Infrastructure as Architecture

I’ve started teaching a class on infrastructure at the architecture school at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark. See here for more info: NJIT Architecture School The two courses I teach, Elements of Infrastructure and History of Infrastructure, are a perfect fit for me. For whatever reason, I’ve gradually become obsessed with the pipes, rails, tubes and other stuff that lie generally beneath our feet. Everyone has got to believe in something; I believe in infrastructure.

Increasingly, the country is too. It and its new leader, President Barack Obama, are turning to infrastructure as the key to lifting ourselves out of bad times and paving the way for future ones. Might work. Here’s a recent column of mine on the subject. Infrastructure column.

Cold City of Fargo Now Cool

Coolness, as every high schooler knows, is one of those things that’s hard to define but easy to spot among one’s peers.

With cities, being cool depends in part on being economically robust and vibrant, but also on other qualities, such as having a vibrant art scene, good restaurants and interesting local music.

For various reasons, these days almost any city can become a cool city, converting itself from has been to hipness in a relative blink of the eye. It has something to do with the Internet economy, which has a hop, skip and a jump quality about it, alighting in strange places for hard to predict reasons.

Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities

My latest book, “Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities,” was published in late 2006 by Carroll and Graf Publishers. Here’s some basic information on it below, and you can find more on Amazon.

Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities By Alex Marshall
ISBN 0-7867-1864-1 EAN 978-0-7867-1864-1
$29.95 Trade Paper
240pp, 8 1/2 x 11 Carton Qty: 20
Art & Architecture/ Urban & Land Use Planning
ARC010000 Fall 2006 Rights: W Carroll & Graf

A New City Rises From Berlin’s No-Man’s Land

By Alex Marshall and Sally Young
Globe Correspondents

BERLIN – The guard tower and wooden sign over the street warning ”You Are Now Leaving The American Sector!” were still there, as was the narrow bridge over a ravine, where prisoners, dissidents, and spies were exchanged. But beyond these carefully preserved memorials to another time and era, it was difficult to distinguish the famous Checkpoint Charlie from any other intersection in this bustling city. Now, what was once a bleak no-man’s land has been recarved into streets and blocks. And on these streets, new buildings have risen up, many of them designed by the best, or at least the most famous, architects on the planet. Within a two-block radius of Checkpoint Charlie, Aldo Rossi, Philip Johnson, Rem Koolhaas, and Peter Eisenman have all tried their hand. Widen that circle further, and you encounter buildings by Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster, Rafael Moneo, and Richard Rogers. We had traveled to the new Berlin to see this new city being remade, the choices its leaders faced, the ones they made correctly, the ones that might be regretted in future years. We were the Loeb Fellowship, all 13 of us, from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

Wolfe’s Strange Tale of Architecture

In a war of words, the best wielder of them tends to win. So I’m hesitant to disagree with Tom Wolfe, one of the century’s best journalists and a great word wielder. Nevertheless, it bears saying that Wolfe’s entertaining and lengthy two-part screed in The New York Times on Sunday and Monday was largely rubbish. (See OLF.html and OLF.html ).

It’s not that I mind Wolfe’s defense of the diminutive, Edward Durell Stone-designed Huntington Hartford building at Columbus Circle, which the newly renamed Museum of Arts and Design proposes to substantially remodel into its home. It’s true I have never liked this building.

Being windowless, it looked like an unfriendly fortress to me. Wolfe’s piece caused me to see it differently. Perhaps it is worth saving.

The Master Of Modernism

Published: Tuesday, November 3, 1998
Section: DAILY BREAK , page E1

BACH WROTE his musical masterpieces in the 1700s at a time when many people considered his Baroque style passe. He proved them wrong.

Perhaps history might say the same about architect Richard Meier, the great master of modernism who labors away in the style three and four decades after its heyday. Meier designs smooth, gleaming white buildings that denote a purity of form and a fascination with light, space and structure.

Tonight, Meier will talk about his most recent project, the Getty Center in Los Angeles, and share his thoughts on building, art and design. Meier will speak at Nauticus to the Hampton Roads chapter of the American Institute of Architects The event is open to the public.