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Weekend 211.0 (Some break the rules, and live to count the cost)

(1) Fully Booked: Architect Annabelle Selldorf decodes the Morgan Library’s lofty design (WSJ)

(2) Life With and Without Tradition (WSJ)

(a) “The story is a cleverly constructed parable about the collision of orthodoxy and modernity, and it illustrates the author’s most rewarding themes: the emptiness of living without traditions and the perils of stubbornly clinging to them.”

(b) “We see his characters aggressively mapping their destinies, but we also know that, in the novel’s larger scope, every action is subject to the humbling forces of time and chance.”

(3) The Master Builder of Towers of Flowers (WSJ)

(4) Quote from E.M. Forster

“Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.”

(5) The Karakuwa House – The perfect monk house? It’s called the gassho which means praying hands.

(6) Quote from Frederick Crews on E.M. Forster

“The landscapes in his novels have an almost pantheistic vitality, and they are usually enlisted on the side of self-realization for the central characters. To be attuned to the spirit of the countryside is not simply to resist the shallowness of London, but to be awake to the full life of the senses, without which there is no real awakening of the soul.”

(7) Another quote from The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton

“A second compelling claim was made for the visual when the early theologians speculated that it might be easier to become a faithful servant of God by looking than by reading. They argued that mankind could more effectively be shaped by architecture than by Scripture. Because we were creatures of sense, spiritual principles stood a better chance of fortifying our souls if we took them in via our eyes rather than via our intellect. We might learn more about humility by gazing at an arrangement of tiles than by studying the Gospels, and more about the nature of kindness in a stained-glass window than in a holy book. Spending time in beautiful spaces, far from a self-indulgent luxury, was deemed to lie at the core of the quest to become an honorable person.

Weekend 208.0 (Chiaroscuro)

Sherwood Island Pavilion(1) Message From God: Be Patient (WSJ)

(2) How Google & Co. Will Rule Your Rep (WSJ)

“‘Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.’ Honest old Abraham Lincoln knew what he was talking about. Just imagine his reputation score. But today, even his shadow would look longer.”

(3) A Dramatic Enlightenment (WSJ)

“Even at the awkward angle from which we view the picture, we read it from left to right, as we do the sequence of the three paintings, but we also read from right to left, from the source of illumination above to its objects below. The drama entails a move between darkness and light, flesh and spirit, an old life and a new one.”

(4) Modern Architecture, Being the Kahn Lectures by Frank Lloyd Wright

“Shadows were the ‘brushwork’ of the ancient architect. Let the ‘modern’ now work with light, light diffused, light reflected, light refracted–light for its own sake, shadows gratuitous. It is the machine that makes modern these rare new opportunities in glass; new experience that architects so recent as the great Italian forebears, plucked even of their shrouds, frowning upon our ‘renaissance,’ would have considered magical. They would have thrown down their tools with the despair of the true artist. Then they would have transformed their cabinets into a realm, their halls into bewildering vistas and avenues of light–their modest units into unlimited wealth of color patterns and delicate forms, rivaling the frostwork upon the windowpanes, perhaps. They were creative enough to have found a world of illusion and brilliance, with jewels themselves only modest contributions to the splendor of their effects.”

(5) Quote from St. Thérèse of Lisieux

“When I want to rest my heart, wearied by the darkness which surrounds it, by the memory of the luminous country to which I aspire, my torment redoubles; it seems to me that the darkness, borrowing the voice of sinners, says mockingly to me, ‘You are dreaming about the light, about a country fragrant with the sweetest perfumes; you are dreaming about the eternal possession of the Creator of all these things; you believe that one day you will walk out of this fog which surrounds you…'”

(6) The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton

“It is in dialogue with pain that many beautiful things acquire their value. Acquaintance with grief turns out to be one of the more unusual prerequisites of architectural appreciation. We might, quite aside from all other requirements, need to be a little sad before buildings can properly touch us.”

Photo by ©JBOT 2.0 2012


“We seem divided between an urge to override our senses and numb ourselves to our settings and a contradictory impulse to acknowledge the extent to which our identities are indelibly connected to, and will shift along with, our locations. An ugly room can coagulate and loose suspicions as to the incompleteness of life, while a sun-lit one set with honey-coloured limestone tiles can lend support to whatever is most hopeful within us.

Belief in the significance of architecture is premised on the notion that we are, for better or for worse, different people in different places – and on the conviction that it is architecture’s task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be.”

The Architecture of Happiness, Alain de Botton

Weekend 206.0

Playmobil Advent Wreath 2011 (1) Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1373

(2) Fantastic hyperrealistic oil paintings by Steve Mills

(3) Ways to Manage an Image (WSJ)

(3a) The Art and Soul of Disney

(4) Jean Nouvel: The Pritzker-winning French architect checks in on hotels, carousels and burning down the house (WSJ)

(5) Nintendo Introduces Free Airport Hotspots For 3DS Users

(5a) KLM Passengers Can Use Facebook For ‘Meet & Seat’ (Wired)

(6) The Porteur/City bike by Hufnagel Cycles

(7) Birth By Sleep: Sora Stained Glass

It is impossible to go through life without trust: That is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself. – Graham Greene

Thanksgiving 2011

(1) Playmofan

(2) The Original Disneyland Hotel

(2a) Disneyland Hotel interior lobby area

(3) Christmas and winter photoshop styles

(4) “We are writing a primer on planning for the same people which probably is an indication that the American industrialists are replacing the intellectual liberal in whatever his role is as defender of the intangible that never materializes.” – Oscar Stonorov

(4a) Schroeder playing a Beethoven sonata from A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)

(4b) “There are several important consequences of Walt’s unconventional approach to architecture. Because of his devotion to tangible things, for instance, the Disney theme parks are full of compelling, believable detail: they seem more real, somehow, than the world outside the berm, even though the 1800s have vanished, along with the last of the unexplored jungle rivers, and the future still lies up ahead, muffled in hope and the trappings of a thousand bad science-fiction movies. But a creative technique based on models and pictures also favors style over content, clear and simple emotions over a range of more difficult choices.” – Imagineering the Disney Theme Parks by Karal Ann Marling

(5) Subway Depths, Lit by Art (WSJ)

In the mezzanine, commuters will walk past life-size images of New Yorkers from the 1940s. A shimmering cityscape, as viewed from the old elevated platforms, will be re-created in glass.

In all, Ms. Shin’s pieces are expected to cover about 1,900 square feet. “I hope, as commuters go through this new technology and this new subway line, the new will be the old and the old will be the new,” said Ms. Shin, 40 years old.

(6) An Artist Amasses a Rare Collection (WSJ)

(7) Things Fall Apart

(7a) “The Second Coming” by W.B. Yeats

(7b) The Fight Between Carnival and Lent at the Kunsthistorisches Museum by Pieter Bruegel

Weekend 201.0 (WSJ Edition+)

Passenger Car(1) Mastermind of the Mega-Coaster

(2) Great Books Matter

Culture – A catchall for any group of things or persons that one wants to link together for the purpose of discussion.

(3) Building a Better Future

(3a) Back to the Future

(3b) “There were two factions of TMRC (Tech Model Railroad Club). Some members loved the idea of spending their time building and painting replicas of certain trains with historical and emotional value, or creating realistic scenery for the layout. This was the knife-and-paintbrush contingent, and it subscribed to railroad magazines and booked the club for trips on aging train lines. The other faction centered on the Signals and Power Subcommittee of the club, and it cared far more about what went under the layout, This was The System, which worked something like a collaboration between Rube Goldberg and Wernher von Braun, and it was constantly being improved, revamped, perfected, and sometimes “gronked”—in club jargon, screwed up. S&P people were obsessed with the way The System worked, its increasing complexities, how any change you made would affect other parts, and how you could put those relationships between the parts to optimal use.”

(3c) “Imperfect systems infuriate hackers, whose primal instinct is to debug them. This is one of the reasons why hackers generally hate driving cars—the system of randomly programmed red lights and oddly laid out one way streets causes delays which are so unnecessary that the impulse is to rearrange signs, open up traffic-light control boxes…redesign the entire system.”

(3d) Peter Samson

Excerpts from Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy

(4) Tom Sachs

(5) How Harrisburg Borrowed Itself Into Bankruptcy

“The Harrisburg case raises fundamental questions about the way cities and states increasingly use debt to finance speculative development that private investors or lenders won’t touch. From minor league stadiums to arenas, museums, downtown redevelopment and waste plants with unproven technologies, billions have been spent on schemes of questionable value. Some projects are backed by unrealistic economic projections, which leave taxpayers on the hook for bond payments or operating subsidies. These deals are one reason why state and local debt outstanding has ballooned from $1.3 trillion to $2.5 trillion in the last decade, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve.”

(6) Quote: “Passionate love, I take it, rarely lasts long, and is very troublesome while it does last. Mutual esteem is very much more valuable.” — Anthony Trollope

Weekend 198.0

(1) Rachel Field

“Field also wrote the English lyrics for the version of Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria used in the Disney film Fantasia (film).”

(1a) Walt Disney’s Ave Maria

(2) Generation Limbo

“And there are plenty of this Lost Generation who, rather than turning to literature or the arts or even booze, dull the pain by worshipping the cult of celebrity, wondering why their own specialness doesn’t translate into hefty paychecks.”

(2a) Did I Say That? — Doing what needs to be done

(3) Euro-Collapse

(4) Quotable I

This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto our gentle senses.

– Macbeth

(5) The Online Gallery Of Artist Kevin Conklin

(6) Quotable II

There was a duality in medieval philosophy between the “active life” and the “contemplative life,” where one way of engaging with the world was to change it actively and another was to stand back and consider it from a distance. Is that image a good analogy for the roles of the architect and of the writer (or writing architect)?

I probably would not divide the making of architecture into two; designing buildings and writing about buildings. Certainly you can write in a way or build in a way that cancels the other out. You can write in way and not build, and implore other people to follow that way, and you can do the opposite: you can build and say, “By my buildings you understand my philosophical position.”

Michael Graves in ‘Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books’ by Jo Steffens

(7) In the Land of Macbeth

(8) Quotable III

Let me now sing of my friend, my friend’s song concerning his vineyard. My friend has a vineyard on a fertile hillside; he spaded it, cleared it of stones, and planted the choicest vines; within it he built a watchtower, and hewed out a wine press. Then he looked for the crop of grapes, but what it yielded was wild grapes.

Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard: What more was there to do for my vineyard that I had not done? Why, when I looked for the crop of grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes? Now, I will let you know what I mean to do to my vineyard: take away its hedge, give it to grazing, break through its wall, let it be trampled! Yes, I will make it a ruin: it shall not be pruned or hoed, but overgrown with thorns and briers; I will command the clouds not to send rain upon it. The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his cherished plant; he looked for judgement, but see, bloodshed! for justice, but hark, the outcry!

– Is 5:1-7

Weekend 194.1

Penn Station“Perhaps the hard truth was this: New Yorkers had never come to really love Penn Station. Charles Follen McKim, an architect rankled by the very skyscrapers, crowds, and cacophony that embodied modern New York, had designed a classical monument out of step with its own time and place. In 1939, Fortune magazine had ungraciously described McKim’s masterpiece as a “landmark from Philadelphia [that] squats on the busiest part of underground New York.” The Fortune article about the station, while affectionate about men like “Big Bill” Egan and station cats (two mousers), was otherwise grudging: “Pennsylvania Station affronts the very architectural rationale on which New York is founded by daring to be horizontal rather than a vertical giant. Many New Yorkers unconsciously resent the Pennsylvania Station for that reason…To sensitive New Yorkers the station’s body is on Seventh Avenue, but its soul is in Philadelphia…The New York Central Railroad, on the other hand, was put together in New York and New Yorkers think of the Grand Central Terminal as a native…it has the grace to be newer, more vertical, and compactly efficient in a way New Yorkers admire.” In short, the Pennsylvania Station was the work of men who did not love New York. It seemed that the subsequent decades—as even Penn Station’s grandeur had faded with grime and neglect—had done little to overcome that lingering native resentment. And so, the plans advanced for the destruction of one of the city’s noblest civic spaces and monuments.” — Jill Jonnes, Conquering Gotham

(1) About Fortune magazine…

Fortune had begun as an unbridled celebration of free market capitalism, but Luce had experienced a change of heart in the late 1930s. when the media mogul adopted an ideology of the social responsibility of business and the mass media. During the war, Fortune, which aestheticized capitalism for captains of industry, applied its ample rhetorical and visual strategies to sponsor an ideology of planning that openly challenged the philosophy behind the magazine.” — Andrew M. Shanken, 194X: Architecture, Planning, and Consumer Culture on the American Home Front

(2) Conquering Gotham

Deconstructing 194X, Part I of X

Quote 1
…only revolutions offer up spontaneous futures like 194X, and usually at the cost of great memory loss – heads must roll in order to usher in Véndemiaire, the first month of the French Revolutionary calendar (page seventeen).

Quote 2
…as the lingua franca of modernists, abstraction was seen as ameliorative, instrumental, and revelatory. Its claim to universality offered an ideal mode for planning, whose very nature remained, even at this date, an abstraction, and which, in its most radical form, aimed to liberate the masses. Abstraction conveniently hid planning’s most violent aspect, namely, its assertive destruction of the city of the present, which many architects believed was stuck in the straightjacket of the past. Planning, the social abstraction that would rid the world of slums, create equality, and reconstruct cities into ideal urban fabrics (page twenty-nine).

Quote 3
…the NRPB provided an especially broad understanding of planning. This legacy deserves more attention, from the practical and ideological content of its literature to is strategies for publicizing planning and the visual culture surrounding its work. Its influence can be gauged in part by how many of its central concerns remain with us today. The agency emphasized local participation and organization (a legacy that would reemerge strongly in the 1960s), coordinated planning on all levels, and gave planning an accessible image (page eighteen).

Quote 4
…more than anything, the NRB realized that planning was an alien concept to most Americans, whose deeply rooted individualism ran counter to the common misperception of planning as “the wholesale regimentation of private life,” commonly associated with totalitarianism (page nineteen).

Quote 5
…the planning that leads to overcentralization belonged to the established technical fields of industrial, social, and economic planning, bound together by national planning. The planning that “plans its own decentralization,” by contrast, expressed a social attitude, or perhaps something more: an élan vital at the heart of democracy’s social justice-the idealistic creed of liberal government (page twenty).

Quote 6
…the NRB’s tacit, though thinly veiled, assumption was that laissez-faire capitalism had failed and only a planned society could save it (page twenty-one).

Quote 7
…the authors made publicity a centerpiece of bringing “Plans into Action,” as they called one section. including the use of newspapers and radio, town meetings, and planning classes in the local school system. Propaganda and education would transform planning into a cultural force that emanated from the public will and a patriotic duty on which the future community rested (page twenty-three).

All quotes from 194X: Architecture, Planning, and Consumer Culture on the American Home Front by Andrew M. Shanken

What Happened to Obama? Absolutely Nothing. (WSJ)

Mr. Obama was a genuine product of the political culture that had its birth among a marginal group of leftists in the early 1960s and that by the end of the decade had spread metastatically to the universities, the mainstream media, the mainline churches, and the entertainment industry. Like their communist ancestors of the 1930s, the leftist radicals of the ’60s were convinced that the United States was so rotten that only a revolution could save it…Thus, not one of the six Democratic presidential candidates who followed Mr. McGovern came out of the party’s left wing, and when Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton (the only two of the six who won) tried each in his own way to govern in its spirit, their policies were rejected by the American immune system. It was only with the advent of Barack Obama that the leftists at long last succeeded in nominating one of their own.

Weekend 192.0

BuildingA day in NYC…

(1) 194X–9/11: American Architects and the City @ the MoMA

(1a) The Life and Death of Buildings at the Princeton University Art Museum [FIELD TRIP]

(2) Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien

(3) Gotham Model Trains!

(4) Kinokuniya Book Store

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