Reader Reviews: Architecture for Humanity

Monday 17 Dec 2012

Non-profit organsiation Architecture for Humanity reveal their favourite buildings

Karl Johnson - Communications Associate
Maybe it's because I pass it on my commute, and because I know the neighborhood really well, but one of my favorites is the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park by Herzog & De Meuron. The strikingness of its presence does not battle its surroundings, as many iconic buildings do, but enhances them. The cedars, the fog, through which the prehistoric steel penetrates, the observation tower a bold gesture for the low-lying Richmond and Sunset districts, brings people at once away from the atmosphere and to a place where they can tie all the disorienting elements of the Park and its neighbors together.

Hiromi Tabei - Program Coordinator, Reconstruction & Resiliency Studio
I have several favorite buildings actually. If I have to narrow down, I would say the MIT Chapel by Eero Saarinen and Studio Aalto by Alvar Aalto. I've visited both, and loved them. Saarinen and Aalto are both masters of light, especially the natural light. Their projects inspire me to study and design using all senses (sound, sight, touch, smell and taste). This led me to study and design with environmentally and socially sustainable buildings. I also admire Peter Zumthor, but unfortunately I haven't been any of his building yet. I'd love to go to the famous Therme Vals someday. Again, he's also a master of light. I love when the natural light reveals and hides materiality and spaces beyond as the time goes by. The mystique of architecture...

Carolina Libardi - Design Fellow
Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro (MAM Rio) by Affonso Eduardo Reidy. When I first visited MAM Rio I was a young teenager and wanted to be an astrophysicist. On that day - for the first time in my life - I felt like hugging columns (I've been told this is a common condition among architects). Before that day I never thought about architecture as art. Actually, before that day I never thought about architecture at all. In my adolescent mind design just happened. Suddenly it all made sense. That building was beautiful because someone designed it to be beautiful. It is simple, elegant and perfectly integrated to the (awesome) site. Now, many years later, I realize that was the day I became an architect. Every time I go to Rio I stop for a visit. And every time I feel like hugging those columns again.

Garrett Jacobs - Volunteer
Hagia Sophia by Isidore of Miletus, Anthemius of Tralles, and Generations of Craftsmen. Its birth may have been imperial, but its resilience has allowed it to surpass its origins. It looked industrial before the first weavers sat together, and it supports the signs of many nations. It is a symbol; the palimpsest of transition.

Nicholas Earle - Procurement Intern
My favorite structure is Casa Paraty in Paraty, Brazil by Marcio Kogan's Studio MK27. The building opened my eyes to a great example of elegance with architecture. It helped me understand that as much as architecture can be taken for granted, there is a beauty and art to the subject, which re-invigorated myself to understand that I was born to be an architect.

Gretchen Mokry - Studio Director, Public Spaces & Infrastructure
California Academy of Sciences by Renzo Piano: The exhibits and the building systems are so intertwined, you almost cannot separate them. The exhibits flow vertically and horizontally. One can stand in the basement level and look up through the aquarium to the green house above - overlaying fish and water with plants, butterflies and sky. One never feels tired or overwhelmed here. It is grand, yet personable. One is inspired to LEARN about our world when in this building. And while moving through the exhibits, there are always views to Golden Gate Park beyond. So as you are learning about biology concepts or species going extinct, you are constantly grounded in your local context. Since it's opening, my daughter, who is now ten, continually asks me to take her to the Academy of Sciences. This, to me, shows the power of the design of this building.

Frederika Zipp - Director of Operations
The Glass House by Philip Johnson: For its seamless connection with its surroundings - it's stunning to see it in person and understand how the landscape completely flows in and around you, undisturbed. Everything reflects in the glass panels and it becomes hard to know if you're indoor or outdoor. It's almost a disorienting sensation that plays on perfect scale. In spite of such minimalism and spare choice of materials, the house has warmth and quiet beauty - it's quite inviting and draws you in. It's a visual display of art.

Kristen Schlott - Design Fellow
I haven’t seen enough great buildings to say, but from afar I love the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Pavilion by Snohetta. It is so simple and functional and unassuming, but at the same time incredibly beautiful, and so rich in detail. For me, a building isn’t great unless it is harmony with the site it is on, and if it is able to enhance a place of wilderness that’s a big bonus.

Jacob Ehrenberg - Project Manager
The George Washington Bridge by Cass Gilbert & Othmar Ammann: I used to see it lit up at night. It makes me think about large scale Desire Trails / Paths we are building and eroding.

Nathaniel Corum - Design Fellow
I love Renzo too. Tough question. Perhaps favorite building(s) don't exist now. Future plans, dreams, the Royal Library of Alexandria. One extant candidate: the Laurentian Library (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana). Vasari writes of the debt of all artists to Michelangelo for showing a path to transcendence of form. I love the library as a program type. A sequence fused in a celebration of innovation and knowledge. The Laurenziana taught me something of seeing, drawing, designing procession and community space.

Radha Muralidhara – Volunteer
The iconic Bauhaus designed by Walter Gropius, located in Dessau, Germany. To me, Bauhaus was an experience of "going back to school." The building is so richly embedded in the origin of design, craft and architecture education; getting access to it for a whole ten months and envisioning the glorious past eggs me on even ‘til this day. Bauhaus today is just a World Heritage Sculpture, but it echoes a spirit of learning that has trans-imposed itself all around the world. The inspiration of such a profound impact inspires me to carry on work in the modern world.

Elizabeth Han - New Program Development Manager
• Yale Center for British Art / New Haven, CT by Louis Kahn: Deceivingly simple, formally impressive, concise, materially pure, structurally innovative
• Glass Pavilion, Toledo Museum of Art / Toledo by SANAA: Fluid continuity, technical execution, disappearing boundaries, architecturally challenging site (nearby: Victorian and Edwardian homes, 1912 Beaux arts main museum, 1992 Gehry Center for Visual Arts)
• The Cathedral of Christ the Light / Oakland, CA by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP: Material composition, elegant modern interpretation a cathedral, sense of serenity, serves as an anchor for a diverse local community and has activated that area of downtown Oakland / Lake Merritt.

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