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Balthazar Korab's gorgeous modern photography of Eero Saarinen projects like the John Deere Headquarters (1963) is a cornerstone of his wide-ranging body of work. Photo: Balthazar Korab
Balthazar Korab - Architect of Photography
by John Comazzi
Talk with Balthazar Korab long enough, and a consistent
narrative emerges — one of a life and career
replete with intriguing contradictions. A photographer
with no formal training, he first aspired to be a
painter but instead studied architecture, and prefers to
be known as “an architect who makes pictures
rather than a photographer who is knowledgeable about
He has practiced in a field of photography dominated by
large- and medium-format devices but often favors the
quickness and agility afforded by handheld 35 mm
cameras. And though he will maintain that his training
and practice in architecture provided him with the
“necessary skills to more completely understand
how a building works,” on location he will often
wander with an almost childlike fascination, as if he is
searching for something elusive.
His photography demonstrates many of these
contradictions as well. His professional images of
architecture are recognized for displaying a precision
befitting their Modernist subjects, but they are often
layered with the idiosyncrasies of atmosphere,
weathering, and activity that confound an otherwise
He has been widely celebrated for his images of iconic
Modern architecture, though he often prefers to
photograph vernacular buildings, industrial sites, and
anonymous structures found in small villages and
nameless towns. And when asked to characterize his work
in a single sentence, he simply describes it as
“softspoken with a bite.”
When examined across the arc of his life and career,
Korab’s oeuvre defies clear categories, or rather,
it encompasses many — a fact that makes it quite
difficult to identify any consistent or signature style.
For while Korab is most lauded for his professional
photography of midcentury Modern architecture, his
archive is equally punctuated by a remarkably diverse
compilation of other, lesser-known (though no less
significant) portfolios that yield significant insights
into his overall approach to photography.
Height restrictions contribute to the urban ensemble in Washington, D.C., where buildings work together, despite diverse ages and styles, in forming positive street space. Photo: Kevin Matthews
On Washington, D.C. Building Height Restrictions
by Kaid Benfield
I've been procrastinating this one for a long time. I
generally avoid taking stands on controversial local
issues in Washington, where I have lived for over four
decades, and I am especially uncomfortable being at odds
with people I respect and consider friends.
That said, I can't sit on this any longer: the law that
restricts the height of buildings in DC is under attack from all
sorts of sources (many of them out-of-towners or relative
newcomers to the city, probably not a coincidence). Some of the
critics are indeed friends, but I disagree with them on this
I'm here to say that, although there are pros and cons to the
height restrictions, the city and its residents are better off
with them than without them. In my opinion, the restrictions
should stay, pretty much as they are.
Before and after plan drawings show how a claustrophobic kitchen became more spacious and useful. Image: Courtesy Taunton Press
Staying Put in Style: Connection by Subtraction
by Duo Dickinson
In the original plan for this 1970s contemporary house,
half the floor space was chopped up to create a kitchen,
laundry, three-quarter bath, and back door.
The removal of virtually all the non-bearing walls in that
part of the plan allowed a tight U kitchen to expand into
one that has a full island with pantry closets layered onto
the remaining bearing wall.
The powder room and laundry room were relocated to an existing rear shed pop-out that was previously unheated. Sink and stove locations were maintained to keep costs down, and new cabinetry respected the existing window locations, again saving money.
The lack of structural and exterior work kept this major redo cost-effective. Demolition is cheap, and, if structurally viable, renovating unfinished unheated space is far less expensive than adding on.
Energy-efficient buildings like the Federal Center South Building 1202, located on a brownfield site in Seattle, designed by ZGF Architects for the Army Corps of Engineers, can play a key part in a comprehensive, fact-based approach to reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Photo: Courtesy ZGF Architects
What's Up with U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
by Kevin Matthews
A person — or a public figure, member of the media, maybe even an international climate negotiator — could be confused.
In August, 2012, the Associated Press reported:
AP IMPACT: CO2 emissions in US drop to 20-year low
"PITTSBURGH (AP) — In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal."
The Washington Post picked up the AP story, and added a bit to it:
AP IMPACT: CO2 emissions in US drop to 20-year low; some experts optimistic on global warming
Since August, the mythical meme of shrinking U.S. greenhouse gas emissions has been picked up and carried forward even by respected sources like Climate Central:
Can U.S. Carbon Emissions Keep Falling?
And as recently as November 26, for instance, a climate story in the Guardian said:
Doha 2012: US Claims 'Enormous' Efforts to Cut Carbon Emissions
"Greenhouse gas emissions from the US have fallen sharply in
recent years, owing to the replacement of coal-fired power
generation by gas in the US, following its widespread adoption
of shale gas."
In the same Guardian story, U.S. senior climate negotiator Jonathan Pershing is quoted saying, "Those who don't know what the US is doing may not be informed of the scale and extent of the effort, but it's enormous."
You'd think that there was solid information that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have dropped.
But the real story is somewhat different.
Construction has begun on the South Tower (right), designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), of the Hudson Yards development in New York City. Image: Courtesy visualhouse
ArchitectureWeek People and Places
— the blog
MAD Architects in Mississauga, Ontario —
Construction begins on Hudson Yards in New York City —
KSG in Ulm, Germany
AIA Gold Medal 2013 to Thom Mayne
Renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer has died at age 104
Herzog and de Meuron in Water Mill, New York
EPA Smart Growth Awards
Construction begins on Hudson Yards in New York City
Ground has broken on the first tower in the Hudson Yards project, on a 26-acre site near the Javits Convention Center on the western edge of Manhattan. The South Tower, one of two office towers designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) will comprise 47 floors and 1.7 million square feet (158,000 square meters).
Located on the northwest corner of 10th Avenue and 30th Street, the building will house the headquarters of Coach, Inc. and will target LEED Gold certification upon its completion in 2015.
The South Tower will be joined to its North Tower counterpart by a low-rise retail structure, called the Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards, designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects, that will run along 10th avenue between 30th and 33rd Streets.
This building cluster will anchor the eastern edge of the development. To the west, a public plaza and park will extend as far as Manhattan's West Side Highway, flanked by a series of high-rise and mid-rise mixed use towers.
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Computer Engineering: Feeling the Heat - Nature (registration required), 2012.1212
CadFaster Updates App and Plug-Ins - TenLinks, 2012.1207
Autodesk and the Cloud, Part 1 - Cadalyst, 2012.1206
3D Laser Scanning: As-Built Reality Capture for BIM - AECbytes, 2012.1129
The Amazing Billable CAD Manager - Cadalyst, 2012.1129
Autodesk 360: CAD on the Cloud - Cadalyst, 2012.1129
Oce to Showcase Mobile Printing App at Autodesk University 2012 - TenLinks, 2012.1128
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What would you tell your client if you were asked how
decorative thin-film intumescent fireproofing worked?
If your client asks you to accommodate three lowerators
in the servery, what are you designing?
Classic Home 060 — "Attractive little house" by Richard M. Powers
"This attractive little four-room house was one of the prize-winning designs in a competition. The architect suggests that the roof covering be of nonfading green slate, that the front wall in the lower story and the walls of the entry be covered with narrow clapboards, and that the remaining walls be covered with wide clapboards, all painted pearl gray. ...
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