Yelena  McLaneChange photo
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  • Florida State University
    William Johnston Building
    Tallahassee, FL
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"Overview: In Chapter 4 we return to the United States with a text written by Yelena McLane and Lisa Waxman from Florida State University. Entitled ‘Designing for Good’, their work calls for a reconsideration of project typology – from... more
"Overview: In Chapter 4 we return to the United States with a text written by Yelena McLane and Lisa Waxman from Florida State University. Entitled ‘Designing for Good’, their work calls for a reconsideration of project typology – from within and without the interior design profession. Critical of the type of high-end commercial and private projects traditionally featured in glossy magazines or celebrity-led TV shows, they reframe interior design as a social practice. Drawing on both primary and secondary sources and research, they set out arguments that are framed by the current financial situation in western economies. Highlighting the dichotomy between expectations of super-rich interiors and the reality of what most clients can afford today, they suggest a more sustainable – and socially responsible – future for interior-design practice. Integrating this research into their work as educators, they also describe how the preconceptions and eventual professional objectives of interior-design students can be reoriented in this direction through appropriate project-led pedagogy and training."
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Old buildings are complex entities that contain layers of historical information like archaeological sites from which our hidden past may be revealed. Good renovation must carefully assess the historical fabric of the building to... more
Old buildings are complex entities that contain layers of historical information like archaeological sites from which our hidden past may be revealed. Good renovation must carefully assess the historical fabric of the building to determine preservation and conservation strategies. Good renovation must also necessitate new design interventions to allow for the building to be adapted to new uses and to meet contemporary accessibility and environmental standards. The architecture and interior design of historic educational buildings presents a particular challenge for renovators. The goals for such projects are often twofold: (1) to create a contemporary learning environment, reflecting or possibly shaping current pedagogical practices; and (2) to allow for the liberation of the process of learning through broadening contexts for social interaction.

The authors focus on the architectural strategies employed in the recent renovation of the William Johnston Building at Florida State University, in which the historical exterior “collegiate gothic” aesthetic was restored and preserved, while the interiors were adapted to entirely new functions as classrooms, faculty and student offices, counseling suites, open-planned study centers, and vast common spaces with intentionally undefined purposes. The authors trace the shifting meanings of the building through its transformation from a traditional dining hall in which uses were highly regimented and governed by timetables, to a facility that encourages “chance” social and educational encounters—a true scholar’s common. The building’s various use capacities, together with the flexibility of its interior environments, makes it very much a building “of requirement.” The paper reveals how the building’s historical interior features, layouts, and architectural elements inspired the designers’ approach to realizing a postmodern and future-oriented building while fostering new encounters and forming new familiarities in the users’ minds, thereby contributing to the notional evolution of the structure as living history.
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French filmmaker Jacques Tati made two feature-length comedies - Mon Oncle (1958) and Playtime (1967) - which lampooned the ostensibly rational modernist movement in architecture, interior design, and consumer products as a threat to... more
French filmmaker Jacques Tati made two feature-length comedies - Mon Oncle (1958) and Playtime (1967) - which lampooned the ostensibly rational modernist movement in architecture, interior design, and consumer products as a threat to traditional models of domestic life. Although these films have been the subject of several arching critical histories, scholars have not addressed Tati's vision of interiority through the contrasting contexts of industrial modernity and bourgeois domesticity. I argue that Tati was himself a designer of peculiarly dysfunctional interiors, furnishings, and gadgets that only seemed to meet the needs of their users. Tati examined the works of architects like Le Corbusier and Philip Johnson as exempla of monumental modernism. For each film, Tati spent months in pre-production perfecting his own derivative buildings and imaginary appliances. Yet the purpose of these designs was to appear perfectly devised, when, in fact, they were physically frail, conceptually brittle, and vain. Tati's bumbling alter ego, Monsieur Hulot, served as the director's foil and agent, through whose frolics both the material and practical defects of the modern home environment were revealed. Of course, Tati's vision is a hyperbolic one, and it would be a mistake to judge the ultimate success of the modernist experiment by the disintegration of an artist's sham creations. Tati's films do, however, offer compelling insights into the guising of uncomfortable and impractical designs with the sheen of modernism, and should, therefore, be added to the core historiography of postwar modernism and interior design.
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Spring House (Tallahassee, 1954) is Frank Lloyd Wright’s only house in Florida and a fine expression of his “organic architecture” – tracking nature in essential, but “conventionalized” forms. In this first scholarly treatment of the... more
Spring House (Tallahassee, 1954) is Frank Lloyd Wright’s only house in Florida and a fine expression of his “organic architecture” – tracking nature in essential, but “conventionalized” forms. In this first scholarly treatment of the house, I posit that although Wright was able, for a moment, to materially realize, analyze, stylize, appropriate, and even improve upon nature, upon completion, his organic architecture properly proceeded to finish its life cycle.  Through a combination of neglect and the humid Florida climate, the house is yielding to decay and disintegration. Efforts are underway to rehabilitate Spring House, and, as Jorge Otero-Pailos has written, we must now confront our “responsibility to act or not to act.” Contrary to Wright’s outspoken belief that the human imagination manifested in architecture could triumph over “pristine” “barbaric” nature, the gradually deteriorating Spring House – bit by bit overcome by mold and the elements – proves the superior might of time.  Why not, therefore, actively manage the grounds and edifice as a sort of modernist ruin? By deliberately relinquishing Spring House to entropy, we can liberate its structure from the torment of costly lifesaving measures and offer up a unique space for both study and contemplation. If we do not act quickly, it may be too late not to save it.
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