Expedition Log vol. 4

Rockefeller Guest House, 5G towers, and 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Design


This week we continue our deep dive into all things Philip Johnson (see asterisk below) through a few interviews and visiting the Rockefeller Guest House. At some point a series of podcast episodes about Mies, PJ, and how these terrible men created beautiful homes. LinkNYC 5G towers are back in the news, so it’s good to take a step back and see what some alternatives to the large towers might be. And finally, the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Design program was both amazing and of it’s time.

As always, you can find us on Threads and Instagram, listen to our podcasts, and purchase pamphlets.


“By 1934, he had a disastrous digression into politics. He was taken in by his own admission, by the spectacle of the rabid nationalism of the Nazi party. And he ended up promoting fascist politics in the us , by becoming a correspondent for Father Cochran’s Magazine, social Justice. And Father Coughlin was just a rabidly antisemitic priest, who was promoting fascism.”

– Gwen North Reiss, Glass House


Rockefeller Guest House

The Rockefeller Guest House was designed by Philip Johnson* in 1949 and completed in 1950 for his patron at MoMA Blanchette Rockefeller. The Glass House was under construction between 1948-1949 and the detailing of the Guest House is clearly an urban implementation of the Glass House. Often called the Urban Glass House, it’s on 52nd street at Third Avenue and combines the elements from the Brick House at the base with the Glass House up on top.

*Philip Johnson was a fascist and supported Nazis, and it’s not clear how we deal with someone who spent a better part of a decade supporting and leading local fascist organizations.


5g towers

The deployment of 5g is one of those slowly, then all at once, phenomena. A phenomena which people are just starting to take notice of. When 5g was released there were a rush of articles about the technology, the promised benefits, and how the technology manifests itself in antennas which do our neighborhoods. Municipalities have been working through how to create regulations and concessions to telecom companies – which are often monopolies – in order to fit into the local context.

5g provides theoretical faster bandwidth, but the antenna its completely different: they are an active technology, with very narrow beam patterns, which allows for smaller antennas, but with less beam distance. Municipalities generally create a set of standards of different deployment sizes and locations – often a range of freestanding antennas, light pole-mounted antennas, and using existing electrical poles. 

In NYC the LinkNYC 5g tower is massive at 31 feet – much larger deployment than in other municipalities. Although this deployment allows for up to 5 antennas from competing suppliers. 

There are other alternatives, which might create more antenna sites, but without such large single antenna site. It’s not clear why the city continues to push these large LinkNYC locations.

You can read more about this on Issue 3: Homecoming.


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1984 Los Angeles Olympics Design

The Los Angeles Olympics was not government backed, therefore it had a much lower budget than many of the previous and subsequent Olympic games. Instead of stadiums, they built towering scaffolds. Instead of brand-new Olympic villages, they outfitted parks and freeway entrances with colorful pylons, sonotubes, and giant inflatable stars.

ARCHITECTURE: The Jerde Partnership
GRAPHIC DESIGN: Sussman/Prejza
LOGO: Robert Miles Runyan
PICTOGRAMS: Keith Bright

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