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."
Entries in architecture (74)
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.
By Michael Webb
For centuries, architects sketched their work and recorded their impressions of the places they visited, and the Beaux Arts curriculum was based on a mastery of drawing. Software and digital cameras have eroded that tradition, but a few architects (Frank Gehry and Steven Holl are notable examples) still prefer pen and brush as tools to express their ideas. Andrea Ponsi is a Florentine architect whose watercolors of his native city are on display at the Italian Cultural Institute in Westwood through October 31. The exhibition, Andrea Ponsi: Florence, A Map of Perceptions, was organized by IIC Director Michela Magri, and it provides an insider's perspective on the cradle of Renaissance architecture.
Over our 15-year history as FORM: Pioneering Design, we've had the chance to interview some legends of design. Our 2008 September/October issue featured an exclusive conversation with the legendary architect Ray Kappe, whose work embodies a particuarly Southern Californian spirit. In the chat, conducted by Danny King, Kappe addresses energy conservation, a topic that's importance was becoming more and relevant to design. Six years on, it's intriguing to see the ideas Kappe has addressed throughout his career have become such imporant and relevant parts of architectural dialogue in the second decade of the 21st century.
FORM Issue Extra: Expert's Corner: Peter Grueneisen, FAIA, Principal and Founder of nonzero/architecture
Peter Grueneisen believes it’s important to take a comprehensive approach towards architecture, one that integrates the project with art and technology, but is grounded in functionality and sustainability. Perhaps this is one reason why so many musicians and film composers are keen to work with the firm. “The creation of stimulating structures and spaces is a primary aspiration, while economic realities, social dynamics and limited natural resources demand a thoughtful and conscious approach to design and construction,” he adds.
What are some of your current projects?
We’re finishing up a building complex called Remote Control Productions; it’s a group of film composers [that work with] Hans Zimmer. When we started, they owned quite a few buildings—eclectic light industrial buildings—some were converted into studios others into office space. It’s a whole campus. The latest building was ground up, 16 smaller studios and two larger suites. In the new building, the studios are dark, no windows, floating rooms in the building. But when you come out, all the hallways on the upper floors have large skylights. There is also a balcony with cantilevers. You have screens that can move to regulate the shade; it’s very connected to the environment.