Tag Archives: Review

FROM THE VAULT | The New Architecture and the Bauhaus

new_architecture_bauhausFROM THE VAULT
The New Architecture and the Bauhaus by Walter Gropius
By Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

The first 97 pages of The New Architecture and the Bauhaus (MIT Press with Foreword by Frank Pick) by Walter Gropius (published in 1965 but mostly written by Gropius earlier in 1923) is a virtuoso essay on the education of the architect in the modern era, which is must-read material for anyone interested about the educating of architects, urban designers and planners in today’s world. As is often the case with Modern architects, Gropius’ arguments begins to fall apart in a rather obvious way, in hindsight, over the last 12 pages when he attempts to extend his theories to the urban level. The less said about these last 12 pages, the better. Jane Jacobs in The Death and Life of Great American Cities has already – and better ably – tested the urban ideas of the International Style to destruction.

However, unlike many advocates of the International Style such as Le Corbusier, the writing of Gropius is clear, concise and easily understood in even layman terms; likely this is due to his German upbringing. In this book, Gropius spells out his ideas about architectural education within the context of the International Style’s preoccupation with industrialization and means of mass production. Nominally, these ideas are in reaction against the Beaux Arts academy model of architectural education during the 19th century. However, while spelling out his differences with the Beaux Arts in the promotion of the Bauhaus model, Gropius is also very careful to place the Bauhaus within the same, larger tradition of architectural education. This makes The New Architecture and the Bauhaus a very important book for the contemporary student/educator to better understand how our model of architectural education today also fits and complements the same tradition. This makes The New Architecture and the Bauhaus a richly rewarding read that is also easy to digest. The entire book can be read in one or two sittings.

440px-WalterGropius-1919About Walter Gropius
Walter Gropius, in full Walter Adolph Gropius  (born May 18, 1883, Berlin, Germany and died July 5, 1969, Boston, Massachusetts, USA), was German American architect and educator who, particularly as director of the Bauhaus (1919–28), exerted a major influence on the development of modern architecture. His works, many executed in collaboration with other architects, included the school building and faculty housing at the Bauhaus (1925–26), the Harvard University Graduate Center, and the United State Embassy in Athens, Greece.

new_architecture_bauhausThe New Architecture and the Bauhaus
by Walter Gropius with Foreword by Frank Pick
MIT Press Paperback, 112 pages
March 15, 1965
ISBN-10: 0262570068
ISBN-13: 978-0262570060

You can purchase The New Architecture and the Bauhaus by Walter Gropius from Amazon here.

From the Vault is a series from the Outlaw Urbanist in which we review art, architectural and urban design texts, with an emphasis on the obscure and forgotten, found in second-hand bookstores.

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FROM THE VAULT | Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Soinit

wanderlustREVIEW: Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Soinit
by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

When I first heard about Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Soinit, I was really excited to read it. While Soinit certainly deserves some credit for daring to tackle a subject that is a fundamental reality of human existence while also extremely difficult to discuss, the result is profoundly disappointing. Simply put, this is a very uneven book with not enough high points (e.g. socio-cultural implications of automobile-dependent suburban sprawl in America, walking as described in 18th and 19th European literature, concepts of artists incorporating walking into their contemporary work) to compensate for the many low points. These include regular regurgitation of common misconceptions about walking and associated (often tangential) subjects, a brief swim in the treacherous waters of ‘rape culture’ with its troubling connotations of Orwellian thought crime, and even outright historical revisions. It is a type of historical revisionism (or post-rationalization by way of apologia) that occurs all too often in popular culture today, preying on historical ignorance in the hopes that if a lie is told frequently enough it will eventually become the truth. Herein lies the fatal flaw of the book. Soinit chooses to focus her history of walking on extraordinary events rather than ordinary, everyday occurrences (and their observation): this where the real richness about walking as a subject truly lies. It is unfortunate because, while Soinit’s focus is not always objective, she does, on occasion, provide keen observations about some subjects (a brief section on gyms near the end of the book is particular interesting). This unevenness makes Wanderlust: A History of Walking a real endurance test for the reader. There are some gems buried within the text but it is hard work along the path to find them. It will try and defeat most readers’ patience. I endured but I am unsure it was worth the effort.

Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Soinit
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books (June 1, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0140286012
ISBN-13: 978-0140286014

Available for purchase from Amazon here.

From the Vault is a series from the Outlaw Urbanist in which we review art, architectural and urban design texts, with an emphasis on the obscure and forgotten, found in second-hand bookstores.

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FROM THE VAULT | Paul Klee on Modern Art

paul-klee-modern-artFROM THE VAULT |  Paul Klee on Modern Art
by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

Paul Klee on Modern Art (with Introduction by Herbert Read) is the text of a lecture delivered in 1924 at the opening of a museum exhibit of modern art (thus it reads in the first person). It is a series of brief commentaries on the Modernist creative process. Herbert Read’s brief but excellent introduction is an enlightening, concise summary of Klee’s intent in the lecture as well as the difficulties some readers might encounter while reading the text. Because Klee focuses on the creative process, he looks inward rather than outward (as he did in Creative Confessions), which gives the text a bit of an ego-centric viewpoint. In this sense, Modern Art is really about the artist in the world (in this case, Klee himself). Klee’s explicit reservations about speaking about his art also tends to make Modern Art feel somewhat defensive.

Because of this, Modern Art is not as rich with interesting observations, concepts and quotes that might find a common expression in architecture or urban planning (except perhaps its worst excesses, i.e. the architectural genius). Indeed, some of Klee’s text seems to pull back on his thoughts in Creative Confessions. For example, he states “line is the most limited”, which seems to contradict the ‘inherent energy’ he discussed in the other work. Instead, he shifts his focus to tone and color as an unmeasurable ‘quality’ in art, with explicit references to ‘mood’ in the artist and the emotions provoke in the character of a piece of art. In this sense, Modern Art represents a counter (and lesser) movement to Creative Confessions, of more limited application outside the realm of the artistic compulsion itself where there is “more value on the powers (i.e. the artist) which do the forming than the final forms themselves” residing “in the womb of nature” where the artist literally becomes a God himself in a creative act of genesis.

Paul Klee on Modern Art
by Paul Klee (with Introduction by Herbert Read)
55 pages
Faber and Faber Ltd. London. Paper Covered Editions (1967)

You can purchase Paul Klee on Modern Art from Amazon here.

Check out the Artsy.net Paul Klee page here.

From the Vault is a series from the Outlaw Urbanist in which we review art, architectural and urban design texts, with an emphasis on the obscure and forgotten, found in second-hand bookstores.

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Poor Richard 2.0 | Planning Magazine

scanA review of Poor Richard: Another Almanac for Architects and Planners (or Book 2 of the Poor Richard series) appears in the April 2015 issue of Planning Magazine (pp 69-70).

Excerpt:

“As in life, some days are better than others… Two favorites: Week 13, Day 6 (In the city, buildings mate for life) and Week 29, Day 5 (Never go to an architect or planner whose office plants are artificial).”

Download the full review here.

PoorRichardv2_FrCoverPoor Richard, Another Almanac for Architects and Planners by Mark David Major
Foreword by Steve Mouzon, AIA
Paperback, 140 pages (5″ x 0.3″ x 8″, 7.4 ounces)
Forum Books (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; First edition)
November 30, 2014
English
ISBN-10: 150290182X<
ISBN-13: 978-1502901828

Poor Richard, Another Almanac for Architects and Planners (Volume 2 of the Poor Richard series) is available for purchase from CreateSpace, Amazon, iBooks, and other online retailers around the world. Be sure to check the online store in your country/currency (USA stores available below).

Purchase from CreateSpace here.
Purchase from Amazon here.
Purchase from Kindle Store here.
Purchase from iBooks Store here.

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Poor Richard (Volume 2) Review | Portland Book Review

Poor Richard, Another Almanac for Architects and Planners (Volume 2) by Mark David Major | Portland Book Review
by George Erdosh, April 20, 2015

The review of Poor Richard, Another Almanac for Architects and Planners by the Portland Book Review is available.

Excerpt:

“Here is a strange paperback that some readers will love and others won’t read past page three. Poor Richard, Another Almanac for Architects and Planners consists of fifty-two pages of text, one for each week of the year, and a facing black-and-white high-contrast photo illustrations, somewhat related to the subject author Mark David Major selected for that week.”

Read the full review here: Poor Richard, Another Almanac for Architects and Planners (Volume 2) by Mark David Major | Portland Book Review

Down the full review here: Poor Richard, Another Almanac for Architects and Planners (Volume 2) by Mark David Major | Portland Book Review

PoorRichardv2_FrCoverPoor Richard, Another Almanac for Architects and Planners (Volume 2)
by Mark David Major, Foreword by Steve Mouzon
140 pages with black and white illustrations.

Available in print from Amazon, CreateSpace, and other online retailers.

Available on iBooks from the Apple iTunes Store.

Available on Kindle in the Kindle Store.

For the best digital eBook experience, the author recommends purchasing the iBook version of the book.

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