October 31, 2006

Flight 93 Memorials

I wouldn't say that the winning design is bad. And though I think the reason they changed the shape of the red maple allee was silly (it was changed because people thought the crescent shape looked like the Islamic crescent), I do prefer the newer shape.

However, the winner has been discussed quite a bit already; what interests me are the losers. My favorite is "Fields, Forests, Fences" (link is to a rather large image, but its worth the wait), entered by Laurel McSherry and Terry Surjan:

flight 93 fff 1.jpg

The title refers to the basic elements of the entry: (1) fields consisting of open meadows, fields in early succession, and freshwater wetlands; (2) forests of a birch grove on the sacred ground, stands of hemlock, young woodlands dominated by red maples, sassafras, spice bush, witch hazel, and also older, mature forests with hemlock and mixed hardwoods; (3) fences consisting of monuments marking the names, hometowns, and birthdates of the Flight 93 passengers and crew, cast urns made by local craftsmen, scattered through the debris fields, and filled with rendered hemlock mulch, and a memorial fence that stands above the Sacred Ground and birch grove.

Above is the proposed memorial fence, on which visitors to the memorial would hang metal forestry tags, inscribed with messages by those visitors. This would have been one of several ways in which the site would constantly fluid, where design consists more of setting up a process or set of rules than a specific form. The winning design is obviously an example of the other sort of design (form specification), which is the traditional mode of landscape architecture.

I am not sure whether the newer mode has a name or not, but I think it would probably be most closely identified with ecological thinking:

"If the related notions of bounded sites and bounded bodies ceased to function as useful concepts because of a theoretical emphasis on the open nature of systems in space, then new conceptions of demarcation in space would be more dependent on the density (and intensity) of biological interactions that occur over time. Adopting that basis for demarcation and delineation would require a major shift in thinking for design theorists, who have relied heavily on geographic dimensions as their primary means of recognizing and reproducing important relationships."
- Kristina Hill, "Shifting Sites" (in Site Matters)

Anyways, here are the other finalists (all of which I think are probably superior to the winning design):

flight 93 2.jpg
DISTURBED HARMONY (the links with these are to the competition boards, which are large like the McSherry/Surjan one above) - Leor and Gilat Lovinger, with Office of Lawrence Halprin, San Francisco, California

Flight 3.jpg
(F)LIGHT - Ken Lum with Dennis Fanti, Yvonne Lam and Ivan Ilic, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

flight 4.jpg
MEMORY TRAIL - Jason Kentner, Karen Lewis, E. Lynn Miller, and Frederick Steiner. Austin,Texas

October 30, 2006

DC United (again)

I think this pretty much says it all:

"I wish I could play in front of fans like that week in and week out" - Josmer Altidore

"I call that the Matrix" - Bobby Boswell

(video of the Matrix)

October 29, 2006

October 27, 2006

Wormwood Forest


I stumbled across some more information on the Chernobyl graffiti today. Apparently, you can take a tour of Chernobyl (it is described as "ecological/extreme tourism"), which is how the graffiti artists (who I now see described as "twentysomething Belarusians and Germans") gained entry into Chernobyl. I like the silhouettes best, such as this one. However, I suppose I should note that the author of Wormwood Forest does not think much of the graffiti-makers.

October 24, 2006

Right Wingers, Fundamentalists, and other items from the day of current taste

David Brooks hammers Andrew Sullivan's new book here. Sullivan responds here.

The basic thesis of Sullivan's new book is apparently (I have not read it) that religious fundamentalists have hijacked the Republican party, pulling it away from its conservative roots. I suppose that's more rational than Rush, but I find it a bit far-fetched as an attempt to describe what might be problematic about contemporary conservatism (especially when considered in light of recent revelations about the way that the religious right's agenda has apparently been treated behind the scenes in the Bush White House). For more enlightened commentary, I refer you to The American Scene:

"The religious-conservative agenda, insofar as it's been put into practice by Bush, involves increased spending on AIDS in Africa and faith-based initiatives at home, an emphasis on abstinence in federally-funded sex education, and those "conservative judges" and gay marriage ballot initiatives. And all of these projects, love them or hate them, have very little to do with 1) the Iraq War or 2) the perception, fed by everything from the botched Social Security reform to Bush's disinterest in global warming, that the GOP is in the pocket of the rich and big business, which (along with the hangover from Hurricane Katrina) are the biggest albatrosses circling the party these days."

(I, by the way, consider myself not a party in this argument, as I am loathe to identify myself with either the Republicans or the Democrats. Two sides of the same Enlightenment coin, if you ask me.)

October 23, 2006


mattingly possibilitiesofmulti.jpg
Possibilities of Multilateral Communication

From Slate:

"In Mary Mattingly's meticulously imagined future, civilization has shattered and nomadic "navigators" roam the landscape in "wearable homes" that look like khaki chadors designed by Comme des Garçons' Rei Kawakubo. Her photographs in the ICP show are digitally stitched-together composite images of futuristic landscapes; they look like kitschy surrealism, but her Web site, presented on a monitor in the exhibition, offers a fuller sense of her intriguing technophilic vision."

Some of them are just strange, but some of them are also quite beautiful (albeit in a very odd fashion). They remind me of the short-lived television series Earth 2:

mattingly watercrawler.jpg

(these images are copyrighted by Ms. Mattingly)

October 20, 2006

Strange Soviet Architecture with bonus Crazy Frenchmen in Chernobyl


Click here for an interview with the photographer, Frederic Chaubin. Some of these buildings are stunning, though the first one is my favorite.

If that's not enough Soviet-strangeness for you, perhaps you would enjoy this collection of photographs of Chernobyl. I found a couple of things particularly interesting.

chernobyl 1.jpg

The story that English Russia provides is that a crazed French artist visited Chernobyl and made these surreal paintings on buildings. I suppose its certainly possible.

chernobyl 2.jpg

The city is being eaten by the forest. I think someone wrote a book on this (Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl).

October 19, 2006

Free Music: Album Leaf

I've been loving this song off the Album Leaf's latest (Into the Blue Again):

On Your Way

Always for You
Over the Pond

It won't knock your socks off, necessarily, but if you're looking for something to tide you over between Sigur Ros albums, it should do.

October 16, 2006

More on TV and Autism

A while back I linked to speculation on slate that tv watching in young children might be related to the rise in autism... well now there's some evidence. The evidence is correlative, not causitive, but its definitely stronger than just speculation. Of course, the AAP has already been recommending that children under 2 not watch any television at all anyways, so its not like proof would result in a massive change in what parents are being advised to do anyways. It might, however, scare some parents into actually following that advice, I suppose.

October 11, 2006

Doe, a deer, a female deer

Forgot to mention this earlier:

Scotland 1 - France 0

We'll see what happens today. Don't have a good feeling, but, then, can you ever?

October 7, 2006

Best Free Music on the Internet V

Ain't got much text for you, but I do have a song:

Neko Case - Hold On, Hold On

"The most tender place in my heart is for strangers..."

October 6, 2006

The Shortsighted Architecture of Covenant College

Josiah links to the new website for the Covenant capital campaign, which contains a couple of renderings of the proposed new residence hall, academic building, and 'campus green'.

I have to say that my initial reaction is 'ick'. 'Ick' not as in Founders, which is an ugly building with considerable charm (the way that the second floor meets the ground level with the overhanging entrance, for instance), but 'ick' as in Maclellan, which is a competent structure that entirely lacks any sort of compelling architecture. Architecture by engineers, if you will (but not the good sort of architecture by engineers).

The ick is compounded by what seems to me to be the tragic wastefulness of placing such dull architecture in such a beautiful site, as illustrated well, I think, by this shot from the front of the campaign website:


Why would you build buildings in such a wonderful place which have no relationship to the place? Carter has relationship, if only by default, in that it has been a presence on the mountain for so long that I have never seen an image of Lookout that predates the hotel. And I think the shape of the tower, rising from the north end of the building, nicely echoes the form of the land itself, where the peak of Lookout Mountain rises from a ridge that extends south far past Cloudland Canyon.

The chapel also has relationship and is definitely the second best building on the campus. I suggest that the art barn is the third best, followed perhaps by Founders. All three of those evidence at least some sort of relationship to place, something that indicates that they belong here, not there. I am prepared to defend those statements, but I won't bother unless challenged.

The newer buildings do nothing of the sort, and I am sad to see that the College seems intent on continuing this trend of mediocre architecture. It's a shame when you consider it in comparison to previous Presbyterian architecture, like Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia. (I don't mean to suggest that new construction should look like Tenth Presbyterian, or any other historic structure; only to reference the tradition of architecture in the church.) One of the long-standing assertions of the architectural disciplines (and I include landscape in that) is that architecture has meaning; that it says something about the people who make it, what was valuable to them, what they thought of the future. The sort of architecture that the college is engaged in now is essentially a denial of both the future and the past, in that it both disregards a history of architectural thought and evidences little concern about the future of a place.

One last word, on the campus green. I absolutely cannot stand it, for two reasons. First, because it wipes out a perfectly functional space (Carter Circle), which has long stood in my memory as one of the defining places of Covenant. It does so in order to replace it with... what? A nebulous and poorly defined representation of a "green"? I assume that this is some sort of reference to the old American tradition of the rectangular open space at the center of a campus, such as the lawn found at the University of Virginia or the Harvard Quadrangle. However, it should be obvious from those images (as well as the previous one of the new Academic building) that the plan for the Covenant campus green is an ill-considered imitation (like the way Western towns used to put up fake fronts on stores by the railroad line, but without the charm that implies). The space at Covenant which functions as the central open space is the lawn between Mills and the chapel; were a campus green a good idea, I think it would obviously belong there.

Second, I object to the very idea of imposing a northeastern university ideal on a building built on top of a mountain in the heart of the south; if you look at the drawings of the green, you will note that do not consider in the slightest the fact that Covenant is located in an extremely unique site. I'm not sure what the proper landscape of the college is; however, I am rather certain that an idea which is entirely suitable for flat landscapes in New England is ill-suited to Lookout Mountain in Tennessee.