Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Learning From New Haven

More holiday snaps I'm afraid, this time from New Haven. The dashboard of this blog is a veritable graveyard of 'draft' posts and half-written rants at the moment. The photos below were taken a couple of weeks ago and will, no doubt, be added to after subsequent visits.

Eero Saarinen's Yale Hockey Rink zooms out in front of Philip Johnson's Kline Biology Tower. The latter is from Johnson's fascist architecture phase, as opposed to his fascist politics phase.

Inside, Saarinen's building really is like being in a upturned Viking long boat sitting over a frozen sea. I base this observation on my vast experience of being in Viking long boats, whether upside down or not.

Americans love quilted stainless steel. Does this material exist in any other country in quite such abundance? Does the quilting offer genuine insulative qualities, as it's usually used on hot dog and burrito stands?

Shamefully, I don't actually know who designed this. I suspect it might be Josep Luis Sert. Perhaps someone will be good enough to enlighten me.

Muscular and super-scaled 19th Century faux-medievalism dominates much of the Yale University campus.

Much of it emblazoned with industrial age heraldry.

Random, but very sweet, treasure-chest like synagogue...

"Hogwarts meets the Ministry of Information" - Sean Griffiths.

Entrance court of interesting building by little known American architect*.

Epic meeting point of AC duct, concrete column and inlaid marble floor...

Louis Kahn's take on the English Country House interior; patterned carpets, club chairs, oak paneling and oil paintings of animals...

Probably the best multi-storey in the world - Paul Rudolph's Temple Street car park.

...and at night.

Mind you, this uncelebrated multi-storey nearby is also fairly impressive, a vast constructivist machine for parking automobiles.

Rudolph's Crawford Manor housing block - the villain from Learning From Las Vegas - seen from an alley running between two clapboard houses.

And his Architecture and Art building, complete with slightly underwhelming extension by Charles Gwathmey to the right. If you look closely you can see....

....the poster for the Venturi Scott Brown What We Learned symposium and exhibition. Their final victory over Paul Rudolph? Or the other way around?

Lurking scandalously inside are the McDonald's Golden Arches from Signs Of Life....

....and some exquisite photographs from Learning From Las Vegas, hung against the tectonic fuck you-ness of Rudolph's bush hammered concrete.

The A&A building contains some truly bizarre and fabulous spaces, reminding me of Cedric Price's quip about Leslie Martin's Harvey Court building in Cambridge: "Just the middle ages with 13 amp power sockets". Which, even if you are a fan of Price, sounds just great in many ways, and a bit like Resident Evil.

Here we are in the dungeon, sorry, lecture hall where the head of a classical Ionic column is displayed on a modernist spike. The paprika coloured carpet is everywhere.

Modernist masterpiece composition in the rain: Kahn's Yale University Art gallery on the left, Rudolph's A&A Building on the right and Kahn's British Art Centre in the middle.

New Haven's premier nightspot - The Anchor bar - home to the demonic Sea Hag.

* Actually, as if you didn't know, Louis Kahn's British Art Centre.


AM said...

Such a great blog, such a great post… I wonder why no one comments…
Maybe there are just not that many Robert Venturi fans out there anymore…
Anyway, loved the (ironic?) poster exhibition and the framed photograph of the Las Vegas Studio on the rough (kind of) “beton-brut” façade
(I’ve bought both the Las Vegas Studio - Images From The Archives… - and the Supercrit # 2 books…)
Paul Rudolph or Robert Venturi?
In the (by now) end, no ones wins…

Loved the “subversive” (and cruel) photographs on (one of) Kahn’s masterpieces…
Philip Johnson architecture was always fascist…

By speaking of Venturi, Kahn, PJ and PR I really ought to go back (re) reading the Conversations with Architects by John W. Cook and Heinrich Klotz…

BML said...

The quilted stainless is terrific... they also tend to use them for the bodies of the lunch trucks that show up at construction sites.

Note that the building with the concrete eggcrate facade is Marcel Breuer's Becton Labs. It's a poor cousin of his Pirelli building, also in New Haven and now unfortunately set adrift as a giant signboard (a present-day version of Venturi's billdingboard?) in the parking lot of an IKEA.

Charles Holland said...

Am - Thanks! Been wondering about the lack of comments myself. It's not as if there haven't been but it's certainly tailed off lately. My conclusion, naturally, was that the last few posts had been spectacularly dull...

I wouldn't want to give the wrong impression though: Kahn's British Art Centre is a magnificent building and I think the allusions to traditional English country houses are entirely deliberate and very smart.

BML, thanks for that. I wondered if it might be by Breuer too, but couldn't find it on-line (the sum total of my research I'm afraid). The other Breuer building I've passed on the freeway a few times and it does look a little tragic now. I plan to take a walk to that end of town and photograph it along with Charles Moore's housing estate and the terrifically awful Knights of Columbus building by Kevin Roche.

Toniovega said...

The treasure chest is a secret society, actually. Scroll and Key if I'm not mistaken.
And that building off the highway is most sad.
Please please please write more about New Haven. You're my favorite blogger so I love hearing what you have to say about the city I go to school in. Also, don't know if this is the right forum to ask, but I would love to sit in on one your design studio classes, but I'm an undergrad. your thoughts?

Markasaurus said...

Don't worry Charles, you can get a quilted metal truck here in the UK too:, though instead of burritos or hot dogs you'll have to sell something more English (pie and mash truck?). The New Haven photos are great, I only went there once 13 years ago and it was at night. Next time I'm in NY I have to check it out.

Charles Holland said...

Toni...thanks for intriguing. Like the skull and bones society I guess? Re: classes. Perhaps we should discuss via email. Mine is

Mark. Lovely. As they say: "The construction of the truck needs to be robust enough to travel on the road, light enough to be carried on a small vehicle, stainless steel for hygiene and longevity".

Lang Rabbie said...

Some quick New Haven nostalgic ramblings...

The ice rink is bonkers in a great way isn't it - one of the best interior spaces at Yale after the Kahn buildings (and the reinstated Rudolph AandA ???).

My greatest disappointment in my brief time at Yale was that the main spaces of Payne Whitney gym don't match the gothic lunacy of the exterior and the bulldog gargoyles. That said, after a swim in that pool, I think the engineers came up with some great "machines for spectating in" and the way in which 2000 spectators or so close to the action may compensate for the paucity of the architectural detailing.

A pedant adds: High Street Bridge is actually a *20th* century faux-medievalism - built as late as 1928 I think.

And I've been beaten to pointing out that the synagogue is actually Scroll and Key - a relatively early Richard Morris Hunt design IIRC.

Another interesting "secret" society tomb is the mid-century modern of the Manuscript Society which with Joseph Albers brick mural.

Lang Rabbie said...

Just dusted off my copy of Patrick Pinnell's Yale campus guide.

It was indeed Breuer's Becton Lab that Vincent Scully dismissed as "the world's largest table radio".

Spookily enough for a thread on Yale's architectural menagerie, my first word verification was "quad"

Charles Holland said...

Thanks for informed comments Lang. You will have to break cover now and tell me what you were doing at Yale and when?

Intrigued by the manuscript society and will have to check it out.

The A&A building is pretty fabulous inside as it goes.

Lang Rabbie said...

The briefest of "official" attatchments at Center for British Art back in '00.

But in those halcyon days when campus security relied on people rather than swipe cards, a tweed jacket, library card from a "real" UK university, an English accent and treating security staff as humans rather than epsilon-minus morons (attitude astonishly prevalent even amongst paid-up Democrats) used to allow pretty much free rein at several Ivy League campuses.

gg said...




sevensixfive said...

This post brought forth a surprising and unexpected upwelling of nostalgia. Especially that photo out the window in the rain. Thanks, Charles.