To Kenneth Frampton’s critique of architectural waste as exemplified by OMA’s CCTV Headquarters in Beijing, Eric Owen Moss proposes the exterior of Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building, initiating a debate on excess, elegance, structure, and representation in early modernist and 21st century architecture. To Moss’s suggestion that the idea of critical regionalism might be a non sequitur, Frampton responds that while vernacular traditions are no longer accessible, architects can use traditional responses to local conditions to respond constructively to the trauma of modernization. They discuss whether there is any possibility for revolutionary architecture today. The debate concludes with questions from the audience concerning the CCTV, the new Barnes Foundation building, clients, and current architecture in Los Angeles.
After a brief homage to Raimund Abraham, Kenneth Frampton outlines the trajectory of critical regionalism, from the first edition of Modern Architecture: a critical history (1980), through “Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance” (1983), and discusses some projects that illustrate his ideas by Álvaro Siza, Tadao Ando, and Jørn Utzon. Frampton discusses how he began to formulate his ideas on more recent architectural developments in the 1994 reprint of Modern Architecture. He emphatically rejects the Beijing CCTV Headquarters (2012) and National Stadium (2008) as irrational and unethical. As an alternative to this kind of globalist practice, Frampton surveys contemporary projects by architects working in developing nations, including Jan Olav Jensen, Haikkinen-Komonen Architects, Hollmén-Reuter-Sandman Architects, Dick van Gameren Architecten, Richard Murphy Architects, and Siza’s Iberê Camargo Museum in Brazil (2008). Frampton concludes by discussing Bijoy Jain and Studio Mumbai, stressing how projects such as the Palmyra house (2007) demonstrate a strategy of integrating design craft which might provide a viable path between globalist phantasmagoria and uncritical traditionalism.
Joan Ockman begins a discussion of Arne Jacobsen’s SAS Royal Hotel, Copenhagen with a description of what it would have been like to arrive in the lobby in its original state in the 1960s. After reviewing Jacobsen’s work before the hotel, she discusses the site, design and initial hostile response in Copenhagen. Ockman discusses Jacobsen’s control of every element of the hotel’s design, while pointing out moments when Jacobsen subverts the seemlessness of the thoroughly-designed environment with paradox and wit. She concludes by speculating that Jacobsen’s hotel might have been a source for the bewildering modernist locations of Jacques Tati’s Playtime.
Michael Maltzan discusses recent residential projects, including the Pittman/Dowell House in La Crescenta (2009), and two affordable housing projects in downtown L.A.: the New Carver Apartments (2009), and the Star Apartments (2013). He reviews recent large-scale projects, including Playa Vista Central Park (2010), the proposal for a pier for St. Petersburg (2013) and One Santa Fe (2014). Maltzan concludes with the Sixth Street Viaduct project (2015).
Sarah Whiting begins by identifying a trend in current architecture in which both theory and the object are minimized. She argues this betrays a simplistic sense of object and context, and autonomy and relations. As a counter-example, she discusses IIT campus within the context of Chicago’s South Side, and her own projects–including a facade study for twelve towers in Xingsha, and entries in the Kaohsiung Pop Music Center competition (2010), and the Taichung Cultural Center (2013), and the Golden House (2010).
After laying out his theoretical interest in flat ontology and how a building hits the ground, Tom Wiscombe discusses surfaces becoming volumes, illustrating different strategies with projects including the Busan Opera House (2011), and the MOCA pavilion (2013). Under the category of Objects wrapped in objects Wiscombe talks about his Urban Beach for P.S. 1 (2003), the National Library for the Czech Republic (2007), the redevelopment of docks in Kaohsiung (2010), and a housing project for New Rochelle (2013). Wiscombe concludes with a discussion of projects that explore tattooing, Lo Monaco House, Lugano (2012), the Diamond City scheme for Adelaide (2013), and the National Center for Contemporary Arts in Moscow (2013).
Joe Day talks with Eric Owen Moss about his new book Corrections & Collections: Architectures for Art and Crime, an investigation of two building types focused on choreographing vision–art museums and prisons. The first half of their conversation is focused on museums, the meaning of transgression, and the dialogue between architecture and art. The second half focuses on prisons, commerce-centered urbanism, the durability of the the museum- and prison-anchored urbanism Day discusses in his book.
After noting that editors usually let their publications do their speaking, Cynthia Davidson discusses Inland Architect, which she edited from 1983, as an attempt to engage the discussion on postmodernism and deconstructivism, while retaining a regional focus. She recounts how the annual Any conferences led to the launch of Any magazine in 1993. The goal was an activating, not reacting magazine, with provocative themed issues. Despite not wanting to be involved with another magazine, Davidson describes how the debacle over the World Trade Center competition led her to launch Log in 2003. Where Any was activist, Log was intended to observe. The bare-bones design by Michael Beruit, and paucity of images are a deliberate attempt to resist the seductive power of images. She concludes by arguing that her magazines are not two-dimensional, but vividly 3D platforms for discussion.