Blog

Arbitrary

by Don Friedman on January 19, 2019

NY State Pavilion by Jeff Rueben

Any list of “New York’s Most Iconic Buildings” is necessarily arbitrary and representative of the interests of the person compiling the list. This one from Curbed isn’t bad, and manages to include a few pleasant surprises along with the obvious (the Empire State) and the clunkers (432 Park). I used to live in the Williamsburg Bank tower and spent a fair amount of time as a child in Flushing Meadows Park near the New York State Pavilion, so my interests seem well represented.

Reaching The End

January 18, 2019

Two unrelated items I recently read on the same topic… First, Curbed had some discussion of the tallest buildings to be demolished: here. The fact that New York dominates the list should be no surprise, as we have more old skyscrapers than any other city. Putting statistics aside, there are stories to be told about […]

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A Work-Around

January 17, 2019

I was fortunate enough last week to be taken on a tour by Bill Harvey of some of the engineering sights of western England. I’ll be putting up a few of the photos I took between now and the end of next week…starting with the picture above, of the front of the Corn Exchange in […]

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Stylistic Differences And Technology

January 16, 2019

That’s Buckhill Lodge, a private house located within Kensington Gardens in London. As I approached it and took this picture, I was surprised and thinking that carpenter’s gothic wasn’t really an English style. Then when I got closer, I realized that I had made a category error by making an assumption. Here’s the trim on […]

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Unclear Boundaries

January 15, 2019

That beautiful concrete is the undercroft, for want of a better term, at the London Bridge rail station. The station has a top-heavy configuration, with the entrances at street level and the tracks above. This makes sense for a constrained-site urban station, and London Bridge’s operational set-up reminded me of Jamaica Station. The concrete groin […]

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Street-Facing Dignity

January 14, 2019

A scene in London: I doubt the difference in styles means anything much, but the classical stone building on the left is the Institution of Civil Engineers, while the Victorian red-brick building on the right is the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The buildings are two short blocks from the Houses of Parliament, which is to say […]

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Fancy Geometry and Old Methods

January 13, 2019

That’s the stair inside the Little Red Lighthouse. The free-standing interior stringer is a helix of cast iron. The complexity of casting that boggles me.

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A Survivor

January 12, 2019

A favorite bookstore of mine is interesting for something other than its books. It is an important gathering place for people who love books, book readings, and intellectual discourse, and it’s a survivor. After 35 years in its present location, it almost went the way of many other neighborhood shops when it was bought in […]

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Book Review: Making Things Right

January 11, 2019

A house in Oslo similar to the one described in the book. Photo by Øyvind Holmstad. Ole Thorstensen is a carpenter in Norway who decided to combine his philosophy of work with a description of a small project in the book Making Things Right. The general idea has been done before – The Soul of a […]

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Window Tracery As Structure

January 10, 2019

When a structural engineer tells a colleague that they are working on a window restoration project, the colleague might say, “But windows are not a structural element in a building, other than keeping wind and weather out.” That statement is correct; if you remove the windows from a building, the structure still stands. However when […]