Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Quote Clearinghouse (2)

The Quote Clearinghouse posts are designed to bring attention to exchanges worth reading, but not topical enough to justify their own post. Both come from recent downloads at Architecture Radio. This first one is from the recording “Keeping the Design in Public Architecture” and is either Cathy Simon, Alison Williams, or Marilynn Thompson addressing how architects must be advocates of the public realm, and dissussing how they must do more to advance good design in public architecture…

“[The role of the Architect is to] try and bring a voice of experience, knowledge, and respect to the notion of hiring an architect, and then sheparding the project so there's a voice of dissent about what is important – not just the parameters, and how much it costs to run it, and those things. It’s about the experience of the building, its durability as a metaphor. Think about Jefferson for a minute, or if any of you saw the movie about Louis Kahn. Buildings that are in the public realm become metaphors for that society. When Thomas Jefferson built the campus at the University of Virginia, he built it as an ideal, utopian, academical village that was expressing the values of the University of Virginia, and the values of American democracy, as he saw them. Since he was one of the inventors of them, he could see them quite clearly. Or when you see in the very last part of the Louis Kahn movie "My Architect" (His son just directed it.) and its in Bangledesh, and there's this architect there who worked with Kahn and who is weeping. [That architect said of Kahn,] "This man gave us democracy." That's not about how many dollars it costs to operate the building. It's not about a high performance building versus a normal building. It’s not about all those things that we’re quantifying today in this society. It’s really about something much, much more and much higher. It’s something about breathing life into a place where people come together.”

… and secondly here’s how Michael Rock started a lecture in San Francisco recently, commenting on the nature of his graphic design practice. There are only a few professions that still “practice” – medicine, law, and design are the big ones. The intentional pause at the end of the quote makes the recording very potent, and makes on think about what’s trying to be said.
"This is a talk about a professional design practice, and a professional design practice is a strange beast because it is a fairly aimless activity. You're constantly pulled in these directions by whatever happens to come through the door each day. So one day we're making up obscure architectural theory, the next day we're packaging shaving cream; making newspapers then wallpaper. It seems like on one hand we're asked that our authorial vision be so strong that we can mold any project in our image, and on the other hand, we're expected to be perfect chameleons – kind of realizing and embodying our client’s hopes and dreams. In a way, the hardest part is just remaining positive.”


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