Archive for the 'Architecture & Design' Category

21
Mar
08

“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.”

“I believe in God,  only I spell it Nature.”

– Frank Lloyd Wright

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Wright’s “Auldbrass” in South Carolina

21
Jan
08

Anchored to the Infinite

Anchored to the Infinite

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The builder who first bridged Niagara’s gorge,
Before he swung his cable, shore to shore,
Sent out across the gulf his venturing kite
Bearing a slender cord for unseen hands
To grasp upon the further cliff and draw
A greater cord, and then a greater yet;
Till at the last across the chasm swung
The cable then the mighty bridge in air!

So we may send our little timid thought
Across the void, out to God’s reaching hands—
Send out our love and faith to thread the deep—
Thought after thought until the little cord
Has greatened to a chain no chance can break,
And we are anchored to the Infinite!

Edwin Markham (1852 – 1940)

Once internationally famous as the author of the poem “The Man with the Hoe,” Markham was a popular American literary figure during the first half of the twentieth century whose works espoused progressive social and spiritual beliefs.

Source: The Shoes of Happiness and Other Poems (1929).

18
Dec
07

A Brief Guide to Modernism

“That’s not it at all, that’s not what I meant at all”
–from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T.S. Eliot

The English novelist Virginia Woolf declared that human nature underwent a fundamental change “on or about December 1910.” The statement testifies to the modern writer’s fervent desire to break with the past, rejecting literary traditions that seemed outmoded and diction that seemed too genteel to suit an era of technological breakthroughs and global violence.

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“On or about 1910,” just as the automobile and airplane were beginning to accelerate the pace of human life, and Einstein’s ideas were transforming our perception of the universe, there was an explosion of innovation and creative energy that shook every field of artistic endeavor. Artists from all over the world converged on London, Paris, and other great cities of Europe to join in the ferment of new ideas and movements: Cubism, Constructivism, Futurism, Acmeism, and Imagism were among the most influential banners under which the new artists grouped themselves. It was an era when major artists were fundamentally questioning and reinventing their art forms: Matisse and Picasso in painting, James Joyce and Gertrude Stein in literature, Isadora Duncan in dance, Igor Stravinsky in music, and Frank Lloyd Wright in architecture.

Continue reading ‘A Brief Guide to Modernism’

27
May
07

BROOKLYN BRIDGE: NIGHTFALL

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By D. B. Steinman

Against the city’s gleaming spires,
Above the ships that ply the stream,
A bridge of haunting beauty stands –
Fulfillment of an artist’s dream.

From deep beneath the tidal flow
Two granite towers proudly rise
To hold the pendent span aloft –
A harp against the sunset skies.

Each pylon frames, between its shafts,
Twin Gothic portals pierced with blue
And crowned with magic laced design
Of lines and curves that Euclid knew.

The silver strands that form the net
Are beaded with the stars of night
Lie jewelled dewdrops that adorn
A spiderweb in morning light.

Between the towers reaching high
A cradle for the stars is swung;
And from this soaring cable curve
A latticework of steel is hung.

Around the bridge in afterglow
The city’s lights like fireflies gleam,
And eyes look up to see the span –
A poem stretched across the stream


From George Gesner:
Eminent bridge builder David B. Steinman dabbled in poetry. Steinman and his firm was also in charge of the major rehabilitation of the Brooklyn Bridge in the mid 1900s. Steinman passed on in 1960 and his firm Steinman is now part of the Parsons Transportation Group. From the company archives,A poem D.B wrote about the Brooklyn Bridge, a bridge that was an inspiration to him throughout his life.

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10
Oct
06

The Architecture Of Happiness

It’s a good idea, when looking at an apartment tower, a bungalow or a bridge, to strike up a conversation with it. The Chrysler Building, the Trump Tower, your own home and the furniture in it: all of them are dying to have a little chat. Even the chilliest-looking modern building has feelings, Alain de Botton insists in “The Architecture of Happiness,” and oodles to tell us about ourselves, the kind of life we want and the kind of people we want to be.

All architecture and design is intensely personal for Mr. de Botton. Buildings have temperaments, vices and virtues. They look upon the world with an almost human face. A pillar holding up a freeway overpass can strike Mr. de Botton’s sensitive eye as a sedentary, cheerful woman, while another seems likes a punctilious, nervous accountant. The letter “f,” in sleek Helvetica type, exudes optimism, while the same letter, in Poliphilus font, seems sleepy, sheepish and pensive.

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“In essence, what works of design and architecture talk to us about is the kind of life that would most appropriately unfold within and around them,” Mr. de Botton writes. “They tell us of certain moods that they seek to encourage and sustain in their inhabitants. While keeping us warm and helping us in mechanical ways, they simultaneously hold out an invitation for us to be specific sorts of people.”

Architecture reflects back to human beings their best selves and their highest aspirations. For those who know how to listen and see, teacups and skyscrapers “speak of visions of happiness.”

“The Architecture of Happiness” is the latest installment in Mr. de Botton’s continuing philosophical pub crawl. He has mused over Proust in “How Proust Can Change Your Life,” the human urge to see new places in “The Art of Travel” and the perplexities of social class in “Status Anxiety.” The approach is always the same. Mr. de Botton offers a linked series of meditations and wispy aperçus. He swaddles banal observations in inspirational greeting-card prose. He moons. He spins intellectual cotton candy.

Continue reading ‘The Architecture Of Happiness’

07
Oct
06

Space For The Soul

Parks and Gardens are also essential to human social and psycological well-being. Without access to grass and trees, says Frances Kuo, we humans are very different creatures. For the past decade, Kuo and her colleagues at the Landscape and Human Halth Laboratory of lthe University of Illinios have researched the effects of green space on city dwellers. The team carries out many of its studies in Chicago’s public housing neighbourhoods, where barren expanses of hardscape reflect the old view that vegetation is an extravagence the city can,t afford.

One sequence of studies focussed on residents of the Robert Taylor Homes, a cluster of 28 identical high rise buildings, now mostly torn down that formed the nation’s largest publilc housing development. Some of the buildings were surrounded by grass and trees, others by concrete and asphalt, Kuo and her team discovered that people living in buildings near green areas had a stronger sense of community and cooped better with everyday stress and hardship. They were less aggressive and less violent, they performed better on tests of concentration, they managed their problems more effectively.

They also felt safer—and with good reason. In one of its more startling findings, the team upended the common belief that barren spaces are safer than green ones. A study of violent crime in a housing project of 98 apartment buildings showed that in and around buildings near vegetation that didn’t hamper visibility there were only half as many crimes as in areas near no vegetation. The greener the surroundings, says Kuo, the lower the crime rate against people and property. The team also found less litter and graffiti in natural landscapes.

Continue reading ‘Space For The Soul’




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