57 minutes | Aug 3, 2017
Atlas for the End of the World: Urbanization Joins Conservation
“It's the end of the world where we thought nature was an infinite resource and we could exploit it without consequence,” Professor Richard Weller says. By bringing urbanization and conservation together in the same study, the essays, maps, data, and artwork in this Atlas lay essential groundwork for the future planning and design of hotspot cities and regions as interdependent ecological and economic systems. Interview with Richard Weller, the Martin and Margy Meyerson Chair of Urbanism and Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture at PennDesign. He teaches in three subject areas: advanced design studios at all scales, urban design history and theory, and historical and contemporary ideas of Nature.
53 minutes | Jul 7, 2017
Cheap and Thin: Richard Neutra and Frank Lloyd Wright
What is the psychological process whereby one person inspires and influences another? In this interview, Dr. Raymond Richard Neutra traces the forty-year relationship between his parents and the great architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Cheap and Thin: Neutra and Wright, Kindle available at Amazon. The author's father, the pioneer modern architect Richard Neutra, immigrated to the United States in the early 1920's with the dual motivation of working for his idol Frank Lloyd Wright and for exploring the American industrial potential for economical and light weight housing, schools, medical facilities and other "architecture of social concern." Wright's early cordiality changed when he characterized those projects as "Cheap and Thin." Although meant as an insult, the characterization revealed a recognition of the different direction that Richard Neutra's goals had given to the basic strategies that Wright had developed twenty years earlier: Neutra wanted to develop an economic and light way to deploy technology and nature for a happy and healthy life. The relationship between Wright and Neutra recounts family memories of visits between them. It then explores the substantial influence of Wright on Neutra and how Neutra adapted, adopted and added strategies and design features to gradually develop what was to become mid-century "California Modern." Cheap and Thin: Neutra and Wright, Kindle available at Amazon.
29 minutes | Dec 14, 2016
Troubled Times = Great Art
Change has arrived and it's time that the art world increases its influence, inspiration, and power. We’re entering a very interesting time in the arts, when increasing numbers of artists will use their talents to push back against a growing climate of racism, inequality, and social conservatism. As Ted Wells says: "Jump off the BLANDwagon." Dark times can make life beautiful. With the arts, our lives can be transitional during a time full of powerful artistic commentary and vivid artistic and social expression. Some artists protest the present while shaping and reinventing the future; others artists help us escape our current reality or remind us that beauty and novelty still exist in the world, regardless of how bad we’re currently feeling about it. During the 1960s, artists created work that protested injustice and inspired the counterculture to battle the conservative backlash. And others made art that was so beautiful that it soothed shattered nerves and lifted average people out of the shadows. That was what the world needed then, and it’s what the world needs now. And I feel that’s exactly what is coming in the next few years. The creation of art, by any of us, can be a way of expressing our feelings within a realm of freedom that we might not be experiencing in our job, or among our community, or within our family. In some ways, it can a be way of emerging some part of our soul that would otherwise be trapped because of the way artistic expression can be squelched by society. Be raw, rougher … more honest and expressive … and way more real. Andy Warhol, Green Day, Revolution Radio, Billie Joe Armstrong, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stone Magazine, Dion, Jefferson Airplane, Sly and and Family Stone, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Emory Douglas, Black Panthers, Broadway, Barry Goldwater, Donald Trump, Martin Later King Jr., Robert Kennedy, JFK, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, George Wallace, Vietnam War, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Man Ray, Edward Steichen, Lee Miller, Stuart Davis, Jospeh Cornell, Lucien Carr, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, John Giorno, Laurie Andersen, Andrea Fraser, Gus Van Sant, Ted Wells
15 minutes | Dec 5, 2016
Airstreaming and Alumination: Adventure on The Road
Wally Byam, the creator of Airstream travel trailer, said: “Adventure is where you find it, any place, every place, except at home in the rocking chair.” In addition to recognizing the beauty in and potential of Hawley Bowlus’s original travel trailer designs, Wally Byam’s genius was understanding that in addition to a strong tendency toward wanderlust is the adventurous desire to travel and see the world before we leave it. COMING SOON: a new feature-length documentary, ALUMINATION, about the fascinating world of Airstream travel trailers and the Airstreamers who love them. From director Eric Bricker (Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman), ALUMINATION will not only take the viewer on a feature-length film odyssey, there is a good chance of finding the best way to travel the road. Learn more, and provide support, at Kickstarter. Charles Lindbergh, Spirit of St. Louis, flying, flight, glider, aluminum, spaceship, Wright Brothers, National Geographic, Apollo, astronauts, astronaut, outer space, Johnny Depp, Lenny Kravitz, Tim Burton, Tom Hanks, Adrien Brody, Diablo Cody, Steve Carrell, Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day, John Mellencamp, Eddie Vedder, Francis Ford Coppola, Matthew McConaughey, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, Pamela Anderson, Sandra Bullock, Neil Armstrong, Michel Collins, Buzz Aldrin.
31 minutes | Nov 20, 2016
Ray & Charles Eames; Lucienne & Robin Day: Empowering Talented Women
These couples each worked together as partners for lifetimes...Charles and Ray Eames, and Robin & Lucienne Day…transforming their lives and the lives of all of us. They empowered very talented women at a time when women in business was a great struggle. We Lucienne and Robin Day, of Great Britain, shared this philosophy—that good design should be affordable, and that through their work they could not only transform homes but also improve lives. Their American contemporaries, Ray and Charles Eames, who did the same thing in the United States, and helped propel design add culture at a time when it was greatly needed. Seeing the world in a positive and innovative way was, and is always, greatly needed. Architecture, furniture, art, graphic design, film, entrepreneurs, copreneurs,Wall Street Journal, Colleen Debaise, Sarah E. Needdleman, Emily Maltby, Helen Keller, Inc. Magazine, Knoll, Herman Miller, William Morris, MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, Case Study Program, Royal College of Art, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Eero Saarinen, Today Show, NBC, The Guardian, Royal Air Force, La Triennale di Milano, Heal Fabrics, American Institute of Architects, American Society of Interior Designers,
14 minutes | Mar 8, 2007
Hangover House: An Obscure Modern Masterpiece
Few people know of one of the best modern houses in the United States, and even fewer have ever seen it. The designer of Richard Halliburton's house (1938) in Laguna Beach, William Alexander Levy, would never again produce such an exceptional building nor work for such an eccentric client. He met Paul Mooney in 1930 and the two men became lovers. By that time, Mooney had a prolific professional and personal relationship as editor and ghostwriter to Richard Halliburton, the world-traveling adventurer, who at the time was as famous as Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. Alexander was only 27 years old when he received the commission for the Halliburton's house. Alexander drew upon European contemporary architecture and created flat-roofed boxes of concrete and glass in a clear expression of the International Style of modernism. He hoped to create a house that soared like the modern spirit of Halliburton. Mies van der Rohe's work and his experimental concrete buildings of the 1920s, along with Le Corbusier's L'Esprit Nouveau Pavilion (1924-25) and his famous Villa Savoye (1928-29) would influence Alexander. In 1936, the first major and well-publicized concrete dams, Hoover Dam and Grand Coulee Dam were built, securing concrete as a practical and modern material in the United States. Frank Lloyd Wright, Alexander's teacher, had used concrete at the Larkin Building (1904) and Unity Temple (1905-07), but Wright most exploited its structural characteristics in the cantilevered concrete decks at Fallingwater (1936-37). At the Halliburton House, simple rectangular boxes of reinforced, poured-in-place concrete define the house. The boxes' two open sides facing the ocean and the canyon are filled with thin steel frames of industrial windows. Cantilevered concrete stairs wrap the exterior's southwest corner to the entry door. The interior contains a gallery, the living and dining rooms, a small kitchen, two bathrooms and three bedrooms one each for Halliburton, Mooney, and Alexander. The roof is a deck with unobstructed views in all directions. Mooney named it Hangover House because of the dramatic setting overlooking the canyon. The words are impressed into the concrete retaining wall near the entry. The three men were aware of the obvious pun. Later, Alexander assisted Arnold Schoenberg, the composer, with the redesign of Schoenberg's Brentwood studio. Alexander befriended Ayn Rand, and provided quotes for her book, The Fountainhead (1943). Some of Rand's descriptions in the book of the Heller House are thinly disguised references to the Halliburton House. Alexander continued to practice architecture and interior design and by 1950 had moved permanently to West Hollywood. He died in 1997. For more information see the book, Horizon Chasers: The Lives and Adventures of Richard Halliburton and Paul Mooney, by Gerry Max. It's the story of Halliburton, the quintessential world traveler of the 20th century and his gifted editor and ghost writer, Paul Mooney, with first hand accounts by William Alexander and others.The book is published by McFarland & Company, April 2007. Download the podcast below.
11 minutes | Oct 28, 2006
Man Ray: Surrealist Meets Architect
Who contributes more to the public perception of a building, the architect or the photographer? For Harwell Hamilton Harris, a California architect in the 1930s and 40s, the photographer who helped make Harris’s buildings famous was one of the 20th century’s most celebrated Surrealists--Man Ray. Man Ray embraced the new ideas of art and culture, he was one of the leading spirits of DADA and Surrealism and the only American artist to play a prominent role in the launching of these two influential movements. He had never photographed architecture when Harris commissioned him to photograph three of Harris' most interesting houses. Man Ray’s architectural photos were unlike anything Harris had ever seen--and Man Ray never photographed architecture again. We, who are interested in architecture and art, are the better for Man Ray’s short, but memorable side trip into architecture, when two great artists--one a mild-mannered modernist, and one a Dada Surrealist--met on sunny hillsides in Los Angeles and Berkeley and created works of art, in architecture and photography. For more information about Man Ray and his art, read Ingrid Schaffner's book, The Essential Man Ray (2003,The Wonderland Press, Harry. N. Abrams, publishers). To see Man Ray's work online, visit www.manraytrust.com. And see what's surreal at www.tedwells.com. Photograph of the Weston Havens House, Architect: Harwell Hamilton Harris; Photo by Man Ray, Copyright Man Ray Trust.
14 minutes | Oct 22, 2006
The Architecture of Happiness
Many architects are wary of openly discussing the word beauty – in Alain de Botton’s book, The Architecture of Happiness, he asks the large and naïve question: What is a beautiful building? Is it too much to ask of our buildings to aspire to that which we long for in our hearts? Many architects would answer, "Yes." Rather than see architecture as an aspiration of the best of what life can be, many see architecture as reflective of the worst of what life is. If architects do not think that buildings affect society and can contribute to the happiness and well-being of those who use the buildings, then architects devalue their profession and are saying that their work has no importance. Yet if architects admit that their work can affect society and make a difference in a users life, and yet architects insist on designing buildings that are confrontational and conflicted, then architects are knowingly contributing to the decay and dysfunction of society. In a world where we are constantly told how bad things are, architecture can give us hope about how things could be better. That’s an ancient idea whose time has come again. The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton is published by Pantheon. www.randomhouse.com/pantheon/ And visit www.tedwells.com.
11 minutes | Apr 20, 2006
Antonin Raymond & George Nakashima: Soul Mates
Two men, both architects -- one, Antonin Raymond was a Czech who came to America and worked for Frank Lloyd Wright and would become the father of Japanese modernism; and the other, a talented American of Japanese descent from Spokane, Washington, George Nakashima. These men's paths would dramatically cross a few times during their lives, and each time, their lives were changed. Design in America, Japan, India and the world, is better because of it. This is their story. At the Graham Foundation in Chicago until May 25, 2006, visit the exhibition about Antonin Raymond and George Nakashima's ashram dormitory building, Golconde: The Introduction of Modernism in India (www.grahamfoundation.org). The Sri Aurobindo Ashram allowed scholars access to the library and archives and all images and drawings were catalogued wih the Ashram's permission. The research team for Golconde comprised of Pankaj Vir Gupta, AIA and Christine Mueller, partners in the firm of vir.mueller architects (www.virmueller.com). Mira Nakashima's book, "Nature Form & Spirit: The Life and Legacy of George Nakashima," is a tribute to her father, his architecture and furniture, and his reverence for nature. For information on the book and tours of the Nakashima Studio in New Hope, Pennsylvania, visit www.nakashimawoodworker.com. And visit www.tedwells.com.
9 minutes | Feb 21, 2006
Spanish Modernism: Architecture of Loss and Hope
At the farthest western edge of Spain, where it meets the sea and looks to the setting sun over the Atlantic this desolate landscape is formed by the constant wind and waves. It is a harsh land, this tip of Galicia, where the most valued natural resource is the sea. And on this westernmost point, Finisterre, also known as the coast of death because of a long history of shipwrecks, perches one of the most moving pieces of modern architecture, a cemetery for sailors and fishermen, by architect Cesar Portela. Through May 1, 2006, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York there is a new exhibit of modern Spanish architecture. For more information, visit www.moma.org. And visit www.tedwells.com.
10 minutes | Jan 13, 2006
Charlotte Perriand: A Life of Creation
Charlotte Perriand lived long enough to see her modern furniture became famous, and command six-figure prices at dealers and auction houses around the world. But more importantly, she knew how to live. Perriand, was one of the most influential furniture designers of the early modern movement. She introduced the ‘machine age’ aesthetic to interiors in the steel, aluminum and glass furniture she created at Le Corbusier’s architectural studio in the late 1920s and 1930s. Perriand was also one of the most remarkable women of the 20th century, but like many woman who labor long in the shadow of more famous men, it was she who most displayed a spirit of living that is lacking in life today. Part of this loss could be our feeling that there is little new in the world for us to discover, that discoveries happen only in laboratories and computer rooms. For a designer there seems to be little to discover, but is this true? Other cultures were a source of rich inspiration to Perriand, but while our opportunity for exposure to cultures in the 21st century is certainly greater, is our understanding of some cultures really any better today? For designers, there is still much more to discover about the human condition – and Perriand can teach us about playfulness, adventure and the joy of discovery. The exhibit "Charlotte Perriand" is open until March 27 at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. For more information visit www.centrepompidou.fr and read the book Charlotte Perriand: A Life of Creation (The Monacelli Press). Visit www.tedwells.com.
11 minutes | Dec 30, 2005
Toasting Hans Wegner: Chairs Worth Celebrating!
In 2006, the world's best chair designer, Hans Wegner, will celebrate his 92nd birthday and his 75th year of designing furniture. Wegner epitomizes the best in Danish design - the idea that craftsmanship and modern living are not at odds - and that well-crafted designs can be produced in quantity. And, continuing another tradition, of sorts, it's the final week to mail-in your creation to the Design Within Reach Champagne Chair Contest. Plenty to celebrate! For more information visit the Danish Design Center at www.ddc.dk; Design Within Reach at www.dwr.com; and www.tedwells.com.
12 minutes | Dec 21, 2005
Rendering Reality: Herzog & de Meuron and the Crime of Ornament
I've found some buildings that look better in reality than in rendering -- and they are all designed by one firm. The firm is Herzog & de Meuron, the Swiss architects, whose de Young Museum in San Francisco opened recently. What struck me about their work, as it relates to a discussion of architectural rendering is that many of their buildings look, well, dull in renderings -- and they even look dull in models. But consistenly, Herzog & de Meuron's built work is better than the renderings. That is rare in contemporary architecture, especially in architecture where the renderings seem to rely more and more on computer tricks and lighting for dramatic effect. It was the architect Adolf Loos who, in 1908, set us on a difficult and publicly unpopular course through the 20th century, declaring Ornament a Crime -- and it was interpreted by Modernists to include any ornament, and anyone who chooses to decorate their designs was suspect for most of the 20th century, but now, perhaps the tide is turning? Herzog and de Meuron are breaking this century-long trend and in many buildings celebrate ornament. Is this their secret to rendering reality? Photograph is a backlit panel of the perforated copper screens at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Other Herzog & de Meuron buildings to look up: the Ricola Production and Storage Building; the Library of Eberswald University; the Tate Modern; the Dominus Winery. For more information about the new de Young Museum, visit www.thinker.org. And for some designs for which I am guilty, visit www.tedwells.com.
12 minutes | Dec 10, 2005
Rendering Reality: Hadid, Libeskind, Koolhaas and Winking Jesus
Some architects depend on computer rendering and much of their reputation is built on computer imagery -- but when was the last time you saw a building in real life that looked better than the rendering? In the computer images, buildings are often depicted at night, with the translucent walls aglow, offering glimpses of life inside. Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, and Rem Koolhaas know the power of persuasion in creating a rendering as an inspirational sales tool. But what does this mean to all of us who have to live with the buildings -- in the real world -- and face the disappointment of seeing the building built, and it's not as ethereal, as glowing, as interesting as it was presented to us in the rendering? The answer might be found in a winking Jesus. Pictured is the rendering and reality views of the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, designed by Zaha Hadid. For more inspiration, visit www.tedwells.com.
11 minutes | Nov 30, 2005
Bradbury Building & Hallidie Building: Architecture One Hit Wonders
Architectural One Hit Wonders: George Wyman and Willis Polk each designed a building that is so great, it overshadows their career. Wyman's Bradbury Building (1892) is in Los Angeles and few interior spaces in the world even come close to its magic. He almost didn't take the job, until a Ouija board told him he must. Polk's Hallidie Building (1917) in San Francisco is wrapped in a early use of a glass curtain wall -- and Polk did it so well there has not been a glass curtain wall since that is as beautiful as the Hallidie's. These one-hit wonders have much to teach us about bridging the past and future with bold and thoughtful designs. The Bradbury Building is located at 304 S. Broadway in Los Angeles. The Hallidie Building is at 130 Sutter Street in San Francisco. And visit www.tedwells.com.
10 minutes | Nov 22, 2005
Eating Fallingwater: Frank Lloyd Wright and Gingerbread Architecture & Design
There hasn't been a house built in the past 70 years that even comes close to the iconic status of Fallingwater. Sure it took a good architect and a great client, but it also took the right cultural climate and publicity machine that understood what America was looking for - and gave it to us, all sugary excess on a cantilevered platter. And we've eaten it up ever since. Podcast notes: For more information, read the book Fallingwater Rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E.J. Kaufmann, and America's Most Extraordinary House, by Franklin Toker. Visit the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York for their Sweet Creations Gingerbread Houses through December 15, www.eastmanhouse.org. And visit www.tedwells.com
6 minutes | Nov 13, 2005
John Lautner and Silvertop: Architecture & Design
Atop the highest peak of the highest hill in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles rests Silvertop -- one of architect John Lautner's most intriguing houses. "Real architecture is everything in life: Free-enduring spaces, heart, soul, spirit ... " Lautner said. Started in 1963, Silvertop wasn't finished until ten years later. In this podcast, hear about the clients who finished the house and have lived there ever since. Photo of Silvertop by John Ellis. www.tedwells.com.
5 minutes | Nov 8, 2005
So, Brad Pitt Wants to be an Architect?: Architecture & Design
Every few months I hear Brad Pitt talking about his love of architecture, and this week it appears he's in the thick of it. He's been blasted by residents of a British seaside town for a controversial design project he's worked on -- before construction has even begun. And on the same day, I saw a study finding that architects have been voted the sexiest male professionals, in a survey of women's ideal partners. Coincidence? ... The photo is of Brad Pitt intently using a glue gun on a design model as Frank Gehry beams at the camera. www.tedwells.com
5 minutes | Nov 2, 2005
Julius Shulman: Architectural Photographer of Modern Dreams: Architecture & Design
Julius Shulman's photos did more than publicize the work of Modernist architects. He showed the world that the best architecture of mid-century America reflected the unique and imagined lifestyle of this place. In Shulman's perceptively sharp photos of architecture, interesting men and beautiful women are caught in the middle of a stimulating conversation over cocktails, or lounging in the garden, or emerging from an evening swim in the pool. Ted Wells notes that Shulman's photographs created the two things architecture needs for immortality: respectability and desirability. The Julius Shulman archive of 260,000 photographs has been acquired by the Getty Research Institute. The exhibit "Julius Shulman: Modernity and the Metropolis," is on display until January 22, 2006 at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. For more information visit www.getty.edu. Photo from the Getty Research Institute: Chuey Residence, Los Angeles, 1956. Richard Neutra, architect. www.tedwells.com
6 minutes | Oct 31, 2005
Raphael Soriano and the Shulman House and Studio: Part 4 of 4: Architecture & Design
Julius Shulman is a world-renowned architectural photographer whose career spans the history of Modernism in America. The Shulman House and Studio, built in 1947 and designed by architect Raphael Soriano, has been the photographer's home for nearly sixty years. Ted Wells presents the fourth podcast in a series about four architects and four clients who were committed to the ideals of modern living. These clients are true patrons: generous with their praise, evangelical in their fervor to spread the spirit of Modernism, and satisfied that the rest of the world has finally caught up with their foresight. The photos of the clients in this four-part series are by John Ellis. www.tedwells.com