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Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Favorite Design Books of 2013: The Bold

Becky

Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
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Last week we showed you some of our favorite design books released in 2013, a group of five that focused on the beautiful – European antiques, flowers, gardens, marble floors, homes in the Hamptons, idyllic lakeside spots. Now we’d like to share some that feature the bold – international style, modern and contemporary, minimal and downright sublime  … here are five of our favorites from the past year. Note, these make great gifts for the architecture fans in your life; I’ve included the Amazon links for each book in case you’re interested in ordering.

Building Seagram by Phyllis Lambert. I’m not going to lie, ever since I took Richard Guy Wilson’s architectural history course, this has remained one of my top five favorite buildings. Lambert was there every step of the way, spearheaded the search for an architect that resulted in finding Mies, and her amazing tale will surprise you.

Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscape, published by MoMA. This is an absolute MUST HAVE for any architectural library, you cannot begin to understand the roots of International Style without understanding Corb, and this may just be the most comprehensive tome on the market. Plus, more shallowly, it’s got a really cool spine that will pop on your shelves.

The Houses of Louis Kahn by George H. Marcus and William Whitaker. You may know all about the library at Exeter or the Salk Institute, but this book is a collection of Kahn’s lesser-known work, his residential homes. Again, I must declare this an architecture library must-have.

Tadao Ando: Houses by Philip Jodidio. Ando took concrete, known primarily for heavy brutalist architecture, and created thoughtful and ethereal buildings with it. A master of proportion and light, these qualities can best be seen (IMHO) in his residential designs, which are the focus of this beautiful book.

Nelson Byrd Woltz: Garden, Park, Community, Farm by Warren T. Bird Jr., Thomas Woltz and Elizabeth Meyer. Full disclosure: I used to know all of these people ten years ago. Warren made us chase him on four hour plant walks with his long fast stride, while we furiously scribbled down Latin names for plants and tried to sketch them at the same time (sometimes while climbing up the Blue Ridge Mountains; the class was a better workout than Barry’s Boot Camp), I knew Thomas Woltz socially and Beth Meyer was a horrible person to have to turn in a paper to, because she’s probably the best at writing about landscape architecture and landscape theory (she doesn’t get mired down in all that nonsensical archi-speak that plagues so many academic design writers). Anyway, now that that’s out of the way — the work of this firm is wide-ranging and puts into practice all the elements you dream about putting into practice back when you’re a wide-eyed idealistic student.

Any books you’d recommend for 2013? Please share any that caught your attention in the comments section.

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Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Mies and the Giant Zip-Lock Bag…

Becky

Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
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As many of you know, The Farnsworth House has suffered great damage from the latest round of flooding in September 2008. The house was built in a floodplain, but Mies thought the water would only reach the floor in the most severe of circumstances. Apparently, he was wrong. The Farnsworth House site asks for flood mitigation ideas, but they also include a “heard it” list, which had me in stitches. I just had to share it with you:

Before you get started though…

We have, over the course of our five years managing this property, continually investigated solutions to the threat posed by the river.  To that end, we begin this discussion with a list of previously proposed ideas:

1. Placement of a pontoons under the building
2. Longer column extensions that slide out of their footings
3. Szikorsky Helicopter to lift the 300 ton house
4. Hydraulic jacks to raise it in place
5. Building up the site flood plain by 12 ft.
6. Move the house to high ground
7. Retractable flood walls surrounding the house.
8. Waterproofing everything inside the house (vinyl upholstery, plastic laminate wood?)
9. Inflatable raft under the house
10. Internal sandbags around furniture and core
11. Dikes and dams
12. Moats
13. Fixed Moment Frame below the soil
14. Sandbags
15. Temporary flood walls
16. Reverse aquarium designed to rise out of the ground
17. Giant Zip lock bag
18. Steel waterproof shutters

When considering these ideas we evaluate them against the following criteria:
• Cost
• Sensitivity to Preservation Initiatives
• Practicality

These are the same criteria the experts will use in considering your ideas.

The problem for me in finding a solution is that the house is so connected to the site. Moving it changes everything; the planned vistas, the way it relates to the topography, the idea of the floating house in the floodplain. Then again, I’m trained as a landscape architect so I am very biased towards the relationship of built work to site. If you have any bright ideas that do not involve a Sikorsky helicopter or the world’s largest Zip-Lock bag (hey Zip-Lock, have I got a marketing idea for you…), click here to submit it. For some reason, “Rollin’ on a River” is going through my head and I’m picturing some sort of Transformer action happening with the house and a tall stacks riverboat…and now casinos are now entering my mind. Not good.

  • All photos from farnsworthhouse.org. The photos on that site are stunning, go check out the gallery if you need some inspiration today.
  • Second photo by Jon miller, Hedrich Blessing
  • Third photo by Tigerhill Studio
  • Fourth photo by LPCI
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