Friday, July 24, 2015

Niemeyer's Brutalist Masterpiece in France

Siège du Parti Communiste Français. Photo ©Darren Bradley

While in Paris, I occasionally stop by the French Communist Party (PCF) headquarters building to see famed architect Oscar Niemeyer's most celebrated work in Paris. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Frank Gehry Does Paris (Again)

Entrance to the Fondation Louis Vuitton by Frank Gehry. Photo ©Darren Bradley

Gehry's new contribution to the Paris skyline has made quite an impact on the arts and architecture scene worldwide, as would be expected when one of the world's most celebrated architects designs a project of this scale in a city like Paris. And after visiting the project, it seems quite clear that making an impact was the primary goal of both the architect and the man who commissioned it - the Chairman of Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH), Bernard Arnault.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

International Exposition - Italian style...

expo tree 1
For the 1889 World's Fair, Paris got the Eiffel Tower. For the 1958 World's Fair, Brussels got the Atomium. For the 1962 World's Fair, Seattle got the Space Needle. And for the 2015 World's Fair, Milan got... This. The Tree of Life, as it's called, is intended as the symbol of the Milan International Exposition. Not sure it will have the same broad impact or longevity as the some of the other symbols, but it's certainly in keeping with Milan's more low key approach. Photo ©Darren Bradley
It's hard to believe that it's already been five years since Expo 2010 in Shanghai. I was lucky enough to be able to attend that event, and it completely blew me away. The sights, the sounds, the architecture, the people, the city... It was sensory overload, and I loved every second of it. So I was very excited when I learned that the next Expo would be in Milan in 2015 (International Expos are held every five years, with smaller events held in the interim, on occasion). I immediately began making plans to attend, which I did at the beginning of July this year. 

But what I found in Milan was something completely different than what I'd seen in Shanghai - both in scale and style. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fondazione Prada

fondazione prada 3
Some of the old distillery buildings that have been repurposed at Fondazione Prada ©Darren Bradley
The Fondazione Prada just opened a new venue in Milan in May, timed with the arrival of the International Exposition that the city is hosting this year. It was designed by OMA / Rem Koolhaas. If you are familiar with OMA's work, you may be quite surprised by the results... 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Radiant City

Entrance to the Unité d'Habitation in Marseille, France, with its dramatic portico. Photo ©Darren Bradley
"La Cité Radieuse" by Le Corbusier, in Marseille, France is the project which is often credited with (or blamed for, depending on your point of view) popularizing both brutalism and high density social housing. Most of the copies around the world became crime-ridden tenements, and many have since been labelled as errors in social engineering, and have been demolished. But the original still stands proudly, inhabited today by mostly upper-middle class, educated residents who are proud of their building and what it stands for. I finally had a chance to visit and understand what it was all about, first-hand. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Case Study House architect in San Diego

Alden Residence
Alden Residence by Kemper Nomland. Photo ©Darren Bradley
The architect Kemper Nomland is not exactly a household name, but he probably should be - at least to those who appreciate modern architecture. Nomland is in that elite group of architects who designed a home as part of the Arts & Architecture Case Study House program. I recently had the opportunity to visit the architect's only design in San Diego County, the Alden Residence in Vista. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wildwood: The East Coast Capital of Googie... uh, I mean Doo-Wop

jolly roger
The Jolly Roger. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Wildwood, on Cape May in New Jersey, is the undisputed capital of Googie modernist architecture on the East Coast. In fact, there's probably a higher concentration of architecture of this type here than anywhere else in the world. But it's also disappearing at an alarming rate. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Crafton Hills College: Eloquent Brutalism in the Foothills

Crafton Hills College Laboratory / Administration Building (LADM), sitting at the top of the hill,
is the most recognizable building on campus. Photo ©Darren Bradley
When Palm Springs Architect E. Stewart Williams was first awarded the commission to  design an entire college campus in the foothills of nearby Yucaipa, California, it was a very big deal. In fact, this commission would be the largest and most important of his career. But when he had a chance to see the site, his initial reaction was to tell the college trustees that it couldn't be done. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Neutra's VDL Research House II

VDL Research House & Studio
I should have thanked both the turtledoves and that woman for being positioned exactly where I wanted them for this photo. This is a view of Neutra's garden studio, from 1940, situated in the rear of the courtyard. It's the only surviving structure from the 1963 fire that destroyed the rest of the house. Photo ©Darren Bradley
One of the best things about Los Angeles is that there are so many modernist homes there.  And even better than that, there are even a few you can visit. Neutra's VDL Research House in Silver Lake is one of the best examples. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A. Quincy Jones designs a college campus

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The Leo F. Cain Library at Cal State Dominguez Hills (originally called the Educational Resource Center) was designed by A. Quincy Jones and opened in 1972. It gives me chills walking up to it, it's so beautiful. Photo ©Darren Bradley

One of my favorite architects, A. Quincy Jones, designed a great number of university buildings throughout the years. But he also had the opportunity to plan and design an entire college campus, including all of the original buildings. This college is located just up the road from me so I took a spontaneous trip there recently one morning for quick visit. That school is California State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, California.