Time magazine: "Master of the Modern", photos by Shulman

Discussion in 'Architecture & Engineering' started by Tiassa, Oct 21, 2007.

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  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Source: Time.com
    Link: http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1669978,00.html
    Title: "Master of the Modern"
    Date: October 20, 2007


    The front slide reads:

    Perhaps the twenty-first century has desensitized us somewhat. The images don't always seem so spectacular. There is the Lever House, for instance; photographer Shulman framed the image from the plaza of the nearby Seagram Building, and from a perspective of almost fifty years later, it is difficult to comprehend the significance of either Bunshaft's Lever House or Rohe's Seagram Building:

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    Completed in 1952, Lever House was the first glass
    and steel Modernist office building on what was then the all-
    masonry expanse of Park Avenue in midtown Manhattan. By 1959,
    when this picture was taken, it was a much photographed icon.
    So Shulman moved back to frame it in a new way under the plaza
    overhang of another Modernist milestone that had joined it just
    a year earlier on Park — Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building.


    • • •​

    Most folks I know tend to look at architecture more from a scientific and utilitarian perspective, and that seems in step with the general collective outlook. We tend to focus on the function of a thing rather than the theory behind it, to the point that theories of function are considered artsy.

    And some of those theories of function are artsy. For instance, I once worked in a pizza restaurant where the cook's counter was arranged from left to right. This way, as the cook finished assembling the pizza, s/he could simply turn around and drop the thing onto the conveyer for the forced-air oven. Simple enough, right? Yet a new manager arriving from a store across town could not handle the concept. She rearranged the cook's counter in the image of her prior store, which worked from right to left. And even though it was perfectly obvious that we could not rearrange the whole freaking oven to accommodate this, well, the boss is the boss. So in the course of the next week, cooks tripped over one another, dropped pizzas, and eventually burned themselves falling against the oven as they tried to maneuver around one another. The manager could not, for the life of her, understand the practical consideration of working left to right, dropping the pizza on the conveyer, and then starting over. After all, her store worked right to left, and that's the way her store was going to work. The mere function of moving left to right was unacceptable.

    Imagine, then, carrying out a similar debate on the scale of an an office highrise.

    • • •​

    The Green Residence (Herb Greene), Norman, Oklahoma, 1961:

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    Called the "Prairie Chicken" house by Life magazine,
    Greene built this very ahead-of-its-time home for himself, his
    wife and two young children. Influenced by the organic architecture
    of Frank Lloyd Wright and the highly original Bruce Goff, it
    seems to look forward to the undulating forms of Frank Gehry.

    Perhaps there was a reason it took until Frank Gehry. Strangely, though, while Gehry's designs, including the Bilbao Guggenheim, Walt Disney Hall, and Experience Music Project, are generally regarded as some sort of urban nouveau-chic, we see in Herb Greene's design an early inspiration, and one settled in America's heartland.

    • • •​

    Less spectacular are two shots (1, 2)of the Woods Residence, a 1950 design by Paolo Soleri and Mark Mills. The caption for the second, an exterior shot of the home, reads:

    • • •​

    Architecture is a fascinating blend of art and science. In the end, though, function tends to reign supreme. While I might have some appreciation for the avant garde paradox of a public library without tables, chairs, or bookshelves, the contemporary context of libraries suggests the facility would lose a tremendous portion of its functional value. To the other, though, in challenging the supremacy of functionality--a futile effort under most circumstances--an architect might be looking toward the future.

    After all, there may well come a day when the majority of our libraries haven't a single book in them, and people simply walk up to network terminals, access specific information, and have it transferred to various media including paper. Libraries as we know them may well become museums of a sort, with a curator and preservation teams, and everything within them made available electronically to the public. It's not like you can go to the Louvre or MoMA and check out an exhibit for a week. The internet era has brought new perspectives and challenges to every communicative medium.

    In the meantime, there is a time and place for making art of function. I promise you, though, a pizza kitchen is not that place.
     
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  3. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    Appallingly sterile, without a shred of aesthetic integrity.

    Modern architecture is 'usually' merely a form of coping with economics.
     
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  5. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    I like the civil engineering based on genetics much better

    Modern-day architects and engineers can gain much insight and inspiration by studying living things. This building, the Swiss Re Tower in London, resembles a microorganism called a glass sponge. By looking even deeper into biology, at the level of genes and DNA, civil engineers may be able to develop a completely new approach to their work. Using so-called genetic algorithms, they may be able to imitate the biological processes of genetic crossover, mutation and evolution in computer simulations to create optimized designs.


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    http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail;jsessionid=aaa-zCNIcAGxFc?assetid=56166
     
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  7. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    Bravo! At least there is some design principle at work there...its not just a rectangular box.
     
  8. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    (Insert title here)

    Even for 1952? Don't take me wrongly, I actually agree that the Lever House seems sterile, although not to the same degree you express. But in its day, what of life inside the building? How does the architecture alter the experiences of those inside the building?

    I shan't protest. This is at once apparent and unfortunate. But I suppose in terms of artistic experimentation, it's a tall order to tamper with function and dynamics when spending millions of dollars on a building that could kill thousands under certain circumstances.

    In terms of houses, though ... I understand, except that postage-stamp subdevelopments are shockingly ugly, even when architects and developers try to address that challenge specifically. Some homes built between the 1970s and 1990s present bizarre challenges; I've been in places where I truly did wonder how the furniture was moved in. There's an old joke from Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency about a davenport stuck in the hallway; after running computer models and simulations, it becomes apparent that not only is the couch stuck, but it seems to be physically impossible that it should have come to be stuck there in the first place. That thought strikes me more often than it should.

    I once lived in a building, designed ... probably in the 1950s ... where some furniture simply couldn't get into the place. Sofas and beds had to be hauled up the outside, brought in from the deck, and in some cases furniture had to be sent back down. (Our neighbors once found they could not fit their sofa through the sliding glass door. And the thing is that it wasn't exactly a huge piece of furniture.)

    • • •​

    That ... that's not all it resembles.

    What would be really cool, though, would be if the hallways, stairwells, and office spaces were built to mimic life as well; there would be very few straight lines from A to B.
     
  9. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    Even this horror is better than the rows of beige vinyl covered boxes I see out in the burbs.

    At least its unique:

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  10. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    It looks like some some alien spaceship landed in the city.
     
  11. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    Or a continuous staircase spiraling around the outside of the interior!
     
  12. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Earth girls ....

    That it is. And it ain't so bad, really. Or, at least, so says me. Which raises the obvious question: What do we think is good, then?

    I was thinking the staircase would be inside the building, but yeah. Or else a glass elevator on a spiral track around the building.

    • • •​

    And they're thinking, "Earth girls are easy, dude ...."
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2007
  13. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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  14. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    The simple lines of Arabic architecture adapts well to modern structures. Thats an excellent example!!!
     
  15. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    I just like his originality

    Low cost housing complex, Mumbai

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    The DLF Tower, Mumbai

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    Proposed software development center, Chennai

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  16. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    Don't tell me you saw that movie? Jeff Goldbloom and Geena Davis at their best.

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  17. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    I don't think I ever saw it all the way through.

    I don't think Goldblum reached his peak until Independence Day. I actually wish he'd been cast as Batman, instead of Val Kilmer.
     
  18. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    Goldblum and Davis were very good in The Fly too. I really can't see Goldblum as batman. My favorite was Michael Keaton. The latest movie, Batman Begins, was also quite good.
     
  19. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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  20. Nickelodeon Banned Banned

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    Ugh, I dislike the gherkin.
     
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