ILMA of the Week: Antoni Gaudí

On this day in 1852, Antoni Gaudí was born. Ahead of his time and a genius of modernist architecture, seven of his buildings in and around Barcelona are listed as UNESCO World Heritage.

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ILMA of the Week: Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. He previously served as the second vice president of the United States from 1797 to 1801.

The principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights, motivating American colonists to break from the Kingdom of Great Britain and form a new nation; he produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national level.

Along with the design of his own home, Monticello, Jefferson the architect is best known for his plans for the University of Virginia. Jefferson designed the initial buildings as an “academical village” in which students and professors would live, learn, and teach in community.

The original buildings were planned not only as housing for students and professors but also as models of architecture. Jefferson designed the most ambitious of the original buildings, the Rotunda, on the model of the Roman Pantheon. Today the University’s grounds are recognized as one of the most beautiful and important college campuses in the country.

Thomas Jefferson was a passionate student of architecture whose designs are among the most influential in the early history of the United States. As a student at the College of William and Mary he purchased his first book on the subject and later assembled one of the largest libraries on architecture in America. He was particularly influenced by the classical style of Andrea Palladio, who emphasized symmetry, proportion, and the use of columns. These principles then came to define the architecture of the early United States, first in Richmond, with Jefferson’s design of the State Capitol, and then in Washington, D.C., where he influenced decisions on the design of the U.S. Capitol and the White House. Jefferson is perhaps best known for his homes—Monticello, in Albemarle County, and Poplar Forest, in Bedford County—which became laboratories for Jefferson’s design interests and his many influences. Monticello, in particular, brought together Jefferson’s obsessions with classical forms and his admiration for contemporary France. During his retirement, Jefferson established the University of Virginia, creating a distinctive, U-shaped design of connected pavilions and a domed Rotunda circling a long, narrow green space. Along with Monticello, the university is considered to be one of the highlights of American architecture and cemented Jefferson’s legacy as a designer. MORE…

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ILMA Architect of the Week: Adolf Loos

Do You Like Modern Architecture?

You can thank Adolf Franz Karl Viktor Maria Loos (December 10, 1870 – August 23, 1933).

Adolf  Loos was an Austrian and Czech architect and influential European theorist of modern architecture. His essay Ornament and Crime advocated smooth and clear surfaces in contrast to the lavish decorations of the fin de siècle and also to the more modern aesthetic principles of the Vienna Secession, exemplified in his design of LooshausVienna. Loos became a pioneer of modern architecture and contributed a body of theory and criticism of Modernism in architecture and design and developed the “Raumplan” (literally spatial plan) method of arranging interior spaces, exemplified in Villa Müller in Prague.

Adolf Loos Architect 02 Moller House

Villa Müller Elevation

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Villa Müller Floor Plan of Mezzanine

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The Looshaus is a building in Vienna designed by Adolf Loos, regarded as one of the central buildings of Viennese Modernism. It marks the departure from historicism, but also from the floral decor of Secession, an an art movement formed in 1897 by a group of Austrian artists who had resigned from the Association of Austrian Artists, housed in the Vienna Künstlerhaus.

At age 23, Loos traveled to the United States and stayed there for three years from 1893–96. While in the United States, he mainly lived with relatives in the Philadelphia area, supported himself with odd jobs and also visited other cities such as the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, St. Louis and New York. Loos returned to Vienna in 1896 and made it his permanent residence. He was a prominent figure in the city and a friend of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Arnold Schönberg, Peter Altenberg and Karl Kraus.

Inspired by his years in the New World he devoted himself to architecture. After briefly associating himself with the Vienna Secession in 1896, he rejected the style and advocated a new, plain, unadorned architecture. A utilitarian approach to use the entire floor plan completed his concept. Loos’s early commissions consisted of interior designs for shops and cafés in Vienna.

Modern architecture is a group of styles of architecture which emerged in the first half of the 20th century and became dominant after World War II. It was based upon new technologies of construction, particularly the use of glasssteel and reinforced concrete; and upon a rejection of the traditional neoclassical architecture and Beaux-Arts styles that were popular in the 19th century.  They also rejected embellishments.

Modern architecture continued to be the dominant architectural style for institutional and corporate buildings into 1980s, when it was largely deposed by postmodernism.

Notable architects important to the history and development of the modernist movement include Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Konstantin Melnikov, Erich Mendelsohn, Richard Neutra, Louis Sullivan, Gerrit Rietveld, Bruno Taut, Gunnar Asplund, Arne Jacobsen, Oscar Niemeyer and Alvar Aalto.

Adolf Loos’ lamentation Ornament and Crime made a lasting impression on le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe and left behind a body of attractive commercial and domestic work blending simplicity and great material warmth.

As noted by The Australian in the article Looking at Adolf Loos, modern architecture as it evolved through the middle decades of the 20th century, might have been better – more individualistic, humanistic and warmer in tone – if it had been more deeply attuned to the quirky legacy of Adolf Loos than the rigidities of Bauhaus-inspired internationalism. If Adolf Loos is our contemporary, it is not before time.

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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

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Architect 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.

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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).

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Gift Ideas from ILMA


ILMA of the Week: Peter Eisenman

ILMA-EISENMAN

 

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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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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.

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Frank Cunha III
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e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
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ILMA of the Week: Eero Saarinen

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Eero Saarinen (August 20, 1910 – September 1, 1961) was a Finnish American Architect and industrial designer of the 20th century famous for varying his style according to the demands of the project: simple, sweeping, arching structural curves or machine-like rationalism.

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One of Saarinen’s earliest works to receive international acclaim is the Crow Island School in Winnetka, Illinois (1940). The first major work by Saarinen, in collaboration with his father, was the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. It follows the rationalist design Miesian style: incorporating steel and glass, but with the added accent of panels in two shades of blue. The GM technical center was constructed in 1956, with Saarinen using models. These models allowed him to share his ideas with others, and gather input from other professionals. With the success of the scheme, Saarinen was then invited by other major American corporations to design their new headquarters: these included John Deere, IBM, and CBS. Despite their rationality, however, the interiors usually contained more dramatic sweeping staircases, as well as furniture designed by Saarinen, such as the Pedestal Series. In the 1950s he began to receive more commissions from American universities for campus designs and individual buildings; these include the Noyes dormitory at Vassar, as well as an ice rink, Ingalls Rink, and Ezra Stiles & Morse Colleges at Yale University.

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He served on the jury for the Sydney Opera House commission and was crucial in the selection of the now internationally known design by Jørn Utzon. A jury which did not include Saarinen had discarded Utzon’s design in the first round. Saarinen reviewed the discarded designs, recognized a quality in Utzon’s design which had eluded the rest of the jury and ultimately assured the commission of Utzon.

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Eero Saarinen and Associates was Saarinen’s architectural firm; he was the principal partner from 1950 until his death in 1961. The firm was initially known as “Saarinen, Swansen and Associates”, headed by Eliel Saarinen and Robert Swansen from the late 1930s until Eliel’s death in 1950. The firm was located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan until 1961 when the practice was moved to Hamden, Connecticut. Under Eero Saarinen, the firm carried out many of its most important works, including the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Gateway Arch) in St. Louis, Missouri, the Miller House in Columbus, Indiana, the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Airport that he worked on with Charles J. Parise, and the main terminal of Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.. Many of these projects use catenary curves in their structural designs. One of the best-known thin-shell concrete structures in America is the Kresge Auditorium (MIT), which was designed by Saarinen. Another thin-shell structure that he created is the Ingalls Rink (Yale University), which has suspension cables connected to a single concrete backbone and is nicknamed “the whale.” Undoubtedly, his most famous work is the TWA Flight Center, which represents the culmination of his previous designs and demonstrates his expressionism and the technical marvel in concrete shells.

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ILMA of the Week: I. M. Pei

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Ieoh Ming Pei (born April 26, 1917), commonly known as I. M. Pei, is a Chinese American architect often called a master of modern architecture. Born in Canton (Guangzhou) and raised in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Pei drew inspiration at an early age from the gardens at Suzhou. In 1935, he moved to the United States and enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania’s architecture school, but quickly transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was unhappy with the focus at both schools on Beaux-Arts architecture, and spent his free time researching emerging architects, especially Le Corbusier. After graduating, he joined the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and became friends with the Bauhaus architects Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. In 1939, he married Eileen Loo, who had introduced him to the GSD community. They have been married for over seventy years, and have four children, including architects Chien Chung “Didi” Pei and Li Chung “Sandi” Pei.

MIT’s architecture faculty was also focused on the Beaux-Arts school, and Pei found himself uninspired by the work. In the library he found three books by the Swiss-French architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, better known as Le Corbusier. Pei was inspired by the innovative designs of the new International style, characterized by simplified form and the use of glass and steel materials. Le Corbusier visited MIT in November 1935, an occasion which powerfully affected Pei: “The two days with Le Corbusier, or ‘Corbu’ as we used to call him, were probably the most important days in my architectural education.” Pei was also influenced by the work of US architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1938 he drove to Spring Green, Wisconsin, to visit Wright’s famous Taliesin building. After waiting for two hours, however, he left without meeting Wright.

Le Grand Louvre

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Pei was acutely aware, as he said, that “the history of Paris was embedded in the stones of the Louvre.”

When François Mitterrand was elected President of France in 1981, he laid out an ambitious plan for a variety of construction projects. One of these was the renovation of the Louvre Museum. Mitterrand appointed a civil servant named Emile Biasini to oversee it. After visiting museums in Europe and the United States, including the US National Gallery, he asked Pei to join the team. The architect made three secretive trips to Paris, to determine the feasibility of the project; only one museum employee knew why he was there. Pei finally agreed that a reconstruction project was not only possible, but necessary for the future of the museum. He thus became the first foreign architect to work on the Louvre.

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The heart of the new design included not only a renovation of the Cour Napoléon in the midst of the buildings, but also a transformation of the interiors. Pei proposed a central entrance, not unlike the lobby of the National Gallery East Building, which would link the three major buildings. Below would be a complex of additional floors for research, storage, and maintenance purposes. At the center of the courtyard he designed a glass and steel pyramid, first proposed with the Kennedy Library, to serve as entrance and anteroom skylight. It was mirrored by another inverted pyramid underneath, to reflect sunlight into the room. These designs were partly an homage to the fastidious geometry of the famous French landscape architect André Le Nôtre (1613–1700). Pei also found the pyramid shape best suited for stable transparency, and considered it “most compatible with the architecture of the Louvre, especially with the faceted planes of its roofs”.

Biasini and Mitterrand liked the plans, but the scope of the renovation displeased Louvre director André Chabaud. He resigned from his post, complaining that the project was “unfeasible” and posed “architectural risks”. The public also reacted harshly to the design, mostly because of the proposed pyramid. One critic called it a “gigantic, ruinous gadget”; another charged Mitterrand with “despotism” for inflicting Paris with the “atrocity”. Pei estimated that 90 percent of Parisians opposed his design. “I received many angry glances in the streets of Paris,” he said. Some condemnations carried nationalistic overtones. One opponent wrote: “I am surprised that one would go looking for a Chinese architect in America to deal with the historic heart of the capital of France.”

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Pei decided that a pyramid was “most compatible” with the other structures at the Louvre, complementing their roofs’ faceted planes.

Soon, however, Pei and his team won the support of several key cultural icons, including the conductor Pierre Boulez and Claude Pompidou, widow of former French President Georges Pompidou, after whom another controversial museum was named. In an attempt to soothe public ire, Pei took a suggestion from then-mayor of Paris Jacques Chirac and placed a full-sized cable model of the pyramid in the courtyard. During the four days of its exhibition, an estimated 60,000 people visited the site. Some critics eased their opposition after witnessing the proposed scale of the pyramid.

To minimize the impact of the structure, Pei demanded a method of glass production that resulted in clear panes. The pyramid was constructed at the same time as the subterranean levels below, which caused difficulties during the building stages. As they worked, construction teams came upon an abandoned set of rooms containing 25,000 historical items; these were incorporated into the rest of the structure to add a new exhibition zone.

The new Louvre courtyard was opened to the public on October 14, 1988, and the Pyramid entrance was opened the following March. By this time, public opinion had softened on the new installation; a poll found a fifty-six percent approval rating for the pyramid, with twenty-three percent still opposed. The newspaper Le Figaro had vehemently criticized Pei’s design, but later celebrated the tenth anniversary of its magazine supplement at the pyramid. Prince Charles of Britain surveyed the new site with curiosity, and declared it “marvelous, very exciting”. A writer in Le Quotidien de Paris wrote: “The much-feared pyramid has become adorable.”. The experience was exhausting for Pei, but also rewarding. “After the Louvre,” he said later, “I thought no project would be too difficult.”. The Louvre Pyramid has become Pei’s most famous structure.

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ILMA of the Week: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (March 27, 1886 – August 19, 1969) was a German-American Architect commonly referred to, and was addressed, as Mies, his surname. He served as the last director of Berlin’s Bauhaus, and then headed the department of architecture, Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where he developed the Second Chicago School. Along with Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto, and Frank Lloyd Wright, he is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern Architecture.

Mies, like many of his post-World War I contemporaries, sought to establish a new architectural style that could represent modern times just as Classical and Gothic did for their own eras. He created an influential twentieth century architectural style, stated with extreme clarity and simplicity. His mature buildings made use of modern materials such as industrial steel and plate glass to define interior spaces. He strove toward an architecture with a minimal framework of structural order balanced against the implied freedom of free-flowing open space. He called his buildings “skin and bones” architecture. He sought a rational approach that would guide the creative process of architectural design, but he was always concerned with expressing the spirit of the modern era. He is often associated with his quotation of the aphorisms, “less is more” and “God is in the details”.

Furniture

Mies designed modern furniture pieces using new industrial technologies that have become popular classics, such as the Barcelona chair and table, the Brno chair, and the Tugendhat chair. His furniture is known for fine craftsmanship, a mix of traditional luxurious fabrics like leather combined with modern chrome frames, and a distinct separation of the supporting structure and the supported surfaces, often employing cantilevers to enhance the feeling of lightness created by delicate structural frames. During this period, he collaborated closely with interior designer and companion Lilly Reich.

Educator

Mies played a significant role as an educator, believing his architectural language could be learned, then applied to design any type of modern building. He set up a new education at the department of architecture of the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago replacing the traditional Ecole des Beaux-Art curriculum by a three-step-education beginning with crafts of drawing and construction leading to planning skills and finishing with theory of architecture (compare Vitruvius: firmitas, utilitas, venustas). He worked personally and intensively on prototype solutions, and then allowed his students, both in school and his office, to develop derivative solutions for specific projects under his guidance.

Architecture

A master of minimalism, he sought to define a new modernist architectural style after World War I and pioneered the use of modern materials such as glass and steel. His style was rejected by the Nazis as un-German and he emigrated to the United States in 1937, where he was appointed the head of an Architecture school in Chicago.

The Barcelona Pavilion (Spanish: Pabellón alemán; Catalan: Pavelló alemany; “German Pavilion”), designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, was the German Pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona, Spain. This building was used for the official opening of the German section of the exhibition, It is an important building in the history of modern architecture, known for its simple form and its spectacular use of extravagant materials, such as marble, red onyx and travertine. The same features of minimalism and spectacular can be applied to the prestigious furniture specifically designed for the building, among which the iconic Barcelona chair.

Villa Tugendhat is a historical building in Brno, Czech Republic. It is one of the pioneering prototypes of modern architecture in Europe, and was designed by the German Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Built of reinforced concrete between 1928-1930 for Fritz Tugendhat and his wife Greta, the villa soon became an icon of modernism.

Widely regarded as Mies van Der Rohe’s masterpiece, Crown Hall in Chicago is one of the most architecturally significant buildings of the 20th Century Modernist movement. Crown Hall was completed in 1956 during Mies van der Rohe’s tenure as director of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Department of Architecture.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library is the central facility of the District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL). Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the 400,000 square foot (37,000 m²) steel, brick, and glass structure, and it is a rare example of modern architecture in Washington, D.C.

The Farnsworth House was designed and constructed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe between 1945-51. It is a one-room weekend retreat in a once-rural setting, located 55 miles (89 km) southwest of Chicago’s downtown on a 60-acre estate site, adjoining the Fox River, south of the city of Plano, Illinois. The steel and glass house was commissioned by Dr. Edith Farnsworth, a prominent Chicago nephrologist, as a place where she could engage in her hobbies.

In 1958, Mies van der Rohe designed what is often regarded as the pinnacle of the modernist high-rise architecture, the Seagram Building in New York City. Mies was chosen by the daughter of the client, Phyllis Bronfman Lambert, who has become a noted architectural figure and patron in her own right. The Seagram Building has become an icon of the growing power of the corporation, that defining institution of the twentieth century. In a bold and innovative move, the architect chose to set the tower back from the property line to create a forecourt plaza and fountain on Park Avenue.

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ILMA of the Week: Eric Owen Moss

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Eric Owen Moss (b. 1943 in Los Angeles, California) practices Architecture with his eponymously named LA-based 25-person firm founded in 1973. Throughout his career Moss has worked to revitalize a once defunct industrial tract in Culver City, California. Moss received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1965, his Masters of Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, College of Environmental Design in 1968 and a second Masters of Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1972. Moss taught at Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in 1974 and was appointed director in 2002. He has held chairs at Yale and Harvard universities, and appointments at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.

Moss received a 1998 AIA/LA Medal for his Architectural work as well as the Business Week / Architectural Record Award in 2003 for the design and construction of the Stealth project, Culver City, California. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and received the Distinguished Alumni Award for the University of California at Berkeley in 2003. Moss received the 2007 Arnold Brunner Memorial Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2011, he was awarded the Jencks Award, given each year to an architect who has made a major contribution to theory and practice of architecture by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Currently, there are ten published monographs on the work of Eric O. Moss’ office.

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ILMA of the Week: Oscar Niemeyer

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Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho is considered to be a pioneer in creating new possibilities for using the reinforced concrete just for aesthetical reasons. He started with designing the first state-sponsored skyscraper in the world, for the Brazilian government. It was completed in 1943 and after decades it was recognized as the first example of Brazilian modernism.

He was part of the international team that designed the UN headquarters in New York and his conceptual plan was the main source of inspiration for the constructors. His membership in the Brazilian Communist Party limited his chances of working in the United States and got him exiled up until 1985. By the time the exile ended, he designed the main administration buildings in Brasilia, the country’s new capital city.

While in Europe, he created several buildings, including the headquarters of the French Communist Party and the Mondadori Publishing House office near Milan. After returning to his home-country, Niemeyer continued to design impressive structures around Brazil such as: Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, the Catedral Militar Igreja de N. S. da Paz, the Memorial dos Povos Indigenas and many others. At his age (103), he continues to work at his office in Rio de Janiero.

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