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By Michael Webb

Michael Webb, one of the six members of 1960s collective Archigram, tells the story behind the group behind the visionary designs for Walking City, Plug-in City and a floating city hung from hydrogen balloons built from pins and Evo-stick in Webb's north London garden.

DVD / 2012

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Directed by Anne Makepeace

Architect I.M. Pei returns to his home city of Suzhou, China to build a modern museum that complements the architecture of the 2,500 year-old city and sets a course for modern Chinese architecture.

I.M. Pei has been called the most important living modern architect, defining the landscapes of some of the world's greatest cities. A monumental figure in his field and a laureate of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, Pei is the senior statesman of modernism and last surviving link to such great early architects as Le Corbusier, Gropius, and Mies van der Rohe.

Entering into the twilight of his career and well into his eighties when the project began, Pei returns to his ancestral home of Suzhou, China to work on his most personal project to date. He is commissioned to build a modern museum in the city's oldest neighborhood which is populated by classical structures from the Ming and Qing dynasties. For the architect who placed the pyramid at the Louvre, the test to integrate the new with the old is familiar but still difficult. The enormous task is to help advance China architecturally without compromising its heritage. In the end, what began as his greatest challenge and a labor of sentiment, says Pei, ultimately becomes "my biography."

  • "A moving and intimate portrayal of I.M. Pei's lifelong quest to define modern architecture that is true to its cultural roots. Building China Modern follows I.M. Pei's eight year journey and his challenges to define Chinese modern architecture in the Suzhou Museum--to make it, in his Chinese words, 'Su he xin,' meaning 'Suzhou yet new.'" - Shirley Young, Governor and founding member, Committee of 100

  • "Striving to balance architectural advancement with respect for the grandeur of China's heritage, Pei works on his most challenging--and most personal--task yet...Highly recommended." - The Midwest Book Review

  • "Its real subject is the rapid change sweeping China and the tensions between modernity concomitant with change...The filmmakers could not have found a better subject than Pei through which to tell this story of how one reconciles such tensions...[The film is] a loving tribute to a second-generation modernist." - Sharon McHugh, World Architecture News

  • CINE Golden Eagle Award

    DVD / 2010 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 53 minutes

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    Producer & Director: Edgar B. Howard Director & Editor: Tom Piper

    Vincent Scully is probably the best-known living art historian in the United States today. Until recently he was still teaching at his alma mater, Yale University, where a wide variety of students were drawn to his undergraduate history of art and architecture courses. For years, Scully's deep engagement with the subject and his passionate presentation style have inspired his students to value these subjects. Many of them have gone on to become prominent architects, historians, or clients of architecture. In his lectures and his more than 20 books on architecture, Scully's insights are eye-opening and have championed the work of such modern architects as Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Kahn, Robert Venturi, and Aldo Rossi. He has focused on topics ranging from the American Shingle Style of the late 19th Century, which he identified and named, to a reassessment of Greek temples and their response to the surrounding landscape. The breadth and depth of his knowledge, which includes a close familiarity with literature as well as with the visual arts, lends a special richness to his historical interpretations.

    This film explores the phenomenon of Scully, tracing his connection to New Haven, where he was born, and to Yale from the time he entered as a freshman in 1936 to the present. It follows the arc of his interests in classical art and architecture to American architecture, historic preservation, and urban design in the 20th Century. A number of architects and former students contribute to this dialogue, including David Childs, Andres Duany, Peter Eisenman, Paul Goldberger, John Hale, David McCullough, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Robert A.M. Stern, and Robert Venturi.

    DVD (Color) / 2010 / 56 minutes

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    Experience the birth of the "Bird's Nest," Beijing's iconic National Stadium which played host to the 2008 Summer Olympics. Swedish designer, Thomas Herzog, conceptualized this marvel, which is not only functional, but architectural and cultural. Explore the creation of this magnificent structure from the beginning stages through the construction and completion. You'll hear from the designers, architects and welders who each played a part. The Bird's Nest stands apart from any other stadium as a one of a kind structure unique in its design and social significance. Like humans, buildings have life. The Bird's Nest will forever be a piece of Beijing's history and Chinese culture

    DVD / 2009 / (Senior High - College) / 51 minutes

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    NORMAN FOSTER (1935- )

    Norman Foster is England's leading architect and is a Gold Medallist in Britain, France and USA. The buildings in this image set are: Sainsbury centre, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK; Renault Building, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK; Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, Hong Kong; Stansted Airport, Hertfordshire, UK; Cranfield Institute of Technology Library, Bedfordshire, UK.

    DVD-ROM (68 images) / 2008

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    IEOH MING PEI (1917- )

    I.M. Pei's firm has designed some 60 major buildings, mostly in America but also in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tehran and, most recently, in Paris where his glass pyramid new entrance to the Louvre was the subject of heated debate before the Parisians settled down to loving it. Though aware of contemporary architectural styles he demonstrates a greater concern for a rational and structural architectural approach.

    DVD-ROM (110 images) / 2006

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    By Daniel Libeskind, Toyo Ito and Oscar Niemeyer

    Since the year 2000 the Serpentine Gallery in London's Hyde Park has commissioned internationally famous architects to design a series of temporary pavilions. These were installed for three summer months on the lawn fronting the Gallery and housed a cafe and a series of debates on urban design. At the close of the season the structures were sold off. The first pavilion was by Zaha Hadid (not featured here), followed by DANIEL LIBESKIND, 2001: 'Eighteen Turns' pavilion; TOYO ITO, 2002 and OSCAR NIEMEYER, 2003.

    DVD-ROM (35 images) / 2006

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    Although they may not look exactly like their counterparts in China, North America's Chinese Buddhist temples are closely linked to them through symbolism and traditions that go back more than 1,500 years. This video looks at structural symmetry, north/south building orientation, and interior layout; architectural elements like pagodas, columns, and courtyards; the lotus flower as a design element; and the statues of Buddha and the temple guardians. Buddhism's origin in India, the Siddhartha/Buddha story, and aspects of Buddhist worship are introduced as well.

    Note: Only available in the US and Canada.

    DVD / 2005 / 25 minutes

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    Producer: Edgar B. Howard Director: Murray Grigor
    Editor: Tom Piper
    Camera: David W. Leitner & Tom Piper
    Music: Students of the Juilliard School

    All great art engages in a dialogue with the past. Architecture is no exception, as this film shows in its examination of the legacy of Sir John Soane (1753-1837), an English architect of rare genius whose influence on a generation of America's foremost architects is profound. Among them, Henry Cobb, Michael Graves, Philip Johnson, Richard Meier, Robert Stern, Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi, all acknowledge their debt to Soane and his idiosyncratic reinterpretations of the architecture of antiquity.

    This film investigates both the influence of antiquity on Soane, following in his Grand Tour footsteps through Rome and Sicily, as well as the ways his stripped-down classical style helped guide the American architects out of the strictures of Modernism. Exquisite footage of Soane's masterpieces, including his residence museum in London and the Dulwich Picture Gallery, is intercut with detailed views of works by the Americans, including Philip Johnson's Guest House, Richard Meier's Getty Museum, Michael Graves' own residence and Newark Museum renovation, Henry Cobb's Payson Building of the Portland Museum of Art and the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London, designed by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. Through interviews and guided tours, these architects, along with architectural historians, Charles Jencks and Christopher Woodward, offer unique insight into the ways in which their works refract the genius of Soane.

    DVD (Color) / 2005 / 62 minutes

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    Architecture is usually a function of the raw materials available, geology and social standards. Architcture and design have undergone many changes in China, but have always been categorized into four classes: palaces, temples, residential houses and pavilions. This program covers the 7000 year evolution and variances of Chinese archetecture throughout time, place and function.

    DVD / 2002 / (Senior High, College) / 26 minutes

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    Modern museums are nearly as artistic as the art that they house. In part one of this program, correspondent Jeffrey Kaye discusses the Getty Center's design with architect Richard Meier, architecture critic Leon Whiteson, and Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight. In addition, Kaye examines the Center's manuscript and photograph collections, educational outreach program, and role in worldwide art preservation. In part two, journalist Elizabeth Farnsworth talks with Frank Gehry about the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao's remarkably innovative design. Gehry's efforts to reconcile the museum with the striking local topography and heritage led to the creation of a titanium -clad, ship -like gallery combined with a "village of shapes." Critics are unified in their praise, calling the museum an architectural miracle of major significance.

  • Recommended by MC Journal: The Journal of Academic Media Librarianship.

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    DVD / 1997 / 29 minutes

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    MIES VAN DER ROHE (1886-1969)

    Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is recognised as one of the four founding masters of twentieth century architecture - the other three being Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto (See image sets WPA, WQG and WPR respectively). Mies' great contribution to architecture was celebrated in 1999 by exhibitions at the Vitra Museum in Weil-am-Rhein, Germany and at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow; and in 2000, at both the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Canadian Institute of Architecture in Montreal.

    DVD-ROM (85 images) / 1997

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    By Richard Murphy

    Richard Murphy is one of the outstanding young architects currently practising in Scotland. English-born, he did his architectural training in the universities of Newcastle and Edinburgh and, except for a year in London with Richard MacCormac, he has spent most of his working life in Edinburgh. After setting up and running a Scottish office for Alsop & Lyall, he started his own practice in 1992 on the strength of a competition win. During a period of teaching at Edinburgh he was doing research on Carlo Scarpa's work in Castel Vecchio, Verona, and Querini Stampalia. Venice, about both of which he has written books, curated exhibitions, collaborated on a fiim, and become a recognised Scarpa expert. In 1996 his firm won a competition for Dundee Art Gallery and they have recently completed houses in Eire and Holland. But before that, most of their work was to existing buildings in Edinburgh which he describes in his recorded talk. There are recurring themes in their work: transforming the skin or the internal elements of a building, using sliding panels or screens to open or close in summer or winter, and contriving to bring light into the centre. To express or over-express the making of a building or its elements, they believe gives architecture its potential richness.

    DVD / 1997

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    Producer & Director: Barbara Wolf

    "My place in New Canaan isíKa diary of an eccentric architect." Thus begins a fascinating look into the mind of one of our most creative and significant architects. Philip Johnson has always been on the forefront of stylistic change, and his property in New Canaan, Connecticut, is a kind of laboratory where Johnson is his own best client. It was there that he built his famous "Glass House" he still resides in. This building has no walls; (the landscape became "expensive wallpaper") an accompanying guest house, by contrast, has no windows, though it is light and sensuous inside. We visit these, as well as the gallery which houses Johnson's extensive collection of contemporary art on its revolving walls.

    "My latest folly," says Johnson, "is to build buildings without straight linesíKIt's the first time I've had a building I can't draw and have to design partially as it goes up." This new structure is at the core of the DVD, and we get to see the sculptural building from its initial stages to completion. The DVD depicts Johnson at work and the importance of the architectural act, the actual construction, and how the buildings interact with their environment, in this case the autumn leaves or snow of New Canaan.

    DVD (Color) / 1996 / 56 minutes

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    Airports are often the first and last impression of a region. Airport terminal design has been badly neglected, yet the new generation of airports announce a revolution in design and comfort for air travelers. Many Australian airports have benefited from the sympathetic developments of structures which take into account such factors as climate and regional styles. Imaginative materials and aerodynamic forms produce new possibilities for air travelers.

    DVD / 1995 / (Senior High, College) / 30 minutes

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    One of the most pre-eminent architects of the 20th Century, Sir Norman Foster is the global traveler with the great idea. He displays great design virtuosity on landmark structures such as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank and Barcelona Tower. Sir Norman discusses the central issues of good design and building and, in the process, reflects on the range of his work. He discusses architecture past and present and provides a stunning glimpse of the future

    DVD / 1995 / (Senior High, College) / 30 minutes

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    Along with his former partner Sir Norman Foster, Sir Richard Rogers is one of British architecture's most influential practitioners. His work on the Pompidou Centre, Paris and Lloyd Insurance, London confirm an architect of spectacular vision. Sir Richard shares his personal views about the importance of architecture in civic planning, his own difficult ascent in architecture and an insight into a number of his more interesting projects and experiences.

    DVD / 1995 / (Senior High, College) / 30 minutes

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    Looks at five important steel framed houses. This program includes interviews with the architects and footage of interior and exteriors. This program examines innovation in house design using prefabrication and the Modernist approach of minimal structure for maximum effect. These five houses display structural elegance and innovation with minimal impact on the natural environment

    DVD / 1995 / (Senior High, College) / 30 minutes

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    By Philip Cox

    The architect Philip Cox was born in 1939 and studied at Sydney University. Having started his own practice in 1967, the firm is now one of the biggest and best in Australia, with 10 partners and offices throughout the country. Cox grew up at a time when there was a swing away from European influence, a return to nationalism and a seeking of Australian identity, and this has remained his aim. As he says in his recorded talk, "We're trying to develop an architecture which is distinctively Australian, responding to the landscape, to the country's past, and to the various attitudes of what Australians thought", and to produce an architecture "that is different from elsewhere". His was one of the first practices in Australia to recognise their Aboriginal heritage,as well as the importance of the vernacular. Being commissioned to design the Yulara tourist resort at Ayers Rock was his first real test in determining an Australian identity. More difficult in these terms were the many sports centres he has undertaken. But here he says that they fitted not only the aesthetic and cultural side but also the economical and political sides of the equation. The centres in Sydney and Perth which he illustrates, exploring the minimalist use of steel, are beautiful examples. With public housing he always delights in finding solutions which give a better life to people, providing them with identity, self-esteem, privacy and some sort of expression of the human spirit. As well as endeavouring in his work to do something "perhaps more socially responsible and inspirational" and to continue an expression of structural exploration and elegance, the uppermost issue for Cox is to represent Australia in its minimal cultural sense, its response to Nature being the most important thing.

    DVD / 1995

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    Producer: Alice Shure Director: Murray Grigor

    Ever since Charles Gwathmey built his parents' home in 1967 out of theories of Le Corbusier and American individualism, he has held true to the spirit of modernism in his architecture. Avoiding the nostalgia of fashionable postmodernism throughout the eighties, Gwathmey and his partner Robert Siegel continue to create innovative houses, corporate, institutional and university buildings across America.

    This documentary ranges from the deMenil villa on the dunes of Easthampton to their Guggenheim Museum addition. We hear from such leading architects as Philip Johnson and Peter Eisenman, and from film maker Steven Spielberg, who describes how a journey through a Gwathmey Siegel house creates the same sense of drama as a well-made movie.

    DVD (Color) / 1995 / 45 minutes

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    This two part program follows the six steps used by an architect in building design. At each stage the various graphic communication techniques involved are examined. These include:
  • client discussion
  • concept stage
  • sketch plan
  • working documentation
  • developed design
  • contract administration

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    DVD / 1994 / 25 minutes

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    Producer: Edgar B. Howard Director: Tom Piper

    Generally acknowledged as one of the most artistically-minded architects practicing today, Steven Holl has just completed a museum considered the apex of his 33-year career -- the Bloch Building for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Here Holl designed a linear series of subterranean galleries from which luminous, sculptural shards of channel glass, which he calls "lenses," emerge from the earth along the eastern edge of the original, 1933 Beaux-Arts museum. In this enlightening visit, Holl takes us through the galleries where contemporary art is displayed beneath curving vaults admitting daylight, a tour effectively demonstrating the convergence of space, time, and architecture.

    DVD (Color) / 31 minutes

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    Producer: Edgar B. Howard Director: Muffie Dunn

    Architect Daniel Libeskind first gained world-wide attention when his haunting, zig-zag-shaped Jewish Museum opened in Berlin in 1999. After his dramatic urban design plan for Ground Zero was selected by city and state officials in 2002, Libeskind became a household name in America. Now with his first work of architecture to be realized in the U.S., an addition to the Denver Art Museum, the American public has a chance to examine his unconventional talents. In this filmed tour of the Denver Art Museum's Hamilton Building, Libeskind explains his unusual, titanium-clad, shard-like building. The dazzling geometry we see on the exterior is reflected inside to provide spectacular spaces and arresting angles for viewing contemporary art. The sculptural building of fractured planes insouciantly claims its status as a major landmark in American museum architecture.

    DVD (Color) / 30 minutes

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    Producer: Edgar B. Howard Directors: Tom Piper, Charles Gansa

    The Pritzker-prize winning architect Thom Mayne has been identified with muscular, bold, steel-and-glass design since founding his firm, Morphosis, in 1971. With the Federal Office Building in San Francisco, Mayne proves that innovative and sustainable architecture can be introduced successfully into a building type once considered predictable and boring. In this tour of the dramatic high-rise building, Mayne takes us through the many awe-inspiring spaces, including the main lobby, upper-level offices, and an elevated outdoor bridge. During the compelling visit, the architect's engaging remarks about various green features also provides added insight into the building's inner workings.

    DVD (Color) / 30 minutes

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    Producer: Edgar B. Howard Director: Muffie Dunn

    Architect Yoshio Taniguchi, revered in his native country of Japan for the design of consummately minimal museums, won the much-coveted commission to expand and renovate the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1997. Opened in 2004, the serenely elegant complex of taut, smooth glass, aluminum, and granite planes plays off the International Style vocabulary of the original museum building, designed in 1939 by Philip Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone, In this tour, Taniguchi guides us through the museum, discussing his thinking behind the design of the six levels of galleries for the much-heralded collection of late-19th to early 21st-century art. The tour also takes us up and around the dramatic, 110-foot-high atrium, through the famous sculpture garden designed by Philip Johnson and landscape architect James Fanning in 1953, ending in the new education and research center that Taniguchi completed at the garden's East end in 2006.

    DVD (Color) / 30 minutes

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