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Anthony C. Antoniades
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Architecture without walls:
The "Glass House" by Philip Johnson, Toshio Nakamura and Monacelli Press.
Can you take along with you the Parthenon, the Pyramid of Giza, The Taz-Mahal, the Spanish Steps, the Meinji-Jingu Shrine , the Kimbell Art Museum following your visit to them ? Well, NO ! But you may carry with you memories, mostly fragments, sometimes highly poetic other times adverse. The nuisance of the camel owner trying to seduce you to a ride up-there, or of the striking ministry of culture personnel who would not issue you tickets up to the Holly precinct the day of your visit , may cover the negative end. The highly poetic and memories of the serene and eternal could be the sound of the gravel and the singing of the birds before the abrupt turn at the Meinji Jingu at the point you just see the shrine at the distance, similar and everlasting to the memories when visiting Kahn's great museum at Forth Worth...!
But in the Architecture without walls , THE BOOK, you can have all of the above at your fingertips, in the highest of memory, feeling and the Poetic . There is no doubt in my mind that one of the best such books ever created on Architecture is the "Glass House" by Monacelli Press.
This book represents for me "Architecture in its entirety", that is , an evaluative and interpretive presentation of the work of Architectural Act in time: the building in its context, as conceived , built and even criticized by its architect ; as evolved along with its meaning and the interpretations of its critics ; through its contribution to architecture by means of experimentation and materials of the era, and finally through the ever-evolving advancement of its architect to "inclusiveness" and "Permissiveness", as evidenced though his other works that spot the estate. A book of the meta-user shortcomings and the need for restoration and further up-keep, through the most sympathetic argument and persuasion. From the highest poetic and contemplative to the lowest but real trivial, the gavel flat roof that needs to be mended...Superceding all of the above is the books exquisite photography. Some shots taken from levels no lay viewer can hardly experience, while other shots are intimate and personal as only the owner and his close guests had the joy to enjoy. The textures of pictures , the included drawings and the text , both in visual as well in meaning and suggestion depth , are as poetic as any great poem or haiku could ever reach. In philosophical terms the book is an assembly of "Logos" and Cosmotheory : of the architect (Philip Johnson), of the men who visited and were affected by it (Toshio Nakamura), of the photographer (Michael Moran) , of the publisher who produced it, of the draftsmen who drew the architectural drawings, of the book designers (Michael Rock and Susan Sellers), of the reader who by reading or just going through its pages becomes part of the building's history , the closest to the building a lay person could ever be.
In this sense, the BOOK , the "Glass House" , is , I believe , superior even to any museum that presents works of Art; because the commentary of the art work is usually missing from a museum's presentation, and the visitor can hardly be said to be able to take away with him the whole, unless perhaps a catalogue of the works presented. A "Library" of books on a particular Art work, may perhaps be close to what I suggest for anyone who has visited it , and perhaps more so, for those who have not visited the work. So, I view the book the "Glass house"as a total museum , a work of Architecture without walls, an Art-work that can be carried home, always ready to please the reader with a repeated visit to the artifact, a personal contemplation and enjoyment, even a further interpretation under new circumstances of life and events. An eternal holistic museum for as long as it is out on circulation or kept in libraries. I very strongly recommend it to any reader, a unique gift to oneself without hesitation.
Anthony C. Antoniades