Nathaniel Brooks

Author Archive

Byzantine Church Design Salon

In Judson University - Traditional Architecture & Urbanism on December 3, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Monday, December 6

1:00-5:00 pm

Harm A Weber Academic Center, second floor

Judson University

Featuring projects by: Molly Copeland, Drew Gander, Stephen Howard, Hilary Jackson, Loren Johnson, Wyatt Johnson, Richard Nichols, Michael Rabe, and Justin Spackman

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Firm Spotlight: Peter Pennoyer Architects

In Uncategorized on December 3, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Peter Pennoyer Architects is a Manhattan-based architecture firm whose defining contours are three-fold: institutional, commercial, and primarily residential.

The strength of Peter Pennoyer Architects – what might perhaps more accurately be described as the firm’s energy of spirit – has been in the practice of classical design. A historicist by both instinct and by training, Peter Pennoyer has aspired to be as fluent in classicism as if it were a still-living language.

To that end, he immersed himself in the work of past masters – most discrenibly that agreeable breed of gentleman-architects who graced the profession in the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, setting a standard of nonpareil elegance in the manipulation of traditional forms. Among Pennoyer’s unabashed admirations are Sir John Soane (for his inspired use of domes, arches, lanterns, and wells within skylights); Benjamin Henry Latrobe (for the urbane concinnity of his buildings modeled on Greek architecture); Edwin Lutyens (for his coercive “freestyle” classicism); Mott Schmidt (for houses that, subtly distilled, keep the quiddity and quality of great Georgian architecture); Charles A. Platt; Harrie T. Lindeberg; F. Burrall Hoffman, Jr., and William Adams Delano.

“We don’t practice architecture by the book,” Pennoyer states. “We know the book. We know, say, moldings and cornices so well that we can hold the pattern-book stage, which is what frees us to be imaginative in our responses.” It is – it goes without saying – imagination judiciously exercised, remaining safely within the historical context. The aim is for details to be always correct, without ever seeming labored or pedantic. The past is seen as something to be firmly grounded in, something to be mined – but not to be reconstructed; let it serve rather as a point of departure from which each new project can be unshackled to “take off.” It is in the very expressiveness of that vitalizing flight that the firm’s work seeks to be measured.

“It’s classicism with a twist,” says Pennoyer. “We never repeat any design or even any aspect of a design. Our client can count on his house being singular in its outward guise.” Nor is the texture of actual living stinted. “We plan houses to fit exactly what the client wants, concentrating on the relationship of rooms, their rhythm and balance, and the variety of spaces for comfort and flow.” Each building that the firm sets its hand to should ideally embody the basic principles of the profession – beauty, utility, and fitness – that the Roman writer and architect Vitruvius, ever succinctly accurate, laid down in the first century B.C.”

Peter Pennoyer Architects

Images by Scott Frances and Peter Pennoyer Architects

Byzantine Church Design Critique II

In Judson University - Traditional Architecture & Urbanism on November 21, 2010 at 10:40 pm

More images of work in progress. Salon Presentation of final presentations December 6, 1-5 pm. Invitations forthcoming…

Firm Spotlight: Ferguson & Shamamian Architects

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Ferguson & Shamamian Architects, LLP is widely recognized for residential design in traditional styles, particularly those with classical origins. Since its founding in 1988, the firm’s core practice has been the design of custom residences, including city apartments, suburban houses and country estates. Now a fifty-five person firm, Ferguson & Shamamian has built an extensive body of work with projects across the country.

“The partners, Mark Ferguson and Oscar Shamamian, built their firm on a shared enthusiasm for traditional architecture and a desire to achieve a creative synthesis of historical style, regional character, and personal taste with every project. They interpret individual project needs with a strong commitment to artistic integrity, a passion for detail, the use of fine materials, and exceptional workmanship. Their holistic vision of design has led to exceptional collaborations with a number of the country’s top decorators, landscape architects, artisans and builders, for which the firm is highly regarded in the industry.

“The diversity of location, character and scale of projects in the firm’s portfolio reflects its wide geographical reach and effectiveness in varying contexts. This is made possible by the partners’ informed and creative use of traditional forms to address unique site conditions and accommodate contemporary needs.

“Ferguson & Shamamian Architects has been widely published in books and magazines including Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, Interior Design, House Beautiful, House & Garden and Town & Country. The firm has also received numerous awards and was honored with the prestigious 2003 Arthur Ross Award for Architecture from the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America, the 2008 Palladio Award for Residential Sympathetic Addition, and the 2010 Palladio Award for Residential New Design & Construction (more than 5,000 sq. ft.). Most recently, Ferguson & Shamamian has been named to the 2010 AD100, Architectural Digest’s list of the top 100 architects and designers.”

Ferguson & Shamamian Architects, LLP

Byzantine Church Design Critique I

In Judson University - Traditional Architecture & Urbanism, Uncategorized on October 20, 2010 at 7:00 am

St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in Elgin, Illinois recently asked for Judson University’s help in exploring possibilities for improving their campus. Following an extensive survey of the parish a new long-range planning study was completed, which the student designers in Judson’s fourth-year TAU studio are using as the basis for their design research. In addition to a variety of functional improvements, parishioners were clear in their desire for a beautiful temple reflecting the Byzantine heritage of the Orthodox faith that would signify the vibrant faith of their community and become a legacy for the church. Students have been working with the parish priest and various committees, and recently presented schematic concepts for review. Jurors included representatives from the parish committees,   Judson architecture professors Dr. Jhennifer Amundson, Dr. Christopher Miller, and Nathaniel Brooks, as well as TAU studio fellow and Judson graduate student Brian Mork.

Traditional Design Tour

In Judson University - Traditional Architecture & Urbanism, Uncategorized on October 18, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Students and friends of Judson’s Traditional Architecture & Urbanism concentration recently visited the exquisite Arts & Crafts collections at nearby Crab Tree Farm in Lake Bluff, Illinois. The farm was designed by prominent Chicago architect Solon Spencer Beman, designer of (among other commissions), the Pullman industrial village on Chicago’s south side. A complete history is available on the farm’s website here. A number of the original farm buildings have been renovated to house what’s possibly the world’s best collection of Arts & Crafts furnishings, art, sculpture, and functional objects by Gustav Stickley. Students were treated to a special tour of Mike Jarvi‘s woodshop, housed in a portion of the original barn, and to a tour of the contemporary guest house also located on the grounds. Following the tour, Professor Brooks led an informal tour of nearby Market Square in Lake Forest. Stay tuned for the next TAUtour.

Architecture in Motion

In Judson University - Traditional Architecture & Urbanism, Uncategorized on October 7, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Architecture is typically considered to be among the most static of the arts. Buildings are experienced as we move around, past, over, and through them. In contrast, contemporary society is often described as fluid and highly mobile. The third-year Traditional Architecture & Urbanism Design Studio began with a short, 1 week project challenging these norms to create architecture in motion.

The Republic of India is the second-most populous country in the world with a estimated population of 1,700,000,000. Half of children in India are underweight, and only one in three Indians has access to improved sanitation facilities such as toilets. Despite having a number of excellent medical facilities, India’s health infrastructure has not kept pace with a growing population and increased development.

In response to an urgent need for care within and between India’s megacities, the studio proposed a modular mobile clinic for malnourished children for use on the nation’s railways. The clinic needs to contain a waiting area, at least one small private examination room, a pharmacy, a lab, and possibly a simple surgery (a clean, well lit area with a comfortable operating table).

In addition to creatively solving the programmatic challenges of a mobile clinic fitting within a standard Indian railcar, the most successful designs utilize classical design principles, tuned regionally, to create a beautiful architectural device worthy of its mission.

1000 Years From Now

In Judson University - Traditional Architecture & Urbanism on September 29, 2010 at 5:59 pm

What will our towns look like? What will the transportation systems be? How will the existing infrastructure be incorporated or abandoned in the post-petroleum landscape? Where will our building materials, food, and other commodities come from, and how will they get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’?The fourth-year Traditional Architecture and Urbanism design studio is currently investigating possible answers to these questions as they propose brownfield town developments to replace suburban sprawl in Chicago’s northwest suburbs.

A sketch concept for an agrarian community by Molly Copeland, Hilary Jackson, and Wyatt Johnson

An Agrarian City

A sketch concept for urbanizing existing suburban sprawl by Loren Johnson, Richard Nichols, and Justin Spackman

Self-sufficient mixed-use community

A sketch concept for a new pair of cities reconnecting the community to a nearby river by Andrew Gander, Stephen Howard, and Michael Rabe

Studio Tour: New Gracanica Orthodox Monastery

In Judson University - Traditional Architecture & Urbanism, Uncategorized on September 22, 2010 at 9:03 pm

The Church

In 1984, New Gracanica Church and the main building on the ground, dedicated to the feast of the “Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God”, were completed and consecrated. It is an impressive architectural replica of the old Gracanica of Kosovo, but eighteen percent larger than the one built in 1321 in Serbia. The original Gracanica was commissioned by King Milutin and built in 1321 by three brothers – Djordje, Dobroslav and Nicholas. Architecturally, Gracanica is the supreme achievement and is designed in the Kosmet style. This style was a development of the Macedonian style or cross-in-square. The one difference is that in the Kosmet style, on each corner is a supplementary dome, while in the center is the main dome. New Gracanica is richly attired with detail such as hand-carved wooden entrance doors, which depict twenty-three monasteries and churches from various regions of Serbia, uniting them in image as they are in the hearts and minds of the Serbian people. Domes with crosses, pillars and unique brickwork add to the grandeur of the original Gracanica.
Interior

The interior of the church with its carved wooden furnishings, ornate gold and crystal chandeliers, imposing icons and award-winning terrazzo floor create an aura of beauty and serenity. It fulfills the desire of the Orthodox Church to touch the senses, thereby touching the soul. The physical beauty of the church is reflective of the love and commitment the Serbians have for their faith, but the furnishings of the church also serve as symbols of the intrinsic ideas of the religion. Every element from the use of candles to the placement of saints on the iconostas in the church has a significance in the Serbian Orthodox religion.

The Frescoes

In 1995, the fresco project began. Fr. Theodore Jurewicz was commissioned to paint the entire church. The project took three years. Fr. Theodore, one of the most profound and celebrated iconographers in America today, came in stretches of three weeks to a month to do the work. The style is Byzantine and the richly colored designs and religious scenes that cover the walls, vaults, pillars and dome of the church are imbued with bright colors. This is its most distinctive feature. When one walks in, the church reflects brightness, hope, beauty, optimism, life. Described as religiously significant scenes and symbols, icons are painted on wood boards (the typical icon), done as mosaics (in stone, marble or tile) or painted as the frescoes that frequently cover the plastered surfaces of early Orthodox Christian churches. The frescoes painted by Fr. Theodore and other contemporary iconographers are done in acrylics on dry plaster. Formerly they were painted on wet concrete. Fr. Thomas Kazich said, “The frescoes make people feel like the people represented by the images are present. It is also a way to pass down events through the centuries so that even people who are illiterate or don’t read the Bible can visualize and understand what the priest is talking about. In the Orthodox Church we have not just an oral tradition, but also a visual tradition. Iconography represents that visual tradition. Icons are often referred to as ‘the gospel in colors’.” Icons are like windows to heaven. They are windows that take us to another kind of reality. We don’t pray to the images. We pray through them. Fr. Theodore was asked what it means to paint an icon. He said, “Painting an icon is like making a journey from darkness into light. In most paintings, the artist starts light and adds darker shades. In icons you go from dark to light. It is the Byzantine tradition of painting, although you can also think of it theologically as going from the darkness of ignorance to the light of enlightenment.” The frescoes were blessed in October of 1998 by His Holiness Patriarch PAVLE.

Text courtesy New Gracanica Monastery

Steve Mouzon visits Traditional Design Studio

In Judson University - Traditional Architecture & Urbanism on September 22, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Prominent architect and Original Green author Steve Mouzon was the guest critic for the Senior TAU studio’s Project for the Piazza della Rotonda. Mouzon applauded the forward-thinking of many of the projects inherent sustainability and adaptability. He was equally impressed with the level and quality of work produced in the compact two-week studio. Mouzon urged students to take advantage of the many tools and resources available to modern classical designers to ensure the appropriate and functional use of traditional elements and details. Mouzon lectured to a large crowd later in the day as the opening speaker in the 2010-2011 SoADA lecture series.