Architecture Archives

August 4, 2005

The Eye of the Beholder

I posted about Kiyomizudera here before. I was doing some follow-up reading and came across a site which covers Asian architecture. I was a bit surprised that the entry on Kiyomizudera doesn't show much of what I consider to be one of the most prominent features of that temple. Then I looked at the page for Katsura Rikyu and also found it did not show what I consider to be the finer points of the place.

I suppose we all see what we want to see and this points out that one shouldn't be surprised that others don't see things in quite the same way.

Anyway, the site is a good place to learn a bit about Asian architecture. Almost makes me want to dig up my old copy of Sir Banister Fletcher's "History of Architecture" so I can post his quote on the "Non-Historical" styles for all to laugh at.

August 8, 2005


But true. German igloos.

I'm not sure that the one which is built over a big blue plastic bag is authentic... unless it is the skin of a blue whale.

August 11, 2005

From the mind of Philippe Starck

Duravit has a new design center in Germany which includes a 19 meter tall toilet:

I've been wondering how long it would take him to do that ever since his famous "La Flamme" building for Asahi beer building was completed.

I must say that the walk-in size toilets in the La Flamme building are indeed impressive, though I believe they were manufactured by Toto.

August 22, 2005


Just bumped into the Galinsky site which is:

"a free service for people enjoying buildings worldwide. Our searchable pages are designed to help you find and enjoy some of the world's most exciting modern architecture, both on-line and in real life.

Galinsky is for anyone with an interest in modern buildings and architecture, whatever your level of knowledge. We use no obscure architectural terms, and are obsessed with architecture that has turned into real buildings that people can see and appreciate - not designs for their own sake."
Worth a look if you are traveling or want to find something interesting in your own location.

August 25, 2005

Ruins and Rusty Metal

Look at this blog (also here) and tell me ruins and rusty metal are NOT some sort of architectural fetish.

Next up: big holes in the ground.

August 26, 2005

The Charette Rediscovered

This time it is game designers. It is probably worth mentioning that the same technique of specifying a tight deadline is used in labor negotiations and by those seeking to draft constitutions. Those of us who occasionally fly the blue flag of procrastination (note: that is not my house) will find it utterly familar.

October 14, 2005

Take a tour around the world

Visit Pruned and BLDGBLOG for some alternate views of the world around you.

November 14, 2005


I spent Saturday night on Alcatraz.

It seemed smaller than I thought it was and for a while, with the run of the island it (and some beautiful weather for mid-November) it seemed almost a fun place, but after a while the never ending bars put you in a mood to escape to outside and a walk around the now ruined gardens. I'll post more pictures and notes in the next few days.

To and Fro ...


Alcatraz Island is part of the GGNRA (Golden Gate National Recreation Area), which at more than 75,000 acres is one of the largest urban parks in the world. Alcatraz itself is only a small part of this, but due to the location in the middle of San Francisco Bay it is one of the most visible sites.

The only way to get to the island is by a short ferry ride from San Francisco. It is a bit more than a mile offshore and as a result it offers one of the best views of the city at night that I've ever seen.


November 15, 2005

Government Issue and Free

alcatraz frontdoor.JPG

From the front door Alcatraz doesn't look too forbidding. Because the entrance is up above the original level of the fortress and enters the prison at the second floor it almost looks a bit like a post office or other governmental building. Looking closer, you can find one of the indications of the American Indian Movement occupation of the island. The red stripes under the eagle have been modified to read "FREE".

alcatraz indian graffiti free.JPG

In my mind the Indian occupation is perhaps more important than Alcatraz's days as a prison, but it doesn't capture the imagination of hollywood to the same extent as a prison break.

February 10, 2006

Alcatraz - D block

D Block was the maximum security wing at Alcatraz. This is were prisoners were sent to isolate them from the rest of the prison. Here is how it looks these days:


The green doors at the end of the ground floor are the isolation cells which are sound and light insulated and have a cold steel floor for the prisoners to sleep on.

In this photo though, with the warm Western light streaming in, D block seemed to be one of the more pleasant areas of the prison, especially on the upper levels with a view of the Golden Gate. I suppose the question is whether the view would sustain you or merely taunt you about what you are missing.

February 23, 2006

Where are you sitting today?

Mondrian added a little color to his studio to break things up a bit. In light of this recent research by Elizabeth Gould summarized by Kathy Sierra here:

Creating Passionate Users: Brain death by dull cubicle

it looks like a good idea. It also make me wonder what size a computer screen needs to be before it is considered "the environment". For years I've been thinking that a "desktop" should be about the size of a desktop. And then the question is whether a flat screen can ever replace the variety and challenge that a real three dimensional environment presents to the eye, mind and the body?

I suppose the lesson for us all is to change things around when things start getting stale. Or better yet, take a break from your enviroment once in a while by taking a walk.

January 9, 2007

Ruins as Tourist Attraction

I guess it is not much different from Alcatraz except that the 5000 inhabitants of Gunkan-Jima, an Island 19km from Nagasaki covered with ruins and rusty metal, were employed in coal mining rather than being imprisoned. With the planned opening of the island as a tourist attraction sometime in 2008, the similarities get stronger. In case you haven't heard of it, Gunkan-Jima was a company town built on an island which was used for submarine coal mining. In 1974 the mine shut down and the island was abandoned. Photos show that people just left and never went back. Because the island was very small the buildings were very closely packed and the resulting ruins with the abandoned belongings look very post-apocalyptic. Here is a link to a site which has an extensive photo gallery:
Don't worry that you can't read Japanese, the pictures in the main gallery speak for themselves.

And here, thanks to the miracle (?) of machine-translation is the announcement that it will be turned into a tourist attraction.

What modern ruins are in your part of the world? How are they being used to entertain or educate people?

September 22, 2007

Golden Glow

Golden Gate Bridge at Night

I heard my blog doesn't look as good as it used to so I'll post a few pictures while you are all waiting for my next post on formatting your gantt chart.

This is the Golden Gate Bridge in fog taken on my way home from a company dinner a few weeks back.

November 18, 2007

Las Vegas as an oyster

Las Vegas Sidewalk

I visited Las Vegas for the first time this last week and my first impression was that it is a city that works very hard to keep you inside. Finding the exit to a casino is an adventure in itself. Walking along the "Strip" with its broken pavements, escort touts flapping hooker cards and caged-in walkways only encourages you to stay inside. And they spend a lot of money on making the inside attractive. Much of it is not to my taste, but the Chihuly light fixture in the Bellagio is quite wonderful.

Chihuly Light Fixture

Like an oyster, the pearl inside is more attractive than the shell, and like an oyster there is some risk in consuming it.

February 10, 2008

Bay Bridge at Sunrise

Last week was too wet to go out, but this Sunday morning we managed to catch a view of the Bay Bridge just before sunrise. This is the East span of the Bay Bridge. This cantilevered section is being replaced by a new cable-stayed span which is supposed to be more earthquake resistant.

You can see two of the piers for the new span in the shot below:

July 28, 2009

In Houston

Landed in Houston today and took a walk around after dinner. The weather is a bit steamy for my taste. I believe that this used to be the Enron building but is now occupied by Chevron.

September 4, 2009

Shiny Spots on the Map

Shiny spots on the map
I was at the De Young Museum viewing the King Tut exhibit and went up to the viewing tower which offers great views of San Francisco in every direction - assuming the weather is cooperating - and in September it is very cooperative. One of the features of this level is a giant aerial photo of the city mounted on the wall. You can see it in the picture above. The De Young is located on the map just above the left shoulder of the guy wearing the checked shirt.

When viewed from the side, the map reveals an interesting thing. Because the map can be touched, certain areas have been worn and are shiny. The shiniest spot on the map is the De Young museum itself. The other shiny spots reveal other areas of interest, and they are not really all what I'd expect. The other shiny spots are Van Ness Avenue, The Palace of the Legion of Honor and St. Mary's Cathedral.

I'd expect that some other more prominent landmarks would have been rubbed the same amount, but it doesn't appear to be the case. I guess my point is that you never can tell what people are interested in, given a choice. In this case, everything on the map has equal prominence, unlike those sorts of maps which highlight the attractions. The ones rubbed smooth here are not the typical tourist attractions, though they must serve as landmarks or familiar places to the museum visitors.

San Francisco Bay Bridge Cut-Over this weekend

OK, it's only an opportunity to show a few photos I took of the temporary section a while back, but they are closing the Bay Bridge to reroute traffic onto a new temporary section so that the rest of the construction of the new East Span can proceed.

The temporary section is supported by some of the slenderest concrete bridge columns I've seen

No, not the steel pipe columns, but the concrete ones. They are still quite slender but are packed with some beefy rebar cages. You could walk through the center of this one:


The canteliever section shown on the right in the photo below will be lifted out and traffic will run to the South on the temporary section.


This makes room for the new cable-stayed section (sorry no pictures until they build it) to connect between the convential concrete span on the East (shown below) and Treasure Island.


It is certain to be an exciting weekend for everyone involved. Operators will definitely be standing by.


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