Archive for the Sculpture Category

Kresge Chapel at M.I.T. by Eero Saarinen

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Recommendations & Tributes, Sculpture, Spiritual, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2019 by Drogo

The Kresge Chapel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by Architect Eero Saarinen in Cambridge, Massachusetts [report written by Walton Stowell II for Modern History of Architecture II in 4/22/96]

 

“No less than religion at its best, architecture is best as a witness and custodian to the spirit of modern man.” – Pietro Belluschi, B’rith Kodesh Synagogue

 

“A brick wall didnt realize how beautiful it was until it was touched by sunlight.” – Louis Kahn

 

Eero Saarinen’s Inter-Denominational Kresge Chapel at M.I.T.

 

While  taking a leisurely stroll through the seemingly haphazard campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), I came upon a sweet and blissfully rotund form that was clearly composed of masonry brick set in a common Bond. It’s cylindrical form appeared pure and abstractly severe from afar. Closer inspection revealed a more intricate reality.  The surface was roughly textured by randomly protruded bricks, and a series of low arches of random size. The arches formed the base of the cylinder, backed by a smooth light-colored secondary interior wall. The base was set into a shallow pit, filled with water and ring with a rim of concrete. the Chapels massing was as conservative as your basic cylinder,  but the sharp alien Bell Tower steeple was an elegant antenna, A giant holy lance piercing the sky as though ready to shoot a beacon.

 

(sketch of perspective looking at Chapel from the front court-yard)

 

In relation to the other neighboring structures on campus, the brick construct was petite. The Kresge Chapel marked itself as part of the MIT campus, distinguished by having a remote location many yards from its neighbors; thus respectfully differentiating its functionality while remaining part of the whole, despite its blatant differences denoted by its particular scale and multi-dimensional form expression. The chapel makes its own transcendental statement  without being an eyesore. It does not fight the more conventional styles of buildings that surround it; in fact the traditional brick that was used matches the surrounding dorms.

 

Across the lawn from the Kresge Chapel, was another of Eero Saarinen buildings, the Kresge Auditorium. Both buildings were designed and built from 1950 to 1955, and dedicated to donor Sebastian Kresge, founder of Kresge (Kmart) Stores. The auditorium was much larger than the chapel, and completely different in style and materials.

 

(sketch of 2 buildings showing distance adjacency)

 

The narthex was a rectangular hallway encased in black glass, attached to the chapel from behind; like an extended arm connecting auxiliary rooms to the primary cylinder. I say that the hall was located in the back of the cylinder, because of my site orientation. My interpretation  being the front of the chapel was the side facing the auditorium, and their shared lawn space; where as the back was directed towards the alley. The structure of the black back hall was comprised of dark thin Gray repetitive vertical steel members. Each section of black glass was then further subdivided by smaller horizontal muntins spaced unevenly, from inches apart to feet apart. On either side of the black rectangle on the farthest end from the main cylinder, there were doors of Entry. They were double doors on each side of the hall, opposite each other and made of solid Pine with metal knockers as handles that open outward together. It made for a fine contrast between the bright Pine doors, and the sleek black enigma of the hallway repetition.  Above the doors were four conic lights with their tops cut off.

 

I reached for the door handles with no sense of what to expect within. I entered. The interior of the hallway was transparent to the outside, with only a faintly darkened tint. My natural, but false assumption that a dark structure with no direct openings for light makes for an even darker interior, was shattered. The narthex was very generously lighted on the inside, and I felt very safe. Flower baskets were placed on either side along the hall, for lovely interior decor. I turned to look down the glass hallway of adequate human proportions, and saw a beautiful white marble altar, with shimmering gold strands behind it. The richly tiled floor led me to the double height space. All in one breath I was taken into the space, and in one breath I took it all in.

 

Beautiful organ music began playing. It was coming from within that sacred vault, and yet I could see no one, nor even an organ. The tones undeniably complemented the space, and light poured in from an Oculus directly above the altar, which was refracted by a suspended Golden sculptural Screen. It was as if I were in a subterranean Realm, with no direct view to the outside world; but only washes of light on heavy Earthen walls. It was small for most churches and intimate, but I was not scared of being trapped in the confined space. I felt safe. It was as though I had been worming my way through the claustrophobic Labyrinth of Moria, and at last come to the inner Sanctum. I had risen from the catacombs, and been rewarded with the gift of space;  generous and conducive for personal prayer.

 

(sketch of altar with oculus)

 

I felt like an archaeologist after breaking the seals on a tomb, rolling away the barrier stone, and breathing in air undisturbed for eons. Spiritual fervor of ancient mysterious gods for every individual were welcome there. I had made the journey to the dreamy meditational sanctuary,  and now felt cleansed and purified; looking at the vulnerable and innocent white altar. The secret stairs behind the altar made me swoon like a willing sacrifice.

 

There were three walls of the Kresge Chapel itself. The outer wall had low arches which allowed light to reflect off the water in the moat, and up into the inner chamber. The inner wall undulated like a frozen wave, and the lower wall followed its example. In the daylight the textured brick work was highlighted by the exterior light Wells. The floor could fit a Congregation of 130 people,  and as I turned in circles to experience the space, I saw the pipe organ located above the entry-way. A student head their back to me, intent on playing the instrument with its elaborate pipes on display. Mass was about to begin.

 

(sketch of oculus)

 

Criticism of Eero Saarinen was common place because consistency of style was expected,  and his level of architectural innovation was way ahead of his time. Saarinen’s unpredictability and bold diversity irritated and even enraged his critics. Each new project was so vastly different, how could they judge his progress? As Philip Johnson put it “Eero  was all together unpredictable. Had he lived longer, he would have influenced everybody, and all of us.” Saarinen developed his own architectural style which was always a unique combination of Art and engineering. I chose Saarinen’s chapel because i knew about him from when i was a child. When Dad took me to Dulles and JFK (TWA Terminal) Airports, it was clear how special the buildings were, and told me who the architect was. Every building that Saarinen designed has blown my mind with its expressiveness and unearthly beauty. During my first year of architecture studio at RWU, professor Rico introduced me to this chapel based on my sketches of circles for a temple to the elements, and so i was inspired to have light filter in around the edges of the temple floor from water and air outside, on all levels.

 

Eero Saarinen once said that he began his projects with basic considerations of the particular job. Eero also respected the spirit, the client, the expression of the program, and site surroundings. To him the site area should include nature and technology; and a good balance should reduce egotism. He felt that MIT landscape should be more unified with the auditorium and chapel for integral flow. However I enjoyed the seclusion of the chapel, like a humble grove of trees for peaceful worship. Saarinen also felt his connection of the narthex and chapel was clumsily executed, but I feel it was perfectly successful for a small structure. Saarinen’s Chapel has axial intersection with its dominant cylindrical container of spiritual light.

 

By abstracting the Chapel’s form, Saarinen also simplified specific needs for spiritual practice. The shape and form of the chapel was derived from basic instincts like our desire to feel loved, protected, and respected. A circle symbolizes oneness like the power of the earth, the sun, the moon, and even a mother’s womb. Saarinen was deeply inspired by one of his travels as a student to the mountain village of Sparta, Greece. Eero recalled sitting with bright moon-light over-head, and a secondary light band around the horizon, soft and hushed.

 

“Kresge Chapel is all about light, drama, and interior serenity.” – Architectural Record Lighting (Nov. 1994)

 

End Report.

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Delft TU Library, Holland

Posted in Education / Schools, Futurist, Sculpture, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2018 by Drogo

Central Library of Delft University of Technology (TU) in Holland by Mecanoo Architects

This angular and environmentally dynamic library was opened in 1998. It was designed by Mecanoo Architects, which was a 61 person firm located in Holland near Delft TU. The library design was based on four themes: The adjacent pre-existing Auditorium (by Van den Broek & Bakema), the site absence of campus atmosphere in the university quarter, the need for advanced technology, and of course plenty of room for shelves of books.

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It is a “Triangle of Glass and Grass”, with a large tee-pee like ‘Cone’ in the middle. The glass around a few sides allows a large amount of day-light inside. The grass sod roof brilliantly allows people to use the entire area of building as they would a yard, in addition to the library. The center cone allows natural light also, and a communal study space.

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The grassy roof lawn of the Delft TU Library forms a harmonious whole with the campus walkways that emerge from underneath the adjoining assembly hall. The Library roof can be walked upon, but also offers a place of dreaming, reading, and picnicking under open luminous sky. Teachers, students, and visitors call all meet informally in this public space.

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The concrete / stucco Cone structure is open topped and 150 ft. high. The Cone and the cavernous entry are the only main features that are seen from campus, so it appears as though most of the building is not there. On the other sides, the wildly-canted glass wall rises from the parking lot to a max height of about 14 meters (40 ft.). At night the glass wall glows exposing activity within the 4 levels of library stacks, study areas, offices, and storage. The grassy roof shoots across the site creating a gently sloping area in contrast to the nearby ‘Brutalist’ style Auditorium.

delft center circle

Changing illumination (luminous flux) upon the Cone accentuates the sculptural shape as an abstract Platonic solid form, partially deconstructed. The channeling aspect of the Cone shape is intentional, as it is conducive to gathering with focus. The glass walls are towards the North, so they get non-direct ambient light. Horizontal bands around the glass facade facilitate ventilation between the window panes, and give distorted impressionist reflections from the outside on sunny days.

 

The perforated roof overhand is supported by stilted tubular steel struts, and rises from a foundation perimeter plinth-bed of fine stones. Under most of the structure is a spacious hall. A ring of glass circumscribes the Cone at roof level, allowing natural light (solar lumens) to wash in along the curved white stucco funnel side.

Delft University of Technology Library (DUTL) stocks one of the largest technical book collections in the World. Most of the books are stored in stock-rooms in the basement, but those that are accessible to the public are arranged in a single enormous book-case and are within hand reach. The combination of books, computers (with internet and catalogs), and people allows for knowledge, interaction, and better citizens. 300 out of 1000 study spots are equipped with computers (this may have increased).

This ‘Library as landscape’ evokes the feeling of how our ancestors believed technology to be magical, and magic arts were held by their spirits under hills to keep it safe. Not only priests and royal family members are allowed to visit this sacred place of tomes, it is open to all that seek it.

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  • (images for education only, not owned by blog)

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Architect Antoni Gaudí

Posted in Crafts, Historic Architecture, Sculpture, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2018 by Drogo

Antoni Gaudí cathedral

Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) was a Spanish Catalan artistic architect of the Modernista movement. Most of Gaudi’s work is located in Barcelona Spain. Gaudi studied skeletal anatomy, color theory, Art Nouveau, and sculptural arts to inform his architectural designs. His architecture integrated trade-crafts like ceramics, stained glass, wrought iron, masonry, and carpentry. Gaudi’s ‘trencadís’ technique used scrap ceramic pieces in organic mosaic forms. Gaudí preferred building scale models, rather than drafting drawings. Gaudí’s masterpiece, the still-incomplete Sagrada Família Cathedral, is said by Wikipedia to be the most-visited monument in Spain. Seven of his works are World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

*photos belong to whoever they belong to, thanks for taking them whoever did!

Antoni Gaudí CasaBatllo

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Antoni Gaudí detail

 

 

 

 

Arboritecture – Tree Architecture

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Crafts, Futurist, inventions, Nature Studies, Organic Agriculture & Horticulture, Sculpture, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 28, 2017 by Drogo

SCOD Tree Architecture – Arboritecture, a subset of Hortitecture

Trees could revolutionize our way of living, if we returned to living in and around them more. Conventional architecture is terrible at doing so, and is designed in opposition to trees, because vegetation touching dead building materials tend to make them rot. It is possible to live with an awareness of various levels of growth and decay, but it would require a culture more integrated with the natural environment.

Imagine devices that used living energy from photosynthesis. Design Science should explore the relationship of natural-artificial hybrids, methodologies of integrating plant matter into building fabric, issues of maintenance and sustainability, and ecological biological and organic architectural materials for environmental design.

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Faery Architecture

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Fictional Stories, Sculpture, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 10, 2016 by Drogo

Faery Architecture – from Harpers Faery Chronicles

Homes are often an important part of our life sagas. Also homes can tell stories through the architecture and art on the walls. Dwellings are places where stories are told and rigamaroles take place, which we interpret. Faery architecture uses organic shapes and natural materials, altered by magic.

Faery home shapes are traditionally round in various ways. Popular inspirations for circle plans with curved walls and domes include the Sun, the Moon, and tree trunks (cylinders). Ovals and ellipses are found also, like giant eggs.

Faery earth building materials are usually wood, stone, and mud. The mud is best applied as a mortar or stucco clay plaster. Wooden branches, sticks, rope, and décor are gathered from bushes, trees, vines, river reeds, meadow thatch, and wild flowers. Rock is often quarried or mined by dwarves or gnomes, and used to with or without wood or mud. Rock can hold wood, or be held by wood. These materials were used independently, or in any combination.

Faery style: ‘Round Rock, Round Mound, & Bound Bough’

Round – sun, moon, tree trunks, eggs

Wood – bushes, trees, reeds, vines, flowers

Stone – shale, lime-stone, and calcium-quartz

Soil – mud, clay, mound, berm, silt-gravel, sand

Faeries can build and live in more human types of buildings, and will still make their mark on them. Rectangular masonry, timber-frame, and half-timber structures may be modified to distinguish them physically as ‘fae’. One way is to add ‘eyes’.

Faery gypsies, pioneers, and scouts often craft make-shift structures that look like fallen branches or vine covered bushes. Moss is a very earthy plant, and lichen is an algae fungus; both of which are used along with ferns commonly on faerie mounds or berms.

Smaller faerie homes were often just hidden from sight; in trees, mounds, or under cliff rocks called mini-bluffs.

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Grand Piano Conversion to Harp-Shelf

Posted in Adaptive Reuse, Sculpture, Services, Sales or Trade with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2010 by Drogo

Grand Piano Converted into a Harp-Shelf

Hardman, Baby-Grand Piano

Kaplon-Stowell House, Harpers Ferry, WV

The name Hardman dates back to 1842, and was one of the highest quality New York pianos available. Hardman famous features include: spruce soundboard, high quality action, and beautifully crafted cabinetry. Grand pianos come in 2 sizes, Full & Baby; Baby-Grand pianos are not for babies, they are only slightly smaller than a Full-Grand.

This baby-grand piano was purchased by Kip Stowell (RIP), for his mother. Kip’s mother, Helen Stowell, entertained guests and played bridge as well as the piano in Massachusetts. It was purchased ‘used’ in the 1950’s and has been in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia since Kip’s parents passed away in the 1970’s. Kip Stowell (Walton Danforth Stowell I) was mayor of Harpers Ferry, and this piano was last played on his victory election by Harpers Ferry antique dealer, entertainer, and friend of the family, Ken Norton (RIP). Wikipedia has an excellent article titled ‘Walton Danforth Stowell’ for more information.

Nena Stowell played the piano frequently for 30 years. Walton Jr. also played this piano, and even created his own way of writing music from drawing the keys. The family wanted to sell it, for extra cash and to free up some living room. Despite the low price offered publicly for years online, it was impossible to find any potential buyers to sell it locally. The buyer had to have access to a vehicle large enough to fit it safely, movers strong enough to carry it, a place to put it, and a respect for the piano as musical instrument, sculptural object, and historic furnishing. And no haggling. So a new concept was designed for the piano.


Piano features:
* Musically in Fair Condition (untuned & needs some key adjustments)
– After spending an additional $200-$1,500 (estimated) in functional and maintenance work
* Body Structure is in Good Condition, Dark Wood (Cherry or Walnut) Finish
* Complete with Bench that opens for storage inside
* Fully operable lid & music shelf
* Dimensions: 62″L x 59″W x 40″H
* Weight: 727 lbs

step 1 : Remove Legs; back, then front; use car jack and strong people

step 2 : cut and stain new legs; screw new legs on securely and squarely

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step 3 : lift piano up on the key-board, roll on to new legs; move into place

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step 4 : add shelf

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step 5 : add things to shelf, light creatively

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