Urban Art Museum

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James


It should be no surprise to my readers that I have been preoccupied with starting my own practice and working on multiple books, and have been unable to update Critique This! on a regular basis.  This will be the last update to Critique This!, but rest assured a new project is in the works, which embodies all of the lessons that I have learned while developing Critique This! The articles featured on this site have been published in Bauwelt, florida/caribbean Architect and YAF Connection, and have opened up so many other doors into the world of architectural criticism.

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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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 The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper

Having designed a handful of skyscrapers in my career, I was excited to review this book in hopes that it would meet the need within the skyscraper design community for an authoritative reference on the typology similar to The Architect’s Studio Companion: Rules of Thumb for Preliminary Design or Heino Engel’s Structure Systems, both of which are books that sit at my desk as invaluable aides that I use throughout the design process. In The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper, Kate Ascher attempts to create “the ultimate guide to the way skyscrapers work”, however instead of creating an essential reference text Ascher’s book serves as an introductory primer to the design problem of the skyscraper.

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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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Louis I. Kahn: Beyond Time and Style: A Life in Architecture

Louis I. Kahn: Beyond Time and Style: A Life in Architecture is not a monograph containing photos of Kahn’s masterpieces. Although it is technically a biography, Carter Wiseman offers readers something more. Wiseman manages to bring Kahn to life through his words.  It is a book that is about more than architecture, it’s about the life of Kahn, his pain, anguish and tortured relationship with architecture. For any student or architect that has fallen in love with Kahn’s work, and his religion of architecture, then this book is a must read. For anyone that is a skeptic or hater, this book gives an invaluable insight into the spirit of Louis Kahn.

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The REAL Answers to Questions About NCARB Fees Increase
In the spirit of one of my favorite Cincinnati radio personalities Earl Pitts: “Ya’ know what makes me sick? You know what makes me so angry?” Mostly the lack of integrity of every corporation in the United States. I am not talking about BP, which is equally disgusting, but today is NCARB’s day to shine. I, like many of my fellow architects found my self in complete shock when I read the latest newsletter released by NCARB: NCARB’s e-Connection -July 2010: Answers to Questions About NCARB Fees. I am hosting a PDF version of the article on my site, because as I have discussed in previous articles, NCARB has a habit of quietly changing information. The questions and answers should not concern you, because they are as scripted as any interview you might find on a daytime television talk show. In nearly every case fees have doubled! But WHY?

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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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During a recent trip to New York City I visited the infamous Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was my first time at the museum, and unfortunately the glass atop the atrium was covered. The large volume of space that is normally full of light was a dark void, perhaps for the first time in the building’s existence. Already disappointed with the fact that I would have to make another trip to New York City to experience the true spirit of the structure. I was further disheartened by the quality of merchandise sold in the museum’s gift shop. Most of the items in the Guggenheim gift shop were everyday items with an image of the Guggenheim slapped on it, similar in fashion to the image of Mickey Mouse in a Disney gift shop.

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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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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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