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Events

Design for Social Impact
May 25–August 3, 2014
Based on the idea that design is a way of looking at the world with an eye for changing it, the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) presents Design for Social Impact, an original exhibition offering a look at how designers, engineers, students, professors, architects and social entrepreneurs use design to solve the problems of the 21st century.

Japanese Design Today 100
June 27–July 19, 2014
The Japan Foundation presents the World premiere of the exhibition Japanese Design Today 100, which opens at UCLA’s Department of Architecture & Urban Design at Perloff Hall. This exhibition showcases the Designscape of contemporary Japan through 100 objects of Japanese design: 89 objects created since 2010 that are well known in Japan, as well as 11 objects that represent the origin of Japanese post-war modern product design. These 100 product designs are displayed in 10 categories: Classic Japanese Design, Furniture & Housewares, Tableware & Cookware, Apparel & Accessories, Children, Stationery, Hobbies, Healthcare, Disaster Relief, and Transportation.

BAM/PFA New Building Topping Out Celebration
July 17, 2014
Construction is nearing midpoint at the downtown Berkeley site of the future home of the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA). Workers will soon be erecting the last of the steel beams that form the frame of this dynamic building. To celebrate this important milestone, BAM/PFA invites its Bay Area friends and neighbors to a “topping out” ceremony on Addison Street, between Shattuck Avenue and Oxford Street.

39th Annual American Craft Council San Francisco Show
August 8–10, 2014

The American Craft Council returns to San Francisco for its 39th Annual American Craft Council San Francisco Show this August 8-10, 2014 at Fort Mason Center. As the largest juried fine craft show on the West Coast, the 2014 San Francisco Show is expected to draw more than 12,000 fine craft collectors and design enthusiasts.

Conversations in Place 2014
August 10, 2014
ow in its third year, Conversations in Place 2014 begins another series of illuminating explorations of “Southern California – Yesterday and Tomorrow” at the historic Rancho Los Alamitos. The 4-part series begins Sunday, August 10 and continues through Sunday, November 2. The series begins with W. Richard West, Jr, President and CEO of The Autry National Center of the American West, Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA, chairman of the United States Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Pamela Seager, Executive Director of Rancho Los Alamitos, and Architect Stephen Farneth, FAIA, founding partner of the award-winning historic preservation firm Architectural Resources Group, in conversation about the place of museums and historic sites in shaping the story of Southern California. Can these institutions escape the straightjacket of the time to better interpret history to the 21st century?

NOW AND NEXT 2014 Symposium on Technology for Design and Construction
August 13–15, 2014
Meet thought leaders and colleagues interested in architecture, engineering, construction, open BIM Exchange, software trends and more. Learn about the innovations that are moving companies and people forward
including: where and how design and delivery is shifting; which software applications are transformative; best practices for collaborative project delivery; how to engage with the global BIM community. Connect with and hear from the best and the brightest such as Jordan Brandt, AutoDesk; Deke Smith, buildingSMART alliance; Ray Topping, Fiatech; Bill East, Prairie  Sky Consulting (formerly of the US Army Corps of Engineers).

Archtoberfest San Diego 2014
October 1–30, 2014
Archtoberfest San Diego 2014 is a collaboratively-operated initiative aimed at establishing an annual, month-long program of public events and activities pertaining to architecture, design, planning and sustainability.

New Urbanism Film Festival
November 2014
The primary goal of the New Urbanism Film Festival is to renew the dialogue about urban planning with a broader audience. The Festival brings in movies, short films, speakers, on the topics of architecture, public health, bicycle advocacy, urban design, public transit, inner-city gardens, to name a few. 

 

Competitions

Deadline: August 18
Fabric
Formabilio


Deadline: September 2
Hansgrohe+Axor Das Design Competition
Hansgrohe+Axor


Deadline: September 5

2014 Designer Dream Bath Competition
Duravit

Deadline: December 31
Kitchen Design Contest
Wolf and Sub-Zero 

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Monday
Feb242014

Book Review: Masterly Survey of a Master Architect 

By Michael Webb

Mies. Detlef Mertins. Phaidon, $150.

The late Detlef  Mertins distilled a lifetime of scholarship and research on Mies van der Rohe into this massive and authoritative survey of the master’s work and thought. Seven hundred drawings and photos illustrate the entire arc of a career that took Mies from Peter Behrens’ office in Berlin to a global practice in Chicago as the primary exponent of international modernism. “Less is more” and “God is in the details,” have become part of the everyday language of architecture. To some he was a god-like figure; others dismissed his buildings—even the best of them—as unlivable, dysfunctional, and authoritarian. It’s time for a reappraisal.

“Mies served to inspire a renewal of modernity after postmodernism,” declares Mertins. He portrays him as an autodidact who was at once progressive and conservative, a student of philosophy and science as well as art and architecture, drawing on a rich ferment of ideas, old and new.  He explores the masterpieces in depth, balancing contemporary and later judgments, while illuminating the socio-political context in which they were created. Links between Mies and the architects who inspired him—most notably Karl Friedrich Schinkel—are discussed. This lucid exposition is weighted down by an academic emphasis on philosophy, in an attempt to explain Mies’s quest for the sublime. At times, this verges on self-parody: An account of the dispute between the architect and Edith Farnsworth concerning cost-overruns and a lack of privacy segues abruptly into citations from Nietzsche, Aristotle, and Socrates. 

Illumination triumphs over pedagogy, and there are many fresh insights. The German commissioner for the 1929 Barcelona World’s Fair was an ideal client, declaring,  “we don’t want anything but clarity, simplicity, honesty.” Mies’s pavilion, which was reconstructed in 1986, succeeded in “capturing the new spirit of the nation and the times.” That success helps explain why the apolitical architect, who had earlier designed a memorial to two communist martyrs, delayed his departure from Hitler’s Germany, and persisted until 1937 in seeking commissions (as Le Corbusier did in Vichy France). Mertins quotes Thomas Mann, another reluctant émigré, who declared  “I don’t want politics. I want competence, order and decency. ” 

In Chicago, Mies quickly became a star, designing the entire campus of the Armor Institute of Technology (later rechristened IIT) and the hugely influential Lake Shore Drive apartment towers, which persuaded Phyllis Lambert to recommend him for the Seagram Building, his undisputed masterpiece. In postwar America, he could realize the glass towers he first proposed in Berlin in 1923, but those airy fantasies had hardened into a rigorous geometry that was widely copied and debased. He became a favorite of developers (even designing an innovative drive-in for a commercial strip in Indianapolis). There were a few more flashes of brilliance—the housing estate of Lafayette Park in Detroit and the majestic New National Gallery in Berlin—but Mertins’ hurried summary of later projects attests to a loss of inspiration, however meticulous the details.

Mertins completed the text just before his death in 2011, and an editorial committee brought it to publication. The valuable bibliography has been updated (Building Seagram, published in 2013, is here) though the committee has failed to add a comment on the successful restoration of the Tugendhat House, completed in 2012. There are 35 pages of citations, but no list of buildings and projects, a regrettable lacuna.  Even so, if you want to comprehend Mies’s genius and failings, this is the book to have.

 

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