Tag Archives: Blair Kamin

Remember Soviet architecture? Hmmm. All that’s coming to mind for me are massive, hybrid modern-neoclassical apartment buildings from, like, the ’30s.

Turns out there’s more to it than that, at least according to a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal:

For a brief, utopian moment in early 20th-century Russia, artists and architects together sought to forge an abstract language of form suited to the politics of the new state. Vladimir Tatlin’s famous model for a Monument to the Third International—envisioned in 1920 as a 1,300-foot-tall ziggurat-like tower rotating on three levels—embodied the visionary, futurist aesthetics and idealism of the movement. The commitment to abstraction and the sense of shared purpose between painters and architects paralleled that of the Bauhaus, and in fact some of its members traveled to Moscow. Yet while the Bauhaus is enshrined in the history of European architecture and modernism, the Russians are often sidelined, and only a few protagonists—such as Kazimir Malevich and El Lissitzky—are widely known by nonspecialists.

The piece, by Cammy Brothers, a professor at the University of Virginia, is definitely worth a read.

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AND COMING UP ON CONCRETE ASPIRATIONS: The year of 2011 in architecture.

Already, the LA Times’s Christopher Hawthorne has his take and the Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin has his favorite developments of the year and his least favorite. But my take is something entirely different.

COMING SOON

Remember Soviet architecture?

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On blogs

In my opinion, the best thing about blogs is that they give people who otherwise wouldn’t have much of a voice a microphone. That’s also my least favorite thing about blogs.

The thing is, many people think they have something real to say, yet only a small fraction of them seem to actually follow through. The internet is full of some of the world’s most pointless blogs — thoughts from people whose thoughts no one in his or her right mind would want to know about. But it also has given rise to some excellent ones, both about architecture and in a much wider sense.

Read on past the break to see my collection of favorite blogs. Continue reading

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National September 11 Memorial

First off, I must apologize for not blogging in a while. I’ve been quite busy with a number of different things, one of which was watching the U.S.’s political system reach an astonishing level of dysfunction. (I’ve blogged before about architecture and politics — the two are closely linked.) My views on this summer’s debt ceiling debacle can be found in an article of mine in the Hartford Courant here.

On September 12 of this year, after literally a decade of wrangling among an ever-expanding group of officials, developers, victims’ families, planner and architects, the National September 11 Memorial will finally open. No one in the world of architecture is particularly excited about the occasion: though it’s certainly an important event for the country, the selected design for the memorial isn’t really a favorite (though it is not nearly as hated as the site’s largest new tower, 1 World Trade Center, which was designed by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merill and is an abomination).

The National September 11 Memorial just a few weeks before opening. Photo courtesy Los Angeles Times.

This week, the architecture critics from the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, Blair Kamin and Christopher Hawthorne, respectively, reviewed the new memorial. (Side note: where’s Michael Kimmelman, the new architecture critic for The New York Times?! He’s still got a few weeks, but he’d better start off strong.) Kamin and Hawthorne’s conclusions about the memorial are both similar and predictable, but also quite legitimate. To read Hawthorne’s review, continue past the break.

Continue reading

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