Aerial View: Florence, Italy
1939 New York World’s Fair
General Motors Pavilion Lapel Button
As Nazi Germans were preparing to take northern Europe and France by Blitzkrieg the top corporations in the U.S. were readying their displays for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Visitors to the General Motors futurama came away with a lapel button inscribed: “I Have Seen the Future” and a brochure containing still photos of a floor-size scale model depicting what American cities would look like in just twenty years. History would show the futurama to have been highly accurate in both detail and scope. Yet, it didn’t tell the whole story.
Privately planned & developed new satellite city for 80,000 people (30,000 families) will be built on a green field outside Chengdu as a model ‘Great City’ for the rest of China.
A manipulated photo showing Norman Foster’s Gherkin skyscraper (2004) as a flaccid phallus has been used by a UK retailer to advertise pharmaceuticals. Continue reading
O’Hara House, Richard Neutra (Los Angeles, 1959)
What are the advantages to living here, in the west coast of the New Continent? This film provides interesting point of view taken from a daring stance: Anticipating the Decline and Fall of the Great Modernist Architecture, it profiles the west coast, 20th century—mostly—residential buildings to suggest that the flame is still glowing. But is it really? If the last foothold of the Modernism’s avant-garde is to be the few and privileged places of its origin—the corporate commissions for isolated and reclusive private homes—then what can we say about the health and well-being of that other project—the construction of the socially balanced city and neighbourhood? Enjoy. Some of these houses represent the best architecture of the last 100 years.
Among the first 10 books I read at the start of my career in architecture this one still stands as the odd ball. Fifty three years after its publication I return to its pages to highlight and debate its most important points. I have found recently that although Death and Life is much talked about, its principal thesis and ground-breaking assertions are not read much less understood. The book opens with crushing salvo and an enormous boast:
This book is an attack on current city planning and rebuilding. It is also, and mostly, an attempt to introduce new principles in city planning and rebuilding, different and even opposite from those now taught in everything from schools of architecture and planning to Sunday supplements and women’s magazines. My attack is not based on quibbles about rebuilding methods or hair-splitting about fashions in design. It is an attack, rather, on the principles and aims that have shaped modern, orthodox city planning and rebuilding.
Jane Jacobs, p. 3.