ILMA of The Week

ILMA of the Week: Eugene Tsui

ILMA of the Week: Antoine Predock

ILMA of the Week: Peter Eisenman

ILMA of the Week: Bruce A. Goff

ILMA of the Week: Frank H. Furness

ILMA of the Week: Eero Saarinen

ILMA of the Week: I. M. Pei

ILMA of the Week: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

ILMA of the Week: Eric Owen Moss

ILMA of the Week: Oscar Niemeyer

ILMA of the Week: Frank L. Wright

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


ILMA of the Week: Eugene Tsui

Eugene Tssui (also spelled Tsui, born September 14, 1954) is an American Architect. His built projects are known for their use of ecological principles and highly experimental “biologic” design, a term coined by Tssui himself in the 2010 issue of World Architecture Review. He has also proposed a number of massive, radical projects, such as a bridge over the Strait of Gibraltar and a 2-mile-high tower capable of housing 1 million residents.

The following article was first published by Nov. 30, 2015, 7 a.m. at Berkeleyside; Tom Dalzell’s blog: http://quirkyberkeley.com.

2727 Mathews Street. Photo: John StoreyThe “Fish House” at 2747 Mathews St. in Berkeley. Photo: John Storey

The “Fish House” at 2747 Mathews St. in Berkeley, designed by Emeryville’s Eugene Tssui, is the least-expected and probably the most-photographed architectural design in Berkeley.

2727 Mathews Street. Photo: John Storey2747 Mathews St. Photo: John Storey

2727 Mathews Street. Photo: John Storey
2747 Mathews St. Photo: John Storey

2727 Mathews Street. Photo: Joe Reifer
2747 Mathews St. Photo: Joe Reifer

The image above was photographed during the June 2008 full moon around midnight, with an exposure time of approximately 6 minutes. It takes the house’s other-wordly element into a whole new other world.

2727 Mathews Street. Photo: John Storey
2747 Mathews St. Photo: John Storey

Crumbled abalone shell is mixed in with the stucco-ish exterior, providing the sparkle.

2727 Mathews Street. Photo: John Storey
2747 Mathews St. Photo: John Storey

What look like flying buttresses — sort of — project from the rear of the house. They serve as slide escapes from the second story in the event of an evacuation.

Tssui designed the home for his parents, who lived in it from 1995 until last year. It is on Mathews Street, just west of San Pablo Park. But for it, Mathews Street is largely a street without quirk.

A color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph of a tardigrade found in moss samples. Photo: New York Times
A color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph of a tardigrade found in moss samples. Photo: New York Times

The house is designed based on the tardigrade, a segmented marine micro-animal. The tardigrade can  survive extreme cold and extreme hot, extreme pressure or a vacuum, radiation doses, and can go without food or water for more than ten years.

When Tssui’s parents moved to Berkeley, they were concerned about earthquakes and wanted him to design a house in which they would be safe no matter what the Richter Scale said. Tssui consulted zoology and learned that the tardigrade is the most indestructible creature on the planet. True to his belief in biomimicry, he created a house based on the architecture of the lowly tardigrade. He believes that the Mathews Street house is safe from fire, earthquake, flood and pest.

Several neighbors from the block of 1920s California bungalows strenuously objected to the house design; the design review process dragged out more than a year. Tssui credits then-mayor Loni Hancock with stepping in and putting an end to the debate in the name of freedom of thought and design.

The house’s proper name is Ojo del Sol or Tai Yang Yen – the Sun’s Eye. The name alludes to the south-facing 15-foot oculus window, a common feature of Byzantine and Neoclassical architecture. The oculus here serves to light and warm the house. Tssui now uses the name given the house by the public, the Fish House, tardigrade or not.

Eugene Tssui. Photo: John Storey
Eugene Tssui. Photo: John Storey

Tssui is a visionary architect. His degrees are from the University of Oregon and Cal, but he owes much of his architectural vision to three architects with whom he apprenticed: Victor Prus in Montreal, Bruce Goff in Tyler, Texas, and Frei Otto (tensile and membrane structures of glass and steel) in Germany. After Tssui’s first semester at Columbia’s School of Architecture, Dean of Architecture James Stewart Polshek suggested to Tssui that an apprenticeship might suit him better than Columbia. That was a good call.

Bavinger House, Norman, Oklahoma. Photo: Wikipedia
Bavinger House, Norman, Oklahoma. Photo: Wikipedia

Tssui apprenticed with Goff (previous ILMA of the Week: Bruce A. Goff), an extraordinarily creative and innovative architect from 1977 until 1982. Most of Goff’s built projects were in Oklahoma.

Like Goff, Tssui scorns rectilinear design. Tssui calls his design ethic-biologic, based on the architecture of living things. Biomimicry is another term that might describe Tssui’s approach, finding sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s patterns and strategies.

Watsu Center at Harbin Hot Springs, Middletown, California. Photo courtesy of Eugene Tssui.
Watsu Center at Harbin Hot Springs, Middletown, California. Photo: courtesy Eugene Tssui

Tssui’s built projects include several in the East Bay, as well as the Watsu Center in Middletown, recently damaged by the Valley Fire.

Ultima Tower design. Photo courtesy of Eugene Tssui.
Ultima Tower design. Photo: courtesy Eugene Tssui

Gibralter Bridge design. Photo courtesy of Eugene Tssui.
Gibraltar Bridge design. Photo: courtesy Eugene Tssui

Tssui thinks big, an unspoken advocate of the “go big or go home” school of thought. He has designed a submerged bridge with an island half way across to span the Straits of Gibraltar, as well as a two-mile-high tower to house 1,000,000 people. He has visited Tarifa, Spain and North Africa, talking up his bridge project, which draws on wave power and wind power.

There is nothing about Tssui’s upbringing in Minneapolis that would have predicted his trajectory. His parents were no-nonsense immigrants who left Mainland China as Mao’s revolution swept Communists into power. The outward and physical manifestation of his inner self in high school was to play the prankster — Dennis the Menace constantly in trouble. That he would become a polymath nonpareil would not have been obvious at the time.

Business Card

I have never before today used the term “polymath,” a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. The polymath draws upon complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems. Eugene Tssui is a polymath.

I actually came across the word before I saw his business card. I believed that I had thought of something he hadn’t. Obviously I had not. The polymath beat me to it. I think Tssui makes most of the world’s polymaths look lazy and shallow, but there is no way to prove or disprove this.

Courtesy of Eugene Tssui.
Photo: courtesy Eugene Tssui

Courtesy of Eugene Tssui.
Photo: courtesy Eugene Tssui

Tssui believes in vigorous, challenging exercise. He studied Northern Praying Mantis, a style of Chinese martial arts. He is a boxer and gymnast of some renown. He eats every other day, and sparingly. What discipline! He sees it as a logical, if not obvious, way to maintain a healthy weight.

Courtesy of Eugene Tssui.
Photo: courtesy Eugene Tssui

He is a concert pianist and flamenco guitarist. Piano was the instrument of his childhood. He keeps it up, with Chopin at the top of his favorite composer list. He is intrigued by the mathematics of music, but more drawn by the emotion, which he sees as central to human meaning, be it in music, architecture, or any facet of life.

He composes, at times blending his life philosophy with his music, as in “Make What is Wrong, Right”, played “with insistent, battle march feeling” in the five-flats challenging key of D♭major: “We will not be lured by comfort or ease / To make right the acts we know are wrong / And when challenge sends it clarion call / We will act, we will stand, we will fight.”

Tssui began Flamenco dancing in Montreal in 1970, and by 1972 was the principal dancer of the Minneapolis Flamenco Dance Troupe. University of Oregon professor David Tamarin introduced Tssui to flamenco guitar in 1978. Tssui is drawn to flamenco because it exudes pain and suffering and sadness.

Eugene Tssui, wearing a ring given him by a Mongolian shaman. Photo: John Storey
Eugene Tssui, wearing a ring given him by a Mongolian shaman. Photo: John Storey

Photo courtesy: Eugene Tssui.
Photo: courtesy Eugene Tssui

Tssui has lived for long stretches in China. In recent years he has become fascinated with Mongolia. Mongolian culture and history inform Tssui in many ways, as do the life and writings of Genghis Kahn. His experiences with a Mongolian shaman have made him a more spiritual man, an aspect of life that he had not formerly explored.

He has lectured at Cal, served as a research scholar at Harvard, taught at Ohio University and North Carolina State University and Harbin University and Peking University and South China University of Technology. He speaks fluent Mandarin.

He [also] designs furniture.

Rolling buffet table designed by Eugene Tssui. Photo courtesy of Eugene Tssui.
Rolling buffet table designed by Eugene Tssui. Photo: courtesy Eugene Tssui

He [also] designs clothes.

Eugene Tssui. Photo: John Storey
Eugene Tssui. Photo: John Storey

Eugene Tssui. Photo: John Storey
Eugene Tssui. Photo: John Storey

Eugene Tssui. Photo: John Storey
Eugene Tssui. Photo: John Storey

Eugene Tssui. Photo: John StoreyEugene Tssui. Photo: John Storey

The style draws on indigenous Mongolian designs and is highly functional. The sequins on the purple suit shown above, and in the photo of Tssui in front of the Fish House, are small solar panels which can be used to charge a mobile phone.

What’s next for our hometown polymath?

Courtesy of Eugene TssuiCourtesy of Eugene Tssui

Courtesy of Eugene TssuiCourtesy of Eugene Tssui

Courtesy of Eugene TssuiCourtesy of Eugene Tssui

Courtesy of Eugene TssuiCourtesy of Eugene Tssui

He is designing a live/work space to be built in San Pablo. The biologic design is obvious, although the organism that is mimicked is less obvious. He is designing it such that the electricity used in the building will be generated by the user — bicycling or by arms; he will not install solar panels because he finds them toxic when constructed. He is designing it to be cooled and warmed by the earth, and it is aerodynamic for passive ventilation. And so on. Tssui describes himself as someone who asks questions that most people try to avoid. He takes the tough questions and looks for fascinating and universally applicable answers. It is, to say the very least, the product of a creative, answer-seeking polymath mind.

Check out a film on Netflix about Eugene Tsui by clicking here.

And don’t forget to check out Tom Dalzell’s blog: http://quirkyberkeley.com.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


ILMA of the Week: Antoine Predock

Antoine Predock (born 1936 in Lebanon, Missouri) is an American architect based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Antoine Predock is the Principal of Antoine Predock Architect PC.

The studio was established in 1967. Predock attended the University of New Mexico and later received his Bachelor of Architecture from Columbia University.

Predock first gained national attention with the La Luz community in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

His projects have impressive moves, the volume and the materials of the buildings make it seem part of the landscape with fascinating inserts. The architecture of Antoine Predock is a unique experience for its users.

The Nelson Fine Arts Center at Arizona State University was his first nationally won design competition. Predock’s work includes the Turtle Creek House, built in 1993 for bird enthusiasts along a prehistoric trail in Texas, the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, and a new ballpark for the San Diego Padres.

He has also worked on international sites such as the National Palace Museum Southern Branch in Southern Taiwan and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

In 1985, Antoine Predock was awarded the Rome Prize. In 1989, he won a New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. In 2006, he won the AIA Gold Medal. In 2007, Predock was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. In 2010, Predock was named a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

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FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Toon Dreessen @ArchitectsDCA

Click on the image above or click here to listen to our interview with Toon Dreessen.

Click on the following links to learn more about Toon Dreessen and DCArchitects:

For more exclusive ILMA interviews please click here (written interviews) or click here (audio interviews).

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

Gift Ideas from ILMA


ILMA of the Week: Peter Eisenman

ILMA-EISENMAN

 

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post.

We sincerely appreciate all your comments.If you like this post please share it with friends.

And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551
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Licensed in CT, DE, FL, MD NJ, NY, PA


ILMA of the Week: Bruce A. Goff

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Bruce Alonzo Goff (June 8, 1904 – August 4, 1982) was an American Architect distinguished by his organic, eclectic, and often flamboyant designs for houses and other buildings in Oklahoma and elsewhere.

Born in Alton, Kansas, Goff was a child prodigy who apprenticed at the age of twelve to Rush, Endacott and Rush of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Goff became a partner with the firm in 1930. He is credited, along with his high-school art teacher Adah Robinson, with the design of Boston Avenue Methodist Church in Tulsa, one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the United States.

Goff accepted a teaching position with the School of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma in 1942. Despite being largely self-taught, Goff became chair of the school. This was his most productive period. In his private practice, Goff built an impressive number of residences in the American Midwest, developing his singular style of organic architecture that was client- and site-specific.

Goff’s accumulated design portfolio of 500 projects (about one quarter of them built) demonstrates a restless, sped-up evolution through conventional styles and forms at a young age, through the Prairie Style of his heroes and correspondents Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan, then into original design. Finding inspiration in sources as varied as Antoni Gaudi, Balinese music, Claude Debussy, Japanese ukiyo-e prints, and seashells, Goff’s mature work had no precedent and he has few heirs other than his former assistant, New Mexico architect Bart Prince, and former student, Herb Greene. His contemporaries primarily followed tight functional floor plans with flat roofs and no ornament. Goff’s idiosyncratic floorplans, attention to spatial effect, and use of recycled and/or unconventional materials such as gilded zebrawood, cellophane strips, cake pans, glass cullet, Quonset Hut ribs, ashtrays, and white turkey feathers, challenge conventional distinctions between order and disorder. The Bavinger House was awarded the Twenty-five Year Award from the American Institute of Architects in 1987, and Boston Avenue Methodist Church was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1999.

Selected works by Bruce Goff
Goff was active from about 1926 until his death, with several of his projects completed by associates after his death. A number of his works were considered for listing on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
1926: Boston Avenue Methodist Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma
1938: Turzak House, Chicago, Illinois
1947: Ledbetter House, Norman, Oklahoma
1950: Bavinger House, Norman, Oklahoma (featured above)
1955: John Frank House, Sapulpa, Oklahoma
1978: Pavilion for Japanese Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California

Today, Goff’s contributions to the history of 20th-century architecture are widely praised. His extant archive—including architectural drawings, paintings, musical compositions, photographs, project files, and personal and professional papers—is held by the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Some Drawings by Goff:

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Goff died in Tyler, Smith County, TX on August 4, 1982 (TX Death Records). His cremated remains are interred in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois, with a marker designed by Grant Gustafson (one of Goff’s students) that incorporates a glass cullet fragment salvaged from the ruins of the Joe D. Price House and Studio.

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We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

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Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
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e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551
direct: 973.970.3551
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Licensed in CT, DE, FL, NJ, NY, PA, VA


ILMA of the Week: Frank H. Furness

This week’s ILMA Architect of the Week is one of my favorite Architects of all, Frank Heyling Furness (November 12, 1839 – June 27, 1912), who was an American Architect of the Victorian era. He designed more than 600 buildings, most in the Philadelphia area, and is remembered for his eclectic, muscular, often idiosyncratically scaled buildings, and for his influence on the Chicago architect Louis Sullivan. Furness was also a Medal of Honor recipient for his bravery during the Civil War.

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Toward the end of his life, his bold style fell out of fashion, and many of his significant works were demolished in the 20th century. Among his most important surviving buildings are the University of Pennsylvania Library (now the Fisher Fine Arts Library), the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, all in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Over his 45-year career, Furness designed more than 600 buildings, including banks, office buildings, churches, and synagogues. As chief architect of the Reading Railroad, he designed about 130 stations and industrial buildings. For the Pennsylvania Railroad, he designed the great Broad Street Station (demolished 1953) at Broad and Market Streets in Philadelphia, and, for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the ingenious 24th Street Station (demolished 1963) alongside the Chestnut Street Bridge. He was one of the most highly paid architects of his era, and a founder of the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. His residential buildings included numerous mansions in Philadelphia and its suburbs (especially the Main Line), as well as commissioned houses at the New Jersey seashore, Newport, Rhode Island, Bar Harbor, Maine, Washington, D.C., New York state, and Chicago, Illinois.

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Following decades of neglect, during which many of Furness’s most important buildings were demolished, there was a revival of interest in his work in the mid-20th century. The critic Lewis Mumford, tracing the creative forces that had influenced Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, wrote in The Brown Decades (1931): “Frank Furness was the designer of a bold, unabashed, ugly, and yet somehow healthily pregnant architecture.”

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Architect and critic Robert Venturi in Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966) wrote, not unadmiringly, of the National Bank of the Republic (later the Philadelphia Clearing House):

“The city street facade can provide a type of juxtaposed contradiction that is essentially two-dimensional. Frank Furness’ Clearing House, now demolished like many of his best works in Philadelphia, contained an array of violent pressures within a rigid frame. The half-segmental arch, blocked by the submerged tower which, in turn, bisects the facade into a near duality, and the violent adjacencies of rectangles, squares, lunettes, and diagonals of contrasting sizes, compose a building seemingly held up by the buildings next door: it is an almost insane short story of a castle on a city street.”

On the occasion of its centennial in 1969, the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects memorialized Furness as its great architect of the past:
“For designing original and bold buildings free of the prevalent Victorian academicism and imitation, buildings of such vigor that the flood of classical traditionalism could not overwhelm them, or him, or his clients …
For shaping iron and concrete with a sensitive understanding of their particular characteristics that was unique for his time …
For his significance as innovator-architect along with his contemporaries John Root, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright …
For his masterworks, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Provident Trust Company, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station, and the University of Pennsylvania Library (now renamed the Furness Building) …
For his outstanding abilities as draftsman, teacher and inventor …
For being a founder of the Philadelphia Chapter and of the John Stewardson Memorial Scholarship in Architecture …
And above all, for creating architecture of imagination, decisive self-reliance, courage, and often great beauty, an architecture which to our eyes and spirits still expresses the unusual personal character, spirit and courage for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery on a Civil War battlefield.”

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Furness’s independence and modernist Victorian-Gothic style inspired 20th-century architects Louis Kahn and Robert Venturi. Living in Philadelphia and teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, they often visited Furness’s Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts — built for the 1876 Centennial — and his University of Pennsylvania Library.

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The 2012 centennary of Furness’s death is being observed with exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, the Delaware Historical Society, the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, and elsewhere. On September 14, a Pennsylvania state historical marker was dedicated in front of Furness’s boyhood home at 1426 Pine Street, Philadelphia (now Peirce College Alumni Hall). Opposite the marker is Furness’s 1874-75 dormitory addition to the Pennsylvania Institute for the Deaf and Dumb, now the Furness Residence Hall of the University of the Arts.

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We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

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Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551
direct: 973.970.3551
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Licensed in CT, DE, FL, MD NJ, NY, PA