Design for the One Percent | Jacobin

Not so long ago, the world’s leading architects debated how architecture could be used to transform society by providing housing for workers, improving public health, and fostering social solidarity. Today, global architecture is peopled with “starchitects” like Hadid who specialize in mega projects for the global elite. Some of the starchitects’ projects are beautiful, to be sure. But they also often waste public money, facilitate corrupt and exploitative practices, and strengthen a planning model that excludes the populace from decision-making. Many architectural creations are poorly constructed, requiring exorbitant maintenance costs (invariably following massive budget overruns) and lacking consideration for the…

A modest revival | Intelligent Life magazine 

Concerns are being raised about imposing buildings that ignore the urban contexts in which they are built, fail to make any concession to the human scale, and serve only as three-dimensional branding for their creators. These critiques echo an earlier generation’s displeasure with the anonymous global products of post-war Modernism. One response was Critical Regionalism, an approach that sought to humanise Modernism by making it more sensitive to place. The reaction this time around is more akin to the return to analogue that can be observed throughout contemporary culture – in the enthusiasm for vinyl records and handicrafts, for example….

THE CHARLOTTESVILLE TAPES | WITOLD RYBCZYNSKI

The Charlottesville Tapes is well worth a second read. In 1983, Jaquelin T. Robertson, then architecture dean at the University of Virginia, brought together two dozen architects to a private two-day confab (pointedly, no critics or historians were invited, only practitioners). It was a heavyweight group, a mixture of American, European, and Japanese architects, among them nine future Pritzker Prize winners, and four future Driehaus laureates. Each participant presented one project; discussion followed. The book is an edited version of the conversations. Reading the lively exchanges, one can only reflect on how much has changed since. Several of the participants…

The New Architecture Ornament – Icon Magazine

“We’re well on the way to having architects as hairdressers,” warns architect and writer Neil Spiller. He’s talking about style. Exactly a century after Adolf Loos’ seminal text Ornament and Crime, architects are using digital technology to generate elaborate decoration. But what are they trying to say with all their filigreed and tessellated patterns? Now that anything is possible, how do you choose what to do? And how do you know what’s radical anymore when radicals are “going baroque”? “Aesthetic discourse is the hot button issue for the next few years,” says Greg Lynn, one of the most prominent digital…

Harvard Graduate School of Design – Ornament: The Politics of Architecture and Subjectivity

Contrary to the message conveyed by the founding fathers of modern architecture, traditional ornament was not meant only for pleasure. It conveyed vital information about the destination of buildings as well as about the rank of their owners. As such, it participated in the expression of social values, hierarchies and order. By bringing previous traditions in ornament under scrutiny, Picon makes us question the political issues at stake in today’s ornamental revival. What does it tell us about present day culture? Why are we presently so fearful of meaning in architecture? Could it be that by steering so vehemently away…

Le Corbusier was ‘militant fascist’, two new books on French architect claim – Telegraph

France’s best-known 20th century architect, Le Corbusier, was a “militant fascist” who was far more anti-Semitic and a fan of Hitler than previously thought, two new books reveal. The unsettling disclosures about the links of one of the world’s most famous modern architects to France’s wartime collaborationist Vichy regime have been released just ahead of a major Paris exhibition of his work. It has long been known that Le Corbusier, famed for his revolutionary concrete creations, including a housing project in Marseille called La Cité Radieuse, had some ties to France’s collaborationist regime under Field Marshal Philippe Pétain. But the…

A Monument to Tastelessness by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal April 22, 2015

On a recent visit to New York City, I had the opportunity to walk around the exterior of the new Whitney Museum, built at a cost of $442 million. It is a monument of a kind: to the vanity, egotism, and aesthetic incompetence of celebrity architects such as Renzo Piano, and to the complete loss of judgment and taste of modern patrons. If it were not a tragic lost opportunity (how often do architects have the chance to build an art gallery at such cost?), it would be comic. I asked the person with whom I was walking what he…

The Style of Substance | Architect Magazine | Architects, Architecture, New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA, Tod Williams, FAIA, Billie Tsien, AIA, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, New York

The history of architecture is often dissembled into the history of styles. Even the modern, whose pioneers explicitly rejected historicist or vernacular forms, was reduced to the International Style—white walls and ocean-liner railings. And we live in an interesting moment in the history of styles. On the screens of my sharpest young students are no longer the parametric pinwheels or blobby billows that were a digitally enhanced memory of the last self-consciously curated consensus style, so-called Deconstructivism. Instead it’s all 1986, all the time: James Stirling, Charles Moore, Raimund Abraham, Oswald Ungers, and Aldo Rossi at his most Giorgio de Chirico….

VKhUTEMAS exhibition in Berlin: Rediscovery of a Russian revolutionary art school | The Charnel-House

The exhibition was organized by the Shchusev State Museum of Architecture in Moscow, based on extensive research into numerous archives, as well as interviews with graduates of the school and the families of former teachers. Researchers were thus able to bring to light long-lost designs, construction plans and models. The exhibition provides a fascinating insight into a neglected school of art that revolutionized modern architecture. The displayed works of the Vkhutemas students range from designs for residential buildings, theaters, kiosks, swimming pools, sports stadiums, workingmen’s clubs and entire cities to student research projects on theoretical questions such as “mass and weight,”…

Outrage in Paris: on HdM’s ‘Tour Triangle’ | Opinion | Architectural Review

William JR Curtis sees Herzog & de Meuron’s ‘Triangle Tower’ as irrelevant extravaganza leading to the destruction of collective memory and urbanity Architecture today risks degenerating into a game of formalist tricks and virtual images played out on the computer screen. Everything is done to seduce politicians and investors with flashy marketing proposals which promote global investment, the privatisation of urban space and the ‘society of spectacle’. Where towers are concerned there is a weird atmosphere of contest (the Bilbao effect mixed up with the Dubai phenomenon) which requires that buildings compete noisily with each other and with their urban context, a…