By Carter B. Horsley
This fine international survey of important
architectural projects has superb photography and short but pertinent
texts by Philip Jodidio, the prolific architecture writer.
The texts are presented in English, German
and French, which is nice, but the font size is small and the
English text is printed in a light blue that is not very easy
to read for some people who need glasses. The book also includes
the architects' addresses, phone numbers, e-mails and website
Snøhetta, the Norwegian architectural
firm that won a competition to design the cultural center at Ground
Zero in Manhattan, is represented by its great Bilbiotheca Alexandrina
in Alexandria, Egypt that was opened in 2002. Snøhetta
won an international competition for the project in 1989 that
was sponsored by UNESCO and the Arab Republic of Egypt. The competition
had 524 entries from 52 countries.
Snøhetta's design hasa tilted, curved,
and rough-hewn stone wall inscribed with many symbols à
la hieroglyph. The main structure has an opening for a pedestrian
bridge that connects with the University of Alexandria. The original
library was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C. and was
eventually destroyed in the third and fourth centuries A.D.
Mr. Jodidio provides the following
commentary about the Milwaukee Art Museum project by Santiago
Calatrava that was completed in 2001:
"The Milwaukee Art Museum
was housed in a 1957 structure designed by Eero Saarinen as a
War Memorial overlooking Lake Michigan. The architect David Kahler
added a large slab structure to the Museum in 1975. In 1994, the
Trustees of the Milwaukee Art Museum considered a total of seventy-seven
architects for a 'new grand entrance, a point of orientation for
visitors, and a redefinition of the museum's identity through
the creation of a strong image.' Santiago Calatrava won the competition
with his proposal for a twenty-seven meter high glass and steel
reception hall shaded by a moveable sunscreen (now bpatized the'Burke
Mr. Jodidio observes that Morphosis attempted
to blend the "typology of the city in one direction, and
a typology of the country and landscape in the other direction."
"They go on to affirm," he continued, "that 'its
dynamic juxtaposition of volumes evokes shifting tectonic plates,
yet it strives to establish nodes of stability within turbulence.
Colliding and interpenetrating fragments are themselves incomplete,
forming a network of referents that extends beyond the limits
of the project. The forms are triangulated around an open pedestrian
forum, and the entrance is marked by the invitational gesture
of a large canopy. Within the central complex, departments are
organized around a sky-lit courtyard that allows light to penetrate
down to the Branch Bank on the ground floor. Perched upon leading
pilotis, a three-story section on the south face seems to surge
Jean-Marie Duthilleul has participated in the
design of three train stations on the Mediterranean line of the
TGV. The sloping form of the station at Aix-en-Provence is meant
to echo the shape of Montagne Saint-Victoire, a mountain often
painted by Cézanne. Mr. Jodidio notes that "Duthillleul
has campaigned actively to introduce more generous spaces into
France's railway stations and to give them a transparency vis-à-vis
their environment. He makes interesting use here of wooden columns
supporting the canopy above the tracks."
The M-House in Gorman, California that was
designed in 2000 by Michael Jantzen looks like a Terminator battleship
or a Looney Tunes jacks-in-a-box. Mr. Jodidio more properly describes
it as "a modular, relocatable, environmentally responsive,
alternative housing system."
"'It's not just a funny-looking building,'
says Michael Jantzen, who describes himself more as an artist
than an architect. 'I'm rethinking the whole notion of living
space,' he says. What he calls "Relocatable M-vironments'
are made of a 'wide variety of manipulable components that can
be connected in many different ways to a matrix of modular support
frames.' He writes that the 'M-House, which is made from the M-vironment
system, consists of a series of rectangular panels that are attached
with hingers to an open space frame grid of seven interlocking
cubes. The panels are hinged to the cubes in either a horizontal
or a vertical orientation. The hinges allow the panels to fold
into, or out of the curb frames to perform various functions.'
This version of the house was built with nonflammable composite
concrete panels hinged to a steel tube frame. Jantzen built this
one-bedroom cottahge entirely by himself on a site northwest of
Los Angeles. The structure is designed to withstand high winds
and earthquakes, and can be assembled or disassembled by a crew
of four in one week."
John Hejduk, who died in 2000, was the well-known
dean of architecture at Cooper Union in New York where he designed
a major renovation of the historic building. He is best known
for is "Wall Houses" of which more than 40 were designed
between 1967 and 1973, but only one was built, Wall House 2 in
Groningen, The Netherlands, and it was completed the year after
his death. Mr. Jodidio explains that Niek Verdonk, a Dutch architect
and former chief planer of Groningen, and Thomas Muller, a former
student of Hejduk's, completed the project, which was originally
planned for Ridgefield, Connecticut. The project, Mr. Jodidio
observes, was increased 20 percent in size to comply with local
Other projects included in the book include
the Roden Crater Project near Flagstaff, Arizona that was completed
in 2006 by James Turrell, Magna in Rotherham, South Yorkshire,
England by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, the Prada boutique on Broadway
in New York by Rem Koolhaas, the DG Bank in Berlin by Frank O.
Gehry, the Eyebeam Institute project by Diller Scofidio,the Komyo-Ji
Temple in Saijo, Ehime, Japan by Tadao Ando, and the Confluence
Museum in Lyon, France, by Coop Himmelb(l)au.