Archive for the ‘Corbusier’ Category

Villa Savoye


Wrongchamp ? Our Renzo designs for Ronchamp


“Maybe you wouldn’t see it, (the new building), but you would feel it.”
– Jean Louis Cohen

On the heels of recent criticism of Renzo Piano, comes this in The Architect’s Newspaper:

… The Ronchamp association considered several architects besides Renzo Piano, including Tadao Ando, Glenn Murcutt, and Jean Nouvel. In the end, the first two were deemed too far away, while the idea of Nouvel was rejected because “he would only design something Jean Nouvel. We loved Piano’s museums in Basel and Berne. He is a poet and a philosopher, too.”

Piano himself was somewhat hesitant, and not because of the complexities of building respectfully next to an icon. After all, he has designed additions to several icons, including Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum (in a preliminary design stage) and Richard Meier’s Atlanta High Museum. [EL- You can hardly compare the High Museum to Ronchamp!] But the Ronchamp project is by far the smallest in his office, very sensitive, and with a relatively miniscule budget of $13 million. “There would be no reason to put myself in this funny situation if this were not a work of passion,” he said.

Piano did not even start to design until he had walked the site last winter, driving stakes into the ground where it would be possible to build without being seen from the top of the hill where the chapel sits. According to French law, any changes within 500 meters of a designated landmark are open to the scrutiny of the Ministry of Culture, but the grounds around the chapel building are not subject to this landmark protection. Thus, although the new structures will be invisible, they do come to within 60 meters of the chapel. Piano plans to reforest the flanks of the hill with some 800 evergreens and native deciduous trees, spending one-third the entire budget on landscaping.

Jean Louis Cohen, the preeminent Corbusier scholar who is on the board of the foundation, also walked around the site last summer, “Maybe you wouldn’t see it, but you would feel it,” said Cohen in an interview in which he showed slides documenting the chapel from every possible angle from below the hilltop. “The harmony of the place would be disturbed; it would lose the sense of being a pilgrimage and impoverish the chapel itself.”

… “We are well aware that Renzo Piano will take all precautions called for,” said Michel Richard, (director of the Association Œuvre Notre-Dame du Haut that owns Le Corbusier’s 1955 masterwork.) “They should just build farther away….”

The plan includes a new visitor center to replace the current one—a makeshift pink box at the base of the hill. Renderings show a simple split shed with a dynamic bifurcated roof jutting in directions that echo the swoops of the chapel’s roof. The tilting roof planes would be made of both zinc and green-roof materials, making it appear as if it were rising from the forest floor.

more, and more images

I think putting more architecture there will dilute and alter what is there now. And what is there now is so great that it need not be altered. In cities we rail against isolated sculptural objects. But Ronchamp works perfectly as that. By itself in nature, it has a unity, a purity. I don’t want multiple architectural experiences there. I only want one.

Ronchamp photo: ezra Stoller/ Esto
rendering and model – RPBW

Instant Architect


Instant Architect via Coudal

Instant Architect


Instant Architect via Coudal

Wanna buy a Corbusier?

The penthouse in this:

The Villa Stein, outside of Paris. Completed in 1927.
€1,080,000 for the penthouse.

Let me know how you like it.

John Silber – Architecture of the Absurd


Silber: “How Genius Disfigured a Practical Art.”
10 minute video.

How local TV news disfigures discussion about architecture. Sad.

The problem with America’s built environment is not Frank Gehry’s Stata Center (whose interior impresses me more and more each time I see it. The exterior I still find a little tragi-comic for upright Cambridge.) The problem is the bland, boring and cheap buildings you might see on the way to Stata. The ones with not enough art or thought in them.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Le Corbusier

In Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Center – Cambridge, Massachusetts
“Untitled” (Placebo – Landscape – For Roni)
November 8, 2007–January 4, 2008

Shimmers. Corb’s relationship to the ground is always interesting, so this posthumous placement of a Gonzelez-Torres opus, one even with the word “landscape” in the title, works well in the Carpenter Center.

Of course, I’d also love to see it in Mies van der Rohe’s Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology! Mies’s works also bear an interesting relationship to the ground.

The Mies Society, and IIT’s College of Architecture are producing art in Crown Hall, including a collaboration with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. IIT architecture students are working on designs and environments for dances. They’ll premiere in Crown Hall on January 25 and 26th – by invitation only. The first public performance will be January 27 at 5:00 pm.

And of course, the lobby of Lever House, as of tonight, is filled with 30 dead sheep, one dead shark, two sides of beef, 300 sausages, and a pair of doves.


Didn’t Corb’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts look good in the sun today?


As did Sterling’s Sackler Museum.

In Cambridge, Mass. where autumn reigns.

Freeway stripes on the floor of L.A.’s cathedral?!


L.A.’s about the light.

Moneo’s Cathedral can be luminous/numinous.

Take one adobe church,

add Ronchamp by Corbusier,

and you get Rafael Moneo’s pretty wonderful modernist cathedral in L.A.
But the light on the floor can look like freeway stripes, no?


Freeway to heaven?

Corb and Sullivan


What does Le Corbusier’s Firminy Church in France have to do Louis Sullivan’s K.A.M. Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago?

Besides that you see they both sport a great arch.

Well, Corbu died without finishing Firminy. But the local government recognized its cultural importance and committed funds so it will stand.

In Chicago, we didn’t protect Sullivan’s church and

didn’t it burrrrnnnnn, children, talk about burn oh my Lord….

Now they want to rebuild on the site, but maybe not exactly to Sullivan’s design! That’s bone-headed. It is Louis Sullivan’s church that needs to stand on that corner on the south side of Chicago.

Rebuild it the way it was and consecrate it to culture.

The French paid to complete the unfinished Corbu church, then “consecrated it” to culture.

Read “When is a chapel not a church?

Money grafs:

“In 2003, although without enthusiasm, the local government restarted construction, but not as a chapel. It is against the law in France for the state to fund a religious building, so it is now a cultural centre with a cross on the roof.

This is a building that defines us as a world community. It is as important as the Sydney Opera House, or Bilbao’s Guggenheim, the pyramids, St Peter’s in Rome, Angkor Wat and Beijing’s Forbidden City.

Or Sullivan’s K.A.M. Pilgrim Baptist Church. So lease the land in perpetuity from the congregation, give them the church building they want, and which will better serve their needs, and turn K.A.M. Pilgrim Baptist into a cultural center to serve the memories of Sullivan, Thomas Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson, gospel music and the community around it.


By the way, I also like this graf from the same link, about Corbu’s Firminy:

Le Corbusier was a master at using big, tough, harsh materials softly. His genius is in the way he could provide in a single building an explanation of the human condition that contains so many histories. At Firminy, there is the original cave, the sophisticated geometries of renaissance and Gothic churches, the sculptural forms of Asia and Africa, and the simplicity of abstract modernism. Strangely, one of the world’s most beautiful chapels may never be consecrated.