Hanoi temples

by KTS. Trịnh chiến Thắng | 2:21 PM in | comments (0)


In 1070, King Ly Thanh Tong erected Van Mieu (Temple of Literature) and the carvings of Confucius, Chu Cong the four disciples, and 72 other scholars who were considered to be model Confucians.

In 1076, King Ly Thanh Tong erected Viet Nam’s first university, Quoc Tu Giam (National University), near Van Mieu for the purpose of instructing the children of Mandarins, the aristocrats, and the brightest commoners. During its more than 700 years of instruction (1076-1779), Quoc Tu Giam educated thousands of talented men for Viet Nam. Among the most notable are the mathematician Luong The Vinh, the historian Ngo Sy Lien, the encyclopedist Ly Don, and the politician-diplomat Ngo Thi Nham.

Valued relics representing the millenary civilization are well preserved, such as stelae with inscriptions of the names of distinguished scholars, the Thien Quang Tinh (Well of Heavenly Clarity), the pavilion in dedication of the Khue Van Cac ( Constellation of Literature), the statue of Confucius, the Great House of Ceremonies, the ancient wall, kowtow portico and the sanctuary, the stone dragons, and the ink stone stands.

82 stone stelae which rest upon large stone tortoises were created between 1484 and 1780 and are engraved with the names of 1,306 doctor laureates, their birth places and achievements. These stelae were erected to encourage learning and bestow honor on the talented men who assisted the Kings in defending the country.


In 257BC, King An Duong (Thuc Phan) built Co Loa or Loa Thanh (Snail-Form Citadel), located 15KM from Hanoi, in the province of Phuc Yen (presently Vinh Phu). Co Loa formed by 3 inter-twined mud-enclosures in labyrinthine fashion that looked like a snail-shell. The first enclosure measured 2X3KM, the second enclosure measured 6.5KM was positioned on higher ground, and the rectangular citadel formed the third enclosure. In the center was the royal palace, surrounded by quarters reserved for the guards. The first betrayal of Viet Nam recorded in history was committed by My Chau, a royal princess who enticed by the charms of Trong Thuy, a northern prince. She told him the defense secret of the Snail-Form Citadel. Subsequently, the fortress fell into the hands of Ch'ao To (Trieu Da), Trong Thuy's father.

Chinese-style Citadels In 3BC, the Ch'in rulers of China deported massive numbers of ethnic Chinese into the south hoping to assimilate the Viet people. The Han who succeeded to the Ch'in actually imposed government control over Giao Chi. From this contact the Vietnamese learned military construction techniques from the Chinese and eventually put them to use in the defense of their territory. In 43AD, when Chinese general Ma "the Conqueror of Waves" Yuan came south to repress the rebellion of the Trung sisters, he met with resistance coming from 65 fortresses or fortified residences. These constructions were built with primitive techniques, consisted of a huge square yard enclosed by mud-walls with cornered watchtowers. Entrance structures with holes covered by thatch through which small archers may be shot were on 4 sides of the citadel. Three little forts formed the outer defense line as alarm posts.

Architects Hit Hard by Recession

by KTS. Trịnh chiến Thắng | 12:53 PM in | comments (0)

When Mark Baker started his small Albuquerque, New Mexico, firm, Baker Architecture + Design, in 2002, he focused on small-scale projects: home additions, kitchen remodels, garages, and the like. In more recent years, Baker’s work has grown to include restaurants, spas, high-end custom homes, and elementary schools for Albuquerque’s public school system. Then the recession hit. “We had three big projects canceled at the same time,” Baker says. “February was horrible. We didn’t have any jobs that month.”

Image courtesy RNL Design

Baker and his two full-time employees went to a four-day work week, and when projects started trickling back in, they were the kinds of jobs Baker thought he had moved away from: mostly home additions and garages. “We’re doing jobs we’re overqualified for,” Baker says. “But it’s nice to have a job of any kind.”

Baker’s story is typical. Architecture firms in the western United States have been hit hard by the financial crisis. Work has dried up, and many firms have responded by layoffs and other cost-cutting measures. Commercial work, in particular, has fallen off dramatically, so firms are turning to public sector projects to stay afloat. In March, the Architectural Billings Index for the West was 36.1, down from February’s score of 37.4, but still higher than November’s all-time low of 34.9. (A score above 50 on the index indicates an increase in billings; below 50, a decrease.)

“What we’re going through is nothing short of brutal,” says Herbert Nadel, FAIA, chairman and CEO of Los Angeles-based firm Nadel. “It’s far and away the worst I’ve seen in my 48 years in the business.”

In 2007, Nadel had 260 employees in seven offices in California, Nevada, and Arizona, and the firm ranked No. 70 on Architectural Record’s list of the Top 150 Architecture Firms. The bulk of its work was retail and residential, two sectors that have seen dramatic declines throughout much of the West. With new construction at a standstill, Nadel closed its Ontario, California office and laid off nearly half of its staff. “And we may have to reduce even more,” Nadel says. Salaries of remaining employees have been reduced by 20 percent, and all bonuses, profit-sharing, and retirement contributions have been eliminated. “We’re in survival mode,” Nadel says.

A thousand miles to the north, in Seattle, global giant NBBJ has reduced its local staff by 30 positions, to 386; companywide, the firm has eliminated 7.5 percent of its workforce and now has about 680 employees. Managing partner Scott Wyatt, FAIA, says a number of the firm’s projects were simply put on hold—instead of being canceled outright—when the economy tanked. In January, NBBJ was in the process of designing three new office buildings for Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, campus when the software company announced a series of cost-cutting measures. The Redmond buildings were postponed.

“It’s really hard to have a project put on hold through an afternoon phone call and suddenly have 30 people with nothing to do,” Wyatt says.

In Denver, OZ Architecture has laid off about a third of its employees, leaving a staff of about 150. Professional development has been curtailed, and hours for some employees have been reduced. RNL Design has gone from about 180 employees a year ago to the current 138. For both firms, the biggest drop has been in the commercial sector. “The commercial mixed-use market is pretty much gone,” says Michael Brendle, FAIA, RNL’s director of design. The firm has found a “safe haven” in government projects, including buildings on military bases around the country and maintenance facilities for bus and light-rail systems. “Those are the kinds of things that are getting funding,” Brendle says.

OZ, too, is focusing more on public-sector projects, such as libraries and schools. “The size of job we will consider has definitely gotten smaller,” says managing principal Jim Bershof, AIA. “But we’re definitely happy to have some of those projects.”

One western firm that hasn’t had to lay off any employees is Seattle’s Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects, winner of the 2009 AIA Architecture Firm Award. With 85 employees, the firm specializes in museums and high-end homes, often built for art collectors. More than half of its work is in the Seattle area, but the firm has done projects throughout the United States and around the world. “If we didn’t have any foreign projects, we’d be in trouble,” says principal Jim Olson, FAIA. And while the firm has seen about 10 projects canceled in the last six months, enough new projects have come along to keep everyone busy. And in the current economy, no net loss is about the best one can hope for.

“Last fall,” Olson says, “we were really, really worried. But now we’re cautiously optimistic. I think we’ll be OK. We’re just taking it one month at a time.”