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Browser: Sutherland Lyall nimbly swings through the forests of architectural cyberspace. (View).

Dean down, more to come

This month's architect's site is that of the legendary and amiable Bernard Tschumi at /http://www.tschumi.com. Following his transformation of Columbia's graduate school of architecture 'into an international model for architectural education', it says on the news page which pops up in front of the home page, Tschumi is stepping down at the end of June as dean (though not from the faculty) to devote more time to do architecture. Unweening vanity, you immediately think. Trouble is Tschumi has transformed Columbia and since this break is a big thing in his life maybe he's entitled to say so without us whipping out the tall-poppies scissors. He is currently working on museums in New York, Athens and Sao Paulo, an athletics stadium in Cincinnati and a headquarters building in Switzerland. This is almost as much building in one year, you might have gleaned from the 12 projects listed under the heading Projects, as he has done in the previous twenty. In fact, the office has actually recently completed $200 million worth of construction work. You discover this only when you click on the vague section heading 'Information'. So this is not an especially easy site from which to extract information despite the virtuously small number of section heads: News, Projects, Theoretical works (which is to say unbuilt projects), Information and Contact. And even using a fast ADSL modem it takes finite time for thumbnails to expand into readable images. Designed by a young person with superb eyesight and no thought for Internet Explorer's extremely useful Text Size function, it's actually a pretty cool site and the low resolution of the too-small images was probably decided on more in the cause of speed than as a bar to students downloading the images and doing goodness knows what with them -- as many name architects seem to fear. This is an architect's architect's site rather than a marketing one and although it needs an annual check-up it's pretty good.

Biggest and best?

Texas has the world's ninth largest economy. So you are bound to take Texas Architect, the magazine of the Texas Society of Architects with a circulation of some 15 000, quite seriously -- especially when it puts most of the previous issue's feature articles on the website at www.texasarchitect.org. The print magazine comes out six times a year so I haven't sat around long enough to find out, probably the site changes at the same rate with more topical updates to the meetings and events pages -- although early this year there was still a flyer for a late October 2002 products exhibition. Still, the scope and extent of the site is exemplary: information about the society, resources for members, public resources, a jobs section, the aforesaid meetings and features section, awards including very comprehensive descriptions of winners -- and more. No it's not even faintly in the same league as the site of the RIBA with twice the members and whose country's economy is round about number four in the world. But you f eel this is a very solid site, if a bit neglected.

Coming to terms

ArtLex at www.artlex.com is an information bank of visual culture: the name comes from concatenating 'art' and the 'lex' of lexicon as in dictionary. It has definitions for more than 3300 terms used in visual culture, 'along with thousands of supporting images, pronunciation notes, great quotations and cross references', so it says on the home page. I tried 'gouache', always tricky to say straight after lunch and I guess 'gwahsh' is about as good as the Shorter Oxford Dictionary offers. Before those PADDI librarians write in again, I did try Callicrates and Ictinus. To no effect. There were lots and lots of words based on icon but nothing approaching the Greeks. Not a word about 'metope' either although useful old 'pronaos' was there. In the 'architecture' entry there was this: 'the jargon of architecture is what architects and designers archly call "talkitecture" or "archispeak". They refer to windows as "glazing" or "fenestration" and a beam or lintel as "trabeation" ... Nothing is simply flat, it's "planar " instead'. While regular readers will know I have a certain sympathy for these general sentiments I think the bloke who wrote that had just had a bad experience with an interior decorator and was out for revenge on anyone.

Virtuous conservation

I'm a sucker for stuff to do with sustainable architecture partly because an old mate of mine, Steven Szokolay, was the father of solar energy studies in Britain and partly because it is a pretty good idea. The most obvious site is SustainableABC at www.sustainableabc.com. It has terrific links to all sorts of things from architects and architecture to straw bale construction. And for a really comprehensive bibliography try www.architect.org/institute/ programs/sustainable/index.html.

The most you can lose is your name

Architectural institutions worldwide are going to have to do something about protection of title. Not from back street building surveyors but computer geeks. I was checking out an old reference '20 questions to ask your Architect ...' in the hope that you might be able to check it out and have 20 smart answers ready for that tricksy client. The 'architect' involved turned out to be a software developer. Something Must Be Done.

Utzon the honorary Oz

There's this site, whose address I won't burden you with, which has a section called 'filling the gaps' about fifty notable names. I was intrigued to see among Edgar Allan Poe, el Nino, Rasputin and The Oscars, an entry for Jorn Utzon, 'probably one of the most accomplished architects in the world'. Admittedly this is on the site of Australian crossword king and queen, James and Christine Lovatt. But it means something, especially when there's also an entry in, ahem, Dinkum Aussies, no Danish entry that I could find and nothing from Majorca where the great man now lives. According to http://www.dinkumaussies.com/ARCHITECTUR E%2Fjoern%20Utzon.htm, in 1988 when Utzon was asked to redesign the interior of his Sydney Opera house, the man who sacked him, David Hughes then aged 87, laughed his head off. The latter was living in a seaside retirement apartment with a knighthood. I'm not surprised that the Australians have dropped all that knight and peer stuff.

Sutherland Lyall is at sutherland.lyall@btinternet.com
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Author:Lyall, Sutherland
Publication:The Architectural Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2003
Words:1067
Previous Article:AR+D exhibition + lectures at RIBA. (View).
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