Archives For political architecture

800px-taj_mahal_atlantic_city_new_jerseyThe following buildings could be bulldozed right now and humanity would only benefit: Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago, Trump Plaza New Jersey, Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, Trump International Hotel and Tower New York, Trump Palace, Trump Place, Trump Plaza New Rochelle, Trump Tower New York, Trump World Tower, Trump Tower, not to mention all of his casinos, especially Trump Taj Mahal, which one has to wonder how that even happened.

But, then there are these three. Now I’m not saying these are architectural achievements. They’re no Whitney Breuer, or Broad Museum, or anything Bercy Chen has ever touched. I’m just saying they have a quality. They have an atmosphere beyond grotesque, shiny gold letters spelling out T-R-U-M-P against a rectangular, flat wall of glass. They actually aren’t complete pieces of . . .

Trump SoHo, New York, NY

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This building was (and still is) controversial and hated by many, but what building of Trump’s isn’t? The most pervasive argument is that it attempts to disrupt the scale of the neighborhood by towering over all other buildings. I walk this neighborhood often, and while this argument was true when the reviews came out a few years ago, the neighborhood caught up, especially now with Herzog & de Meuron’s 56 Leonard dominating the Tribeca / SoHo / Financial District skyline.

What is striking about Trump SoHo are the skyboxes that protrude from its façade, giving the structure a sense of movement and fragmentation. Much better than Trump’s other buildings which are only pieces of . . .

Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower, Panama City, Panama

Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower

I’m so tempted to do a wall joke right now, but I won’t. This Trump building in Panama is peculiar looking, even adventurous. It’s postmodern and uses its architectural language to express a relationship with itself and its surroundings. It’s also clearly modeled after a vagina. But at least it’s shaped like something, and not just a piece of . . .

Also, the labia flaps opening like that have the function of creating views from all of the hotel rooms in the interior. It reminds me to Bjarke Ingels’ Via 57 West, but not as good.

Trump Palace, Sunny Isles, Miami

Trump Internatonal Beach Resort

In Northeast Miami there are five Trump buildings—Trump Towers (three of them), Trump Royale, and Trump Palace, the tallest—and all of which, add, and do not take away from Miami’s revered MiMo, or Miami Modernist architecture style. These buildings have character, and actually aren’t obnoxious at all. Also interesting to note is that one of the principal architects on the project was José Suarez, who was raised in Miami, trained at the University of Miami School of Architecture, and most likely identifies as American, but who was technically born in Cuba. Perhaps Trump is more open to diversity than he leads on, especially when he can make money off of the deal.

By: David Plick

14-chicago-jackson-parkSince politics is dominating our national conversation, particularly as the dust of the Democratic National Convention settles, it seems an appropriate time to start a series analyzing the architecture of presidential libraries. On Wednesday night President Barack Obama spoke to the convention and the rest of the country, urging them to “feel the Bern” and also to “carry her like you carried me.” Amidst this media frenzy surrounding our political landscape, another frenzy is happening because of Barack Obama at the firm, Tod Williams Billie Tsien, Architects | Partners, as they work on the plans for his presidential library.

The Obama Presidential Center will be constructed in Chicago’s South Side, a predominately African-American neighborhood, in Jackson Park, the third largest in the city, which comprises 500 acres. NY-based architects and married couple Tod Williams and Billie Tsien was chosen for the project. They boast a prestigious catalog of work including the American Folk Art Museum, Asia Society Hong Kong Center, the US Embassy in Mexico City, among many others, and also state that “architecture [is] an act of profound optimism.” It makes complete sense then that they would design the first major monument dedicated to our president who said, “Yes we can.”

The architecture of presidential libraries is fascinating. For example, something important to note in the last two presidential libraries—The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum—is that both clearly reflect their presidents’ personality.

Source: Southern Methodist University

Source: Southern Methodist University

Architect: Robert A.M. Stern

Here is W’s library. Notice the strong, cream-colored limestone. It’s stoic, serious; it doesn’t blink when it needs to make a decision. Also, it can just sit there, still and silent and unsmiling. It has a purpose: to be quiet and do what its told.

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Architect: James Polshek

Next we have Clinton’s library—now this thing is fun! It’s hovering over the air like a spaceship, like it just wants to take off and fly away from pesky tabloid journalists. An interesting contrast though was the use of glass—the building is more transparent than he was.

The architecture of presidential libraries is a fascinating way to view our nation’s modern architectural and design history. Starting with Abraham Lincoln all the way to seeing the first preliminary designs for Obama’s Presidential Center, it’s a peek into how design mirrors our politics, and how our culture is tied with our physical environment.

By: David Plick