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Darling Harbour with Philip Cox's Exhibition Centre to the right of the freeway. Photo © 2011 Alan Miller.

Six Degrees, Six Degrees: Sydney Architecture in 2012(Comments Off on Six Degrees, Six Degrees: Sydney Architecture in 2012)

December 18, 2012

The other day I installed new brake rotors on my mountain bike [1]. They are beautiful; every scrap of stainless steel not required to withstand structural stress and the build up of heat has been removed. A laciness which could be mistaken for decoration is no more or no less than the result of form following function. As a chain is a chain and a tire inexorably a tire, so the rotors would cease to be themselves were they square or triangular, made of concrete or glass.

Architecture is not like this.

Maxwell Mackenzie, Burning Man from the Air

“Helter-Shelter,” An Exploration into the Organization of Temporary Communities. Photographs by Maxwell MacKenzie, AIA Headquarters Gallery

Moving is part of our cultural heritage. We are restless; we are adventurous; we move to find better opportunities or just to explore. We have pushed the boundaries of this country west and north and south. We abandoned farms in droves and moved into urban areas at the same time exiting cities to build rings of suburbs. We have forsaken homes altogether to live on the open road, inventing recreational vehicles and trailer parks. Recently, thousands of Americans with bad mortgages have been forced to give up their homes, clinging to their RVs like life rafts in a storm. In good times and bad, it seems, we are on the move.






Berkshires XIII House / Burr & McCallum Architects. Photo Michael Lavin Flower.

Burr & McCallum, Architects

A few years ago I went to a lecture of which the most compelling theme was the link between 20th century architectural practice and toy design. I can’t remember the specific architects who were mentioned back then, but I can think of two practitioners from the Northeast who, I believe, at least partially fit into that thesis—Ann McCallum and Andrus Burr of Burr & McCallum in Williamstown, Massachusetts:

The toy is sometimes the object and the by-product of obsession, invention, tinkering, and learning. In the right person’s hands, the toy can express elevated aesthetic thought and highly selective insight, instances where rigorous work and play are so closely linked that they can become indistinguishable from each other. Another way to say it is that

Virtuosos make what they do look easy. 







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