Thursday, August 23, 2012

GRG Recap - Buildings & Architecture

Seriously, this group never ceases to amaze me.  It seems like every meeting is always THE best one and this month's discussion was no exception.  Our topic was buildings & architecture and it was a fantastic discussion.  September's topic is graphic novels (fiction and nonfiction) and the meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 25th at 6:30pm in the Library's Conference Room.

The Prague Castle and Its Treasures by Prince Karl von Schwarzenberg et al.
From Publishers Weekly
From a window in the Prague Castle, Hitler looked down on an occupied city in 1939. Fifty years later, Vaclav Havel took the oath of office in the castle, the Czech president's official residence. Begun in the ninth century, the magnificent Prague Castle has been home to saints, iconoclasts and Bohemia's monarchs; the site of confrontations between Christians and pagans; and an emblem of political independence. Czech martyr Prince Wenceslas built St. Vitus's Church on its grounds around 926. This ravishing album combines 250 color photographs and engaging essays by art historians. Because the Prague Castle complex includes the National Gallery, the Royal Palace and noted churches-all documented in text and pictures-the book provides a unique window on Czech and European art and history, evoking the interplay among architecture, painting and sculpture.

Hearst Castle: The Biography of a Country House by Victoria Kastner
Newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst and his legendary California estate occupy a place in the public imagination through Orson Welles's Citizen Kane, but Kane's brooding Xanadu was merely a caricature of Hearst's exuberant castle at San Simeon. This new book sets the record straight and proves that, for once, truth is better than fiction.

Here for the first time is the real story of Hearst Castle, and of the productive 28-year relationship between Hearst and his architect, Julia Morgan, who collaborated on the magnificent 165-room estate set on 250,000 breathtaking acres near the remote seaside hamlet of San Simeon, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Drawing on previously unpublished correspondence, and illustrated with never-before-seen historic photographs as well as more than 150 stunning color pictures, Victoria Kastner chronicles the evolution of this extraordinary hilltop, with its two spectacular pools and its astounding collections of fine art and antiques. Sprinkled throughout with stories of the famous parties hosted by Hearst and his companion, movie star Marion Davies, and their celebrated guests, this book brings to life America's most glamorous country house.

California Crazy & Beyond: Roadside Vernacular Architecture by Jim Heimann
In 1980, Los Angeles historian Jim Heimann wrote a book about the oddball roadside architecture that has dotted the American landscape since the advent of the auto. Published by Chronicle Books as California Crazy, it stayed in print for nearly 20 years. Finally, here is the greatly expanded new edition of that sought-after classic. California Crazy and Beyond is packed with madcap restaurants, motels, service stations, and many other businesses shaped like hot dogs, animals, airplanes, pianos, and other architectural anomalies. Over the years, Heimann's continued research has uncovered a multitude of new pictures and forgotten buildings. With over 380 photographs and an illuminating text that tracks the subject well beyond the bounds of the West Coast, California Crazy and Beyond is an authoritative document of a style born in America and spread to all corners of the world.

The 1964-65 New York World's Fair by Bill Cotter & Bill Young
The 1964-1965 New York World's Fair was the largest international exhibition ever built in the United States. More than one hundred fifty pavilions and exhibits spread over six hundred forty-six acres helped the fair live up to its reputation as "the Billion-Dollar Fair." With the cold war in full swing, the fair offered visitors a refreshingly positive view of the future, mirroring the official theme: Peace through Understanding. Guests could travel back in time through a display of full-sized dinosaurs, or look into a future where underwater hotels and flying cars were commonplace. They could enjoy Walt Disney's popular shows, or study actual spacecraft flown in orbit. More than fifty-one million guests visited the fair before it closed forever in 1965. The 1964-1965 New York World's Fair captures the history of this event through vintage photographs, published here for the first time.

The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry that Transformed Rome by Jake Morrissey
The rivalry between the brilliant seventeenth-century Italian architects Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini is the stuff of legend. Enormously talented and ambitious artists, they met as contemporaries in the building yards of St. Peter's in Rome, became the greatest architects of their era by designing some of the most beautiful buildings in the world, and ended their lives as bitter enemies. Engrossing and impeccably researched, full of dramatic tension and breathtaking insight, The Genius in the Design is the remarkable tale of how two extraordinary visionaries schemed and maneuvered to get the better of each other and, in the process, created the spectacular Roman cityscape of today.

A Place of My Own: The Education of an Amateur Builder by Michael Pollan
Michael Pollan's unmatched ability to draw lines of connection between our everyday experiences- whether eating, gardening, or building-and the natural world has been the basis for the popular success of his many works of nonfiction, including the genre-defining bestsellers The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food. With this updated edition of his earlier book A Place of My Own, readers can revisit the inspired, intelligent, and often hilarious story of Pollan's realization of a room of his own-a small, wooden hut, his "shelter for daydreams"-built with his admittedly unhandy hands. Inspired by both Thoreau and Mr. Blandings, A Place of My Own not only works to convey the history and meaning of all human building, it also marks the connections between our bodies, our minds, and the natural world.

The Secret Lives of Buildings: From the Ruins of the Parthenon to the Vegas Strip in Thirteen Stories by Edward Hollis
Few man-made things seem as stable, as immutable, as a building. Yet the life of any structure is neither fixed nor timeless. Buildings are forced to adapt to each succeeding age. The Parthenon, that epitome of a ruined temple, was for centuries a working church and then a mosque; the cathedral of Notre Dame was “restored” to a design that none of its original makers would have recognized; remains of the Berlin Wall, once gleefully smashed, have become precious relics.  Here Edward Hollis recounts the most enthralling of these metamorphoses and shows how buildings have come to embody the history of Western culture.

Building Big by David Macaulay
Why this shape and not that? Why steel instead of concrete or stone? Why put it here and not over there? These are the kinds of questions that David Macaulay asks himself when he observes an architectural wonder. These questions take him back to the basic process of design from which all structures begin, from the realization of a need for the structure to the struggles of the engineers and designers to map out and create the final construction.

As only he can, David Macaulay engages readers’ imaginations and gets them thinking about structures they see and use every day — bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, domes, and dams. In Building Big he focuses on the connections between the planning and design problems and the solutions that are finally reached. Whether a structure is imposing or inspiring, he shows us that common sense and logic play just as important a part in architecture as imagination and technology do. As always, Macaulay inspires readers of all ages to look at their world in a new way.

GENERAL DISCUSSION: Macaulay wrote this as a companion book to the PBS special, Building Big.  He has written many books on various architectural topics:

Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction
City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction
Great Moments in Architecture
Motel of the Mysteries
The Way Things Work
Built To Last

Practical 3D Printers: The Science and Art of 3D Printing by Brian Evans
So what is a 3D printer? It's a device you can either buy or build to make parts, toys, art, and even 3D images captured by a sensor or modeled in software. Maybe you have one, or maybe you're thinking about buying or building one, but once you have one, what can you do with it?
Practical 3D Printers takes you beyond building the printer to calibrating it, customizing it, and creating amazing models with it, including 3D printed text, a warship model, a robot body, windup toys, and arcade-inspired alien invaders.

First you'll learn about the different types of popular 3D printer models and the similarities and differences among them. You'll see how the MakerBot works, and how it's different from RepRap printers like the Huxley and Mendel as well as the whiteAnt RepStrap printer featured in the Apress book Printing in Plastic. You'll then learn how to find and create 3D models, and even how to create a 3D model from a 2D image. Next, you'll walk through building multi-part models with a steampunk warship example, working with meshes to build your own action heroes, and creating an autonomous robot chassis. Finally, you'll find all sorts of bonus projects to build, including wind-up walkers, faceted vases for the home, and a handful of useful upgrades to improve your 3D printer.

In Practical 3D Printers, Brian Evans, the author of Beginning Arduino Programming, takes this topic deeper than any other 3D printing book with an discussion of various types of popular 3D printers, how to customize and calibrate them, and how to design and create models to put your printer to work. Whether you have the MakerBot, the Mendel, the whiteAnt, or any other 3D printer, with Practical 3D Printers, you'll be able to create amazing things with your printer.

What you’ll learn:
The various types of 3D printers, what they have in common, and what sets each one apart
The printer toolchain, including controllers and printer interfaces
The art of calibrating your printer
How to find and create 3D models to print, including using Google Sketchup
How to create multipart models and meshes
How to upgrade both the mechanical and electronic parts in your printer
Who this book is for:  Electronics enthusiasts, tinkerers, artists, and everyone who wants to use their 3D printer to do more than make more 3D printers.

Digital Fabrication in Architecture by Nick Dunn
With the increasing sophistication of CAD and other design software, there is now a wide array of means for both designing and fabricating architecture and its components. The proliferation of advanced modeling software and hardware has enabled architects and students to conceive and create designs that would be very difficult to do using more traditional methods. This book focuses on the inspiring possibilities for architecture that can be achieved with all the different technologies and techniques available for making complete designs or their components.

The Secret of the Great Pyramid: How One Man's Obsession Led to the Solution of Ancient Egypt's Greatest Mystery by Bob Brier and Jean-Pierre Houdin
A decade ago, French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin became obsessed by the centuries old question: How was the Great Pyramid built? How, in a nation of farmers only recently emerged from the Stone Age, could such a massive, complex, and enduring structure have been envisioned and constructed?

Laboring at his computer ten hours a day for five years—creating exquisitely detailed 3-D models of the Pyramid's interior—Houdin finally had his answer. It was a startling revelation that cast a fresh light on the minds that conceived one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Written by world-renowned Egyptologist Bob Brier in collaboration with Houdin, The Secret of the Great Pyramid moves deftly between the ancient and the modern, chronicling two equally fascinating interrelated histories. It is a remarkable account of the step-by-step planning and assembling of the magnificent edifice—the brainchild of an innovative genius, the Egyptian architect Hemienu, who imagined, organized, and oversaw a monumental construction project that took more than two decades to complete and that employed the services of hundreds of architects, mathematicians, boatbuilders, stonemasons, and metallurgists. Here also is the riveting story of Jean-Pierre Houdin's single-minded search for solutions to the mysteries that have bedeviled Egyptologists for centuries, such as the purpose of the enigmatic Grand Gallery and the Pyramid's crack.

A Barn in New England: Making a Home on Three Acres by Joseph Monninger
The beauty of the New England countryside, the joys of forming a new family, and the adventure of renovating a nineteenth-century barn come together in Joe Monninger's warm and evocative memoir of home and hearth. When the author and his black Labrador, and Wendy and her eight-year-old son, move into a 6,000-square-foot barn in New Hampshire, they fall in love with the building, not realizing how much work it will take to remodel--let alone heat--their new home. While building a fence, putting in a garden, renovating the house, and exploring the land, the author finds his family's new life rooted in the area's old traditions, learning the history of covered bridges and New England's witchy past. They discover the best way to trim the grass (sheep), the delight of moving a 14-foot Christmas tree into their living room, and the spooky fun of holding a seance for Halloween. With the charms of New England front and center, this endearing memoir captures the pleasures large and small of making a new place your own.

GENERAL DISCUSSION: One book group member told us about Samuel Mockbee and his Rural Studio concept.  From Auburn University's website:  "In 1993, two Auburn University architecture professors, Dennis K. Ruth and the late Samuel Mockbee, established the Auburn University Rural Studio in western Alabama within the university's School of Architecture. The Rural Studio, conceived as a strategy to improve the living conditions in rural Alabama while imparting practical experience to architecture students, completed its first project in 1994. In 2000, Andrew Freear was hired as thesis professor, and upon Mockbee's death, succeeded him as director while continuing to teach thesis. Under his guidance the focus has shifted from the design and construction of small homes to larger community projects."

The JCLC system has the following materials about Samuel Mockbee and his Rural Studio available:

(DVD) Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio

Rematerial: From Waste to Architecture by Alejandro Bahamon (references one of the Rural Studio projects)

Earth Architecture by Ronald Rael (references two of the Rural Studio projects)

Design Like You Give a Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crisis edited by Architecture for Humanity (references two of the Rural Studio projects)

Proceed and Be Bold: Rural Studio After Samuel Mockbee by Andrea Oppenheimer Dean and photographs by Timothy Hursley

Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio: Community Architecture edited by David Moos and Gail Trechsel

(DVD) The Rural Studio

Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency by Andrea Openheimer Dean, photographs by Timothy Hursley, and essays by Lawrence Chua and Cervin Robinson

Another member mentioned an interesting feature film centered around architecture and a cathartic aspect of building, Life as a House.

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