Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Vanity Fair: The Movie
VANITY FAIR is not a good movie. The condensed story is a little boring, and Reese Witherspoon, who's in most scenes, is unable to play a believable 19th century English woman.
But, speaking as an architect, the late 18th and early 19th century interiors are beautiful Classical rooms. Much of the movie was filmed in Bath, seen above (no interiors, unfortunately).
Monday, August 29, 2005
ONE OF our greatest and most unique cities is under attack. God bless New Orleans.
We haven't reached September yet, but the names of storms and hurricanes are already up to the letter K. Global warming continues, and rising ocean temperatures cause more hurricanes and changing weather patterns.
"In New Orleans, which is perilously below sea level and already surrounded on three sides by water, a swell inundated a levee and spilled into an economically devastated area of the eastern side of the city, according to state officials.
"The storm also ripped off a chunk of the roof of the New Orleans Superdome, where as many as 10,000 people had taken shelter. "Right now the Superdome is not in any serious danger," Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said at a news briefing in Baton Rouge. "We have not heard of any flood waters in the area of the dome, but that could change at any moment as we go on."
"There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries.
"Water levels are expected to reach about eight feet, but officials say drinking water may already be contaminated. Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard said there had been hundred of reports, not yet confirmed, about levees being overtaken or floodwaters reaching over the roofs of houses. He said the soonest and safest time that state officials might be able to survey damage along coastal Louisiana could be Tuesday morning."
Let Philly Be Philly —
Links from the Arts Journal
August 28, 2005
IQ And The Sexes - BBC 08/26/05
Sophistication Without Reading - InsideHigherEd 08/25/05
The New Communication (But What Are We Saying?) - San Francisco Chronicle 08/25/05
Asians And Americans See Things Differently? - Wired 08/23/05
Miss Manners Weighs In On The "New" Heckling - Washington Post 08/28/05
MTV For All Your Devices - The New York Times 08/28/05
Why Is Classical Music Dismissed As Elitist? - The Guardian (UK) 08/23/05
The Publishing Conspiracy - You Have To Publish Something People Want To Read - The Guardian (UK) 08/28/05
Teachout: MoMA Is Like A Mall (Not In A Good Way) - About Last Night (AJBlogs) 08/28/05
Copy This Building - The New York Times 08/28/05
A Protest Against A New Berlin Castle - The New York Times 08/25/05
Pop Art - Past Its Sell-By Date - The Times (UK) 08/24/05
Plea: A Venturi Barnes - Philadelphia Inquirer 08/23/05
Sunday, August 28, 2005
The Anxiety of Influence
MODERN ARCHITECTURE was a great social reform movement. The avantgardism that masquerades as Modernism today is little more than shallow, narcissistic, fickle fashion.
In the right situation, with the right designer, it occasionally produces great or interesting buildings. But the current avantgardism's constant search for the unprecedented more typically produces bad buildings like the two above.
They're mentioned in an article about architectural plagiarism in today's New York Times. Looking at them immediately raises three quick points:
- The two "folded plane" designs are both competition entries, designed at the same time for the same place by two different architects. They have nothing to do with their context, and were clearly designed to be unprecedented. Looking at their similarities, one ask to ask: How well is that working?
- The first role of a building is to shape and contribute to the public realm. Anyone but an architect can see these are like Alien Space Invaders. Recent studies have shown that architects are trained to see objects rather than the larger whole: no wonder our cities are falling apart.
- The emphasis on "unprecedented reality" takes the designer into uncharted territory where judgement becomes difficult. In contrast, a Traditional or NeoModern building builds on and improves precedent, and even the non-architect can tell the great Classical building from the merely good. But if one had to improve one of the designs above, what would be the criteria for doing that? Raise your hand if you think they're beautiful.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
We Love These Guys
IT SEEMS like the Yankees always do badly against rookie pitches they haven't seen before. Today they scratched out 3 runs on 2 hits early, but then watched the Royals score 7 unanswered runs, while looking bad themselves. 8th Inning: All the fans are thinking it's do or die, and the Yanks go down 1, 2, 3 after Captain Jeter walks. 9th Inning: The Royals make an error on what should have been a game-ending double-play and the Yanks go on to score 5 runs to win 8 - 7. Yankee announcer John Sterling called it the best Yankee rally he'd seen in his 17 years calling Yankee games.
P.S.: A-Rod has turned into the player the Yankees always hoped he'd be. He's great in the field, he's great on the bases, he gets day-to-day rbis, and he gets clutch hits.
P.P.S.: It was nice to see Embree pitch well in the 9th and get the win. Red Sox fans call him "Double Agent Embree," but maybe Torre's faith is finally paying off.
P.P.P.S.: Matt Lawton on his first game as a Yankee: "This whole thing is so overwhelming. I've seen them do this so many times, to be a part of this is overwhelming. In the 9th, someone said, 'Okay, let's get this thing over with,' and I got a little nervous about doing my part." The Yankees gave him the game card.
Another Quote of the Day from Curbed
TALKING ABOUT architect Charlie Gwathmey's design for condos to replace the Superior Ink Plant in the far West Village, a Curbed reader writes in about the zoning committee hearing for the project:
It was quite entertaining, especially the point where the president of one of the condo's near the Bethune St. property spoke. He said that that despite the fact that their properties would most likely increase with more multi-million dollar neighbors, they were adamantly opposed to the development. He then went on to tell a personal tale: he was 16 and taking an architectural tour of the village, led by Gwathmey no less, who pointed to the old industrial buildings and said "don't ever let them tear these down." Needless to say, the crowd loved it.
And Curbed reports, " Oh, by the way, Charles Gwathmey was there at the time."
Friday, August 26, 2005
What A Novel Idea
[Tony] Woody [an engineer and head of the East Cooper Planning Council's Main Street initiative,] said that in the final analysis, the Johnnie Dodds project is about more than widening a road and designing new intersections.
"What we're trying to create is an address, a place to be, not just a conduit to [someplace else]."
MOUNT PLEASANT--Brent Havens has owned and operated a picture framing business along Johnnie Dodds Boulevard for more than 25 years, and he has profited from the ever-increasing volume of traffic the road carries.
Havens said he knows the highway must be widened, but he fears that if the widening is not done correctly, his and neighboring businesses will be harmed, not helped.
"Our business, quite frankly, is at stake," he said. "A design that carries cars by this business sector quickly will inevitably kill our businesses, as well as be unsightly and uncomfortable for the community."
After Havens saw a series of flyovers, or overpasses, that the town was considering for its major intersections between the new Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and Interstate 526, he talked to dozens of other business owners to see if they shared his concerns.
They did.Ravenel Jr. Bridge and Interstate 526, he talked to dozens of other business owners to see if they shared his concerns.
So he joined the East Cooper Planning Council, which has urged the town to consider other options, such as an urban boulevard and large roundabouts instead of flyovers. The council has had some success. The town's consultant, Day Wilburn Associates, is analyzing both flyovers and an urban boulevard design with roundabouts.
But many business owners along the busy highway feel that more can be done, and that's why they have raised about $200,000 for a parallel study of the transportation, community and economic development issues along the road.
That process begins at 9 a.m. Saturday with a talk by Elizabeth MacDonald, co-author of "The Boulevard Book." The public then will get a chance to talk, and even draw on maps, about what they want to see as far as street design, open spaces, building design, landscaping, and parking.
Tony Woody, an engineer and head of the East Cooper Planning Council's Main Street initiative, said the new study will be led by town planners Dover Kohl and Associates, considered one of the best in the business.
Other experts in transportation, intersection design, land use and economic development will take part; and the final product will analyze how the highway's design will affect land use and business growth there.
Woody insisted that, while the new study is being paid for by those now favoring a boulevard and roundabouts, the study team is arriving with an open mind. "If the public shows up and wants an overpass, then that's what will come out of this process."
He hopes the sessions will draw big crowds, especially Saturday's kickoff and the final presentation at 7 p.m. Wednesday. He said anyone who uses Johnnie Dodds Boulevard should attend, East Cooper resident or not.
Two other planning council members, Tim Keane of the planning firm Keane & Co. and developer Vince Graham, said this new plan ultimately could influence how other major highways, such as Rivers Avenue, are improved in the future.
"This study has applications all over the Lowcountry -- West Ashley, Beaufort, Savannah," Keane said. "This will go beyond the vision and get into the nuts and bolts of exactly how these intersections should be designed."
Mayor Harry Hallman said he isn't planning to attend the upcoming sessions, but other town officials will. He also said he hopes the outcome will complement the town's ongoing study by Day Wilburn Associates, which is expected to present its initial report in late September or early October.
Hallman said he is keeping an open mind about the highway's design for a few more months. "I'm anxiously waiting for the last part of September or early October so we'll have something that we can begin to debate," he added. "I want it to be pretty. I want it to be very functional. We want to make sure we do it right."
Woody said that in the final analysis, the Johnnie Dodds project is about more than widening a road and designing new intersections.
"What we're trying to create is an address, a place to be, not just a conduit to downtown Charleston," he said.
Havens agreed and said he plans to join with the other businesses that have contributed to pay for the additional study.
"What's most important to me is what Mount Pleasant has at stake as a community as far as aesthetics and the humane side of things," he said. "That's the most important, more than my business."
IF YOU GO
The public design session for Johnnie Dodds Boulevard begins at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Moultrie Middle School cafeteria, 645 Coleman Blvd. in Mount Pleasant. The program starts with an hour-long presentation, after which planners will accept comments.
Those who can't attend Saturday can visit the planners in their studio at the Holiday Inn, 250 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Sunday through Wednesday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (except 12:30-1:30 p.m.)
The final presentation will be made at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the gym at Mount Pleasant Town Hall, 100 Ann Edwards Lane.
Robert Behre covers Charleston County. He can be reached at 937-5771 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.