Review> Set Designer Harnesses Nostalgia for Detroit in AMC’s New Series, “Low Winter Sun”

National, Newsletter
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
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(Courtesy AMC)

(Courtesy AMC)

Nostalgia (nóstos), meaning “homecoming”, a Homeric word, and (álgos), meaning “pain, ache”, and was coined by a 17th-century medical student to describe the anxieties displayed by Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home. Ruth Ammon, set designer for the AMC television series, Low Winter Sun, used this word to describe the series in its most honorable sense. This tale of morality uses the architecture of Detroit’s heyday, to embody the pride of the city which elevated middle working class life.

It is poignant that the city’s decline is also apparent in every frame, rather than pimping these noble structures like urban porn. Whether featuring Albert Kahn’s Packard Automotive Plant, 1903-11 (the production offices were next door to this location, one of the largest parcels of unoccupied real estate in the Western hemisphere); Kahn’s Detroit Police Headquarters at 1300 Beaubien St., 1923 (given the same role in the series, but now under threat since the PDP moved out); the art deco David Stott Building of 1929 by Donaldson and Meier; St. Hyacinth Roman Catholic Church, 1924 by Donaldson and Meier; or the Venetian Gothic Ransom Gillis House, 1876-78 (documented extensively by photographer Camilo Jose Vergara), these were deliberate choices.

Continue reading after the jump.

New PBS Series To Showcase Ten Buildings That Changed America

National
Thursday, March 28, 2013
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Seagram Building, New York City, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1958.

Seagram Building, New York City, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1958. (Courtesy Wikimedia)

These days it seems increasingly rare that we take a moment out of our busy schedules to pause and appreciate our surroundings: downtown skyscrapers, grand civic buildings, or the mundane background buildings along our streets. To many, those soaring steel towers are old news, but have you ever stopped to picture a Manhattan without skyscrapers, or a courthouse in Washington, DC that didn’t resemble a Greek or Roman temple, or how about an America without shopping malls? (Unimaginable. Right?)

Dan Protress, writer and producer of the new PBS television series 10 Buildings that Changed America, certainly has. The series, hosted by Emmy-award winning producer Geoffrey Baer, proves that architecture is the cultural back-bone of any society.  The show was created to celebrate and explore ten of the most influential American buildings—and the architect’s that designed them—that dramatically altered the architectural landscape of this country.

Continue reading after the jump.

HOUSEpital

Other
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
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The RMJM/HOK-designed University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro

The RMJM/HOK-designed University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (Courtesy RMJM)

On the popular Fox doctor drama House, actor Hugh Laurie plays an acerbic, yet ingenious infectious disease specialist whose curmudgeonly ways, drug use, unrepentant machinations, and sadistic treatment of patients has earned the show—now in its fifth season—an enormous and dedicated following. The series unfolds at the fictitious Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, where, segment after segment, Dr. House and his team bicker, sneer, and get to the bottom of rare medical afflictions, killing off the odd invalid from time to time. Well, the stage for this gripping serial need not remain a figment much longer: the utterly factual Princeton hospital has recently announced that it will soon move its facilities to a brand new home in none other than Plainsboro, New Jersey! Read More

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