See Toyo Ito speak at the NBM


I think it’s worth the time of every Washingtonian who thinks they know what’s up in architecture to hear Toyo Ito speak at the National Building Museum. Ito won the 2013 Pritzker Prize, and has produced some pretty astonishing buildings, most notably the Taichung Opera House, sponge-like chunk of an infinite minimal surface algorithmically drawn around the program. Were it not for a few doors, the building would be two separate spaces, absolutely enmeshed in each other. Even with the breaks, the surface segregates spaces so that there’s neither figure nor ground and there is no evidence for the other mirror-image space. There’s a similar manipulation of space in the unbuilt Berkeley Art Museum.


The Meiso no Mori funeral hall  (above) was a point of departure for one of my projects, along with other projects by Ito, Akihisa Hirata, SANAA, and Junya Ishigami’s KAIT workshop.  Their buildings precisely emulate natural phenomena with a spare aesthetic. Their anti-iconic and open-ended spaces they produce are a nice respite from DC’s inclination.

Wednesday, October 16th, 6:30PM. National Building Museum. Judiciary Square Metro. 

Learn more about DC architecture

The newest edition of the AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, DC has been published. This came as a surprise to me, since I bought the last edition just two months before the new one came out. Alas. The rate that the guides are reappearing has been shrinking by half. The Second Edition came out in 1974, Third in 1994, Fourth in 2006, and now Fifth in 2012, with guidebook singularity expected sometime in 2018. This may seem excessive, but it kind of makes sense. DC was losing buildings left and right in 1994, but between 2006 and 2012, DC has seen an unprecedented boom in high-end buildings. Flipping through my sad, obsolescent 4th edition, it’s clear there’s a lot missing.

For example, the 2006 guide has these inadequacies:

No, actually, there have been a lot of architecturally notable buildings built in DC over the past six years. Looking back, it’s kind of insane how much capital was invested in DC real estate. If you’re more interested, G. Martin Moeller, the author, was on Kojo Nnamdi’s show last week. The interview is worth listening to, if you’re unfamiliar with the guide. And the guide is definitely worth having and understandable to the laity.