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New Orleans Does Even More Installations


File under density: New Orleans hosts yet another installation-heavy event this week with DesCours (pronounced like the cajuns do, not the Parisian pronunciation). The New Orleans AIA presents installations by 14 architecture/design firms, spread around the Quarter and Business District. They have a handy map of all the installations and an official bike rental company for getting around, too. This being NOLA there are of course a full schedule of related music performances. Time to party, again.

Pictured is Iwamotoscott Architecture's "Voussoir Cloud".



Three years ago we published one of our favorite lists: the NYC Ice List. Today we are happy to announce a maybe addition to the list: the Brooklyn Bridge Park Ice Rink. You know, under the Brooklyn Bridge, where the New Brooklyn Bridge Park will someday be located, maybe. As that article says, they are starting it THIS MONTH (said on the last day of November). The rink awesomeness is designed by landscape architects dlandstudio, they of the first ever Pop-Up Park, which was located this summer just on the other side of the bridge.

Word is the ice rink is getting fundraising help from the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, so perhaps we'll see this on the Ice List for real next year.


Tropolism Books: Bunker Archeology

Title: Bunker Archeology

Author: Paul Virilio

Publication Date: January 12, 2009

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

ISBN: 9781568980157


Paul Virilio an architect of theory (which is the opposite of a theorist for architects). He organizes theory, making it useful. There is no better reminder of this than Bunker Archeology, his 1975 masterwork, which has been out of print since 1994. The book has been reprinted by Princeton Architectural Press.

Revisiting this volume was not the trip down memory lane I thought it would be. Instead, the writing and photographs, like the Second World War Nazi bunkers that are its subject, stand as raw reminders than most everything we discuss in architectural design theory is irrelevant to anything but the present. Death, war, infrastructure, and the eclipsing destruction made possible by 20th century technologies are all things Hitler and the Allies made perfect possible use of, and these are the complete context of our current times. The phones and bombs and radio programs have improved, but their highest best use were already conceived by the actors in that War. The most important actor of course is Albert Speer, architect, whose position in the Third Reich allowed him to conceive and execute total war. Virilio's telling of this leaves me feeling that we are living out someone else's future.

The essays have a raw power that matches those of the photographs, making them undateable except by the closest scrutiny. It is a useful scrutiny, one that needs revisiting by architects, if we are to write our own future.

This book is available for purchase from Amazon.

Rocking Chair History


Us and our lists. Here's another one: Rocking Chair History at Designboom, a little web timeline of the rocking chair. The list is heavily focused on the modern interpretations of the rocking chair, including a few Miesian Delusions (like Jean-Michel Sanejouand's 1971 rocking chair, pictured).

Miesian Delusions: Mystery Cabin From MoMA


Continuing our meme of Miesian Delusions (see Tropolism Newsletter 1.4 yo) we point you to Greg Allen's archeology of house by A. James Speyer, who was Mies van der Rohe's first graduate student. The house is a full on Mies country house from that era, except for a few powerful exceptions: the posts are made with tree logs. So clearly the architect has just dove off the deep end. To be fair, I proposed something like this a couple of years ago when friends bought an A-frame house that badly needed a big window wall in its giant A side. Let's just use trees!

Greg also points out that the house, mentioned in a MoMA catalogue from 1940, seems to have disappeared everywhere. It's nowhere online (no surprise there, I have a wall of books filled with projects from the 1980s that are invisible here) but it also seems to be a bit hidden from Greg's initial exploring on the subject. The guidebook includes detailed directions for visiting, so perhaps someone up in Warrensburg can help us out?

Prospect New Orleans: Way Better Than Miami


Tired of the same, overblown art frenzies this time of year? Then forget Miami. Or at least get a new leg on your ticket. The place to be is New Orleans, about as un-Miami as you can get these days. Yet not so far! Their new biennale of art is called Prospect.1 and it's based on a premise brilliantly conducive to good art. It's set in a city where the pressures of money have not completely pushed art out of the magnificent spaces within its borders. It is set in a city with more artists per capita than any other United States city. It's set in a city that is not very large, yet is still blissfully full-on urban.

But don't take my word for it. Roberta Smith did a great piece on it for the New York Times a month ago. She notes that the artworks are scattered, not centralized, so they're always being looked at in their context, and the trip to see them creates a powerful exploration of New Orleans at the same time. And more interesting, Tropolism friend John D'Addario is the official installation photographer, and his flickr set of the installations is priceless. Pictures are of one of our favorites, Nari Ward’s “Diamond Gym," filled with weightlifting machines. Time to txt your travel agent.


Tropolism Books Marmol Radziner + Associates: Between Architecture and Construction

Title: Marmol Radziner + Associates: Between Architecture and Construction

Author: Leo Marmol and Ron Radziner

Publication Date: July 1, 2008

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

ISBN: 9781568987446


As architects who build, we are continuously confronted by the friction between desire and execution. Who amongst us has not overdrawn a detail only to arrive at a jobsite to discover that it was completely overlooked by the builder? And that schedule and/or budget dictate the need to plod ahead without it?

The Santa Monica design-build firm of Marmol Radziner + Associates has been tackling these contradictions for almost two decades. Their latest monograph, Between Architecture and Construction catalogues the growth and development of this practice from a young, hungry, accidental design-build firm, to a mature and confident multi-faceted practice.

Click here to read the rest of the review.

House of Relationship


Sou Fujimoto Architects, they of Next Generation House fame, long ago (2005) did a plan based on this diagram, called T-House. Yes, we love the diagrams! And the house is amazing. It gets full on profiling from Arch Daily, including a real floor plan of the house, and includes some interestingly-translated writing about something called "Garden of Relationship". Some day we'll show you the dream house we looks something like this one.

James Corner Spotlights


James Corner, he of Field Operations (warning: totally annoying website navigation ahead), gets a lot of attention over at Landscape+Architecture last week. First he got a perfectly good mash note on November 24th: "The savoir [sic]... of course is James Corner and his firm Field Operations." This was the extended illustrated commentary on an article in the New York Magazine about the Fresh Kills park. But then he shows up in Metropolis for the highline (with really awesome pictures), and gets what can only be described as a mash note that further illustrates why we should love him. Frankly, we think he deserves it. He is redefining the profession of landscape architecture: there is no hyperbole in that statement. Will his built work be a success? That remains to be seen. But his influence on my generation is unmistakable. His desire to make beautiful, workable, urban spaces keeps his solutions looking decidedly non-theoretical. Yet somehow they look new. James Corner has many imitators, but few peers, and the mark his ideas leave on New York will be unmistakable.

Furniture Friday: McHale Chandeliers


Coolhunting has a great interview with Michael McHale, whose chandelier is pictured here. As any interior designer knows, finding the right chandelier is often a project in and of itself. McHale offers a direction just recently being explored by designers: rough yet beautiful DIY constructions.

More Miesian Delusions


Again with the Newsletter: last week I referenced some Miesian Delusions I came across the last few weeks. Another one opens tomorrow in Barcelona: SAANA is taking their bendy-glass-reflection-space to Mies's Barcelona Pavilion with a temporary installation. They have installed a semi-transparent acrylic curtain spiral. The curtain lets the visitor continue to visually see Mies's original space, but adds a layer of reflection and circulation that did not exist before. It's of the appropriate subtlety for the already-perfect Pavilion. We can't wait to see actual installation pictures.

Alerted by Designboom, who have more renderings.