Gruen on Eero Saarinen

“An illustration of how this desire for publicity can influence the architect’s work can be found in comparing two air terminal buildings designed by the same architect, the late, extremely gifted Eero Saarinen. One of these buildings, the TWA terminal at Idlewild, New York (now John F. Kennedy International Airport), obviously was based on the client’s desire to outdo all its competitors’ displays of originality and glamour as they are lined up in that “World’s Fair” of air terminal buildings at the International Airport. The result is a tour de force that offers some excitement but little comfort or convenience to the air traveler. The second air terminal building designed by Eero Saarinen is at the Dulles Airport in Washington D.C., and inasmuch as it is one central structure serving all competitive airlines, the desire for advertising was not present. The result is an excellent, handsome structure offering innovations in the transport of the passengers to the plane which will probably pioneer similar arrangements all over the world and which, as far as human users are concerned, will provide quietude, convenience, comfort and “delight.” Yet I will not be surprised if that superior terminal in Washington will create less furor and excitement in our mass communications media and in the architectural press than did the first one.”

Weekend 343.1

(1) On September 13, You Can Ride the 7 Train to Hudson Yards

(2) ÖBB Headquarters / INNOCAD Architecture (ArchDaily)

(3) More quotes from The Heart of our Cities by Victor Gruen:

“There is a saying that the best things in life are free. Those best things are hard to come by in the sprawling environment of the modern American metropolis. One of the best things in life that comes free is a chance meeting with another human being, which in more concentrated and urbane cities occurs in everyday life on the streets, in the parks, in stores and on buses, streetcars or other public conveyances. These chance meetings, not pre-designed by efficient hostesses, more often than not are the most rewarding ones. In Anti-city they cannot come about because the places that create the occasions do not exist. There are no sidewalks, there are no public squares, and there are very few, if any, public conveyances.”

“The result of neglect of the public environment drives us even further into efforts to improve our own immediate personal surroundings. In escapist fashion we are running away from the upsetting dangers and ugliness of the public environment…We tend to reduce all intimate and personal relations with the outside world, relaying more and more on the telephone, the radio and television for communication. In doing so, however, we soon run afoul of some basic, deeply human needs: the need for sociability, deeply imbedded in man who is a gregarious beast, and the need to earn one’s living, a necessity at least for most of us. We are forced to make sorties and forays from our fortified castles, and whenever we do so we encounter the hostility and dangers, the ugliness and chaos of the over-all public environment.”


A Gruen inspired renaissance?

(1) The Mall Rises Again: How to breathe new life into America’s much-maligned indoor shopping centers. (City-Journal)

(2) A related quote from Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler

Imagineers said that when they were planning Tomorrowland, Walt would carry books around on city planning and mutter about traffic, noise, and neon signs, and he kept three volumes in his office to which he frequently referred: Garden Cities of Tomorrow by Sir Edward Ebenezer Howard (originally published in 1902 and reissued in 1965), which promoted a vision of a more pastoral urban life; and The Heart of Our Cities and Out of a Fair; a City, both by an architect and mall designer named Victor Gruen, who urged the reconceptualization of the city as more ordered, rational, and humane.

*You can see a copy of the Gruen book on Walt’s desk in the Fall 2010 issue of Disney twenty-three.

(3) Excerpts from Imagineering the Disney Theme Parks by Karal Ann Marling

Both his office bookcase and the studio library contained multiple copies of architect Victor Gruen’s 1964 The Heart of Our Cities, a study that proposed remedies for an “urban crisis” the author described in chilling detail. The reason for the crisis was the decay and disappearance of the ancient city center under the influence of cars and suburbs and media, the television, that made face-to-face contact irrelevant. When the center eroded, the sense of community usually vanished along with it…Southdale, which was built as Disneyland was being completed, was a Main Street for a new suburb that lacked one, having many of the same characteristics that made Walt’s streetscapes so appealing. For example, Gruen championed the interests of pedestrians at Southdale. He reassured the frazzled shopper with open, lively, readable interior spaces and codes that harmonized the facades of stores, to stave off visual fatigue. In the absence of an organized political structure, he fostered a sense of place by providing urban amenities in the form of public sculpture, artist-designed benches, and fountains.

Weekend 310.0

Pegoretti was one of the six craftsmen featured in Bespoke: The Handbuilt Bicycle at the Museum of Arts & Design in 2010.

(1) Robin Williams and Dario Pegoretti: The Comedian and the Bike Builder (WSJ)

(1a) A.N.T. Part 1

(2) McDowell + Benedetti’s Footbridge and Rail Station Underway in Terni (ArchDaily)

(3) ‘Like a Singing Matisse’ (WSJ)

“Guy and Geneviève are instantly likable innocents, but although Mr. Demy admitted that he wanted to make people cry when they saw “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” he eschewed the ‘happy ending’ so customary in American musical comedy. Rather, the anguish, the ambiguity and the perplexity of love prevail.”

Weekend 308.1

(1) Architect Lord Norman Foster on Good Design and Collectible Cars: The sought-after British architect reveals what he’s seeking, riding, collecting and coveting (WSJ)

“The best way to quickly transform a space is: by light and shadow. Light it, open it up to a view, provide a glimpse of the sky, orient it, close it down. For me, space is inseparable from light and shadow.”

(2) Under the Lily Pads: Frank Lloyd Wright’s SC Johnson Administration Building (WSJ)

“The theatricality of this entry sequence, all of which occurs within 40 feet of the door, is pure Wright, conjured with low ceilings and high ones, shadow and light, the heft of brick and stone, and the sparkling weightlessness of glass.”

(3) Keeping Quiet at the Monastery: Monasteries Offer a Retreat for City Dwellers Not Opposed to Sharing a Bathroom or Changing Their Own Sheets (WSJ – Registration Required)

Weekend 291.0

(1) A Good Book Is a Good Friend (The Huffington Post)

(2) How Real is Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’? Artificial Intelligence Experts Weigh In (WSJ)

(2a) Tech Time Warp of the Week: In 1959, a Fitbit Weighed 2,000 Pounds (Wired)

(3) Learning to Love Life on the Downslope (WSJ)

I know there shall be enjoyments for me
Amid sorrows, cares and anxieties:
At times I again will be intoxicated by harmony,
Weep over my fantasy’s creation,
And perhaps on my sad sunset
Love will shine its farewell smile.

(4) Looking for a New Old House? (WSJ)

“Even with extra shipping costs, panelization saves time and money and is more precise than increasingly expensive on-site building, said Mr. Connor: ‘Traditional architecture is probably going to be saved by robotic carpentry.'”

(4a) Selling the Dwelling: The Books That Built America’s Houses, 1775-2000

(4b) stephanie robb architect

*Scan is from ROBO FORCE™, 1984

Weekend 288.0

(1) These 20 Pictures Of Expo 67 Will Leave You Speechless. There Are No Words

(1a) ‘Norman Bel Geddes: I Have Seen the Future’ (WSJ)

(2) As City Cycling Grows, So Does Bike Tax Temptation

(3) Horst Brandstätter My Last Meal: The octogenarian head of Playmobil shares lunch at the staff canteen of the company he runs and loves (DECEMBER / JANUARY 2013/14 issue of Monocle)

“If I could eat with anyone it would be [Konrad] Adenauer [first post-war West German chancellor] and I would like to discuss the global economic situation. I don’t understand it because I have a company. At the end of the year I need black figures, not red. The government gets so much money from taxes; I don’t understand why they cannot make their budget work.”

(4) American Gothic (WSJ)

(4a) Iconic Architecture Card Game

(5) Dish Towels to Dry For (WSJ)

(6) Classic Ski Lifts: The best classic ski lifts, from Vermont to Colorado, let you relax, reflect and enjoy the scenery (WSJ)

“As Klaus Obermeyer, founder of ski-gear maker Sport Obermeyer, once observed, it’s much easier to score a date on a creeping double chair than on a sprinting quad. Here are five old-school transports that offer a break from the hustle.”

(7) Infographic: The Selfie Syndrome – How Social Media Is Making Us Narcissistic

(8) First ever Scalextric set from more than 50 years ago is given to inventor’s grandchildren as a Christmas present (Daily Mail)

*The scan is from Here Is New York City (1962) by Susan Elizabeth Lyman and Dorothy W. Furman. Illustrated by Mary Royt and George Buctel

Thanksgiving Weekend 2013 (ISON Edition)

This is a close approximation!

(1) Eastern and Western attitudes about life explained in 18 simple infographics

Credit: Felicia

(2) Drivers Get Rolled: Bicyclists are making unreasonable claims to the road—and winning

(2a) Road safety minister to ride Brompton on tour of London’s danger spots

(2b) The Safest Suburb In The World Did It By Ending The Culture Of Cars (Co.Exist)

(3) Why Japan is Crazy About Housing

(4) German Playmobil exhibition kicks off 40th anniversary celebrations (ToyNews)

(5) Computer Scientist David Gelernter: Can the computer scientist help make computers more intuitive? (WSJ)

(6) Why Productive People Get Up Insanely Early (Fast Company)

(7) A quote from Nicholas Frankovich

“Convents and monasteries are famously clean and spare, attractive because of their poverty, not despite it. When your food, water, medicine, shelter, and acess to fresh air and sunlight are adequate, every possession in excess of what you need to maintain them amounts to a distraction from your pursuit and enjoyment of the one thing necessary.”

(8) Donovan not set for Everton return (ESPN FC)

Weekend 277.0 (Autumn Biking Adventures)

Resort Hotel Lighting(1) This App Will Help You Find A Quiet Space In The Loud, Bustling City

(1a) Metro-North Commuters Slog to Work: After Power Outage, It Could Be Days Before Normalcy Returns to New Haven Line (WSJ)

On the plus side, diesel locos from Stamford!

(2) A quote from The Blue Riband (The Piccadilly Line) by Peter York

Everyone, I learnt, was fascinated by the Tube, and everyone knew more than me. There’s something for every kind of nerd and wonk. And fogeys (fogeys particularly like the Tube’s inter-war Modernist architecture).”

“Medieval Modernists were an important group of influential British arts patrons, curators, collector and administrators operating in the first half of the twentieth century. They were typically born in the late nineteenth century, outsiders, often Northern and Non-conformist, brought up on Ruskin and Morris (the ‘medieval’ grounding). They then developed into proselytizers for a particularly English kind of Modernism in the early twentieth century. A toned-down, commercially practical, socially useful, improving kind.”

(2a) Charles Holden’s Southgate Tube Station

(3) Lindsey Adelman :: BB.14.05

(4) In honor of National Coffee Day (September 29) some stop-motion coffee animation by Rachel Ryle

(5) 150 great things about the Underground: the stained glass at Uxbridge.

(5a) One last quote from The Blue Riband (The Piccadilly Line) by Peter York

“Uxbridge, at the Western end of the line, is another Charles Holden station that doesn’t look much from the street. But inside — and I’ve got the photographs to prove it — the long hall and concourse, the unlikely set-back, stained-glass windows, the late thirties arcade of shops and the elegant ranks of raw concrete pillars supporting the platform roof could be in Germany or Sweden. It’s that good.”

(6) 50 Creative Ideas To Make Better Cities, Presented On Gorgeously Designed Posters