Posts Tagged ‘Architecture’

The beautiful architecture of Ukraine

March 19, 2022

There’s more to Ukrainian tradition than the Holodomor, Stepan Bandera and its tragic, bloody history.  Here are some pictures taken in Ukraine before the Russian invasion that helped me appreciate that country’s architectural traditions.  A culture that can create such beauty is worth preserving and defending.

Independence Square in Kiev. Source.

A view of Kiev. Source.

Church of St. Nicholas on the Water, Kiev.  Source.


The vertical forests of Milan

December 9, 2020

The Beauty of the Future by Ian Welsh

Vertical Forest | Stefano Boeri Architetti


A graphic history of the U.S.-Mexico border fence

April 29, 2020

The U.S.-Mexico border is 1,954 miles long.  Click to enlarge.

Let’s Call it a Wall by Theo Deutinger for Architecture – e-flux.

Beautiful mosques of Shiraz, Iran

May 10, 2015

Interior of Shah Cheragh mosque in Shiraz, Iran

Interior of Shah Cheragh mosque in Shiraz, Iran

More photographs can be seen on this Slate web site.

Courtyard of Nasir al Mulk mosque in Shiraz, Iran

Courtyard of Nasir al Mulk mosque in Shiraz, Iran

When I look at these, I think about the devotion and care that went into creating so much beauty.

Prayer hall of Vaki mosques in Shiraz, Iran

Prayer hall of Vaki mosque in Shiraz, Iran

Source: Atlas Obscura via Slate.

The magnificence of baroque churches

April 5, 2015

Cathedral of Saint Francis, Quito, Ecuador

Cathedral of Saint Francis, Quito, Ecuador

These photographs of Baroque churches in Europe and Latin America were taken by Cyril Porchet as part of a book entitled Seduction.

You don’t have to be a Catholic or even a Christian to appreciate the love, talent and hard work that went into creating such beauty.

Asam Church in Munich, Germany

Asam’s Church in Munich, Germany


A glimpse of Asia: Bangkok at dusk

March 16, 2015

Elephant Building, Bangkok, Thailand

The Elephant Building, Bangkok, Thailand

Hat tip to Jack.

Five of the world’s most remarkable tall buildings

June 30, 2012

Al Bahar Towers in Abu Dhabi

Recently engineers and architects in the Chicago-based Center for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat named the five most outstanding buildings of 2012.

They named the Al Bahar Towers in Abu Dhabi the most innovative tall building of 2012 because of its computer-controlled facade, which moves with the sun and reduces the impact of the sun’s heat by 50 percent.  The Center also named the best tall buildings of 2012 on each of the four continents.  On October 16, one of these will be named the best small building in the world in an awards ceremony.

Absolute Towers in Mississauga, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto

The Center named the Absolute Towers in Mississauga the best tall building in the Americas.  These towers, due for completion in August, are known as the Marilyn Monroe Towers because of their curves.  Each tower has one continuous balcony which spirals around it.


Bin Ladens built world’s tallest skyscraper

June 25, 2012

Click to enlarge.

The world’s tallest skyscraper is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, shown above.  It was built by the Bin Laden Group, a Saudia Arabian construction company founded by Muhammed bin Laden, Osama bin Laden’s dad, who began life as a penniless bricklayer.  The bin Ladens, despite their lack of royal blood, are among the wealthiest people in Saudi Arabia.

Burj Khalifa, formerly known as Burj Dubai, is 2,717 feet high, twice as high as the Empire State Building.  The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat said it is the tallest human-made structure on earth.  Burj Khalifa is 162 stories high and can be seen from 60 miles away.  Tenants have been found for only about half the space in the building.

It is ironic that the destroyer of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers should come from a family known for building, not destroying.   The Bin Ladens repudiated Osama in 1994, and the U.S. government has concluded that the Bin Laden family is not involved in al Qaeda.

The Bin Laden Group has a contract for a taller building yet, the Kingdom Tower on the Red Sea near Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.   It will be at least a kilometer high (about 6/10ths of a mile), which would make it 550 feet higher than the Burj Khalifa.  Kingdom Tower developers said that the building will have the world’s highest observation deck, a Four Seasons hotel, 59 elevators (including five double-deckers) and 12 escalators.

Eight of the world’s 10 tallest skyscrapers are in Asia; the exceptions are the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, in Chicago, and the Empire State Building in New York City.  The skyscraper boom in Asia reflects the wealth and pride of Asian nations, just as U.S. skyscrapers of an earlier era reflected the wealth and price of the USA.   At the same time, I think there are better means to express the national competitive spirit than to build structures for which there is no economic demand.

Click on My Skyscraper’s Super Taller Than Yours for an article about the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, which keeps track of which of the world’s buildings are the tallest.

Click on The Bin Ladens for a review and summary of Steven Coll’s book on the Bin Laden family.

Pictures of the Burj Khalifa and future Kingdom Tower are below.


Beautiful bookstores of the world

February 4, 2012

The Livraria Lello in Porto, Portugal

I love bookstores.  For me visiting places like these would be the next best thing to heaven.

Buenos Aires's Librena El Ateneo Grand Splendid

Boekhandel Selexyz Dominicanen in Maastricht, the Netherlands

This bookstore was originally a Dominican church at a time when the Roman Catholic Church was the custodian of learning.

The Bookabar Bookshop in Rome, Italy

Click on The 20 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World for more beautiful pictures from Flavorwire.

Click on Reader’s Choice: 20 More Beautiful Bookstores From Around the World for even more beautiful pictures from Flavorwire.  [Added 3/3/12]

Click on The world’s most inspiring bookstores for a slide show.

Hat tip to The Little Design Stall.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater

February 4, 2012

Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpiece, Fallingwater, took three years to build.

This computer animation recreates it in three minutes.

Click on Fallingwater wiki for background on the house and its design.

Click on WPC: Fallingwater for some of the challenges in preserving an architectural masterpiece from sagging floors, mildew and other problems.

Click on Eterea, the online portfolio of Cristobal Vila for the home page of the creator of the Fallingwaters animation.

Hat tip to The Browser.

Islamic architecture in the Twin Towers

August 25, 2010

I never knew that the design of New York’s World Trade Center was influenced by Islamic architecture, but evidently it was.  Laurie Kerr, writing for Slate about three months after the 9/11 attacks, explained:

The World Trade Center’s architect, Minoru Yamasaki, was a favorite designer of the Bin Laden family’s patrons—the Saudi royal family—and a leading practitioner of an architectural style that merged modernism with Islamic influences. …

Interior of World Trade Center

Yamasaki described its plaza as “a mecca, a great relief from the narrow streets and sidewalks of the surrounding Wall Street area.” True to his word, Yamasaki replicated the plan of Mecca’s courtyard by creating a vast delineated square, isolated from the city’s bustle by low colonnaded structures and capped by two enormous, perfectly square towers—minarets, really. Yamasaki’s courtyard mimicked Mecca’s assemblage of holy sites—the Qa’ba (a cube) containing the sacred stone, what some believe is the burial site of Hagar and Ishmael, and the holy spring—by including several sculptural features, including a fountain, and he anchored the composition in a radial circular pattern, similar to Mecca’s.

At the base of the towers, Yamasaki used implied pointed arches—derived from the characteristically pointed arches of Islam—as a transition between the wide column spacing below and the dense structural mesh above. (Europe imported pointed arches from Islam during the Middle Ages, and so non-Muslims have come to think of them as innovations of the Gothic period.) Above soared the pure geometry of the towers, swathed in a shimmering skin, which doubled as a structural web—a giant truss. Here Yamasaki was following the Islamic tradition of wrapping a powerful geometric form in a dense filigree, as in the inlaid marble pattern work of the Taj Mahal or the ornate carvings of the courtyard and domes of the Alhambra.

The shimmering filigree is the mark of the holy. According to Oleg Grabar, the great American scholar of Islamic art and architecture, the dense filigree of complex geometries alludes to a higher spiritual reality in Islam, and the shimmering quality of Islamic patterning relates to the veil that wraps the Qa’ba at Mecca. After the attack, Grabar spoke of how these towers related to the architecture of Islam, where “the entire surface is meaningful” and “every part is both construction and ornament.” A number of designers from the Middle East agreed, describing the entire façade as a giant “mashrabiya,” the tracery that fills the windows of mosques.