Tuesday, February 08, 2011

I'm so annoyed I could...

I'm, so annoyed, I could throw a brick. 

Come to think of it, maybe it's not such a great idea.  Architects typically look like pussies. 
Throwing bricks only accentuates the pussy-ness 

We're Back
Yeah, it's been a while.  What's it to you?  We've been so freakin' busy, with this rip-roarin' economy and all, we just haven't had time to post (sarcasm).

When our boss gets pissed he likes to throw things.  The "Brick Throwing Incident" has become somewhat legendary.  I am not sure what started it but I think it happened one day when he couldn't find trace paper in the conference room.  It pushed him over the edge and as he briskly walked screaming out of the conference room, he grabbed a brick and tossed it across the office.  I guess he has a lot of faith in our company's insurance policy.

This event is only second in the annals of anger management history to the time when he tried to tear the City of Chicago Building Code in half.  A word of worning to architects that want to attempt this act in the future:  This makes you look like an even bigger pussy than you do when you throw a brick. 

Catching Up
Things have been so great around here that we figured it was time to recussitate the blog.  Who cares if the office has dropped from forty to six employees and we have no one to write anymore.  We'll try and make the most of it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Injuries abound for second half of season

Economically, the outlook overall is grim for this architectural season but many architectural teams are still working hard to salvage their firms. To make matters worse, at the half-way mark, architectural injuries are up about 35% from last year. The greatest seen since 1985 when the Windows platform was adopted by many offices and CAD drawing left many stricken with carpal tunnel. This is wreaking havoc on the Fantasy Architecture Pools out there.

Some say that most of the latest injuries are due to the stress of recent economic conditions. Others believe that maybe we’ve just pushed the physical gymnastics taken to achieve architectural inspiration one step too far. This argument is buoyed by the reports last week that Frank Ghery, in the act of crumbling taped together pieces of newspaper in the design for the new Anchorage Daily News Building, developed Mallet Finger. “It was the size of the paper”, Ghery noted. “I’ve done this millions of times with notebook sheets, 11x17, and even newspaper but to achieve the right look for such a prestigious paper, I needed something bigger. I went too far”. Three fingers were rendered helpless by the act.

The diagnosis is still undetermined in another crippling injury; one that could not have come at a worse time. While arguing his point about how the State Hermitage Museum absolutely must hire him for the project because they deserved one of his great buildings, Daniel Leibeskind suffered a series of tongue spasms. ”At the moment he was explaining how a free irrotational vortex geometry creates a series of asymmetric, yet computable and predictable arcs, and mimic the classical corinthian detailing and thus relate to the existing building yet point towards a less predictable and more sophisticated future, he was rendered speechless“ his assistant Hans Hanneman explained. Leibeskind’s staff was in tears as they each relayed their account of the harrowing experience.

Finally, no injury is more shocking than the intense photosensitivity that has plagued not only head architect, Richard Meier but most of his staff. ”I will not relent, they must be white so if I have to work only at night, so be it. If I have to resort to a pinhole projector to view my creations, I will“, said Meier wearing a fashionable pair of custom-made Hilfiger sunglasses. The affliction took place while Meier and his staff were enjoying a cocktail party Meier held at newly completed private residence at an undisclosed location in Florida. ”I brought them there to congratulate everyone for a job well done“, exclaimed a visibly upset Meier. ”It was just too sunny that day.“ Two catering workers were also injured.

The complete list of this years injuries are as follows:

Frank Ghery, mallet finger
Daniel Leibeskind, tongue spasms

Rem Koolhas, constant state of jet lag
Renzio Piano, acute art-phobia

Richard Meier, photosensitivity
Santiago Calatrava, vertigo

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Reviews Begin (Again)

It's that time of year (actually, we're about 4 months late but who's counting). We are starting reviews this week. The pool is open - cast your time by adding it to the comments here and we'll give a prize to the person that picks the date closest to the final review.

In the meantime - since this could take some time, here is something for your viewing pleasure:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The anticipation has been killing us

Unfortunately gas prices kept us from flying to Sweden last weekend for the Mama Mia Premier but nothing will keep us from getting together, downing a few appletinis, and going over to see the movie. We still have no clue what it's about or how you could make a movie, let alone a musical from a bunch of ABBA songs but we're sure it is nothing short of fantastic. We just hope there is a good cry in here somewhere so we can let out some of the emotions that are building up from the daily grind.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Close But No Cigar

So the FHM sexiest women list came out today. The all-time LWoA favorite came in at #2. The last time we tried to form a concensus on this issue, it took an immense amount of work. I have to say, I think that the folks at FHM have much better taste than those at Maxim but I'll let you be the judge. Rather than go through all that again, let's open up the conversation through the comments to this post and see what everyone thinks.

By the way, In case you forgot what the hottest woman in the world looks like:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Studio Gang Bang

As you are all aware, we here at LWoA take architecture and architectural criticism very seriously. Not as seriously as the goings on in the life of Jessica Biel, but seriously none the less. It is in this role that we must talk about the one thing that everyone, except us apparently, in Chicago is talking about. Of course we speak of the great and powerful AQUA! If you have not seen this piece of architectural genius please take a moment and check it out.

Welcome back. If you are like us you surely enjoyed the fun water effects as your mouse moved across the rendering. Graphic designers have it made, don’t they? Back to the issue at hand, the state of architectural critique today. If you have been keeping up with the writings and pontifications of Blair Kamin, Lee Bey, Stanley Tigerman, and countless others, then you know that they have a soft spot for Ms. Gang. In fact, the most recent article by Kamin is a borderline obscene overture and seems to go well beyond a passing admiration for her work. As people continue to spew the virtues of Aqua and its creator we must ask, does everyone want to take part in a Jeanne Gangbang? Don’t get me wrong, Aqua is a fine residential tower and will probably look pretty good on the skyline, but really is it the piece of earth shattering brilliance it is made out to be by Blair? Or is he so infatuated by Jeannie that he forgot to put his glasses on and look at the building? Hey if you want to steal a kiss from her and hope she calls you in the morning that’s great, but be honest about it, don’t hide behind “honest architectural review”?
Let’s take a moment to look at Aqua and see if maybe Blair and Stan the Man are correct and it is the pearl in the sea of crap that is residential development in Chicago. We have seen the models, looked at the website, checked out the unit plans, and done the things we assume any good architecture critic would do and come to one easy conclusion: the balconies are cool. They are balconies, right? It's hard to tell because they have yet to be depicted as such, with mandatory guardrails and the corresponding grills and crap that people pile on them. Anyway, the shape of the "balcony" is interesting and makes for a very nice looking façade. No one is arguing against that. Then again, as one noted observer points out: if it were not for the building’s name and all of those flashy effects on the website one might think that this building has nothing to do with water and instead that, like an old tree, a family of fungus is growing from it. Perhaps this dual imagery is its strength, a sign of genius? But we digress.
The rest of the building is the problem. What’s that? You did not realize there was a building behind those balconies? Of course not, because not a word has been written about the actual space inside the building or the earth shattering new concept in residential living you will be purchasing when you buy your aqua unit. Why is this? Well, if you wanted to sleep with the hot girl you would focus on complimenting and ignore the criticism also. Is a building wonderful just because you convinced the builder to bend a little steel to make the concrete formwork curved instead of straight? We bet this works for most people. Even we know absolutely nothing about what Jessica Biel is thinking. We just know she makes us stop breathing with her captivating beauty. It’s a start, but perhaps there could be more. There must be something about modern condos that would be better if we rethought them a little.

It is also unclear what happens where this building meets the ground. Obviously Kamin’s fetish ends at about the knees. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a beautiful set of feet (God what we’d give for a nice close-up of Jessica’s feet) but we haven’t seen much detail of what Aqua holds in store. Most published images seem to focus on the upper three-quarters of the building. I guess it doesn’t really matter because anything might be considered “fine” in the cavernous mess that passes for a streetscape at Lakeshore East. It looks like a massive curved canteliever over a non-descript storefront wall. This may be an overture to contextualism in relation to the rest of the area but maybe we should reserve judgement for when we can actually see the real thing.
There is another confusing aspect to how this building has been depicted. Most images show this thing sitting majestically at the edge of Grant Park. We went for a visit and though you can see it from the park, it doesn’t seem to have the dramatic site that the renderings promise. In fact, it seems to suffer a bit because it is tucked within the development as opposed to being on a prominent edge. This seems fine for the fungus-laden tree trunk imagery but not for “Aqua”. Why was a site somewhere else in the development not chosen? If the edge of Grant Park is impossible, then perhaps something closer to the river?

Regardless of how this might seem, all of this is not a knock at Aqua or The Gang, but points to a problem with the state of architectural critique in the city. Let’s celebrate the cool building mass we will get from aqua when it’s finished, but aren’t critics being paid to look at the whole thing, not just the model? There is not much innovative about the floor plan, that’s for sure. Looks exactly like the stuff inside all the boring towers going up. It should take a little more than a curved balcony to make something as special as it seems this building is.
Let’s also look at how this thing is situated within the entire Lakeshore East development. So why didn’t it get located on the river-side of the development or in a more conspicuous spot altogether. You would think it would deserve a decent site since it is also supposedly architect-developer Lowenberg’s swan song. It is definitely nicer than his typical productions but frankly, we deserve something decent from him as this guy has been leaving loads of crap along the streets of Chicago for years.
Unfortunately, the issues we raise seem to escape criticism. Step up and look at the big picture Blair, its OK, she will probably still like you. This gushing over architects seems to be a prevalent theme within Chicago architectural criticism circles. What seems to be particularly odd is that all of the most recent gushing is going on over an architect that has very few built structures and over a building that is barely half-constructed. Kamin himself should know the pitfalls of this as he took a particularly strong stance against this phenomenon in a 1997 Tribune article; written when everyone was jumping on the Bilbao bandwagon. Isn't he falling into the same trap by participating in the Studio Gangbang? So that may be our problem: we at LWoA expect a little more form our critics. Aqua is nice, but it is nothing special beyond the façade. Maybe that is our problem, sadly way back when we learned to be architects someone told us that buildings are not just objects to be looked at from across the street, but spaces to be inhabited and experienced. Maybe we are wrong and we should just enjoy the cool form we will get to see, especially since no one at the LWoA staff can afford to live there and have their own wavy balcony. But no, we expect more, just as we will not sit back and simply enjoy Jessica Biel in all her hotness, but rather debate her ability as an actress. We want it all and can not simply over look the flaws in buildings or hot women (although it is a lot easier with the women).

Wait a minute! We have just reviewed the floor plans one more time and we were wrong, the building truly is a brilliant design. Look closely, see it…..the islands in the kitchen have an angled side, they are not standard rectangles, now that is innovative. That clinches it, We were wrong, the critics are correct, sign us up for the studio gangbang!!!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

"What would you say you do here?"

Recently we were given a puzzled look when we presented a proposal to a prospective client of our apparently obscure services. The proposal included numbers for mechanical electrical and plumbing engineering design consultants, structural engineering consultants, civil engineering consultants, sustainability consultants, acoustic design consultants, interior design consultants, surveyors, landscape design consultants, and, then, at the very end, our number for architectural services.

What's included in your architectural services? These were, of course, nobly defined in the proposal but with all these other team members it boiled down to coordination and permitting. Those of you who are architects and architects in Chicago, know that these are essential and painful tasks. But they are soft, tangible only when things go wrong. Do they need an architect to do this project? What are we stamping? Where does our responsibility lie? Is our stamp necessary only because the City requires it?

Good questions. Engineers stamp the MEP design, the structural design, and the civil engineering design. The architect is basically there to make sure the interior design is up to code and available to all those handicapped.

We daydream back to the heady days of architecture school. Chip board and plexi glass models abound, lofty vocabulary describing our studio projects floated high with our dreams of a professional career of half art half science. Back in front of AutoCAD, we haven't seen chip board in years, there is no art just building code, no science just coordination.

They could hire project management consultants to do the coordination and construction administration, then where would we at LWoA be?

Making a little better than $34k a year, ready to be fired at any time.