5 Black airport architects

Paul R. Williams standing in front of the Theme Building in Los Angeles

The Points Guy put together a list of 5 Black architects who were either the lead designer or principal in the build of a US airport terminal.

But this should not be a surprise. People of color make up a strikingly small percentage of architects in the U.S. with various estimates putting it at around 2% of the more than 115,000 registered professionals in the country.

The Black Lives Matter protests tell us, forcefully, that underrepresentation of people of color in any industry is not — and should not — be a surprise. That also holds true in architecture, where most people can probably name just a few architects — maybe Frank Lloyd Wright, Eero Saarinen and Sir Norman Foster — that are, almost certainly, all white men.

Amongst the names was Paul R. Williams who we’ve featured a few times on the site, particularly his work on the LAX terminal area.

The ghostly signs of London

A wall with a faded version of the old Boots Chemist logo on it
Photo by Roy Reed

Before abandoned billboards showing sun-faded adverts from your childhood, there were painted signs on walls that barely stood the test of time. In a new book called Ghost Signs: A London Story, Sam Roberts and Roy Reed look at London’s “ghost signs” and their history.

‘[The signs] are voices from the past, they are public pieces of history written for a past audience, we can only see them by the quirk of their survival,’ says Roberts. These typographic landmarks have survived against significant odds and have a precarious existence in an ever-changing urbanscape. ‘Very few are listed, and many may be lost in the future,’ Roberts adds.

(via The Spaces)

James Bond villains and their love of post-Soviet architecture

For JSTOR, Jonah Goldman Kay examined the preferences of James Bond villains for post-Soviet architecture and it came from Sir Ian Fleming and his disdain for modernism:

In particular, Fleming objected to modernism’s obsession with utopia, which was antithetical to his conservative ideology. Fleming saw the ideal world as existing in the past, within an already-existing power structure. Modernists like Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe believed that architecture could be used to create a better, more ideal world, full of new conceptions of power. The Western world ran with modernism as a way to remove inefficiencies, construct a more prosperous society, and generally live out the principles of capitalism. In the USSR, modernism came to represent the goals of the communist project: leveling, equality, and a strong presence of the state.

Fleming’s distrust of modernism and utopia played out in the ideologies of Bond villains, which tend to be grounded in a distinctly modernist idea that technology and utilitarianism can radically improve humanity. Part of the reason that modernists were so drawn to utopia was that they shared a twin interest in the end of history. In creating the villains of the Bond franchise, Fleming took this theoretical idea and made it quite literal: nearly all of them harbor an obsession with ending history, usually through mass destruction.

For more on post-Soviet buildings, check out Frank Herfort’s “surreal photos” and, if you want to branch out to general pop culture, NSS Mag published an article in January about the evolution of post-Soviet aesthetics.

Ill-Studio's 'Then & Now' explores the reconstruction of deconstructed buildings


Have you ever watched a demolished building reconstruct itself? Well, now you can thanks to ‘Then & Now’ a collaboration between Ill-Studio and Belgian electronic group Soulwax, who provided the soundtrack.

The project serves as a concept piece merging an “imaginary encounter” between Robert Smithson’s essay A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey and archive footage from contractors demolishing buildings. The creative agency says Then & Now “draws attention to the ruins of 20th century as seen through the prism of modernity” where the lines between past and future are blurred.

Here are two quotes that illustrate ‘Then & Now’ perfectly:

The buildings don’t fall into ruin after they are built but rather rise as ruins before they are built.

I should now like to prove the irreversibility of eternity by using a jejune experiment for proving entropy. Picture in your mind’s eye the sand box divided in half with black sand on one side and white sand on the other. We take a child and have him run hundreds of times clockwise in the box until the sand gets mixed and begins to turn grey; after that we have him run anti-clockwise, but the result will not be a restoration of the original division but a greater degree of greyness and an increase of entropy.

Of course, if we filmed such an experiment we could prove the reversibility of eternity by showing the film backwards, but then sooner or later the film itself would crumble or get lost and enter the state of irreversibility. Somehow this suggests that the cinema offers an illusive or temporary escape from physical dissolution. The false immortality of the film gives the viewer an illusion of control over eternity—but “the superstars” are fading.

Excerpt from A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey by Robert Smithson

The spaceship McDonald's from Alconbury in Cambridge

Flying Saucer McDonalds at Alconbury on the old A604 near Huntingdon. 1993

It’s no longer with us but the spaceship McDonald’s, just off the A1 in Alconbury (UK), was an icon in the 90s. But it wasn’t always a Maccy D’s. The building opened in 1990 and traded as a Megatron, a space-age restaurant (below), but 3 years later, it transformed into a McDonald’s.

According to a former worker at the McDonald’s restaurant, the building had computer systems that allowed you to order at your table, predating the ordering kiosks by a couple of decades. However, due to echoey walls, poor lighting, and rising maintenance costs, the spaceship closed in 2000 and was demolished in 2008.

If you love abandoned buildings like I do, check out some of photos via Comfortable Disorientation and a camcorder still from 1993 (from the video at the top).

Googie architecture related: Paul R. Williams: the Black architect of public buildings and celebrity homes

Ricardo Junqueira's Lisbon lobby photography

A photo of an old-style tiled lobby in Lisbon.

The Spaces interviewed Ricardo Junqueira, a man with a love for photography and Lisbon’s vibrant lobby areas:

Brazilian photographer Ricardo Junqueira relocated to Lisbon in 2012 and got his start shooting for Airbnb. ‘As tourism bloomed, I had the chance to capture more residential spaces – I photographed around 2000 Lisbon houses’, says Junqueira. ‘The variety I find at people’s homes is so spectacular and impressive – like a [built] “biodiversity manifesto”, so the entryways are like a chapter in this romance.’


What do you look for in a building or a shot?

I’m interested in diversity, and I am fascinated by the richness of ordinary things. I was born in Brasília, surrounded by great modern architecture, which has influenced how I appreciate architecture. Photographers and architects have something in common – the need to organise things in a limited space. I look at shapes and arrange them in a harmonious way inside the rectangle.

Portuguese tile and Lisbon related: Porto’s Banco de Materiais and its azulejos and a love letter to Lisbon

Boston's brutalism

Cast in Concrete: Boston's Brutalism

In Boston, Brutalism is tied closely to City Hall, but the infamous building is far from the only “concrete monstrosity” in the city. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, top architects from around the world took advantage of a rebuilding Boston to design and build what they saw as futuristic, expressive works of art. Brutalism hasn’t gained many fans since then, but public opinion may slowly be changing.

Boston’s City Hall reminds me a lot of the old Central Library in Birmingham (UK, since demolished in 2016) thanks to its inverted ziggurat structure.

Brutalism related: the case for Brutalist architecture, Soviet modernism, brutalism, and post-modernism, and ‘Brutalist Paris’.

How did Frasier afford his Seattle apartment on a radio show host's wage?

During my Frasier journey, I found myself asking certain questions time and time again. Will Frasier ever stop getting hoisted by his own petard? How did the dog who plays Eddie become such a good actor? Why is this fake National cover of the Frasier theme song better than every other National song? God, Niles is so horny. (More of a comment than a question.) And, most importantly: How the hell did Frasier afford his apartment?

Update: Apparently, a Frasier writer revealed why: they decided he’d “invested the money from his Boston practice very wisely (perhaps in a friend’s Seattle software start-up)”. Thanks to @scottgal for the info and the article he referenced!

(via GQ)

12 alternative versions of famous monuments

These are incredible from oobject.

Included here among various alternatives for Tower Bridge, the Washington Monument, The Chrysler building and St. Paul’s Cathedral are proposed extensions to the White House, a 5 million tomb alternative to London’s famous Victorian cemeteries and a particularly uninspiring second place entry for the Sydney Opera House competition. My personal favorite, however is the Triumphal Elephant which could have capped off the Champs Elysees in Paris. If someone could only find the rejected competition entry for what became the Eiffel Tower, which consisted of a giant replica of a Guillotine.

Some I wish existed, some I’m glad didn’t become reality, and some I would like to see and then never see again.

More “12 things” posts: 12 objects unnecessarily covered in gold and 12 abandoned islands

I hope I can visit this Lisbon rooftop bar this year

Photography: Agata Grzaba, Couplet Photography (via The Spaces)

Seasonal ingredients are served alongside sunset views at Lisbon’s Java, which is laid out to make sure every diner gets the best seat in the house.

Studio PIM oversaw the interiors for the Lisbon restaurant and bar, which occupies a harbourside spot in the capital. It’s been carefully arranged to make sure no one has table envy, with diners stationed either on the terrace or close to a window to maximise views.

Java on Google Maps and the main website.

Who wants a Darth Vader helmet house for $4.3m?

Known to many as “The Darth Vader House,” this contemporary masterpiece is one not to miss. Over 7,000 sq. ft. of living area, principal bedroom down, open rooms, massive windows, a museum home setting on a prestigious West University street. Custom throughout with ample closets, 4-car garage, versatile living spaces, large lot. Nothing else like it in the area. Come visit us Thursday, 12-2.

I find its lack of taste disturbing.

I’m sure this Loungefly Star Wars Boba Fett Cosplay Mini Backpack would look lovely in this house with a Star Wars TIE Advanced grill in the the back.

Arndt Schlaudraff, the LEGO® brutalist

I love LEGO® and I love brutalism so this is a match made in heaven for me.

Arndt Schlaudraff is a self-proclaimed “Berlinist, Brutalist, Modernist, and Legoist” and his Instagram account is filled with wonderful constructions all real and no 3D renderings. His buildings come with beautiful lighting inside and out, creating an atmosphere not often associated with the harshness of brutalism.

Check out his Instagram page for more.

(via Ewan Wilson on Twitter and Boing Boing)