Archive for the ‘746’ Category


Night at the Museum — as the lady said, who needs Ben Stiller?

Careful, the staircase seems to move. !

Does it not show motion?

That’s its essential statement. Stairs by Mies in the Arts Club of Chicago.



The new John Kennedy ?

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Sit in it and …

In the 60’s , these were the rage,

revolving restaurants on top of towers. With names like ‘Eagle’s Nest,’ ‘Cloud Nine,’ and ‘BonaVista Lounge.’

Now they want the whole building to turn. The top photo is to be
a fully rotating tower, powered by the sun.

“We didn’t want to build just another building or tower,” said Tav Singh, director of Dubai Property Ring, the Dubai arm of UK-based property investors UK Property Group.

No, I guess not.

This thing is also a timepiece!

“A distinctive time line runs down the building that meets 12 o’clock markings on the ground and the podium, allowing observers to use the building as a fully functioning time piece” said James Abbott, senior architect at Palmer and Turner.

The tower was designed by UK architecture firm, Glenn Howells Architects (the company behind the Birmingham Rotunda in the UK) and Palmer and Turner, the master developers of City of Arabia.

The task of rotating an 80,000 tonne tower through 360 degrees over a seven day period has been handed to Nick Cooper, managing director of Bennett Associates, the British engineer who designed the drill machine that bored the English Channel Tunnel.

Cooper said state of the art bearing systems at several points in the tower will allow a power plant to rotate the base of the tower at 5mm per second using only 21 electic kettles’ worth of solar power.

Construction is scheduled to start in June and to finish in 2009.

And expect one near you soon.

Singh said the company plans to build 23 more rotating towers in each of the world’s time zones.



That east coast Glass House

lots of links on Philip Johnson

before the Glass House opens to the public in April.

Vincent Scully in print and audio and even video!

These memories are priceless.

Especially David Childs on how “it suddenly and momentarily appeared as a child’s playhouse in the Garden of Eden. The unexpected appearance of innocence and nakedness—it really couldn’t have been staged—suggested its own inescapable metaphor for the Glass House: a naked house, a house with no clothes.”

I doubt the little boy was the only naked young man our Philip saw running around there. We’ve all heard the stories of the voyeurism, and…
I’ll see if I’m free to tell some in print here. Do check back.


In the meantime,

Mies’ Farnsworth House is pure, right?


Abakanowicz, Agora and ……… T.S. Eliot

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

read the poem here.

And a lot more about Agora, here.


A fine day in the suburbs.

After looking, and trying not to, at

I happened, not for the first time, onto

Helmut Jahn’s Shure, Inc. (Built as Ha-Lo)

It’s pretty


But the big surprise was

A low-slung addition. I’d also seen this before, even recently, but I guess I hadn’t been ready for it then. Or it hadn’t been ready for me. Or the light was wrong, or, well…

The addition to the Jahn is not spectacular. It is something else.

In here, engineers design new Shure microphones.

And as the sun set, and they went home for Thanksgiving,

I couldn’t tear myself away from the building.
I walked around it and listened,

and looked at how it met the original structure

respectfully. With a gap.

In the lobby and outside it felt quiet and peaceful.
I watched the sun set behind it, and come through it.

And then I got it. The building whispered to me who its father was.

Crown Hall .
The serenity in the Shure building springs out of
Crown Hall, the architecture school designed by Mies van der Rohe
at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Shure addition architects Ron Krueck and Mark Sexton know it well. They studied in, taught in and masterfully restored Crown Hall, not long ago.

Peace, in the suburbs,
Now I can have my Thanksgiving.
I hope yours is satisfying too.

-Mr. Edward Lifson


Svelter Shelter

Opera stars are getting svelter, and so are opera houses.

Where is this one? You know who designed it. Santiago Calatrava.
It’s in Valencia, where’s he’s designing a new world. In the old world.

Are we getting tired of buildings that screamingly call attention to themselves? If they’re going to do that they’d better be screamingly beautiful. I don’t know if this one is.

Calatrava already has a Planetarium and IMAX Theater and a Science Museum in Valencia, his native city.

This new opera house, also features Calatrava murals and ceramic bas-relief sculptures. And it looks like his opera house in Tenerife:

That one is screamingly beautiful! Though a bit of a rip-off of the Sydney Opera house.

Which will always be the icon.

From the Valencia opera house press release: In 1991, the government of Valencia commissioned Calatrava to design this vast urban intervention (86 acres!) to bring coherence and life to a previously neglected area, and to provide the city with cultural facilities of national importance.

Enlightened government? Some say the buildings don’t work very well. That they’re form over function.

Santiago Calatrava’s Valencia Opera House is due to open October 25.

If you’re there, you’ll hear Fidelio. Odd choice. Why not also commission new music? A new Spanish opera to go with the new building? Especially as the press release tells us,

“The people of Valencia have traditionally shared a deep love of music,” Santiago Calatrava states. “The region is sometimes known as the Land of 1,000 Bands, since every village and town has its musical association. In fact Llíria, called the City of Music, has two, which are respected throughout the world. The project of creating the Valencia Opera House is therefore highly significant—because of the role that music plays in the life of the region, and because of the civic role that the building will now play in the evolution of the city.”

When it opens, will Calatrava’s other buildings, the ones with wings that move, wave at it?


And, is ‘svelter’ a word? 😉

Calatrava portrait by Suzanne DeChillo/TM cThe New York Times