Saturday, February 14, 2015

Modernism Word of the Day; 31 -40


Heck ya'll, its a 150,000 ft2 city block mega-structure of residence and retail wrapped around a big ass parking garage. Hell, I think its uglier than a mud fence but them Nurbanites planning West Village Dallas, TX seemed to like it mighty fine being pet friendly and all.

Order up for a city near you: a baker's dozen of them Texas Doughnuts, with amenity sprinkles on top. Much obliged!


Here in America we all know 'what' they are. Lewis Mumford captured eloquently 'why' they are:

"The suburb served as an asylum for the preservation of illusion. Here domesticity could prosper, oblivious of the pervasive regimentation beyond. This was not merely a child-centered environment; it was based on a childish view of the world, in which reality was sacrificed to the pleasure principle."


The sensuous lie.
A succubus to art and craft, a visually stimulating form associated with quality of detail and permanence, that manifests neither.

The old Modernists answer to avoid kitsch was to toss beauty in the rubbish bin. Contemporary Modernists have dragged beauty back out, yet only to desecrate her, propagating sham works devoid of meaning.


Its the buzzword of sustainability in urban planning circles. Funny, it doesn't look very sustainable. I suppose the idea is to make the automobile traffic so damn congested that people just give up and walk instead?

"My density has brought me to you. What I meant to say was...I'm your density. I mean, your destiny." - George McFly


After you have constructed the building as huge as legally possible upon exhausting every variance, filling the entire city block, you can play architectural pretend by introducing 'hyphens', setbacks that fool everyone into thinking that its really a bunch of separate buildings.

Yippie, make-believe, so convincing...


Just when you thought you've exhausted every Modernist architectural "-ism", ideology, another one pops up. This one is better known as DE STIJL, Dutch for "The Style". It promoted a "pure" architecture reduced to the bare minima.

Colours: the primaries of red, blue, yellow as well as monochrome black, white and greys. Form: lines and rectilinear planes that orient only horizontally or vertically. No diagonals, no curves.


The obliteration of Puritanical stereotypes of division of public and private space. Former delineated enclosures such as the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom are released as interchangeable forms to fulfill bodily functions. Key party anyone?


Modernism goes mainstream when an "International Style" was unveiled in 1932 at the Museum for Modern Art in Manhattan, NY. What made the this style "international"? It certainly did not embrace the millennia of accumulated traditions of many nations and peoples from across the globe. In stark contrast, the International Style enforced the complete extinguishment of any lingering artifacts of human culture. The new doctrine dictated that "Form" was to follow only practical "Functions". It might have been more appropriately called the Extranational Style, as it reflected an aesthetic beyond the influence of any nation or culture.


No folks, this is no Carcassonne. More like a contemporary self imposed golden ghetto, the illusion of a protected compound that only serves to severe oneself from the greater community.

Contributed by Patrick Webb

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Architectural Word of the Day; 131 - 140


The Greek word 'tholus' (θόλος) originally meaning 'dome', has long since been extended to include a circular structure, particularly of the colonnaded variety. The memorial to Mary Baker Eddy in Cambridge, MA provides a pristine example. 


The dressing of masonry where all of the arrises or edges are in the same plane whilst the facing if left rough, simply dressed with a pitching chisel. 


In Italy it refers to a public space enclosed or nearly enclosed by buildings. We inherited the equivalent "place" from the French. Somehow it doesn't sound nearly as exotic.

As a child I always thought it amazing you could get a pizza in the piazza.

PIAZZA (Charleston)

Pronounced Pee-OZ-ah locally, the side portico is a distinctly Charlestonian feature. Typically running the side length of the home with multiple doors opening to the interior, the open air porch takes advantage of the cooler breezes coming off the water in an effective attempt to beat the summer heat.

I like to think of them as the private country clubs of the landed gentry, a comfortable place for Charleston high society to mingle and philosophize over a chilled drink.

The bulging out or pillowing ("pulvinus" is literally the Latin word for "cushion") of a moulding element, most commonly the frieze band of the Ionic order specifically referred to as a "pulvinated frieze".


In a classical liberal arts program these are the "three paths" that prepare the student for the deeper studies of the quadrivium. A simplified description is as follows:

GRAMMAR - the mechanics of language

LOGIC - the mechanics of thought

RHETORIC - the use of grammar and logic to instruct or persuade

Contributed by Patrick Webb