TIME architecture

See Majestic Photos of the Chrysler Building Under Construction

The building opened to the public 85 years ago, on May 27, 1930

Not all new skyscrapers make news. But the birth of the Chrysler Building, in 1928, immediately commanded attention, as TIME reported:

Walter Percy Chrysler has just gained the head of the third greatest motor company by the Chrysler-Dodge merger. He is less individualistic than Mr. Ford, yet is mighty proud of his success and reputation. Last week he started selling mortgage bonds (through S. W. Strauss & Co.) on what will be the tallest building—in Manhattan or the world. It will contain 68 stories, and be 808 ft. high. It will, of course, be called the Chrysler Building and is Mr. Chrysler’s personal venture.

The completed building surpassed expectations, measuring 1,046 ft. and change.

“A great gesture towards a fortune built by automobiles is the Chrysler Building,” TIME reported shortly after it officially opened to the public 85 years ago, on May 27, 1930. “Oldtime Manhattanites recalled last week that 50 years ago its site was a goat pasture.”

Its opening ceremony drew the presence of many of New York City’s dignitaries—including Alfred Emanuel Smith, whose corporation was at that very moment constructing the Empire State Building, which would shortly knock the Chrysler from its place of honor.

TIME architecture

This $100-Million Building Looks Exactly Like Star Trek’s Enterprise

NetDragon Websoft

A Chinese technology executive made it so

A Chinese executive who sits on the board of Baidu has constructed an office that pays faithful homage to Star Trek‘s USS Enterprise. The building, which was built by NetDragon Websoft’s 43-year-old founder Liu Dejian, will provide office space for the Chinese game developer. The Wall Street Journal reports the 853-foot-long structure cost 600 million yuan or about $97 million to build.

Construction in the coastal city of Changle in China’s Fujian province reportedly wrapped late last year and began in October 2010. The firm reportedly contacted CBS, the show’s rights holder, to get permission to construct the office. “That was their first time dealing with [an] issue like this and at first they thought that it was a joke,” NetDragon wrote The Wall Street Journal in an email. “They realized somebody in China actually did want to work out a building modeled on the USS Enterprise only after we sent the relevant legal documents.”

The structure looks particularly convincing from the air, as seen here on Google Maps.

TIME On Our Radar

See the World’s Most Impressive Opera Houses

“In the English-speaking world they say ‘Break a leg.’ But in Italy, they say, ‘In bocca al lupo,’ which means, ‘In the wolf’s mouth.’ Because when we singers face the audience from the stage of a traditional, horseshoe-shaped opera house, with its tiers of boxes and galleries, we feel that we could be in the jaws of some gigantic beast with multiple rows of teeth, hoping that it will treat us kindly.”

—Plácido Domingo, from his foreword to “Opera”

The architectural photographer David Leventi probably got a taste of this famous tenor’s words many times in the eight years he spent producing Opera.

For this project, Leventi shot more than 40 opera houses in almost 20 countries, from the tiny (Teatro di Villa Aldrovandi Mazzacorati, capacity: 80) to the mammoth (The Metropolitan Opera, capacity: 3,975). The work is being exhibited at Rick Wester Fine Art (with prints up to seven and a half feet wide) starting May 7 and is being released as a book by Damiani in June 2015.

David, who is the son of two architects, shot his first opera house while researching his family history on a trip to Romania. He is drawn to what he calls “the spectacle of opera. The combining of many art forms: architecture, acoustic design, costumes, stage design, voice, fabric, sound, music, etc.”

While there is always one more opera house he would like to photograph, Leventi selected these spaces “based on their interiors, history, or because they have interesting stories,” he says. “I wanted a mix of both new and old.”

The buildings he found are simply extraordinary. The Palais Garnier in Paris has a Marc Chagall-painted ceiling over 2,500 square feet in size. The Metropolitan Opera in New York used so much twenty-four-karat gold-leaf on the ceiling that a weekly quota had to be imposed during construction to avoid harming other businesses.

“I experience an almost religious feeling walking into a grand space such as an opera house,” says Leventi. And yet from this sumptuousness he creates an ordered typology in a way that links his work to artists such as Bernd and Hilla Becher.

Part of the way Leventi achieves that order is by repeatedly photographing from the stage, looking back out at the audience—just where the singer might stand.

Indeed, that is a key part of the project. David’s Romanian grandfather was an opera singer himself. While a prisoner-of-war in a Soviet camp from 1942-48, he would sing for officers and other detainees. But in the tumultuous years following his release and relocation to Israel, Leventi’s grandfather found his dream slipping beyond reach.

Leventi says “the idea of standing on center stage and being in all these opera houses where he could have performed if there wasn’t the war and all these other circumstances, Communism—I guess you can say I’m living out his dreams.”

David Leventi is a photographer based in New York City.

Myles Little is an associate photo editor at TIME.

TIME Google

See Google’s Absolutely Stunning New Headquarters Design

Google wants to build a new Mountain View campus with sweeping glass structures

Google has unveiled its ambitious new plans for a sprawling, modern Googleplex. The new facility, being developed by architect Bjarke Ingels, features a series of glass, canopies the size of city blocks, new biking and walking paths and an emphasis on green space. Renowned designer Thomas Heatherwick is also involved in the project. Google hopes to complete the first stage of development by 2020, but the company will first have to win approval from Mountain View’s city council amid growing concern over Google’s control over the development of the community.

TIME architecture

Why the Washington Monument Has ‘Shrunk’ By 10 Inches

US-WEATHER-STORM
Karen Bleier—AFP/Getty Images A jogger passes the Washington Monument on a cold blustery morning January 27, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Symbol of the nation's capital loses a little of its stature

The Washington Monument now stands 10 inches shorter than when it was completed in 1884, or at least that’s what a new government measurement announced Monday suggests.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used new technology to calculate the monument’s height at 554 feet 7 and 11/32 inches. But in 1884, the towering obelisk was measured at 555 feet 5⅛ inches.

What’s behind the incredible shrinking monument? A difference in the way the measurement was conducted likely accounts for most of the difference, according to NOAA. Engineers today used international standards to measure from the “lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance” to the structure’s peak. It’s unclear what standard engineers used when the monument was first built.

“We have to be cautious in comparing this new height to the historic one, since we do not know precisely the actual starting point that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Col. Thomas Casey used in 1884,” said Dru Smith, a NOAA scientist. “Today’s elevation reflects the international standards for measurement of a building’s height as well as considerable technological improvements.”

The change in height not due to the difference in measurement standards is likely three-eighths of an inch, according to a report in the Washington Post. That change is likely due to wear and tear to the monument’s cap.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 30

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. What if football helmet safety ratings are measuring the wrong hits?

By Bryan Gruley in Bloomberg Business

2. If France wants fewer radicalized Muslims, it must clean up its prisons.

By Michael Birnbaum in the Washington Post

3. They 3D-printed a car.

By Umair Irfan in Scientific American

4. The low price of meat doesn’t reflect its true cost.

By the New Scientist

5. Lesser-known cities and young architects are perfect for each other.

By Amanda Kolson Hurley in CityLab

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 26

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. We spent more than $170 billion on the wars they fought for us. Can we spend $5 billion to give veterans a guaranteed income?

By Gar Alperovitz in Al Jazeera America

2. A ‘teaching hospital’ model could work for journalism education by making students work collectively to produce professional results.

By Adam Ragusea at Neiman Lab

3. Humans are born with an intimate understanding of pitch, rhythm, and tone. We’re all musical geniuses.

By Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis in Aeon

4. WarkaWater Towers — which produce up to 25 gallons of water out of fog and dew every day — could change lives in drought-stricken countries.

By Liz Stinson in Wired

5. Private sector investment savvy and funds can help us tackle poverty’s toughest challenges. It’s time for impact investing.

By Anne Mosle in The Hill

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME On Our Radar

Explore the Relationship Between Photography and Architecture

Closing this week, the exhibition Constructing Worlds sees photography and architecture as strange, beautiful bedfellows

It is perhaps not surprising that Alona Pardo and Elias Redstone, curators of Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age, chose the work of Berenice Abbot as a starting point for their exhibition. Abbot, who made powerful images of the architectural changes that gripped 1930s New York, seemed to not only document what she saw, but to question it, too.

While Abbot herself might disagree (she was an avid documentarian who rejected the idea photography should ever express feelings) there is an inescapable unease to her 1936 shot of Park Avenue towers soaring over a two-story show house, and a hazy peculiarity to her famous image of midtown Manhattan from the Empire State Building. It as is if this city of contrasts, which she closely documented, was changing so quickly that an equivocal attitude was the best one to take. And for Pardo and Redstone, Abbot’s work certainly sets the tone for the rest of the show: Here, photography and architecture are beautifully, inextricably linked. They are so close, in fact, that they can seem to be both life-long loves and the strangest of bedfellows.

Indeed, as artist David Campany notes, the two disciplines may have been joined at the hip since Nicéphore Niépce shot his family home, producing the first ever photo from nature, but there has always been dissent: “Just as the discipline of art history has had intermittent doubts over its use of photography as innocent reproduction,” he notes in the catalog accompanying the exhibition, “so the field of architecture has sustained an important current of reflection about its use of images.”

Closing this week, Constructing Worlds comes well-reviewed from both The Guardian and the LA Times, and brings together 250 works by 18 photographers. We see the colorful, sometimes playful work of Luigi Ghirri, the almost mournful eye of Walker Evans and the alien, painterly quality of Nadav Kander’s images. On show, too, are Lucien Hervé, Julius Shulman, Hélène Binet and Stephen Shore. among others.

Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age is on show at the Barbican, London until Jan. 11, 2015.

Richard Conway is Reporter/Producer for TIME LightBox.

TIME Pop Culture

Artist’s Rendering of George Lucas Museum Unveiled

Lucas Museum of Narrative Art A computer rendering of the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago

That's no moon

The architectural firm behind George Lucas’ Chicago museum unveiled its first rendering of the building on Tuesday, and it’s appropriately out of this world.

A 100-foot-tall, undulating white mountain topped by a chrome halo will rise up from the shore of Lake Michigan, on the same property where Bears fans currently gather for tailgating merriment.

Lucas tapped architects from the Beijing-based firm, MAD Architects, to design a building that “pushes the envelope of 21st century design,” Fast Company reports.

The museum will house Lucas’ collection of Star Wars memorabilia as well rare artworks from his private collection. The museum is slated to open — and push envelopes — in 2018.

TIME Arts

Artist Creates 88 Mind-Bending Versions of a Hotel

This Munich building got some eye-popping computer makeovers

Munich’s Deutscher Kaiser hotel looks like any sleek modern building. But re-imagined through the mind (and lens) of artist Víctor Enrich, the structure becomes something mind-bendingly crazy — Salvador Dali meets Inception.

The Spanish native spent months turning out these 88 startling computer-aided distortions of the four-star urban lodging. Why? Recent emigrant Enrich had passed the Deutscher Kaiser daily while job-hunting in the German city and quickly tired of looking at it. What started off as novel way to motivate himself, turned into a fully realized passion project.

Speaking to TIME from Barcelona, Enrich says “I always try to express myself as much as I can. If I’m not having fun, I will never do anything!”

We’ve picked some of our favorites, but you can see Víctor’s full series here.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com