It wasn’t until I had lived other places that I realized how terrible the grocery stores in Mississippi are. I was wandering around a Gelson’s or Albertsons when a coworker griped about how “disgusting” this particular store was. It wasn’t the worst I had seen in L.A., really it was just average, but it was still better than any grocery store in my hometown. And who likes being told that their food comes from a sad, gross place? Or the food they ate for 18 years. Economically, it makes complete sense for a grocer in rural MS to have less frills than one in Beverly Hills or even Los Feliz, but I still somehow felt deficient and isolated. Seeing images of the Sanya Lake Park Super Market, I feel a similar ache of what might have been.
After days of spectacular schools in other parts of the world, today we’re in Baltimore looking at a law school on American soil. It’s the University of Balitmore’s new School of Law and the project is proudly anchored into American concrete. ‘Murica! We’ll have to ignore that the firm responsible for the project, Behnisch Architekten, has an office in Boston but is still European enough to use architekten. In Maryland, the firm has not merely stacked boxy volumes on top of each other, but pushed the volumes together, creating a complex interior atrium from the inside out. While I suspect that the building will function mechanically and programmatically, the expression seems distracting.
It’s easy, at least for me, to fall into the trap of thinking that all newly constructed Scandinavian architecture is better than the majority of the freshly built buildings here in the States. Of course there are exceptions, so many that it’s not even a real rule, but instead of introducing an exceptional stateside project, here’s a Scandinavian project that reinforces my position in the trap – a school in a Norway designed by Link Arkitektur.
I recently came across these surreal photographs by the German designer Carsten Güth and was totally captivated by them. Entitled Private Bunker Series, the collection of photographs show a variety of residential houses shut-off from the outside world; their windows and doors nowhere to be seen.
There’s a surrealism and a beauty to these images. In many ways they feel claustrophobic – even horrific – but there’s also an elegance to be found in their minimalist forms and their obscure abstractions.
The whole area surrounding the new, a-lab designed Statoil Regional and International Offices used to be Oslo’s central airport. In fact, many of the airport’s building still stand, even if they’ve been repurposed. But this is a new construction, a shining stack of office spaces on the site of what used to be a parking lot. So when the architects describe their conundrum of designing a large office building and “making it blend with Fornebu’s idyllic shoreline” I sort of wonder how idyllic the parking lot really was compared to the outstanding new spaces the architects have created.
A long way from their offices in Oslo and New York, the Architects from Snohetta have put the finishing touches on the Hunt Library in Raleigh, North Carolina. The library is a sweeping and modern addition to North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus, where the project’s aluminum skin and contemporary presence contrast the more staunchly traditional brick buildings that flank the silvery structure. Aside from standing out among the buildings on campus, the project stands out among libraries because it pushes the typology toward something more contemporary. Instead of a staunchly academic space, the project is relaxed and collaborative; it just seems like the future.
Growing up in a rural area, I probably passed by dozens and dozens of useless, sinking grain silos without ever stopping to think about them. But I’m not photographer Timothy Hursley, who has spent the last six years documenting a ruined grain silo which is slowly slouching toward the ground in Hale County, Alabama. One day he happened to drive by a tornado-damaged grain silo, and became enamored. You may be asking what an architectural photographer would be doing in Hale County in the first place. I’m guessing he was photographing work from the Rural Studio, a division of the Auburn School of Architecture that has been transforming public space in Hale County for years. We actually talked about the concession stands the studio created a couple of years ago, and I’m happy to see the innovative play structure that has been completed since.
In a video from the Oxford American, Timothy describes how his fascination with the silo began. He compares the form of he silo to the work of Frank Gehry, and even explains how he eventually purchased the silo for himself. If you live in a rural area, it may change the way you look at your surroundings, or it may make you wonder how many other silos are on the brink of collapse and will spend the rest of their days rusting in a scrap yard.
Do you ever feel small? It’s easy to feel tiny in the shadow of a huge building or the in the wake of a weighty event. And there has been plenty of news about destructive actions for the past day or so here in the States, so let’s look at some construction. The scale of construction and engineering projects is frequently enormous, but the work is still carried out by the hands of workers who aren’t bigger or smaller than the rest of us. Sure, those hands may be steering gargantuan trucks or controlling cranes so large they easily dwarf the trucks, but realizing large projects is about people our size working to build something. These photos are of the people who get it done.