Best of 2018

At the end of the year I customarily reflect upon my personal architectural experiences from the year past—places I visited and other experiences. I didn’t travel much, so my best of 2018 is pretty modest…

Studio Gang’s New Dorms

Architectural surprises are rare and wonderful. I was in Chicago, in Hyde Park, to walk by Fred Keck’s 3-unit cooperative (where he & Lucy lived with brother Bill & Stella and professor Louis Gottschalk), on the way to the Oriental Institute, when I stumbled on Studio Gang’s new dorms for the University of Chicago (called the Campus North Residential Commons). 3D parametric cladding. Beautiful form-making. It strikes me, somehow, as a descendant of the Bauhaus. I didn’t get inside, but the exterior experience was pretty thrilling.

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The Apple Store, Chicago

As I wrote about here, I not only admire the work of Foster + Partners for Apple but think it’s historic. So when I visited Chicago in September I set aside time to visit the Apple Store on the river at Michigan Avenue, just south of the Tribune Tower. What a site!

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Was I moved? Well, I was in a hurry, and it’s a store. But surely the best store I’ve visited in some time.

Critique1: Is the form of the roof meant to refer to the form of an Apple computer? I think yes, and that diminishes the design quality, to me.

Critique2: Yes there are falling-ice problems. This truly surprises me, because it's my impression that Foster's office is full of pragmatic-thinking technically-oriented people.

The IIT Library

I’d been to Mies van der Rohe’s IIT campus several times (and blogged here and here) but never before had I visited the library. It’s a completely different experience than Mies’ other buildings. The typical Mies building is set on a podium or plaza, but here you descend to the main entry, then you are immediately led up, through the floor, to the main space of the reading room. Note (again) the affinities between Foster & Mies in the supreme authority of the ceiling plane.

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The Year in Scholarship

Was it a weak year for architectural history? More likely, I didn’t read enough. Some favorites:

  • Cook's Camden: The Making of Modern Housing by Mark Swenarton
  • Prefab Housing and the Future of Building: Product to Process by Mathew Aitchison
  • Elementhus” by Scott Hedges
  • "Glass buildings..." by Alan Short
  • "Against Historic Preservation" by Deborah Berke in the Journal of Architectural Education

And the best news (from late 2017): An Engineer Imagines by Peter Rice is reprinted, and affordable. Thanks, Batsford!

Beyonce’s Louvre

A virtual experience, but certainly architectural and tremendously powerful—Beyonce’s takeover of the Louvre. I bet I’ve watched it a hundred times.

The Last Word

When in Omaha, visit Herbe Sainte and order the Last Word (a Chartreuse-based cocktail).

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Thanks for Visiting
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Best of 2017
Best of 2016
Best of 2015