WTC Model


The American Architectural Foundation has donated the original model of the World Trade Center to the September 11th Museum. The Museum has another name but it is ridiculously long and focus-grouped and I refuse to use it. The 7-foot-plus model wonder of the world was constructed by Minoru Yamasaki Associates and has survived because of great care.

I saw this model in 2004 when it was displayed at the Skyscraper Museum and it's a powerful thing. That museum is close to Ground Zero but a bit off the beaten path in Battery Park City. Visiting during the day I had the model to myself. It was a powerful experience: the model was my new memorial. The model is huge, a technical achievement in its own right, not just in construction but in the extreme stewardship needed to keep it in good shape. And yes, it's significant and ironic that a paper and plastic model outlived a huge building complex. It's a powerful reminder of what was lost seven and a half years ago.

Whole Earth, Online


For those fans of the Whole Earth Catalog, that awesome counterculture publication from the late 1960s that inspired everyone from architects to computer programmers, is now online. The original DIY zine, the catalog was as much about information delivery systems as it was about what to do with the hippie information it provided. So it is only fitting that now it's archived here, with us.

Palladio Ever More


In celebration of the new Palladio show at the Royal Academy, The Guardian has published a piece celebrating the man himself. While they use the Villa Capra as their title picture, we always thought that one a bit over-photographed. We've always been more partial to Villa Poiana (pictured), which when we visited it in 1995 was pretty much open to the elements. It's stark in its not-new state, and it's possible to see where all the modernists like Corb got some of their early ideas. If you visit the Royal Academy link, you will see, low and behold, someone else likes the Poiana too: its unique exterior is their thumbnail image for the show.

Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion


When we wrote our review of The Zaha's furniture show last fall we got a press kit that included renderings of the mind-blowing Zaragosa Bridge Pavilion. All 140 images are available on that link. It looked like a lot of her renderings: impossibly and blobby, but possibly the most amazing thing ever. Well Ms. Hadid's photographer, Fernando Guerra, has sent us a link to his photo spread. His photographs differ from some other pictures in that they can double as some of her painterly representations of space.

And, it's one of her best buildings yet. It's got the useless program of the Chanel Pavilion, but on the scale of a large bridge, which matches the ambition of Hadid's ideas.

Flat Flat


There has never been a concept too experimental that it needn't be built in Harajuku. Jean Snow points us to Flat Flat, a space where visitors can experience the online games portal Hangame. As a retail space it is an oddity: highly expressive, yet not much there except a bunch of computer screens. As a concept it is arguably redundant (if the games are online, isn't the point that you play them against people far away?), which also makes it highly unique.

Also we're really into the neon ceiling.

Picture found at designboom.

Best Tom Kundig House Yet


Tropolism Favorite Tom Kundig is back again, this time with a profile of a really beautiful house in Idaho. This guy is clearly master of the snow picture. We like the house because it has that raw steel and plywood look, but doesn't devolve into Dwell Magazine uncomfortableness. Instead, the house stays warm and inviting, and all about the landscape. It also has incredibly well detailed windows. The way the exterior is sliced to make views happen, and the resultant levitating masonry wall, is something Allied Works could have used on their timid 2 Columbus Circle.

We also love that the architect edited out some of the heavy machinery indulgences of his previous projects: overdone hinges, concrete tables on wheels, that sort of thing. We think this is his best work yet.

Tropolism Books: The Infrastructural City

Title: The Infrastructural City: Networked Ecologies In Los Angeles

Editor: Kazys Varnelis

Publication Date: December 2008

Publisher: Actar

ISBN: 9788486854250


Review by John Southern.

During the last ten years of economic mirth a lot has changed in regards to the contemporary city, both in how it looks and how we inhabit it. Since the late 1990’s both cities and private capital have invested heavily in glamorous architecture and staggeringly beautiful landscape projects whose role it was to enhance a particular metropolises cultural cache in relationship to its global neighbors. Technological innovations in consumer electronics coupled with the increasing prevalence of the Internet have enhanced cosmopolitanism and network culture rather than creating isolation that early critics feared. And while the money poured in aesthetic beauty and civic narcissism reigned supreme.

Now, as capital flows across global markets evaporate and those markets begin to collapse, politicians and civic pundits alike are all whispering the same word: Infrastructure. While a new museum or concert hall will be a hard sell over the next decade they theorize, a new bridge or light rail project will not because of the construction jobs those projects generate. Even President-elect Barack Obama has stated that part of the U.S. economic recovery will hinge on heavy government spending and investment in infrastructure. As building commissions dry up it is only a matter of time before architects try to align themselves with these new State and Federal patrons, casting aside formal seduction in favor of survival.

They will no doubt find that infrastructure does not need them and in fact faces a crisis of its own. It only takes a book like The Infrastructural City to make this apparent.

Click here to continue reading the review...

24 Hour Guggenheim


Last night at 6pm, the Guggenheim began its 24-Hour Program on the Concept of Time. Presenters included architects, artists, philosophers, writers, anthropologists, etc. Like any academic conference, lucidity and brevity comingled with pointless meandering. I suppose temporal musings may demand the non-specific thought processes that I saw last night and this morning. Below are highlights from the conference--at least the way I remembered and experienced the moments.

Continue reading and more pictures by roving New York City correspondent Saharat Surattanont.

Tropolism's Coraline Box

While we were not one of the special 50 bloggers who got the super-awesome versions of The Coraline Box, we did get one of the little paper button boxes that have been floating around. And so we present our slideshow of our button box.

As a promotional item, it's brilliant. Every part of it is hand made and special, from the outer wrapping to the innermost needle, made out of a little sliver of silver-painted plastic. We never tire of a lot of handmade labor going into something, be it our latest presentation or even a whole film, because there is an unreplaceable power in something that took a long time to make.

Amish Builders: Criminals Or The Next Wave?


As the building and architectural profession starts to morph into its post-recession and post-overdesign phase, it's worth looking at some alternatives. One is Amish builders, who, with a few constraints, can custom build your house in all the highly crafted splendor that has inspired architects for a long time. Although apparently some folks put their talents toward building...this.

On the other hand, the restrictions include not building things to code, at least for their own structures. The unresolved question is huge: are Amish buildings exempt from building codes because their religious beliefs have them reject electricity, indoor plumbing, and graded lumber? In the past, obviously they have been. But a new set of building codes, including New York State's 2007 revision, have had many local officials fining Amish for their new buildings, with some court cases emerging in New York.

The Amish are fighting back. Filing suit in a federal court, an upstate Amish community claims full-on religious discrimination. Over their beliefs as it pertains to buildings. It's an intersection of beliefs, architecture, and building code that is unique. Stay tuned.

Architectural Clothes


It was only recently that we were able to delve into our bookmark of Coolhunting's article about designer Nahum Villasana. English teacher by morning, clothing designer and student by night/weekend, his work plays the spectrum of experimentation and very cool wearability. The line is called Architectural Clothes, and for once this name is apt. His work is highly structured, as they say in the fashion industry, yet it also plays with ideas about representation and it's relationship to site, in this case, the body wearing the clothes.

Kengo Kuma Designs Houses For Muji


Muji: for those of us in the United States and Europe, it is a wonder for inside your home. In Japan, it is also possible for it to be the home itself. You wouldn't know it unless you are able to read Japanese: Muji keeps these pages untranslated, and furthermore their design simplicity does not extend to their website. Tropolism favorite Kengo Kuma has designed some prototype homes for them (our favorite it the Window House, as you can see in our article over there at Yanko Design). He wisely sticks to a super-configurable model and shies away from too much prefab repetition. They aren't quite as radical as his other houses, but they have their pleasures. Greg Allen gives us another take on these designs.

Greg goes one further and translates the awesome Muji Village concept. It appears to be little more than a far-away rendering and some floorplans (awesomely displayed as take-home art posters. Take that NYC real estate brokers!), but as a feel-good concept, they have rocked the party mic. We'll keep you posted when it takes shape.