Saturday, September 6, 2014


Photos DC
Still catching up on August publications: near the beginning of the month, the German weekly Bauwelt published my article on the Biology Faculty Building at the University of Alcalá by Héctor Fernández Elorza, boldly built of exposed cast concrete.

Faculty office

 "Though it would be incorrect to describe Elorza's work in any way as Scandinavian, the sense of drama and mystery suggested by the Biology Faculty building does seem to invoke that atmosphere of surreal symbolic reference suggested by some of Asplund's works. It also brings to mind the darker, mask-like architectural drawings of John Hejduk, as well as some of the Brutalist-period work of Marcel Breuer – a bit of existential angst brought out of the twilight and mists of northern Europe and into the unforgiving extremes of sun and shadow of the Spanish meseta."

Eine Maske für Labor
The Masked Laboratory
Faculty of Cellular and Genetic Biology, University of Alcalá, by Héctor Fernández Elorza
Bauwelt 29-30.14, August 8, 2014, pages 15 - 21, cover

Puttin' on the Ritz

Vinoteca Vegamar Selección
Photo © Diego Opazo

Architecture Record's annual interiors issue this month features a wine boutique in Valencia, Spain by architect Fran Silvestre and interior designer Andrés Alfaro Hofmann. I made a trip down to see it, and my story is posted here.
"...the prominence Silvestre gives to the visual impact of seemingly airbrushed, polished surfaces over other qualities such as texture or spatial richness reflect the aspirations of his clients, sharing with them a particular idea of glamour. In the case of Vegamar, Silvestre notes that the firm was previously known for a table wine, sold mainly to local restaurants, and their new outlet represents a bid to attract a more demanding clientele."
Silvestre and Alfaro Hofmann also designed a Record Houses house in Valenica, which I reviewd in the April 2013 issue. My blog entry for that article is here.

One of the fun things I did working on the piece was to look up the lyrics to the original Irving Berlin song. There are actually two different versions. The one I remember, as sung by Astaire, goes like this:

Have you seen the well to do
up on Lenox Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare
With their noses in the air?

High hats and narrow collars
White spats and fifteen dollars
Spending every dime for a wonderful time

If you're blue, and you don't know where to go to
Why don't you go where Harlem flits? Putting' on the Ritz
Spangled gowns upon the bevy of high browns
From down the levy, all misfits, putting' on the Ritz

That's where each and every lulu-belle goes
Every Thursday evening with her swell beaus
Rubbin' elbows

Come with me and we'll attend their jubilee
And see them spend their last two bits
Puttin' on the Ritz

That might have been okay in the 1930s, but it turns out there is a PC version. I wonder when that came along. Did Berlin write it as well? It goes like this:

Have you seen the well-to-do,
up and down Park Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare
with their noses in the air
High hats and Arrowed collars,
white spats and lots of dollars
Spending every dime
for a wonderful time

...and so on. 

New rich or wannabees, all of 'em, and in Valencia too, having a blast.

Putting on the Ritz
Architectural Record
Record Interiors, September 2014