Find the Seven Differences in the Coop Himmelb(l)au Los Angeles High School

    Since I've been posting so much on what I think Wolf Prix / Coop Himmelb(l)au's High School in Los Angeles looks like, I thought I'd post a photo of an earlier model of the thing. This is labeled 2002 - 2007; as seen in a book of the architects' writings called, Get Off of My Cloud.

    Two page image combined. Click to enlarge.

    And as built.

    I like the cube in the air in the original design. Might have added to the "roadside architecture" and "Googie"-ness of it. A la


    In the introduction to Get Off of My Cloud, Jeffrey Kipnis writes,
    Like all architects everywhere, Coop Himmelb(l)au loves to wrestle with Newton's gravity, architecture's best friend. But what compels Coop Himmelb(l)au is the struggle against another gravity, another force that pretends to be as natural, as inevitable as the first. But no yoke is natural, no oppression inevitable.

    "an architecture with fantasy, as buoyant and variable as clouds"

    Anybody want to run this fantasy and make it real?
    LOS ANGELES - Five months from its planned opening, the $232 million High School for the Visual and Performing Arts remains entangled in a bitter political battle over who should control and run the landmark facility: the Los Angeles Unified School District or a charter organization.

    Additionally, the school at 450 N. Grand Ave. is without a principal, as this month the second high-profile East Coast candidate who had initially accepted the job reversed course and turned it down.

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Los Angeles / L'Angelus

    Los Angeles / L'Angelus. And verily, at times the tower of the new Los Angeles High School for the Arts looks like it is reaching out in prayer, towards the Cathedral of Los Angeles. That's the bell tower of Rafael Moneo's cathedral on the left.


    The Los Angeles High School for the visual and performing arts, by Wolf Prix / Coop Himmelb(l)au is due to open this fall. My many other thoughts on it are here - scroll down for all the posts.

    (The Angelus is a Christian devotion in memory of the Incarnation. Every architect should hail the Incarnation. They, more than anyone, know what a miracle it is to make spirit into form.)

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Vitruvian Man meets Modern Man

    If this defines how the Renaissance saw the correlations of ideal human proportions with geometry, as described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius, who described the human figure as being the principal source of proportion for the Classical orders of architecture; and whose writings on the subject Leonardo includes on the page,

    Then this defines the Modern idea of the correlations of human proportions with geometry, described by the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who designed the building and is photographed in it. No words are seen- in the beginning of the modern era was silence- and we are smaller in the frame. But here Modern Man is again the principal source of proportion; and we can use geometry to find the coordinates of a place in which we will feel comfortable in the modern universe.

    Perhaps not as comfortable as Leonardo's Vitruvian Man. He is firmly rooted at the center of the universe. We "float, " off-center.


    Top: Leonardo da Vinci, Vitruvian Man, c. 1487

    Bottom: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe standing in S.R. Crown Hall,
    the architecture school he designed at the Illinois Institute of Technology, c. 1956
    Photograph: Hedrich-Blessing

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My Eisenhower Memorial

Party with Mies, Get Sacred With Wright

    Tonight at Crown Hall:

    Join us, The Mies van der Rohe Society, as we toast Mies as well as great new architecture in Chicago as seen through fashion!

    Each year, IIT's Mies van der Rohe Society throws a spiffy cocktail party to celebrate Mies' birthday and his contributions to Chicago and modern architecture. This year, we explore architecture through fashion.

    With cocktails in hand, enjoy our presentation of creations by local fashion designers inspired by signature buildings.

    In the still-looking gorgeous from its recent restoration - Crown Hall! Ticket information here.
    Then tomorrow, March 26, to benefit Unity Temple in its 100th year:

    Paul Goldberger :: Frank Lloyd Wright, Sacred Space, and the Challenge of the Modern.

    Is there a conflict between the desire to express a modern idea and the timelessness we expect of sacred space?

    Thu :: Mar 26 :: 7:30pm. Paul Goldberger, award-winning architecture critic of The New Yorker, will look at Unity Temple in the context of history’s great religious spaces. He will explore the connection between architecture and the spiritual and consider its meaning, both for Frank Lloyd Wright and for the architecture of today.

    Goldberger has written about architecture, design and urbanism for The New Yorker since 1997 (his most recent column focused on Chicago's Burnham Plan Centennial). He began his career at The New York Times, where he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism, the highest award in journalism. $15 members of Unity Temple Restoration Foundation / $20 nonmembers. Purchase tickets.

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Wanna buy a Tigerman?

100 Flickr Collections for Architecture Buffs

Chicago gains a Louis Sullivan or two

    What a sight for sore eyes. My eyes aren't even sore and I like it. The glass going in today at Haskell Barker Atwater. No, it's not a law firm. It's a group of three buildings from 1875 - 77. Louis Sullivan remodeled them in part in 1896.

    They look so good in this photo. Like they are supposed to be there. A city, the way a city ought to be. They even make the faux-old street light look good.

    The website of the restoration team Harboe Architects tells you,

    The Haskell, Barker and Atwater Buildings are three post-Chicago Fire masonry buildings along Wabash Avenue within the Sullivan Center Complex. The Haskell and Barker Buildings were built together in 1875.... They are four stories tall with a Classical Revival stone façade capped by a sheet metal cornice. In 1896, Louis Sullivan renovated the lower two floors of the Barker Building in cast iron with his unique style of ornamentation.... This work was for the Schlesinger and Mayer Department Store (which became Carson Pirie Scott - EL) and was the precurser to the work he completed two years later for the main Schlesinger and Mayer store at State and Madison.

    The ground floor ornament was covered in the 1930s and discovered under the metal paneling.

    During construction, a previously unknown Sullivan design for the Haskell Building was also uncovered....

    This Sullivan design is similar to the Barker Building's but added in 1903 and painted a dark bronze color.

    The Atwater Building was built in 1877 by Chicago’s first architect, John Mills van Osdel....

    The three buildings are among the few surviving post-Fire buildings in the Chicago Loop and the Sullivan façades are some of his few remaining works in Chicago.

    ... As part of the renovation of the entire Sullivan Center Complex, Harboe Architects was charged with restoring the facades closer to their original appearance and restoring the Sullivan designs on the Barker and Haskell Buildings. This work included removing layers of paint to restore the original masonry and cast iron, reconstructing the missing Atwater Building cornice, reconstructing missing stone and metal beltcourses, and restoring the Sullivan-designed portions of the Haskell and Barker Buildings.

    Detail, Louis Sullivan Remodeling, 18 S. Wabash; by Bob Thall
    The Chicago Landmarks site tells you:
    These buildings provide the best remaining example of what the east side of the Loop looked like prior to the skyscraper boom of the 1890s. ... The upper floors typify post-Fire architecture, with their distinctive round arches and decorative masonry.

    So glad we have them back. Douglas Gilbert of Harboe Architects, did the necessary detective work with Chicago's resident incarnation of Louis Sullivan, Tim Samuelson.

    On May 21st, Gilbert will discuss the restoration and the rediscovered Louis Sullivan designs at:
    “Uncovering Sullivan” Thursday, May 21, 12:15 pm, Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington

    Top photo and tip from Julie Burros. Thanks Julie!
    Bottom photos by Harboe Architects.

    To our faithful readers. And even our more secular ones. Send us interesting photos and tips like the top one. Be our eyes on the street.
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HuLA (H)oop! / Coop Himmelb(l)au in L.A.

    The spirit of the 1950's pervades Los Angeles to this day. Googie, roadside architecture, mid-century modernism- they defined this place as it came of age, and so maybe, it'll always have some of that. Like Paris has the Gothic. Here it's teen spirit.

    The L.A. arts high school set to open in September has a lot going for it. I admit, I'm obsessed by it. This school really does capture and symbolize a spirit here. It has called out "1950's!" to me before, and before that. And today it does again.

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Whatchu talkin' bout Sears Tower to become Willis Tower?

    Chicago Tribune: "Come this summer, Chicago's iconic landmark known around the world is getting a new moniker: Willis Tower."

    I remember when Chicago was the "City of Broad Shoulders" - as amply demonstrated in the Sears Tower. Our buildings manifested our ambition, our drive, and the romantic inspiration to erect the world's tallest building.

    The Sears Tower, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, will soon become the Willis Tower.
    (Chicago Tribune photo by Alex Garcia / January 15, 2009)

    Home to the world's best engineers and architects, and home to many of the world's greatest capitalists, Chicagoans at the time believed it was their birthright to claim the world's tallest building as theirs. That was superseded by Asian and Gulf cities and nations and nation-states, before the Big Bust. Now what?

    We have a few fine towers going up. Daley the Second knocked it out of the ... with Millennium Park, some years ago. Today the heir to the Sears (Willis? That just doesn't sound right.) Tower would be Chicago's big bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. I can hear Mayor Daley the First saying, 'Dat's right. Dis is da greatest city dere is.' I can hear Muhammad Ali, another former Chicagoan, whose aspirations are embodied in strong structures like Sears- "I am the greatest!" And that's why the architecture currently proposed in Chicago's Olympic bid needs to get bolder.

    Thanks Jeff Jacobs for the video!

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Sale at Prairie Avenue Architecture Bookshop

Images of the new L.A. High School haunt me.

    I keep writing about it. And still it makes me think.

    The Central Los Angeles Area High School #9, due to open this fall, designed by Wolf Prix and Coop Himmelb(l)au, with carefully arranged circles, triangles, and squares whispers to me, "Wassily Kandinsky."

    Wassily Kandinsky- Composition VIII - 1923
    The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum - New York

    Sure, both have the spiral, the basic geometrical expression, both artists make visible the structure, usually invisible, that underlies their composition. See it in there?

    This represents an underlying structure of the universe.

    Kandinsky's abstractions follow intense inquiry into theory, as do the abstractions of architect Wolf Prix. Kandinsky followed H.P. Blavatsky's (1831-1891) Theosophy, which holds that all things are put together from basic building blocks; and that circles, triangles and squares express the origins of creation and creativity. To explore the origins of creativity is appropriate here, at this public high school for the arts.

    The architecture even reminds me even of Kandinsky's earlier, less abstract work, such as his seminal Der Blaue Reiter of 1903

    This painting and the tower portray forward motion in a similar manner. Both the rider and the tower seem interrupted at a point in their movement that is unusual, that you don't normally see. Both images recall what is familiar and yet are unknown. They act, as great art often does, as messengers from the future. To make either image understandable, the viewer is responsible to add in whatever is missing. This encourages creativity, action and personal responsibility.

    Architecture sets an example at the high school for the arts.

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Coop Himmelb(l)au's L.A. high school as "futurist" sculpture

    Above, the high school. Below, Umberto Boccioni's "Unique Forms of Continuity" from 1913.

    Boccioni tried to show a moving object in space. How that object interacts with the space around it.


    Are the automobiles in L.A. also "futurist" metal objects moving through space and interacting with it?

    More on the Central Los Angeles Area High School #9 for the arts coming very soon. Previous posts on it here.

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Coop Himmelb(l)au's Big Boy

    I'm still trying to figure out the imagery of the new arts high school in Los Angeles, by Vienna's Wolf Prix / Coop Himmelb(l)au. It's due to open this fall. I tried when I first saw it. And again last fall. And again. And even at night.

    Why is it so unforgettable? Is the anthropomorphism? Is it because it's simple and big and reaches out to you as you speed by in an automobile?


    The side along Grand Avenue

    also recalls a more optimistic era

    At $232 million dollars for a high school - believed to be the second most expensive public high school ever built in the United States - I know those

    (ir)responsible for the Himmelb(l)au

    are glad they got it up before

    More tomorrow.
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Baldessari brick wallpapers over Mies' windows - for

    John Baldessari, the Santa Monica-based conceptual artist,

    has just completed a work at Mies van der Rohe's Haus Lange of 1928, in Krefeld, Germany. The house has been a museum - Museum Haus Lange - for modern and contemporary art since 1955. Since the early 1970's it's been commissioning and showing art related to the architecture. A neighboring villa by Mies became Museum Haus Esters in 1981. Between them they've shown Claes Oldenburg, Michael Asher, Daniel Buren, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Richard Serra, Yves Klein, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and others.

    Baldessari was commissioned to mark 2009 as "The Bauhaus Year" - the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus school of art and design. Mies was its Director from 1930 until he closed it in 1933. Events are scheduled across Germany; the Museum of Modern Art in New York in November will mount
    "the first comprehensive treatment of the Bauhaus at MoMA since 1938 and the first major show in the United States on the subject in decades."
    The Mies van der Rohe Society in Chicago (with which I'm affiliated) will also hold important events this year.

    John Baldessari calls his Krefeld piece, "Brick Bldg, Lg Windows w/ Xlent Views, Partially Furnished, Renowned Architect." That's a good description, above he sits on some of those furnishings, I suppose Mies is a renowned architect, and the brick house does have lg windows, with superb view.

    Normally, a close-up would show,

    but after Baldessari got a hold of it:

    Artdaily writes,: and I paraphrase,
    Baldessari’s concept is “contra-Mies,” he says. The point of departure for him was the physical structure of the brick building. On the one hand he has focused on what for Mies was the source of an agonizing confrontation with his client: Mies vainly attempted to increase the size of the windows in order to increase the desired permeability between inside and out.

    Baldessari has used the former Bauhaus master’s own idea quite pointedly against him: he has completely obscured the windows with pictures of bricks. At the same time though, he has intriguingly restored the connection between inside and outside by likewise covering the interior walls with brick wallpaper - in an extension of Mies’s ideas that takes them to an absurd extreme!

    To top it all, the artist has placed photographs of Californian land- and seascapes on the inside of the windows: as simulacra of the Miesian view through the window, these scenes bring about a complete dislocation of the building inside while at the same time simulating a link between the Lower Rhine and the artist’s home in California.

    Anti-Miesian furnishings in the form of an Ear-Couch, decorated with two vases shaped like noses (Nose Scones), are complemented on the outside by a winking window eye: ironic apercus that are further crowning points of this intervention.

    Lots more on Mies here. Scroll through.

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