Friday, April 29, 2011


The Sea Ranch Condominiums express how in this section all styles of design and architecture are simply trying to find their own balance between form and function in search of 'modern'.

Explorations brings together the entire world to showcase what each country and culture has to offer as history marched forward into the next century.  New ways of thinking and styles of doing make everyone question:  What is the correct way?

With the worlds fairs booming around the end of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century many new ideas and innovations helped drive the contemporary in both technology and design.  These fairs and expositions were funded through both government and big business means.  The race for best showcase brought forth many new products, educational tools, entertainment methods, transportation forms, food, and ways of thinking.  In a personal contrast I would call this the Internet of yesteryear.  Some of the major worlds fairs took place in Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Paris, and London.  With 262 worlds fairs in total every country has had the opportunity to leap forward in the global society.

Some new design theories and forms of thinking came about from these interactions.  Arts & crafts (whether they be hand made or by machine) was an American hark back to the old ways of design.  Classical revival says exactly what its purpose was, to renew the old from the old world, as does Medieval revival.  Other forms such as the English free architecture movement focus on the aesthetic of movement.

After the worlds fairs started to dwindle there was a major search for 'modern'.  Post impressionism, fauvism & cubism, expressionism & futurism, destijl, art nouveau, and art deco, modernism/international style, and brutalism to name a few of the styles which battled each other during the 20th century.  Some of the major contenders in this fight were Cezanne, Duchamp, Gaudi, Picasso, Braque, Horta, Van de velde, Wagner, Olbricht, Hoffman, Eliel Saarinen, William van alen, Shreve, Lamb, Hood, Mies van de Rohe, Fellheimer, Loos, Corbusier, and Wright.  The multiple 'modern' views we see pinnacle with the modernism and international style which brought out many obscure and non user friendly rules.  The people will conform to the building instead of making the building purposeful in a useful sense; aesthetics above function.

Whilst these arguments were traversing each other there was a major movement for interior spaces and how they should be designed.  A few of the important early interior designers were Elsie de Wolfe, Syrie Maugham, Rose Cummings, Dorothy Draper, Eleanor McMillen Brown, Jean-michelle Frank, Ogden Codman Jr., Rex Whistler, T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbons, Billy Baldwin, and David Hicks.

In reflection we looked at how technology, history, and locality played in certain structures.  With technology we see advanced ways to support structures or how to celebrate the way things are made: Wexner center, Hong Kong and Shanghai bank, & lloyd's of London.  Historic implications help to preserve or reinforce history laiden areas: Monticello, louve pyramid, & starwood residence.  The locality of a place can change not only how it looks, but how it functions: Sea ranch condominiums, Vanna Venturi house, & atheneum.

What forms of the contemporary will we deal with in the future?  It seems that next step is up to our generation to discover.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

RR13 - Brutal Emplacement

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What modern Scandinavian design aspect comes to mind?  Ikea.  Ikea to me represents a fundamental part of today's middle class living.  Although not completely inexpensive, what you can get from Ikea is fairly high quality for the cost and is readily available to anyone.  Another thing about Ikea is that the designs are simplistic in a way which allows for the purchaser to set it up themselves without outside help from a professional.  The design principles of Ikea show a contemporary form of home furnishings and the material usage is usually to the best efficiency.  These ideals can compare directly to what the Eames planned for in their work: design simplicity, availability and affordability, and mass production.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

BP12 - Good Design For All

Paris Opera House (Front Entrance)
During my Reading Response this week I studied the circulation and flow of the Paris Opera House.  What caught me about this building and what brings me to use it also for this Blog Post was how everyone who entered this building was taken into account.  From the royal, to the actors, to even the cheapest seated patron everyone had their place and a part to play in the production of simply going to the show.

Present Day Traffic Flow
From the start each side of the building was designed to accept a certain type of opera/play goer.  The royal entrance was grand with a winding staircase to allow for immediate access to the sitting area without any contact with the common folk.  The front entrance was used for pedestrian traffic, those who walked to the Paris Opera House.  Another side was designated for carriage drop off and reminds me of a public school drop off/pick up point for carpools.  The final entrance is less celebrated and was reserved for only the staff and actors of the Paris Opera House.

Aerial View

City Scape Digital Representation
Even though each of these parts emulates the outside world toward the interior of the Paris Opera House, when that play or opera is going on each person is witness to the same thing.  Granted there will be different perspectives and qualities to how the people view, but the concept is there. Similarly a major part to the use of this structure is not only for the show, but for the social interaction.  Ching states, "The staircase that lies between the entrance narthex and the theater is itself a three-dimensional theater intended to allow opera goes to see and be seen, the encounters themselves constituting an elaborate social ritual." (671)

Grand Staircase "Theater"
And Just for clarification, I am not using the "good design for all" statement as it applies to political correctness, handicap enablement, age definement, or especially social class unification.  This space does not bode well for these aspects within its original usage.  However I use that statement to show how the designer used systems in a way that even for today are hard to deal with sometimes.  I believe Charles Garnier created a perfectly flowing showpiece to display how cultural interactions worked in Paris at the time of its construction.

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RR12 - Paris Opera House

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Friday, April 8, 2011



Royal Saltworks; Claude-nicolas Ledoux, 1775-1776
 The saltworks emphasises the return of simple shapes during the industrial revolution.  A balance to bring together all 'progress' and past basics.  From purpose to semiotics.

Starting this unit we explored how bringing faith to basic materials could transform them into something else.  When stone and glass were arranged just so, the structure moved with a new purpose.  Surface and substance then became a tangible expression of the faith.  The constructs seemed to dance such as the Hindu temple Shikara.  The halls filled with music which gave them reason according to their purpose: Temple of Inscriptions, San Vitale, Zoroastrian Fire Temple, & Rajasimhesvara.  We delved into several faiths inspired structures such as the Church of the Holy Sepulche and Hagia Sophia.  Throughout all of these, form, space, & material played a crucial role in the final product to strengthen faith and purpose.

            At the end of the first millennia and with faith secured, people began to spread out into the world.  But what perception of the world would be taken and which map did they use.  All things can be seen as a map in some light, but for that period the cathedrals became the maps.  Each cathedral wasn’t alike however.  For example we looked at the cathedrals at Salisbury and Florence.  Their differences and similarities in the gothic style helped transform the world around them differently.  Then as the previous “Dark Ages” evaporated the newly enlightened world emerged.

            With some resemblance of structure to the western world then and with a new enlightened outlook on things it was time to create rules for everything, including design.  What should be a rule though?  Basic structure found by the ancients or what was relevant at the time, gothic principles.  We can see what elements mattered all the way back from the first unit: firmness, commodity, and delight.  The “happiness” of architecture was a very important aspect.  Discussion and ideology became a focal point of that time.  And what of the eastern realm of the world, what rules were made among the various religions, regions, and cultures?  In the future which would stay true to the rules and which would be shattered and glued back together?

            Now that rules were founded in the west it was time to break them.  Designers and architects experimented with tradition, gothic, baroque, renaissance, and simple forms to create many progressive structures at that time.  Palladio, Romano, Machuca, Michelangelo, Bernini, Bramante, Borromini, Pannini, Salvi, and several others all left their marks by bending those rules across genres to the breaking point and beyond.  Yet some styles could be kept separately defined such as the Renaissance style, individualistic and serene, and the German/Austrian Baroque style, unity and as part of a scene.  Most steadfast of all however was eastern design with its traditional rules and slow progress by western standards.  All of these things were another part of the nautilus structure of design through history.  How would the world expand from that point to create the next section?

            Now the world truly was expanding past its previous confines and with it design.  The new world’s discovery enabled people to spread out more and take their design ideas with them.  Many of the early structures in uncharted territory emulated that of the past, but before long a need to be different also arose.  Soon a change in everyday life would make design a whole new field.

            The industrial revolution had begun to turn everything on its head.  Political, social, and cultural aspects impacted how designers and architects of the time understood the world around them.  New areas of thought arose, beginning with an engineering mindset, new materials, and continued with rational scientific knowledge.  In that time a balance between new and old, observable and unseen, was the topic of many structures.  A balance had not yet been reached.  Semiotics, ideologies, and signs; in class we began to see meaning, hidden and otherwise, in everything.  Everyday life can be examined through design.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Monticello or Fallingwater? - An Opinion

Having been unable to actually visit these sights I must go with what I have seen online in pictures.

From what I can tell Monticello has an organic nature with strong influences from around the time it was constructed.  Jefferson designed the main building with the ability to add-on and with a few elements that are uncommon for homes of the time.  The grounds at Monticello appear well groomed and to have been planned very effectively against the buildings themselves.  A very interesting and classical building of the time.

Like Monticello, Fallingwater uses the landscape to increase its own beauty.  That is about all they appear to have in common from the outside.  Although Fallingwater was designed about 75 years ago it still holds a contemporary look about it.  Simple shapes, stark contrasts, parallels and perpendiculars, interesting materials, and unique environmental usage add to the eye catching allure of this space.

Personally I like Fallingwater the most for several reasons personal to me.  First I have always appreciated the movement of water and I dream of designing complex fountains some day for enjoyment.  So the water elements of Fallingwater are a bonus.  Second I would like to see myself as a contemporary designer who uses some of the same techniques that Wright used in this building, simple details, straight lines, and complex layouts.  Lastly I have always appreciated nature and how we can combine it with our society (Great Example) and Fallingwater uses the resources around it perfectly to its form.  So with that I choose Fallingwater as my preference.

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The CCTV Television Station and Headquarters in Beijing, China has won my opinion as today's vision of 'what is modern?'

Under Construction, 2008

The unique structure suspends itself over 234 meters above the ground using a strong diagrid exoskeleton and traditional inner support.  The basic structure involves two leaning towers at 60 degrees which bend at right angles at the top and bottom then join together in both instances.

CCTV Tower Concept Design

With a continuous form and an all glass exterior the CCTV tower dominates the skyline with its one of a kind look.  This structure made it possible for China State Television to broadcast 200+ which was a dramatic increase from the previous capacity of 16 channels.  It was also completed in time to help broadcast the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

TVCC Tower (front), CCTV Tower (back)

A currently incomplete structure (due to a fire) next to the CCTV Tower is the TVCC Tower, which will house several entertainment options and a 300 room hotel among other venues.  With an estimated final cost of 1.2 billion dollars, the CCTV and TVCC Towers are sure to be well worth the effort as they mark a pinnacle of modern design.
TVCC Tower damaged by fire in 2009
      The search for what is modern by humans, in my opinion, is fueled by greatness.  Just as Kings sought to take over their enemies for greatness and rememberence, designers try to imprint themselves into history by revolutionizing the contemporary.  How can someone be remembered by doing the same old techniques?  The quest to be modern in the early 20th century is the same as it is today.  In order to be great and be remembered we must leave something for history to remember us by, our generations concept of 'modern'.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

RR11 - Casa Mila

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