The Murcutt oeuvres completes
You may not have a Glenn Murcutt (he of this year's Pritzker prize) monograph on hand so the next best thing is nearly 100 downloadable images of Murcutt buildings, drawings and, amusingly, front and back views of the Pritzker medal. The direct link is http://220.127.116.11/ pages/index.htm. This is not the main Pritzker Prize site which is at www.pritzkerprize.com and has a nice picture of the bloke himself plus the official encomium on his manifest talents but no images. However, now that he's known outside the international architectural world, there are around 1200 references to him in a Google search of the internet, Still no official Murcutt web site on the web yet.
Great architect site of the month
So some of the great and good find it a waste of time to create a web site or are too modest or grand. But newly knighted and extremely grand Nicholas Grimshaw's eponymous practice certainly has one and it's at www.ngrimshaw.co.uk It runs with a black background white text and grey images plus what interior decorators probably call an occasional accent red. Nothing whimsical about this site though. The design, like the accompanying text, is plain and readable (except the type is tiny and, lots of bad marks, can't be adjusted) and the navigation is positively Calvinist with just three main sections: Practice, Project Archive and News. Naturally you click on project archive and start drooling when you finally make out that the sans serif text reads 'click below view the entire archive'. The whole lot, you whisper greedily to yourself. You click and wonder if you have inadvertently gone back to the U of Tulane site for there are three possibilities: Project type, Location, Completion date. Enraged you click on L ondon because you want to see if there is any mention of his acrimoniously long-ago departed partner Terry Farrell (also recently knighted) with whom he designed the Park Road flats near Lords in 1967. Not a whisper about Farrell. OK they probably did a practice-divorce agreement about credits. Bile subsiding, you start clicking at random and though it would be useful to have a page full of thumbnails, the interesting ones of which you could enlarge, it's probably easiest to browse by hitting the Completion Date tab and starting at the top date, 2006, start peeking at the projects. A nice touch is that, once you've clicked on a building and the image come up with the basic details, you can click to look at it from another point of view and then click to move on for further and better particulars. Two carps: the inexcusable nonadjustable text size; and no easily discovered credit for the designers. You would like to be able to pass their names along. To quite a lot of other architectural practices.
You've got to start somewhere and where better to start than with your existing resources and in your home town? So the architecture school at Tulane University has opened its New Orleans Architecture Database at www2.Tulane.edu/arch. This is not the fastest of sites and unless you know exactly what you are looking for or have an accession number well, tough. Following time-hallowed Browser practice of using well known architectural words to test out site-resident search engines I dutifully entered 'Lysikrates' and then changed the y and I around and then the k and the c and then tried 'Corinthian' and 'entasis' and then, a bit in despair, 'gutter'. Not a sausage. Eventually 'classical' produced a single bank building in the 'late Neo-classical style' which, I swear, had a little circular structure on top which looks remarkably like the choragic monument of the aforesaid Lysicrates. The thing about sites, architectural or not, is that you either make them accessible to ordinary Joes -- or keep them strictly f or people in the know and for people who are in possession of accession numbers. In which case you keep the site secret and don't send postcards halfway across the world asking people to look at it.
Surf out, plug in, pop up
It's unfair to compare the newest with probably the best but the Tulane people might take a look at the university of Nevada, Las Vegas site, whose main catalogue lets you search on keywords, author, title, subject, author/tide - and then that accession number stuff. Browser looked at its architecture studies sub-section at http://library.nevada.edu/arch/ in 1999 when it was reckoned to be one of the best architectural sites going. Three years later it has grown but there is a worrying development: you have to pay ('subscribe' is the disarming way of putting it) to use many of the catalogues. You can (just) understand charging people for physically using a library, as the RIBA does, but charging for using a catalogue seems self defeating on the grounds that if you don't know what a library contains you won't pay a year's sub to find out that it doesn't have what you want. I checked the search engine with above keywords and had success only with 'classical' -- and 'Venetian', the latter producing a thumbnail o f the celebrated casino and hotel of that name. Despite that this is a site which has so much on it that there is a whole section devoted to using it and, an innocent, dumb, librarian thing this, a Quicktime virtual walk through the library. You could spend days surfing the many sections of this site -- especially if you were at all library minded. Closing down there were a lot of floating ads on the desktop underneath for casinos and other not very novel ways of losing your shirt.
Virtual studio, chatroom crits
We try not to report sites which look dodgy or have been left untended but after coming across an old BBC report about a 'virtual learning initiative' involving more than 130 students and 20 teachers from seven central and south American schools I checked out the site of the bloke who seemed to be running it, Dr Alfredo Stelzer, of Florida International University at www.fiu.edu/~andiaa/aa.html. There is a link but it's not certain whether the set of pages describing the project is up to date. It's pretty difficult to follow. Whatever, the idea sounds really interesting: the interaction apparently ended up being very successfully conducted by the low-rent-but-immediate medium of chatrooms. I guess the thing is to quiz Stelzer - if you can find his email address.
Amid all the earnestness and garbage and tedium of the internet you occasionally come across strange and intriguing sites such as Zuper!'s at http://entropy8zuper.org/. Zuper! is a Belgian hypermedia studio and this is a strangely innocent, often beautiful and certainly puzzling site. Don't bother if you always ask 'what does it all mean.
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|Title Annotation:||miscellaneous brief articles|
|Publication:||The Architectural Review|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2002|
|Previous Article:||Venice in Peril: the 31st symposium. (View).|