Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Architecture of Suspense

Sir Alfred Hitchcock
Hello Everyone:

Today, we have another Halloween-themed post, "The Architecture of Thrill: How Hitchcock Inspires Spatial Effects," by art theorist and historian Alfons Puigarnu and architect Ingacio Infiesta; translated by Matthew Valleta for the website arch The authors are professors at the School of Architecture at UIC Barcelona, Spain. They have been teaching an Ethics class, for the past several years that has analyzed the movies of The Master of Suspense Sir Alfred Hitchcock. The goal of the class is a deep analysis of Sir Hitchcock's movies in order to aid the students's of architectural concepts that incorporate suspense  Their approach: "space is thought of stenography, and visual strategy is analyzed in relation to the script and soundtrack with the intention of creating a deliberate atmosphere of suspense."  The camera lens, like the architect's writing tool, creates outlines.  In this way, the visuals take precedence over the dialogue. (Truffaut, 1974, 20 and 59) The professors have divided the course into two complementary sections: Prof. Puigarnu lectures on design strategies through formal analysis of the elements used by the late director. Prof. Infiesta teaches the portion of the course based on graphic represntations that encompass the concept of suspense in architecture.  

Architecture and Suspense: An Added Emotion for Designing

One of the most important elements that cinema contributes to architecture is "Leaving the space in suspense."  This has the ability to contribute the image of "intensely emotional spaces."  Sir Hitchcock designs architectural in a similar manner as a model, where the emotional content of a movie and the choreography of the movements are presented. (Jacobs, 2013, 10-15). Suspense is a potent tool for keeping the audience's attention. (Truffaut, 66) Like any good architectural design, Sir Hitchcock's movies have to develop a single concept that fully manifests itself dramatic climax of the film.  (Ibid)

Sir Alfred Hitchcock once told French director Francois Truffaut, don't confuse suspense with surprise. Emotions are the crucial ingredients for creating suspense. Indeed they are and part of creating that emotion is understanding the spatial layout, knowing that at the terminus is the surprise.  In other words, for suspense to be geniune, there has to be a component that makes the whole action tense, "...that makes the ending of this experience over this space unexpected.  Suspense provides he perfect atmosphere for surprise."

1. PSYCHO: Blinds as an Element of Suspense

Norman Bates peeking at Marion Crane
Psycho (1960), one of the most suspenseful and best movies ever made.  What makes this movie standout from others that came before and those that have come since then is the voyeuristic element of it, to see without being seen.  Think of the scene early on in the movie where Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) is watching Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) through a wall separating his office and the bathroom that would become the setting for the most famous shower scene.  Norman dominates his subject without Marion being aware.  He studies her like a scientist studies his test subjects, carefully observing her behavior and actions before making his move.  The voyeuristic element is enhanced architecturally in the way the Victorian Bates house looms over the tiny motel, as if it is cooly studying motel.  

Here, the blinds are the mediating space.  "A place of suspense, they're ways situated in the border between two halves: interior-exterior."  Like vivisected animals, the blinds are living skin.  The authors are keen to note that the Bernard Hermann soundtrack, which only uses string instrument, allows to think that we are creating suspense with sound.

2. THE ROPE; Design as Crime

Scene from The Rope (1948)
The professors write, "Crime as the purest form of art."  This rather ominous quote is taken from the 1948 Hitchcock movie The Rope when the characters Brandon and Philip lay out plans to murder another character named David.  The methodical planning and preparation of the deed allow us to map out the architectural spaces with meticulousness.  The professors add, "Crime has the ability to speed up spaces, dramatically looking for an ending."

The Rope was the first Hitchcock movie filmed in Technicolor-the "chromatic emulsion at first accentuates the pastel tones and absorbs cold colors, along the same lines as the nuances sought by the director."  The story unfolds in real time.  The primary strategy for developing the action was to edited it as if it were a single take.  The professor write, "The unity between time and space is absolute.  Everything that happens in space corresponds to time, as we can see in the change in light of the diorama that shows New York City."  The professor make the analogy of the Greek tragedy, Aristotle's Poetics: "anticlimax-beginning of action-climax."

3. VERTIGO; Design as Transition

Scene from Vertigo (1958)
 The Moebius strip is a leitmotif of the 1958 classic Vertigo.  This recurring theme shows up at different points in the movie: a bouquet of flowers, a ring of sequoia trees, a full circle dolly zoom on kiss, a tight shot of Kim Novak and Carlota Valdes's buns.  The Moebius strip symbolizes the infinite loop, mostly, the ability to move across the same surface without change of planes.  This is how Kim Novak's character seamlessly moves from the dual role of Madeleine and Judy Barton.

The professors cite one of Vertigo's best known scenes, which takes place in the bell tower of Mission San Juan Bautista.  In this scene, James Stewart's character, Scottie, follows Kim Novak's Madeleine into the bell tower.  Here, the director plays with the zoom lens, which the authors write is, "...a metaphor between the world of the living and the world of the dead."  In architectural terms, types of transition are a result of "...previously fixed objects and the practical necessity that the physical construction of the building imposes."  One example, is the square-shaped walkway of the transept floor in a church or the polygon circle that comes out of a dome.  Here, the fascination is of space transitioning from one form to another.

4. REAR WINDOW: Design as a Look

James Stewart in Rear Window (1954)
James Stewart is a voyeur of more benign sort in the 1954 gem Rear Window.  In Rear Window, the tension is the result of watching and the watched-across the courtyard of an apartment.  Here, Sir Hitchcock places emphasis on the optical objects through the theme of looking.  The professors write, "Architecture as just a look may reach its greatest expression in a set of sections.  It is precisely in the section what is happening with a design is discovered, just like how they discover the murderer in the Rear Window."

Sir Alfred Hitchcock was very best editor of subjectivity.   The professors continue, "The ability to influence sight in future spaces, manipulating users without being seen, is also had by the architect when he is seen submerged in the process of project or pre-project design."  Rear Window affords a metropolitan view.  Further, it is in that urban space that crime can be thought of as a work of art.  In typical city life, anything is possible.  A section through a metropolitan environment also demonstrates the contradiction between "the impossibility of being alone and the obligatory loneliness of anonymity."

5. STRANGERS ON A TRAIN: Design as Editing

Scene from Strangers on a Train (1950)
Image courtesy of Ethics Course, School of Architecture (UIC)

Strangers On A Train (1950), one of the few Hitchcock films that belongs squarely in the film noir genre.  The movie is shot in stunning black and white, chiaroscuro that could make a Baroque master envious from the way light and shadow are contrasted.  Based on the Patricia Highsmith novel of the same name, the story, unlike The Rope, is composed of fragments.  The editor's task is uniting the different takes without relinquishing the whole composition.

The professors ask, "Is it possible to obtain suspense just through editing?"  The answer is yes and the Master of Suspense shows how in the very first scene of the movie.  The camera is placed at ground level to show us the opposing movements of two men boarding the train.  It is only when the feet accidentally cross each other does the camera pan vertically, finally revealing the actors's faces.  The professors cite the architecture of Enric Miralles as an example of work based on fragments, on notes, lines that appear to weave in and out uniting the work.  They continue, "The fragment always gives the possibility of exploring the metric either of light or of its own material.  the project is understood to be a process, even an unfinished one."

6. STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (II): Design as a Magnetic Field

Scene from Strangers on a Train (1950)
Image courtesy of Ethics Course, School of Architecture (UIC)
There is another motif in Strangers On A Train is just as important: the magnetism of architecture and its correlation to suspense.  The movie was filmed in Washington D.C. a city of great monuments, plazas, and hubs.  The professors write, "It's revealing to observe how in the movie the confrontation between the two men (Guy and Bruno), is always obstructed by architecture."  The onus is on the monument to be the staging site and magnetic force that abets the suspense of the whole scene.  Here the architecture becomes a metaphor of Bruno's domination over guy.  Another leitmotif of Hitchcock movies is the curious relationship between the central and the periphery.  Specifically, the connection between large and small scale, "...where small objects take on different connotations after being immersed in a metropolitan context."

7. SHADOW OF A DOUBT; Design as Doubt

Scene from Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Design as doubt.  Shadow of a Doubt (1943) defined psychological thrillers.  The plot is primitive, a man running from the police, flees to a rural city-Santa Rosa, California-settling into a naive and unsophisticated place.  The man, Uncle Charlie, the said fugitive whose guilt is questioned in the murder of a "happy widow."  Uncle Charlie is not the only suspect, which adds more doubt.  Doubt is physically in the movie via the staircase, becomes one of the most meaningful parts of the movie.  "You can leave from whichever stairway, so any one of the suspects could be guilty."

The main staircase in Shadow of a Doubt highlights the violent interior space of the house.  It implies the difficulties of being in a dilemma: doubting two options.  Dilemma in architecture always illicit uncertainty, a possible design methodology.  This is a reasonable thought because modern architecture, in order to unchain itself from the load-bearing wall, puts itself in a state of continuous doubt.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Birthday On The Brain

Hello Everyone:

A better tech day today. I managed to get a post done with pictures. No going back and adding pictures later. The post was sustainable burial, perfect for Halloween.  Tomorrow, it's the architecture of suspense. I'll tell about it tomorrow. The Brit BF was being flirty yesterday. I think he really misses  me. Of course he does; I do also.

The last couple of days I've had my birthday on the brain. It's less than a month away and I'm dreading the annual argument about what I want do on the day. More accurately, what everyone else wants to do on my birthday. Whatever I have in mind is irrelevant because everyone does not want to do what I on my birthday. I thought is, "It's my birthday, I get to decide, everyone else has to be a goo sport and go along with it."  What I want to do is a birthday brunch. No big deal. Of course, that's not what's going to happen. Instead, it'll probably some lame dinner at some lame restaurant topped off with a stupid candle planted in my dessert.  I really wish mom and everyone else would just leave me alone and not bother. If they want to go out for some boring lame meal, fine, do it without me. I think this year I won't say anything, if asked, or bring up the subject. Let's see what someone comes up with, if anything.

Sustainable Burials

Oak Hill Cemetery
Washington D.C.
Hello Everyone:

It is that time of the year again when all the ghost and goblins come out for All Hallow's Eve or the Day of The Dead.  If the tech gremlins invading blogger's trusty laptop are any indication, Halloween seems to have gotten an early start.  Be that as it may, before yours truly gets going on today's topic, blogger just wants to thank you for your support.  Because of you, we reached over 50,000 page views.  As always, it because of you that yours truly does this.  Thank you for your geneoristy and support.

In this blog we talk about residential developments for the living and some the challenges that face those tasked with creating places to live that accommodate everyone's needs.  However, what about the dearly departed?  Surely they need a final resting place.  Kriston Capps recently reported in his CityLab article, "Developing the Cities of the Dead," that cemeteries are facing the same challenges as new housing tracts: in-fill development, historic preservation, and new construction.  It seems that the dead cannot even rest in peace.

Renwick Chapel at the Oak Hill Cemetery
 The Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington D.C, is one of the oldest landscapes in the United States.  This beautiful final resting place was founded in 1849 by philanthropist and art collector William Wilson Corcoran, who bequeathed the land to Congress together with legislation creating the Oak Hill Cemetery Company.  It is still an active cemetery to this very day.  This is hallowed ground for Washington D.C,  It is a storehouse of memories and the earthly remains of many famous and infamous D.C residents, among them the late Ben Bradlee, the long serving executive editor of The Washington Post.  The late Mr. Bradlee gained noteriaty for guid the newspaper when it published the scandalous Pentagon Papers and forced then-President Richard Nixon to resign.  Mr. Bradlee passed away a year ago, this month; his mausoleum is currently under construction at Oak Hill.

Ben Bradlee Mausoleum
Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington D.C,

As subtly elegant as the Bradlee mausoleum is, it is problematic for the cemetery.  The mausoleum occupies a featured place: it is the first major element that visitors see through the gatehouse.  Mr. Capps writes, "When it is completed, the Bradlee mausoleum will command one of the cemetery's most important landscape features, the Ellipse."  This new element joins the entrance ensemble, a group of components that includes the Gothic Revival Renwick Chapel, designed by American architect James Renwick in 1849.  Five years ago the cemetery board approved a new allee of mausoleums among the trees lining the northern border of the Ellipse.  The Bradlee mausoleum holds a place of great prominence among the proposed buildings-according board president George Hill , eight to ten along the tree line.  Mr. Capps continues, "It's a departure from the in-fill development that has happened in recent years.  And arguably, it's a disruption to an historic landscape."

Location and site plan for Oak Hill Cemetery
The Bradlee mausoleum is at the top of the Ellipse
George Hill told Mr. Capps,

My job is to make sure that Oak Hill is not just open next month or next year...If that means we need to develop the back of the Ellipse in as subtle a way as possible, I that's something we should do.

Oak Hill Cemetery is one of the United States's great "rural cemeteries" landscape-based burial ground, typical located just outside the city limits during the 19-century.  To clarify, today Oak Hill is located in Georgetown and is firmly within the D.C. city limits but this was not always true.  Other examples of rural cemeteries include: Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York; Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston, Massachusetts; Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois (not the Elvis Graceland), and Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Oak Hill Cemetery Gatehouse

What differentiates Oak Hills from its sister graveyards is the acreage.  Each of the above listed graveyards sits on at least 100 acres.  For example, Green-Wood Cemetery occupies 478 acres.  By comparison, Oak Hills takes up a paltry 22 acres.  Kriston Capps sums up the situation, "Its small size means that even little changes represent significant alterations to the original landscapes, to say nothing of large additions such as the Bradless mausoleum on the Ellipse."

Any changes at Oak Hill are more than cosmetic.  Like many graveyards, it holds many mysteries waiting to be solved.  Case in point, no one knows who designed it.  Mr. Capps postulates, "There's some evidence to suggest that it was Andrew Jackson Down, who (with Calvert Vaux) designed the funds for the White House and the Smithsonian Institution."  Another theory is Jacob Bigelow, the founder of Boston's Mount Auburn, might have designed the fence at Oak Hill.  Whatever concrete  information about the graveyard's history seem to be lost in the mists of history together with changes to its landscape.  Further, "And a cemetery cannot be in the business of losing sight of the past."

Interior of the Renwick Chapel
Oak Hill Cemetery
 Charles Birnbaum, president of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, told Mr. Capps,

Hypothetically, let's say that someone like Downing designed this...You're then inserting something where you've go the pedigree of Downing, Bigelow, and James Renwick.  But we don't know.

Regardless, this is quite an impressive pedigree.

The caretakers have made minimal changes to Oak Hill Cemetery.  One example, the board included double-deep coffin sites under the pathways.  The graveyard also has plot under steps and the cremated remains of the dearly departed are inside the steps.  That has blogger reeling from the possibility of walking on someone.  Mr. Capps reports, "The biggest addition over the last 30 years may be the columbarium, which includes some 400 niches for urns.  The board hasn't seriously added new mausoleums since the 1960s."

Kriston Capps continues, "If the landscape design was important to the way people understood the function and space of the cemetery in the 19th century, then it's worth preserving today."  However, there is not criteria for evaluating these merits.  David Jackson, the superintendent for Oak Hill told Mr. Capps, there isn't any formal approval or permitting process for building new mausoleums..  According to Thomas Luebke, the secretary for the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts, ...funerary elements would only fall under its jurisdiction if the D.C. government referrred a building permit to the commission.  Mr. Capps tried to get the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to comment on the story but they did not respond.

Renwick Chapel exterior
Oak Hill Cemetery
Preservation questions are also not within the purview of the Old Georgetown Board, the agency charged with the design review process for Old Georgetown.  Mr. Capps also tried to get Stephen Muse, an architect, member of the board, and designer of the Bradlee mausoleum to comment but Mr. Muse also did not respond.  Mr. Birnbaum said,

My hope is at the end of the day, at a minimum, now that we know this sort of thing is happening, that moving forward, there would be best practices at Oak Hill Cemetery...This would suggest undertaking a cultural landscape report.  This would suggest nominating the cemetery for the National Register of Historic Places-at a minimum.

Presently, only the Renwick Chapel is listed on the National Register.  Mr. Birnbaum continues,

I think [Oak Hill Cemetery] is one of the most historic designed landscapes in Washington.  This level of intervention is inappropriate.

Oak Hill Cemetery, 1919
According to George Hill,

...Oak Hill is only viable as working cemetery-which means building in the few places left.

There are about 20,000 souls resting peacefully at Oak Hill and not much room for any more.  The alternative is  Rock Creek Park but the sloped terraced landscape too steep and inaccessible for funerals.  Mr. Hill continues,

You can find very few cemeteries in this country that are thriving and financially viable...I think you can find a lot of cemeteries that are in desperate shape.

 Mr. Hill also told Mr. Capps, When there's nowhere left for the dead to be buried, Oak Hill Cemetery will become a museum.  It could be 10 years from now...or 75 years from now.

Regardless, solely relying on charity will support the cemetery when construction ceases.  For now, the Oak Hill Cemetery board will do whatever it can to preserve the melancholy character of the original 19th-century landscape.  George Hill shares a couple of silver linings,

I am absolutely sure that Oak Hill, its board, and its patrons are not ready for ghost tours and dog-walking...It's just not who we are.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tech Gremlins Be Gone

Hello Everyone:

Once again, I prevailed over the tech gremlins that continue to plague my laptop. The bottom line is I still need a new laptop. Great, except for the fact I can't afford one. The best I can maybe do is a keyboard cover for my iPad. The iPad is the worst device in the world. It's lighter to carry around and it works great.  It fits in nicely with new found liking to the whole digital work world. Anytime, anywhere. The iPad makes me more mobile because it's lighter to tote around, among other things.  So it works.  I probably should hit up the Geniuses to figure out how to make the most of it. I think I can do split screen, which would be really handy. What I would really like to do is figure out how to add pictures to my blog, using the iPad. What I want to be able to do is add pictures from Google images, directly onto the post.  In other blog news, I hit 50,000 page views. Woo hoo. What I would really love to do is assemble a team to put together a website and really go big. My thought is to more video and photographic content. You know, something great. Again, I wish I could afford all this.  Maybe one day, this wish will come true. Right, it'll come true about the same time I get married.

"Make it New" Maybe

SO-IL for the Chicago Architecture Biennial
Hello Everyone:

Technical difficulties seem to be an ongoing issue, be that as it may, your resourceful blogger has found a way to get around the problems and carry on with the work.  The work before us is the recently opened inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial.  

The Chicago Architecture Biennial is a series of gallery installations, performances, lectures, and tours spread out across the city.  The artistic directors of the Biennial, Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda,  intentionally decided not to have a theme to the event in order to keep the event as eclectic or in the words of Christopher Hawthorne, in his review Los Angeles Times "In Chicago, an ambitious biennial for architecture banishes the stars and anoints a new generation,"...or maybe the skittish uncertainty, of the current moment in architecture."  Mr. Grima and Ms. Herda describe the biennial as an experiment in what is possible...a round table at which people of all ages, backgrounds and origins are invited to present their outlook on the field.  

Chicago Cultural Center, interior
Chicago, Illinois
Like any exhibition, the specific priorities, agendas, and preferences are in plain sight.  "So is the Oedipal struggle at its core," observes Mr. Hawthorne.  Three floors of the Chcago Cultural Center, built in 1897 as the city's first public library, serve as the base for the Biennial.  The event is anxious to announce a generational shift in architecture.  Younger architects, all born in he seventies, are given prominence over the more established older generation. The young guns include: Spain's Andres Jaque, Mexico's Tatiana Bilbao, Denmark's Bjarke Ingeks, Japan's Junya Ishigami and Sou Fujimoto.  Mr. Hawthorne notes, "The prominent members of an older generation-especially the small group of design celebrities who have dominated the international architecture circuit in recent years-are nowhere to be found."  He is specifically referring to Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster, Jean Nouvel, and Kazuyo Sejima.

What is equally fascinating to our critic is the event's relationship to the more established Venice Biennale. Joseph Grima, independent curator and former editor of Italian design journal Domus, and Sarah Herda, director of the Graham Foundation, have organized the Chicago event as a dialogue and in opposition to the Venice event.  The Venice Biennale runs on even numbered years and is organized around groups of national pavilions, which exude a slight colonial structure.  The Chicago Biennial will run on odd numbered years.

David Adjaye
The Chicago show is subtitled "The State of the Art of Architecture," is a reference to the symposium organized by Chicago architect Stanley Tigerman organized in 1977 at the Graham Foundation.  The Chicago event also has the bonus of being a tabla rasa,"...the first in a new series of every-other-year architecture celebrations."  The event highlights the increasingly fluid and transnational nature of contemporary architecture.  According to Mr. Hawthorne, the show's "patrons saint, it's hip and still-young godfather, is...the architect David Adjaye,..., who is not in the biennial itself but hovers above it as a kind of glimmering presence."  Mr. Adjaye was born in Tanzania, to Ghanaian parent, lives in London and works around the globe.  Some of his major projects include the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, slated to open on the Washing D.C. Mall next year.  Christopher Hawthorne cynically describes him as, "he is a new turbo-charged kind of starchitect."  Mr. Adajye's mid-career work is on exhibit at the Art Institute in Chicago.  Perhaps, this is a timely exhibit because Mr. Adjaye is rumored to be the prime contender for the Obama Presidential Library on Chicago's South Side.

Rural Urban Framework
Winner of the Curry Stone Design Prize
Another effort by the Chicago Biennial at to alter the entrenched architectural power structure came in the second day of media previews when the organizers of the Curry Stone Design Prize took over the auditorium of the Chicago Cultural Center to announce the 2015 winner.  This year's prize went to Hong Kong-based firm Rural Urban Framework, "...which re-imagines villages in mainland China drained by urbanization-is dedicated to a socially and politically engaged set of priorities that matches much of the work in the biennial."  More to the point, the ceremony was held in the heart of Chicago, where the staid Pritzker Prize was founded in 1979 and where it's sponsor, the Hyatt Foundation is located.

Christopher Hawthorne writes, "In significant ways, though, this biennial lacks the courage of its patricidal impulses. It can't quite decided if it wants to smash the idea of an architecture establishment into bits or simply announce that a new one is ascendant."  This skittishness is very acute inside the Cuktural Center, where the bulk of the biennial is taking place.  He continues, "There is a careful and very effective balance in these galleries among photography, video, architectural models and full-scale prototypes..."  He cites the example of small residential schemes on the top floor by  Tatiana Bilbao, the New York-based firm MOS, et al.  Sejima Fujimoto displays tiny models on black pedestals, like "...kind if architectural tasting menu."  Even the studies on technology and digital culture are presented in neatly measured doses.  Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda hold off the eccentric, demanding architecture of the Cultural Center by installing work in the courtyard, stairwells, and across the front elevation. It seems as if the biennial cannot decided whether it wants, in words of Ezra Pound, to "Make it new," or be punk rock in all its smash the establishment glory.

Regardless, there are indications in the biennial of the engine driving contemporary architecture; emphasized by the event as " hoc, the resourceful, the collaborative, the open-ended,mother temporary, the socially and environmentally conscious and the formally subtle.  Housing is a strong point."  Strangely, while form-making for the sake of form-making is exiled, Mr. Grima and Ms. Herda gently nudge along the field's renewed interest in history.  If there is anything that remotely resembles a theme, it is the legacy of German modern architect Ludwig Mies van dear Rohe, who lived and work in Chicago from 1938 until his death in 1969.

Stony Island Arts Bank
Theater Gates
Chicago Architecture Biennial
The format of the biennial is taken directly from its Venice parent and similar international shows: each firm is allotted small portion of wall of floor space to present a single project or idea.  The names might be new and the approach less formal but the structure is the same.  Mr. Hawthorne writes, "It is only once it gets beyond the Cultural Center that the exhibition really finds its voice."  An example, a collaboration with African-American artist Theaster Gates, whose installation Stony Island Arts Bank debuted on the opening weekend, yielded a constructive way for Mr. Grima and Ms. Herda "...step outside architecture's hothouse of generational and territorial rivalries."  The biennial also held a competition for a series of small pavilions lining Lake Michigan.  Of the entries, the most daring was the one by the Rhode Island firm Ultramodern.  Their pavilions were built from a combination of cross-laminated timber and chain link, echoing Mies and the L.A. School.

The Is How We Order
Bryony Roberts and the South Side Drill Team
Chicago Architecture Biennial
Christopher Hawthorne writes, "A bigger blast of fresh air was provided by performance pieces organized by the architects Jaque and Bryony Roberts and the artist Santiago Borja.  Jaque (pronounced HA-Kay) mounted a funny, charmingly low-tech and in the end sharply political tribute to "Powers of Ten," the famous 1977 film about perspective and scale by Charles and Ray Eames."  Ms. Roberts worked with the South Side's Drill Team to fill the Federal Plaza, a public space soberly watched by Miesian buildings, with "...three-dimensional essay on various approaches to symmetry and precision."

The Chicago Architecture Biennial is a portrait of a profession facing a generational divide.  While there is a sense of continuity, the question before the young generation is how will it distance itself from the older generation and blaze its own path?

The Chicago Architecture Biennial will continue until January 3, 2016.  For more information please go to

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Madame Wong's

Esther Wong 1917-2005
Hello Everyone:

Today #historichappyhour is taking over the blog to bring you the story of Madame Wong's, one of Los Angeles's fabled punk rock clubs. Madame Esther Wong passed away in 2005 but her legacy as the "Godmother of Punk" lives on.  Her fabled club played host to bands that would eventually become part of the new wave scene in the late seventies and early eighties.   Nikki Darling's April 26, 2012 article, "Esther Wong: Her Flawed Legacy" for the LA. Weekly, takes a critical look at how, if at all, Esther Wong played a role in Los Angeles's underground music scene.  More importantly, the club was part a rich history of entertainment, arts, and culture in Chinatown.   The question is who was Esther Wong?

Madame Wong;s Restaurant marquee
Esther Wong was born and educated in Shanghai, China.  She traveled the world with her importer father before touching down in Los Angeles in 1949, to escape the incoming Communist regime. In Los Angeles, Madame Wong worked as clerk for a shipping company before opening her owns restaurant in 1970 at 949 Sun Mun Way with her now-deceased Hawaiian born husband Georg Wong. ( accessed 10-21-15)

The restaurant was originally conceived as a Polynesian-themed venue, featuring tiki drinks (a favorite of the Happy Hour)  and tropical dance shows.  By 1978, the audiences for the tropical revues was dwindling and the restaurant began to book unsigned local rock bands.  The idea came from show promoter Paul Greenstein, who approached Madame Wong, "...proposing a a trial run with rock groups playing evenings for crowds paying $2.50 a head."  Esther Wong took it upon herself to choose the bands, listening to growing stacks of cassettes (back in ancient times before Sound Cloud existed) while driving around Los Angeles.  In 1980, she told a Los Angeles Times reporter, When there's a bad tape, I throw it outside the window...One day I almost hit the Highway Patrol car that was right next to me.  Some of the bands she chose to play at her club became part of the vanguard of new wave: Oingo Boingo, The Knack, the Go Go's, and the Plimsouls (google them).  The success of the new wave line up led to a second club in Santa Monica in 1978, which closed in 1991. ( accessed 10-21-15)  Be that as it may, is reminding the Happy Hour that this is a blog about architecture, historic preservation, urban planning and design.  Fine, killjoy.

949 Sun Mun Way today
Chinese and Chinese-Americans have a long and storied history of being a part of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles.  At the turn of the twentieth century, Old Chinatown included a theater/opera company that hired Chinese born performers.  As the community developed into a tourist destination and community center for new immigrant, vaudeville shows, featuring Chinese performers were quite common. (  As Old Chinatown continued to grow as a tourist stop, it became a major meeting site for Hollywood directors, producers, and actors.  It was not uncommon for studio heads to take meetings at Chinese-American owned restaurants and nightclubs such as the Dragon's Den, which was decorated with murals by Tyrus Wong, an illustrator for Disney and Warner Brothers.  When the Old Chinatown was demolished and the new developments New Chinatown and China City went up, bars and restaurants preferred by the Hollywood glitterati included the Grand Star Restaurant in New Chinatown.  (Ibid)  The clubs, cultural institutions and restaurants continued to flourish during World War II and afterward.  The sixties brought demographic shifts and New Chinatown ceased to be a Hollywood nightlife hotspot.  In the late seventies and early eighties, it became the prime venue for the underground music scene.  Venues such as Madame Wong's and the Hong Kong Cafe became the prime performance spaces for Los Angeles's prime new wave bands.  (Ibid)

The Bags at the Hong Kong Cafe

When Esther Wong passed away from lung cancer in 2005, her place in Los Angeles's rock music history was cemented by a Los Angeles Times obituary that hailed her as the "Godmother of punk."  The phrases quickly caught on as clubs sought and continue to seek a bit of that aura.  The problem is Madame Wong's role in the L.A. punk scene was "tangential at best and dubious at worst."  Alice Bag, lead singer and co-founder of the Bags wrote on her blog (, not long after Madame Wong's death, She was no friend to punk rock.  According to Keith Morris,  former lead singer for one of the seminal Los Angeles punk bands Black Flag and Circle Jerks, Hong Kong Cafe was the real spot for punk.  The Hong Kong Cafe was located on the corner from Madame Wong's on Gin Ling Way, which played host to the Bags, the Weirdos, and the Germs, none of whom played Wong's.

According to Ms. Darling, most likely "Wong cared less about the scene than her club's bottom line.  While that certainly is not unreasonable for a business proprietor, it seems an odd stance for a purported godmother of punk."  Peter Case, lead signer and guitarist for the Plimsouls added, I don't know if she even liked the music...She cared about the club, about getting people in, getting them to buy drinks, food-that's what she was into.  Of course that has not stopped her legacy from growing over the years.

Circle Jerks at the Hong Kong Cafe
While Esther Wong's choices leaned more towards bands such as the Go Gos and Oingo Boingo, the Hong Kong Cafe was the place for young punks.  The club opened in 1979, on heels of Madame Wong's success, with a rowdy show by Chicano punk band the Plugz. The two clubs quickly developed a rivalry to the point where Madame Wong declared that any band playing the Hong Kong would be banned from her club, both clubs's different agendas made this an empty threat.  The Hong Kong closed within two years of its opening but in the interim made a big impact, featuring important underground punk bands such as: the Bags, the Alley Cats, the Weirdos, and Catholic Disciples.  Ms. Darling writes, "Filmmaker Penelope Spheeris gathered much of the live footage for her documentary The Decline of Western Civilization on its premises."

The Hong Kong Cafe today
Today, both venues retain their faux Chinese architecture.  The former site of Madame Wong's has become a loft development and the Hong Kong is now Realm, a housewares and gift retailer.  In 2010, former FYF Festival promoter Ben Kramer and some his roommates put together some shows on the actual former site of Madame Wong's hosting indie music acts: Wavves, Devendra Banhart, and Vampire Weekend.  In 2011, French promoter Simonez Wolf opened a pop-up club in Manhattan's Chinatown and called it Madame Wong's. Nikki Darling adds, "Wong's surviving family-none of whom could be reached to comment for this story-have remained mum abut the various appropriations of her name."

"Chinatown's Fourth Wave..."
   Former LA. Weekly jazz columnist Brick Wahl wrote in 2010, I loved the Hong Kong and thought Wong's was completely bogus.  Of course, this is not to say that Wong's does not get credit for being a breeding ground for the boisterous music scene.  Peter Case told Ms. Darling, She stuck her neck out...There was some real resistance from the neighborhood when she first started, but it didn't seem to bother her.  At least she didn't let it show.  She was fierce.  Esther Wong's real legacy is that she had the foresight to seize on a period of Los Angeles rock music history that was percolating to the surface.  Her willingness to open herself to the new and different was a complete turn around from her own life experience.  This is her legacy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bored, Stressed Out? Blame Street Design

New York City Chinatown, The Bowery
New York City, New York
Hello Everyone:

Have you lately been feeling sad?  Find yourself giving into your compulsions more frequently?  Is your stress level at an all time high?  No, yours truly has not a self-help blog. Rather, it maybe your city that causing your feelings of anxiety.  Colin Ellard's article for Aeon magazine, "Streets with no game," presents his research on how boring streetscapes increase feelings of sadness, addiction, and stress.  Mr. Ellard asks the question "Is urban design a matter of public health?"

When Mr. Ellard conducted his research in New York City's Lower East Side, he was interested to find out if the Whole Foods mega-market on East Houston Street affect the psychological state of the local residents.  Mr. Ellard writes, " interest was more pedestrian: how did this megastructure-plopped into a neighbourhood populated with with tiny bars and restaurants, bodegas, pocket parks, playgrounds and many different styles of housing-influence the psychological state of the urban pedestrian?"  He was curious to find the mind-set of urban dwellers, who frequent historic restaurants and bars, in response to blank sidewalks under their feet and walls of frosted glass on one side; streams of loud taxis on the other side?

James and Karla Murray
New York City, New York
To answer his questions, Mr. Ellard gathered small groups of people, led them on tour of specifically chosen sites, and had them answer questions that gauged their emotional states via a smartphone app.  To measure their levels of alertness, he had the participants wear a bracelet that measured skin conductance-a simple yet effective way to find out the participants's attention span and response to threats.  One of the study sites was said Whole Foods.  Another site was a lively row of restaurants and store, a few steps away.

Colin Ellard writes, "Some of the results were predictable.  When planted in front of Whole Foods, my participants stood awkwardly, casting around for something of interest to latch on to and talk about."  The participants evaluated their emotional state as "...being on the wrong side of 'happy' and their state of arousal was close to bottoming out."  The bracelets on their wrists echoed the pattern. They were bored and unhappy.  Asked to describe the site, they responded using words such as bland, monotonous, and passionless.

Whole Foods Market in The Bowery
However, when the participants stood in front of the second test site, less than a block away, their bracelets and smartphone app registered more lively and engaged responses.  The participants assessed their states of arousal as high and positive.  They used descriptive words such as: mixed, lively, busy, socializing, and eating.  Even though the participants struggled to find a quiet corner on the bustling sidewalk to enter their answers, there was little doubt that this site was more to their liking in every way.  Their body language gave away the participants's sign happiness as they completed the study.  Standing in front of the blank façade, the participants were quiet, more passive.  At the more active site, they were more animated, very enthusiastic.  Despite the admonition not to speak each other, the participants could not help themselves.  In fact, many wanted to join the fun.  Why not?

Jan Gehl
Photograph by Ashley Bristowe
The study of behavioral effect of urban street design is not a new field.  Mr. Ellard writes, "In 2006, the Danish urbanist Jan Gehl observed that people walk more quickly in front of blank façades; compared with an open, active façade, people are less likely to pause or even turn their heads in such locations."  In short, they just keep walking past the blank wall of glass, trying to get past the monotony and onto something more fascinating and pleasant.  For planner who focus on making city streets a mire pleasant place to travel, Mr. Gehl's findings have enormous implications.

Something as simple as changing a building's appearance and structure can produce dramatic results in the way a city is used.  Mr. Ellard writes, "Not only are people more likely to walk around in cityscapes with open and lively facades, but the kinds if things that they do in such places actually change.  They pause, look around and absorb their surrounding while in a pleasant state of mind positive affect and with a lively, attentive nervous system."  All of this makes people actually want to in that environment. The byproduct of this reaction is many cities are carefully restricting new construction building codes that guide the some of the factors to a more joyful streetscape.  For example, in cities such as Stockholm, Melbourne, and Amsterdam, building codes insist that mew construction cannot just be metaphorically dropped onto the site.  The number of doorways per unit of sidewalk length is lower and there rules for transparency between the building and sidewalk in the guise of clear windows with two-way views.

Stockholm, Sweden
 Based on Mr. Gehl's ideas, "a good city should be designed so that the average walker moving at a rate of about 5km per hour, sees an interesting new site about once every five seconds." You are not going get that in front of the ubiquitous Whole Foods or monolithic institutional building.  Essentially, if streetscapes were designed with continuous closed facades, such as the ones on supermarkets or business headquarters, people will feel less happy, move quicker, not pausing to look.  However, Mr. Ellard asks, "what is really at stake here?" The real risk is epidemic levels of absolute boredom; not streets filled with sad unmotivated pedestrians.

Believe it or not, studies on boredom have been conducted by individuals repulsed by this particular feeling.  William James, one of the founders of modern psychology, wrote in 1890, stimulation is the indispensable requisite for pleasure in an experience.  In contemporary times, the late University of Toronto psychologist Daniel Berlyne argued, "much of our behaviour is motivated by curiosity alone: the need to slake our incessant thirsts for the new."  Mr. Berlyne used a branch of applied mathematics-information theory-as his methodology for studies on how information-seeking is the primary engine for human behavior. Information-seeking is a set binary set of idea, born in the Bell Telephone Company laboratories during the 1940s, designed to comprehend the transmission of signals over the wires.

Melbourne, Australia street tram
Colin Ellard goes into a somewhat technical explanation of how information-seeking works but suffice it to say he finds a connection "...between the technicalities of phone transmission and an understanding of urban psychology."  Daniel Berlyne concluded, "it wasn't just signals sent along wires that could be characterised in terms of information content, but any kind of object that we can perceive, including visual displays..."  Therefore, the reason for the abysmally low readings of happiness and arousal from Mr. Ellard's study participants standing in from of blank facades becomes more apparent.  At the emotional level, a blank facade fails because humans are biologically pre-disposed to prefer places defined by "...complexity, interest, and the passing of messages of one kind or another."

Amsterdam, Holland, The Netherlands
The converse of this situation fundamentally means boredom.  Although, Mr. Ellard concedes that while we may all have different definitions of what boredom is, some of the symptoms are obvious: the painfully slow passage of time, restlessness that manifests itself in the form of an unpleasant mental state as well as the physical symptoms: fidgeting, checking your phone for the umpteenth time (like none of you have ever done that), the 1000-mile stare; maybe yawning.  Some researchers have gone as far as saying boredom is a sign of (or defined by) "a state of low arousal."  In some studies, when participants were asked to sit quietly, without anything to do-a possible boredom trigger-physiological arousal drops.  Nevertheless, Daniel Berlyne and recently other psychologists, have suggested "that boredom can sometimes be accompanied by high states of arousal and perhaps even stress."

Berlin, Germany
More recent research was conducted by cognitive neuroscientist James Danckert of the University of Waterloo, Canada, with his student Colleen Merrifield.  In the study, participants were brought to the laboratory and connected to machines that measured their heart rates and skin conductance, and were shown some videos.  The video were carefully designed to elicit a variety of emotions: from sadness to tedium.  Colin Ellard writes, "What was more interesting was that participants contributed saliva samples that were later analysed for the presence of cortisol, a hormone associate with a range of human stress-related ailments..."  The researchers found "...that even brief boring episodes increased levels of cortisol, which fits all with other recent suggestions that there could actually be a relationship between boredom and mortality rates."

Ermou Street
Athens, Greece
 If the fact that boredom could lead to increased mortality rates was not bad enough, it seems that it could also lead to more risky behavior, including addiction relapse.  Surveys done among addicts-i.e. substance and non-substance-suggest that addicts have a typically higher level of boredom, which is a common predictor of relapse or risky behavior.  Ms. Merrifield and Mr. Danckert have suggested that even the slightest exposure to tedious experiences is enough to alter the brain and body's chemistry in a that generates stress.  Colin Ellard concedes, "It might seem extreme to say that a brief encounter with a boring building could be seriously hazardous to one's health, but what about the cumulative effects of the same oppressively dull surroundings?"

This is a question that has long intrigued psychologists, especially after psychologist Donald Hebb's 1962 discovery that rats who lived in more enriched environments were vast more intellectually superior than rats who lived in a more austere environment.  The enriched rats were able to complete more complex mazes in shorter times then the spartan rats.  The enriched rats's intellectual superiority was later confirmed by studies completed by Mark Rosenzweig at the University of California, Berkeley who concluded that the enriched rats had thicker neocortex with better synaptic connections between brain cells.  How does all this apply to urban design?

Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York
Taken together, the studies of extreme and moderate forms of environmental deprivation give us compelling evidence that monotonous environments can lead to stress, impulsive behavior, lower levels of positive affect, and risky behavior.  Mr. Ellard writes, "At this point, we simply don't know the extent to which such effects might be produced by simple daily exposure to poorly designed urban environments or building interiors because the studies have not been done yet."  What is known are the understood idea of neuroplasticity and the known effects of deprivation and enrichment in extreme environments, together with studies carried by Jan Gehl and others, which gives us sufficient evidence to believe that sterile homogenous places have a measurable effect on our behavior and brain.  Thus, we can conclude that good urban and building is a matter of public health.

San Francisco, California
This begs the questions, "Why would anyone think it a good idea to build a large, featureless building at ground level?  What motivates a developer to erect an endless stretch of suburban housing where each individual unit is identical and, in the language of information theory, low in entropy?"  The obvious answer is economics, it is cheaper to design three or four different models of houses and use them as templates for the rest of the development, however, what abut institutional buildings?

Why build a closed off street-level elevation that will bore a pedestrian to tears?  Mr. Ellard speculates, "Perhaps the owners of such properties don't see much gain: it hardly seems in the best interests of a major bank to attract a crowd of happy lingerers to the fronts of their buildings, rather than serious customers who get in and get out again."  Blogger speculates that another reason is to dissuade vagrants and potential criminal activity.  Regardless, a friendly elevation might detract from the more business-like image a bank wants to convey.  We  want our banks to be places where are assets are carefully monitored in a secure fortress, not the local farmers market.  Colin Ellard tells us, "There are other reasons why buildings fall short of our psychological needs.  One has to do with a radical shift in architectural design, which entire buildings become signs..."

iPhone © 6s
Another factor is our reliance (dare blogger say addiction) on digital technology, which has re-focused our attention noticeably downward toward our phone screens and away from our physical surroundings.  This has become such an acute problem that during her tenure as New York City's transportation planner, Janette Sadik-Khan ordered large, eye-catching graphics to be painted onto the sidewalks of the city's busiest and most dangerous intersections to remind pedestrians to put the device away and be more aware of their surroundings lest they get run over.  While this may seem like nothing more than changing the walk-talk-text behavior, it is symptomatic of a more profound change-we no longer care about our surroundings because we are too busy on the phone.  In a certain sense, we are not there and our environment now exists in the digital world.

Cover to S,M,L,XL
O.M.A., Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Maus
The trend toward the hybridization of the real and virtual places in urban environments has an ideological foundation.  In their book S, M, L, XL (1995), architects Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau call for "empty-box designs and what they call 'the generic city.'"  They argue that ornament be it: a specific type of facade design, idiosyncratic street design, or specific cultural iconography becomes, in a sense, exclusionary.  We are thrown together in a world that transcends prior cultural delineation, thus any type of design with historic references will alienate those individuals who do not share the same history.  Mr. Koolhaas told Der Spiegel in 2011,

In an age of mass immigration, a mass similarity of cities might inevitable.  Cities such as Dubai, where the majority of residents are immigrants, function like airports in which the same shoos are always in the same places.  Everything is defined by function, and nothing by history.  This can also be liberating.

Or it could be alienating because there is no sense of individual identity for the city.  Nothing that makes the city unique.  Mr. Koolhaas might be right about the inevitability of generic functional design in the age of globalization.  Be that as it may, unless our virtual lives supplant our physical surroundings, universal adoption of generic functional design will have consequences illustrated thus far.  Mr. Ellard writes, "Human beings have evolved to operate in environments with optimal levels of complexity related to our biology.  We seek out such settings with our eyes, our bodies, our hands and our feet.  In turn, the design and appearance of those settings, by affecting our bodies, tap directly into ancient circuits meant to produce responses and emotions that are adaptive."  Fundamentally, this keeps us in tune with our surroundings, maintain acceptable states of arousal and alertness, and ultimately allow us to adapt.  All this is not possible in a generic functional environment.

One could argue that boredom is a way of modern life and there are even acceptable levels of boredom.  When the external world fails to engage us, we turn inward, toward the landscape of the mind.  Some would argue that boredom can lead to creativity.  Perhaps, it could lead us to use our innate wit and intelligence.  However, streetscapes that disregard our need for sensory stimulation contradict our ancient impulses for the new and will ultimately lead to discomfort, sadness, and less than optimal functionality for the future generations.

Monday, October 19, 2015

All Is Set To Rights

Hello Everyone:

Yours truly is happy to report that all is restored to right on the blog. The Genius at the Apple Store in The Grove-big shout out to Piña-updated the operating system and blogger will be back in business tomorrow. What a relief.  Blogger missed you all and appreciates your support. Can't wait to get back into the blogosphere. See you Tuesday.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Blog Technical Update

Hello Everyone:

It is I, yours truly, with just a quick update on the technical difficulties. Blogger visited the Geniuses at the local Apple Store-big shout out to the brilliant Vince-who checked out blogger's trusty laptop. Upon examination, my wonderful Genius determined that it was a software issue that could probably be dealt with in the store, without pain or pain in the wallet-let's hope. Needless to say, yours truly was greatly relieved because it meant that blogger doesn't have buy a new laptop, yet. Bottom line, blogger hopes to be back up and running by early next week. In the meantime, thanks for your patience and continued support. Have a great weekend and talk to you soon.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Techical Difficulties

Hello Everyone:

Due to unforeseen technical difficulties, there will be an unusually long delay in between posts. However, yours truly will do whatever is in blogger's power to continue with the regular articles. In the meantime, blogger thanks you for your continued support. It really means a lot.

Thanks again

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Cities For People

Hello Everyone:

Yours truly was wandering around YouTube when blogger came across this wonderful lecture presented by Danish urbanist Jan Gehl. The lecture is on creating cities for people and is a companion to an upcoming post on creating more exciting streetscapes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Art And Cultural Heritage Make For Better Cities

Guizhou-Chiang-Khong, China
Hello Everyone:

Recently, yours truly came across a very good opinion piece by Hester Alberdingk Thijm on NextCity titled "Art and Heritage Are Key to Creating Strong Cities That People Want to Live In."  Hester Alberdingk Thijm is head of the AkzoNobel Art Foundation (, which sponsors the Human Cities Initiatives (  Ms. Alberdingk Thijm writes about the importance of art and cultural heritage in creating more vibrant and unique cities.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in the People's Republic of China.  She begin her op-ed article, "By the end of the decade, as many as 100 million Chinese people will migrate from rural areas to live in cities."  This means, "According to China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage, more than 900,000 villages have disappeared in the past 10 years as cities prepare for the influx..."  The loss of 900,000 villages, the backbone of China's cultural heritage, is staggering but there are ways to protect cultural heritage and preservations the places and spaces that make our cities unique.

The Rijksmuseum
Amsterdam, Netherlands
The urgent necessity of cultural heritage protection has recently become front page news with daily reports of wonton theft and destruction of ancient treasures.  The first question that comes to mind is "Why aren't we protecting our heritage?"  Ms. Alberdingk Thijm writes, "I believe that, the trouble is, heritage does not really have an owner."  This is a simple truism. Cultural heritage has no one owner, it belongs to everyone.  She continues, "Our post-Second World War culture of subsidizing art, culture and architecture has created a negative situation in which, as civilians, we no longer feel responsible for maintaining our collective cultural heritage." Again, another truism.  It seems that we have abdicated the responsibility of protecting our collective cultural heritage to governments and institutions.  This situation is compounded by dwindling civic funding for the arts and cultural following the 2008 economic crisis.

Mission Concepcion
San Antonio, Texas
 The AkzoNobel's Human Cities Initiatives is attempting to address the need for balance between public and private stewardship, encourage public pride and embrace their local heritage, "and help preserve the places, spaces that make our cities unique."  Ms. Alberdingk Thijm cites this example, "...through the AkzoNobel Art Foundation-set up to create an outstanding contemporary art collection for tomorrow's generation-we open spaces up to local communities and around our sites and offices.  It offers people a chance engage with amazing works of art inspires them in a way that only art can."

Another truism written by Ms. Alberdingk Thijm, "Heritage is not, of course, just about conserving the past; it also very much about the present and the future."  We live our lives in 24-hour digital cycle-we share our every moment on the social media pages, call for a ride via an app, buy our groceries through another instead of going to the neighborhood grocery store.  This app driven world has eroded communities and we are losing touch with each.  Yours truly agrees with Ms. Alberdingk Thijm's statement, "Art, culture and heritage can bring people together once more, instilling in people a sense of pride and belonging."

Edinburgh, Scotlan
From a pragmatic point of view, heritage conservation can help pay the bills.  Inscription in the annual UNESCO World Heritage list "...can increase per capita income by more than 10 percent in certain regions, according to the International Monetary Fund."  (see  Ms. Alberdingk Thijm's organization recently assisted with the restoration of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, home to AkzoNobel.  As a result of the restoration of the museum, the number of annual visitors increase to 2.45 million, "...making it the most visited museum in the Netherlands in 2014."

Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System

Heritage conservation is attractive.  The 2015 Monocle Quality of Life survey of the top 25 cities in the world ranked Tokyo as the most attractive place to live.  Also making the top 25 were Vienna, Stockholm, Munich, and Zurich. (  What makes these cities so attractive to talent people is that they embrace 21st-century innovation as well as put a great deal of time and effort into preserving their historic resources, "...creating 'real' but relevant places where people want to live, work, invest and raise a family."

The next time your city or government wants to slash its cultural budget, let officials know that their benefits to be reaped from having a "strong physical and cultural heritage."  The future depends on it.