Tag Archives: Museums

The New Acropolis Museum (?)

The following is a totally made up story about a very real piece of architecture and the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. It is, in the loosest sense of the term, based on historical events.

One day long time ago, some people built the Acropolis on top of a very prominent hill. It was visible from all over the city, and those responsible for its placement patted themselves on the back and said “Oh hell yeah. People are gonna love this thing forever. Its gonna be a crumbling mess and people will still come from all around the world to see it.”

And they were right. 

Fast forward… I dunno… like 100 years? Probably more like 1,000. Lets say fast forward 100-1000 or maybe more years later and some civilization is in power and at war and they store gun powder in the Parthenon. The thing gets hit by a cannonball and BLAM. 

Fast forward again, and people start to take an interest in historic preservation and restoration. They look at this thing and they say, “You know what would fix this? Lets put in a bunch of rebar to hold it together and lets recreate and rebuild everything man, time, and pollution has destroyed.” They had really great intentions, but they totally botch the project and the whole site is worse off than it started. Rebar is rusting, the added portions look totally terrible, and things basically are not going well.

Okay, now in 1975 people say, “Whoa. You guys. Listen. We gotta do something here because this is really historically significant and we want it to last forever for posterity. What can we do to save the Acropolis and the Parthenon?”  They think about it for  like 20 minutes straight and say, “We gotta build another acropolis with all our modern technology and slowly move everything into the new acropolis we built to save them forever. But one question: Who will design this new museum?”

As they finish saying that, Bernard Tschumi flies in on a hot air balloon and is hired on the spot.

(You can read an abbreviated version of what actually happened by clicking here. It is actually rather interesting.)

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So my version of the story may have taken some artistic license, but the basic plot is spot on. This is the New Acropolis Museum by Bernard Tschumi in Athens, Greece.

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This building is massive. And please forgive me, it has been so long since I visited, I know the building is actually sited ON TOP of some other ruins but I can’t recall what they are…

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The entry to the museum is under a giant flying canopy.

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Under the canopy are some exposed ruins, this makes the museum experience begin even before you enter. I think the floor is also glass and allows you to see the other ruins sheltered by the footprint of the museum.

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Eventually as you explore the museum, you find that the giant canopy above the entry is a roof terrace to the museum’s cafe.

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You may have caught glimpses of the glass box on the top of the museum in other photos. This is where my make-believe story gets real. This glass box is oriented the exact same way as the Parthenon is on the Acropolis. This glass box is the new Parthenon resting above a man made hill of Acropolis artifacts. Look at the reflection of the Parthenon in the photo above. Bernard Tschumi wins points for that regardless of this strange strategy for historic preservation.

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Inside you find all of the standard museum programmatic components. Notice the scattered lights in the museum gift shop. I decided they were mimicking stars in the night sky.

Either that or someone had a field day in Revit placing lights everywhere.

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The museum is clean and beautiful. There are many pushy security guards that won’t allow you to take photos.

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Much of the museum is as beautiful as you’d expect. But the central area is a type of atrium where many floors at different levels all cross and open up. The building really has a spectacular sectional quality.

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The coolest (and most creepy) part of the museum is glass floors. It is something that is used in multiple areas and can be unsettling. People who are scared of heights may find certain spaces challenging.

As well as anyone wearing a skirt or dress…

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Once you reach the top floor you are in the New Parthenon. Metallic columns match the locations of the original Parthenon and the friezes that are slowly being removed from the Parthenon are being relocated to here.

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It is a cool idea, but I am amazed at this historic preservation solution. I can see that the decorative sculpture is being saved, but how is this preserving the architecture? 

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Regardless of your opinion of the preservation strategy, the building is cool. Definitely one of the more interesting pieces of architecture we saw, and perhaps one of the more contemporary in terms of style and aesthetic.

If you go to Athens, you can’t miss it. It is literally gigantic. Even if you tried, you probably still couldn’t miss it. 

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Athens: The Way I Remember It…

I should start by saying at this point, all of this is just a distant memory. Immediately after braving the bitter, dark winter in Helsinki for a week, I journeyed to Athens, Greece where I met the rest of my family. The photos taken help jog specific memories of the trip, so this post will serve as a bank for memories saved for about 2 years.

I remember arriving late in the afternoon and having my first impressions of the city at sunset.

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The city is surrounded by hills or mountains or something… This isn’t a memory, it is a description of the images above.

One thing I do vividly remmeber is the Acropolis perched on a hill in what seemed to be the center of the city. The Acropolis was literally unavoidable. It seemed no matter where we went, we ended up at the base of the hill.

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This part is confusing for me, because I honestly cannot differentiate between the ruins… This city is full of remarkable sites of architectural and/or archeological significance and is a case study in historic preservation (good or bad)… 

Basically what I’m saying is everything has columns and ruins are everywhere.

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I never really understood why architects insist that young architects must see the ancient masterpieces. What can be learned by seeing these things in person that is unlearnable via looking at pictures? (That is a somewhat rhetorical question, I’m sure you can always learn something. The bigger question is, is it actually worth the trip?)

In my mind, better and more significant than these areas of historical significance is the city itself. The memories that have stuck with me still are not of architecture of civilizations past, but of the places people live today. 

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As a whole, the city is rather picturesque.

Lots of stray cats…

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But it seemed if you could get over how dirty a city can be, and how many stray animals there were, and how many restaurants had barker staff physically pulling you into their restaurants… I would go so far as to say Athens was rather Romantic.

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I’m not sure if I enjoyed the trip as much as I remember enjoying the trip. But, it is a happy memory now. 

Does that even make sense? What the hell is going on here?

Eh… whatever. It isn’t like anyone reads this far through the posts anyway. Especially not when you post three times a year…

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Helsinki Files 05: Design in the Details

The Talking Heads have always struck me as a very “Art/Design” group. Please enjoy this musical selection (with the strange image of a child associated with it…)

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_08

When in Helsinki, we visited both the architecture museum and the design museum. That is the end of the story. Look at all the detail photos I took:

Helsinki Architecture Museum Model Detail

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This next image is my favorite of the group:

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This is my second favorite image:

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The architecture museum is small, but had a great temporary exhibit. The design museum had an excellent permanent exhibit about Finnish design, and a rather good temporary art exhibit.

That is it.

Sorry for the lazy post, back to school.

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Helsinki Files 01: Miscellaneous

This is rushed, because I’m already being pulled a hundred different directions. But, it is too early in the term to quit regular blogging. So, in an act of rebellion, here is the first of many posts about my visit to Helsinki:

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Cover

We saw so many things in Helsinki (excluding the sun). So many of them fall into nice, neat blogging categories. This post is all about the things that don’t. 

To counter how Scandinavian the above image is, enjoy this image:

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Burgers

An overwhelming presence in the city is the Helsinki Cathedral. I know it is overwhelming based on the building’s siting. Also, the shear number of photographs I have taken leads me to believe the building is important…

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The interior of this commanding presence is… rather underwhelming…

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Cathedral Interior

In almost complete opposition, the Russian Orthodox is pulled up and away from the city. It’s importance is recognizable, however it is not embraced by the urban fabric as the Helsinki Cathedral is.

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Again, in opposition, this church’s interior is highly ornamented and intricate.

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But, Helsinki is a lot more than gloomy skies and churches. The train station, by Eliel Saarinen, embraces the national romanticist movement.

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It is very carefully detailed.

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And is home to the nicest Burger King I’ve ever seen.

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Other architecture of historical importance seems to embrace bears. Lots of bears. Bears everywhere.

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Also, fish. Fish everywhere.

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There are also many more examples of Modern and Contemporary architecture. This is the home field of famous modernist Alvar Aalto (we’ll get to that later, I promise!).

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Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Mall

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Contemporary Detail

The University of Helsinki has also commissioned several new libraries. All of which are nice though some are much more impressive than others.

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki University Library 1

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Of course, Kiasma is one of architect Steven Holl’s most famous projects. Of course, the one time I visit Helsinki it is closed for rennovation…

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Kiasma Detail

Though I am sour about not seeing Kiasma, a photograph of the building will prove that I did see the Scandinavian sun during my trip up north.

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Kiasma Sun

More to come!

Now for some homework! Hooray!

Hooray?

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The Beginning (of the most ridiculous trip ever)

Starting now, and likely continuing for the rest of the year, I will begin posting photos from my most recent travels. This is the beginning of the most ridiculous trip ever. You could say it was one of the greatest trips of my young adult life. You could say it was an adventure straight from hell. Either way, you’re right. 

FRANKFURT, GERMANY

Frankfurt Germany_Train Station

You have to understand, I took hundreds (maybe thousands) of photos on this trip. So I do not have the time nor the patience to describe everything I saw and got lost in throughout this European Monstrosity. I’ll only be posting the things I find most important/cool.

I’ll start with this German mall called Myzeil (I think…). It has a massive hole in it for some reason…

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The exterior is quite unassuming. You might even walk right past this building without noticing this giant architectural move. However, if you go inside, you will surely be overwhelmed by curving glass and swooping floor plates. 

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Obviously I thought this was cool…

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Here comes a VERTICAL PANORAMA (mind blown? Sorry…):

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Aside from a highly photogenic main space, the mall is detailed in a very interesting manner. Look at how the electric lights melt off of the ceiling plane like… like… cow udders or something…

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WARNING: This next photo might make you dizzy. Do not operate heavy machinery while reading this portion of the blog.

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^I’m not sure what it is about that photo, it just gives me a little vertigo.

You may now resume operating heavy machinery.

Aside from this mall, there is a museum district that is home to a Behnisch Architekten project.

Frankfurt Germany_behnisch architekten exterior

Side note: Hey guy who told me I had to pay admission to take photos inside the museum. What do you think of this photo?

Frankfurt Germany_behnisch architekten interior

HAH! Nice try telling me what to do! Who do you think you are? I do what I want!

The architecture museum was nothing special. The design museum, on the other hand, was well worth the admission.

Frankfurt Germany_design museum

There were also several art museums I did not have time to visit, but managed to snap this photo in passing:

Frankfurt Germany_Art

Aside from more contemporary architecture, there was the more stereotypical “German” scenery I had expected to see upon arrival. For example, these two pigs. I have no idea what the sign says, but they sure do look happy:

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Like most cities, Frankfurt also boasted a Christmas Market. During the day it was nice and empty.

Frankfurt Germany_Christmas Market Day

At night, the very same space became jam-packed with people.

Frankfurt Germany_Christmas Market at Night

I had never been so close to so many strangers at once. Nor have I ever had so many strangers brush up against my butt (Perhaps searching for a wallet? Perhaps lonely pilgrims on the journey to love?) Either way, Frankfurt was a nice 24-hour pit-stop on this ridiculous voyage.

Stay tuned for more European Adventures.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to Skype with my German fiance. We met in the Christmas Market mosh pit.

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A Search for the Texas Vernacular: Episode 16

Fort Worth, Texas: The Kimbell Art Museum (Addition)

Kimbell Art Museum Addition_Glulam detail 3

The original Kimbell Art Museum is a tough act to follow.

It was designed by a world renowned architect and is consistently praised as a victory for modern architecture. The quality of day-light the building provides  is legendary and has helped this specific Louis Kahn project find a place in most every architectural history course.

I cannot imagine any project that could sit adjacent to the original Kimbell Art Museum and receive a parallel amount of respect and praise in the architectural community. With that said, I think the Kimbell Art Museum addition by Renzo Piano is a respectful and delicately crafted addition to the campus that is worth a visit.

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It is, like its predecessor and neighbor, a sort of  faceless building. The building is present, but by no means screams for attention or detracts/competes with the art it houses.

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Massive glulam beams rest lightly on concrete columns. If buildings could be in gangs that required a certain material palette for admission, this neighborhood architecture gang would certainly be known for concrete (See A Search for the Texas Vernacular: Episode 3, Episode 4, and Episode 14).

Kimbell Art Museum Addition_Glulam Detail 1

This building, like its neighbor, uses a day-lighting strategy I’ve heard described as “Structural Light”, a name I think fits incredibly well.

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Between each of the glulam beams, diffused light enters the building and illuminates everything evenly.

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The beams are lined with track lighting for nighttime illumination.

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This portion of the museum links to a sort-of subterranean chunk via a glass stitch lined with outdoor seating.

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The roof of this “Subterranean Chunk” is a habitable, grass covered roof.

I first thought the grass roof was pointless since it seemed it would constantly be uninhabited due to the Texas heat. I was quickly proven wrong when I stepped in dog poop, which by deductive reasoning signified that it is in fact inhabited at times (though my “Sherlock Holmes” type investigation leads me to believe that this roof is used as a dog toilet…).

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Under the grass roof is an interesting set of stairs. Crowds of people passed through this space as I waited to take the “perfect picture”, and they each exclaimed, “Oh look! That is interesting.”

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But, more interesting than the slanted concrete wall of the stairs everyone stops to take a picture of is the incision through the grass-covered roof, manifested as a private bench area.

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Which from the outside looks like…

Kimbell Art Museum Addition_Bench spot exterior

Nice, right?

This may just be my personal opinion (which I think is okay to share since this is MY blog), but I think this building doesn’t pop like the original Kimbell Art Museum. If this were an art museum in any other part of the country, it would be a stunning work of architecture that I would not shut up about forever. You’ve seen the pictures now, it is obviously a beautifully detailed place. But still… Not as good as the original…

That is all from my Texas trip I took months ago… Lets play a bit of catch-up!

Hopefully some more recent things will make a blog appearance… Unless… Is there anything new on Netflix right now?

texas vernacular

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A Search for the Texas Vernacular: Episode 15 (Kahn… With a Vengeance)

I like to think that I post whatever I want without worrying about the approval or admiration of family, friends, and internet strangers that access my blog however infrequently. I like to think that I have no interest in increasing my blog’s number of visitors and that all I care for is the creative process.

I like to think all of that. My thoughts are lies.

The truth is, I have a very good idea of what people are interested in seeing when visiting my blog. For example, one of the most frequently visited posts I’ve ever done was one of my very first:

A Search for the Texas Vernacular: Episode 3

I’m not sure if it is because it has been floating on the internet for over two years now, or if it is because the subject matter is a highly referenced work of architecture (in the history of the profession and in the career of Louis Kahn). Regardless, I’d be a fool not to give the people what they want. Also, as an architecture student, I’ve spent countless hours scouring the internet for images of a “famous” work of architecture other than the same shot that every tourist and their mother has. Consider this my version of paying it forward to people who have not had a chance to visit the Kimbell in person. Without further ado, an uninterrupted, full resolution, second pass at Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum.

Fort Worth, Texas: The Kimbell Art Museum

Kimbell Art Museum Cover

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So. What do you think? A pretty exhaustive documentation of the Kimbell Art Museum, right? There were some significant portions of the building that went un-documented due to roof restoration/construction, but I think you get the idea. Even the second time around, the Kimbell Art Museum is an architectural gem.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Assuming I am not reduced to a human puddle during summer studio…

texas vernacular

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Hawaiian Vacation (aka The Longest Post Ever)

I’m about to try something new. Rather than beginning a series of posts that continue for half a year and drag on until I can’t remember what/why I’m posting, I’m going to do one massive post. For spring break I traveled to Hawaii to visit my little sister. There are three things you should know about me:

1- I hate sand.

2- I hate sun.

3- I hate sand combined with sun.

You can imagine why I wasn’t terribly excited to take this trip. I hate to admit this, but my every reservation evaporated and I fell in love with the place.

The following is a large collection of images without description that I would like to share with whoever wants to see. Some of the photos may have been taken by my little sister (Who will soon have a growing collection of photos here). To help enhance the experience, I recommend hitting play on the soundcloud widget below as this tune served as the trip’s soundtrack.

After that I suggest you spend the next 3 minutes and 28 seconds scrolling through the long, LONG line of photos.

Hawaiian Vacation Intro Image

 

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Hawaiian Vacation_Sunrise on the water

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Hawaiian Vacation_Hotel Atrium

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Hawaiian Vacation_Doris Duke Garden 1

Hawaiian Vacation_Doris Duke Backyard 1

Hawaiian Vacation_Doris Duke Play room

Hawaiian Vacation_Doris Duke Palm Trees

Hawaiian Vacation_Doris Duke Ocean view

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Hawaiian Vacation_Lava Flow Valley

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Hawaiian Vacation_Fuzzy Greens

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Hawaiian Vacation_Chairs

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Hawaiian Vacation_Sunset hills

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Hawaiian Vacation_Sunset tide

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Hawaiian Vacation_Sunset Tide Pools

Hawaiian Vacation_Boat on the horizon

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Hawaiian Vacation_Sunset Ocean rocks long exposure

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Hawaiian Vacation The End

Taking into consideration the sand and the sun, it was still a really awesome trip.

Please excuse me now while I tearfully search for an Acai Bowl…

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Photographic Difficulties at the MCA

Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO.

MCA Entry

Another one of the notable works of architecture in Colorado, David Adjaye’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is most definitely on my list of favorite architectural works. It is incredibly difficult to describe what makes the building so unique and beautiful, and is even harder to photograph. In person, the building has this great sectional quality where different areas look down to different things, and little nooks have hidden views, and natural daylight permeates through the black glass box. The building is small and rather simple, but at the same time is somehow complex…? Now, I know what you’re thinking:

“Way to go, idiot. What the hell does that even mean? Simple but complex? You think saying contradictory things makes you sound smart?”

Yes, but I have proof of what I’m talking about. Here is a series of photos of essentially the same space from different angles:

interior 1

Can you kinda see what I’m referring to? Even though the above images are all of the atrium-like core space, they each show something almost completely different.

interior 2

Above is the same space shown from the basement level. I suppose I mostly feel as though all of the images I captured are simply mediocre. BUT… when combined…. they create a SERIES of mediocre images!

Wow.

interior 3

Okay. Dumb jokes aside, this is a really nice building. I don’t understand art, but they have it here. So you could look at that. But, honestly, if you went just to see the building you would not be disappointed. There is even a bar on the roof terrace that over looks part of the city. It really is an awesome place that was just really difficult for me to capture in photographs. In fact, my most favorite image from the trip was this one:

Chair

Yep. It is just a chair.

colorado photos

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A Search for the Texas Vernacular: Episode 13

Dallas, Texas: The Perot Museum

Perot Museum Entry

I have been DYING to visit this Thom Mayne designed museum ever since its completion, and I finally got a chance to do so. This funky cube is visible from the highway upon entering or leaving downtown Dallas and is incredibly popular, for good reason. It is likely one of the best museums I’ve ever visited in terms of interactivity and content. But, like most museums, I spent little time enjoying the exhibits and mostly admired the architecture.

Perot Museum entry atrium

While the museum was very crowded, it was still a very pleasant experience. I know that I am often very critical of architecture that is without a grid or regulatory system, but I did find this museum to be a fun place to be in.

Perot Museum Ticket Counter

From what I could tell, the building is mostly made of concrete and glass. The whole first floor’s ceiling is clad in a perforated metal screen that filters little strips of light. Very fun. It reminded me of something from out of Star Wars.

Perot Museum Lobby

One confusing thing about the building is that there are rarely any orthogonal lines present. This isn’t really a problem when enjoying the building in person, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a little dizzy while Photoshopping some of the pictures I took. Here are a few that weren’t confusing in real life, but give me a headache now:

Perot Museum confusing 1

All of the intersecting planes mixed with curved walls, mixed with perforated guardrails kind of get to me.

Perot Museum confusing 3

The building is full of little moments like ^this^, most of which go unnoticed by most people.

Perot Museum confusing 2

I know my camera wasn’t level when I took this photo, but you can see how things seem to be arranged sort of “willy-nilly”. Again, not too much of a problem in person (though it did cause some issues) but very disorientating in photo-form.

Perot Museum confusing 5

^Looking up from the main entry atrium^

Perot Museum confusing 4

See the above picture? Are you at all confused about what is going on? I know I am. What are all of those intersecting angles? Why does the escalator go one way, but the stairs go another, while the third set of stairs goes a third way? Things are angled and curved at the same time. Things change orientation seemingly at random.

Excuse me. Barf break.

Perot Museum cafe

Just because the photos I took confuse me doesn’t mean that this is a bad building. On the contrary, I had tons of fun here and was mostly in constant awe from the architecture and exhibits. If I had to be critical for a moment I would have a few things to say. The building did seem to have quite a few poorly finished details, which was distracting to me but probably unnoticed by the other patrons. I was often unsure of where to go. The entry was difficult to find. Once inside, you must way-find through a maze to get anywhere. I’m certain we missed parts of exhibits because we did not know they were there. On the other hand, we saw several parts of exhibits twice because we reached what seemed to be a dead end.

Here are some detail shots:

Perot Museum detail 2

Perot museum detail 3

And my favorite, the elevator (I always love big labels):

Perot Museum favorite detail

All this criticism should be taken lightly. The Perot Museum was the most fun I’ve had in a while, due to a combination of architectural and educational enjoyment. If you live in or are vacationing to the DFW area, it is definitely worth a visit. 

One more exterior:

Perot Museum Entry

texas vernacular

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