architecture

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Arc de Triomphe
James Joyce: How Long Will The Eternal Fire Burn?
"Joyce had no patience with monuments. Valery Larbaud said to him as they drove in a taxi in Paris past the Arc de Triomphe with its eternal fire, 'How long do you think that will burn?' Joyce answered, 'Until the Unknown Soldier gets up in disgust and blows it out.'" [The eternal flame was in fact later (briefly) extinguished, when a drunken American soldier urinated on it; and, on another occasion, in 1958, a Parisian named Claude Figus was charged with the violation of a sepulchre—after trying to fry eggs on it.]
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Sir Squire Bancroft, notorious tightwad
Sir Squire Bancroft was a notorious tightwad. Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree once took Bancroft to view His Majesty's Theatre, which Tree had recently built and lavishly furnished. Bancroft issued his verdict while examining the building from across the street: "There'll be an awful lot of windows to clean!"
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Divine Envy?
Alexander Woollcott once visited the playwright Moss Hart's sumptuous country home, set in lovely landscaped grounds. "Just what God would have done," Woollcott remarked, "if he had the money."
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Renzo Piano explains his design to a New York Times chairman
In 2002, Renzo Piano (in association with New York architectural firm Fox & Fowle) won a major competition with a design for the New York Times headquarters on Eighth Avenue in New York. Shortly thereafter, Piano met with Times executives to discuss the building, which would be the largest project unveiled in the city since the destruction of the World Trade Center."Even though he was trained as an engineer, he is probably better than any architect at convincing people that buildings are not just objects of shelter but exercises in poetry. For fifteen minutes, he held his audience rapt as he explained the rationale of the building, which is to be a slender tower of transparent glass, sheathed in a ...
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Walt Disney Studios
Team Disney Whiz Quiz
When it rains in Burbank, California, water flowing from the roof of Michael Graves's "Team Disney" building causes which of the seven dwarves to appear to be urinating upon everyone who enters the building? a) Happy b) Dopey c) Grumpy d) Bashful e) Sleepy The answer is B (Dopey).
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Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester Mystery House
Shortly before the beginning of the Civil War, Sarah Lockwood Pardee met a man by the name of William Wirt Winchester, the heir to the considerable Winchester Repeating Arms Company fortune. The war was a boon for the company and the marriage went swimmingly—until 1867, when their infant daughter Annie died from an unusual disease. By the time William died (of TB) fifteen years later, Sarah had become convinced of the existence of a family curse. One day, a friend suggested that she visit a medium. She did, and was told that the family was indeed cursed by the spirits of those who had been killed by Winchester rifles. The medium further informed her that the spirits had taken her ...
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Benjamin Franklin Critiques A Home
One day during his stay in London, Benjamin Franklin was invited by an English peer to admire a home which he had built for himself. Franklin was rather unimpressed. Notwithstanding its attractive colonnaded facade, the residence was something of a failure, its plan dictated by an inconveniently narrow and irregular plot. "All you need to do to enjoy your house, my lord," Franklin bluntly remarked, "is to rent a spacious apartment directly across the street."
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Celio de Oliveira's House Made of Bottles
In September 2003, Brazilian bar owner Celio de Oliveira began to collect discarded plastic pop bottles from a beach in Rio de Janeiro. "My main goal was to clean the beach," he later recalled. "Then I had the idea to build my bar's wall using them and all of a sudden I had 10,000 bottles and decided to build a house." He did. The resulting home was built with nothing but bottles; even its light switch was made using a bottle top. Oliveira was later commissioned to build another bottle house for a local school. "Those houses will last forever," he declared, "and if they caught fire, we would just throw sand on them!"
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Ersatz Aufsatz?
Patriotic Frenchmen (and women), not noted for their love of Germany, may be less than amused to learn the source of the name of the famous landmark which graces the southern bank of the Seine River in Paris.The 300 meter Eiffel Tower was built by Gustave Eiffel, whose upholsterer godfather, born a Boenickhausen, adopted the name Eiffel—because his friends could not pronounce his name—before moving to Paris from Eifel, Germany.
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Broad Extravagance
Such was the passion of Zhang Yue (the founder of Broad, a maker of "green" air conditioners) for 18th-century French philosophy that he built an imitation Palace of Versailles among his factories.