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Posts tagged ‘architecture’

Ray and Charles Eames

My daughter and I had a debate this morning on the telephone. The previous night, I had sent her an interview of Charles and Ray Eames done by Arlene Francis for the Arlene Francis Home Show in 1956.

See video below Ray Eames shows up 1:38 minutes into a 4.25 minute video.

I went off how the video was the epitome of sexism in American society of the 1950’s. That there was something patronizing and pejorative by calling her the “interesting and able woman behind the man.” Eames looks to the floor, seemingly embarrassed. And Arlene Francis doesn’t seem to know how to balance the interview; at times completely ignoring Ray and then diverting attention back to her.

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Fougeron Architecture in Vogue!

Fougeron Architecture’s Fall House was recently featured in a photoshoot for Vogue.

 

The photoshoot was titled Beauty and the Beast and surrounded the trend of “earth tones, suede and high-laced boots are more than just Bohemian throwbacks–they’re essential pieces for a night on the prowl.”

 

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OUTRAGE: On Moma

Does anyone remember the Outrage/Delight sections of The Architectural Review? We should bring that back.

In case you missed it, the New York MOMA is planning on tearing down a 12 year old building. The building in question, designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, housed the American Folk Art Museum. After going bankrupt, MOMA bought the Williams/Tsien property which was adjacent.

I have a lot of feelings on this decision and none of them are positive.

From a strictly reason perspective, this seems like a waste. This building isn’t even a teenager, and now, in a time in which we lament the economy, we’ve decided that it should be torn down. It is expensive to design and build something. There are hundreds of jobs, thousands of hours and millions of dollars that go into a project of this magnitude.

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Hercule Poirot and Modernism

So who says you can’t learn something from TV?

I have been continuing my marathon of “Poirot” episodes and movies. I can’t seem to resist the weird Belgian detective of Agatha Christie fame. But, in my defense, it was raining this weekend. (If you missed my last post on Poirot, you should check it out now)

One of the best things about the series, which I did not touch on in my last post, is the great locations where the episodes are shot.  I don’t often look to television for architectural inspiration but Poirot’s apartment alone is a gem: a great deco, mid-rise with a bathroom you could have sworn was built in 2002 and not 1922.

The houses in the series are always owned by the wealthy English families. And we’re talking about a time in which homes are the ultimate emblems of success and heritage. Yet, we find something so refreshing about the modern architecture. It’s a statement! You don’t need to be an earl and live in Downton Abbey!

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The phenomena of signature buildings without a signature.

New Year, same blog and more complaining!

Maybe when you get old, you just get cranky and think everything is worse than before and it isn’t! Maybe one day I will look back at this rant and realize I was wrong!

The issue is that  I find myself looking at a lot of architecture, all over the world, and I can’t say I am impressed. The irony of the urge to rant using phrases like “in my day” is not lost on me.

I’ve talked before about signatures (whether it be in jeans, in food, in fashion) – greatness comes from an appreciation of the rules and then an ability to break them. The same, of course, goes for architecture.  It was only a few months ago that I was complaining about the dwell light phenomena!

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12 Things Architecture Has Taught Me

  1. It is slow, inversely slow to the pace of emails you’ll receive, documents you’ll have to read. As everything else gets faster, it gets harder to build and it takes more time.
  2. Making space is complicated; making good space is enormously difficult.
  3. You get better at it with time, practice really does make “almost” perfect
  4. It is addictive, an intense high, when something works and you know you hit a home run
  5. Failing is the most brutal, the evidence remains there forever.
  6. Architects are not the friendliest bunch: too competitive and insecure
  7. BB, don’t TT. Be bold and don’t twinkle toe. Wise words borrowed from my UC Berkeley professor Marvin Buchanan.
  8. Being a woman does not means I am the interior designer. Thank you vey much.
  9. Also, why is a 2×4 actually 1.5 x 3.5? Or a 2×8 is 1.5x7.25? Absurd! Give me metric any day My favorite example: There is such a thing an 13/32. In the field a carpenter refers to a 32nd as plus or minus a major fraction. For instance, 13/32 is 1/32 less than 14/32 or 7/16, so it is called “7/16 minus” and 11/32 is 1/32 more than 10/32 or 5/16, so it is called “5/16 plus.”
  10. I have to worry about birds and glass, a lot, and then there are the endangered species like red-legged frogs and the steelhead trout, and the invasive species like Cape Ivy that all influence the design and its footprint. I should not have skipped those science classes in college.
  11. If you invite architects over for dinner, don’t set a place for your kid they will be bored out of their mind.
  12. Every day the quote, “we shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us” – Winston Churchill, becomes more and more apt.

You can’t find us in binders, Mitt, but don’t worry – we’ll find you.

 If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely — and the right to be heard. – First Lady Hilary Clinton at the U.N. Women’s Conference in Beijing (1995)

Last week, I participated in a panel at the AIA San Francisco conference called The Missing 32%.The panel sought, through discussion, to better understand and improve the fate of women architects. The 32% refers to the women who disappear from the profession after graduating from an architecture program.

I want to mention that, initially, I was not one of the invited speakers. And when I first found out about the event, I mentally noted that they had no speakers that were women, sole owners of their architectural firms. But I led it slide off my back–I was not going to broach the subject with the AIA.

I don’t know why I let it go at first. I have always been extremely outspoken, some might even say vociferous, about the need for equality and diversity in architecture and have never hesitated to try and shake things up. I grew up a feminist. I have never doubted for a minute that I was as good as the guys and as deserving.

I started my own firm more than 25 years back. I have a successful design business and I am old enough to feel that I have nothing more to prove. I know that I have spent the last few decades proving that a woman can run her own practice.

But fate intervened. I received an email from the AIA California Committee asking for suggestions on where to find new members of a committee I was on.  The list of prospective broke down to 8 men and 3 women (28% women).  It was so normal for women to be the minority.

 The fact that this AIA official does not even think that diversity on a prominent AIA committee is a priority, if not an obligation, is typical. After all, we only make up 18% of licensed architects but that number becomes even smaller, even less significant, in smaller firms, on committees, within bureaucracy.

I knew then that the women’s panel was too important to pass-up.

But I had to make the calls (well, the emails) and contact the powers that be. This is the reality of being a woman in architecture, day by day, event by event, I trek through this life looking for ways to show that women are as good as men and deserve the same opportunities, the same design awards, the same committee positions.

If you want to have more power in your firm, if you want more opportunities in the work place, than you must ask for it. Sometimes you can ask quietly, sometimes a little more forcefully, and sometimes you will have to shout. Sometimes, you might even have to grab the opportunities yourself, like I did with the panel.

If you want to see more women rise in the rank of leadership in architecture and in the AIA, you need willpower and perseverance. And you can never forget that is a daily battle and a daily decision to make the world a better place for women tomorrow.

And if you’re feeling hesitant, step 1 is easy: voting for anyone but Mitt Romney.

Fougeron Architecture in the NYTimes!

Delighted to let you blogfollowers know that a project I did in Potrero Hill (San Francisco) is featured in today’s New York Times!

Real archiblogging to resume on Monday! 

A Classic

What Mr. Gehry is saying, then, is that there can be beauty in such harsh elements when they are carefully wrought and precisely put together, that they can create a new kind of order which can yield as much physical ease and comfort as a conventional house. – Paul Goldberger

I just got back from LA where I went to the Gehry House for the first time in almost fifteen years. If you don’t know, the existing house was bought in Los Angeles the 1970s and then remodeled by Gehry. It is iconic modernism and deconstructivism. It has won the 25-year AIA 2012 Building award.

Frank Gehry’s architecture comes with a slew of descriptors: innovative, sensuous, modern. But the Gehry House in Los Angeles is a classic. And I know it’s hard to believe that one could ever call a Frank Gehry house a classic. But there is something so bold and yet so right about this remodel. Nothing fussy, nothing dated, even 25 years later.

I like it even better now than I did when I was a young architect because now I can actually understand just what real courage and vision it took to complete a project like this.

When Gehry purchased the property, the original house was not torn down. Instead, he skillfully wove his architecture around and against the original building. The old and new are now in a dialogue with each other, loudly but also joyfully and whimsically. Gehry had the brains, balls and restraint (an undervalued trait in architecture) to make something this good.

What a relief to see no fake historicism! No egomaniac modernism! And not even a hint of Dwell modernism (you know the kind: flat roof with extended overhangs and lots of Ipe siding! Gehry looked to innovate, to create, and not to replicate.

And despite what you may think, money was an object for Gehry. The chain-link fence or corrugated metal were inelegant, inexpensive materials for an elegant design. Cheap doesn’t always mean bad and besides, Frank Gehry still lives in the house. The project has clearly served his family well.

I will not bore you with anymore “archibabble,” considering the fact that many architectural critics have written much more insightful articles than I could about this project.

I just want you all to remember the next time you go to LA go check it out;  it will knock your socks—or flip flops (it is LA after all)–off.

For more information and quotes, keep reading after the jump.

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Guest post: The Children of Architecture

This guest post was written by my daughter, who really needed a good use of all her post-college free time.

I used the title to make this blog post seem deceivingly deep, as if I’m ruminating on the status of architecture in the twenty-first century or if the progeny masters programs produce are really up to snuff.

No, no. I’m talking about the children of architects. Really, I’m talking about myself and the ways which my mother’s career choice has made my life unpleasant.

1. Dinner conversations are boring

Look, yes, architects have friends who aren’t also architects. My mother’s social circles include interior designers, landscapers, furniture designers, contractors, engineers and artists! But architects like to hang out with each other and when you get architects together, all they can ever do is talk about architecture. Sometimes, I just want to interrupt conversations with  “WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON ISRAEL”  so I can stop hearing the word “urbanization.”

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