ruminations about architecture and design

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015

prediction market for plymouth mass

A poorly researched article in today's Boston Globe made a set of idiotic comparisons between Plymouth, Mass. and three other New England communities that had closings of nuclear power plants. The impending shutdown of the Plymouth reactor will immediately impact the plant employees and the tax revenues from the facility. What it will not effect, in the opinion of towers of ilium, is the long term economic prospects of the community. Plymouth is not commuter friendly with regard to Boston, but it occupies a considerably different economic environment than Vernon, VT or Rowe, MA. Plymouth, it should be noted, has a seacoast--which although it is eroding alarmingly in places--still attracts people with money who like to live near the ocean, or nearly in it. They will probably see the absence of a nuclear reactor as a positive thing and coastal property values will rise conspicuously.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

building skins and other stories

Using the term "skin" for a building is one of those signs that architects are tampering with language in a way that does not help with understanding. While descriptively correct in most respects, the term "skin" invests the wall and roof assembly of a building with more philosophical  weight than it deserves. Biological skin is an active organ system. Good walls, according to the science dept. at towers of ilium, function best if they entirely passive. Even operable windows cause problems, and any effort to introduce more complexity or moving parts into a wall or roof can only end in misery.

The romanticism that is associated with masonry walls and roof coverings is still strong, and for good reasons. More modern systems--even very well detailed and constructed rain screens--should be treated with caution.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

the birth of reason

Why Vietnam? Why not? Towers of ilium doesn't have to explain things. Expression is the primary goal of communication; a functional outcome is a rare and unanticipated side effect of communication.

An internet of things seems like a nice idea, but until the view screen becomes edible, the computer age will simply be distinguished by billions of unsatisfied people. The challenge, which is a challenge of the prosperity associated with the modern age, will be one of time management. We will have access to almost everything, but only one lifetime in which to choose meaningful experiences.

This post has been framed as a series of claim/response sentences. Our marketing dept. thought it would be a good idea. They have been sacked.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

this is interior architecture

Merrill Hall, by Julia Morgan. It serves as a counterpoint to the recent cynical posts on towers of ilium.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

the downward spiral becomes more efficient

This picture of an abandoned Soviet era bus stop in Kazakstan comes via a blog called "calvertjournal."

Interesting architecture depends on a client who isn't paying careful attention. Cost, functionality, history, and morality all conspire against expression. The U.S. business community--which includes ordinary households--fails to produce enchanting works because someone always has their eye on the bottom line.