Happy New Year! Past and future architecture.

    In with the old, in with the new.

    And isn't that what makes cities great?

    What I'm looking forward to in 2009: The grand opening of Renzo Piano Building Workshop's Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago.

    Above, on the left - Piano's Modern Wing due to open May 16, 2009.
    Above, on the right- Right, Louis Sullivan Arch from the entryway to the Chicago Stock Exchange (1893, demolished 1972.)

    Here's another photo of the new wing-


    And the blade of a bridge Piano designed to cross the street from the Art Institute to Millennium Park, and back-


    Yes, that is Frank Gehry's Pritzker Bandshell and trellis you see above.

    Neatly engineered, this bridge shoots across the many lanes of Monroe street. Of course the bridge will be modernist white when finished. And doesn't the city look great, in this winter photo taken yesterday? That gleam, rising on the left, is the still-rising Trump Hotel and Tower. You do see it even from afar.

    I'll have more on Renzo Piano in Chicago soon. Including views inside the galleries.

    Happy New Year! Here's to a fine '09 - together.
    -Edward

    More Hello Beautiful! on the Modern Wing here.
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Happy Holidays

    For winter solstice I traveled up through

    the hills of Malibu

    looking like Arizona, Sedona, this time of year.


    The light changes from point to point.

    We arrived at Eric Lloyd Wright's Wright Organic Resource Center

    Others already stood on the hilltop, looking out over the Pacific Ocean. To join them we walked past




    a lovely koi pond (shades of Japan, shades of Guggenheim!)

    Frank Lloyd Wright often included a water element, even in his urban projects, and in his Southern California work.

    This house, designed by Eric Lloyd Wright, grows organically out of the hill, the side of the hill, the brow, like Taliesin ("Shining Brow") where Eric had lived and worked with "grandfather" for many years.

    Others had also come to visit Eric and his lovely, sympathetic and artistic wife Mary and their family, and to see the sun set on the shortest day of the year.


    The house for now is far from finished. Some of its forms recall a Japanese Shinto gate; and, as in Shinto, this architecture considers nature sacred and imbued with spirits. To be here is to feel those spirits. Shinto celebrates the sense and essence of a particular place, as does this house. Its concrete looks the color of the hill on which it stands, particularly when bathed with




    Underneath the terrace, in the space below, burns the hearth of the home. Fire, to go with the water element, and earth, and air. The space with the hearth faces the sun


    set


    over the Pacific.

    Back up on top of the terrace



    The prow of the house


    lines up with the sun on this day of the solstice. Those metal poles will be replaced by solar panels when the house is finished.

    We watched an especially surreal, sublime Los Angeles sunset, enhanced by this quiet, dark, natural spot.


    They take away all that feels solid inside of you



    I looked to the right and saw Eric (in the center, wearing a hat) with a circle of friends


    His seems a satisfied mind.

    I turned around to watch








    We then gathered for warmth and food, back where the koi swam silently. There we were, beneath two aged and spreading, sheltering trees; their branches wrapped loosely in Italian (Chinese?) little white lights. These illuminated our faces, but didn't keep us warm. We wrapped our hands around warm mugs of herbal tea, shared dinner and merrymaking.

    Happy Holidays to you!
    -Edward


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Peter Eisenman sing-along at Yale

    The syllabus for the course Peter Eisenman is teaching at Yale
    Yale University - Fall 2008 - Prof. Peter Eisenman
    801a: Introduction to Visual Studies: Critical Composition
    Drawing, Seeing, Reading

    says for the class this Thursday (the last session) :
    Thursday, 11 December 2008, 5:30 PM
    Sing-along: Required attendance.

    How festive! Will someone record this and put it on Youtube?

    Can Peter Eisenman sing? If not, will we discover new revelations in the relationship between architecture and music?
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What went down when the Sydney Opera House went up

    Reader Marcus Trimble from Sydney, sends Hello Beautiful! another take on the saga. I assume from the smarts of the letter that this is the Marcus Trimble who teaches design at the University of Sydney Faculty of Architecture and is involved with the Royal Australian Institute of Architecture.
    View showing the two halls of the Sydney Opera House
    and it looks like "Greetings from Sydney!" ay?
    Hi Edward,

    This assessment on the troubles of the Sydney Opera House by Boyle is a little simplistic and bit off the mark.

    It was not a waning interest in opera that led to the opera hall changing location, nor was the smaller hall originally meant to hold the symphonic concerts.

    The problems with the two halls were set in place early on with the general strategy as outlined Utzon's competition scheme. The placement of the two halls side by side meant that fitting the required seating into both halls was problematic.

    The original plan was that the opera and symphonic concerts would be held in the same large hall. Operable elements would reduce the size of the hall for opera to accommodate the large sets and so on. The smaller hall was to be used as the drama theatre. Utzon's office and Arups spent much of their time on the project attempting to get enough seats into the major hall to satisfy the brief from the ABC and the acoustic requirements.

    When it became clear that achieving the seat numbers was not going to be possible, a compromise was reached where the opera was moved to the smaller hall, additional seating was placed to the rear of the concert hall and the drama theatres were moved into the podium.

    As for Utzon leaving the job, this was for a number of complex factors beyond mere disputes over the funding of models, such as the change of the NSW State Government and the ensuing change in management of the project, disputes over Utzon's role as lead consultant and refusal to work with a government appointed team of architects, disagreements over fees, and the failing relationship between Utzon and Ove Arup.

    I can recommend the excellent "The Saga of the Sydney Opera House" by Peter Murray which gives a detailed breakdown of the entire project.

    Thank you very much Marcus Trimble.


    photo from Flickr
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Jørn Utzon, flights of angels, and the sound of the Sydney Opera House


    Photo by Vermin Inc / © Some rights reserved.

    Architect Charles Boyle of Perth, Australia writes to Hello Beautiful!:
    The issue with the acoustics in the Sydney Opera house stem from the use of the halls - at the time, the "Opera House" was intended to lend competitive cultural gravitas to Sydney in favour of Melbourne (the same bean-field war propagated the location of the national capital in Canberra mid-way between the two)

    The larger hall was intended for Opera, and the smaller for concert performances.

    However, opera waned in popularity, so the decision was made to house the opera in the smaller hall, but the facilities are modest, and the volume insufficient to allow the operatic acoustic to develop.

    The reason why Mr Utzon could not continue was that he wished to build full-scale mock-ups and trials for the interior acoustic lining, but the government of New South Wales who had commissioned the project, baulked at the cost for something that might be simply discarded later, and so suspended any further payments on the project. Mr Utzon was thus forced to retire from the project. He never actually resigned.


    His approach would not be questioned in these days when acoustic excellence is a specialised field of consultancy: I recall how his office in Helsingor was littered with models, prototypes and samples of construction methodologies as this was his very hand-on way of exploring new ideas and pioneering solutions.

    "Good night sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest"

    Charles Boyle - architect
    Perth, Australia
    Thank you Mr. Boyle.
    -----

    Joseph Rykwert:

    "I never quite loved the Sydney Opera House."

    Like almost everybody, I reluctantly admired the Sydney Opera House when I first saw the competition results back in 1956, with its earth-bound podium growing out of the soil of Bennelong Point and jutting out into the bay, the vaults hovering over the layered platforms in counterpoint to the arch of the Harbour Bridge. It may all have been very thrilling, but I never quite loved it. Perhaps I was uneasy, or even feared those vaults as foreboding the iconic buildings 50 years hence. Or perhaps I could not buy into the analogy between the vaults and the sails in the bay. Just think how that analogy has now been debased by the curved side of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.


    Burj Al-Arab in Dubai.

    Read Rykwert here.


    Interior photo from Flickr
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