Amoeblog

Paul Williams -- Architect to the people

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 19, 2013 10:26pm | Post a Comment
Kevin Balluff panorama of los angeles from mt. wilson
(image source: Kevin Balluff)



Although it takes an incredible combination of cognitive dissonance, myopia (and usually some chauvinism) to deny that Los Angeles can be characterized by its amazing architecture, it does happen. Ironically, most of the blame for this fact can be placed on the shoulders of the self-appointed boosters in Hollywood, whose idea of Utopia seems to resemble a boring, wealthy, white Florida suburb more than the actual city of angels. For example, when a film wants to communicate that its setting is Los Angeles, most of the establishing shots aren’t of architecture at all. Instead audiences are subjected to images of the Hollywood Sign, the Walk of Fame, Venice’s Muscle Beach, Beverly Hills's Rodeo Drive, etc. Maybe they’re treated to a shot of Welton Becket’s Capitol Records Building or Meyer & Holler’s TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s).

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Lego introduces a mini-Guggenheim and mini-Fallingwater

Posted by Whitmore, June 19, 2009 10:28pm | Post a Comment

Now, I’m not sure my six year old wants these Legos, unless some clone troopers are included, but …

The Danish plastic toy-brick maker, the Lego Group, has joined with Brickstructures Inc. to launch a model version of Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic architectural design, the Guggenheim Museum, to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the New York museum, which opened six months after Wright's death. In late June, both companies will once again combine their talents on another model to commemorate the up coming 75th anniversary of Wright’s famous Fallingwater house located in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
 
The mini-Guggenheim has a suggested retail price of $39.99 and contains 208 pieces, including dish-shaped pieces that attempt to evoke the building's inverted ziggurat. The model of the Fallingwater house will consist of 811 pieces and is listed at $99.99. Among the elements, there is a clear plastic version of the waterfall from which the house takes its name. By the way, if anyone is interested, my birthday is in just a couple of weeks.

The name Lego is from the Danish “leg godt,” which means “play well” and was coined by Lego founder Ole Kirk Christiansen, who began making wooden toys in 1932. By 1940 Lego expanded to producing plastic toys. In 1949 Lego began producing the now famous colorful interlocking plastic bricks. Based largely on a design by the UK company Kiddicraft Self-Locking Bricks, Lego slightly modified the design and by the late 1950’s had settled on the overall design most kids are familiar with today.

Jorn Utzon 1918 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, December 3, 2008 06:09pm | Post a Comment

The architect who designed one of the world’s most recognizable buildings, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, yet never saw the completed project, Jorn Utzon, died of heart failure in his sleep in Copenhagen this last week. He was 90.
Born April 9, 1918 in Aalborg, Denmark, Jorn Utzon studied architecture at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen. After establishing his own practice in Copenhagen in 1950, he entered the 1956 international architecture competition to design the new Sydney Opera House. He spent six months designing the unique sail-like roofs, his nautical design is said to have been inspired by sections of an orange. Utzon triumphed over 232 other entries; he was just 38 years age and hardly known outside his native country. For the next five years he worked on the project from his office in Denmark until he moved his family to Sydney to oversee construction in 1962.
It would be Utzon’s greatest design, on which most of his architectural reputation is based. It is also Australia’s most famous landmark and one of the most celebrated, influential and iconic buildings of the 20th century.
The Opera House is surrounded on three sides by the waters of Sydney Harbour at Benelong Point. The five performance halls are housed under ten reinforced concrete shells, dressed in white tiles. The sail-like shells and the upturned ships’ hulls rise 60 meters high above a four-and-a-half-acre concrete and granite platform which was inspired by the ceremonial steps of Monte Alban in Mexico.
However in 1966, seven years before completion, controversy erupted. Utzon resigned and packed up his family, leaving Australia never to return. With only the shell of the Opera House done, Utzon found himself in the middle of a power struggle and at odds with local politicians, specifically Davis Hughes, the New South Wales minister for public works who criticized the cost overruns and delays. At a price tag of more than $100 million Australian dollars, the original project was budgeted at ridiculously low estimate of $7 million. After Utzon’s resignation, the Opera House was completed by Government appointed architects who finished the interiors by drastically changing the original layouts to the five theaters.
In recent years Australia had tried reconciling with Jorn Utzon. In 2002, he was commissioned to update the interior renovations, in an attempt to alleviate the acoustic problems and bring the building closer to its original vision. In 2003, Mr. Utzon received an honorary doctorate from the University of Sydney. And in October of 2004 the Utzon Room, overlooking Sydney Harbor, was officially dedicated.
In 2003 Utzon won what is considered architecture’s highest honor, The Pritzker. Frank Gehry, one of the jurors, said Jorn Utzon “… made a building well ahead of its time, far ahead of available technology, and he persevered through extraordinary malicious publicity and negative criticism to build a building that changed the image of an entire country.”
After leaving Australia, Utzon worked in Switzerland and Spain before settling in Majorca in the mid-1970s, where he would live and work for the rest of his life. Besides designing the Sydney Opera House, he designed the Bagsværd Church in Denmark (1968-76), the National Assembly of Kuwait, completed in 1983 and rebuilt in 1993, many private residences, and his own home in Majorca.
Jorn Utzon is survived by his wife of 66 years, Lis Fenger, three children, Jan, Kim, and Lin, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Charles and Ray Eames

Posted by Whitmore, August 22, 2008 08:38pm | Post a Comment


… once again I’m a day late and a dollar short, but that’s just the beginning…

Yesterday was the thirtieth and, oddly enough, the twentieth anniversaries of the deaths of legendary designers Charles and Ray Eames. Mostly known for their furniture design, their work also includes major contributions in industrial design, graphic design, architecture and film. Charles died August 21, 1978, Ray died on the same date, ten years later in 1988.

Architectural colleagues Charles Eames and Ray-Bernice Kaiser married in 1941 and moved to Los Angeles to open their own firm. In 1946, as part of the Arts & Architecture magazine's "Case Study" series that commissioned architects of the day to design and build inexpensive and efficient model homes, the groundbreaking Eames House design was selected. Built on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at 203 North Chautauqua Boulevard in the Pacific Palisades, and once a part of Will Rogers' estate, this unique house, also called Case Study House #8, used pre-fabricated steel parts and was hand-constructed in a matter of days. The structure was entirely constructed from "off-the-shelf" parts available from steel fabricator catalogs. However, immediately after the Second World War, steel was in very short supply, which explains the three year delay in construction. The Eames house was completed in 1949.

Working from their office located at 901 Washington Boulevard in Venice, Charles and Ray Eames’ hit their stride in the 1950’s in modern furniture design. Their landmark and highly collectible furniture includes early molded plywood chairs and their innovative use of materials, such as the fiberglass and plastic resin. Aside from the molded-plywood DCW (Dining Chair Wood), other classic furniture designs include the DCM (Dining Chair Metal with a plywood seat), the Eiffel Plastic Armchair and side chair from 1959, the Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman from 1956, the Aluminum Group furniture series and the wire mesh chairs designed for office furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, 1962’s Eames tandem sling seating, as well as the Eames Chaise designed specifically for film director Billy Wilder in 1968. At the time of Charles’ death they were working on what would be their final design, the Eames Sofa, which went into production in 1984.

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