Before a roller coaster starts, there’s a wonderful moment of anticipation. It’s the time when you might be a bit anxious, although some folks are very anxious, and you’re uncomfortable maybe because of your own anxiety, but probably because you’re tightly tucked between a hard plastic seat and the bar that keeps you from falling out of the plastic seat and dying. You can’t know the first time you ride the coaster what it will be like to fly through space on the track ahead of you. The possibilities are endless.
Last week, I wrote about a wonderfully animated video by Al Boredman. Instead of simply highlighting the great animation, I took the opportunity to whine about some of the buildings that made the cut and some that didn’t. So I was dismayed, but not surprised, when I realized I was one of several people complaining about a fantastic video for a pretty flimsy reason. It reminded me how cantankerous people can be when talking about architecture, or maybe it’s not unique to the subject and everyone online is pretty much always cantankerous. So this week I’ve decided to highlight things I’ve come across recently that are simply amazing. No detractions. The first amazing thing is a pattern hidden inside a meteorite.
I haven’t seen any images of David Chipperfield’s expansion to the Saint Louis Art Museum since they loaded it with the art, so I was very happy to bump into a video where the curator of the museum talks about the new space while cameras glide smoothly through the pristine, day-lit galleries. It’s really an impressive space.
This weekend, I kind of stumbled into a rabbit hole of Japanese architecture. Or maybe it’s more like an ant farm? It started when I wanted to see what Jun Aoki was up to, and ended when I found these incredible models by Ikimono Architects. Honestly, I’m not even sure how I arrived at the firm’s website; between Jun Aoki and Ikimono Architects, it’s all a blur of white spaces and asymmetrical windows.
Jun Aoki is probably best known (at least in the States) for his designs of Louis Vuitton retail spaces. For over a decade he’s been working on retail projects for the brand in prestigious locations like 5th Avenue, where he wrapped the flagship retail space in a kinetic moiré pattern. Like many of his projects the predominate color of the space and it’s ghostly skin is white. So I was surprised that when I went to the firm’s website and looked at projects “In Progress” and I was greeted by diagrams as colorful as a candy shelf.
Earlier this week, Dezeen ran a story about a clean and modern house; a house where the living spaces cantilevered off of stacked bedrooms like a grown-up, contemporary treehouse. The views from the so-called Tower House are incredible and the architects responsible for the projects are the ones at Gluck+. I poked around the firm’s website a bit and found that the Tower House has a sort of cousin built in the New York: the Vertical Library. Although one house is rural and the other urban, both are organized around something simple and humble: a staircase. More than just circulation, the stairs become exciting and dynamic places in these projects. In the city, the stair climbs a four-story bookshelf, and in the trees, the stair is painted bright yellow.
Last week, Ray Harryhausen passed away. For decades, Ray created special effects for Hollywood, using stop motion animation and old fashioned camera trickery to bring artifical villans to the big screen. When asked how computers have revolutionized special effects, Ray replied “you know, in a thirty-second commercial you see the most amazing images, the amazing image is no longer spectacular. It’s become mundane because it’s over used. The computer seems to be able to do anything. So people take it for granted.”
And even though he was talking about mythological characters and fake dinosaurs, he might as well have been talking about architecture.
Have you ever gotten excited about a fenestration pattern? If you’re unfamiliar with the word, fenestration is really just a fancy way to say window*. But when you find yourself talking about the fenestration pattern, you’re inadvertently talking about more. You’re talking about how the windows are composed along the skin of the building and picking up a logical pattern to their placement or picking apart how illogically the openings are distributed. I first heard the word being wielding around by a professor who was using it during a studio critique to not only tell someone their project was ugly, but to also make the student feel stupid for having to guess his meaning from context clues.