Thursday, January 22, 2009

Out with the Old, In with the New

I don't really want to get into politics here, but I do need to say: thank GOD that humiliating ignoramus is finally gone. Worst. President. Ever.

I also cannot believe that Jan Kaplický is dead. I mean, he was 71, and people die younger than that all the time, but it came as such a shock to me. I've long been a huge fan of Future Systems, the long-standing original team of which only just disbanded. I'd gotten so used to hearing about the soap opera surrounding his National Library in Prague. On top of it all, he'd only just had a baby. It's a great loss to the world of Architecture.

People are rallying together demanding the Library be built as designed:

--Image courtesy Building Design Online.
I guess I'm not all that surprised it caused controversy. It is a little bit goofy looking and has been likened to the Brain Slugs of Futurama fame:

--Image courtesy The Infosphere.
Man, do I ever love that show.
But his library was decidedly futuristic and showed a whole new way of conceiving structure and enclosure. I'd not read anything about Kaplický's theories on color, and perhaps his designs would have caused less grimacing if their startling forms were clad in more restrained hues. In any case, it appears his concert hall in České Budějovice (gezundheit), Czech Republic will, thankfully, be built posthumously:

--Images courtesy The Architects' Journal.
The best thing about his work, though, is that it's just fun and delightful. He rejected these dubious notions that new architecture has to be tragically hip or pretentious and stoic. His work often put a smile on my face, and I think he owed no one any apologies for that.

Jan Kaplický

Zaha Hadid has also unveiled two astonishing new projects. One is an extension of the Port Authority in Antwerp: 

--Images courtesy Building.

But her new library in Vienna literally made me moan out loud in architectural ecstasy:

--Images courtesy Architectural Record.
Holy crap is that gorgeous.  Seriously, this woman is some kind of crazy genius. First, I want to have her over for a glass of wine and play her some music. Then I want to interview her for Architextures. And of course it's my dream to design and build my own revolutionary weekend house on the southern side of a mountain about an hour or so north of New York City. But my third home, let's say maybe outside London or Berlin, will definitely have to be designed by Hadid, I don't care how much she charges me.

Lastly, the Municipal Art Society has been talking quite a bit about what's going to happen to Coney Island.  One group of designs was offered up by Columbia architecture student Eduardo McIntosh:

He calls this "Parasitic Architecture." The idea is that these flexible units would sort of attach onto and grow out of the Coney Island piers to provide living and retail spaces as needed. 
I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this before. Not as much conceptually, it's clearly evolved to some degree from Archigram, but his aesthetic is fantastic. It blurs the distinctions between architecture and large machinery, something I've long been fascinated by, and yet it feels somehow biological at the same time. It's truly a state-of-the-art approach to architectural design. I am convinced McIntosh is very much going to be someone to watch in the coming decades.

©2009, Ryan Witte

No comments: