Travel Book

Just my notebook.

*Quotations and notes could be extracted from AIA Guides, other books and literature listed in the tab « In Progress Thoughts »



New York : Brooklyn Heights

Mercredi 16 mars 2011

It was still dark outside, and I loved the drama of standing in the dark, staring out at the flashing and restless New-York city and picturing myself in one of those movies, feeling on top of the world. And then the lights would blaze forth, and my fantasy was over. The anything-is-possible feel of New-York at dawn vanished…

March : Time to back home

« One can’t paint New-York as it is, but rather as it is felt. »

Georgia O’Keefe


Philadelphia : Penn Center Complex and others glittering towers

Mercredi 16 mars 2011

In the foreground, among the few common characteristics of the Modern buildings are the absence of ornamentation, the direct expression of structural systems and the use of muted colors.
Penn Center was significant not for the design of the individual buildings but the project as the whole. The concept as a separate pedestrian concourse linking transportation, retail and office facilities was innovative at the time and influenced downtown development in many other cities.
Penn Center Complex (Vincent G. Kling and Assoc., Emery Roth and Sons, Kohn Pedersen Fox; 1953-82)

In the background, One Liberty Place, at a height of 960 feet to the top of its spire, is the tallest building in the city and the most striking landmark day or night. The tower has a silver-blue aluminum grid which holds horizontal bands of blue glass and granite at the corners. The central portion of the façade is silver metallic glass interrupted by bands of gray granite at every fourth floor, giving scale and decoration to the façade. This combination of silver and blue glass gives the building a delicate, shimmering quality in spite of its massive size.
Two Liberty Place uses the same architectural vocabulary but in a more subdued fashion. The rectilinear tower plan is less elegant than the OLP. A single gable roof, also illuminated on its edges crowns the tower.
The tapering Melon Bank Center has central bays of vertical columns expressing the structural system of the building, rising to a projecting cornice. A lattice, pyramidal structure, housing the building’s cooling system, tops the tower and completes the obelisk analogy.
The Comcast Center is the tallest “green” building in the country. It achieved LEED certification through the use of heat deflecting glass and other features, including floor-by-floor heating and air conditioning controls, waterless urinals and the use of recycled materials. Comcast is a both a dramatic and understated addition to the city skyline.
The Bell Atlantic Tower is a contrast to its predecessors in almost every way. The form and location of the building were influenced by the special design controls along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway which limit the height of buildings within 200 feet of the Parkway. The 53 story building is easily distinguished by its rectangular shape, flat roof and warm red color. One of the most appealing qualities of the building is its color. Factory-built red granite panels with gray-tinted glass reflect the brick color of traditional Philadelphia architecture.

Two Liberty Place (Murphy, Jahn with Zeidler Roberts Partnership, 1990)
One Liberty Place (Murphy, Jahn with Zeidler Roberts Partnership, 1987)
Melon Bank Center (Kohn Pedersen Fox, 1990)
Comcast Center (Robert A. M. Stern Architects with Kendall Heaton Associates, 2008)
Bell Atlantic Tower (The Kling-Lindquist Partnership, 1991)

In the background of the background:
My iced cube Cira Centre…


Fort Worth

Vendredi 11 mars 2011

Such picturesque adaptations of the modern box bristle as fortresses for the Bass interests.

First City Bank Tower (Paul Rudolph, 1982)


Houston : Downtown

Mercredi 9 mars 2011

« What is coming will be more value than what is here already? »
The result is a dynamic landscape unconstrained by those places, objects, or buildings that evoke memory. Emblems of the city’s major economic institutions dominate: their shapes, colors, and spaces are audacious and exhilarating!

Pennzoil Place (Johnson & Burgee Architects, 1976);
Republic Bank Center (Nations Bank Center) (Johnson & Burgee Architects, 1983);
Electric Tower (Bob lanier Public Works Building) (Wilson, Morris, Crain & Anderson, 1968);
One Shell Plaza (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1971);
Allied Bank Plaza (Wells Fargo Bank Plaza) (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1983);
First International Plaza (1100 Louisiana Building) (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1980);
Tranquillity Park (Charles Taplet Associates, 1979)


Baltimore : Arts Tower

Mercredi 16 février 2011

One of the most conspicuous ornaments on the Baltimore skyline, especially when seen from the Baltimore-Washington Parkway or Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the Bromo Seltzer Tower is a monument to the week-known cure for headache and hangover developed by local pharmacist Captain Isaac E. Emerson.
Emerson made a grand tour of Europe shortly after 1900 and fell under the spell of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. When he returned, he commissioned Sperry to design a building like it. Sperry’s tower, when it was built, did not much resemble its model, and does so even less since the six-story Bromo Seltzer factory building that embraced it on two sides was replaced in the 1970s by a two story firehouse.
The Palazzo Vecchio is a thirteenth-century stone structure with a battlement watchtower 308 feet tall, built of rough stone and with few windows. The Baltimore version is 288 feet high, 30 feet square, and is of steel-frame construction faced with yellow brick. It contains two elevators, office space on most of its sixteen floors, and what was one of the largest four-dial gravity clocks in the world, larger than London’s Big Ben. (The clock still operates, but with electricity.)
Yet it was the tower’s culmination that made it really memorable: a steel replica of the blue Bromo Seltzer bottle, 51 feet high, 20 feet in diameter, weighing 17 tons, and crowned with 596 lights. The bottle revolved twice every minute and reportedly could be seen at night from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The revolutions, however, caused serious cracks in the structure, and the bottle was removed and scrapped in 1936. The crenellation was added at the time.

Baltimore Arts Tower (Joseph E. Sperry, 1911)


Baltimore : Top of the World

Jeudi 10 février 2011

The Baltimore World Trade Center is the world’s tallest equilateral five-sided building. The landmark tower was positioned so that a corner points out towards the waters of the Inner Harbor, suggesting the prow of a ship. Perched at the Harbor’s edge, the building appears to rise out of the water when viewed from certain vantage points. The building draws inspiration from the specific circumstances of its site. It stands apart from center city congestion and is visible, like a beacon, from all sides — hence its multidirectional form.
By creating significant civic spaces and by giving expression to the drama inherent in the meeting of the city and the sea, the World Trade Center restores the Inner Harbor to its historic role as Baltimore’s central focus.

An observation deck on the 27th floor, called « Top of the World, » provides a 360-degree view of the city…

World Trade Center
(I.M. Pei & Partners, 1977)


Travel Book « FIFTH » – extracts

Mardi 8 février 2011


Detroit : « Save the Depot »

Mercredi 2 février 2011

« Save the Depot » or Save the drifting Vessel

This was an early attempt to marry a magnificient Beaux-Arts terminal, inspired by Roman baths, to a functionally efficient office tower.
The decline of American railroads led to the abandonment of the terminal itseld in the 1980s. Vandalism has reduced this handsome landmark to a ruin. Its current see-through state has even induced a local myth that the sixteen-story tower was never occupied; but these floors were indeed used, albeit with few partitions.
Architects Warren and Wetmore are better known for designing New York’s Grand Central Station, whose recent preservation offers a model to which Detroit might aspire.

Michigan Central Railroad Station (Warren and Wetmore, and Reed and Stern, 1913)



Saint-Louis : Gateway Arch

Mercredi 26 janvier 2011

« A soaring curve in the sky that links the rich heritage of yesterday with the richer future of tomorrow. »
« A giant magnet for persons who need a stage in front of the world. »
« The pioneer spirit of the men and women who won the West, and those of a later day to strive on other frontiers. »

Intended as a monument to Saint-Louis’s role as gateway to Wastern expansion following the Louisiana Purchase, the Arch has become a unique symbol of the city itself.
Planning was begun in 1933 to clear the 19th-century buildings from the site of Laclede’s settlement and to raise on it a park or monument commemorating the opening of the West. Saarinen’s design won a national competition in 1948. He did not live to see his Arch begin to rise 15 years later.

Gateway Arch, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Eero Saarinen & Associates, 1965)


Bartlesville : Price Tower

Lundi 17 janvier 2011

« The Tree that escaped the crowded forest. »

The tree – the metaphor that Wright used in reference to his skyscraper – reflecs not only his thoughts on the nature of architecture, that it should mimic and be an integral part of the landscape, but of the very structure and concept of the tower itself.
By the end of the 1920s, Wright has not made yet his mark with a great urban work – a skyscraper that would have seemed logical for the protégé of the famed city builder Louis Sullivan.

Price Tower (Frank Lloyd Wright, 1953)




Boston : State Street

Vendredi 14 janvier 2011

The original Custom House was a four-faced Greek Temple with fluted Doric columns of granite weighing forty-two tons each. The interior rotunda had a skylit dome, but the tower was built over this in 1913.
Although Boston had a 125-foot height restriction, the federally owned Custom House property was no subjetc the city height limits. Thus Boston’s first skyscraper was built, a sixteen-story landmark that was a shock to the city.

Custom House (Ammi Burham Young, 1837-1847)
Tower addition (Peabody and Stearns, 1913-1915)

Old State House (1712, 1748)
Stock Exchange Building (Peabody and Stearns, 1889-1891)





Travel Book « FOURTH » – extracts

Mardi 1er février 2011


Philadelphia : Cira Centre

Jeudi 23 décembre 2010

If developers have their way, the 2005 Cira Centre will eventually be just one of many skyscrapers on the west bank of the Schuylkill. But from now, it draws much of its impact from the fact that it stands alone.
César Pelli gave the 133m building a faceted profile and covered it in cool blue glass that gleams like quartz crystal in certain light and creates a dramatic counterpoint to the stone 30th Street Station across the road.
At night, a grid of colour-changing LEDS integrated into the curtain wall accents the tower’s distinctive profile. The location that helps make the building so dramatic also means it lacks spark level (it’s sandwiched between the station and railway tracks), but with luck developement along 30th Street will help change that.

Cira Centre
(César Pelli, 2005)

Travel Book « THIRD » – extracts

Jeudi 2 janvier 2011


Pittsburgh : Grand Street

Dimanche 7 novembre 2010

Frick Building (Daniel Burnham & Co, 1902);
USX Tower – United States Steel Building (Harrison, Abramovitz and Abbe Architects, 1967-71);
One Mellon Bank Center – Dravo Building (Welton Beckett Associates, 1983);
Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail (Henry Hobson Richardson, 1883-88);
City-County Building (Hornbostel for Palmer, Hornbostel & Jones, Edward B. Lee, 1915-17)

Pittsburgh : Golden Triangle

Samedi 6 novembre 2010

An heritage of the tremendous wealth from industry flowing into the city from the 1890s until World War I and one of Pittsburgh’s earliest slyscrapers: Arrot Building (Johnson & Burgee,1901)

The Renaissance II, from the late 1970s to around 1990 : PPG Place (Frederick John Osterling, 1979-84)
« One of the most ambitious, sensitive and public spirituel urban developments since Rockefeller Center. » Downtown : PPG Place, December 18 2008


Chicago : Loop

Mardi 2 novembre 2010

« Seuls les gratte-ciel en construction montrent l’audace des pensées constructives, et on est alors frappé par l’impression émanant de ces squelettes debout. »

Mies Van der Rohe, 1922

Federal Center (Mies, 1959);
Dirksen Building (1959);
John C. Kluczinsky Federal Complex (1966);
Willis Tower (Skidmore, Owings, Merrill, 1974);
U.S. Post Office (1966);
Flamingo (Calder, 1974)

Buffalo : Guaranty Building

Mardi 26 octobre 2010

« Ce nouveau mode de construction révolutionnaire exige un mode architectural révolutionnaire. Pour les immeubles de grande hauteur, la maçonnerie appartient au passé. Les vieilles notions de superposition disparaissent devant le sentiment de continuité verticale. »

Louis Sullivan à propos du Guaranty Building, 1895


Travel Book « SECOND » – extracts

Jeudi 2 décembre 2010


Manhattan : Central Park

Mercredi 24 novembre 2010

« Il cligna des paupières… et soudain, il vit. Il était accroupi au milieu d’un très grand pré bordé d’arbres, enveloppés de brume et de brouillard, des dizaines de buildings gigantesques se dressaient vers un ciel couleur de plomb. Au sommet de l’un deux se trouvait une enseigne : Essex Housse. »

George C. Chesbro – Bone, 1989

« Elle [la ville] entasse les uns sur les autres, en une étonnante eurythmie, les pleins cintres, les tours carrées et les terrasses […] et les étages en retrait […], ziggourat pyramidale, dans une forêt tous les jours plus épaisse de flèches, d’obélisques, de cônes et de donjons. »

Elie Faure – Mon périple, 1931

The Sherry Natherland (Schulze & Weaver and Buchman & Kahn, 1927); General Motors Building (Edward Durell Stone, Emery Roth & Sons, 1968); Squibb Building (Office of Ely Jacqus Kahn, 1931); SONY Building, originally AT&T Headquaters (Johnson/Burgee, 1984); Corning Glass Building (Harrison & Abramovitz & Abbe, 1959); Plaza Hotel (Henry J. Hardenbergh, 1905); 9 West 57th Street (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)




Manhattan : Woolworth Building

Vendredi 12 novembre 2010

« Il remonte South Street Seaport. Pendant qu’il arpentait ces rues, tout seul, un gratte-ciel l’a obsédé, un édifice cannelé, dressant en l’air ces innombrables fenêtres éclairées. »

John Dos Passos – Manhattan Tranfer, 1925

Le Woolworth building de l’architecte Cass Gilbert, la « Huitième merveille du monde», est en 1913 l’immeuble le plus haut du monde.





Travel Book « FIRST » – extracts

Jeudi 18 novembre 2010


Lower Manhattan

Jeudi 21 octobre 2010

« Cent fois je me suis dit que New-York était une catastrophe, et cinquante fois: c’est une splendide catastrophe. »

Le Corbusier

William Beaver House – The Post-it Note Building (Tsao & McKown Architects, 2009;
Exchange Place – City Bank Farmers Trust Company (Cross & Cross, 1930);
Morgan Bank Headquaters (Kevin John Roche Dinkeloo & Assocs, 1988)

Manhattan : Wall Street

Jeudi 14 octobre 2010

« Cet eldorado des temps modernes, où, racontait-on aux petits enfants d’Europe, les rues étaient pavées d’or, et la terre si vaste et si généreuse que tout le monde pouvait y trouver sa place. »

Franz Kafka

Federal Hall National Memorial, 1842 ;
Statue of George Washington (John Quincy Adams Ward, 1883)

New-York City : Manhattan

Dimanche 3 octobre 2010

« Mais chez nous, n’est-ce pas, elles sont couchées les villes, au bord de la mer ou sur les fleuves, elles s’allongent sur le paysage, elles attendent le voyageur, tandis que celle-là l’Américaine, elle ne se pâmait pas, non, elle se tenait bien raide, là, pas baisante du tout, raide à faire peur. »

Louis-Ferdinand Céline – Voyage au bout de la nuit, 1932