Not easy to get there:
Lucky weather on this particular day.
What we might call in the USA a ghost town. The last inhabitants were evacuated in 1953:
In 1907 Norwegian linguist Carl Marstander went there to learn Irish from this local:
Tomás Ó Chriomhthain, who later wrote a book about his life there.
Some other islanders wrote, or dictated, their own tales of their hard and primitive lives on this island:
As a girl Peig Sayers was supposed to go join a friend in America, but the friend had an accident and couldn’t send the money. She gave birth to eleven children. Five died.
Peig’s book was (I’m told, by the excellent tour guide) forced on generations of Irish schoolchildren. In 1941 this genre of rural Irish poverty literature was parodied by Flann O’Brien / Brian O’Nolan / Myles na gCopaleen:
An Béal Bocht is set in Corca Dhorcha, (Corkadoragha, Corkadorkey), a remote region of Ireland where it never stops raining and everyone lives in desperate poverty (and always will) while talking in “the learned smooth Gaelic”.
Blasket life does seem rough.
This was my second visit, and both times I’ve been blown away by the Blasket Center / Ionad Blaiscoid Mhór.
The architecture and design and use of landscape on this building is just very cool:
Here’s it from afar:
Couldn’t find online who the architect was, so I emailed them, and they wrote back and told me:
The architect of the centre was Ciaran O’Connor, who is the State architect nowadays.
State architect. Cool.
Let’s wish him well!
Reviewing my notes and recalling that one of my projects over the holidays was designing a house.
When completed it will be eleven stories high and one-fifth of a mile long. (Star Axis by Charles Ross, not Vali)
Star Axis was begun in 1971. The Star Tunnel is the central element of Star Axis. It frames our north star, Polaris. The Star Tunnel is precisely aligned with the earth’s axis. Within it a stairway rises 10 stories toward a circular opening at the top that frames all of the orbits of Polaris throughout the ages. As you climb the stairway toward the circular opening you see larger and larger views of the sky. The view from each stair frames an orbit of Polaris for a particular time in the 26,000 year cycle called precession. The smallest orbit of Polaris, viewed from the bottom stair, is about the size of a dime held at arms length. The largest orbit of Polaris, viewed from the top stair, encompasses your entire field of vision.
Annual tradition: a day of architectural touring with Craig D.
Craigs’s house is beautiful.
First stop: LA’s Cathedral.
The cathedral was designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. Using elements of postmodern architecture, the church and the Cathedral Center feature a series of acute and obtuse angles while avoiding right angles.
Cardinal Roger Mahony’s decision to rebuild the Los Angeles Cathedral in such elaborate and postmodern architecture has drawn great criticism. Many argued that a church of that size and expense was unnecessary, overly-elaborate and money could have been better spent on social programs. Many felt that either St. Vincent Church on West Adams Boulevard or St. Basil Church on South Kingsley Drive could easily perform the functions required of a cathedral with minimal additional cost. Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral was also criticized for its departure from historical California Mission-style architecture and aesthetics.
Had been reading this book:
which talks a lot about why LA feels so odd to the pedestrian, and the ways LA’s public buildings have of shutting off the street:
LA’s cathedral, finished in 2002, seemed a bit ’90s to me:
That’s the Grand Arts School / Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts behind Craig.
Disaster waiting to happen at the mausoleum?
Quick tour through Grand Central Market:
A walk past the retired Angels’ Flight:
On February 1, 2001, Angels Flight had a serious accident that killed a passenger, Leon Praport (age 83), and injured seven others, including Praport’s wife, Lola. The accident occurred when car Sinai, approaching the upper station, reversed direction and accelerated downhill in an uncontrolled fashion to strike car Olivet near the lower terminus.
On to the truly bizarre angles of the Bonaventure Hotel designed by John C. Portman, Jr.
I mean what is going on here?:
In his book Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory (1989), Edward Soja describes the hotel as
a concentrated representation of the restructured spatiality of the late capitalist city: fragmented and fragmenting, homogeneous and homogenizing, divertingly packaged yet curiously incomprehensible, seemingly open in presenting itself to view but constantly pressing to enclose, to compartmentalize, to circumscribe, to incarcerate. Everything imaginable appears to be available in this micro-urb but real places are difficult to find, its spaces confuse an effective cognitive mapping, its pastiche of superficial reflections bewilder co-ordination and encourage submission instead. Entry by land is forbidding to those who carelessly walk but entrance is nevertheless encouraged at many different levels. Once inside, however, it becomes daunting to get out again without bureaucratic assistance. In so many ways, its architecture recapitulates and reflects the sprawling manufactured spaces of Los Angeles
You said it, pal.
Is this a good building?
Is Frank Gehry, who designed it, a good architect?
How would we answer that?
What is good or bad architecture, really?
INTO this NY Review of Books piece by Ingrid Rowland which explores these questions.
I can only find one of those three “exquisite little paintings” on the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum’s very decent website. The Annunciation:
El Greco was rad, my goodness.
Here, Rowland talks about Gehry’s house in Santa Monica:
Let’s have a look, photo from Google Street View:
Maybe the most eye-opening part of this piece to me though was Rowland talking about earlier SoCal architect and Gehry mentor William Pereira. This guy designed so many buildings that I see every day!
5900 Wilshire, for example.
Pereira’s Oscar was for Reap The Wild Wind:
Did he design boats or something? The history of Irvine is topic for another day, but here’s some of Pereira’s work on the UC campus there:
The Theme Building of LAX
(Wikipedia doles out the credit a bit more generously:
It was designed by a team of architects and engineers headed by William Pereira and Charles Luckman, that also included Paul Williams and Welton Becket. The initial design of the building was created by James Langenheim, of Pereira & Luckman.
Luckman was no slouch himself, he went on to do Boston’s Prudential Tower:
Luckman did the Forum here in LA as well:
A modest sentence from his Wiki:
Then in 1947, President Truman asked him to help feed starving Europe.
Here’s Pereira’s ziggurat for the Chet Holifield Federal Building:
which is of course modeled on Chet Holifield’s head:
More Pereira from UC Irvine:
The Disneyland Hotel:
CBS TV City:
dope tumblr Jet Set Modernist has some good classic pics of CBS TV City in all its Mad Men era glory.
Not sure which of these buildings in Newport Beach Pereira did, but they all have a style we might call Pereiraesque:
More more! :
Here’s the Assyrian-revival tire factory turned Outlets:
And the Patriotic Hall I always wonder about when I see it south of the 10:
You can see Frank Gehry in the first few minutes of Kate Berlant’s episode of The Characters:
Re: architects whose works sound like their names, how could you forget Gaudi?
In my opinion, this is the architect whose stuff looks the most like his name sounds.
Second place? Rem Koolhaas.
Although isn’t an architect called Cool House a bit on the nose?