ruminations about architecture and design

Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 predictions revisited

Towers of ilium can't hide from the truth on the internet. We made predictions for 2015 and now it's time to come clean on them.

1. Nothing interesting will happen in Massachusetts this year. By this, we mean no extraordinary political scandals, no upheavals in the business community, and no spectacular crimes. (Yes, we realize that this prediction is a set-up for something strange to happen)

-Partly true, but.... The MBTA had a troubled year, with the breakdown during the month of February being the important thing. Potential delays of the Green Line expansion are noteworthy. And, the Ghost Train.

2. The U.S. economy will start to show signs of weakness by the end of the year. We'll have a few quarters of boom, but then a Fed interest rate hike and a reversal in the decline of energy costs will expose the structural problems. I'm not predicting full-blown recession; instead a slowdown that will eventually turn negative during the election year.

-Mostly wrong. The Fed rate hike didn't happen till December. Energy costs continued to decline. A slowdown could still occur next year.

3. Neither Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush will do anything dramatic this year. They may officially declare an intent to run, but in general, they'll keep a low profile and avoid controversy.

-Half true. Hillary seems to be cruising along. Jeb collapsed nearly completely.

4. Architecture will continue to be conservative worldwide. LEED will diminish in importance.

Wrong and wrong.

5. The world economy will maintain a relative stability. Things will deteriorate in Russia.

Sort of right. Russia seems to have stabilized.

6. U.S./Cuba relations will improve significantly throughout the year. Specifically, Obama's recent action will gain traction and not be reversed.


7. Something funny will happen in the courts with regard to Obamacare.

Not true. Yet. The program seems stable, but evolving.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


This was Sarah Goodrich.

And she used to live in this neighborhood.

The Economist had a very good article about her recently. Towers of ilium has mixed feelings about Beacon Hill. Its lack of accessibility, its wonderful character, and its endurance point to something special about community building. It can't be replicated. The first rule of modern architecture is this: If it has character, it violates building codes. This topic can be covered exhaustively, but it remains saddening. A Wal-Mart is a much safer place to be than any house in an old neighborhood.

Update: Towers of ilium made yet another contribution to misunderstanding and poor spelling. Her name was "Goodridge."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

build indoors for fun and profit

Tedd Benson is trying. He's trying to build better houses, he's trying to run a sustainable corporation, he's trying to bring good design to the masses. His latest venture, Unity Homes, represents a bit of a departure from his custom timberframes.

A revolution is not expected by Towers of Ilium. It's easier to build outdoors.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

the grind of progress

A source close to towers of ilium has been keeping track of this project for the past two years. Not much has gotten done, and for reasons that are not immediately apparent. Based on the photograph above, work is proceeding aggressively on a complete rebuild of the facade. The lesson to be learned here is this: never underestimate 80 years of water damage. Another lesson is: never underestimate the challenges involved with getting permits for changing the character of Newbury Street.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

it's all new again

It's the Harbin Opera House. Please be reassured that the rendering looks exactly like the real thing--including the puzzled bystander. Curved design will never go out of style, but it will always be the exception the rectilinear stuff that keeps us protect from the elements everywhere else. This place reminds towers of ilium of that building in Australia, but collapsed into a pile of post-coital exhaustion.