A Machine That Makes The Land Pay

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In his famed statement on the skyscraper as a machine to make the land pay, Cass Gilbert was not so much speaking of the magic of the skyscraper but rather of the immense value of land in the metropolitan city core.

A Saturday on Strava, Mapped « Strava Engineering

A Saturday on Strava, Mapped « Strava Engineering:


On Saturday July 20th Strava athletes covered 4,890,000 miles in over 326,000 combined hours. To get a look at what all that riding looks like [Paul Mach] built the Saturday on Strava Heatmap, a visual on all those miles, broken down by hour.

archimaps: Floor plans for the Villa Virginia,...


Floor plans for the Villa Virginia, Stockbridge

This is rather nuts to find on Tumblr as I grew up here.

Before you come to the conclusion that I’m filthy rich, my father bought the place for very little as it was near ruin. As a retired artist, he spent a decade fixing it. And my spent a decade, I mean spend a decade of hard work. It was, well, crazy to live in a place like this. It took 3 days to cut the grass every two weeks.

In the winter, we could only afford to heat the wing at the top left of the lower level. The rest stayed between 45 and 50 degrees (Fahrenheit not Celsius). I lived in the sewing room on the second floor and we used two electric space heaters to keep that warm. It didn’t work very well.  I think that’s why I still get bronchitis often and I can’t handle cold rooms in the winter. 

My parents sold it when my father started his museum in Vilnius. It’s amazing how little you can get for a place like this if your kitchen is essentially still from 1917 and most of the bathrooms don’t work. The present owners ripped off the original red tile roof and put on a slate roof even though my father had it registered as a National Historic Landmark. I’m afraid to think of what has happened inside.

Perhaps this is why bricks and mortar bookstores are having...

Perhaps this is why bricks and mortar bookstores are having trouble staying in business?

Thank you, @bookculture.

Unbelievable “nail houses” around the world

Unbelievable “nail houses” around the world:

In China, a "nail house" is a home whose resident refuses to leave in order to make way for new construction. Builders have to elaborately construct around it, often leaving behind an eyesore so awesome that it’s almost a sculpture. Here are some of the most famous examples of nail houses.

Unbelievable “nail houses” around the world

Unbelievable “nail houses” around the world:

In China, a “nail house” is a home whose resident refuses to leave in order to make way for new construction. Builders have to elaborately construct around it, often leaving behind an eyesore so awesome that it’s almost a sculpture. Here are some of the most famous examples of nail houses.

Modernism for Sale (near NYC)

My neighbor Joyce just sent me this listing for a Deck House for sale down the street. It’s in Montclair, a train town 45 minutes from Manhattan by train (30 minutes by bus or car in off hours). I can’t say enough about Montclair. It has good schools, it is diverse in race and income, there are few chain stores, it is community and neighborhood oriented, there are huge numbers of parks, and the food is good. The house is on Highland and you’re on the highest point west of Portugal (not counting midtown’s skyscrapers which may or may not be visible from this house), sort of the Hollywood Hills of the east.

There aren’t many Deck Houses left that haven’t changed hands and there’s not a lot of modernism near the city.


It needs some restoration, but we can go over that. The house is on a half acre of land.

Contact her if you’re interested (you can also ask me for more info).

A letter to Rem Koolhaas

A letter to Rem Koolhaas:
July 16, 2013

Dear Rem Koolhaas,

we have never met, or so it seems. We are a non-relevant group. We are about half of the humanity, maybe more. We are also about 20% of our and your profession, maybe less. We are architects, yet female.

We have seen you signed the retroactive campaign about Denise Scott-Brown’s spoliation of the Pritzker Prize. That made us feel better about the fact that again, a white male in his late 60′s has been given power, this time over the Venice Bienniale. We thought you might help. Maybe not.

We have scrutinized the 2012 edition by your predecessor David Chipperfield and found the number of female participants appallingly low. We though you could do better. But then, someone said you appointed Hans-Ulrich Obrist for the Swiss Pavilion.* **

“Women are the ghosts of modern architecture, everywhere present, crucial, but strangely invisible,” says Colomina. Please make sure we are not side-lined, invisible, marginalized once again at the 2014 Architecture Biennale.

We would like you, for next year’s edition, to say F*ck Old White Men and give space to women in architecture: the talented, unjustly ignored architects, that happened to be female.

Through positive action and representation, we believe gender equality to be fundamental and hope you do too.

Hopelessly yours,

Die Architektin (Verein für)

A House for Pink Floyd

I am on the jury for "A House for Pink Floyd," along with frequent NYC co-conspirators Carla Leitao and Edward Keller together with Dan Coma, Dan Mellamphy, Nandita Biswas Mellamphy, David Gersten, Eric Ellingsen, Ezio Blasetti, Orhan Ayyuce, Juan Azulay, Kenneth Cameron, and Leopold Lambert. The competition is sponsored by ICARCH (International Competitions in Architecture), in partnership with Atelierul de Proiectare (AdeP - Design Studio) Magazine.

I'm looking forward to seeing the entries. On a historical note, I had been hoping that I could find that Pink Floyd playing at Rome's Piper Club directly influenced the idea of Superarchitecture as developed by Andrea Branzi of Archizoom since he mentions the Piper Club, but it turns out that the Floyd's concerts at the Piper Club came two years after the 1966 Superarchitecture show. One day, perhaps someone will do a definitive history of rock and architecture and elucidate all this for us.

Good riddance, Pritzker

Earlier today the Pritzker jury decided to do away with any good that the prize has ever done. Refusing to retroactively acknowledge Denise Scott Brown's contribution in the work of the firm that she shares with Robert Venturi, the jury voted instead to affirm its patriarchal authority. See the piece on the topic in Architect Magazine

Curiously, the Pritzker has previously been awarded to Ryue Nishizawa alongside Kazuyo Sejima. Not to denigrate his contribution, but I have heard SANAA referred to as "Sejima" as often, if not more, than I have heard VSBA referred to as "Venturi." Why the double standard? 

The sort of patronizing language used in the letter by Lord Palumbo is all too familiar. It is the voice of money and authority, the same sort of voice that spoke out against the rights of the women, the poor, and minorities. It is, alas, the voice of what Brown describes as the "sad white men's award."     

I see no way in which we can, in good conscience, think of the Pritzker as being anything but a detriment to the profession. Indeed, the entire notion of the Pritzker Prize stands testament to the misguided fallacy of architecture as the work of solitary geniuses, ignoring that it is almost inevitably a team product. Now we may give awards to individuals at school (although at Columbia we have also split those awards among partners), that is a special case in which students are work, in most cases, individually. Practice, particularly at the large scale that the Pritzker typically lauds, is another. 

After three decades of affirming much that is wrong about our profession, the Pritzkzer has run its course. If, collectively, we decide that it is invalid and pay it no heed, it will die. And die it must. There should be no second chances for an institution as bankrupt as this one. 

$100,000 a year is a lot of money. It's time to shut the Pritzker down and give that to people who need it, not to a bunch of well off sad, white men. Why not put take the list of countries ranked worldwide by GDP and distribute the money to needy students in countries in the bottom half? Jay Pritzker's money would be doing much more for the profession. At least it wouldn't be perpetuating misogyny.

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