Tuesday, September 25, 2007

peter gluck:..."i don't belong to the AIA..."

“I think they’re the problem, not the solution. It’s a group of people who get together to promote themselves; they’re not interested in really looking at the profession and trying to see where its problems are.”

pete just said what 90% of the profession was thinking...

metropolis magazine delivers another fine article on the practice of peter l. gluck & partners, based in nyc.

ajax housing; aspen, co [metropolis]

gluck has a section to rant about everything from archi-babble to young architects lack of building knowledge and the fallacies of academia. but the biggest chunk of the piece focuses on an affordable housing complex located in aspen. colorado dubbed the Little Ajax Affordable Housing. if you're thinking that these are spectacular for affordable housing, that's because they are. affordable housing in aspen is just barely under market price housing in downtown denver. [see previous post].

ajax housing; aspen, co [metropolis]

ajax housing; aspen, co [metropolis]

one of coolest parts of the building process was reducing the bid of the corrugated metal package by $60K, all with just a little ingenuity of creating a custom-made saw for cutting sharp angles. the project was opposed by almost all the neighbors, which caused the project to barely break even once completed after six years. other time and dollar saving factors became apparent when drawings were sent out for bid to subcontractors. only drawings relevant to each trade were distributed amongst the subs. small portions of the project, but eventually adding up to a more efficient process. this kind of lacking adapatability and exposure to real world problems seems to be gluck's major issue witht the architectural profession:

“One of the biggest problems is that architects spend so many years in such a refined, isolated world—one school environment after another,” he says. “They never really get out into the real world.”

and railing again on education:

"...The poor state of architectural education also explains why after paying more than $100,000 for a degree, graduates are forced to apprentice for three years while other people sign off on their work, and are finally charged another $2,000 to get a license that a professional degree should prepare them for in the first place. “That’s the kind of shit the AIA would do,” he says. “The profession is already built on the backs of young architects—if they were really concerned, the last thing they would do would be to punish young people coming into the field.”

gluck not only loves adding more social projects to his list, but still keeps an impressive roster of private projects on the resume. one in particular is a small library for his wife:

"scholar's library"; olive bridge, ny [metropolis]

and the "bar house"[clad entirely in certified IPE]:

bar house; aspen, co [metropolis]

keep on it pete. we luv ya.

link from architechnophilia


Friday, September 21, 2007

two zumthor projects

from domus magazine online, the klaus bruder field chapel:

A Saint and an Architect

The votive chapel dedicated to Saint Niklaus von Flüe rises from the flat farmland of the Eifel region in western Germany. [from domus]

Two Swiss (a saint called Bruder Klaus and the architect Peter Zumthor) and a German farmer (the project’s commissioner) converge in the construction of a universal piece of architecture for meditation. Design by Peter Zumthor. Text by Stefano Casciani. Photos by Pietro Savorelli. Peter Zumthor is sitting at 550 metres above sea level in the quiet of his stube (the most beautiful one I’ve even seen) as rain pours down on Haldenstein towards the end of June. There is no truth to the legend of him living the life of a stylite on top of a Swiss peak as he emits sensual oracles of stone and cement that define the condition of architecture. Between his office and his home/office, he smiles, listens, plays music and receives friends. He is preparing for projects and buildings that are bigger (if not more important) than the concentrated, distilled pieces of textural architecture he has produced over the extended amounts of time it takes for work to become art.

A plan sketch by Zumthor [from domus]

Entrance [from domus]

The excuse for our meeting is the votive chapel dedicated to Saint Niklaus von Flüe (better known as Bruder Klaus) that he recently finished in Mechernich, Germany. The building is an ex-voto project commissioned by a farmer who is still alive many years after being diagnosed with heart disease. Marcel Duchamp said that plumbing is the only difference between sculpture and architecture, and in this tower/chapel plumbing is just about absent. The top of the tower is open, so it rains inside. After collecting on the floor a bit, the water slowly, naturally flows away – another reason to call it a sculpture. A very large sculpture that you can enter to pray or simply meditate on your existence, or on that of Bruder Klaus – aka Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of Switzerland. He was a peasant and a soldier who fought as an officer in the victorious wars of the Confederates against the counts of Habsburg around 600 years ago. He got married and had ten children, only to be persuaded by a priest named Heimo am Grund (which in German and Schwiizerduutsch refers to “home” and “ground”) to go into solitary retreat. After requesting and obtaining permission from his wife Dorotea, Bruder Klaus went off to live, and die, in a ravine, in a crevasse. The only Swiss crevasse I remember seeing is the Viamala Schlucht. Touristy perhaps, but in addition to its terrifying name it inspires fear for the fact that the bottom cannot be seen from above. It scares you to death, like the unknown, like what is to come but has not yet been revealed. Yet Zumthor did not think of these things in this project.

The 112 tree trunks that were used for the wigwam-like structure were taken from a wood belonging to the client. The trunks were then positioned in a cone shape, leaving an oculus at the top. Concrete was poured onto the wooden structure at the rate of one level per day, making 24 layers for a total height of 12 metres. At the end, the wood formwork was burnt out. [from domus]

Rain falls inside the Chapel through the opening in the roof and collects in a sunken basin. [from domus]

“After we built the Chapel, a few Swiss people came to me and said, ‘Of course this dark emptiness with only a few strips of light comes from the fact that Bruder Klaus’s life ended in a cell dug into the rock!’ And I said, ‘No, that’s not the reason.’ And they said, ‘Oh, well then it’s like a tower in reference to Bruder Klaus’s career as a soldier!’ And I said, ‘No, that’s not why, I wasn’t thinking of that.’ Rather I was thinking that it would be important for the Chapel to rise up vertically in order to stand out from afar against the open, level fields with their few undulations. It needed to mark out its territory.” “And what about this circular plan inside, and the cusp-shaped exterior? Doesn’t that have to do with the wheel of Saint Nicholas, the symbol he meditated upon daily?” “No, it’s not related to that”.

Ground floor plan [from domus]

Zumthor smiles. Of course it happens that an author writes, paints or builds things that he doesn’t know about, hasn’t seen or heard of, but that are still worth one, three or ten different interpretations. But not because he spent days and weeks studying symbols and symbolism. It makes it better, more interesting, unless you’re not prepared to believe in premonitions, visions, and the poet as a prophet. The only vision that Zumthor believes in is that of architecture. The only language his buildings speak is that of their construction and materials. The hours of the day and the sleepless nights of Bruder Klaus have nothing to do with the 24 visible layers of cement that were applied and compressed by hand on top of a structure made of branches and treetrunks that would later be burnt, leaving its dark mark and intense odour of charcoal inside forever. The layers of cement are 24 because that’s the number of days it took the commissioner and his helpers to make them.

Cross Section [from domus]

Long Section [from domus]

And then: what “expert” would not see Gaudí in this rugged vertical appearance, in the convergence of its walls way up high, in the small marks of light in its cement? Yet Zumthor is no mystic, he’s not like his Catalan colleague who some would like to see canonised, he’s not like Bruder Klaus. He laughs when I ask if it bothers him that people consider him to be a mystic. “Those are just things they’d like to write in the press.” Even so, he did not want to be paid for this project. Even so, his Kolumba Museum in Cologne is about to be inaugurated: a cement castle for contemporary art built on top of religious ruins. Even so, Norman Foster wants him to build the church for the Santa Giulia development outside Milan. Zumthor smiles. He, the layman saint of absolute architecture.

Also-a photo essay by Ellis Woodman at Building Design Online on Zumthor's Kolumba museum in Cologne, Germany:

... "A secret garden, stone ruins, a uniquely dense archaeological site: the ruins of the gothic church in the centre of rebuilt Cologne are the most impressive symbol of the city’s almost complete destruction during the Second World War. In 1949 the chapel of “Madonna in the Ruins” was created within the church ruins by the architect Gottfried Böhm as a near improvised shelter for a gothic Mary figure that had remained unscathed. »Kolumba« is intended to be a place for reflection. The occasion is the new building for the Cologne Diocese Museum, which was established in 1853 and which features an extraordinary collection spanning from early Christianity to contemporary art. A museum as a garden continually bringing a few alternately selected works of art to bloom. The guiding thread of the collection is the quest for overarching order, measure, proportion and beauty which connects all creative work. This quest is the precious material for an aesthetic laboratory which studies the anthropological connections lying beyond mere chronology. Kolumba allows visitors to immerse themselves in the presence of their memories and offers them their own experiences on their way.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

“Fold, weld, bolt, screw: fuck you, it’s not that hard.”

phillip nobel writes about one of his favorite [and ours as well] nyc architecture firm:

METROPOLIS magazine holds the link.

SHoP architects is five architects that graduated out of the tumultuous digital transition at columbia's. their first project to get notice was the "dunescape" at moma ps1 in the summer of 2000. built from individual stick frame construction, the a different sectional quality every 4 inches, the sweeping wave-like canopy and sitting platform [with pool!] elevates a practical approach to "blob-itecture":

with the design and build-it excitement aside, Pasquarelli relishes even more in the numbers game that increased visitors and revenue for the museum:

"...6,000 more visitors ...on a $50,000 budget with a $10,000 fee; he estimates that the popular design, with its secret rooms...brought in an additional $500,000 to $1 million for the institution that summer."
wow. these guys clearly know the other side of the profession as well, and are highly involved with the financing portion of some projects. laterin the article, the firm's penchant for development is revealed further detail...

the next project that thrusted SHoP into the limelight was the parasitic looking "porter house". a mixed-use condominium addition to an historic structure located in the meatpacking district of manhattan. the addition's faces are black modular zinc panels assembled in a semi-random pattern with intermittent flourescent tube lighting behind transluscent white panels. each panel was manufactured straight from the architects' drawings, allowing for a quick and easy construction. and as a punchy quip to all contractors, our favorite quote from the article says it all:

"[Gregg] Pasquarelli described the process: “Fold, weld, bolt, screw: fuck you, it’s not that hard.” The contractors reportedly loved it—no measuring, no cutting."

by the way, if you ever find yourself walking through the meatpacking district at 3am, and see this building, there's a tasty trendy [and slightly expensive] slider and shake joint in the retail space below it.

speaking of-hasn't someone written a thesis on the relationship between architecture and good cuisine yet?
special thanks to epicure of epicures for the heads up on the article.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


sorry for the lack of posts lately. life has been crazy, work has been busy, but all in all delicious. so here's some photos of jackson ['s hole], wyoming during our labor day travels.

[btw-this blog also seems to coincidentally suffer around college football season as well.]

crazybusydelicious projects by nio architecten.

austerity and beautiful emptiness by niizeki studio.

gloriously textural modern boxes by Tham & Videgård Hansson

also, a mouth watering blog links to keep you fat and happy:

architecture. myninjaplease [the inspirational link to the links can be found at the sidebar->]