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Architecture


The thought of constructing buildings out of gold may seem like a ridiculous conjecture, but history reveals that this absurd notion is not only a reality of a time past, but that constructing structures of gold in modern times is more tangible than ever. Although many religious structures throughout history contain decorative elements and even domes which have been leafed in gold, none of these structures rival the Bupaya Pagoda and Sripuram Temple in scale. The Bupaya Pagoda located in Pagan, Myanmar is entirely adorned in gold leaf. The spectacle of the pagoda is only outdone by the fantastic Sripuram Temple which is located in India. The temple is the largest gold structure in the entire world and is constructed of 1500kg of gold! Gold has signified wealth and prosperity since the 700BC when the first gold coins were struck. Today modern technology has permitted the re-exploration of gold as a viable treatment for structures throughout the world.

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The nearly nineteen million residents of Florida are currently in a battle to protect their neighborhoods from a number of exotic predators. Burmese Pythons, Gambian Pouch Rats and other exotic species have been released into the wild by their irresponsible owners, and are wreaking havoc on the natural equilibrium of Florida’s ecosystem.  While the population of the Burmese Python in the Florida wild is estimated to be in the thousands, there is an even more damaging and invasive species lurking in Florida. It was first introduced more than 100 years ago, and currently maintains a population estimated to be in the millions. It has infiltrated our culture, and deceptively convinced the millions of Florida immigrants that it is a style that is both responsive to the unique climate of Florida and of the local vernacular. Clients love it, and laymen praise it for its architectural character.

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Mr. Gwathmey and his deference to the serious architecture of Walt Disney

In the autumn of Charles Gwathmey’s life controversy beleaguered the architect and his design for the addition to Paul Rudolph’s New Haven masterpiece, the Art & Architecture Building at Yale. Negative reviews of the addition by architectural critics overshadowed the concurrent design and completion of several projects by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects. One project lost in the shadows of this polemic was Disney’s Bay Lake Tower in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The project would further freefall into obscurity due to the premature death of Charles Gwathmey on August 3rd, 2009, one day before the resort would officially open to the public. The Art & Architecture Building and its “sadly conventional”[1] design will be remembered by many as the disappointing final work of an architect made famous for designing buildings that successfully compete with, seamlessly blend and sometimes gracefully defer to the existing architectural monuments and masterpieces that they adjoin.

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AIA YAF Temporary/Permanent Relief Housing Competition Results
Have you seen the results of the Temporary/Permanent Relief Housing Competition? It is an ‘ideas competition’ sponsored by the AIA and Young Architect’s Forum. This competition serves as a reminder that the architecture competition system, or lack thereof, in the United States is flawed, and that it is in desperate need of regulation. Before you accuse me of having a vested interest, let me clarify that I have no horse in this race. I am not associated with this competition or any other competition.  So, to clarify, I did not register for, nor did I submit a project to be judged in this competition. A few days ago I received a copy of the winning entries, and I was disgusted with what I saw, as it only confirmed the reasons for which I did not enter the competition and everything that I know to be wrong with the way architectural competitions are run in the United States.

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1111 Lincoln Road by Herzog & de Meuron: The Beauty of Parking

1111 Lincoln Road is part of an addition and upgrade to the existing SunTrust office building, which is a Brutalist concrete relic designed by Adolfo Albaisa that was constructed in the 1960s. At first glance, 1111 Lincoln Road looks like a new museum or a swanky new condo building just beginning construction, but in reality the structure is nearly complete.  1111 Lincoln Road is more than a parking garage, it is a building that serves as a continuation of the street with parking, retail, restaurants, event space and residential components scattered throughout the structure.

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The Ascent by Studio Daniel LibeskindThe Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge shows us the possibility of living in the clouds. The newest prestigious address in the Cincinnati area features distinguished high-rise living, a rarity in this area of hills, valleys and single-family homes. The Ascent presides on its small site in Covington, soaring above its dour postmodern neighbors, the Corporex towers, and takes its design cues (both in form and color) from the adjacent Suspension Bridge, designed by John Roebling. The bridge opened in 1866 and was a dry run of sorts for the Brooklyn Bridge, which Roebling designed but would not live to see completed.

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The Child of the Sun Florida Southern College designed by Frank Lloyd WrightFlorida Southern College is the only campus designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and it is the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings located on a single site, anywhere in the world. However, despite the project’s unprecedented scale and the fact that the campus supports a collection of twelve Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings, this work remains relatively unknown to many architects who visit or even live in Florida. You might be thinking that perhaps these buildings are not given the same respect as some of Wright’s other designs

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No ya-ya, People want Architecture at a Great ValueA few months ago I began to contemplate the effect of the Great Recession on our profession and to define for myself the current, past and future status of architecture in the United States. There have been many movements and styles to evolve in architecture since the implosion of Pruitt-Igoe. It seems that since the death of Modernism that stylistic periods in architecture have increasingly become shorter and shorter, approaching a period of brevity in which we have to question whether or not we should even call these movements architectural styles.

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The de Young Museum designed by Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron is both underwhelming and overwhelming. The structure’s interiors are underwhelming at best, and there are few spaces on the interior that capture the same spirit that is embodied by the structure’s unique exterior appearance. The exterior form and treatment of the structure’s skin is overwhelming. The materiality, texture and the building’s seductive physique are used to create a building that one cannot help but to stare at. The de Young Museum is simply beautiful, its copper skin is unmatched in scale and execution, but the local and regional ecosystem must pay a great cost for its unique beauty.

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The Miami School of Architecture Building (also known as the Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture Building) was designed by Bernard Tschumi. It is a visually exciting building, and was one of the many highlights on a recent architectural pilgrimage that I made to Miami. This project is one of three must see buildings on the Florida International University campus, the other two structures are designed by Robert Stern and KPF, and if you can believe it the Robert Stern designed structure is the best of the three architectural gems hidden on the campus.

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