Too many organic architects, from Frank Lloyd Wright on, become preachy and dogmatic when they contrast their work with mainstream modernism. Mickey Muennig is as down to earth and direct in words as he is in the woodsy houses he has concealed in the folds of Big Sur. Born in Joplin, MO, 80 years ago, he was nicknamed Mickey by his sister because she thought he resembled Disney's mouse, and the moniker stuck. Drawings by Bruce Goff inspired him to study with that maverick in Norman, Oklahoma, and soon after he settled in Big Sur. It's one of the world's magical places, where verdant hills shear off at the waterline, and the coast highway snakes through forests and meadows with the sparkle of the ocean far below. The Coastal Commission has kept it pristine, and the few rustic buildings merge into the landscape. From the start, Mickey bonded with the land, designing houses that are rooted and airy, open and sustainable. He sculptured spaces from wood beams and poured concrete, winning approval from the authorities and enchanting a succession of clients.
Entries in book reviews (3)
By Michael Webb
Over the past century, Swiss designers have excelled in the graphic arts, creating memorable posters, signage, advertising, and books—of which this anthology is a shining exemplar. Helvetica has achieved international acceptance in logos for American Airlines, Knoll, Letraset, Panasonic and other corporations—and the font was named for its country of origin. Though globalization has begun to erode national characteristics, the Swiss tradition of crisp, lucid, and inventive graphic design continues to flourish.
Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture. Rowan Moore (HarperDesign, $30).
Rowan Moore is the outspoken architectural critic of The Observer, one of the last serious newspapers in Britain—a market increasingly dominated by tawdry tabloids. His commentaries on new buildings can be found on the Web site of The Guardian, a liberal daily owned by the same non-profit trust. In Why We Build, he has stepped back to reflect on a broad swathe of architecture and the forces that shape it.