ruminations about architecture and design

Sunday, June 28, 2015

architecture in TV

Towers of Ilium once published a list of movies that it regarded as architecturally significant.
We are now considering television shows that also meet the criteria. Potential candidates include the following:

Star Trek (all versions)
Max Headroom
The Sopranos
Mad Men

Television thrives off confinement. Characters in a series return to a place that is familiar to an audience and engage in discussions. This saves money and helps dialogue tell a convincing story.
The architecture of these familiar places is typically designed to maximize camera angle flexibility and reinforce the themes of the show.

Monday, June 22, 2015

bridges too far

Showy architecture in educational settings does very little other than make donors feel important. Students, by and large--no matter age, race, gender, cultural position, or level of wealth--do not pay attention to their surroundings. They are vaguely aware when things are different, but they don't waste time wondering if they should be inspired by some gesture that a design team sweated over for hours.

The image above is offered as evidence.

Monday, June 15, 2015

failures to communicate

How can some of the essential principles of architecture be conveyed to a non-architect audience? As usual, towers of ilium has a solution:

Visible vs. invisible design--Modern design challenges have less to do with the finish surfaces that people see. Air conditioning, support spaces, building envelopes, etc...are more important than paint colors.

Embodied energy vs. operating energy. Can also be described as up-front costs vs. general performance. Operation entails a greater resource commitment.

Gain vs. Enclosure dominated buildings. It's a complicated issue that mechanical engineers deal with, but more people, especially architects, should be aware of it.

LEED vs. reality. Unless you're moving into a cave, the construction of a building entails the use of toxic products. Longevity, performance, initial toxicity, and disposal toxicity implies a balancing act. When in doubt, live in the cave.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

but where will we put the help?

This is one of the floor plans for a luxury high rise under construction in Manhattan. Towers of ilium, in keeping with an inconsistent appraisal of all things architectural, has nothing particularly critical to say about this absurd expenditure of resources. It is another addition to the skyline of that city. Better looking, and a bit taller, than the heap of glass at the World Trade Center site. I doubt many of the occupants will stick with this layout. Too cramped and traditional.

odds and ends

A park in Newport, Rhode Island, designed by Maya Lin is completely benign and quite nice.

It's finally dawning on some people that the Boston Olympics bid is not just about the city of Boston.
Where does towers of ilium stand on the 2024 Olympics? Boston should not host the games, nor does it have the resources to compete with other cities--like Paris or Rome. The cities most qualified to host the Olympics in the U.S. all have better weather (Los Angeles, San Antonio, Dallas, Miami).

Friday, June 5, 2015

tom menino

"Fear is power." Thus spake Thomas Menino. His use of that power was always to advance the larger interests of the city of Boston. If he was corrupted by that power, it was not to the degree that rendered him dangerous.

Another comment he made in his memoirs was that he regarded city planning as too important to entrust to professional planners. The shape of the future is too malleable to make grand, overarching plans. He preferred to assess the merits of development projects on a case by case basis and not apply a rigid ideology to the review process.