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Events

A Partnership of AIA Los Angeles and USC Architecture: BIM EDGE + BIM GAP
August 22–23, 2014
BIM GAP will feature presentations about the bridging GAPs between BIM tools (analysis, construction, facilities management, and more) and also bridging the GAPs between BIM people (contractors, architects, owners, managers, subs, consultants). Learn how professionals are dealing with these gaps towards realizing the full potential of BIM. Who do you call when you need BIM guidance? EDGE examines potential partners in working with BIM beyond your firm’s current capabilities: BIM coordinators, consultants, modeling services, others.

Architecture and the City Festival
September 1–30, 2014
The American Institute of Architects, San Francisco chapter (AIA San Francisco) and the Center for Architecture + Design announce the 11th annual Architecture and the City festival, the nation’s largest architectural festival of its kind. Taking place in San Francisco every September, the month-long celebration features behind the scenes and walking tours, films, exhibitions, lectures and more, providing opportunities for participants to engage with the local architecture community and experience design in a myriad of ways throughout the city. The 2014 Architecture and the City festival theme, Home: My San Francisco, will examine the shifting nature of home, the different elements that contribute to its definition, and its relation to the urban fabric. Over 40 festival programs will explore the cultural richness and diversity of our local architectural and design community as well as provide a platform for conversation about our changing landscape and its implications for a city in a time of rapidly intensifying housing needs.

San Francisco Living: Home Tours
September 20–21, 2014
AIA San Francisco and the Center for Architecture + Design are excited to announce the 12th annual San Francisco Living: Home Tours, a two-day open house event featuring a select number of modern residences. The popular weekend showcases a wide variety of architectural styles, neighborhoods and residences, including single-family homes, contemporary renovations and multi-family residences, and is the first tour series in the Bay Area to promote residential design from the architect's point of view. Throughout the weekend, tour participants can see some of the city's latest residential projects from the inside out, meet design teams, explore housing trends, and discover innovative design solutions that inspire unique San Francisco living.

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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« FORM Culture: Architecture for Art | Main | FORM on Design: The Mobile Home Reimagined »
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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