I recently bought Domus magazine’s (an international architecture & design magazine based in Italy) architecture guide iPhone app for New York. Partly this is market research (I’m still trying to figure out if a Field Guide to Neon app makes sense), but mostly it was for one reason: it includes the Candela Structures. Yay! So of course I wanted to see what Domus said about them.
First let me explain the app: it includes an introductory essay, a list of New York City buildings, a corresponding list of architects, a list of galleries and shops where you can see art and design, and most importantly, a map interface, so you can see where the buildings or galleries/shops are located relative to your current position (you can also sort the lists by distance from your current location). Excellent! You can also save favorites and there are some walking-tour-type routes with topics like “Contemporary Curtain Walls” and “Unorthodox Modern,” as well as the ability to set up your own route, though I have to admit I haven’t yet figured out how that works—I guess I’ll have to find instructions on line.
Each building includes a small photo, the architect and date, address, nearest subway, and a brief history. Exactly the amount of information I want when I’m out in the world looking at architecture. I can get more in-depth when I’m back home researching.
All of that is pretty great. The only gripes I have is that the app itself is HUGE—just over 98 megabytes, while similar apps on my phone are closer to three or four. I also think the photos could have been better—they tend to be washed out and unimpressive as thumbnails, not very enticing for the intrepid explorer.
Those criticisms notwithstanding, though, the content is pretty great. A good mix of building types, and a good mix of famous and less well known structures, so even a long-time New Yorker like me can find plenty of new places to visit. And of course I love them for including the Candela Structures (and a link to our website!), so even at a relatively pricey (for iPhone apps) $4.99, I’m glad I bought it. There are also guides to Berlin and Milan, and if I ever find myself headed to either of those cities, I’ll definitely check those apps out, too. My only advice to Domus would be to find a way to minimize the size and to hire me to take photos for the next version.