Erik Vertainen, the project architect for Alvar Aalto’s 1970 Mount Angel Abbey Library in Oregon, describes Aalto’s office. Vertainen surveys each phase of Aalto’s architectural development from early neoclassical work, through more colorful, modulated forms, to prismatic forms. Vertainen stresses the influence of the Finnish landscape and climate, and Aalto’s humanistic approach, which considered “the eye and the ear.” Vertainen discusses numerous Aalto projects from the 1930s through the 1970s, including the Paimio Sanatorium (1932), the Villa Mairea (1939), and Aalto’s Town Center for Seinajoki (1959-1967). Vertainen considers the Town Center “one of Aalto’s great masterpieces.”
Videos | Yearly Archives1981 (11)
Bud Goldstone, a retired Rockwell International engineer discusses the technologies that emerged from the aerospace industry, focusing on inventions developed between Rockwell and NASA during the Space Shuttle program. Speaking of NASA, Goldstone says “It’s the only branch of the government that’s worth a damn, really.” He shows a silent film of a space flight with commentary by astronauts Robert Crippen and John Young. He mentions the NASA Tech Briefs, a quarterly publication which describes new technologies developed by the aerospace program. Goldstone emphasizes the availability of this information to public and the opportunities to make money based on these inventions. He talks about the largest, most beneficial technologies from the space program: integrated circuits, cryogenic insulation, gas turbines, and NASA’s NASTRAN computer program. Goldstone details spin-off products which resulted from the space program, such as “Sound Guard,” originally developed as a spray for motors, that is now sprayed on vinyl records to protect and improve sound quality.
Herman Hertzberger explains his approach of deploying ordinary rather than extraordinary elements as a device for giving the user responsibility to finish the design. He speaks of the importance of accommodating the user instead of impressing them with a specific purpose determined by the architect. To this end, he gives examples of his open-ended projects including a Montessori school and a development of two experimental houses, both in Delft. Hertzberger goes on to present a home for the elderly in Amsterdam as an example of organizing building elements with specific knowledge of the psychological associations that the users will project on the results. He also shows how the placement and articulation of columns in his Utrecht Concert Hall project refer to Le Corbusier’s Dom-ino House concept and Chomsky’s writings on structuralism. The video ends abruptly before the end of the lecture.
Peter Pearce discusses the work of his office and the research that led him into the design and fabrication of space frame structures. Pearce reviews his initial research into natural systems, from which he derived applications for full-scale architectural proposals. He presents a selection of his built projects, including space frame proposals for roof, playground and building structures.
Peter Cook discusses the Archigram Group and shows photographs of various building. He talks about the Paradise Caf? designed by Gunnar Asplund at the 1930 Stockholm Exhibition, and how the building got him interested in architecture. He explains the “the necessity of people,” who are “more audacious than one’s self.” Cook also discusses the heroic and practical aspects of architecture, and his projects; Plug-in City, Lump, and Sponge. He makes an analogy to patchwork quilting and architecture. He talks about a book he is currently working on a book about Arcadia, and gives examples of the portmanteau and its connection to the Arcadia project and his own work. Cook mentions the use of mesh as both a primary and secondary material, and shows several competition entries.
Shelly Kappe interviews Ron Herron and Peter Cook, who candidly discuss their experiences, influences, backgrounds, and expectations. The two give personal renditions of Archigram’s formation and significance, as well as, their view of the current (1981) international architecture scene. Both discuss their projects and the playfulness that dictates their strategies, simultaneously describing the give and take relationship between student and teacher.
Jan Sircus lectures on the Centre Georges Pompidou, giving a detailed view of the project with a plethora of architectural precedents intended to argue against the then popular critique that the Pompidou was not French in character. Sircus speaks at length on the concept of the building, the story of its design and construction, it’s tectonic makeup as well as it’s urban and cultural role in Paris. He additionally discusses his work with Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano on the project as well as the role of politics and public opinion in the creation of the building.
Steve Badanes chronicles the work to date of the design-build studio, Jersey Devil, a collective of designers. Often living on site in temporary constructions, the members of Jersey Devil have transitioned from early work with inflatables, to mobile architecture, to more established residential projects. Their projects are tied together by an interest in passive and active solar energy, and a focus on materiality and on the fly ingenuity.