Not being able to travel during the pandemic means that I've had limited opportunity to explore and see architecture this past year and 9 months. For the places I did visit, however, I thoroughly explored the designs, imagining all the possibilities that may have graced these spaces.
TWA Flight Center
In August, I visited the TWA Hotel (repurposed from the former TWA Flight Center) at JFK airport with Julia. We spent the morning taking trains to get there. We walked through the building, experiencing an iconic building from the mid 20th century. The TWA head house has influenced the way airports around the world are designed.
Designed by modernist mastermind Eero Saarinen (you've seen his ubiquitous tulip tables at IKEA), this building represents a transition in the way the world connected with the arrival of the jet age. This pivotal period initiated a globalization that has left us a world so connected that something so small like a coronavirus could traverse the globe in a few short weeks.
Walking into the building felt like I was living across different periods of history because the building operated as an airport terminal for the better part of four decades. I imagined the various types of people passing through the space, from a time when people carried suitcases to a time where people rolled their zip-expandable luggages across the concrete floors. Something as historically gargantuan as the TWA Flight Center invites its occupants to believe in its purpose and importance.
When I finally arrived in Mexico City this October, I took advantage of the opportunity to visit Luis Barragán's Casa Gilardi. Barragán was the second architect to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize. As one of Mexico's most notable architects, his upbringing has influenced the way color is incorporated in the architectural design. This home is still occupied by the Gilardi Family.
Barragán conceals and reveals images of distinct spaces to create a visual narrative that compels one to move from one space to another. In doing so, curiosity becomes a key ingredient in understanding the function of the space. And when you do cross into the next room, a delightful palette of color awaits...
It was interesting to see how a home built for two families by a notable architect is still lived in. The building coaxes its occupants into a sense of conservatorship: certain rooms are decorated with objects for visitors to see, while other areas are off-limits. In a way, the White House is the same as Casa Gilardi, albeit much older.
The lived-in nature of the home innervates the building. The cyclical growth and decay of the plants in the courtyard mirrors the gradual fading and cracking of surfaces. At the same time, Casa Gilardi refreshes itself—perhaps through generous ticket sales.
With omicron floating around, I dream of hiding away in either of these places.