Urban Art Museum

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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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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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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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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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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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During a recent trip to Miami, I made a quick visit to 1111 Lincoln Road, a development in South Beach’s Lincoln Mall, which I have been following for some time now. At first glance the renderings display a project that is at the very least, an exciting structural display that mimics the symbols of wealth displayed by the celebutantes of South Beach. Upon visiting South Beach and the 1111 Lincoln Road development, it became clear that the design and development are clearly foreign to the surrounding collection of 800 Art Deco structures located in South Beach’s Art Deco Historic District.

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