Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Genetically Designed Stuff

Friends recently pointed DYWSC? to a start-up firm out of Singapore that claims to be designing barstools, coffee makers, electronics, and watches with something that sounds like genetic algorithms. They appear entirely technically involved, and admirably are designing the software to push their ideas. If this isn’t a prank, it sounds super-cool, and like a great business model for the youngsters… except “Genometrically” isn’t a word
1. The client provides a basic CAD model or pictures and a description of desirable design outcomes.
2. The product will then be modeled Genometrically. We will generate some sample design variations for the client to confirm the desirability of the design outcomes.

3. The model will be further refined using this information. We would then generate any number of variations, which would be presented online as interactive 3d models or as rendered images for the client's selection.

4. The CAD model for the selected design will then be given in the requested format to the client.
5. This is offered as a web based service.

People Talking About Architecture - 12.02.2005

One on each coast, and one for good luck...

Los Angeles:
Conference - "Get Real, Be Sustainable"
8:00 AM - Millennium Biltmore Hotel
The LACCD will present it's Fourth Annual Sustainability Conference. In addition to keynote speakers there will be four panels of experts presenting and responding to questions from the audience.

New York:
Sara Caples and Everardo Jefferson - The New Mix: Culturally Dynamic Architecture (AD #5, 2005)
6:30 PM - The Urban Center, 457 Madison Avenue
In "The New Mix" issue of AD, editors Sara Caples and Everardo Jefferson pose the question, “In what ways does the increasing cultural diversity of cities worldwide result in a broadening of the modernist language?”

(Bonus!) Los Angeles:
Cynthia Davidson and Denise Bratton - LA Launch of Log 6
(Sunday the 4th) 05:00 pm - the Mountain Bar in Chinatown
Co-editors Cynthia Davidson and Denise Bratton present the Los Angeles launch of Log 6. Mrs. Davidson will talk briefly about the birth of Log in the aftermath of Any magazine and the Any conferences. In attendance will be a number of Log collaborators from Los Angeles and San Diego, including Forum President Kazys Varnelis, Teddy Cruz, Tom Gilmore, Craig Hodgetts, Wes Jones, Bruna Mori, Florencia Pita, newly appointed director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture Mirko Zardini.

A Good Article (2)

BIM software is not PM software. Parametric Modeling is great. And, so is Building Information Modeling. Unless you ask Ken Sanders, AIA. As has been our theme this week, the really good journalism out there explains the difference.

"Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere." - G. K. Chesterton (before 1936)

“Ten years from now we will be having a drink and laughing about how we used to draw in two dimensions and delivering sheets of paper.” Carl Galioto, Partner - SOM New York (2005)

People Talking About Architecture - 12.01.2005

DYWSC? Got all excited about the new Firefox 1.5 release today, installed it, and wiped out the old calendar dates from Firefox 1.0.7. Its going to take a little while to get all that stuff back in one place, so in the mean time...

Los Angeles:
Thomas S. Hines - A Continual Becoming: Rudolph Schindler's Discordant Modernism
4:00 PM - Getty Center, Museum Lecture Hall
Thomas S. Hines, professor in the Department of History and the Department of Architecture and Urban Design, UCLA, will lecture in conjunction with the Getty Research Institute's exhibition Julius Shulman, Modernity and the Metropolis.

New York:
A bunch of people - Competitions...What Impact are They Having on the Profession?
8 AM - FXFOWLE, 22 West 19th Street
A roundtable discussion in which panelists are asked to share their experiences and insights about the effect of competitions on architectural practice. The panelists will include: Henry Smith-Miller, Smith-Miller Hawkinson Architects; Ralph Lerner, FAIA Ralph Lerner Architect; Tod Williams,FAIA, Tod Williams Billie Tsien & Associates; Anne Papageorge,Senior Vice President for Memorial and Cultural Development at The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Lax code Checking... in Japan?

For all those who thought American standards were too high, compared to the Latin American way of building, here's a surprising story out of an epicenter of exactitude, Japan. The New York Times ran this on November 26th about a Japanese architect who cuts corners and has now scared the hell out of Tokyo because he used wood instead of rebar to reinforce concrete. The check that the American permit approval system provides has been privatized in Japan, and (obviously,) they go to the permit guy who will take the quickest look at the drawings and rubber stamp them. Way to end the article... "...The fact that this story came out before anybody died, before any building collapsed, while buildings were under construction, to me that is an encouraging sign,..." Wow. The glass is 1/100th full.
"It's not entirely my fault," Hidetsugu Aneha, the architect, told reporters last week. To cut construction costs and win more commissions, authorities say, Mr. Aneha designed 21 buildings over the last decade that would not withstand a moderate earthquake. Working in almost half of Japan's 47 prefectures, Mr. Aneha had a hand in nearly 200 structures, largely apartment buildings, but also hotels and temples. In one 11-story condominium complex studied this week by the newspaper Asahi Shimbun, columns and steel reinforcing bars were found to be too thin and too far apart, and different earthquake force figures were used for the same floor. The report for this Tokyo building, the newspaper said, was "filled with inconsistencies that any expert could easily have picked up."

Monday, November 28, 2005

People Talking About Architecture - 11.30.2005

Something for everyone today, one of the last times this year..

Ben Nicholson - The Archeworks Papers, Vol 1. Num. 3
6:00 PM - Archeworks 625 North Kingsbury St.
The alternative design school hosts the IIT studio professor, historian, and designer. (Why must Archinect cross out "Architect" in front of his name and keep it there. That's a little rude? Ok, we just put the link up so you would read the article, it cool.) This is the third of a series of annual commissioned lectures delivered by independent scholars on self-similar subjects that are then published as a book. The Archeworks papers form the basis of the Archeworks pedagogy. Ben Nicholson’s lecture will be printed in a book with respondents from three experts and released in Spring 2006. Sounds like a sweet gig.

Craig Dykers - Thoughts on Architecture & the Works of Snohetta
7:30 PM - 112 Wurster
Mr. Dykers will likely talk about his firm's selection to do one of the two major cultural centers at the WTC site ( Frank Gehry's doing the other one). He'll likely lecture on that and a new library in Alexandria, Egypt.

Symposium - Augmented Architecture: Design, Practice & Education
7:00 PM - The Main Space
Its billed as a symposium to inaugurate a series of collaborations with the Stanford Humanities Lab (SHL) at Stanford University. The symposium will focus on design education and will feature prominent educators/practitioners from each institution.

Thom Mayne - Fresh Morphosis
6:30 PM - Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall
Wacky, wacky stuff. The thing that threw DYWSC? about Thom is how we never saw how much he was inflounced by The Situationalists until he told us in a lecture last year. If you get to go, look for the resemblances, it's cool.

Blogs and Architecture

'Thought Virus #3' has appeared on Douglas Rushkoff's Blog. These viruses are a way of hyping the release of his upcoming book, Get Back in the Box. While the last virus had DYWSC noting that architectural toolmaking is on the rise, this virus hits much closer to home. To quote Mr. Rushkoff's blog...
In today's commercial landscape, cluttered as it is with messages of personal gratification and consumption, the HBO [ad] campaign [about water cooler sales increading with intereset in their programming,] revealed a deeper understanding of our social needs than meets the eye. Not only did it recognize our desire for connection with other people - especially at work - but it recognized our awareness that accumulating social currency was the surest route toward achieving these connections.


But they've got the horse and the cart reversed. People don’t engage with each other in order to exchange viruses; people exchange viruses as an excuse to engage with each other. Media viruses, and their massive promotional capability, are all dependent on the newfound collective spirit of our age and the increasing need for social currency that has resulted. It’s not about convincing a few key individuals to sell products; it’s about creating products that provide everyone the currency they need to forge new social connections. Sure, if we analyze the movement of an idea across a community, we’ll be able, retro...
... Mr. Rushkoff goes on, but the thesis is stinging. You're reading this bog for something to talk about with other poeple like you. According him, Blogs like this, or other specialized media, ultimitely are currencey for us to communicate. Your choice of media, like your choice of shoes, aligns you with others you seek to hang with (yo).

In the comments section at the bottom, "Matt's" remarks provide the best frame to view virus three. These ideas have been explored by economists long before media commentators wrestled with rational agent (utility maximizer) models. This forum [DYWSC?] is meant to help everyone understand what's going on in Architecture these days, however, we cannot escape the blog culture we're participating in. DYWSC? even encourages comments on how this new medium will effect Architecture.

Corb Blamed for French Riots

Christopher Caldwell of The New York Times Magazine floats this summery of housing approaches in suburban Europe, and how it's related to the recent riots. He does well to link the stratagies to the political machines defending them, in a quick read...
La crise des banlieues turns out to be an ambiguous phrase. Is there a problem in France's suburbs or with France's suburbs? For Schäuble, it's the buildings. For the boosters of Marseille, it's where you put them.

The Swiss architect Le Corbusier, as Francophobes have been more than ready to explain, bears some of the blame for both. His designs inspired many of the suburbs where the riots of October and November began. In fact, he inspired the very practice of housing the urban poor by building up instead of out. Soaring apartments, he thought, would finally give sunlight and fresh air to city laborers, who had been trapped in narrow and fetid back streets since the dawn of urbanization. But high-rise apartments mixed badly with something poor communities generate in profusion: groups of young, armed, desperate males. Anyone who could control the elevator bank (and, when that became too terrifying to use, the graffiti-covered stairwells) could hold hundreds of families ransom.
... DYWSC raises this recent piece of architectural journalism high over this one, because it presents both sides of a rather complicated story. The Zaha story is merely praise, without much consideration to the cost and meaning of her building. She may diserve the praise, and the building may look sexy as hell, but still: this is why we all should need a little more coffee.

Homework over the Holiday

You may notice some changes to the blog since Thanksgiving. AJWB did some soul-searching and streamlining after another read of The Fountainhead, and other laughing-good fiction. We droped some redundancies and blossomed into DYWSC?, in the spirit of why this blog is here. That's also why the mission statement was added, and the templates were cleaned up. Don't be alarmed, all the content is still here, and after a little more house cleaning, we're good for the long haul.

People Talking About Architecture - 11.29.2005

Some good stuff coming at the end of the week, but if you need your archifix now...

Michael Meredith : Recent Work
6:00 PM - Gund Hall Piper Auditorium
The Assistant Professor of Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design will give a home-turf lecture. He'll probably present his design for the (now removed) Huyghe + Le Corbusier Puppet Theater, so if you can't go, maybe you can read this and say you did.

London - AA:
Plasma Studio : Recent Work
6:30 PM - 36 Bedford Square
Eva Castro and Holger Kehne of Plasma Studio talk about current projects. Hopefully they won't talk like this, ‘We do not just avoid iconography, images or other semantic modes of communication but through abstraction and morphological shifts and innovation we intend to produce ambiences that are unfamiliar. These place the user in a receptive mode while challenging his preoccupations and standards.’ They'll probably explain their experimental installation at the Architectural Association gallery (Its up from the 18th of Nov to 9th of Dec.)

People Talking About Architecture - 11.28.2005

Welcome back from the long holiday weekend. Be glad you're not a sleep-depraved architecture student in Los Angeles today...

Joe Bilello, AIA : Lecture
4:00 PM - Architecture Building, AB100
The Dean and Professor at Ball State's College of Architecture and Planning will give a home-turf lecture. Who's going to ask the tough questions at the end of this one?

Final Jury - USC School of Architecture :
Monday, November 28 through Wednesday, December 14
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM - Verle Annis Gallery, Helen Lindhurst Gallery, & Watt Hall 1
Information: Jane Ilger, 213 740-2092

Thursday, November 24, 2005

People Talking About Architecture - 11.25.2005

DYWC? really has to stretch to bring this discussion to you. [Reminder:] This is Buy Nothing Day, not just Black Friday, so by going to this event, you may be culture-jamming.

Nova Scotia:
The RAIC : Green to Green: opportunities for more energy-efficient building retrofits
9:00 AM - Casino Nova Scotia Hotel
This one-day course will be held at locations across Canada, and will help participants understand how to make the best decisions for implementing energy efficiency strategies in retrofit projects.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

This Thanksgiving DYWC? brings you a passage from Philip Johnson's (inaugural) Pritzker Prize acceptance speech. The whole thing is worth the read, but this passage especially rings true today...
But things can change; architects are ready. Here in the West we are blessed with a great artistic heritage. In this century alone, we have Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Lutyens, Mies van der Rohe, and our young architects may be better than them. They have the good fortune to work in a period of great change, a change in direction upsetting all the presuppositions of the last century. New understandings are sweeping the art. New breezes are blowing. The atmosphere is electric.

Radio David Byrne

As young architects, DYWC? is more than happy to talk about the Talking Heads, an 80’s band that formed from Architecture and design students at RISD. The Talking Heads came up with a completely novel way to compose music, and it was catching ears(?) Back in the day even NPR was doing shows about how they grunted to soundtracks of their instrumentals until lyrics formed. They inflounced bands even today (the namesake of “Radiohead” is a Talking Heads song of the same title). Here’s how the lead singer/"songwriter" is trying to innovate these days. This brings us to today's debate: Aside from lyrics like “She had a pleasant elevation…[And She Was]” how did their liberal RISD 80’s design education help launch The Talking Heads into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Here's an excerpt from a recent interview with NPR [Update] Mr. Byrne has recently gotten in a little trouble with the FCC...
Xeni Jardin: How do you feel about the fact that some of your fans are downloading your music for free?
David Byrne: It's a mixed bag. Sure, I would love to have compensation for that. But the argument of record companies standing up for artists rights is such a load of hooey. Most artists see nothing from record sales -- it's not an evil conspiracy, it's just the way the accounting works. That's the way major record labels are set up, from a purely pragmatic point of view. So as far as the artist goes -- who cares? I don't see much money from record sales anway, so I don't really care how people are getting it.

People Talking About Architecture - 11.24.2005

If you're going to go see an architectural lecture on Thanksgiving, it won't be on this continent. Naturally, the British aren't keen on the holiday, perhaps that's why they scheduled this against it...

The AA
Symposium : Ambient and Augmented Architectures
10.00 AM - 36 Bedford Square
This two-day symposium will bring together an international group of designers, artists, architects and engineers working in fields related to responsive built environments. That, and they have this cool wall called "smartSlab." (Link is only good until end of the week.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Blob that Means Something!

Citing that tools should never dictate design, but instead that design should innovate tools, one should always speak out against Blobitecture. Finally today, someone has crafted meaning into a blob [Air Traffic as seen by the FAA]. This is the coolest applet to come down the pipe in a while, and it was written with Processing – which matured to Beta a few months ago. Thanks again to Ben and Casey, who made a lot of these possible! (Watch out you line guys, Edward Tufte is coming at you next with his Sparklines... )

Jencks/Eisenman Debate on Metropolis

Here is a link to a pretty interesting debate between Charels Jencks and Peter Eisenman. The debate's subject was "The Iconic Building" and it occurred at Columbia University on October 26th of this year. The exerpts were just published Friday and features 10-minute responses. It reportedly got a little contested. This is a little boarder skirmish, and at stake here is what architects should focus on -- where architecture's definition lies. These two are in the sign -> symbol -> meaning team. They're picking a fight with someone not in the room, or on the team. A quote from the article...

Peter Eisenman: I couldn't disagree with Charles [Jencks] more. He tells us what an iconic building is, that it's a "multiply coded enigmatic sign," but most of the buildings in his book ain't enigmatically double-coded signs. The worst example, of course, is Santiago Calatrava. The only thing enigmatic about Calatrava is how he's so successful. But it's not enigmatic, I know why he's successful--because the buildings are one-liners, they're easy. They are saccharine, they're not structural at all--you don't have to know anything about structure. And, you know, why a subway station in New York should look like a bird--that's probably "multiple coding," but to me it's just dumb.

People Talking About Architecture - 11.23.2005

Alack. Again nothing today. Perhaps it's time to just go buy the Turkey. By the way Frank Gehry is looking to do a major cultural center in Turkey, and is in negotiations with the Turks' governement as we speak. More on that later.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Highlights from the SOM/AIA Conference

Judging from the buzz at the Center for Architecture Friday, Michael Weinstock's lecture (the only lecture addressing design, and then by default,) was the highlight of the day. Instead of detailing the intricacies of his design and teaching philosophy, here's a short list of the buildings he used to illustrate his talk. Each one somehow embodies the idea that a building's constituent parts combine to create a larger fluid system, and that the better buildings have larger fluid systems that combine to even larger fluid systems. This is how cells in the human body combine to create organs, which combine to create people. If you get that, you'll get..

Cecil Balmond with Philip Johnson
Chavasse Park . Liverpool, England (Unrealized)

Cecil Balmond with Toyo Ito
2002 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

Herzog & de Meuron
Chinese National Stadium, Beijing 2008

Cecil Balmond with PTW Architects
National Swimming Center ("The Water Cube"), Beijing 2008

Learning from Bob & Denise

For those of us who weren't twisting and squirming in our seats through My Architect -- The documentary that Louis I. Kahn's son had to make to air the half-family's dirty laundry. Now there's a new son-filming-his-architect-parents movie. Here's the webiste where you can watch some clips -- there's no`one rollerblading in the Salk Institute Courtyard in this one (thank God). From the description...
Learning from Bob and Denise will take viewers on a journey from their early years to the present. The film will explore the many disparate influences upon the couple, including their extraordinary parents and childhoods, their collaborative design process, the “star-system” in architecture and Scott Brown’s pioneering role for women in the field.

Through looking at the firm’s work and seeing interviews with the subjects, members of their office, clients, colleagues, friends, and critics, the audience will gain an understanding of Venturi and Scott Brown’s philosophy, and find the universal themes applicable to many aspects of contemporary society. The filmmaker, their son, hopes this film will help to support and inspire those whose ideas go beyond what the dominant culture promotes.

People Talking About Architecture - 11.22.2005

We can't find anything worthy of posting about for this Tuesday. Please comment if you know something we don't.

People Talking About Architecture - 11.21.2005

Its going to be a good day almost everywhere. Probably because for most of us, This Monday is more like a Wednesday. Here's a list of Monday's lectures...

The Cooper Union:
Peter Zumthor : [Discussion]
6:30 PM - The Great Hall
Peter Zumthor is at Cooper Union to talk about his design for the Kunsthaus Bregrenz -- how it embodies its artistic mission to provide “an open platform for the artwork as well as for the audience.”

Shigeru Ban: Works and Humanitarian Activities
7:00 PM - The Main Space
The principal of Shigeru Ban Architects, (in Tokyo,) talks about some works and humanitarian activities.

Jorge Francisco: Critical Observations on Contemporary Architecture in Latin America
6:30 PM - Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall
Luckily the responebts include Rafael Viñoly, Rafael Viñoly Architects, New York Kenneth Frampton, GSAPP, Columbia University.

Adrian Smith FAIA: [Lecture]
6:00 PM - University of Illinois at Chicago, Room 1100
Well, you could just read this.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

This just leaked – February Ice Storm

For this Friday's send-off a sneak peak at a conference to honor Philip Johnson.

The symposium schedule hasn’t been released yet, but DOWC? just got this advanced copy of the program of discussions for the Phillip Johnson Symposium at Yale on February 15th. It’s due that such an influential Architect would get a grand remembrance at an Ivy league school, and this all-star cast makes the event one we want to attend. Curious thought, the selection of Yale. Sure, it’s dean is a post-modernist sympathizer. But Associate Dean Peggy Deamer wrote a trenchant send-off in the AN a few months ago. It’s worth the read; there are some well crafted barbs tucked in there (3rd one down).

The schedule is eyebrow-raising because of the closing comments. In the interests of stagecraft, some devilishly clever soul has put Peter Eisenman and Rem Koolhaas on the same stage to fight for the last word. We can only remember these fellows sharing the stage twice in the last few years. At the last Any Conference Rem got upstaged despite recently winning the Pritzker (well, 3 years before). Any[Whatever] has always been Peter’s show. But at the (The New School, 2004) Tall Buildings Symposium, it was Rem’s treating of Pete like a 6th grade bully that actually drew laughter from the audience. We’ll be wondering if this event can help them put there differences aside.

[Update:] The minute you make statements about when the last time these two shared a stage, someone corrects you. Today it was mentioned the two will/may have a public debate Jan 30th, 2005 at the Architectural Association.

Breath-taking Paper Art

Boing Boing reported recently on artist who has turned his attention to making sculptures from A4 (like the US 8-1/2 x 11 paper). The shear delicacy and detail in the work is astounding. The drama of the placement on the page and in the display space are also well worth the look. From the artist's site [japanese photoblog] and [english website]...
My paper works has lately been based around an exploration of the relationship between two and three dimensionality. I find this materialization of a flat piece of paper into a 3D form almost as a magic process - or maybe one could call it obvious magic, because the process is obvious and the figures still stick to their origin, without the possibility of escaping. In that sense there is as well an aspect of something tragic in most of the cuts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

EDS Lovin'

Tropolism and Curbed are reporting about the webcam set up to document the renovation of Edward Durell Stone landmark thats about to get heavily changed. The outrage continues. But lets talk about a wierd, weird twist in the saga.

Perhaps the single loudest architectural voice crying for its preservation is one Robert A.M. Stern, the founder and head of RAMSA and the current Dean of the Yale School of Architecture. This letter and all these articles are just the begining, he's even been encouraging students to write op-eds in the Times for preservation.

Mr. Stern was the Cheif Editor of Perspecta 9/10, which snuck out a early copy of Robert Venturi's famous essay Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. With the publication of that essay Mr. Stern was able to help coin the 70's and 80's (very publishable) catch-phrase 'the Whites vs. the Greys' to get some spotlight. He sided with Ken Frampton, Robert Venturi, and Vince Scully against the New York Five (Eisenman, Graves, etc.) in the battle for the soul of Postmodernism.

Defending this Edward Durell Stone building is in Mr. Stern's strongest interests. Two Columbus Circle was originally designed to showcase the "modern"-art collection of supermarket heir Huntington Hartford, and was specifically designed as a critique of the new Mueseum of Modern Art uptown (MoMA's building and art is as White as it comes). Both the collection and the building were trying to comment on the direction from modernism and those lollypop columns were a thumb-to-the-nose for those Whites.

All this explains RAMS's perfectly understandable motivations. Then The Gutter runs this on November 9th! Bwwwaaaa??? They're ranking him at [1:1] to be the architecture curator for the enemy? That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow. If this is going to happen, then I'll be looking for the four horsemen and the locust in the sky.

And why not save the EDS building? The guy was awesome. He got on that plane a married man, sat next to a movie star, and was married to that movie star in less than a year. And, he died pennyless and drunk, sadly, the mark of all the great masters.

People Talking About Architecture - 11.18.2005

This may be the last busy Friday of the year, lots of conferences in the North East to choose from...

New York:
SOM Building Science & Design Research Symposium '05
Morning Session 9:30 AM - Center for Architecture (536 LaGuardia Place)
Afternoon Session 1:30pm - Center for Architecture
The 2nd annual SOM Building Science and Design Research Symposium is structured around three half-day general sessions: The keynote address will explore the power of complex natural systems to serve as model and metaphor in architecture and engineering. Special sessions will explore the use of computational tools in designing and fabricating complex form and the nature of sustainability. SESSION I. DESIGN EXPRESSION IN EMERGING MATERIALS (Friday Morning, Nov. 18, 9:30am – 12:30pm) SESSION II. SYSTEMS INTELLIGENCE (Friday Afternoon, Nov. 18, 1:30pm – 6:0pm) SESSION III. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (Saturday Morning, Nov. 19, 9:30am – 1:00pm).

Asia GSD Conference
12:00 PM - 10:00 PM - Gund Hall Piper Auditorium
Tsunami Related Discusions as per this website.

New York:
Michael Weinstock : Recent Work
6:00 PM - Center for Architecture
Michael Weinstock is the Director of Emergent Technologies and Design at Architectural Association School of Architecture, London and also is teaching this class at the Yale School of Architecture. The closest thing to it is this Harvard[sic.] course. Mr. Weinstock promises to bring his and recent student work. We are looking forward to seeing it.

Frank Lloyd Wright: Sacred Spaces
7:00 PM - Unity Temple
The world premiere of new documentary at Unity Temple.

Baseline for Judging the WTC Designs

A recent conversation with other architects yielded many different opinions about how the World Trade Center redoux is going. Bloomberg's comments, the seven different clients, the lack of a public leader all have us wondering if it isn't slowly turning into an embarrassment.

One good observation we all could agree on was Ellisworth Kelly's small contribution. In 2003 he sent the New York Times architectural critic Herbert Muschamp an image of the entire site as a green, grass field. The image was powerful because the emptiness alluded to the terrible loss at the site in 2001. Although we could not describe how, we all felt that any intervention, skyscraper, museum, etc. should be judged against this standard.

Ironically, the establishing of a baseline implies a metric of emotional affects. As architects we've searched hundreds of years for such a metric, and sadly, this might be a lost cause or at least a Holy Grail. In this case, we all understand simple economics. The power or Kelly's proposal lies with the opportunity cost of realizing it. The opportunity cost of whatever is built at the WTC site is whatever else could have been build there, for that cash. The possibilities are almost endless, and for architects, we have to convince the world that what we imagine is worth that cost.

On the Current State of Architectural Criticism

Some good news after swinging by the Architects Newspaper. This article really digs into the current state of Architectural criticism, is worth the read for all you aspiring writers out there. From the article...
If this state of affairs is lamentable, it’s necessary to acknowledge that architecture journalism for the mass public has long been a rarity in this country, with notable exceptions like Montgomery Schuyler at the New York World in the late 19th century and Lewis Mumford at The New Yorker during the middle decades of the twentieth. It was Ada Louise Huxtable, beginning her tenure at The New York Times in 1963 amid that decade’s urban upheavals and preservation battles, who coalesced a wide audience for engaged and outspoken architectural criticism. Today, while the issues affecting the built environment are no less contentious or ripe for debate, architecture criticism in its various local venues inevitably finds itself inflected, and distracted, by a far more advanced and globalized culture industry.
... In a semi-related observation, it looks like the AN is slowly making more and more of it's content available every month to us online readers. Kudos to that, as its becoming more and more clear that print-based business models don't have exact analogies to web-based print business models. Time, The New York Times, and countless other publications have already gone down that road, and come back. Thanks to the Architects Newspaper for the extra content.

My Structures Class Never Was Catered

In this article the Science News reports that spaghetti rarely breaks into just two pieces. Note to all of you out there that had to do the toothpick bridge, long thin strands of pasta do poorly in buckling (unless laminated with elmers) -- we're talking a slenderness ratio here that's through the roof. If you Eisenman-ites out there read too closely...
He and Neukirch plan to look into not only that still-hidden part of the process but also at other aspects of spaghetti breaking. For instance, the researchers can't yet predict exactly where a spaghetti rod rattled by waves will break. In some cases, fractures probably occur where peaks of extra curvature coincide with weaknesses of the rod, perhaps caused by small, preexisting cracks or voids.

The mechanisms of fragmentation uncovered by the pasta investigations "are both astonishing and are examples of how everyday effects still contain a lot of novel physics," Herrmann says..
... you might mistake all this uncertainty for a new machinic force. Watch out Soliton Waves (oh, if only we could link to his 90's El Croquis Essay), here comes snappy spaghetti. Whatever school you're near, look for pasta models in December's Final Juries folks, you heard it here first.

People Talking About Architecture - 11.17.2005

There are some pretty good lectures Thursday...

Ohio State:
Jesse Reiser : Recent Work
5:30 PM - Knowlton Hall Auditorium
Jesse Reiser, Principal of Reiser + Umemoto RUR Architecture, will speak on his work. We never heard how that competition in Tiawon was left, maybe someone will ask about that.

Richard Rogers : The Rebirth of Cities
6:30 PM - Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall
It would be nice to hear what the London architect is doing & how his thinking has evolved. We haven't noticed may visits to this side of the pond lately. (if you go, don't forget to call him 'Sir.')

Cooper Union:

Grahame Shane : Recombinant Urbanism
6:30 PM - Great Hall of The Cooper Union
We harber no doubt that this lecture is to push Mr. Shane's new book of the same name. We read one review of the book that proclaimed Recombinant Urbanism " set to become the key textbook at undergraduate and graduate levels". Ouch? Well with responses by Dennis Adams, Diana Agrest, Brian McGrath and Anthony Vidler maybe there will be a little fun (about a textbook). Here's hoping the that someone asks about the DNA reference in the title. Mr. Shane's pushing a rereading of the Collage City - the seminal Rowe/Koetter text, not a genetic alogrithm to explore urban growth.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

People Talking About Architecture - 11.16.2005

Here's a list of Wednesday's Lectures, some on each coast, and one in the middle...

David Erdman & Marcelyn Gow Print : SERVO: Networking
7:00 PM - 112 Wurster
Established in 1999 by David Erdman, Marcelyn Gow, Chris Perry and Ulrika Karlsson and based in four cities (New York, Los Angeles, Zurich and Stockholm), Servo is a research and design collaborative. Servo's experimentation with emergent design, fabrication and interactive information technologies focuses on the interface of emerging media and architectural practice. If you missed them at Ohio State back in February, here's their west coast engagement.

Ada Tolla + Giuseppe Lignano : Urban Scan
6:30 PM - Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall

The two founders of LOT-EK, New York are returning to their home school to present some new work, maybe talk about the new book. We're hoping for some images of their hometown of
Naples, because the photos we took on our requisite College Architecture trip aren't so good.

Ohio State:
Chris Haller : Recent Work
5:30 PM - Knowlton Hall Auditorium
The Civic Engagement and Technology Advisor for PlaceMatters, will speak on his work. This includes adding intelligence to Smart Growth Through "'Land Market Monitoring'' (a government process for monitoring residential and other land uses within a jurisdiction.)

Michael Bell : Binocular House
6:00 PM - Betts Auditorium

If you missed it in Boston last month, here's you chance to hear more about his Binocular House. If you're going to miss all his lectures on the topic, perhaps you may want to read this Architect's Newspaper article (scroll to third topic).

MoMA (New York):
6:00 PM - Edward Larabee Barnes Symposium
A Harvard[sic.] GSD sponcered event.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Open Source & Architecture - Take 1

In his blog recently, Douglas Rushkoff has pre-published some interesting thoughts on how open-source attitudes, habits, and mentalities are now finding purchase in mainstream design practices. The following quote about his "authorship society", also quoted here, documents some of these observations...

It is the real legacy of the open source movement -- misunderstood even by many of its participants as solely a way to develop computer operating systems, and underestimated in its potential impact by even its staunchest opponents. As I've come to see it, the deeper cultural agenda is based on three far-reaching assumptions:

1. The systems by which we live are inventions and conventions.
2. The codes underlying those systems can be learned and rewritten.
3. This process best takes place collaboratively.

It's those same three stages of renaissance we've been looking at all along: moving from passivity to gaining a perspective and then to attaining the power of authorship. Finally, the desire to acquire and spend social currency fuels a spirit of collaboration. We play the game by the rules, we learn enough codes to cheat, and ultimately rewrite the game and share our creations with others.

Approaching work this way offers us a path not only to greater innovation, but also to a more cooperative and less painfully competitive style of doing business. Still, it requires that we relearn both our own areas of expertise from the inside out, as well as the way we think of how to share them with others. Luckily, the two go hand in hand.

... Astute readers of California architect Wes Jones's 1990's texts will have heard echoess of his Corb-riffing thoughts in this. Specifically, in Instrumental Form: Designs for Words, Buildings, Machines Mr. Jones has an essay on "bossness" that is careful to detail the American approach to cars (hotrod) vs. the European mentality (Ferrari) -- where us Yankees feel free to paint flames on, and tinker under the hood of what Europeans would only hire skilled technicians to do.

We are already encouraged by many designers getting under the proverbial hood of their design tools to create truly unique solutions. Perhaps Gregg Lynn's Embryonic Houses first addressed the problem my finding new design tools to side-step the painfully Cartesian world of 3d Studio and AutoCAD. Far more exemplar of this vein would be the 2001 Peter Testa design for skyscapers. During the investigation he collaborated with Simon Greenwold to write the MEL script "weaver" to create woven ramped skyscraper structures. More recent examples of designers-creating-the-tools-to-create-the-design includee Lord Norman Foster's work and even this class at Yale School of Architecture.

It would be a mistake to think that open-source's influence on architecture means a free copy of AutoCAD eventually. Instead we're seeing a new renaissance of design ideas, stemming from the new approaches of tool-mastery among contemporary designers. Creativity is now pushing the limits of what we can imagine by pushing the limits how few toys we used explore with.

If history offers any lessons, it will be to watch who owns these new tools. At the dawn of the Renaissance period in Architecture, Filippo Brunelleschi stood atop his newly realized Cathedral Dome in Florence -- a structure he also designed tools to build, but had laborers construct individual parts of those lifting and construction tools in secret so no one but he knew how to make them. Knowing that innovation and design does not work in avacuumm, lets us hope that copywrite law and personal use prove flexible enough to welcome the new age.

There is one last gift at Douglas Rushkoff's blog -- the simple reminder that in his new "authorship society," "Those who are confident in their own core competency have nothing to fear from employees or customers with good ideas."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

People Talking About Architecture - 11.15.2005

In our continuing effort to only mention pertinent stuff going on, here's a list of Tuesday's Lectures...

Andrea Leers : Recent Work
6:00 PM - Gund Hall Piper Auditorium
The Adjunct Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, and Leers Weinzapfel associate talks about what shes been doing. A home turf lecture, so go to spice-it-up; all we're expecting are some softball questions and a free drink.

Women in Design Conference
See this.

People Talking About Architecture - 11.14.2005

As the Design Schools wrap up their Lecture Series this week, here's a list of Monday's Lectures...

Michael Maltzan : Oblique Actions
6:30 PM in Hastings Hall (basement floor)
Mr. Maltzan of Michael Maltzan Architecture presents recent work -- perhaps updating us on what he's been up to out there in LA since recieving the 1999 Young Architects Award.

Beatriz Colomina : Unbreathed Air 1956; Alison and Peter Smithson's House of the Future.
The Director of Graduate Studies and the Founding Director of the Program in Media and Modernity at Princeton University talks about her new book -- about the Smithson's 1956 project that tried to imagine the house of 1981.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

"Do you want some coffee?"

Architecture is hard to understand. Noble minds and smart people have advanced it's debate in spite of their abilities. The observations, notices, and insights recorded here are to help the rest of us understand what's going on. Sometimes its a lot of hype, other times its pretty inspiring.

Many men can tell you wrong what's wrong with the profession. Kenneth Frampton (the Ware Professor of Architecture at Columbia University and author of countless books on Architecture) put his finger on what to change in a rece
nt Demitri Porphyrios Studio jury at Yale University. Here's a portion of what he said...

Kenneth Frampton: ...I could tell you to cut six more slots into this thing, and it wouldn't make a difference. It's a negative critique of the project, but it's also a critique of the whole god damn situation. You have to have a principle, otherwise you can not communicate anything to anybody. Why should I invest my money in this, as opposed to some other project? You have to have a reason; otherwise the architects don't even talk to the society. Don't you see that predicament? These computer renderings produce aesthetic effects very well, seamless, very seductive, but they are not about anything. They are delusions! They are mirages! I'm sorry, it's very aggressive to say this, but aren't we going to start talking? It's just ridiculous to say, "Ok -- individual interpretations," "So on and so forth." One has to talk about something fundamental, otherwise we're never going to talk about anything anymore.

Demitri Porphyrios: I'm not sure what you're talking about.

Frampton: I'm talking about the fact that there is a total degeneration...

Porphyrios: Do you want some coffee?

Frampton: No, I don't. Sorry, I don't...

Porphyrios: Look, look, look. This is a disgusting situation. It's not right to get upset...

Frampton: It's something to get upset about. We always have polite discussions; we have to sometimes get upset, because otherwise we just don't talk about the things that matter.

Thank you for reading what follows. We're doing it because we think Ken is right. It's something to get upset about. So tell us, do you want some coffee?