A baffled city 2
CITY SENSE - CITY SENSE By Paulo Alcazaren () - September 10, 2005 - 12:00am
As our political situation gets more and more baffling, my preoccupation with sun baffles and building louvers is increasing, too. At the least it has diverted my attention to architectural design rather than to the more devious designs of those who aim to squeeze us dry of taxes, patience and sanity.

From last week’s article, I left out a number of outstanding examples of sun-baffled facades in post-war buildings. Many of these still stand – some layered with the grime of pollution and deteriorating from neglect – while others are continually scrubbed and useful. Here are more baffled buildings to add to the many mentioned last week:

1. The Gonzaga Building
by National Artist for Architecture Pablo Antonio Sr. is one of the most striking examples of a building with a baffled facade. Built in 1952, the structure was a symbol of recovery from the ravages of the Second World War. It rose at the start of Avenida Rizal, where it still stands today albeit under the shadow of the ‘70s-era LRT1, which makes the concrete baffles on one side of the building redundant. The Gonzaga building still houses shops and offices as efficiently as it did over half a century ago and is getting a new lease on life with the resurrection of Avenida Rizal.

2. The Carmen Apartments
on Roxas Boulevard were built by the prolific and colorful Carlos Arguelles (who trained under General George Patton as a young officer). This sexily curved building boasts wide terraces with deep cantilevers that protect the units from the midday sun while providing a great venue to enjoy Manila’s fabled sunset.

3. The US Embassy.
The original main building was a nondescript federal-style civic building, which was augmented in the early Sixties by an interesting international-style block. The structure, designed by American A L Aydelott & Associates, is a low one surrounded by an adobe wall meant by the architect to mirror the slanted fortified walls of Intramuros. The main mass is shielded from the sun by a latticework of pre-cast concrete (molds by Starpel steel). It is a wraparound pierced screen made popular by another American architect – Edward Durell Stone. The building still stands; its fortifications hardened to protect it from terrorists.

4. The Amon building
on Buendia Avenue (now Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue) in Makati was a horizontal poem clad in aluminum louvers. Designed by Alfredo Luz (of Ramon Magsaysay fame), the structure housed Amon, the foremost name in building materials (whose tagline "Before you even think of buying the first nail …come to Amon" still rings in my head).

5. The Manila Hilton.
Designed by Carlos Arguelles (in association with Welton Becket of Jai Alai fame), its large podium was clad with panels of native wood louvers (now replaced with aluminum cladding).

6. La Fuerza Building
in Cebu. Baffled buildings were not limited to Manila. The La Fuerza building in Cebu was clad in Eternit sun baffles and showed that Cebu was as progressive as the capital.

7. National Bookstore
on Avenida Rizal. This was my favorite destination for art and architecture books in the Seventies and boasted a well-designed baffled front façade.

8. The Ortigas Building
on Ortigas Avenue. Another elegant building from the Seventies had cantilevered shades with a band of smoked glass panels to mitigate the sun. The building is an example of a well-maintained structure that looks as good today as it did when it was first built.

9. The Meralco Building
on Ortigas Avenue. This is the high-rise masterpiece of Jose Zaragoza and its curved front façade was framed with vertical louvers that at night made the building look like a huge lantern–very appropriate for Meralco.

10. The Picache Building
fronting Plaza Miranda. This was the first skyscraper of Manila and was designed by Angel Nakpil.

11. The Shell Building
1956 by Gabino de Leon. This building set the tone for "modern" buildings in the ‘50s. It was louvered and air-conditioned as well as set in a lush landscape.

12. Baffled Houses.
Houses in the 1950s were baffled, too, with terraces and patios benefiting from sunscreen and horizontal baffles of concrete or wood.

Like I mentioned last week, we should look again at ways of minimizing the effects of the hot sun in our structures. This we can do with good tropical design and the lessons learned from decades past.

Our political mess can be solved too by learning from our past experiences with the people we elect to power. Our democracy is flawed and so are the leaders we chose to represent us. We cannot build a robust country or a sustainable economy without making sure that the architects of our democracy do not take shortcuts, rig the bidding process or sacrifice the comfort and safety of the future occupants for the creation of false facades of progress. When will we learn?
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If you want to learn how to fund your latest research project or impeachment rally, here’s a workshop you may be interested in: How To Write A Grant Proposal is a writing workshop by John L. Silva and sponsored by Hands On Manila (HOM). Many non-profit organizations raise money through fundraising and grants. The most basic requirement is writing a grant proposal. Hands On Manila (HOM) is a non-profit organization which recruits volunteers to help various charitable organizations. John is offering a one-day intensive workshop on How To Write A Grant Proposal. He will go through a step-by-step procedure in reviewing what is entailed in a proposal, how to ensure funding guidelines are followed, what pertinent documents are needed, and what research one has to do to make sure a proposal is a fit with that of the funding agency. John will teach you to identify the very best of your work, its successes, its challenges, and help you write it to make a persuasive and winning grant proposal. In addition, he will teach you how to conduct yourself with the media and the press when articulating your grant proposal needs. The whole-day seminar will be held Friday, Sept. 30, at the National Museum. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the workshop starts at 9:30 a.m. Lunch will be served. The fee is P3,500 for HOM members and P4,000 for non-HOM members. The fee includes hand-outs, a CD, snacks and lunch, and a tour of the National Museum. Seats are limited so please call 843-5231/843-7044 or e-mail homla@info.com.ph to reserve your seat.
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Feedback is welcome. Please e-mail the writer at paulo.alcazaren@gmail.com.

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