Weekend 243.0

Building(1) The art of riding in New York City

(2) The Quixotic World of Connecticut’s Boutique Bike-Makers: Zen and the Art of Bicycle Building

(3) When the Party’s Over (WSJ)

(4) A lengthy quote from 194X: Architecture, Planning, and Consumer Culture on the American Home Front by Andrew M. Shanken:

“Some of the bias in favor of monuments over paper architecture in architectural history derives from seeing them as architectural culminations, the end point of so much planning and design. The purest forms of modern architecture, however, are rarely, if ever, three-dimensional, as Ezra Stoller’s photographs show and as these ads demonstrate. So many of the most cherished tenets of modern architecture-flexibility, universal space, functionalism-all become paradoxes the moment they leave the plane of the page. But what if we were to push the possibilities of this plane beyond its borders and consider the architecture of 194X as one building, the way Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc considered the European cathedral as one building instantiated in different places over time. This would not make the gerund “building” useful, but it would also imply a more conceptual development, not unlike the cathedrals of Europe, which culminate, according to this view, with the High Gothic of Amiens or Cologne Cathedrals.

The point of historical arrival, rather than being a building, which is usually the object of the unbuilt, was modern architecture itself. This is, after all, what the cathedral evolution really maintains, the creation of a mature manner of building and thinking about architecture. With the architecture of 194X, instead of a corpus mirabulus, a church or the church, or the Gothic, we find an annus mirabulus. 194X, a temporal apotheosis, one worked out on paper and awaiting the pent-up energies of a war economy to be spent on the deferred dreams of more than a decade.

As architecture manquè, a proxy for actual building opportunities, the ads must be understood as more than forecasts that we could match up with postwar architecture: they are monuments of the war years. Yet as images they are not representations of a far-off building, which entails both erasure and invention. Rather, they are the thing itself in a different form: two-dimensional, but given mass over time, as part of a series, rather than in space, like a typical building. They were buildings pressed into the fold of a page, awaiting the post war boom to blow them up.”

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