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Great article over at Metropolis Mag by Alexandra Lange: “Why Charles Moore (Still) Matters”. The Moonraker Athletic Center (above), completed by MLTW/Moore-Turnbull in 1966, was as much landscape as architecture, protecting the pool from sea breezes and containing small, skylit changing rooms. Barbara Stauffacher Solomon painted highly influential supergraphics inside the Swim Club, further altering perceptions of its small scale. Moore is one of the architects profiled in The Sea Ranch, a new revised edition was released in 2013.

ARM's Melbourne Theatre Company Sean Godsell's RMIT Design Hub

Alexandra Lange goes Instagramming Around Australia

"My favorite building in this loose collection was probably ARM’s Melbourne Theatre Company [top], in black and white. I’m told the neon tubes reference painter Al Held; I thought of Peter Halley. The white armatures read crisply even on a sunny day, and seemed to move as I walked around the building." About the facade of Sean Godsell’s RMIT Design Hub [bottom], Lange says, “The exterior is exquisite, made of rotating glass panels, like beads on a string, that form a sunshade and reminded me a bit of Edward Durell Stone’s screens.”

Read more about her snapshots of Australia on Design Observer.
Lange’s book, Writing About Architecture was published last year. 

Korab R.I.P.


Again and again, Korab adds texture to the modernist monuments by not editing nature out. On the opposite page from Wayne State is a shot of Mies ven der Rohe’s Lake Shore Drive Apartments (1951) in the snow. His quote: “It was a wet, snowy day, the there were these beautiful tailfins of a Cadillac in the foreground, with the parking meter … it all acts as a counterpoint to the regularity of Mies’s architecture.”

 Alexandra Lange remembering Balthzar Korab on Design Observer


See more posts on Korab: Mies & Yamasaki, NYCTWA Flight Center, and the Miller House, all from Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography

“To kick the tires of a building you have to be present at its creation and its completion. You have to let yourself be small beside it, walk around it, walk up the steps, pick (delicately) at the the joints, run your fingers along the handrail, push open the door. You have to let yourself stand back, across the street, across the highway, across the waterfront, and assess. And then you have to go home and write exactly what you think, in simple language, marking a path through history, politics, aesthetics and ethics that anyone can follow. I love her writing—and I will get to some choice quotes—but the first lesson I teach is that attitude. Architecture is for us, the public, and it is going to get scuffed.”

From Alexandra Lange's eloquent appreciation of Ada Louise Huxtable
on Design Observer: Kicked A Building Lately?

“Writing About Architecture”: Alexandra Lange’s Compendium on Criticism


"I interviewed architecture and design critic Alexandra Lange for Surface magazine’s website, She talked to me about her new book, Writing About Architecture (Princeton Architectural Press), and what it means to be an architecture critic today.”

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Five Things | Alexandra Lange

For this installment in our ongoing Five Things series, we asked Alexandra Lange, author of Writing About Architecture, to tell us what’s on her mind.

1. Cooper-Hewitt Collection Database
The Cooper-Hewitt recently launched what they are calling a ‘public alpha’ version of their collections database, as part of the process of digitizing their design collection. The tagline is “This is our stuff, we have lots of it,” and so they do: William Morris wallpaper and Dixie Cup designs, architectural drawings and Russel Wright china. The front page shows three items chosen at random, and you can keep clicking that way, or take a deep dive into a country, department, person or period that piques your interest. I am a fan of both exhibitions from museum collections and museum Tumblrs, and this is like a souped-up, anyone-can-play version of both.

2. ‘I Have Seen the Future’: Norman Bel Geddes Designs America
In 1939, if you wanted to see the future it was obvious where to go: the Futurama exhibit at the General Motors pavilion at the New York World’s Fair. That exhibition, which offered a vision of America in 1960, was designed by Norman Bel Geddes, a self-made designer and consummate self-promoter, who helped to shape (literally, in the case of streamlining) the look of the postwar world. A new exhibition at the Ransom Center (and its accompanying catalog) takes a deeper look at Bel Geddes’ influence and reach.

3. Ramona the Pest
My son just started kindergarten, and I decided it was time to graduate him to bedtime chapter books, starting with this 1968 classic by Beverly Cleary. I read the whole Ramona series as a child, and I have been surprised and delighted by how universal her experience remains. Plus, I’ve decided Ramona may have a future in branding: she names her doll Chevrolet because she likes the way the word rolls off the tongue.

4. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The 2011 version of John Le Carre’s classic doublecross novel is excellent, tense, well-written, and stocked with just about every current British actor you can think of. But it is also catnip for the design fan, a trove of outdated technology like dumbwaiters, typewriters and switchboards, with a dash of modern architecture, used for its many windows, all rendered in a moody, tweedy green-gray palette.

5. Wired magazine’s October 2012 Design issue
Wired's October 2012 Design issue is packed with the kind of critical longform design journalism that is becoming increasingly rare. I enjoyed Rob Walker's take on the rather more industrial future of Etsy and Bryan Gardiner's look at the past and future of Corning Glass, but I loved loved loved Jason Fagone's article “How Nerf Became the World’s Best Purveyor of Big Guns for Kids.” Suburban friends have reported to me that the activity of choice in their neighborhood are backyard crossing Nerf battles, and now I understand how that is possible. It is also wonderful to see the deep seriousness with which Nerf designer Brian Jablonski takes his job.

“Writers need to include some pepper along with the sugar of praise.”

Alexandra Lange, on why critics should be more critical

From Writing About Architecture, available now