This weekend marks the opening of the 3 month long Chicago Architecture Biennial. With a mission of creating an international forum on architecture and urbanism, the Biennial “seeks to convene the world’s leading practitioners, theorists, and commentators in the field of architecture and urbanism to explore, debate, and demonstrate the significance of architecture to contemporary society.” The calendar is overflowing with events, including free tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright’s S.C. Johnson Wax headquarters and the UChicago campus, as well as the opening of the Stony Island Arts Bank, all happening this weekend.
Don’t miss the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s fourth annual Open House Chicago, a free public festival that offers behind-the-scenes access to 150 buildings across Chicago. Explore repurposed mansions, hidden rooms, sacred spaces, private clubs, iconic theaters, hotels and more. Highlights include an airstream trailer on top of a roof between the Montrose and Damen Brown Line stations, a meticulously restored Frank Lloyd Wright home in Rogers Park, and a former meatpacking warehouse turned vertical urban farm.
People have been living in vertical housing structures for 2,500 years, and the New York Times recently created an interactive documentary called ‘A Short History of the Highrise‘ in conjunction with the National Film Board of Canada to explore the history of high-rises and the related social, political, and material issues.
The film plays chronologically to discuss three phases of vertical communal living in a global context: Mud, Concrete, and Glass. At any time, you can mouse “down” in order to explore more in-depth about whatever topic is currently on the screen and when you’re done, you can go right back into the film where you left off. The documentary is image-rich, with oil paintings and historic photographs included throughout. Clicking on an image also includes robust cataloging information.
Although the documentary is “short,” it’s narrations reference major developments in 20th century architecture, especially public housing and urban sprawl.
Check out the Short History of the Highrise by the New York Times.
SHERA (the Society of Historians of East European, Eurasian, and Russian Art and Architecture) recently launched a new website which boasts a news blog and a directory of more than 100 relevant art and architecture resources.
The Archigram Group emerged in UK during the early 1960s, and while many of their projects from 1961–74 went unbuilt, they extended a significant international infuence. The Archigram Archival Project is a digital collection of the work by Archigram that is freely available online for viewing and study. Hosted by the University of Westminster, the database contains images and contextual information, linking together alternate versions created for the same project. The website describes the scope of the project:
Almost 10,000 items are included in this archive, including digital versions of drawings, collages, paintings, photographs, magazines, articles, slides and multi-media material, accompanied by original texts by Archigram wherever these are available. Around half of these items belong to the 202 projects currently listed and given project numbers by Dennis Crompton in the Archigram Archives. The rest are supporting and contextual material such as letters, photos, texts and additional projects provided by the depositors.
The AAP focuses on the main Archigram period of 1961-1974, but includes all the projects, both before and after these dates, which have been included in the project list of the Archigram Archives at the time of doing the project. The main omissions from the Archigram Archival Project website are the films, television programmes and audio-visual material which for technical or copyright reasons cannot be included at this stage. Some projects and project material have been lost over the years; both we and Archigram members would welcome approaches from anyone holding material or copies of material which is not included here.
For more information, visit the Archigram Archival Project or the Archigram website.
Via Deep Focus
Local blog Chicagoist recently posted about a Flickr set that UIC posted of the Chicago Aerial Photo Services Collection. You can check out the Flickr set, or explore the entire digital collection hosted by UIC. They describe the project:
The Chicago Aerial Photo Services (CAPS) collection has a number of aerial photographs from 1929 through the late 1940s. Primarily the photographs are of the Chicago area though there are some images from other areas of the state. They provide detailed images of both urban areas as well as countryside that would become suburbs in the future.
UIC’s digital collections also hosts several other collections pertaining to Chicago architecture, including the C. William Brubaker Collection of mid-to-late 20th century color photographs. For more information, visit the Chicago Aerial Photo Services (CAPS) collection or the C. William Brubaker Collection.
We often post about new image collections and other scholarly resources pertaining to art history, but the building blocks are just as important. Based in the Netherlands, Materia is an art and architecture materials library that maintains an extensive collection of modern products in a database called Material Explorer that can be freely searched if you register for an account. They provide detailed information about product specs and contact information for the manufacturer, and users can download a PDF about the product, add it to a list of favorites, or suggest a new material to be included in the database.
The Netherlands Institute in Turkey has recently released the first installment of digital images from the vast photographic archives of Dutch historian Machiel Kiel.
A former director of the Netherlands Institute in Turkey (NIT), at which this project is now implemented, Kiel is a scholar whose career has revolved around the study of Ottoman-Islamic architectural monuments in the Balkan countries — an area of study that he pioneered. His archive represents an invaluable source for researchers of this heritage. Created for the most part between the 1960s and 90s, it contains visual documentation of many monuments that have not survived, or have been significantly altered in, the second half of the twentieth century. The publication of Kiel’s archive by the NIT is hoped to significantly advance international research on this heritage.
Images are available for publication free of charge (with attribution). For more information, see the FAQ section of this page.
More than 16,000 images of architecture, landscape design, and the built environment from the Society of Architectural Historians’ (SAH) SAHARA project are now available in the ARTstor Digital Library. SAHARA (Society of Architectural Historians Architecture Resources Archive) is a community-built archive of digital images for teaching and research in the field of architectural history.
View the collection here. Via the ARTstor Blog.
NOVA’s Building the Great Cathedrals is now available to watch on the PBS website.
Take a dazzling architectural journey inside those majestic marvels of Gothic architecture, the great cathedrals of Chartres, Beauvais and other European cities. Carved from 100 million pounds of stone, some cathedrals now teeter on the brink of catastrophic collapse. To save them, a team of engineers, architects, art historians, and computer scientists searches the naves, bays, and bell-towers for clues.