Monday, October 24, 2005

First thoughts on the final paper

Thor Hahn

Theory I

Building selection for final paper

Dr. Carpenter

October 20, 2005

Every architect has a defining project. For Charles Rennie Mackintosh, that project is the Glasgow School of Art. The GSA represents the culmination of his ideas, philosophies, and historical influences throughout the design. The design came about at the height of his architectural career.

It is almost as if the call for designs was tailored to Mackintosh’s strengths and interests. First, it was an art school, which fit in nicely with Mackintosh’s keen interest in the many of the arts. Second, the site was in his native Glasgow, where he seemed to be most comfortable with the contextual and social climate. Third, the program lent itself to artistic diversions and symbolism that other clients might not have appreciated or approved.

The overall form and design of the building is unabashedly Scottish, as it should be. Mackintosh’s nationalistic pride in his native land is reflected in the massing all the way down to the details. As he does with his other works, he rejects the tendency of the day to try and emulate the style coming out of London. Instead, he blends history with his own conceptual framework of architecture and design to synthesize an architecture that honors the historical precedent and context of his forefathers while taking a decidedly forward-looking stance towards the layout and design. He believed that a style should fit the times, and the GSA is evidence of that.

The midterm paper helped me to learn more about Mackintosh and what made him “tick”. I believe that the perspective gained from the more generalized midterm paper will allow me to really explore the design of the GSA in a deeper manner. I know that Mackintosh was very interested in symbolism while still paying attention to function, and from what I have read about the GSA it is hardly an exception to that rule. I’m looking forward to taking a closer look at the design and details of such a strong piece of architecture.


Arwas, Victor. Art Nouveau From Mackintosh to Liberty, the Birth of a Style. Copyright 2000 Andreas Papadakis Publisher, London

Bilcliffe, Roger. Architectural Sketches and Flower Drawings by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Copyright 1977 Rizzoli, New York

Buchanan, William et al. Mackintosh’s Masterwork: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow School of Art, Copyright 1989 GSA Enterprises Limited. Published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco

Crawford, Alan. Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Copyright 1995 Thames and Hudson, London

Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh panels Guardian Unlimited – Arts Gallery,8543,-10205152937,00.html . © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

Robertson, Pamela. Charles Rennis Mackintosh: The Architectural Papers, Copyright 1990 University of Glasgow, Glasgow

Wilhide, Elizabeth. The Mackintosh Style: Design and Décor. Copyright 1995 Chronicle Books, San Francisco

Monday, September 26, 2005

Organicism and the International Style assignment

Although the theory and methods behind the International Style and the Organicism movement are for the most part divergent, each used glass to express some of their tenets. In order to compare and contrast how the two philosophical positions utilized glass, one can examine the Glass House by Philip Johnson and Thorncrown Chapel by Fay Jones.

Both the Glass House and Thorncrown are renowned for their expression of International Style and Organicist ideals respectively. However, the underlying agendas and ideas behind the two buildings were quite different.

First, Johnson’s International Style proposed a style of architecture that would be universally applicable to all regions and nations. The result of such a goal is a lack of much (if any) regional flavor. It seems that the International Style movement was more concerned with making a statement and dictating “the answer” to all design-related situations than it was concerned with creating architecture that complemented a specific area. The Glass House is an example of this philosophy. Johnson saw the house as a stage for life, not necessarily as a functioning house. The transparent glass walls help facilitate the idea of the house as a stage, since life within is viewable to outsiders. It was conceptualized more as an object in space, much like a piece of art on exhibit in a museum. It doesn’t matter where the piece is located, because it is what it will be wherever it is located. The Glass House would still be a glass box whether it was built in Atlanta, Los Angeles, or Abu Dhabi.

Thorncrown Chapel, on the other hand, is very much connected with its region. In all of his work, Fay Jones sought to foster a strong connection between the natural and built environments as well as the region where the building is located. Thorncrown Chapel features several key conceptual elements which tie it to its site and region. First, the material palette is very simple, locally obtainable, and natural (primarily wood and stone). The glass walls’ primary purpose is to dematerialize the building so that it integrates with its environment visually. This is reinforced by the verticality of the structural members which combine to form a manmade “forest canopy”, further blending with the surrounding site which is heavily wooded. Jones’ overriding sensitivity to the site is reflected in the design, which serves as an example of the Organicism Movement’s interest in the ideas of region-specific and site-specific architecture.

Both Thorncrown and the Glass House used glass to further the philosophies and goals of their respective architects and styles. Both buildings are glass boxes, but it is Thorncrown that transcends its base identity of a glass box and enters into a symbiotic relationship with its site and region. Johnson’s Glass House, on the other hand, could be packed up into crates and shipped across the globe, unpacked, and reconstructed and it would remain an object in a field, lacking any real connection with whatever plot of land it is dropped upon. With that said, it should be noted that both buildings succeed in realizing their respective architects’ visions of how and in what manner should a building connect with its site.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Midterm Preliminary Outline

Thor Hahn

Theory I


August 30, 2005

Preliminary/Draft Outline________

I. Introduction/Background

A. Early Life/Education

B. Design Influences/Mentor(s)

C. His place within larger movements

II. Design

A. Context/Contrast with that context

B. Inspiration/Conceptual “starting points”

C. Collaboration with his wife

III. Survey of his designs

A. Original projects

B. Renovations/Interiors

C. Furniture

D. Paintings

IV. Later life and legacy

A. His influence on later architects


V. Conclusions

Sources Found (so far)___________

Mackintosh Architecture: The Complete Buildings and Selected Projects, Edited by Jackie Cooper, published 1984 by Academy Editions, London/New York

Mackintosh’s Masterwork: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow School of Art, William Buchanan et al., published 1989 by Chronicle Books, San Francisco

Architectural Sketches and Flower Drawings by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Roger Bilcliffe, published 1977 by Rizzoli, New York

I have ordered three more books on Mackintosh…they are:

Charles Rennie Mackintosh by Alan Crawford

Art Nouveau: From Mackintosh to Liberty by Victor Arwas

Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Architectural Papers by C.R. Mackintosh

Thursday, August 25, 2005

More pics from summer in the booming metropolis of Valdosta

In addition to working like a madman at IPG Architects, Inc. this summer, I also did some blacksmithing. The main project that I worked on was a fireplace set as a piece for the furniture class at SPSU. I guess I pioneered the "south campus" of SPSU, since I did all of my metalwork down in Valdosta. Why do I have an interest in blacksmithing? 1) It's something that my dad and I can both get into and enjoy, 2) It gives me an excuse to hit things. (Stress relief is a good thing, no?)

Below: Me at the forge, drawing out some bar stock.

Below: Overall shot of the finished set.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Cumberland Island

One of my summer trips included a visit to Cumberland Island, near St. Marys, GA. There's a ruin of an old "summer cottage" that is still pretty impressive, even in its advanced state of decay. I'd recommend taking a day trip to the island with either St. Marys, GA or Fernandina Beach, FL as a starting point. The beach on the ocean side of the island is pristine, and the trails that wind under the canopy of the maritime forest are great. The island also has wild horses, which are a holdover from the plantations and summer retreats that used to exist there. Below are some pictures I took while I was there.

Above: The approach path to the Dungeness ruin

Below: Evidence of the horses

Monday, August 22, 2005

Test Post

Testing, testing...1...2...3...