Recently discovered: Eiffel's drawings for a slightly different Statue of Liberty

In 2018, Barry Lawrence Ruderman, a rare map dealer from California, bought a folder of documents and blueprints related to the Statue of Liberty. What they didn't realize is that the lot contained almost two dozen original engineering drawings for the Statue produced by Gustav Eiffel's workshop. Ruderman and Alex Clausen, director of Ruderman's gallery, hope to eventually show the drawings at a museum but for now you can inspect scans they posted online. Greg Miller writes in Smithsonian:

Berenson thinks the drawings may nail down something that historians have long suspected but not been able to prove: that Bartholdi disregarded Eiffel's engineering plans when it came to the statue's upraised arm, electing to make it thinner and tilted outward for dramatic and aesthetic appeal. Several drawings appear to depict a bulkier shoulder and more vertical arm—a more structurally sound arrangement. But one of these sketches (below) was marked up by an unidentified hand with red ink that tilts the arm outward, as Bartholdi wanted. “This could be evidence for a change in the angle that we ended up with in the real Statue of Liberty,” Berenson says. “It looks like somebody is trying to figure out how to change the angle of the arm without wrecking the support.”

The date on that sketch, July 28, 1882, as well as dates on several pages of handwritten calculations and diagrams pertaining to the arm, suggest that this change was made after much of the statue had already been built. “It’s really late in the game,” Berenson says.

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For 13 years, this photographer has been building an incredible 3D digital model of Athens

Starting in 2007, photographer and visual effects artist Dimitris Tsalkanis has been building a digital 3D model of ancient Athens. The result is an immersive historical recreation where everyone online is invited. How did Tsalkanis handle this Herculean (rather, Heraklean) task? He learned as he went. From Sarah Rose Sharp's article about Ancient Athens 3D in Hyperallergic:

“I had no previous experience on 3D and I started experimenting in my spare time,” said Tsalkanis in an email interview with Hyperallergic. “I always liked archaeology and since I am from Athens, I was always interested in its monuments and history. During my research, I realised that up until then no one had attempted a complete 3D reconstruction of ancient Athens..."

Tsalkanis stays up to date with his fantasy city, updating reconstructions constantly for better quality of models and better archaeological and historical accuracy...

Visitors to the site can browse reconstructions that date back as early as 1200 BCE, the Mycenaean period — or Bronze Age — through Classical Athens, featuring the rebuilds made necessary by the Greco-Persian War, and ages of occupation by Romans and Ottomans.

"Explore Ancient Athens Online Through 3D Models, Created by One Animator Over 12 Years" (Hyperallergic, thanks Mark Dery!)

Images below: "Aerial view of the Library of Hadrian" and "Panoramic view of the Acropolis," Dimitris Tsalkanis/Ancient Athens 3D

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Tall buildings with their lying spires removed

Many of the world's most famous buildings sport spires, masts and other bullshit designed to make them superficially taller without adding to the expense and difficulty of construction.

Pictured below is the classic example: The Petronas Towers, which captured the title of "world's tallest building" from Chicago's Willis (then Sears) Tower in 1998 despite being obviously 60m shorter.

This video shows the world's towers appropriately denuded of their dirty, lying spires. Read the rest

"Fecal abyss" found under London gets 3D model

A 15th-century cesspit found under Somerset House in London has been lovingly recreated as a 3D model that you can explore in your web browser. [via Londonist]

Archaeologists from MOLA also uncovered a number of interesting objects from the pit:

"These include a rare 14th century ‘Penn’ floor tile – a decorating material of choice for palaces and monastic sites – pottery drinking vessels and tableware dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, as well as a range of metalwork artefacts including a finger ring, iron spur, belt buckle, bone-handled fork and pendant."

Cess not included. But there's lots of other historical architectural delights on Sketchfab. Read the rest

Fancy "ambient light" projector creates illusion of window overlooking trees

Brooklyn lighting designer/artist Adam Frank's Reveal product is a projector system to create a gauzy, ethereal effect of sunlight streaming through shadowy trees. This will be ideal for my underground lair and loaning out to the neighborhood haunted house on Halloween. The Reveal is $280 for halogen $320 for the LED model. It includes five different window slides and five different tree slides. From the product description:

A light breeze appears to move through trees in the cast image. REVEAL implies the presence of a real window by simulating sunlight entering through an imaginary window.

The image projected by REVEAL is unique and cannot be recreated by any other device. Multi-plane analog images create real depth of focus. Air currents through the projector create organic, non-repeating movement in the background.

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The 1970s called and they want their proto-McMansions back!

The latest installment of the always-delightful McMansion Hell (previously) departs from the usual format of mercilessly skewering the tasteless custom homes of the contemporary super-rich and instead delves into their historic precedent, the 1970s-vintage "proto-McMansion," AKA the "Styled Ranch." Read the rest

McMansion Hell awards its annual prize for the best gingerbread McMansion!

Last year, McMansion Hell (previously) inaugurated its annual gingerbread McMansion competition, inviting America's bakers to challenge themselves to build the largest, most ostentatious, most ill-conceived McMansion in gingerbread form. Read the rest

McMansion Hell visits the wealthy DC suburbs, home to the Brick Behemoth, the Tragic Tudor, the Chonky Corinthian, and more!

It's hard to believe, but the latest installment of McMansion Hell's (previously) tour through the architectural monstrosities of America's tastleless elites is even better than the previous ones -- possibly that's because in this edition, editor/critic Kate Wagner is visiting Virginia's Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, these being affluent DC suburbs where beltway bandits and other swamp-dwellers make their dens. Read the rest

Tiny rooms that look convincingly real

Realistic tiny rooms by Mozu Studios:

It's almost dizzying seeing how far the staircase continues behind the wall:

This video shows the creation of a tiny museum with several exhibits:

The Mozu Studios webshop is here. Read the rest

Review / Control

Remedy Entertainment's Control is a masterpiece of weird architecture and bold design, but a tiring shooter.

Building that looks like a basket to become luxury hotel

This is the former Newark, Ohio headquarters of The Longaberger Company, a basket manufacturer that went under last year. This week, the developers who bought the property announced that it will become a luxury hotel. According to WCPO, "project officials say the exterior look of a basket will remain intact." Well duh.

From Wikipedia:

The seven-story, 180,000-square-foot building was designed by The Longaberger Company, and executed by NBBJ and Korda Nemeth Engineering. The building opened in 1997. The basket handles weigh almost 150 tons and can be heated during cold weather to prevent ice damage. Originally, Dave Longaberger wanted all of the Longaberger buildings to be shaped like baskets, but only the headquarters was completed at the time of his death.

(Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!)

image: Derek Jensen (public domain) Read the rest

Power plant looks like it's holding a giant cigarette (and features its own year-round ski slope)

In California, we're looking at power outages in the North and South as the only way to avoid massive wildfires.  Meanwhile, in Copenhagen, there's a new power plant "embodying the notion of hedonistic sustainability."

Known both as Amager Bakke and Copenhill, the site is a waste to energy plant designed to convert enough tons of waste to provide clean energy for 150,000 homes. The giant chimney was intended to blow giant smoke rings, but that plan was abandoned.

The interior looks ready to star in a Bond movie:

And the exterior features enough facilities to host the X-Games, including a ski slope, freestyle park, climbing wall, and running trail.

The project is the work of Bjarke Ingels Group.  Ingels promoted the project, and several other clever designs, way back in this 2011 Ted Talk:

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Skinny, tall, ultramodern home on 16-foot wide piece of land

Cyril Borovsky purchased a 16-foot wide strip of property in Toronto. Then he built a 3 bedroom, 3 bath, four-story house. Borovsky says his design approach could be used to turn parking spaces into homes. You could also buy Borovsky's house for $3 million.

More here: 154 Hamilton Street

And other impressively slender Toronto homes: "Three buyers who found narrow plots of prime real estate and made it work" (Toronto Life)

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Library of Congress releases 11,700 freely usable photos of "roadside America," taken by John Margolies

For decades, architectural critic and photographer John Margolies obsessively documented roadside attractions: vernacular architecture, weird sculpture, odd businesses and amusements. By his death in 2016, his collection consisted of more than 11,000 slides (he published books of his favorites, with annotations). Read the rest

McMansion Hell: the Campbell County, Wyoming edition

McMansion Hell (previously) continues to tear through America's most affluent ZIP codes with trenchant commentary on realtors' listings for terrible monster homes; in the current edition, critic Kate Wagner visits Campbell County, Wyoming, home to some of the most ill-considered monstrosities in America. As always, she is laugh-aloud funny as she tackles the "Divorce Lawyer house," a 6,000 square foot house from 2002, listed for a mere $700k. Read the rest

Eastern Blocks: photographs of the brutalist towers of the former USSR

Zupagrafika's new book Eastern Blocks (subtitle: "Concrete Landscapes of the Former Eastern Bloc") collects more than 100 beautiful photos of the brutalist towers of ex-Soviet nations, "‘Sleeping districts’ of Moscow, Plattenbauten of East Berlin, modernist estates of Warsaw, Kyiv`s Brezhnevki." Read the rest

McMansion Hell versus the dubious monster homes of Waukesha County, Wisconsin

McMansion Hell (previously) rounds up the ten stupidest megahomes of Waukesha County, Wisconsin ("perhaps one of the most underrated McMansion counties in the country"), which is such a target-rich environment that proprietor Kate Wagner couldn't "choose just one to do a takedown of." Read the rest

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