Posts

Filmmaking Resume Segments of Documentaries Shot over the Course of Several Years

This documentary is titled Filmmaking Resume as a reference to short bits of architectural footage shot over the course of several years, and published in Architecture Awareness, Cultural Weekly and in this website.

 

Although I have also created short films on art, politics, and cultural events, my focus here is on architecture-as-space, the essential language of architecture. This short documentary illustrates fragments on the works of twenty recognized contemporary architects. As such, it expresses how good design can resonate on a much deeper level and lead to a higher quality of life.

 

In dealing with the human condition in the 2020 decade, some of my future films are likely to focus on topics such as housing, sustainability, and open urban spaces.

Doc Snippets Selected Documentary Segments

On a recent event at U.C.L.A., the 43rd Congress of the Romanian Academy of Arts and Science, I was invited by its Interim President, Prof. Ileana Costea, about what I do as an architect-filmmaker. I decided to edit “an extended trailer” of selected segments from my films. I called it “Doc Snippets.”

Beyond some short notes on my architectural practice and of my passion for film since I was a student, I saw the question “Why are architectural documentaries important?” as the most relevant. Why?

The transformation of the planet to accommodate 10 billion people by 2050 will demand the active input of all its inhabitants, which would include self-help. Architecture awareness is critical to confront planetary challenges such as climate change, sustainability, population growth, mobility, food production, conservation of natural spaces, visual pollution, and over-crowding.

My films, most of them on architecture-related subjects, try to inform the viewer about the relationship between quality-space and human scale, and about meaning in the configuration of spaces.

Architecture + People in San Diego Architecture 2019 in San Diego: Downtown, the Central Library, the Salk Institute

San Diego’s downtown transformation conveys an important message to many cities’ challenges. It is possible to increase density while maintaining high standards of design quality. It is possible to mitigate traffic by bringing efficient public transportation. It is possible to build high-quality public buildings within the budget.

It was late May when we first considered the possibility of registering for a Brendon Burchard “Influencer” seminar in San Diego in October. “We haven’t been there for about a decade. It sounds like a good excuse,” I said. We signed up. It was a good decision. What we saw and learned in a few days well exceeded our expectations.

“What’s new to see in architecture?” I asked Google while doing basic research.  A small, five-story, zero energy mixed-use building, Torr Kaelan, caught my attention. It had been designed by Rob Quigley, an architect unknown to me. Some of the building’s details reminded Carlo Scarpa’s design.  Googling more on Rob Quigley, I reached the San Diego Central Library project. I couldn’t tell much by looking at the photographs that I found online, but I marked it as a place to visit.

Torr Kaelan

We decided to set our base in Little Italy. I found a lovely small hotel, Urban Boutique, next to a European-style piazza known at Piazza della Famiglia.  It was located a mile-plus from the event we planned to attend. “We could do some exercise by walking the distance in less than a half-hour,” I said to Ruth. Once we arrived at the hotel, we parked the car and didn’t move it until we left.

We found the downtown area transformation, since the last time we had been there, very impressive.  It had become a thriving center easily accessible by foot, bike, car, or public transportation. Its urban scale was right, the traffic was moderate, and we noticed a number of new, well-designed condominiums.

Yet the biggest surprise was the central library. According to the architect, it had been conceived as “a 9-story archive of flexible space, sandwiched at the top and ground floors, with diverse and accessible public amenities.”  The library opened in 2013, following a protracted 17-year period of design and construction. This may explain the 1970s–1980s flavor. The material of choice was concrete, for both cost and maintenance.

A spacious atrium and a roof garden, accented by a symbolic dome, provided an urban identity to the building. We found the different areas well crafted, with some of the spaces quite spectacular.

The “Influencer” event, structured as good content (psychology, physiology, productivity, persuasion) wrapped with entertainment, was remarkable for the diversity of over two thousand participants. There were people from all over the United States and also from many other countries. Our new chanceful acquaintances included a woman from Soroka, in the Republic of Moldova, an actress from Istanbul, a French couple from Montpellier and other people ranging in age from teenagers to adults in their seventy’s.

Brendon Burchard “Influencer” Seminar

We couldn’t leave San Diego without revisiting Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute in La Jolla. It triggered memories. When we were in our late twenty’s, we worked in Tel Aviv for Ram Karmi. When Kahn visited Israel, Karmi invited him and his wife for dinner at his condo, and asked us to join them. At the end of the evening, he said “pick up Kahn at his hotel tomorrow morning and take him to see the Central Bus Station,” of which I had been working on its details for several months. The gargantuan building, then under construction, was mostly done in exposed concrete.

Until a scheduled late-lunch, at 3:00 PM, to be joined by Carmela, Karmi’s his first wife, we spent five hours with Louis Kahn all for ourselves! During the three-hour-long lunchtime, Louis Kahn talked most of the time. It was like listening to Socrates. Kahn’s intellect was very high, and his language was, at times, incomprehensible to us.

Back in 1971, we had made our first visit to the Salk Institute at the end of our “Frank Lloyd Wright’s pilgrimage,” during which we visited and photographed over one hundred of Wright’s works across twenty-five states.  At the time, the Salk Institute was one of the most famous buildings in the world. Seeing it again forty-five years later was less impacting, although now I could read that, while its work in concrete remained impeccable, its greatness was in its scale and in the way the large court opens to the ocean. 

The link between the architecture we discovered and the people we met produced a highly productive and rewarding weekend!

Photo © R&R Meghiddo, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

As We Saw It – Coda: Israel Vignettes Architecture, Urban Growth, Stories from the Holocaust, a Raw Beach, Friends and a Reenacting of a First Meeting

Following filming in Paris, Berlin and Rome, our focus in Israel, other than spending good time with our daughter, was to document some of the country’s mushrooming residential construction, to record the new Memorial Hall of Israel’s Fallen at Mount Herzl, to interview Aaron Krumholtz, Ruth father’s eldest brother, 94, and to see some friends. For Ruth’s birthday, Gabby suggested reenacting our first meeting as students at the Technion in Haifa.


Work in Progress

Absent in the media recording of Israel’s complexities is Israel’s urban growth besides Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the West Bank. As a sample, we chose Netanya and Hadera in the coastal area.

Memorial Hall of Israel’s Fallen at Mount Herzl

This memorial, designed by Kimmel Eshkolot Architects, was completed during 2018 and is dedicated to commemorating the country’s fallen soldiers. It includes a 250 meter-long continuous ‘wall of names’ that wraps around the central sculptural brick structure. This comprises more than 23,000 concrete bricks each individually engraved with the name of a soldier and their date of decease.  The architects developed the scheme as an interior project where the ground was excavated to allow daylight to enter through an overhead oculus.

Yad Vashem’s Children’s Memorial

Designed by architect Moshe Safdie, this unique memorial is a tribute to the approximately 1.5 million Jewish children who were murdered during the Holocaust. Memorial candles are reflected infinitely in the dark, and the names of murdered children, their ages and countries of origin, can be heard in the background.

Aaron

Aaron Krumholtz, 94, spoke about his experience in Transnistria during the Holocaust. The documentary shows some stories out of an hour-long interview.

First Encounter

We celebrated Ruth’s birthday by the sea. Gabby suggested revisiting the location of our first encounter in Haifa, five decades ago. We decided to reenact it.

As We Saw It – Part 7: Emotional Rome Streets, People, Architecture: A Personal Journey

Coming back to Rome is always emotional. It triggers pleasant memories of our days as students of architecture, of lifelong friendships, of great teachers, of great art, architecture, lifestyle.

To link the central theme of “As We Saw It,” ‘what makes a city great,’ with what we chose to document through film and photography, we focused on ‘the city’s emotional intelligence’ and its connection to our own emotions. To do that, we decided to record streets and piazzas rather than buildings, with few exceptions, such as the Pantheon, the MAXXI and the church of Sant’Andrea Della Valle.

View of Rome – Piazza di Spagna

Piazza navona

Formative Past: Architecture and Cinema

We were “adopted” by Bruno Zevi soon after we joined his History of Architecture class. Besides tutoring our theses, he also invited us to his home to have lunch with Carlo Scarpa and connected us with Edgar Kaufmann Jr. in New York, who opened for us the gates of Wright’s Fallingwater.

Our relationship with Pellegrin was also unique. He co-tutored our theses, and we worked for him on important projects: many competitions for schools, the University of Barcelona, Goree Island’s master plan in Senegal, Palazzo Aldobrandini’s restoration in Rome, and research on futuristic habitats.

Professor Bruno Zevi – Photo: Elisabeth Catalano

Architect Luigi Pellegrin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we moved to Rome to continue our studies in architecture, going to the movies was an essential way of learning Italian fast. We were also lucky. In the vicinity of where we first lived, in the Parioli neighborhood, there was a cinema club at a church that showed every week movies followed by a Q&A with the directors. Among many others, we treasure having listened to Roberto Rossellini (Rome, Open City; Paisan; Stromboli ) and Gillo Pontecorvo (The Battle of Algiers; Kapò; Burn!)

After graduation, we moved to Rome’s Historic Center, minutes away from the Trevi Fountain and from Pellegrin’s studio. Our same-floor neighbor was Adriana Chiesa, who, at the time worked at La Medusa, one of Italy’s leading film distributors. We were friends when Adriana met and fell in love with cinematographer Carlo Di Palma (Divorce Italian Style, Red Desert, Blow-Up, Hanna and her Sisters, Radio Days.)

Carlo had a rich experience with directors like Michelangelo Antonioni (he shot Antonioni’s first color film, Red Desert) and with Woody Allen. He also worked for Bernardo Bertolucci, Lucchino Visconti, Roberto Rossellini, Francesco Rosi, and Pier Paolo Pasolini. I remember his comments about Igmar Bergman (“he worked like a scientist”) and about Federico Fellini (“a magician; he ‘hypnotized’ his actors, shooting without sound and talking to them while shooting.”)

The MAXXI – Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo

Coincidentally with our visit, Zaha Hadid’s-designed MAXXI held two exhibitions that we wanted to see: one dedicated to Zevi’s 100th birthday, titled “Zevi’s Architects. History and Counter-History of Italian Architecture 1944-2000.” The other, “Tel Aviv the White City,” dedicated to the Bauhaus architecture in the city.

As a historian and critic of architecture, Zevi’s influence in Italy during the second half of the 20th Century was impacting. He published several pivotal books, such as Architecture as Space, The Language of Modern Architecture, A History of Modern Architecture, Erich Mendelsohn, was the editor of the magazine L’Architettura for over fifty years, taught history of architecture in Venice and in Rome, and was militant in the Radical Party, which he represented in the Chamber of Deputies from 1987 to 1992.

Zevi brought Frank Lloyd Wright’s ideas of Organic Architecture to the Italian peninsula, which influenced many architects, such as Carlo Scarpa, Luigi Pellegrin, Paolo Soleri, Marcello D’Olivo, Giovanni Michelucci and Aldo Loris Rossi, to name just a few.

The exhibition on Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus architecture, although very compact, provided an idea of the city’s rich past, which includes over 1500 buildings of the period.

Rome’s beauty is the ultimate urban beauty because it has been shaped by time, uninterruptedly, over more than two thousand years.

From Six Million to Seventy Years Shoah, Israel, Anti-Semitic Leprosy and Architecture

CUT VERSION

FULL VERSION

Within a week difference, Jews around the world commemorate Yom HaShoah, commonly known as the Holocaust; Yom Hazikaron – Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism; and Yom Haatzmaut, Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948. In parallel, we witness a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe and in Islamic countries. In view of these, I decided to produce a short documentary as a reminder that visualizes aspects of these conflicting forces, brings personal stories and testimonials, and shows Israel’s life and architecture today as an extraordinary “human laboratory” to change the world for the better. To set this reality within a global context, I include here a Humanistic Agenda for the 21st. Century. 

1. Shoah and “Leprosy of the Spirit”

On April 11, I assisted to a commemoration of the Shoah at the Congregation Ner Tamid of South Bay in Rancho Palos Verdes. The mass murder of six million Jews by the German Nazi regime and its collaborators during 1941-45 was  reminded through the lighting of six candles and the presentation of the documentary, “Never Again is Now,” about Evelyn Marcus’ family journey in her native Netherlands, and her personal confrontation with the current rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.
Evelyn Markus is a psychologist expert on managing resistance and conflict at work, and emotional self-control. When asked during the Q & A “how one confronts xenophobia and hatred,” her answer was: “you first show that it is wrong and that should not be rewarded.” Sure, but that is not enough. Bernard Henry-Levi defined anti-Semitism as the leprosy of the spirit. In an article published four years ago,“A 100-Year Cease-Fire,” I proposed a “carrot and the stick method” to solve Israel-Arab/Palestinian conflict.

2. Dreaming + Will vs. Xenophobia

Theodor Herzl, considered to be the father of political Zionism, believed that antisemitism could not be defeated or cured, only avoided, and that the only way to avoid it was by the establishment of a Jewish state. Today we all know that even the Jewish State, which this year celebrates its seventieth anniversary, is not a cure for the leprosy of antisemitism, yet it offers a strong “antibiotic” through a combination of creativity and military strength.
Architecture and planning in Israel played a vital role in Israel’s development, from the foundation of Tel Aviv in 1909 as a modern city on the sand dunes North of Jaffa, to the absorption of Bauhaus and Le Corbusier’s ideas into a social agenda, to many examples on forefront architecture today. If and when the many xenophobic Islamic countries that surround Israel will realize how much their own development could benefit through collaboration rather than hatred, Israel’s know-how can help the Middle East to become a new Renaissance.

3. A humanistic Agenda with a Vision

Whether the world’s population will be 10,000,000,000 in 2050, 2044 (my 100-year birthday!) or 2060, is not important. We’ll get there and far beyond. At a global level of a social agenda, the priorities are:
  • Universal Physical and Mental Healthcare
  • Universal Income-producing Jobs
  • Universal Shelter
  • Universal Education
  • Sustainable Food Production
In this context, architecture has a moral responsibility. The social agenda is part and parcel of the architectural agenda and of the sustainability agenda.
In a world where the speed of growth of human needs exceeds the speed of production to satisfy those needs, SPEED OF CONSTRUCTION and AFFORDABILITY are critical.
Also critical is the QUALITY OF THE HUMAN HABITAT. It starts with the DWELLING UNIT, it expands to the URBAN ENVIRONMENT, and it touches every single aspect of human life: the quality of the working space, of the learning space, of the social space.
SUSTAINABILITY brings GLOBAL CONSCIOUSNESS to the realm of architecture.
ARCHITECTURE AS ART is critical to integrate the physical and the emotional human needs.
 MIXED-USE AND MULTI-FUNCTIONALITY are integral components of the sustainability agenda. While mixed-use juxtapose multiple functions (housing, commerce, education)  multi-functionality makes possible the multiple uses of the same space, and the multiple-use of the same component: a stairway as structure, a column or beam as a container of ducts, a wall as a container of storage, a roof as an edible garden.
PROXIMITY BETWEEN LIVING SPACE AND WORKING SPACE are part of the sustainability agenda. It can be a. Within the dwelling unit; b. Adjacent to the dwelling unit (price Tower); c. Within walking or bike distance from the dwelling.
MOBILITY is integral to both human needs and to sustainability, yet it demands a total revision of how it works. It consists of three categories. A. Emergency access (firemen, ambulances, police, rescue from disasters.) b. Public use: air mobility and public transportation of multiple kinds: trains, tramways, air tram cable cars, moving conveyors, buses, taxis (with drivers or driverless;) Pc. Private: bikes, skateboards, cars, trucks (private or rented.)
ART, together with nature, remain an important source of inspiration and, as in the case of nature, it must be read in the context of time and place, and it must be reinterpreted. The sources could be many: the Caves of Altamira, the graphics of mud huts in Africa or of American Indian tents, and the works of Western and Eastern high-art through the millennia.

In all these areas, Israel is likely to play a vital role. Its success is as an antibiotic against anti-Semitic leprosy as one can get.

 

Tel Baruch Beach - 6:30 AM. Copyright Rick Meghiddo. All Rights Reserved.

'>Normality “Lo-Normali” Snapshots of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem defies misconceptions about Israel's reality.

Normality “Lo-Normali” (ambiguous Hebrew slang for ‘abnormal, crazy, exceptional, wonderful, insane, magnificent) synthesizes itwo previously published documentaries, “The City that Never Sleeps” and “Jerusalem Journal.” Although the editing is different, the message remains the same. It presents contrasts between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and within each of the two cities as a showcase intended to defeat misconceptions about Israel’s reality.

Normality usually does not produce headlines.  Stories related to terrorism, war and political scandals on the negative side, and innovations in science and technology on the positive does. During the five months that I spent in Israel in 2016, a focused my attention on capturing images of everyday life: riding a bus, walking by the beach, witnessing some of Israel’s unique events, such as having the entire population standing still for two minutes at the sound of the sirens during Memorial and Holocaust remembrance days, and the Pride Parade and White Night in Tel Aviv.

Although the two largest cities represent only a part of Israel’s reality, the contrast between the two make more legible the country’s complexity, usually oversimplified with reports on conflicts – right versus left, religious versus secular, sacred versus profane, Palestinians versus Israelis.

Israel is a unique country in a unique situation. That is why its normality is simply “Lo-Normali.”

Dancing in Jaffa - Copyright Ruth and Rick Meghiddo 2016 .All rights reserved.

'>NORMALITY “LO-NORMALI” Trailer Aspects of Israel's Everyday Life

Normal everyday life in Israel is rarely portrayed by the media, which, understandably, is more interested in newsworthy extreme situations such as terror, war, disasters and scandals on the downside, and discoveries in science and technology on the positive. As an alternative, during my five-month journey in Israel, I focused mainly on documenting aspects of Israel’s  everyday life.

I lived in Ramat Aviv. Therefore, most of my shooting happened in the Nonstop City. Yet I also went several times to Jerusalem, which is for me the most complex conurbation I know. Although I visited other parts of Israel, I decided to focus my filmmaking on the contrast between these two cities and within each.

When I learned about a video contest titled “Inspired by Israel,” I decided to submit a 5-minute video, which I’ll include here once the competition is over. In the meantime, the 29-second trailer will give you some idea of the documentary content. 

The City That Never Sleeps

Tel Aviv, “The City that Never Sleeps,” is on its way to become one of the world’s great metropolitan areas. It projects a sense of informal freedom, in plain contrast with the distortions frequently delivered by the media.

Cities are not just compilations of buildings, streets and open spaces; they are – or they are supposed to be – places where people can increase their chances of self-realization as happy human beings. The “State of Tel Aviv,” as is commonly labeled, to distinguish it from the rest of the country, is a city that looks more into the future than into the past.

The fourteen-hour non-stop flight from LAX to TLV brought me back to a place that has changed in many ways. Yet in spite of Israel’s contradictions, inequalities and extremes, I found the country exceptionally better than when I left it, back in 2001. Its energy cannot be described neither visually nor in writing; it must be felt.

I saw people of all ages, colors and countries of origin. I saw construction going on everywhere, with high-rise buildings becoming commonplace, and not only in Tel Aviv. During an “Architect’s Day Symposium” at the Cinematheque, the City’s Director of Planning told us that, at this time, there are in plan-check residential and commercial projects for a total of almost eight million square meters, or about 86 million square feet. That is the equivalent of four hundred twenty-story high building on the Wilshire Corridor.

The new wing of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, designed by architect Preston Scott Cohen as an addition to the museum’s Main Building, is the latest development in a process that started in the 1930s, when the city’s first mayor, Meir Dizengoff, created a municipal art museum in his own house.

The project’s main concept was the creation of an 87-foot-high atrium, called “the lightfall,” which brings natural light deep into the building. The program for the new addition was demanding. Rectangular galleries had to fit into a triangular site, which also had to accommodate a new art library that takes one third of the total 200,000 square feet, or about 18,000 square meters.

One may argue whether the design belongs to the trend triggered by the “Bilbao Effect,” which resonates in the works of Zaha Hadid and Daniel Libeskind. Yet, in spite of the building’s trendy aspects, the use of light in the atrium brings a poetic contribution to the building.

Ramat Aviv, the North Tel Aviv neighborhood, is a place of normality within abnormality. At its center is Neveh Avivim, where many notorious people lived, among them Prime Minister Ytzhak Rabin and President Shimon Peres. Besides being close to the sea, it has a powerful anchor: the Tel Aviv University campus, which serves as a magnet to a highly educated population. It is also strategically located next to important arteries of mobility.

Tel Aviv’s 18th annual Pride Parade was officially titled “Women for Change.” Although it joins similar manifestations around the world to assert tolerance and equal rights for all, this event, under the particular situation of the Middle East, and given Israel’s political map, is not just about personal liberty. It is about freedom from coercion of any kind. It has the symptoms of a revolt against all establishments.

Tel Aviv’s “White Night,” unlike its siblings “Nuit Blanche,” “Notte Bianca,” “La Noche en Blanco,” “Noaptea Alba,” and so on, carries a powerful message to many who still have hard time to accept Israel as a vibrant civilization. It sais: we, the people, young, old, men, women, straight and gay, secular and religious, Jews, Muslims, Christians and atheists, enjoy life and contribute to culture and any way we can.”

The festival was spread throughout the city. I counted at least eighteen areas, from the City Harbor, the University of Tel Aviv and the Haaretz Museum in the north, to Jaffa in the south, from the beaches in the west to the new Sarona development area in the east. They included dancing, theater for adults and children, artworks, music, public singing, magic, image projections, DJ’s stages, art events, poetry readings, exhibitions and street performances. My video covers only a fraction of what went on, an approximately ten-kilometer walk along Rothschild Blvd., the Habima Square, Dizengoff Street and Rabin Square.

My observations through the lens of a camera tried to capture some of the elements that reflect some aspects of a country that is a mosaic of cultures, tribes and ideas, frequently clashing to one another: right (nationalist, secular or religious) vs. left (liberal-progressive,) orthodox-religious vs. secular-cosmopolitan, straight vs. gay, machismo vs. feminism. And yet, coexistence is possible, in spite of the many differences.