There have been over 200,000 deaths as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. All have been tragic, but there are two people in particular we’ve lost due to COVID that were part of the world of architecture and design that we want to honor with a couple of stories today. First, we are mourning the loss of architect Michael McKinnell. Along with Gerhard Kallman, McKinnell designed the unforgettable Boston City Hall, completed in 1968. They won the commission for Boston City Hall after submitting their brutalist, heroic monument in a contest when Michael McKinnell was just 26 years old. It was always a controversial structure, much of the public found it ugly and too unconventional, but architects and critics tend to love it. This is the often the case with Brutalism in general and that is the subject of our first story starring Boston City Hall.
Another voice who is gone too early was Michael Sorkin. Sorkin was a designer and the Village Voice architecture critic in the 80s. He brought a totally new kind of approach to writing about buildings, one that focused on people and politics. We spoke with design critic at Curbed, Alexandra Lange, about Sorkin's work, and Roman Mars reads excerpts from one of his pieces called Two Hundred and Fifty Things an Architect Should Know.
The Smell of Concrete After Rain
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm roman, Mars
There have been tens of thousands of deaths as result of the corona virus pandemic. All have been tragic, but there too
people in particular that we ve lost a covert that were
part of the world of architecture and desire that we want to honour with a couple of stories today
we are more in the loss of architects. Michael Mckenna, along with Gerhard com
Mckenna design the unforgettable Boston City Hall, completed in nineteen sixty eight.
One- the Commission for Boston City Hall after submitting their brutal list heroic monument in a contest when
I called which is twenty six years old. It was
always a controversial structure.
Much of the public and ugly and unconventional, but architects and critics tend to love
This is often the case with blue eyes and more generally, and that
the subject of a peace, starring, Boston City Hall that every shopping reported for us back in twenty fifteen to celebrate
My goal was life going to play their story for you now. It's of my favorites hope you like it.
The best James Bond is either Sean Connery or Daniel Craig. I lean towards Daniel crack
New movies are just better, but the shown country film is definitely had the best villains. There's blow felled, of course who? So I conic that he turned in the act of cats, stroking into a thing that
super villains do but bond
flashes nemesis has to be gold. Thing expect me to talk about. I expect you to do you expect me to talk,
there's, this dorky fun fact that the bond villain gold finger was actually name,
after a real person. That's trouble. Every drop of the
there, the James Bond books in funding named
finger for a man he found so dastardly, so
terrible that he immortalized him in pop culture, the real
finger was an architect gold finger anymore
giant, hulking, austere, concrete buildings
gold fingers buildings were decreed. Soulless inhabitants claim to supper.
Health problems and depression from spending time inside them. Some of
Fingers buildings were vacated because occupants found them so ugly, and yet many architects praises fingers buildings. His.
Like Tower, which was once threatened with demolition, has been awarded, landmark standards. This divide this hatred from the public and love from designers, an architect
tends to be the narrative around buildings like gold figures, which is to say gigantic,
posing buildings made of concrete what some people refer,
two as brutal list architecture and a lot of votes.
Beyond the creator of James Bond love to her
we are in worst hall which, to my great dismay and frustration, is often considered, though worse, building on campus
or, worse still, ha more. Like worst, I met up with Sarah Briggs Ramsay in Worser Hall, a ruthless building at you see Berkeley. I can't tell you how many times I ve been locking up my bike outside and they over here under guides, walking with their parents and going ironically. This is the architecture school and it's the ugliest building on camp as you,
Mister Hall. Is the architecture school sir completed her masters? Their buildings like this are pretty pervasive across missed American and can eighty
campuses. There was a big bulky concrete building on the campus, where I went to college, and I hated
I had to go through it just reminded me of a bunker or a bomb. Shelter is big, concrete buildings. Just like me out absolutely.
It has these connotations of soviet era construction, sometimes third, world construction,
all these negative associations. This is Professor Adrian, forty other of the excellent book concrete and culture he's been
searching concrete for around ten years. Now it has a bad name. Apart from us
let it criticisms, concrete buildings, present environmental concerns, the lost these buildings bills,
I'm when energy was cheap and they
result, an awful lot of energy to heat and cool them. Congress buildings were built with the illusion of plenty that we will always have enough energy to build and heat and cool these massive inefficient structures as harsher. Lux concrete, is an utterly optimistic building material, arguably to opt in essence,
really from the nineteen twenty? Is it
was seen as being the material that word chain,
the world it had. The potential
build things in a way that hadn't been seen before concrete
was this material. It seemed boundless readily available in vast quantities and cook
a massive spaces, unlike any other material, so concrete sprang up everywhere.
The second most heavily consumed products in the world. The
we think we consume more. Of than concrete is water.
We use concrete for sidewalks bridges, tunnels and highways and, of course, for giant buildings, whether we are talking about stage here,
Would you Teresa
condominium or gymnasia, or planetary, so historically, government programmes all over the world loved concrete, particularly in soviet Russia, but
also later in Europe and North America. It was used for
welfare welfare state projects, concrete
then in the most efficient way to house Hugh
numbers of people and philosophical
it was seen as humble, capable and honest concrete, was just
there in all its rough glory, not hiding behind any paint or layers
here. I am love me or hate me
is concrete. Buildings came to signify humility, honesty and integrity. They were wrecked.
It all over the world as housing projects, court houses, schools, churches, hospitals and city halls. You'll stand outside and deter bustle go by and they'll be late
Gentlemen, voted the most ugliest building in the world with Boston City Hall. How do you compete with that
Chris Grimly is up against a lot, but he is trying
Restore Boston City halls reputation? My name is Chris grimly I'm with my fellow heroic people mark Pass and Michael Cuba Christmas
and Michael had embarked on what they call the heroic project. Chronicling, the concrete structure
in and around Boston, rather than referring to these concrete buildings as brutal list. They prefer that
heroic because legs,
many superheroes. These structures have
best, most noble intentions, but are sorely misunderstood. Also, just gender
Brutal ISM is a big broad label that gets used inconsistently in architecture. People tend to
disagree on one precise definition. The name blue also just sounds intense, even though it's not
actually related to brutality? It comes from debt on brute, which is a french term for Iraq. Concrete
in any case, to these guys heroic feels like a better term, especially in Boston where concrete architectures.
Dan and save the day. You have to situate Boston in late fifties. Nineteen sixty is it
America's first city- well, it is America's most historic city,
not really, but I get your point and yet it finds itself in the doldrums.
Boston, like a lot of other american cities, was played by loss of manufacturing jobs and white flight to the suburbs and for decades.
Boston had the highest property taxes in the nation and almost no development. There is this recognition from civic authorities that something needs to be done and something needs to be done quickly
so Boston sets an agenda to make the city great again with big, soaring, capable
thoroughly. Modern buildings made, of course, out of com,
and though some of these buildings were celebrated others,
were really not what we call the third rail of Boston, concrete, modernism, a city.
Ah, when Boston City Hall was built in nineteen, sixty eight critics or put off by this concrete style, it was called alienating
cold, and since it was a government building, this criticism became impossible. To remove from politics
Austin all became a political pawn, mayors,
the council members kept trying to win public support with promises to get rid of the building like John too,
did when he ran principally council. I value your job or not. They should visit vote just open God come here. We are sitting all partner for passing through the hall, a modern architecture, but I know baggage. Actually it is about building can I do
can do a lot by blocking this building doubt former mayor, Thomas Menino actually started a study to really look into tearing down turn out as a result of the study that you would need something like a nuclear grade weapon basically to destroy this.
Because it was said so heavily overbuilding concrete, and so when they
wouldn't tear down city all officials,
it was to ignore it, people that occupied the building for decades in decades, didn't like it, and so they did invest money into the building and ineffective. We wanted to see the building go away. This
who called active neglect happens with a lot of concrete buildings. They are intentionally underprepared on renovated and uncared, for which only makes the building more awkward. Amendment
he did and then more ignored in Greece.
Is a vicious cycle for the public hate
Boston City on feed itself, and then the discussion here is on really became about what the original architect had done wrong, as if this were not a failure of maintenance, but a failure of the initial design when people bill
is mammoth concrete structures? No one really thought about maintenance. They seemed indestructible.
The early days of concrete people assume
This was an everlasting material that wouldn't need any attention at all, and I mean that's wrong. We know that it does need to be looked after it does to Terry
right does decay, but it can be hard to tell when concrete is decaying. If you think breakin timber, the occur takes place on the surface of them, but with concrete the deterioration
is internal, concrete, deteriorates chemically from the inside out part of this
a city with a metal reinforcements than help hold up. Most
great buildings, the rebar. Well, it can rest and the rest
eats away at the overall structure, but Adrian for
he says tearing them down is not the answer because assumes
you tell them down, then you have a problem. First of all, what you do with Faye Debt treatise. That's left
and secondly, you got to replace them with something else and use up a lot more energy,
create a lot more co2 in building something in that
they already used up all that energy when they were made their already there we can adopt
these buildings to make them greener and make them more appealing places to be by adding windows, for example, but basically, professor forty,
We can all developed the capacity to love these concrete brutes in awe
other hulking glory. Show people can learn to love anything but dinner, as with any
form whether its approval
saying literature, the more you know about it, the more you get out of it
no, you will appreciate it, and this is especially true of concrete buildings architecture. Students appreciate them because they know that concrete actually requires a hell of a lot of skill and ass to work with to do our kitchen. Cheering concrete is proof that you are really are an architect. It's the tests being an architect, the concrete building every
but all detail needs to be calculated in advance, concrete,
His wildly intimidating to work with once you poor,
There is no going back with a concrete building its life
the result of an immaculate conception. The whole thing is
an integral monolithic hull, eight. It has to be right
aside from the interesting design challenges that poses com
you did self as a material can be suddenly beautiful. If you look closely, you know what we think of it as just a monolithic, consistent, homogenous texture is actually really rich and has a lot
interest when you actually go up to it and consider Et Cetera, Briggs Ramsay, the one I spoke with at Berkeley worst or how did a year long project travelling around the world. Looking at concrete,
things in Europe and Asia and South and North America to create a global comparison of one material that, I think is so sort of under considered. It's like the background of all the city, is but no enacts his sandstone luck. We call the city a concrete jungle to talk about the artificial,
on this of the urban landscape, but concrete can actually be a very natural expression of the environment. Concrete color and texture can be dictated by local climate, local earth and local rock. This is the Harvard Science Centre on the Harvard Campus and it's gotta very per believe. Come really pronounced purple
and that's the ground from the site. Concrete can also be an expression of local style and custom. Like our you,
a concrete has big stick: textured chunks of rock, while japanese concrete is very fine and flat
but the beauty of concrete architecture is all the better when you can just observe the buildings like pieces of sculpture without
actually having to live and work in them.
It brings in concrete, surprising, ally, photography, concrete, looks good jimfred
loves. It provides this kind of neutral background. It provides a
wonderful searching for peoples.
Skin tones, color
clothes fashion for jobs.
First realized this first and then pockets of the internet started to appreciate these concrete buildings. There are lots of these blogs, some on which
show you kind of extraordinary enthusiasm for concrete photography, is allowing a new audience of non architects to appreciate these buildings for their strong lines, the crisp shadows and increasingly the idealism they embody. Representer set of ideas about.
The state of the world and what the future Breeze imagine to be that we want to preserve. They should remember what people with thinking. Fifty years ago,
These buildings down will lose all of that.
Sure whether we want to admit it or not, as a sort of shelf life
I'm after which buildings ball out of fashion, and then
are allowed to fall. Apart back in the nineteen sixties, victorian style buildings were considered hideous, falling apart impossible to repair
and we were tearing batches of them down all the while erecting big concrete buildings, but enough victorians were saved that today they are these beautiful, lovingly restored. Treasure
Brutal list heroic whenever you want to call it conquered,
architecture, now finds itself at a potential inflection point two
data to be modern, too young
to be classic
in a small but growing band of architects, architecture, enthusiasts and preservation is, would like us to just wait a bit and see
Maybe with a little time in love, we might discover some architectural diamonds in the rough that we just can't see right now
Michael Mckinnon, architect, abortions. Any all died in look
of related illness. At the age of eighty four he survive
his wife and architectural partner. Stephanie malice heart goes out to all who knew
after the break. We honour a true vanguard of architectural criticism. Michael Sorkin stay with us we're starting to get used to doing things virtually virtual drinks with brands virtual, but clubs and virtual birthday parties, and maybe you discovered that your virtual tools are not up. There's enough, when it comes to a new and improved website, you should let square space help you out square space gives you the ability to customize lookin settings and more with just a few clicks, their templates created by world class designers. So they anticipate your needs,
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In late March, we also wars, designer and architecture gridlock, Michael Sorkin, to complications brought up
by covered nineteen.
He started writing for the village voice, the nineteen eighties. He brought a totally
a new kind of approach to writing about buildings, one that focused on people in politics. I fayaway he really stretched the boundaries on how confrontational you can be in print.
Is our architecture, critical, curbed in front of the show, our gender.
Who can became famous for ripping into conventional wisdom and sometimes ripping into important builders and other critics to a gale of vitality, to earth
pictures, criticism and stretch stretched abound,
he is and what it could be in a way that really brought it to new generations attention and has continued to be really important for young,
Michael Sorkin wrote about buildings, but also the much bigger fact:
there's that make up and urban landscape. You know
things are comes through really strongly in his work. Is this idea that it's not architecture isn't just as pure profession of
Leslie, mostly you know, thinking about forms and placing them in the city.
Algeria is something that is shaped by social change, political change,
dirty money. All these things and Serkan always really brought out into the mix.
In two thousand nine Sorkin published a book called twenty
it's in Manhattan, which traces the walk from his home?
his studio in New York Sorkin
wrote about paying special close attention to the little details of his neighborhood
The small details taught him so much about history and community is gonna book that nine imps, invisible listeners would love.
Feels especially relevant right now. The kind of attention that he was paying to that part of the city is something that we
I can do now. I mean people are always a feeling stir crazy in their homes, but if they are also feeling stir crazy in their neighborhoods one way to get over, it is to add another layer of attention or go down streets. Are you don't let it normally go down, and I feel like that twenty minute limit could actually be a little form of freedom. If you really want to drill down and think about your neighborhood in a deeper waving, usually do because your rushing through it to go
somewhere else. A lot of Michael slogans. Writing is not online, but why
the pieces that has made the rounds of both times and the internet was a provocative meditative list called two hundred and four,
do things in architecture now
I thought I'd be nice to read some of the now some selections
Two hundred and fifty things in architecture now the feel of cool marble under bare feet,
how to live in a small room? Five strangers for six months with the same thing,
and the lifeboat for weak the distance a shout
carries in the city, the distance of a whisper
The number of people with rent subsidies in New York City in your town included the rich
The flowering season for azaleas
the insulating properties of glass, the history of its production and use and of its meaning? Adelaide bricks
What Victor Hugo really meant by this will kill that there
in which the seas are rising.
Information muddling behind
the energy embodied in aluminum how to turn a corner?
How to design a corner at a sit in a corner.
Now Anthony Gouty, muddled, the Sagrada Familia and calculated at structure the rate at which the carpet you specified off gases
the migratory patterns of warblers and other seasonal travellers, the basics of mud, construction,
the direction of prevailing winds. Hydrology is destiny, Jane Jacobs in and out
Elementary ergonomics, the color, will what the glowing wants. What the growing things at once for the client needs with a client can afford the planet.
The theoretical basis for modern day, a great
about its factions in inflections
the brick really wants
What went wrong in private I go.
What went wrong with the common narrows bridge?
where the cctv cameras are the secrets of the success of Robert Moses theirs.
Bristle influences of chinese and japanese building the proper,
portions of a gene martini how the crow flies how the pyramids were built. Why
the pleasures of the suburbs, the horrors
The quality of life passing through ice
the meaninglessness borders
the reasons for their tenacity, the need for a
possible to begin this anyway, the smell of concrete after rain
the angle of the sun with equal.
How to write a bicycle Lee Death
of a handicapped ran away.
Is of construction workers where materials come from
pattern artificial light at night, seen from space
the reasons for the split between architecture and engineering
Many ideas about what constitutes utopia would jump safety.
The architectural impact of colonialism on the cities of North Africa, a distaste for imperialism,
the history of Beijing, Dutch, domestic,
architecture in the seventeenth century, the rate at which copper acquires a patina, though
levels of particulates in the air of tension.
City of white pine trees to sequestered Carmen the fire code. The seismic occurred the health code, how to listen closely
But there is a big danger in working in a single medium. The logging
you don't even know you're stuck in will be broken by a shift in representation how to escape amaze Corti
the proper way to behave with interns, because
three, a big machines, including those that can fly, how to calculate ecological footprints,
Three good lunch spots within walking distance, the value of human life who pays, who profits what
to refuse to do even for the money, the fine print in the contract,
a smattering of naval architecture
real practices in a wide range of cultures, the dense,
needed to support a pharmacy. The density-
needed to support a subway effect
the design of your city on food miles,
fresh produce, squatter settlements, the visits
in conversations with residence, the history and
techniques of architectural representation across cultures, a bit of care
stream, physics, import
of the Amazon how to bachelor weeks the component,
of a comfortable environment for asleep strengths of materials. If only intuitively
Why you think architecture does any good? The
radiation cycle. What rusts good model, making techniques in wood in cardboard how to play a musical instrument, the acoustic properties of tree?
It's Rob's how to guard a house from floods, how to give directions efficiently courteously and how close it is to floss bicycle safety, Connecticut
the acoustic performance of Boston, Symphony home
open the window?
the diameter of the earth
the number of gallons of water used in the shower the distance at which you can recognize faces
How and when to bribe public officials for the greater good concrete finishes:
straw, bail, building technology, Rachel Carson, your neighbors
the remediation capacity of wetlands, the capacity
of wetlands to attenuate storm searches. The depths of desire, the heights of folly the golden another ratios
those are selections from two hundred and thirty things in architecture no by Michael's work.
He died. On March, twenty two twenty twenty from coven
he was the head of the Michael Sorkin Studio and president of terror form a nonprofit research group,
survive by his wife. Joan cook check. She is a professor
culture and media Brownian worsening with
turn our sincere condolences and thank her for giving us permission to are Michael or control.
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Transcript generated on 2020-06-10.