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Tuesday, 06 December 2011


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I.M. Pei's Pyramid addition to the Louvre shared the same public opinion trajectory in Paris...first reviled, then beloved. I'm still waiting for this effect to apply to me.

Speaking of form before function-- I was in that Frank Gehry building, the Stata Center at MIT, last weekend. It was a confusing place.

Just picking up on a minor part of your post, 'cos I know nothing about American football.

"At least since FLW...." - I hope you've got your pencils sharpened to cope with what I expect will be a wave of counter examples..... or maybe not. Beautiful buildings that work did not stop, or even start with FLW. Disappointed you singled out Calatrava's Milwaukee piece (which I don't know first hand so I accept your judgement), because his works, while sculptural, often do work at a human level. I experience his railway station in Zurich Stadelhofen at least once every day and believe me it works and it gives me a lot of pleasure (photogenic as well).

I'm currently in Venice and despite local opposition and some problems, his new bridge over the Grand Canal is rather good IMO. Form and function with bridges is a lot easier than galleries or office blocks of course, but Bilbao aside, there have been some superb exhibition spaces recently which both function as intended and perform as "civic symbolism" as well.

Gehry is maybe the villain of the piece, and because of wide publicity other architecture gets tarred with the same brush.

"there have been some superb exhibition spaces recently which both function as intended and perform as "civic symbolism" as well"

My knowledge of architecture is minimal, but I'll defer to you there--another standout building in Chicago is the new Modern Wing at the AIC, which I wrote about a while back. It's a form-follows-function art enclosure, and the top floor especially is a near-ideal place to look at art.


I second Zeeman's take on Gehry. His buildings are (in my exceedingly humble opinion) affronts to humanity. Hear me out: His buildings antagonize the human form, with odd shapes that are counter to how the consumers of the structures interact with the physical world. Then there's the fact of the inappropriate use of materials (see the Disney Hall in Los Angeles. It has a metal skin that radiates the Southern California heat onto its neighbor buildings, boosting their energy use for cooling).

I will give him this: he allowed (and participated in) mocking him on The Simpsons. But as for his buildings? No thank you.


Tell me about leaks in buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Beth Shalom Synagogue in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, which was designed in the mid-1950's, was unfortunately ahead of its time regarding weather sealants. On rainy days past, buckets had to be placed in strategic spots. I think that the problem was eventually solved with the advent of new sealants. Designed in the mid-1950's, the building's main sanctuary is still beautiful, and works well as a house of worship, with good sight lines and acoustics. It was a radical design which leaked for a few decades. Now it doesn't leak (as far as I know), and it is still beautiful inside.

Great to see. As a Chicagoan that is great to see Mike at the game and showing you around!

I have to disagree with you on Frank Lloyd Wright as well. I've spent a lot of time in a few of his buildings, and I live in a home built by one of his students. I'm pretty sure the ceilings don't leak any more than other houses I've lived in. Though some things are a little strange. For example, I used to have fits with the fireplace until an architect from Taliesin showed me how to light it properly.

I think the quote you are referencing is actually "form follows function," from Louis Sullivan, Wright's teacher.

Mike McCaskey, there's a blast from the past-- when I was a young lawyer in Chicago in 1984 I lived in Evanston, corner of Michigan and Sheridan, right under a Mike McCaskey who was of the Bears McCaskeys. We had a small, silent war where I would play my stereo too loud and he would walk around in hobnailed boots on a wood floor. I'm sure we drove each other crazy.

Mike M, if you're the same guy, I forgive you, now that we're both photographers who like Mike J. If not, and it was a cousin I lived under, well, my memories run deep :)

Seeing you with your glasses, how about an update on how you get on with them. I'm a similar age and also needed bi-focals and it had quite an effect on what cameras I could and could not use, as well as complicating darkroom work.
All the best, Mark

For some mad, crazy reason, have never been able to understand the attraction of United States based cheering sections in a stadium
setting. This goes for so-called game of American football, basketball or even NASCAR.

If you want to waste your time watching said things on the idiot box,your choice however for the life of me, sitting on a cold (concrete?) seat, bundled up against the atrocities of weathers to watch some little piece of pigskin being fought over by supposedly grown?Men is beyond me.

Football to me is soccer,and yet still find the salaries paid to these so-called
"professionals" to get their again bodies slammed into the ground is beyond me.

Wow, what a treat! Bears football and being the guess of the McCaskey's. I guess writing a great blog on photography has some extra benefits from time to time :)

Nice entry, and for the record I like the new/old stadium too. Yet one more reason why Chicago is a great town to see in person.

Happy Holidays Mike!


It may be great to watch a game from the inside but from the outside it looks like something from another galaxy landed in the middle of the old Soldier Field. It looks ridiculous with the new stadium towering over the old retained facade. The old facade should have been torn down and replaced with something more in tune with the rest of the new structure.

As a lifelong Chicagoan, and much more of a Louis Sullivan kind of guy than Mies or Jahn,I'm one of many with a love/hate relationship for Soldier Field. From certain angles the new stadium is breathtaking,and seems to blend the historic with the new brilliantly. And from others,adjacent on Lakeshore Drive as one example,it's jarring; as if the mothership landed on the old girl. Sullivan said that "form ever follows function" and Mies said that "form is function," and out of necessity I think that the latter school held sway.

"he roots for the Packers except when their success would be at the expense of the Bears in any way, and I root for the Bears except when their success would be at the expense of the Packers in any way."

Exactly how I have managed to be a Lions fan growing up who also pulled for the Bears and Packers when not playing the Lions, and the University of Michigan when they are playing anyone but Michigan State. Many don't understand, but it works for me too.

By the way, Lambeau is my favorite stadium. I hope the Lions will move back outdoors someday.

Hey, how about those Kansas City Chiefs?

Todd Haley is a true American success story. I'm not sure it's as a head coach in the NFL though.

Will, as Mike says, FLW's houses are notorious for leaking, especially the Unsonian houses.

Here's an account of the leaks and construction problems with one of his houses;



I grew up in Chicago and attended every Bears' home game from about the age of seven until I graduated from high school and left for college. In those days, they played at Wrigley Field, which was, to say the least, an intimate stadium for football. I even attended the 1963 NFL Championship game against the Giants, which was one of the highlights of my young life.

Of course, the Packers were our arch rivals then, just as they are today, but I never developed a hatred for them. The rivalry has, for the most part, always been fierce, but respectful. I like the fact that the Packers are owned by the community, rather than by some self-aggrandizing billionaire. Speaking of which, I truly detest the Dallas Cowboys.


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