It has been a long time since a bucket list was brought up on this show, but today’s the day. Almost 4 years to the day and 100 episodes later, Andrew and I are going to go through an architectural bucket list of people places, and things. I don’t know what Andrew has in mind but I’m feeling that my list will inspire you and change your life… or at the very least, get you to go look something up on the internet. Welcome to EP 126: Architectural Bucket List Take 2
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Today we are talking bucket lists, or more specifically an architectural bucket list that has the same operating parameters as the one we went through (as of this release of this episode, exactly 4 years and 1 day ago). This is a people, places, buildings, items of design, and special projects list. Was it hard to come up with new entries for these categories? Probably a lot harder than anticipated as I spent probably a day and a half thinking and researching my answers for today, trying to whittle down a list of 10 things of interest into a single choice, something worthy of taking the top spot.
Person jump to 3:36
Who would you like to have as an ideal “Architect” buddy for your life/practice? I would assume that this would be a famous architect but it doesn’t have to be, but let’s put the caveat on here that they have to be living.
I had a bit of a tough time here. But I finally chose Jeanne Gang. I enjoy the works of Studio Gang. It appeals to me in many ways. As an architect with most of my experience in public architecture, I am usually more interested in that type of work. So their work is, in my humble opinion, outstanding. Although, I am not sure how I feel about their most recent work at the Gilder Center, but I was on a tour at the AIA National Conference in Chicago a few years ago, and she led a tour of her most recent project Aqua Tower. On this tour, she seemed very laid back and approachable, she was a very good tour guide, and she had some wit about her and made some humorous and funny remarks. She just seemed like someone who would be enjoyable to spend time with. I then watched a few more videos online and concluded that she would be my choice. So again, this time, I went with someone whose work I admire and enjoy more than someone I feel would be a giant ball of fun. Don’t get me wrong, I still think she would be good to be around for sure, but her work is what drew me to choose her.
This was a tough one for me until a single moment of clarity make it an obvious choice. I choose Pitsou Kedem – Pitsou Kedem Architects founded in 2000 by Pitsou Kedem after graduating from the AA Architectural Association School of Architecture. Based in TEL AVIV, Israel, I stumbled across their Instagram feed years ago – I believe the first project I saw was construction photos of the J-House but I also recall the AB House. Not all of their projects are residential but the majority of them are. Very simple shapes along with construction techniques which accentuate what is actually happening and the result is that clarity of form is highlighted.
Here’s a fun fact for you – Dallas and Tel Aviv are basically on the same latitude as one another (32.1 versus 32.4 I believe) which means our sunlight paths are the same. You would think that as a result, our climates would be similar except for the rather large exception that they are on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and Dallas is inland.
Place jump to 11:21
This would be a location you would like to visit. It could be a broad point and/or a very specific one … I’m not even sure that it has to be “architectural”.
This was a hard one for me because I don’t tend to travel for architecture but rather find what to look at based on where I go. There is always something to look at but when I really stopped and thought about where would I like to go for the purpose of understanding the architecture better, it was Norway. Am I influenced by the fact that I am Norwegian and have never been to Norway? Of course, I am – how could I not?
The extreme nature of their climate, the long harsh winters, frost, and heavy precipitation have all influenced their design. There is the craftsmanship and extensive use of wood, it is an old culture so there is a Viking and prehistoric period, stave churches from the Middle Ages (wooden church building, timber framing, post and lintel construction). Modernism was taken up in the 1920s, and there is a balance of constructing buildings in an environment where the exterior space around the building always plays a role … and purportedly, they are the happiest people on the planet for the win.
- Oslo Opera House by Snøhetta (2008) but if we keep on the Snohetta bandwagon, there is the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Center Pavilion from 2011
- The Juvet Hotel of the coolest cabins set in the landscape you might ever get to see.
- There is also the heavy hitter of Reiulf Ramstad Architecture and you can see their Instagram feed here. The project Square House with a Void was the first project of theirs that I saw.
The thing about me wanting to go to Norway is that I also like to go someplace that feels somewhat remote and change the pace of my normal daily life and routine.
Lately, I have been somewhat fascinated with Japan in general. I am unsure of the exact reason, as I think there are several. But I chose Tokyo for its span of history and its modernization. It is a place with a long history, so there is some old, even ancient, architecture. But it is also a very modern city with some highly modernized aspects. I like the idea of that contrast. I would also like to be in an environment with that many people, at least for a while. I am not confident I would enjoy it all the time, but if I felt crowded, Japan is also a very beautiful country. I could leave Tokyo to find some solitude in the natural beauty of Japan.
Notable buildings and places I would visit
Tama Art University Library by Toyo Ito ( 2007)
Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa (645 AD) The oldest temple in Tokyo
The National Museum of Western Art by Le Corbusier (1959) I mean it’s Corbu! But also important in Toyko.
Nezu Museum by Kengo Kuma (2010)
Also, the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and Yoyogi Park.
There are so many other places, but these would be on the top of my very long, long list.
Building jump to 23:46
I would imagine that there is a particular building that as architects we should want to visit … but picking a particular one? Oh jeez – that’s almost impossible but let’s give it a go.
This is a library in Mexico City. It is the Biblioteca Vasconcelos. I am not entirely certain when I first encountered this project, but it has been in the last several years. I am drawn to public projects, and this one certainly caught my eye. The project was a competition that was won by Mexican architect Alberto Kalach. The project is 400,000 square feet of space and houses a national collection. This project has to be one of the most interesting libraries I have ever seen. I would simply like to see it in person. The building is a very long rectangular shape, and it is now surrounded by lush garden spaces created for this project. I want to experience this interior space and then make my way through all of the suspended catwalks of books. It just looks like an amazing space. I actually had a planned trip to Mexico City, but it was canceled due to the pandemic. So this one remains on my bucket list.
The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is a church in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It is the largest Catholic church in the world. Most people simply refer to It as Sagrada Familia. It was started in 1882 where they started on the apse crypt of the church, and the original architect was Francisco de Paula del Villar, who ended up resigning from the project after the crypt was completed and Antonio Gaudi was retained in 1883 and he radically changed the design of the church. When Gaudi died in 1926, it is estimated that the project was somewhere between 15-25% complete. The work continued until it was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War in 1936. During that war, Gaudi’s workshop, building models, and drawings were destroyed so what we are seeing now being built are highly educated projections of what was proposed. Fun fact: Work had continued on the basilica uninterrupted since the Spanish Civil War until the Covid-19 pandemic forced the closure of the site. Currently forecasted to finish construction in 2026.
Thing jump to 30:09
This would be your selection of an architectural item or just something you really want. Basically, we are just talking about cool things here.
I have been slowly – painfully slow actually – adding to my collection of things in my personal space that are a reflection of these iconic designed “things”. Typically they aren’t very large (which is probably a reflection of cost more than anything else). This includes the La Stanza dello Scirocco Bowl, the Georg Nelson stainless steel elephant bottle opener, and the next item on my watchlist is the Eames House Whale (coming in at a cool $1,300) but I am going to answer today’s question with an item I have spoken about before … and this one is barely over $30
These are known as the “Dornburg Owls”, originally designed and crafted by Heiner Hans Körting, one of the potters of the Bauhaus workshop established in Donbury. Heiner Hans Körting’s son Ulrich still runs the Dornburg studio and you too can own one of these super cool ceramic (or keramik if you’re German) owls for only 30€ plus shipping as of this writing. What a steal and I can basically guarantee that if you go this route, this will be a long-treasured object. You can go to the Ceramic Studio in Beurgel website and order your very own original piece of Bauhaus history.
This one is purely on this list as a personal bucket list item. I took a page from Bob’s book in the first, like back in episode 25 when he chose a 1969 Jaguar XKE. My choice is a 1965 Ford Mustang GT Fastback. So this was my first car. I bought that car when I was 14 and began the little restoration work it needed at that time. I then drove that car until about my second year of college. So it wasn’t in my life very long, so to speak. I do still own that car. But when the transmission went out all those years ago, it sat in my parents’ drive for way too long. So it now needs a new restoration (if possible), but I certainly would take a newly restored one without hesitation. Maybe one day, I will have the time and money to dedicate to its restoration. I must also say I enjoy the design of this car, its lines, and its aesthetic. So this choice is partially a design theme for me, but most certainly more personal.
Bucket List Project jump to 37:32
What would be your dream project to design and have built? This could be a project type, any scale … just about any type of project.
I didn’t stray very far with my selection of bucket list architectural projects since I stayed in the single-family residential world but added the “compound of buildings” to the description. I’ve made it no secret that the things I typically want to do are simply fulfilling things that I would like to have for myself. My original bucket list selection was to design a house (for myself really but could be for anyone) in a remote location – at least something that doesn’t have a neighbor 10′-o” away and some lovely viewing corridors to the distance. It could be in the desert, the woods – it really doesn’t matter … it’s more of a density and adjacency fantasy. This time around I would like to explore the idea of breaking a single building up into a series of smaller function-driven collection of spaces – all of which are connected to one another through walkways, pathways, elevated bridges – whatever.
Again, I am pulled toward public projects. It must just be my natural affection as this has always been my type of work. So my bucket list project type is a Performance Hall/Theater space. The main reason I chose this project type is due to its complexity. It would be very challenging to work on such a complex project with all its requirements, elements, and intricacies. I like that idea. Now I must admit I may never want to do more than one for those same reasons, but I would like to think I would manage the challenges with enthusiasm. Also, these projects tend to be “statement pieces” whenever they are created. That seems to be true, no matter the location or capacity. This project type appears to be a large puzzle to solve, and I would enjoy that aspect.
jump to 43:37
Since we are revisiting a topic originally brought up 4 years ago, I thought we should – at least temporarily – bring back the hypothetical question. When I went back to look the original episode up, that shows hypothetical question was one of my all-time favorites. The infamous zombie apocalypse I’m kidnapping people and putting them in dog kennels in my effort to save the world Andrew thinks everyone will kill me question.
Okay – today’s question and I remembered why we stopped doing these as it was getting harder and harder to actually come up with the questions – here is the situation:
You are given 48 hours to live but you can’t tell anyone … how do you spend this time?
As always, there are some parameters to help shape this conversation. You will die painlessly in your sleep but other than that, I think you can do whatever you want. However, if you are predisposed to trying to hack this question, not telling someone isn’t restricted to verbal communication. You can’t write a note that they can read while you are still with us. Since we both have kids and family with us, that has to be where your mind goes first. The second thing that comes to my mind is whether you let them find out that you knew beforehand.
EP 126: Architectural Bucket List Take 2
I have gone through this exercise – the one where you sit down and think about which particular location you want to visit, the car you would like to purchase, the people you would like to meet, etc., a few times before and as I looked through those past lists, I appeared that my interests and tastes have predictably evolved in most instances. I’m not sure that I would place any of these items into the “goals” category, more of the “it would be nice if …”
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