McKinley Residence by David Hertz

The last video preshow featured the McKinley Residence (aka the Californication House because it was featured prominently in that TV show). This house is in Venice, California and was designed and built in two phases from 1996 to 2003. The architect, David Hertz, FAIA designed the house in multiple free standing units that were connected by the inner courtyard on the ground floor and bridges on the upper levels. It’s modeled after a balinese residential type that he came across in his surf (!) travels. Fortunately, he lives in California where this kind of living is possible… sigh.

In the video we see Jay-Z having (what else?) a party. The house helps portray his character as an affable and affluent host. This image similar to the one from previous video that featured Mr. Dogg living it up. I must admit, though, it’s a less impressive house and site (and party)… The sixties was definitely a wilder, freer party decade.



Sheats Goldstein House, Los Angeles, by John Lautner

Today’s video preshow featured the Sheats Goldstein House located high in a Los Angles canyon. The house, built in 1961 by California architect John Lautner, is a slick, triangular space ship that has obviously landed here to help us have a good time. While it does seem to scream bachelor pad with its cool concrete, buttery leather, and seamless glass, it was, in fact, commissioned by an adventurous artist and professor for their family. Looked at without the smoke and satin of Mr. Dogg and Mr. Williams, the house is more a geometric experiment in reaching for the infinite horizon.


Farnsworth House, Plano, IL by Ludwig Mies van de Rohe

For me, this video, which is for a song about the value of family and affection, seems misplaced in such a stark and modern house. It would seem that using a more traditional suburban single family house would serve the nostalgic atmosphere better. No? I suppose, what the Farnsworth House permits though, through its (perceived) blankness, is the space for the projected “memories” of the story’s character. The Farnsworth House, in this light, is any house… every house. This is particularly funny to every architect I know, however, because we study that house so intensely as one of the highest examples of modernism. For us, this house is anything but neutral!

Therme Vals, Switzerland, by Peter Zumthor, part 2

This time the bath building in Vals by Zumthor (that we mourned last week) took a decidedly more ethereal flavor. Rather than the dark, heavy, and goth(ic) interpretation by Liricas Analas, Janet Jackson floats through turquoise veils and light filled rooms. The divergent style and content of these artists is somehow supported by this one building. The architecture has the magic of being both visually tactile, holding the eye to its surfaces and forms, but at the same time being neutral enough to be inhabited and interpreted in distinctly different ways. Why? What are the characteristics that let it be both specific and general? Undoubtably, the architect intended this possibility, but why? How dos this adaptability serve the design of a bathing facility?


In today’s lecture about architectural education in the United States I mentioned the “project review” (aka a “critique” or “jury”.) This is when a student publicly presents their work for evaluation and feedback for a group of reviewers. As mentioned, this practice comes to us from the Ecole des Beaux Arts. To see a bit of it in action go to 8:37 of the video below. Better yet, watch the whole video and get a perspective on the life of an architecture student!