News & Events
Case Against Trump Officials Dismissed
June 22, 2021
WASHINGTON — A U.S. judge on Monday dismissed most claims filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of D.C., Black Lives Matter and others who in lawsuits accused the Trump administration of authorizing an unprovoked attack on demonstrators in Lafayette Square last year.
The plaintiffs asserted the government used unnecessary force to enable a photo op of Trump holding a Bible outside of the historical St. John’s Church. But U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich of Washington called allegations that federal officials conspired to make way for the photo too speculative.
Michael Sorkin Taught Me How to Look at New York
March 22, 2021
If you’re ever lucky enough to spot a copy of Exquisite Corpse in a used-book bin or gathering dust on somebody’s shelf, snatch it. The author, Michael Sorkin, was the architecture critic for the Village Voice in the 1980s, and the book collects his greatest hits from that tenure. They are, I am here to tell you, truly great — a crackling, combative serial of how New York City crawled out of the ’70s only to emerge into the bright lights of the ’80s mightily mixed up about who and what it stood for.
Ada Louise Huxtable Might Have Liked This Q&A
March 24, 2021
The architecture world celebrates critic and writer Ada Louise Huxtable’s 100th birthday on March 14. She won’t be there to see it, having died at 91, after spending her career changing the way we think about architecture. For Huxtable, architecture was not just about how a building looked, but about how it affected the city around it. And as one of the most influential and avidly read architecture writers in the U.S., she made others see it that way, too. She spent 20 years as the New York Times’ first full-time architecture critic. She won the first-ever Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism in 1970. She won a Fulbright, a Guggenheim, and a MacArthur Fellowship. She served as the first woman on the jury for the Pritzker Prize. Huxtable also won the love of a popular audience, who looked forward to her weekly column about architecture, which pulled no punches. A 1968 New Yorker cartoon showed a worker at a construction site telling the architect “Ada Louise Huxtable already doesn’t like it.” When Huxtable died in in 2013, the Getty Research Institute was just about to announce its acquisition of her archive. Sadly, the announcement was hastily rewritten as an obituary. I sat down with Maristella Casciato, senior curator of architecture and design, and research assistant Gary Riichirō Fox to talk about Ada Louise Huxtable, her archive, and her legacy.
Affordable Housing Earns French Couple the Pritzker Prize
March 18, 2021
Affordable Housing Earns French Couple the Pritzker Prize
March 18, 2021
After more than 30 years of designing affordable new spaces out of existing structures, Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal have won architecture’s highest honor. Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal have never demolished a building in order to construct a new one. The French architects, who are based in the Paris suburb of Montreuil, believe that every structure can be repurposed, reinvented, reinvigorated. Now, after 34 years of putting that approach into practice, they have won their field’s highest honor: the Pritzker Prize. “Through their ideas, approach to the profession and the resulting buildings,” the jury said in its citation, “they have proven that a commitment to a restorative architecture that is at once technological, innovative and ecologically responsive can be pursued without nostalgia.” In a joint telephone interview, Lacaton and Vassal said they have long been opposed to taking things down. “There are too many demolitions of existing buildings which are not old, which still have a life in front of them, which are not out of use,” said Lacaton, 65. “We think that is too big a waste of materials. If we observe carefully, if we look at things with fresh eyes, there is always something positive to take from an existing situation.” Vassal, 67, said they even once constructed a building around a forest — always making sure to integrate the natural landscape and preserve the past. “Never demolish, never cut a tree, never take out a row of flowers,” he said. “Take care of the memory of things that were already there, and listen to the people that are living there.”
Democratic majority whip said of the security perimeter at the Capitol Law enforcement wants it to stay, others want it gone
March 17, 2021
Nobody, it seems, wants to keep the security fence around the U.S. Capitol anymore — except the police who fought off the horrific attack on Jan. 6. Lawmakers call the razor-topped fencing “ghastly,” too militarized and, with the armed National Guard troops still stationed at the Capitol since a pro-Trump mob laid siege, not at all representative of the world’s leading icon of democracy. “All you have to do is to see the fencing around the Capitol to be shocked,” Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said in an interview Friday. How to protect lawmakers, while keeping the bucolic Capitol grounds open to visitors has emerged as one of the more daunting, wrenching questions from deadly riot. Not since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has security been so elevated, and the next steps so uncertain, for the Capitol complex. Five people died after the mob stormed the building trying to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election over Republican Donald Trump. The former president was impeached by the House, and acquitted by the Senate, for inciting the insurrection. The U.S. Capitol Police has asked for the fencing and the National Guard to remain, for now. Police officers are working grueling round-theclock overtime shifts after being overrun that day, engaging at times in hand-tohand combat with rioters outfitted in combat gear and armed with bats, poles and other weaponry. One woman was shot and killed by police and an officer died later, among scores of police injured in what officials have said appeared to be a planned and coordinated assault.
Biden Revokes a Trump Order Seeking ‘Classical’ Civic Architecture
March 2, 2021
An executive order that former President Donald J. Trump issued in the waning days of his administration, which sought to make classical architecture the default style for new federal buildings, was revoked this week by President Biden as the White House continues its sweeping rollback of the previous administration’s policies. Though the Trump-issued order stopped short of banning newer designs from consideration, it was strongly condemned by several prominent architects and architectural associations — including the American Institute of Architects and National Trust for Historic Preservation — for trying to impose an official, preferred national style. Trump’s executive order, which he signed in December after losing his bid for re-election, was titled “Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture,” and it praised Greco-Roman architecture as being “beautiful” while describing modernist designs as “ugly and inconsistent.” Those who championed the order heralded it as a return to a bygone era of federalist style. The American Institute of Architects, which had said it was “appalled” by the Trump order, praised the decision to revoke it.
Isolation is an Idea Provoker: Interview with Steven Holl
November 21, 2020
When it comes to the design process behind architectural projects, brainstorming is never the same for everyone. Some find inspiration in crowded rooms with loud music in the background, some walk around public spaces and observe people’s behaviors, and some need almost no resources whatsoever, just a pen, paper, and complete silence. In an interview with architecture filmographers Spirit of Space, Steven Holl shares how being completely isolated in the Watercolor Hut contributed to some of his office’s most notable creations.
Historic Bank of Guerneville Building designed by Carl I. Warnecke is the winner of a 2020 Preservation Design Award
October 22, 2020
37th Annual California Preservation Awards
The Historic Bank of Guerneville Building is the winner of a 2020 Preservation Design Award for Rehabilitation. Award recipients are selected by a jury of top professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, planning, and history, as well as renowned architecture critics and journalists. The Award will be presented on Wednesday, October 22, 2020 at an online awards ceremony. Tickets and sponsorship options are available at californiapreservation.org/awards. Located on a prominent corner of Downtown Guerneville, California, the Historic Bank of Guerneville Building sat abandoned for nearly 30 years. Lack of retail spaces on Main Street in Downtown Guerneville influenced the final use of the building as a collective of local small businesses and include a small exhibit space for the local historical society. Many original elements were discovered and revealed during its rehabilitation including an original mosaic tile floor, hidden since the 1940s.
Professor Kelema Lee Moses at Warnecke Archives to research for latest project
September 17, 2020
Kelema Lee Moses joins us at the Warnecke Archives to research for her current project. Kelema Lee Moses is an Assistant Professor of Art History at Occidental College whose work focuses on critical contemporary issues in the architectural and urban landscape of Pacific island cities. Her current book project, Island Modernism/Island Urbanism: Encountering Statehood in Honolulu, Hawai’i, suggests that island cities offer a place-based perspective to urban studies that must also account for spatial limitations; where architects and planners must develop inventive approaches to balance economic interests, environmental issues, and Indigenous imperatives. She is currently an ACLS/Getty Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Art at the Getty Research Center.
John Carl Warnecke: In the Shadow of the Eternal Flame
Bridget Maley Video Lecture
September 22, 2020
John Carl Warnecke (1919 - 2010) designed one the most visited American Presidential monuments, John F. Kennedy’s Eternal Flame in Arlington National Cemetery. Given our cultural fascination with the Kennedy clan, how is it that the architect selected to honor Kennedy’s memory is himself not more prevalent in our architectural memory? Why has there not yet been a monograph dedicated to Warnecke’s life and work?
Join us for this fascinating presentation by Bridget Maley, architectural historian and writer, founder of architecture + history, llc, who will examine how Warnecke’s work reveals a deeply contextual approach which began early and continued throughout his career.
John Carl Warnecke: His Fascinating Life and Architectural Career
Paul Turner Video Lecture
May 19, 2020
John Carl Warnecke: His Fascinating Life and Architectural Career
Paul V. Turner, Wattis Professor of Art, Emeritus
John Carl Warnecke, class of 1941, was a Stanford football tackle who went on to become one of the most successful architects in America from the 1960s to the 1980s. This talk will explain the importance of Warnecke’s work, especially his pioneering role in the development of “Contextualism” in architecture––as seen, for example, in his work in Washington, D.C., for John F. Kennedy. Warnecke was the president’s favorite architect, and his friendship with JFK will be examined––as well as his remarkable relationship with Jacqueline Kennedy following the president’s death. Another focus of the talk will be on the important, but little-known, role that Warnecke played in the development of Stanford’s architecture after World War II.
Trailer for H.R.H. the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, 1951
Chalk Hill Gallery Show
March 14, 2020
A special exhibition from the Warnecke Archives showcases a design for a trailer for H.R.H. the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, 1951. The exhibition includes original project designs, autobiographical excerpts, design descriptions, photos, floor plans, and job records.
Show opens Saturday, March 14, 2020 from 1 - 4 pm
@ Chalk Hill Artist Residency
LATimes: Architect Paul Williams’ archive, thought lost to fire, is safe. The Getty and USC will acquire it
August 19, 2020
Paul R. Williams — the prominent and prolific Los Angeles architect designed private homes for numerous celebrities (among them, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Stanwyck, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz), as well as churches, hotels, commercial buildings and even the font for the famous Beverly Hills Hotel logo. Paul Williams was one of the country’s most notable Black architects with a rack of “firsts” to his name: the first licensed architect in California, the first African American to become a fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the first to receive the AIA Gold Medal. The Paul R. Williams archive contains approximately 35,000 architectural plans, 10,000 original drawings, in addition to blueprints, hand-colored renderings, vintage photographs and correspondence. The Getty Research Institute (GRI) and USC’s School of Architecture are expected to announce a joint acquisition of Williams’ work.
NYTimes: At the Hirshhorn, a Battle Over Plans for Its Sculpture Garden
December 31, 2019
The museum is going ahead with meetings on a design by the artist Hiroshi Sugimoto that preservationists say would undo key features of postwar landscape design by Lester Collins. Advocates for the preservation of modernist landscapes in Washington have taken on another fight. After beating back the National Geographic Society’s plan to demolish “Marabar,” the 1984 sculptural installation by Elyn Zimmerman on its campus, they are now battling the Hirshhorn Museum’s proposal to redo its sunken sculpture garden by the architect Gordon Bunshaft and the landscape architect Lester Collins. The Hirshhorn, which is part of the Smithsonian Institution, has been advancing a design by the artist and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto that would substantially alter its look and feel. The standoff comes at a critical time for postwar landscapes, which are reaching an age when refurbishment will increasingly be needed.
NYTimes: Building Accessibility Into America, Literally
July 20, 2020
Thirty years on, the A.D.A. has reshaped American architecture and the way designers and the public have come to think about civil rights and the built world. We take for granted the ubiquity of entry ramps, Braille signage, push buttons at front doors, lever handles in lieu of doorknobs, widened public toilets, and warning tiles on street corners and subway platforms. New courthouses, schools and museums no longer default to a flight of stairs out front to express their elevated ideals. The A.D.A. has baked a more egalitarian aesthetic of forms and spaces into the civic DNA. But there’s still a long way to go.
Renovation of Federal Reserve Board Headquarters Portends a Battle Over Civic Architecture
June 16, 2020
Paul Philippe Cret’s 1937 building for the Federal Reserve Board (FRB)—the Marriner S. Eccles Building—stands as a prime example of neoclassical civic architecture along Washington D.C.’s Constitution Avenue. But the white marble building may have prompted new proposed guidelines around federal architecture, if conversations swirling in meetings of the Commission of Fine Arts are any indication.
A Striking Installation Reveals How Ableist Design Can Be
May 19, 2020
"For many of you reading this, the world was built for your body. You don’t have to think when you climb the stairs; the counter comes up to just the right height. These taken-for-granted conveniences are thanks to the increasing tendency of designers, architects, and planners toward “standardization” over the course of the 20th century. But for many millions, life isn’t so simple. One of these individuals is artist and activist Emily Barker, whose exhibition Built to Scale recently opened at Murmurs in downtown Los Angeles.
Barker explains how “creating a standard means someone like me deviates from and is oppressed by it.” The exhibition’s pièce de résistance, “Untitled (Kitchen),” forces viewers to experience what this feels like. Made in collaboration with Tomasz Jan Groza, these scaled-up cabinets tower above the viewer. Despite their literal transparency, they’re frustratingly inaccessible. The feeling is that of being a child. It’s also the view from a wheelchair."
-Brandon Sward, Hyperallergic
Remembering the late Michael Sorkin
March 26, 2020
Michael Sorkin, inimitable scribe of the built environment and leading design mind, passed away in New York at age 71 last Thursday after contracting COVID-19. Survived by his wife Joan Copjec, Sorkin leaves behind an invaluable body of work.
The Insanity of a State Sanctioned Style for Architecture
February 18, 2020
Earlier this week Architectural Record published a new memo calling for a redraft of the federal order “Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture,” first issued in 1962. According to Record, the new order would ensure that “the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style” for new and upgraded federal buildings. There would be a new “President’s Committee for the Re-Beautification of Federal Architecture.”