Moshe Safdie Awarded 2015 AIA Gold Medal

rendering of free library addition

A rendering of the Central Branch with the Moshe Safdie addition. Credit: msafdie.com

The Board of Directors at the American Institute of Architecture has chosen Moshe Safdie, FAIA, as the recipient of the 2015 AIA Gold Medal. The selection of Safdie, whose portfolio includes Montreal’s Habitat ’67 and Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands among others, is certainly a worthy choice, but not without some controversy. He won the prestigious award in a hotly contested vote with Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown of Venturi, Scott Brown. The pair was the first joint nomination in the award’s 68-year history.

There’s an interesting Philly connection here. Safdie’s bold expansion plans at the Free Library were put on hold “indefinitely”  back in April. He was also mentored by the legendary Louis Kahn, an AIA Gold Medal winner in 1971. Philadelphia-based Venturi, Scott Brown are starchitects in their own right, and long fought to have the award include partners in the nominations.

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List: Most Overlooked Women in Architecture

Photo credit: Venturi, Scott Brown, and Associates via BLOUIN ARTINFO.

Photo credit: Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates via BLOUIN ARTINFO.

ArchDaily recently republished its post written last year in honor of International Women’s Day listing the 10 most overlooked women in architecture history. Among those included on Nicky Rackard’s list is Philadelphia’s own Anne Tyng (the first female to attend the Harvard Graduate School of Design) and Denise Scott Brown (who was a lot more than just Robert Venturi’s wife, though peers often saw her in that light).

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Federico Babina Made Cool Illustrations By Mixing Popular Architects and Artwork

Artwork by Federico Babina via Arch Daily.

Artwork by Federico Babina via Arch Daily.

ArchDaily brought this visual treat to our attention and we love it: artist Federico Babina (whose work is frequently featured on the architecture website) recently did a series called ARTISTECT in which he takes recognizable paintings by notable artists and, in his words, “reinterpret[s]” them “using a brush soaked in architectural tints.”

The twenty-five illustrations in the project are meant, Babina says, as stand-ins for “an imagined and imaginary dialogue between creative minds,” and he makes a point to focus on the “probable and improbable connections between forms of expression and aesthetic languages sometimes distant and sometimes very close.”

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Some Restoration In Store For Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute

salk institute

The Salk Institute, designed by Louis Kahn. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, a famous architectural gem by Louis Kahn, is under threat.  The wood-and-concrete property, which sits near the beaches of the Pacific in La Jolla, California, has not been situated in the greatest of environments and its starting to show on the building. As Brigitte Brown of Architizer writes:

“It’s perfectly tranquil in all of its concrete and wood glory — but, because of the structure’s proximity to the salty and sandy marine environment, it is at a preservation disadvantage. Visitors today can clearly note how the teak wood “window walls” are taking a beating.”

Fortunately, the Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative is here to save it. And other buildings in the process too.

CMAI, a partnership between the Salk Institute and the Getty Conservation Institute, is trying to develop a plan that will help conserve Khan’s architectural masterpiece. However, as whole, CMAI is looking to “help with the distinct challenges of conserving modern architecture” because despite “all the innovative techniques and use of materials,” many, like Kahn’s Salk work, are “rapidly deteriorating.”

This Is How You Save a Louis Kahn Masterpiece [Architizer]

Louis Kahn’s Roche House Is on the Market

louis kahn roche house

TREND photo via BHHS Fox & Roach – Blue Bell

Well, this is exciting! The Philip and Jocelyn Roche House in Whitemarsh Township is on the market. Though it’s definitely considered a Kahn home — one of several residential commissions in our area — it may be that Oscar Stonorov had some involvement here. In The Houses of Louis Kahn, co-authors George H. Marcus and William Whitaker say note that the construction drawings from 1948 are marked Stonorov & Kahn, though the job’s start date has been listed as 1945. The home’s origin story is muddied because the home was on a parcel of land that was being considered as the location of the United Nations Headquarters.

We’ll take a minute for you to laugh at that notion.

Now. Onward. As you’d expect from a Kahn home, engagement with nature is in evidence, from specimen plants and private walking trail to hidden grotto and Japanese garden. The listing notes Kahn’s hallmark touches here, like the living room’s brick wall, and the way the living room light changes colors as the sky does.

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Best (Only?) Architecture-Related April Fools Joke

Philadelphia native Louis Kahn at the Salk Institute. Image via ArchDaily.

Philadelphia native Louis Kahn “outside of” the Salk Institute. Image via ArchDaily.

Are famous architects too serious for selfies? Robert Venturi, Philadelphia’s most famous postmodernist, may well have taken a few. But what about modern masters like Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn and I.M. Pei? What if they did, too? ArchDaily posted seven Photoshopped images it claimed were dug up from history:

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Louis Kahn’s Earliest Residential Commission Goes Up for Sale

photo of oser house

Well, this is exciting. Right on the heels of Richard Neutra’s Pitcairn House hitting the market comes this listing for a home designed by Neutra contemporary Louis Kahn.

The Elkins Park residence — built from Wissahickon schist and red cedar — was designed in 1940 for Jesse and Ruth Oser and is the architect’s earliest residence. This was a personal project: Kahn and Jesse Oser went to Central High together and remained friends. The house sits on the former estate of hat baron J.B. Stetson, so it already had some features that Kahn had to work around; “he had little choice,” reads The Houses of Louis Kahn, “but to situate the house above, on a north-facing slope.”

This restriction became an opportunity, with elevated living areas and southwest exposure, and is one reason the home is so appealing today.

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Robert Redford Directs Film Segment About Louis Kahn [TRAILER]

salk institute

The Salk Institute, designed by Louis Kahn. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Cathedrals of Culture, a new film project from Wim Wenders that premiered at the Berlin Film Festival last week, asks buildings to speak, to share their souls, as Wenders puts it. Culture profiles six talking buildings, including the Salk Institute in San Diego, built by Philadelphia’s Louis Kahn. That segment is directed by Robert Redford, who had a mild case of polio when he was young and was therefore sensitive to Salk’s achievements. From the UK’s Independent:
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Morning Headlines: PREIT Buys Building at 15th and Walnut

The Walnut Street building purchased by PREIT once boasted Louis Kahn as a tenant.

The building on the northwest corner of 15th and Walnut once had an illustrious tenant: Louis I. Kahn, the celebrated modernist architect, had his office there. Today its tenants consist of three retail shops and a Pennsylvania lottery.

Buyer Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), which owns the Gallery, as well as many other malls, has not offered specifics about what will happen with the 14,000-square-foot property.

PREIT buys 15th & Walnut corner [PhillyDeals]

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BREAKING: Sale Pending on Louis Kahn’s Esherick House

esherick-house

Finally! The Louis Kahn home in Chestnut Hill that has been on the market for such a long time — and that inspired my personal confession of a rather disturbing nature — is pending sale, which means unless something catastrophic happens, it will have new owners soon.

    

Those owners, though, are keeping a low profile for the moment, preferring to remain anonymous. But they do say, via email, “We are committed to being good stewards of this beautiful reflection of the genius of Louis Kahn.”

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