Elevations and Sections of the API,courtesy of American Press Institute Archives
Category: modern architecture
A rather modest project, in terms of size, for Breuer, it had his characteristic textured concrete walls and windows recessed in concrete frames, evoking as always the three dimensional quality of concrete and his designs. It had a nice sense of movement as it undulated along the crest of the land and a quiet dignity. And it has a pleasing tautness. Reston,VA.
Designed by Moshe Safdie. Completed 2011.Certified Green Building
One American architectural tradition that continues since the early 20th century Beaux Arts glory days is building powerful libraries,often with great interiors, by prominent architects.McKim,Mead and White’s Boston Public Library with addition by Philip Johnson; Mies van der Rohe’s firm in Washington,DC; Rem Koohlaas in Seattle; Thomas Beeby did the Harold Washington Library in Chicago;Carrere and Hasting’s 42nd Street Library in New York City; and Carnegie Library in Washington,DC by Ackerman and Ross. Andrew Carnegie was a benefactor for the last two libraries,along with numerous small town libraries throughout the US.
Yamasaki, along with Edward Durrell Stone, designed some of the most unusual skyscrapers.
Often vaguely gothic, Yamasaki was trying to add a human scale or visual interest to these buildings.
(c)Bill Lebovich,all rights reserved,2014
The German Embassy is finishing a renovation of its Chancery Building, north of Georgetown. Designed by the prominent German architect Egon Eierman,the fifty year old building (1964) is a striking stepped, yet discrete building that fits well into its residential neighborhood. Eierman’s colleague, O.M. Ungers’s Ambassador’s residence, which is adjacent and perpendicular — with a respectful distance in between — to the Chancery,opened thirty years (1994) after the Chancery and is equally striking but could not be more different, making a bold, yet austere statement. (c)Bill Lebovich,all rights reserved, 2014.
In the late 1940s with construction completed in the early 1950s, the United Nations core buildings are cutting edge modernism predating Lever Brothers Building and Seagrams Building. But these two buildings get much more play in the architectural history books than the United Nations. Maybe it is because the UN Buildings were the result of a contentious international collaboration. Wallace Harrison was the chief of design, and his firm Harrison and Abramovitz did one of the later buildings. But LeCorbusieur and Neimeyer are generally credited as designers of the major building, the slab office building. Yet the other architects apparently wanted to limit LeCorbu’s influence and visibility. A more interesting designer than Frank Lloyd Wright, perhaps LeCorbu had too much ego and brilliance and the others wanted to knock him a peg. And Neimeyer was seen as too much a follower of LeCorbu.
Regardless, the slab and the assembly hall with curved top are a highly successful symbol of the New York skyline and of the UN. It was edgy when built and it remains edgy.
Two of the most important modern buildings stand nearly opposite each other; the Lever Brothers Building at 390 Park Ave. and the Seagrams Building at 375. The Lever Brothers Building, designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill and is slighter earlier (1952,completion) and Mies van der Rohe’s Seagrams is dated 1958. The later is probably the better known and more highly regarded. Mies violated the continuous facade line along the east side of Park Ave by setting his building much farther back and raised on a plinth. Combined with the bronze and gold tones of the glass and metal and squarish plan, the building was and remains a dramatic vision. But the Lever Brothers is more innovative as it broke with the tradition of buildings covering the entire footprint of the site. Instead, Bunshaft lifted on columns a two story massing that covered the site. The rest of the building is limited to a rectangular skyscraper with its narrow side facing the Avenue. But importantly, the smaller Lever Brothers facade is more attractively proportioned and more pleasing it the eye in comparison with the repetitiveness and heaviness of the decorative vertical I-beams and tall horizontal panels. Bunshaft created a building of human scale; van der Rohe apparently did not share that concern. (c)Bill Lebovich, all rights reserved,2014
Koolhaas, of Holland, is an architectural theorist, prolific designer, recipient of numerous architectural honors including the Pritzker Prize, and a professor of Architecture at Harvard. His designs are startlingly innovative, yet never at the expense of the user. In fact, the library interior is comforting, exciting.
(c)Bill Lebovich, all rights reserved,2014