Books at the VCA Museum Shop

Michael Graves: Images of a Grand Tour
By Brian M. Ambroziak
New York City, Princeton Architectural Press
2005, 257 pages, $29.95

Books1Michael Graves, FAIA, received a Rome Prize in 1960 and spent two years at the American Academy in Rome. As this book’s title implies, he also took a grand tour through Italy, Greece, Turkey, France, Spain, and the U.K. Ambroziak, a student of Graves at Princeton who subsequently worked at Michael Graves & Associates for four years, here assembles the drawings and photographs the 2001 AIA Gold Medalist amassed during that time abroad. As Graves notes in his foreword to the book, that experience “transformed how I looked at the world around me.”

The 220 pages of captioned images—pencil sketches, ink washes, and color photographs subcategorized by the countries from which they were derived—are sandwiched between Ambroziak’s essay on “The Necessity for Seeing” and Graves’s 1977 article “The Necessity for Drawing: Tangible Speculation.”

“My drawings were always analytical,” Graves writes. “It was important to me to reveal some salient characteristic of the architecture, perhaps its frontality, the layering of a spatial sequence, or simply the quality of a surface as it catches the light. I thought that if any of my drawings were viewed as a travel scene, I had failed, since it would be merely picturesque.”
The VCA Bookstore has a limited number of copies Graves has signed.

The Archaeology of Tomorrow: Architecture & the Spirit of Place
By Travis Price
San Rafael, Calif., Earth Aware Editions
2006, 210 pages, $45

Books2Through captivating photography, from the iconic to the artfully abstract, and an engaging writing style that borders on free-verse poetry, Travis Price defines the human expression and appreciation, our relation to nature, and the crucible of time that tests a work of architecture’s ability to become timeless.

As example is this concluding paragraph to Price’s introduction: “What we dream today will form the architecture of tomorrow and, without a doubt, shape our spirits for centuries to come. On the voyage, we must not only be careful what we dream, but even more careful about our chosen lenses of perception. After all, that is where architecture begins and ends, mankind’s legacy hovering between the dual infinities of time.”

The exploration of what architecture can be is through three lenses of experience, Price posits: stillness, movement, and nature. In the introductory chapter he examines a comprehensive array of architectural master works and their relationship to our senses and to natural order. Through most of the remainder of the book, concepts are illustrated through Price’s own many works, ranging from the million-sf TVA complex to the National Geographic Society Explorer’s Hall and a litany of inspirational residences, including the one in which he resides.

The Architectural Detail
By Edward R. Ford
New York City, Princeton Architectural Press
2011, 328 pages, $40

Books3The question seems simple enough: What is a detail?

The answer, in Ford’s mind, has to do with the entire construct of architecture. A Modernist by education and training, he takes us meticulously through every conceivable concept of detailing, from the handle Gropius designed for the front door of the Bauhaus, through a cutaway of the IIT Alumni Memorial Hall wall structure, to benches by Louis Kahn and Steven Holl.

There are no details in Modern architecture, Ford begins his dissertation. As he develops his thesis, we find that a detail is a fragment in which the whole building is represented. Or perhaps, he counters, it is the articulation of structure or construction. As he outlines his explanation of the larger understanding of what a building is by the smaller comprehension of its finer elements, Ford lays out many decades and many, many details of architectural analysis.

Offered, appropriately enough, in basic black and white, Ford develops in exquisite precision how details are the very fundament of construction. As he quotes Peter Zumthor: “The architect must look for rational constructions and forms for edges and joints … Details express what the basic idea of the design requires at the relative point in the object: Belonging or separation, tension or lightness, friction, solidity, fragility.”

Genius in the Garden: Charles F. Gillette & Landscape Architecture in Virginia
By George C. Longest
Richmond, Virginia State Library and Archives
1992, 228 pages, $42

Books4Born in Wisconsin at the end of the 19th century , Charles Freeman Gillette actually established his reputation as a consummate landscape architect in Richmond in the second decade of the 20th century. Thus, he was a designer of the Country Place era and apprenticed under Warren Manning, who himself worked with Frederick Law Olmsted on the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition and the Biltmore estate.

Gillette designed elaborate gardens throughout the south, including the restoration at Gunston Hall in Williamsburg and for residences up and down Monument Avenue in Richmond’s newly emerging Fan District. It was Gillette who, in 1934, designed and installed the iconic sunken garden beside the College of William and Mary Wren Building. A decade and a half later, he landscaped the main student dining hall and staff dining room for the university.

World War II proved difficult for landscape architects in general, Gillette wrote to friends, which forced him to close his business temporarily and move from Richmond to Orange County. Post-war, as business picked up, Gillette continued to work throughout the Commonwealth, continuing his legacy of ornate gardens and landscape design until his death in 1969.

The research Longest provides is derived primarily from letters and interviews with Gillette’s contemporaries. He offers a very personal matter-of-fact prose that provides a glimpse not only of the creations but also the creator of classical landscape architecture.
To contact the VCA Museum Shop, phone 804-237-1774 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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