Architect

Starchitect

Starchitect is a blend of two words and their definitions to create a new word.

The Starchitect (star –a architect) describes architects who have obtained celebrity status and fame within the community of architecture as well as become known amongst the general population.  This fame is often a result of architecture which is avant-guard, extremely creative, provocative, the charismatic or intense nature of the architect him or herself, and their unique work that pushes the envelope of modern architecture to the next level.

Since fame is dependent on the media and is designated by others – the starchitect is therefore a fleeting or permanent designation out of the control of the architect.  Sometimes this term is meant derogatorily and some architects have an opinion about it, such as Frank Gehry who stated in his interview with The Independent called Frank Gehry: ‘Don’t call me a starchitect’

“I don’t know who invented that f—ing word ‘starchitect’. In fact a journalist invented it, I think. I am not a ‘star-chitect’, I am an ar-chitect…”

Some well known starchitecture:

Some of the most well known starchitects include:

 

Is the ‘starchitect’ a new phenomenon or were architect’s historically famous and the media and pop culture packaged and ‘branded’ the architect in a way similar to movie celebrities to further romanticize the profession or popularize architecture again?

Related starchitect articles worth checking out:

Here Now, the Craziest Starchitect Projects of the Year by Curbed

The ‘Starchitect’ Effect on Condo Prices by The Wall Street Journal

Starchitects: Visionary Architects of the Twenty-first Century

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Learn more about Bjarke Ingels (B.I.G)

Bjarke Ingels

Bjarke Ingels was born in 1974 and founded B.I.G. (Bjarke Ingels Group) based in both Copenhagen and New York they are well known for innovative and nontraditional design ideas.  Together they work within the field of architecture, urbanism, research and development.

BIGB.I.G’s collective belief is

“A pragmatic utopian architecture that steers clear of the petrifying pragmatism of boring boxes and the naïve utopian ideas of digital formalism… By hitting the fertile overlap between pragmatic and utopia, we architects once again find the freedom to change the surface of our planet, to better fit contemporary life forms. In all our actions we try to move the focus from the small details to the BIG picture.”

Ingels is a large advocate of sustainable architecture and re-thinks the traditional – his work is playful and practical in many ways.  He has caught international attention for his thoughts and works, his most notable projects are:

  • VM Houses (2005), multi-family housing in V and M shaped apartment buildings;
  • Mountain Dwellings (2008), an extensive parking facility combined with terraced housing;
  • 8 House (2010), a large mixed-use housing development.
  • the REN Building, taking its form from the Chinese character for person 人 (“ren”) combining two buildings – one symbolic of mind and the other of body.

To learn more about how Bjarke Ingel’s brain works check out this collection of interviews and talks: 

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Bjarke Ingels: 3 warp-speed architecture tales

Uploaded on Sep 15, 2009

Danish architect Bjarke Ingels rockets through photo/video-mingled stories of his eco-flashy designs. His buildings not only look like nature — they act like nature: blocking the wind, collecting solar energy — and creating stunning views at a TED talk http://www.ted.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AYE3w5TWHs

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Gyre: Recent Work by BIG (Bjarke Ingels)

Published on Oct 10, 2012

Bjarke Ingels, Principal, BIG

“This is the country that invented surf and turf!,” noted BIG Principal Bjarke Ingels in New York magazine when describing his forthcoming residential project W57, “a European-style, low-rise apartment block encircling a courtyard, and a Manhattan tower-on-a-podium, yielding something that looks like neither and behaves like both.” Ingels returns to GSAPP to discuss his recent work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdrK3G1nU3A

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Architect Bjarke Ingels shares his philosophy on the design process

Uploaded on Jan 28, 2011

See what architect Bjarke Ingels has to say about the design process and the importance of print.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFo50kK1tg8

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TEDxEast – Bjarke Ingels – Hedonistic Sustainability

Uploaded on May 17, 2011

May 9, 2011- Bjarke Ingels wows the audience with his wit and unlikely architectural solutions around the globe. Prepare to be dazzled.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogXT_CI7KRU

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Bjarke Ingels on Sustainability

Uploaded on Aug 18, 2010Bjarke Ingels one on one talking to specific questions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKJRS5ZzkDk

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Making architecture more like our dreams (Bjarke Ingels)

Published on Apr 20, 2012

CNN’s The Next List profiles innovative Danish architect Bjarke Ingels.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4WY8kcOfc0

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Bjarke Ingels – Interview by Studio Banana TV

Uploaded on Dec 7, 2011

Studio Banana TV interviews Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, principal of BIG

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAkt49vu1ms

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BIG ECH – Escher Tower

Uploaded on Jan 14, 2008

Bjarke Ingels describes how when asked to design a Scandinavian skyscraper with views and daylight in abundance, he chose a slim volume: a thin slab with minimal distance between the facades. The thin slab however is as structurally complicated as it is visually simple. It combines maximum wind pressure – the wide side – with minimal foothold – the short side, thus appearing as an unstable monolith.

The Escher Tower in response consists of 3 square towers merged into one. The central tower is straight as a dart, the two peripheral ones change places between ground floor and penthouse, causing the volume to flip 90 degrees. This provides maximal foothold for the hardest wind pressures.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYRCnCxxNkY&list=UUuzMH3B5EdlKWEFacVIXDeQ&index=10

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If you ever have a chance to go to Bjarke Ingels’ talks GO –  he is so inspiring!

For more information check out these great reads in BIG

Big - Bjarke Ingels GroupYes Is More: An Archicomic on Architectural Evolution

BIG: Bjarke Ingels Group Projects 2001-2010 Big: Recent Project (English and Japanese Edition)

Interviews with Zaha Hadid

YZ221_01.tifZaha Hadid is one of the youngest people and only women to ever win the prestigious Pritzker Prize – the highest award in architecture.  Jorge Silvetti, a Pritzker Prize juror stated:”What she has achieved with her inimitable manipulation of walls, ground planes, and roofs, with those transparent, interwoven, and fluid spaces, are vivid proof that architecture as a fine art has not run out of steam and is hardly wanting in imagination.”

Zaha was born in Baghdad in 1950, and obtained a degree in mathematics from the American University in Beirut before moving to London in 1972 to study at the Architecture Association School, winning the school’s Diploma Prize in 1977.

Z ChairHer innovative creations span the entire spectrum of design, from large-scale urban architecture to interiors, furniture and exhibition spaces, and have graced cities around the globe, winning her a number of awards and prizes.  Her best known projects are:

Zaha’s recently completed the London Aquatics Centre.  At the completion ceremony, the International Olympic Committee Chairman Jacques Rogge said: “I have seen so many venues in my life but I had a visual shock when I came into the Aquatics Centre. Everything stands out: the harmony, the quality, the innovation. It’s a masterpiece!”

In addition to her architecturalarchitects sketch and design work she is a gifted artist – she has exhibited at New York’s Guggenheim and Modern Art museums – and also an academic.

Interviews with Zaha Hadid:

Zaha Hadid Talking About Challenges of Architecture

Uploaded on Apr 5, 2010

Zaha Hadid talks to JO Magazine about the challenges of architecture.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcdvMm6c-fU

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What is New? – Zaha Hadid

Uploaded on Jan 11, 2012

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid has added several projects to her international portfolio: the Guangzhou Opera House in China, the Evelyn Grace Academy and the London Aquatics

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7j7gTBqijA

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ZAHA HADID – TWIRL

Uploaded on Apr 15, 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cb3PoRzS_w

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Building the unbuildable – Zaha Hadid

Uploaded on May 7, 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qr9P3EWYPiA

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Building the unbuildable – Zaha Hadid

Published on Jun 23, 2012

This year, the Guardian invited award-winning architect Zaha Hadid to Cannes Lions to speak about her own creativity.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujFMRrSmIek

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OMEGA Ladymatic presents CNN’s Leading Women – Zaha Hadid

Published on Oct 11, 2012

Leading Women, a CNN television series that connects its viewers to extraordinary women at the top of their chosen fields, is sponsored by OMEGA Ladymatic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2ZN5quZdfg

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Zaha Hadid | Galaxy SOHO Beijing

Published on Nov 6, 2012 

Last weekend, in the heart of Beijing, the unveiling of the amorphous globes of Zaha Hadid’s Galaxy SOHO stunned visitors with the office and retail complex’s radical aesthetic. Beijing’s rapid economic growth has thrust the cityscape into a continuous battle between ever-climbing modern high rises, and the traditional, winding alleyways, unique to the capital city. Crane.tv meets Hadid to hear about her newest structural feat, and collect the thoughts of the building’s wide-eyed neighbours.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOD8i8dJysM

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Zaha Hadid on song: China’s Guangzhou Opera House

Uploaded on Mar 8, 2011

Jonathan Glancey explores Guangzhou’s glittering, intergalactic new opera house, designed by British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid and opened last weekend. Sixteen years after a similar project in Wales ground to a halt, she explains why Cardiff’s loss is China’s gain

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OgaaY62CTo

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Zaha Hadid: Complete Works, 1979-2009

        Zaha Hadid: Form in Motion (Philadelphia Museum of Art)

architecture JARGON: two

…Talk like an architect continued

Here is a lexicon of words to help you discuss architecture and understand architects:

 

Balance [bal-uhns]:  Always a goal for architect creating balance can be done most easily with symmetry however asymmetrical architecture can still obtain balance.  Architectural balance is concerned with the arrangement and proportioning of mass to obtain visual equilibrium.

The balance of the CCTV building in beijing changes dramatically as you move around it. 
Flickr Photos by Ningbo Ningbo

Occupant experience:  This term is a way of empathizing with how users of the building will understand the space.

Permeability of the space:  This is a very architectural way of describing that there is easy movement / flow / connection (visual or physical) between multiple spaces without describing in anyway how this is done.  For example the exterior walls of the SOHO Camper store is permeable because there are a number of means to access the store from the street and the street from the store, therefore this is a highly permeable space.

 

The entire facade blurs the line between interior and exterior on the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York.
The Prada Store in Los Angeles by Rem Koolhaas completely deletes the front facade, this retail space has maximum permeability to the street.
 

Form [fawrm]:  A clearly defined area, material, configuration, shape while not specifically describing it at all, thus being generic and specific simultaneously. The form of architecture is typically clear.  When an architect or architecture is said to be ‘formal’ it refers being designed based on the outcome of the building form rather than other driving forces such as building function (functionalism) or experience.

Mies van der Rohe is a prime example of a formal architect whereas Koolhaas is less so.

This is the Architecture Centre Amsterdam.

Functionalism [fuhngk-shuh-nl-iz-uhm]:  This is an architectural style where the building function, materials, purpose and construction is expressed and is the driving force of the design.  Louis Sullivan coined the phrase “form follows function” in the 1920s which transformed the aesthetic of architecture and became a mantra for the modern movement.

Typology:  A way to classifying architecture by type.  For example residential, institutional, schools, recreational, and so forth.
 

Architectonics [ar-ki-tek-ton-iks]:  The science of architecture / the science of planning and constructing buildings.

Peter Zumthor at work

model posing as an architect at work

 to be continued…

Charles and Ray Eames

Charles Eames:  Born in St. Louis, 1907, studied architecture at Washington University.  In 1936 began his fellowship at Cranbrook Academy of Arts in Michigan, during this time he collaborated with Eero Saarinen on furniture design.  The team won first place in MoMA’s ‘Organic Design in Home Furnishings’ competition.

Bernice Alexander Kaiser (name changed to Ray in 1954):  Born in Sacramento, California, 1933, studied painting at The Arts Students League and the Hans Hoffman School in New York.  In 1940 began school at Cranbrook Academy of Arts in Michigan where she met Charles.

Charles and Ray Eames where married in 1941, moved to Los Angeles and “began the greatest husband-and-wife collaboration of the century” (Fiell 141).

Case Study House No. 8

Pacific Palisades, California, 1945 to 1949

The Eames House is a double-storey unit divided into house and studio areas by an open court.
Made of light steel frame, standard 7 foot 6 inch bays, with sashes and panels from standard industrial components utilized in a straightforward and workmanlike way.  Materials such as: transparent panels, clear or wired glass; translucent panels of glass fibre, opaque panels of wood and coloured aluminum  were used for the building shell.  The interior was filled with furniture, flowers, pillows, toys, candles, with a mezzanine and built-in
seats, and bookcases.

This house was designed for a living pattern and not as a fixed architectural pattern.

Design Philosophy:

They could not see why the living, moving, outward-rounded human form should have to be flattened against a rigid, straight surface, or pressed down on an arbitrarily curved one when sitting or lounging.  Chair seats and back should be sculpted to fit and conform to body movements.

The Eames strived to create well-designed furniture for the masses which was affordable, durable and comfortably fit the body thus providing a positive house environment.
Their chairs belong to the occupants, not to the building.

They began working with fiberglass in the 1950s because it could be easily manipulated, creating a one-piece chair which was mass produced for Herman Miller Co. with Zenith Plastics and UCLA.
The Plastic Shell Group of chairs were made of molded fiberglass-reinforced polyester seat shell connected to various metal rod bases, with rubber shock-mounts, some were designed to be stack-able.

New technologies were fundamental as well as close relationships with manufactures to ensure they employed the latest products and techniques.
Charles and Ray were thorough and vigorous in their process.

Ray Eames stated that “what works is better than what looks good.  The ‘look good’ can change, but what works, works.”

Eames Plywood Work:

Lounge Chair and Ottoman,
1956-7, ($634 in 1957, today $5500 )
The comfortable executive chair is made of rosewood veneer, moulded plywood shells, upholstered foam and downfilled and leather cover on a swivelling cast aluminium base.

“This differs from bent plywood in that there is no excessive compression or internal stresses set up nor any tendency to return to the flat shape.

At the time of curing the individual plys of veneer are held in the desired relation to each other and so take the molded contour as their natural shape.”

Charles and Ray created a one-piece compound curved chair through the use of their homemade ‘Kazam’ Machine.  It worked by pushing glued plys, with a bicycle pump, against an electrically  heated plaster mold creating the curved plywood chair.  This process worked but took
4 to 6 hours, too long for mass production.

Process & Technique:

Eames Sketches

Charles and Ray experimented on innovative methods of molding plywood into furniture for mass production.  Their designs are molded in two directions creating compound curves from thin veneers laminated together, achieving considerable strength.

Designs were explored with full scale models from preliminary sketches, working drawings were rare.  These models under went scrutinized testing for comfort and durability.

In 1941 The Chrysler Corporation invented a process called cycle-welding which allowed wood to be joined to rubber, glass or metal, without protruding bolts or screws, this connection absorbs shock and distribute stress.  However at this time the technology was reserved for the military.  Eventually the use of Rubber Shock Mounts and Electronic Cycle Welding became available and applied to their designs.
This same process was used to mass produce the molded-plywood forms.  A synthetic resin was placed between each sheet of laminated timber, allowing each layer to cure for a few seconds while heat is supplied by a wave emission from an electronic instrument.

The mechanical components are displayed but not glorified, they believed that it was appropriate to make the greatest use out of the least amount of material.

Charles Eames stated “I think of myself officially as an architect.  I can’t help but look at problems around us as problems of structure-and structure is architecture”

Bibliography:

      

Charles and Ray Eames: Designers of the Twentieth Century

Eames Design

Eames: The Architect and the Painter

Charles Eames. Furniture from the Design Collection. The Museum of Modern art, New York

architecture JARGON: one

Talk like an architect.

Architects have a particular language to describe and discuss architecture – this isn’t purely to sound smart or pretentious but rather to convey ideas and express the meaning of built form.

Here is a lexicon of words to help you discuss architecture and understand architects:

Human scale:  The relationship and measurable qualities of the human body as it relates to architecture.  The human body’s scale and proportion has been studied since Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man or Le Corbusier’s Modular Man.  How the body’s relationship with, or the lack thereof, is often intentional and is present in all architecture.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man

Le Corbusier’s
Modular Man

 

The National Assembly Building by Louis Kahn in Bangledesh (right).  Notice the building has no frame of reference to the size a person.  The image on the top could appear to be big or small.  This building, for the most part lacks human scale. 

Juxtaposition [juhk-stuh-puh-zish-uhn]:  This is when two or more architectural objects are located close together or next to one another for comparison and/or contrast.  This is commonly seen with new architecture next to historic architecture.  This is also a technique that can be applied to one very large building to break it down into smaller components which have differing materials, scale, and/or form.

Quartier Schützenstrasse, Berlin by Aldo Rossi.  The large building is broken down by colour and form.

Legibility:  The ability of being deciphered or understood.  In architecture this typically refers to way-finding which is how easily users can understand their environment and find their way within it.  If a large number of signs are required to decipher where to go the architectural legibility is poor.

Synergy [sin-er-jee]:  When the combination of parts or components creates a greater effect than any individual element.  This is typically the case for any good architecture but this word seems to get thrown around a lot.

Columniation:   The arrangement of columns.

Treptow Krematorium, Berlin by Axel Schultes, Charlotte Frank, Christoph Witt.  Its all about the columns.

Intercolumniation:  The space between columns.  The pattern of spacing between columns.

Squarify:  To make more square. (This is not a really word.  FYI:  architects love to make all words verbs)

Negotiate the Topography:  To change levels, to go up or down stairs or ramp.

(I guess sometimes architects like to sound pretentious sometimes)

Tectonics [tek-ton-iks]:  The science or art of assembling, shaping, or ornamenting materials in construction; the constructive arts in general.  A general term for the theory and techniques of construction.

Materiality [muh-teer-ee-al-i-tee]:  A way to create form and space via the nature or quality of materials used in architecture.  Materials can be the driving force behind the design of architecture, where the architect studies materials and techniques and thus form a building from the maximization of their effect.  In modern architecture material honesty is at its essence.

   

Ricola Factory by Herzog and de Meuron (masters of materiality)

LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

Space [speys]:  A loaded word which could be discussed at length but in short it is the formation and realization of a constructed three-dimensional realm.   In architecture space is physically or implicitly enclosed by the constructed form to create specific experiences and qualities.

The Pantheon, Rome.  One of the most dramatic interior spaces due to the geometric proportions.

to be continued…