August 28, 2009

Column on Sacred Architecture

I'm on the road talking to potential clients about some new chapel and monastery projects that I hope to finish in the coming months and post here. In the meantime, this past week Catholic News Agency has published my column on the state of Catholic architecture in a column titled Novelty vs. Beauty.

August 23, 2009

If Only France still had a Royal Family

Louis Le Vau's Hotel Lambert in Paris.

The Qatari Royal family is moving full steam ahead to modernize the historic Hotel Lambert in Paris. Just wondering if Parisians wish they had some Royal connections to the Qataris to prevent such madness. A well I guess its better to be free.

August 21, 2009

On Temporary Hiatus

I'm on temporary hiatus from blogging for the next couple of weeks. I'm setting up a website now for a new business venture that I'm starting on. I am starting a business providing architectural design and graphic design. Given the architecture market as it stands now, I feel that expecting full time employment would be unwise so have decided to take matters into my own hands and promote my skills and work for myself.

Please stay tuned as blogging will resume when my free time resumes. I will howeverffrom time to time post small links such as to my forthcoming article on sacred architecture at Catholic News Agency.

August 12, 2009

Quite Literal Vertical Cul-De-Sac Rises in Manhattan

Leon Krier has in times past called the skyscraper a "vertical cul-de-sac," and a developer in New York is taking the idea to the next logical step, bringing cars right up to your door in a skyscraper. According to an article in Architectural Record the "new residential building, designed by Selldorf Architects, takes the privacy and parking ease of a gated community from the burbs to the "urbs" and turns it on end."

Cross section of a new "Sky" Garage in New York's 200 Eleventh Avenue.

I struggle to find the words to describe how bafflingly stupid and absurd this development is, but Krier quite correctly notes that skyscrapers carves out a vertical, rather than horizontal space separate from the street network below. It then seems only natural, that the inclination to have the car be the measure of all things, follow from the horizontal suburban gated enclaves or "burbclaves" to vertical "urbclaves."
A suburban garage in a vertical format where one need not see anyone till safely home.

In Detroit I remember seeing an old theatre in a historic tower turned into a parking lot so that the office workers would never have to exit their secure vehicles until they could safely exit into the building. This apartment tower with its so called "Sky" Garages simply pushes that idea to the logical extreme that one finds in the suburbs, where one is locked in the car from door to door, eliminating all unwanted human contact.

The Michigan Theater parking lot, victim of suburban paranoia.

It is a truly sad development that now in the city, where one is accustomed to deal with people, where one ought to find community interaction, one need not interact with anyone they do not wish. The auto-centric mindset is not one that is promoting cars as transit, but as vehicles to pursue an anti-communitarian ideal of security fed by a paranoia towards interacting with anyone, even to the level of the ubiquitous New York doorman.

August 5, 2009

Nominees for Britain's Worst New Building Announced

Merseyside terminal by Hamilton Architects at Liverpool Pier Head

It's been far too long since I have posted, but I know I do not write on a topic that moves at breakneck speeds, so I think my tardiness somewhat acceptable. Nevertheless, I shall try in the coming weeks to post more often, and next week there will be an exciting announcement.

This week however, BD Online, the British architecture journal, has announced the nominees for the 2009 Carbuncle Cup, the "prize" for the worst new building in the UK. Taking a cue from HRH Prince Charles' infamous "Carbuncle" speech in 1984, the competition is a popular one, given the number of truly awful new buildings in the UK.

The poorly detailed Poundbury Fire House

The list is filled with inappropriate, unsympathetic and simply ugly buildings. I take slight objection to the inclusion of the Poundbury Fire House, not because its beautiful, its quite bad, but because it is a straw man of the worst sort. Criticism of the station has become a proxy war launched upon classicists, despite not being designed by a classical architect. The poorly detailed faux classicism this building explains in stone how ignorance of good detail and composition, common among the great mass of architects untrained in classicism, can lead to a very poor building indeed.

Classicism has rules that if broken result in a very bad building to the eye. Had these rules been been followed here, I sincerely doubt the vultures of modernism would have found much to criticize. Modernism on the other hand, without rules, creates little of real beauty, and we see how the Carbuncle Cup remains dominated by this style.
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