Monday, May 30, 2011

Futurist Manifesto

  1. All the pseudo-architecture of the avant-garde, Austrian, Hungarian, German and American;
  2. All classical architecture, solemn, hieratic, scenographic, decorative, monumental, pretty and pleasing;
  3. The embalming, reconstruction and reproduction of ancient monuments and palaces;
  4. Perpendicular and horizontal lines, cubical and pyramidical forms that are static, solemn, aggressive and absolutely excluded from our utterly new sensibility;
  5. The use of massive, voluminous, durable, antiquated and costly materials.
  1. That Futurist architecture is the architecture of calculation, of audacious temerity and of simplicity; the architecture of reinforced concrete, of steel, glass, cardboard, textile fiber, and of all those substitutes for wood, stone and brick that enable us to obtain maximum elasticity and lightness;
  2. That Futurist architecture is not because of this an arid combination of practicality and usefulness, but remains art, i.e. synthesis and expression;
  3. That oblique and elliptic lines are dynamic, and by their very nature possess an emotive power a thousand times stronger than perpendiculars and horizontals, and that no integral, dynamic architecture can exist that does not include these;
  4. That decoration as an element superimposed on architecture is absurd, and that the decorative value of Futurist architecture depends solely on the use and original arrangement of raw or bare or violently colored materials;
  5. That, just as the ancients drew inspiration for their art from the elements of nature, we—who are materially and spiritually artificial—must find that inspiration in the elements of the utterly new mechanical world we have created, and of which architecture must be the most beautiful expression, the most complete synthesis, the most efficacious integration;
  6. That architecture as the art of arranging forms according to pre-established criteria is finished;
  7. That by the term architecture is meant the endeavor to harmonize the environment with Man with freedom and great audacity, that is to transform the world of things into a direct projection of the world of the spirit;
  8. From an architecture conceived in this way no formal or linear habit can grow, since the fundamental characteristics of Futurist architecture will be its impermanence and transience. Things will endure less than us. Every generation must build its own city. This constant renewal of the architectonic environment will contribute to the victory of Futurism which has already been affirmed by words-in-freedom, plastic dynamism, music without quadrature and the art of noises, and for which we fight without respite against traditionalist cowardice.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

La Citta Nuova

Antonio Sant'Elia
 La Citta Nuova, central railway station and airport
ink and pencil on paper

Antonio Sant'Elia was an influential Italian architect. Originally a builder by training, Sant'Elia opened a design office in Milan in 1912, where he became involved with the Futurist movement. Influenced by industrialized cities of the United States, Sant'Elia  began a series of conceptual drawings for the futurist Città Nuova ‘New City’, that were intended to be symbolic of the new age.

Antonio Sant'Elia
 La Citta Nuova
ink and pencil on paper

Antonio Sant'Elia
 La Citta Nuova
ink and pencil on paper

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I've always described Density in terms of dollars: The more you have of it, the more you can "buy" with it -- referring to amenities, of course (cultural, entertainment, dining, etc.). When I get asked what's the single most important thing that can be added to a city to help revitalize it (they are always waiting for the latest retail or entertainment thing...), I always say "housing."

- Seth Harry

Monday, May 23, 2011


Photo montage of Riomaggiore

Located on the rugged Ligurian coast, Riomaggiore is the first village in the Cinque Terre.  The Cinque Terre or ‘five lands’ is a collection of villages comprising Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The buildings of Riomaggiore have been carefully built into the steep landscape, however given the terrain and the terracing utilized in construction, it appears as if the buildings have grown directly from the rock of the Italian Riviera.

Ligurian Sea from Riomaggiore

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Casa Malaparte

In the summer of 2008 I was fortunate to participate in the Casa Malaparte Workshop through the Catholic University of America. Located on a strip of rock jutting from the eastern coast of the Isle of Capri is the Casa Malaparte. Initially conceived in the late 1930’s by Italian Rationalist architect Adalberto Libera, however Malaparte rejected Libera's design and undertook the project himself with the help of Adolfo Amitrano, a local stone mason. The house is an excellent example of Italian modern architecture, as well as the built environment eminently adapted to its surroundings.
 The Punta Massullo with Casa Malaparte as seen from trail leading to house

The house can only be reached by two methods, firstly by traversing the island on a circuitous path or secondly by sea. According to our guides it takes roughly an hour and a half  to walk from Capri's Piazzetta to Casa Malaparte, however with a little trail running we were able make it from Casa Malaparte to the hotel in Marina Piccola in almost an hour.

Final approach to Casa Malaparte with steps to roof and sail element 
“It has been called the twentieth century's most beautiful house. Isolated at the tip of a craggy promontory on the Italian island  of Capri, Casa Malaparte has captivated modern architects and designers with the graceful power of its lines and the drama of its setting...the stuccoed, Pompeian red box appears to have grown straight out of the rock. Its remoteness adds to its dreamy allure. Its simple shape belies its assertive, sculptural presence.” 

– Michael McDonough
Section of Casa Malaparte and surrounding environment

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


"Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die"
- Daniel Burnham

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Seagram Building

Seagram Building from Park Avenue

The Seagram Building located in midtown Manhattan is one of the finest examples of the International Style and corporate modernism. Designed by Mies van der Rohe, at the behest of  the Canadian distillers Joseph E. Seagram's & Sons, the Seagram Building soars 516 feet over Park Avenue.
Ground floor plan of the Seagram Building

Mies intended to create an urban open space in front of the building, and it became a popular gathering area. In the late 1960s when New York City enacted a major revision to its 1916 Zoning Resolution (the nation's first comprehensive Zoning Resolution) it offered incentives for developers to install ‘privately owned public spaces’ which were meant to emulate the plaza of the  Seagram's Building, however the following 40 years of development in Manhattan have done so with little success.

Corner detail Seagram's Building

Mies’ sensibilities would have preferred the steel frame to be visible; however, American building codes required that all structural steel be covered in a fireproof material, usually concrete. As a protective blanket of concrete hid the structure of the building, Mies suggested structure with the non-structural bronze-toned I-beams.