There never was and probably never will be another architectural critic as impassioned, omnivorous, and outspoken as Ian Nairn (1930–1983). Largely self-taught, he conducted a one-man crusade against the outrages of post-war British architecture, which he contrasted with the best work of past centuries. But he was no reactionary: He found excellence and mediocrity in every era, dismissing one Gothic cathedral as mechanical and unfeeling—the same deficiencies he found in the widely acclaimed Royal Festival Hall of 1951. "What I am after," he wrote, "is character, or personality, or essence." He accepted the wartime destruction in London as the price paid to defeat evil; now "It is burning again, but this time only to satisfy developers' greed, planners' inadequacy, and official stupidity."
This year, FORM and Balcony Press return as media sponsors for the 2014 edition of the New Urbanism Film Festival, a unique event focusing on urban design and architecture at the pedestrian level. Now in its second year, the festival is bigger and better, with a terrific line-up of films and events, including Dinner and Movie with William Fain, not to mention a walking tour of Downtown LA with Dean Haglund and a pastry walk of local bakeries. We recently chatted with the festival's founders, Josh Paget and Joel Karahadian about this year's festival and some of their suggestions for must-see films and activities.
By Michael Webb
Does everyone realize what a treasure LACMA is, and how far it has come in its 50 years as a stand-alone art museum? An encyclopedic, constantly growing collection is augmented by loan exhibitions, such as Haunted Screens, and two complementary shows on the military arts of pre-modern Japan. Samurai: Japanese Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection has been seen in other museums, but one doubts it exerted the power it has here in an inspired installation by wHY Architecture in the Resnick Pavilion. From November 1st it will be complemented by Art of the Samurai: Swords, Paintings, Prints and Textiles, an exhibition of LACMA holdings and loans from local collectors.
Next week, our own Michael Webb, contributing writer to our print edition and frequent face here on the Web site with his pithy book and exhibition reviews, will receive a 2014 AIA|LA Design Advocate award at the ceremony. To celebrate his achievement, we thought we'd run one of our favorite recent features of Michael's his 2013 story on color in urban architecture. He traces its history and offers a compelling call to bring more of it into city living.
By Michael Webb
Most cities have a distinctive palette. In London, the older residential areas are built of yellow or red brick, the monuments of white Portland stone. Some are still blackened from coal smoke, others have been scrubbed clean. Looking over Paris from Sacré Coeur, the expanse of gray slate and stone is interrupted by the multicolored Pompidou Center—much as the PDC stands out in West Hollywood. St Petersburg is a joyful symphony of pale blue, green, yellow and pink.
Inspired by principles of the biophilia hypothesis—the inherent human affinity for natural systems and processes—the University of Florida Clinical Translational Research Building (CTRB), fully incorporates the environmental forces of its site, both natural and manmade. Today, the project’s architectural spearhead, Perkins+Will’s design director Pat Bosch, talks with us about the ins and outs of creating the carbon-neutral structure, which provides sustainable healing, working and educational environments for its inhabitants.