"Overhead the albatross hangs motionless upon the air and deep beneath the rolling waves in labyrinths of coral caves; the echo of a distant time came willowing across the sand and everything is green and submarine"

Pink Floyd

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Let me start by expressing how much I enjoyed this class. Even though the readings were long and tedious it presented a wealth of knowledge. I engrossed myself in the readings as I began to look forward to doing the assignments. I wish there had been more chairs to learn as I see the connection of interior artifacts to commodity, firmness and delight expressed by each architect. I see the use of these chairs much like paint on a wall as each one brings out a specific context and meaning to a space. I also wish there was a bit more specificity to the models assigned as several times I drew the wrong model chairs that possessed the same name. However I enjoyed drawing them as you imbibe the chairs essence in a way.
I also came to realize the point of the class in general; that we are searching for a new revolution and a new motion in design. Present day designers have not yet found the right process for revolution. Certain responses to modernism will never fit in when they stand with other moments in history. Some must stand alone in the separate communities to be appreciated in the whole. Instead designers must incorporate elements of modernism in with classical design, certain aspects of Art Nouveau did this well. This is a long term theory that cannot be accomplished within a single lifetime. It is a gradual change.
Take for example, environmental design. Case in point is the rebuilding of New Orleans. If stand alone modernism were inserted into the Historical Broadmoor district the juxtaposition would become an eye soar and architectural change would become a failure. To elaborate on my point; providing on odd single pitched roof where a gable would be more appropriate or pronounced stacking on foundation where there is very little within the community; or an odd wrap around curtain wall that is not present in any other structure in the area. The sudden shift to incorporate sustainability with revolutionary modernism in a historic district is a failure.
NC Triangle Student Finalist

An appropriate response to this would be to mimic the architecture of the surrounding homes and hint at modernism aspects while incorporating sustainability. This can be seen in the use of proportionate transom windows instead of glass walls and a slanted rock wall embracing the Spanish arch and hiding the oddity of a stairway. The gabled tympanum also tops off linear windows and leads to a single pitched roof matching the pitch of the gable. The interior is well defined with undulating heights and creates two connecting channels to ease motion while not providing a hollowed shell interior. This provides a foundation for modernism, as one home hints the others then have footing to change more and more. Then all of the sudden a revolutionary modernistic design does not look so odd. This concept takes time and that is why very few wish to grasp it. Sustainability and environmental change takes time and cannot be forced down the throats of the population through a global warming façade, carbon credits, cap and trade, and excessive taxation. Revolting will occur and change will not happen or will be postponed as perception becomes negative.

Jon Pearl, design

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Machine - counterpoint

To clarify what is taking place within this image; there is fluidity from the Art Nouveau period in the upper left corner, then passing through Finland; and influenced by the machine through Eero Saarinen and transfomed into the TWA Terminal. Finland is represented as mechanical gears. The influence from the machine is that such fluid firmness can not be accomplished without mechnaical components.

The text reads, upper right, "Welcome to the Machine", as a way of displaying the entrance to a mechanical revolution. The lower left text reads "Embracing mechanical fluidity through Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal". I chose Swedish text because I can not pronounce Finnish and it also connects Scandanavian influence.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reading Comprehension 7

The artwork of Susan Mullhally and Elihu Vedder display several themes of modernistic views. The “Study for the Heart of the Rose”, by Elihu Vedder displays characteristics of an implied aedicule where as the boundary of the rose offers a protective commodity for the body to lie in. The rose is a feminine flower and the symbolism of the naked female body in the fetal position can be linked. The fetal position is to display the curled innocence of a child and subconscious necessity for security and safety. The lack of clothing exhibits the insecurity of the adult form in its bare state. The femininity of the rose is to resemble the security of the womb; as the flower represents the personification of the plant’s female reproductive parts. It is if the flower has given birth to the feminine form. The connection to modernism is evident in the artwork. “Seeking forms that echo images dwelling deep in the human subconscious” (Roth, p.587). Mario Botta displays his “need for images, for emotion in architecture” (Roth, p.587); in the Evry Cathedral in France. The walls blossom upwards surrounding the centrality of the temple and provide the flower for the geometric rigidity stemmed brickwork below. This is a protective form providing purpose for the building to house its most important part; the people inside.
Elihu Vedder, “Study for the Heart of the Rose”

Mario Botta, Evry Cathedral

Susan Mullhally’s “Olivia”, displays its connection to late modernism through linear form, motion and space. The geometrical shapes formed by the swing echo the concepts of Richard Meier displayed in the Meier Furniture Group. Meier, “Who has stressed purity of form and sleekness of surface while increasingly exploiting the expressive power of the irregular form” (Roth p. 569). The geometric proportion of the swing and connected arms gives birth to Olivia’s irregular bell curved dress blowing in the wind as she swings. The legs on the chair in the Meier Furniture Group give rise to the proportionate linear lines on a curved backrest. The space below Olivia’s feet is absent of a connection to the ground as she swings. “The modernist impulse to appear to defy gravity” (Roth, p.568). This theme was evident in the aerial atrium walkways in the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City Missouri before the collapse. The artwork displays a primitive machine, the swing, to produce motion and fluidity. “Endless technological development that swept away any tedious connection with reality” (Roth p.567) This is displayed in Eero Saarinens Tulip Pedistal Group as the curves create constant fluid motion only attainable through mechanical mass production. (I will make the visual connection to Nordic Scandinavian influenced fluidity in my Counterpoint- Machine). “Eero Saarinen, Jorn Utzon, even Le Corbusier and others reshaped modernism as a means of highly personal self-expression” (Roth, p.567).  

Meier Furniture Group

 Susan Mullally, “Olivia”

Eero Saarinen, Tulip Pedestal Group

“Venturi found a way to combine abstract references to traditional ornament and Classical form and yet accommodate function to a building that endeavored to become integrated within its immediate environment” (Roth p.569). This diagram attempts to combine the modernistic qualities of the artwork of Mullally and Vedder into one fluid birthing of shape. The circular commodity protects a centralized space that mimics the rose protecting the bare woman; and can be extruded out from the flat plane as a column or skylight. The angled lines protruding from the polar ends of the larger circle mimic the swing and give birth to the bell shaped space at the base of the diagram. This space could be used as an entryway into the space leading to the circular flowering space above.


Diagram Extruded:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reading Comprehension 6 (Actually 5)

1. Thonet Brothers chairs reflect the impact of the machine. The mass produced bentwood chairs display curves that mimic nature and can only be massed produced by the machine. This displays the machine’s influence upon design as Thonet Brothers demonstrate the expansion of idea that creates the foundation of the Art Nouveau movement. These chairs demonstrate the essence of the Gothic revival and the revolution of against Rococo façade. The curved firmness of the legs demonstrates beauty incorporated within functionality, in contrast to Rococo which was carved detail. However they both capture the essence and balance of natural forms.
Architecture and Interior Design from the 19th Century, Harwood, p.25 Thonet Brothers Chair

2. Artifact:

The side table from 1871 demonstrates Anglo Japanese influence in its emphasis of open horizontal lines. Asymmetry is stressed on the uneven second level table. This creates a niche that is used to display smaller artifacts on different levels. Three levels of space, mimicking wall layout, are created with wooden horizontal boundaries. This also redefines horizontal space as the eye refocuses at every definition of geometry. Legs and supports are long and delicate like the branches of a tree. Japanese influence is demonstrated in the modeling of nature. Another example is the darker walnut stain applied to the wood. “Paneling in a dark stain shows Japanese influence” (Harwood p.409). This may be to set contrast to the lighter walls in the fill, or frieze; or perhaps to blend in the dado to give the essence of the tree springing from the forest represented by the coloring of the dado.
Side table, 1871
Edward William Godwin

The Morris and Co. parlor is a space demonstrating Japanese influence. The bottom four feet of the wall, the dado, is dark colored to set a backdrop for furniture. This may also represent where the tree line meets the horizon, depending on the colors of the fill and frieze. The ceiling is coffered and “most ceilings are very decorative” (Harwood p. 412). The decoration is of fluent peacock feathers. “Also characteristics of the Aesthetic Movement are peacock lavish patterns” (Harwood p. 406). More than likely the color of the feathers is blue-green, “a signature Aesthetic Movement color” (Harwood p.406). A portier hangs from the header of the door from rods to shut out drafts and enhance comfort. Windows have long flowing curtains with embroidered fabric. This extensive use of fabric is evident in Japanese culture. Decorative andirons hold wood in the fireplace.

A Morris Parlour

The Ho-o-den in Chicago not only represents Japanese architecture it was designed and built by the Japanese. The horizontal line is emphasized. During the Arts and Crafts Movement Frank Lloyd Wright would pick up on this emphasis of the natural horizontal plain, later to be referred to as the Prairie Style. Sectioning off of spaces into shapes by the horizontal line reinforces the buildings geometry. The roof overhang turns towards the sky in the classic calligraphic symbol to ward off the spirits. Fabric covers the windows and hangs from the soffit and doors. Decorative geometric patterns are woven into the fabric to possibly symbolize virility and longevity.  

Historic Oak Park has many houses displaying qualities of Japanese architecture. Many houses were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. His Arts and Crafts era influenced houses draw in the theme of Japanese architecture well. Horizontal lines and geometric shapes take form in the Prairie Style houses. The hip roof draws in aspects of the Egyptians while the large overhang is reminiscent of the Japanese style. Wright stacking of the horizontal line resembles Japanese influence.
Oak Park Philadelphia

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Point: Reflections

 In the early age of modernism architectural purity and organization was desired. “They searched for qualities of the primitive, the pure and the uncorrupted in art and architecture” (Roth p. 443). This would in turn be the foundation of Eclecticism and associationalism. It was only logical that mankind reflect upon the past for foundation in design. During the emergence of modernism, human enlightenment began to move past the Rococo Baroque façade and concentrated more on the functionality of purpose. “Carlo Lodoli… insisted that architecture be determined soley by its internal function or use” (Roth p.443).
The purist architecture was thought to be that of Greek design using a post and beam design process where the emphasis was placed upon firmness. This is demonstrated by Jacques-Germain Soufflot in the Church of Sainte-Genevieve. The internal walls of this structure were opened up with windows mirroring the gothic expansion of transparency. The shape of the church was that of a Greek cross. This is an interesting shift in religious influence as the replicated firmness originated from a religion concentrated on pagan beliefs. This architecture was designed to speak and communicate its purpose, “l’ architrcture parlent, or literally “speaking architecture” (Roth p.448). If this architecture was designed to speak then the façade and columns might be perceived differently by previous cultures. In a way historic language is lost while striving to find the purist language.
Church of Sainte-Genevieve

The Church of Sainte-Genevieve was finished in 1790. It seem only fitting that the Greek revival theme emerge in the Americas at a later date. The Cooleemee plantation, designed by New York architect W. H. Ranlett in 1855, displays this same revival in Mocksville NC. The floor plan is modeled after the Church of Sainte-Genevieve having a winged structure in the shape of a cross with a cupola located on the center roof. However the Cooleemee plantation cross does not use 90 degree rotational symmetry as the Church of Sainte-Genevieve. The monumental height resembles that of gothic construction and a gabled tympanum crowning the terminal point of each wing resembles the Roman portico on Church of Sainte-Genevieve. Perhaps the American use of the Roman portico is better displayed in the Dobson house of 1830. Four columns frame an aedicule that
sits perpendicular to the pitch of the main roof.

Cooleemee plantation

Dobson house

The Cooleemee plantation displays paired windows with rounded arches, a trait left over from the Renaissance. Dentils and modillions are featured upon the molding of the tympanum. This is a trait left over from the Baroque era. Possibly the purity of communication is lost as the Greek revival stretches to the Americas. However the Church of Sainte-Genevieve also features such Baroque molding characteristics providing a traceable design lineage throughout history. The arch that separates the columnar from the footing on the porch in the Dobson house represents the Renaissance expansion of enlightenment. The circular design located in the tympanum is an extract from the gothic period. This is another example of the differences in perception on the Greek revival between countries. Where the Greek revival became a quest for the purity of firmness in Europe; in the Americas it was only an extraction of elements from all previous periods.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reading Comprehension 5

1. The reformation of the Victorian middle class was inspired by the “desire to express comfort and wealth” (Massey p.8). AWN Pugin was a writer and critique who led the revival of the gothic style. His writings connected the purity of religion to the quality of architecture. Architect William Burges created the Gothic revival structures Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch in Cardiff Wales by using the principles set forth in Pugin’s writing. The ceilings and walls were hand painted and carved, a principle displayed in the writings of John Ruskin in The Seven Lamps of Architecture. “He warned against the common practice of making one material look like another and the effort to create a new style when gothic could not be surpassed” (Massey p.10). This refers to the Rococo movement and the emphasis on stucco plastering forms. Ruskin also took a great critique in mass produced machine made furniture. “For Ruskin moral virtue and such new furniture were incompatible” (Massey, p.10). Ruskin also compared mass produced furniture to adultery.

Castell Coch
The English Architect William Morris took a purest, Free from adulterants or impurities”, , approach towards machine made arts and crafts. This thought came about from the corruption of artifacts by the machine so that their use became obsolete and distorted from classical forms. Morris’ approach was that medieval vernacular forms were pure due to the fact that they had been constructed by hand and “by workmen who took joy in their work” (Roth p.493).  Phillip Web with William Morris designed a house in Bexleyheath that would become the foundation of the arts and crafts movement in England. The house was composed of red brick with a steep sloping roof. The general form of the house is taken from historical gothic architecture. The garden was of specific interest in the design process as it was meant to wrap around the house and connect the form with the landscape. The interior was simple with emphasis on purpose, “designed to facilitate use and handmade with emphasis on making evident the constructive process” (Roth p.493). Morris was also a Marxist having taken a similar approach to working class rights and purity of labor as Karl Marx did in his writings. This thought carried across the English Channel to the German Writer Hemann Muethesius who was a key founder in the Deutsher Werkbund, the German Worker Federation, of unionized labor.
The Red House

Frank Lloyd Wright adapted Morris’s design philosophy in the purity of form and influence. However Wright’s perspective was, “embracing the machine to facilitate production” (Roth p.495). Frank Lloyd Wright was the founder of the American Arts and Crafts movement. He realized the importance of the machine and the evolution of architecture, “the architecture of the future would of necessity be built of machine-formed elements” (Roth p.495). Wright took the concept of unity in design form to construct his delight. “All parts of the house had to germinate from a single design idea” (Roth, p.496).  Gothic architecture emphasized the vertical line for illuminative clarity and transparency. Wright’s perspective was to emphasize the stacking horizontal line to mimic the rising landscape. However Wright used an axes strategy, similar to Gothic cathedrals, in the Ward Willits house where the four wings expanded outward from a central chimney much like the transept branching in gothic cathedrals. Wright integrated long stretching lines of decoration on the ceilings and walls. This is a form of entasis adapted from Greek principles to direct the movement of the eye and form the illusion of continuous balanced space.
Ward Willits house floor plan

2. “The house is a machine for living in”, ((Le Corbusier) Roth p.530). Le Corbusier used machines such as the automobile or airplane as examples to modern function and purpose. His theory was that the house had functional parts such as living, dinning and kitchen units. He purposed that once functionality had been perfected that the form would automatically arise as a result. My opinion differs from this. In the Citrohan house functionality overwhelms aesthetics in that all that is viewable is a rectangular box. So the debate is set forth of which is more important aesthetics or functionality. The overall point of architectural functionality is to program the inhabitant to operate with an easy momentum. Aesthetics is delight. Without aesthetics the persona imbibed by straight functionality is mechanical robotics operating with no enjoyment. Humanity becomes functionality for only purpose. When applied to a whole the connection is evident to the Marxist social machine that operates for the better of the mother nation. The Citrohan House was to be lined in multiples and acts aesthetically pleasing to the whole of the city. Useless in my opinion; as the whole of the city cannot operate at a single social level as then there would be no sense of individualism and with that no more change or revolutionary architecture. Le Corbusier knew this, “It is a question of building which is at the root of social unrest today: architecture or revolution.” (Roth p. 530).  This is also the theme of equality within the Marxist movement. Homeostasis is impossible within society as it is human nature to want more. This principle is demonstrated in Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a psychological pyramid of self satisfaction. Marx understood this as it was the motivation for the formation of the communist party.
The Citrohan House

The application of Aesthetics without functionality is only enjoyment to better the delight. The less is more principle is very applicable within aesthetics. However I don’t believe Le Corbusier had the same interpretation as I. “Using standardized factory architecture components, would be as easy to build as low-priced automobiles and similarly, available to everyone” (Roth on Le Corbusier.. p.530). Using this principle aesthetically would cause a delight of simplicity and organization. This leads to an addition of complicated space to be delighted upon with geometric simplicity. Functionality becomes second to aesthetics as the enjoyment of the motion through space provides a pleasing delight. Every moment enjoyed and life is fulfilled as each day becomes the most it can be. Functionality with balance of shape and proper geometrical flow becomes organic architecture.
3. “Architecture expresses the attitude to life of an Epoch” ((Heinrich Wolfflin) Roth p.519).
David B. Gamble House (Massey p. 21)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Point: Alternatives

The Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo eras were times of transformation and it is logical to define these periods as those of theatrical expression. Theater is defined as, “dramatic works collectively, as of literature, a nation, or an author (often prec. by the ): the theater of Ibsen.” . To elaborate on the definition, from my understanding; theater is daring to be something you are not. This is much like acting on a stage. The breaking out of the box to define one’s self in different ways. This is demonstrated architecturally in the movement of façade depth into a third dimension of detail. This is demonstrated through the ornamental motif of pilasters disengaging from the façade and becoming freestanding columns. Such is demonstrated on the Church of Gesu around the center door. Also the connection of the natural world is displayed in architecture due the aesthetic realization of natural commodity. For example, in the Palace at Versailles; the unity between exterior and interior through the use of mirrors to reflect nature in the hallway. This principle also can be demonstrated in the use of architecture to define nature and channel purpose. The surveyor’s house designed by Ledoux is a prime example of challenging architectural function to redefine purpose by channeling a river.
Surveyor's House

“The new architecture was to be rationally comprehensible formed of planes and spaces organized according to clear numerical proportional systems, its edges and intervals delineated by the crisp elements of the ancient architectural orders.” (Roth p. 391) This quote is describing the evolution of the Renaissance. This is evident on the façade on the Palazzo del Te. The mortar groove is exaggerated around the stone blocks and the pilasters extended out. This is the period in which delight was realized as an organizational theme to society. It was human intellectualism molding the mind through pleasing stimulus into rational order and cooperative thought. It was a movement away from the primitive functionality of Gothic design.
Palazzo del Te

The Baroque period was an increase in scale and details to extend past human perception. “Baroque buildings, in contrast, are so large and complex that they cannot possibly be comprehended in a single glance”. (Roth p.414) This demonstrates an expansion of the mind. This concept is an example of the need to reach farther than the heavens and even possibly to surpass God.  A concept possibly rooted in life’s inherent biological necessity to rebel against the physical limitations of gravity and to not to be limited by the boundaries of chaos. This gives reason to revolution and expansive creativity through the resulting realization of new order. The scale superseded the residential structure into city planning. This is demonstrated in Sir Christopher Wren’s plan for rebuilding London. He used a grid pattern based on specific axes. Due to extreme distances between the regions the Americas’ were behind in conceptual thought, yet Jefferson still managed to capture the idea of an organized capital city plan demonstrating the competence of human intellectualism.

  Wren's Design for London

Washington city plan

Rococo architectural design was primarily used as interior decorations. The use of decorative stucco plaster and lighter colors formed delight mimicking nature on the interior. “Architecture became quite literally an exquisite and colorful veneer that was applied over something else; it was visual effect with very little structural truth”. (Roth p.435) Rococo acted as a veneer on the inside. The interior of the ballroom at Catherine Palace demonstrates Rococo. Instead of focusing on firmness and delight, the focus was just upon delight with little emphasis on structuralism. As a result the focus was shifted to antiquity. “For an objective knowledge of history as a scientific discipline had emerged” (Roth p.435) The enlightenment of modernism began with a foundation in historic design. Arechitects became aware and gathered an appreciation of the purity from shape and form of historic geometry and symmetry. Modernism took historic architecture and used it as a blueprint to derive form and commodity. Thus creating an alternative to historic firmness commodity and delight.

The Ballroom of the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo

The Baroque and Rococo periods were defined through artistic expression. “Every work of sculpture or painting must be the expression of a great principle, a lesson for the spectators”. ((Diderot) Roth p.441) Through this quote these periods in time are well defined. Through this principle architecture, towns and cities were organized by taking the simplicity of Greek geometry and elaborating the boundaries, colors and designs. This can be displayed through the use of a broken pediment on the façade’s of churches; rather than a completely intact gable. This simple act displays the breaking of boundaries during this period. Where the triangle enclosed the tympanum, through breaking the restraints the inner space is now free to be penetrated with design. This is displayed on the Church of Saint Vincent and Anastasius in Rome. In my opinion, through the merger of geometrical shapes and through the use of color, design and natural aesthetics; mold the foundation of organic architecture. This type of architecture is best demonstrated through the proportion of Frank Lloyd Wright’s commodity, firmness and delight able architectural designs. These periods are primarily about the elaboration of boundaries of aedicule and the connection of aedicule to the natural world. Also demonstrated by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian principle to mimic and extend natural geometry while modifying the Palladian room lay out by attaching working spaces to rooms. Redefinition of aedicule is also evident in the artifacts created during these periods. Architects of this time strived to create an ordered organized aedicule that stretched beyond symmetry on a two dimensional plane and the symbolism even dared to stretch beyond human perception.