“What kind of music do you like?” is a perfectly reasonable and polite question, but it usually makes me a bit panicky. What kind of music do I like? Well, it’s kind of iffy, to be honest. Unlike every other contributor to this site, my ear is distinctly un-cool, un-hip and if you saw the kind of music I listen to when I’m alone, you might suspect that I’m a retired shopping mall Santa who is now supplementing his income on a gay cruise ship.
So imagine my horror when Bobby tells us three months ago that we should start contributing to a monthly playlist for the site. I felt like it was inviting judgement into an arena where I already felt an excess of judgement, highlighting my lousy eardrums. So I added a few songs from bands that I knew were passable as cool and started scouring Rdio for new music. I found a bumper crop of new bands that I sincerely enjoy and ones that I think are cool enough to share with all of you. If you’re curious what this sounds like, I’ve started this playlist as a way to force myself to get rid of the anxiety I’ve attached to my musical preferences for so long.
Do you ever feel small? It’s easy to feel tiny in the shadow of a huge building or the in the wake of a weighty event. And there has been plenty of news about destructive actions for the past day or so here in the States, so let’s look at some construction. The scale of construction and engineering projects is frequently enormous, but the work is still carried out by the hands of workers who aren’t bigger or smaller than the rest of us. Sure, those hands may be steering gargantuan trucks or controlling cranes so large they easily dwarf the trucks, but realizing large projects is about people our size working to build something. These photos are of the people who get it done.
These twisting twin bridges are the work of the Shanghai-based CA Group, but the photographs of the bridges are the work of photographer Montse Zamora. The bridges look a little bit like the double helix of DNA to me, but I’m a bit of a science nerd and it turns out that they’re inspiration is more geographical than biological. The form of the bridges is a reference to mountains which are absent in this particular region of China. The shape also suits the structural system of the arched suspension bridge. What’s unique about this bridge is that the arches jump from side to side, making the bridge more dynamic while also ensuring that they have the same sort of formal legibility from more angles. And the angles of these bridges are captured very well by Montse.
The last time I wrote about an endangered building it was Richard Neutra’s 1963 Cyclorama at Gettysburg. After years of legal battle, the 50 year old building was demolished just last month. It’s a disappointing outcome, but the building did stand for five decades which is longer than many buildings. Sadly, one of those buildings that will not make it to the fifty year mark is the American Folk Art Museum by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.
This beautifully austere science building addition is on the campus of the University of Alcalá in Spain, and from the drafting boards of Héctor Fernández Elorza. Because the technological and spatial needs of research buildings tend to evolve quickly, the original building was in desperate need of a renovation to bring the building up to the working standards of a modern facility.
OMA and Knoll have officially debuted a new line of furniture called Tools for Living, in Milan. The kinetic and boxy pieces may look familiar to fashion-savvy readers because they were first seen back in January on the runway of Prada’s 2013 Autumn/Winter Men’s Runway show. What’s remarkable is that most of the furniture that makes up Tools for Living is somehow kinetic: it swivels, has complex inner hinges, or an adjustable height. It sounds almost more like a Swiss Army Knife than a line of furniture, but these aren’t meant to be static and stately pieces, and they’re called tools for a reason.
The Tools for Life range is based on the idea that furniture should be understood as a high-performance instrument rather than a design statement. OMA conceived the furniture to facilitate the contemporary flow between work and social life, while adjusting to the different needs of both.
Rem Koolhaas commented: “We wanted to create a range of furniture that performs in very precise but also in completely unpredictable ways, furniture that not only contributes to the interior but also to the animation of the interior.”
The good news is that the same tools can turn your space into a casual and social space again at the push of a button.
I’ve always been kind of terrible at video games. Any video game, it doesn’t matter. I automatically make anyone else playing a game with me look expertly skilled. It started when I plugged in my very own Sega Genesis on my seventh birthday and continues to this day when I get together with friends to play Michael Jackson: The Experience on Wii. However, I did have the fleeting experience of skillful gaming one summer when my parents sent my twin sister and I to spend time with our Aunt and Uncle in Minneapolis and they, in turn, sent us to spend time at a computer camp.
Sometimes while joking with my old friends who work as architects, I’ll offer my own summary of the entire history of the profession: “Let me just go ahead and boil this down for you: it was built to keep the poor people away.” It’s an absurd summary, and is far removed from the reality and concerns of practicing architects. More rational people might summarize the recent history of architecture (since Modernism) using either popular dictum from Mies van der Rohe, “less is more,” or another from Le Corbusier that describes architecture as a “machine for living in.” But, more recently, there seems to have been a shift toward thinking of buildings as organisms. I can’t think of a snappy saying associated with this shift, although I think the cover of the first Mark Magazine was getting somewhere with, “Let’s Build Trees!”