation Press, February 1981

Paperback | 9-1/4 x 11-1/4 inches | 280 pages | 400+ illustrations | English | ISBN: 0891330976 | $15.95

Publisher Description:

One of the most complex and controversial architectural problems of today is what relationship new architecture should bear to it’s surroundings. Should new buildings imitate adjacent historical styles? Or should they starkly contrast with their neighbors to proclaim their modernity? Can formulas quantify desirable relationships between old and new? These are a few of the questions explored in this provocative book — the first to bring together the often contrasting viewpoints of 20 of the country’s most respected architects and preservationists.

Among the contributors who address the aesthetic, legal and practical problems of relating to old and new are Michael Graves, Peter Blake, Louis Sauer, Jean Paul Carlhian, Giorgio Cavaglieri, James Stewart Polshek, Samuel Wilson, Jr., Weiming Lu and Paul Goldberger. More than 400 illustrations show residential, commercial and public buildings designed to solve this age-old problem….

dDAB Commentary:

After writing the other day about Why Old Places Matter: How Historic Places Affect Our Identity and Well-Being by Thompson Mayes from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), I couldn’t help but take another look at Old and New Architecture: Design Relationship, which I wrote briefly about on my Unpacking My Library blog four years ago. The book, published in hardcover in 1980 and paperback the following year, documents a 1977 conference of the same name hosted by the NTHP. It examined the relationship between old and new buildings in the United States in terms of history and theory, with case studies, in terms of design reviews, and looking forward to a “future of harmonious design.” Coming in the midst of Postmodernism, the theme is not very surprising. But I think it’s still relevant today, since reusing old buildings is one of the most sustainable practices and therefore the interaction between old and new is of utmost importance.

With Old and New the focus was primarily aesthetic: interventions either complemented or contrasted new with old. Peter Blake, who created a post-conference visual essay for the book, defines a few of the more creative approaches: invisible additions, such as Earl Flansburgh’s underground Cornell University Campus Store; anonymous additions, as in Kevin Roche’s Lehman Pavilion (among other interventions) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and polite deceptions, which embrace trompe l’oeil, a questionable approach in my mind. Paul Goldberger, in the “future of harmonious design” section, points out the pros and cons of mimicry, as in the addition to the Frick (which is undergoing another controversial expansion), and contrast, as in Hugh Hardy’s “Weatherman” townhouse in Greenwich. Both Blake and Goldberger also single out Henry Cobb’s John Hancock Tower in Boston, completed one year before the conference. Blake likes the way the tower’s mirrored facade reflects H.H. Richardson’ Trinity Church, though Goldberger is critical of it for the same effect. Whatever one’s leanings, I wouldn’t be surprised if the high-profile tower was the impetus for the conference — and for considering if such interventions would be the future of cities (they would be, though at the expense of more creative approaches).

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Author Bio:

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is the only private, nonprofit organization chartered by Congress to encourage public participation in the preservation of sites, buildings and objects significant in the United States history and culture.

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