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Architecture Now!

Vol. 2

By Philip Jodidio, Taschen, 2003, pp. 352, $14.99

Bibliotheca Alexandrina by Sn°hetta

Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt, Sn°hetta, 2002

By Carter B. Horsley

This fine international survey of important architectural projects has superb photography and short but pertinent texts by Philip Jodidio, the prolific architecture writer.

The texts are presented in English, German and French, which is nice, but the font size is small and the English text is printed in a light blue that is not very easy to read for some people who need glasses. The book also includes the architects' addresses, phone numbers, e-mails and website addresses.

Sn°hetta, the Norwegian architectural firm that won a competition to design the cultural center at Ground Zero in Manhattan, is represented by its great Bilbiotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt that was opened in 2002. Sn°hetta won an international competition for the project in 1989 that was sponsored by UNESCO and the Arab Republic of Egypt. The competition had 524 entries from 52 countries.

Sn°hetta's design hasa tilted, curved, and rough-hewn stone wall inscribed with many symbols Ó la hieroglyph. The main structure has an opening for a pedestrian bridge that connects with the University of Alexandria. The original library was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C. and was eventually destroyed in the third and fourth centuries A.D.

Milwaukee Art Museum by Calatrava

Milwaukee Art Museum, Santiago Calatrava, 2001

Mr. Jodidio provides the following commentary about the Milwaukee Art Museum project by Santiago Calatrava that was completed in 2001:

"The Milwaukee Art Museum was housed in a 1957 structure designed by Eero Saarinen as a War Memorial overlooking Lake Michigan. The architect David Kahler added a large slab structure to the Museum in 1975. In 1994, the Trustees of the Milwaukee Art Museum considered a total of seventy-seven architects for a 'new grand entrance, a point of orientation for visitors, and a redefinition of the museum's identity through the creation of a strong image.' Santiago Calatrava won the competition with his proposal for a twenty-seven meter high glass and steel reception hall shaded by a moveable sunscreen (now bpatized the'Burke Brise-Soleil')."

Hypo Alpe-Adria Center by Morphosis

Hypo Alpe-Adria Center, Klagenfurt, Austria, Morphosis, 2000

Mr. Jodidio observes that Morphosis attempted to blend the "typology of the city in one direction, and a typology of the country and landscape in the other direction." "They go on to affirm," he continued, "that 'its dynamic juxtaposition of volumes evokes shifting tectonic plates, yet it strives to establish nodes of stability within turbulence. Colliding and interpenetrating fragments are themselves incomplete, forming a network of referents that extends beyond the limits of the project. The forms are triangulated around an open pedestrian forum, and the entrance is marked by the invitational gesture of a large canopy. Within the central complex, departments are organized around a sky-lit courtyard that allows light to penetrate down to the Branch Bank on the ground floor. Perched upon leading pilotis, a three-story section on the south face seems to surge skyward....'"

Aix-en-Provence TGV station by Duthilleul

Aix-en-Provence TGV Railroad Station, France, Jean-Marie Duthilleul, 2001

Jean-Marie Duthilleul has participated in the design of three train stations on the Mediterranean line of the TGV. The sloping form of the station at Aix-en-Provence is meant to echo the shape of Montagne Saint-Victoire, a mountain often painted by CÚzanne. Mr. Jodidio notes that "Duthillleul has campaigned actively to introduce more generous spaces into France's railway stations and to give them a transparency vis-Ó-vis their environment. He makes interesting use here of wooden columns supporting the canopy above the tracks."

M-House by Michael Jantzen

M-House, Gorman, California, by Michael Jantzen, 2000

The M-House in Gorman, California that was designed in 2000 by Michael Jantzen looks like a Terminator battleship or a Looney Tunes jacks-in-a-box. Mr. Jodidio more properly describes it as "a modular, relocatable, environmentally responsive, alternative housing system."

"'It's not just a funny-looking building,' says Michael Jantzen, who describes himself more as an artist than an architect. 'I'm rethinking the whole notion of living space,' he says. What he calls "Relocatable M-vironments' are made of a 'wide variety of manipulable components that can be connected in many different ways to a matrix of modular support frames.' He writes that the 'M-House, which is made from the M-vironment system, consists of a series of rectangular panels that are attached with hingers to an open space frame grid of seven interlocking cubes. The panels are hinged to the cubes in either a horizontal or a vertical orientation. The hinges allow the panels to fold into, or out of the curb frames to perform various functions.' This version of the house was built with nonflammable composite concrete panels hinged to a steel tube frame. Jantzen built this one-bedroom cottahge entirely by himself on a site northwest of Los Angeles. The structure is designed to withstand high winds and earthquakes, and can be assembled or disassembled by a crew of four in one week."

Wall House  2 by Hedjuk

Wall House 2, Groningen, The Netherlands, John Hejduk, 2001

John Hejduk, who died in 2000, was the well-known dean of architecture at Cooper Union in New York where he designed a major renovation of the historic building. He is best known for is "Wall Houses" of which more than 40 were designed between 1967 and 1973, but only one was built, Wall House 2 in Groningen, The Netherlands, and it was completed the year after his death. Mr. Jodidio explains that Niek Verdonk, a Dutch architect and former chief planer of Groningen, and Thomas Muller, a former student of Hejduk's, completed the project, which was originally planned for Ridgefield, Connecticut. The project, Mr. Jodidio observes, was increased 20 percent in size to comply with local building codes.

Other projects included in the book include the Roden Crater Project near Flagstaff, Arizona that was completed in 2006 by James Turrell, Magna in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, the Prada boutique on Broadway in New York by Rem Koolhaas, the DG Bank in Berlin by Frank O. Gehry, the Eyebeam Institute project by Diller Scofidio,the Komyo-Ji Temple in Saijo, Ehime, Japan by Tadao Ando, and the Confluence Museum in Lyon, France, by Coop Himmelb(l)au.

Click here to order the book from amazon.com for 32 percent off its $14.99 list price.

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