Thursday, March 30, 2006

Technology and its several definitions in Architecture

Over the past several days the following quotes have been sitting together in a document waiting for a clever person to find the thread that links them. This is an open invitation to find the missing link.

The first quote is from a current RIBA Journal article, one of many singing the praises of Building Information Modeling (BIM). It speaks directly to the parametric heart of the medium and is quite possibly the best way to approach the second quote. First, from Martin Reise…

While the palette of tools has decades of 3D-specific design development, you have to remember that with Digital Project, you're not inputting just lines or shapes, but rules and knowledge. They can adapt and evolve and have incredibly powerful generative capabilities.

The focus of the quote is not about BIM, but about the development of a rule set. The focus of much of the last few decades of architectural theory has focused on rule sets, syntax, and the shared grammar that enables our communication, not only with sounds but also with posture, fashion, and building materials.

Which is why this second quote, again from Leon Krier, is worth pausing to consider. Prudence suggests always giving ample reflection to those statements, starting with “That is my main ambition, to…” These are the statements we’re all prone to toss out in a moment of bombast, however, here we’re given a rare moment to reconsider what we so quickly take for granted. This is Leon Kreir describing the work done by recent students interrogating structures already several hundred years old…

We go through so many steps of analysis [in this studio], not only of geographical structure, but also building logic and symbolic structure. And it is impossible for any human to accumulate so much knowledge in three months. An apprenticeship for the Beaux Arts lasted ten years. You started by scratching the floor and you finished by doing sublime things in watercolor. The problem is that these [students] are already grown-up people. They may look young, but they are grown-ups. And they are netting this knowledge. So in three months they get this overload. For this reason they will completely reject it. But at least they know what the system is. […] They will of course have to give copy to what is now fact, and they will get into this, and I think we will be able to break down the barriers, which stopped them to see this as history. But from now on, my hope is that they will see this as technology. That is my main ambition, to turn traditional architecture from being a historic subject to [the] subject of technology. To understand this.

Here Kreir is qualifying his studio as still significant, even if the material studied has been cast aside. What is interesting is that he does this by making an unusually Hidegarrian arguement. One of those trademark Hiedigarian ideas was enframing – that uniquely human impulse that runs out in front of man’s actions and orders the world for him. It’s the impulse that turns forests into dimensioned lumber before we know the wood's use – or divides up land into giant subdivided grids before we know the land's use. As a result, architects just know that wood comes in 2x’s and a townhouse in New York will stand 16’-0” x 50’-0”. By lumping traditional architecture (read ‘vernacular architecture’) in with other technological achievements, Krier changes the battlefield ever so subtly.

Instead of approaching the traditional like historians, with catalogues and dates, Krier invites listeners to attack the body of work with the same skepticism that we reserve for the deployment of nuclear energy.

By claiming traditional architecture is a technology he invites speculation about how we understand our aesthetic achievements, how conventions are adopted and reused, and how architectural conventions have grown to reflect the order in the rest of society… These are broad statements, but have their bearing here, the same way that the car has reorganized our landscape or the clock has reoranized our social relations. At the heart of these broad questions is the assumption of progress. Progress is the engine that drives technology, but it’s a little more rare to here an aesthete (very indirectly) claim that progress is driving investigations in Architecture.

This post began with a quote about rule sets though, and that is where the disconnect lies. With parametric modeling allowing us to act with potency on the rules that organize our compositions, why isn't traditional architecture the first and easiest model to make? Why is the result of such modeling ‘conventional’ office buildings or swooping swerving blobs? Why does Resolution: 4 Architecture have scores of modernist prefab homes on their site (a la ArchiKluge), but there is no killer app to spank out all the possible greek temples according to Virtruius? What is the missing piece? Or what is not being said between the two quotes?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

People Talking About Architecture – 04.01.2006

Columbia University:
1:00 PM - 6:00 PM - Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall

Yale University:
Symposium - On the Waterfront
10:00 AM – Hastings Hall (180 York Street)
Addresses will include presentations from Robert Breugmann’s, discussions by Alex Garvin, Tom Elghanayan, Thom Mayne, Sir Stuart Lipton, Malcolm Smith and more.

People Talking About Architecture – 03.31.2006

Yale University:
Hon. Joseph Riley – The Mayor As Urban Designer
6:30 PM - Hastings Hall (180 York Street)
This Keynote address is co-sponsored by School of Management and Regional Plan Association, and will kick off a weekend of discussions about urban design.

Cornell University:
Valerio Olgaiti - Projects
6:30 PM - Lecture Hall D (Goldwin Smith Hall)

SCI – Arc:
7:00 PM – Main Space
There is a new book coming out, this could be to promote it.

Syracuse University:
Richard Gluckman - Form'L Structure
4:30 PM - The Warehouse, Main Auditorium
The principal at Gluckman Mayner Architects is expected to present recent work.

People Talking About Architecture – 03.29.2006

New Jersey Institute of Technology:
Pablo Campos – The Educational Campus
12:30 PM - Weston Lecture Hall 1
The architect will deliver a talk whose full title is The Educational Campus: Architecture + Learning - The Innovative University of Salamanca Campus at Villamayor.

Columbia University:
Wolf Prix - Beyond the Blue
6:30 PM - Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall
The founding principal of Coop Himmelb(l)au is expected to present recent work. If you miss him in at Columbia, you have a second chance to see him at the Center for Architecture the next day.

Cornell University:
Francoise Fromonot - The Decline and Fall of Urbanism in Paris
6:30 PM - Lewis Auditorium (Goldwin Smith Hall)
The full title of this lecture is The Decline and Fall of Urbanism in Paris: The Belly and the Architects

Craig Hodgetts and Ming Fung – (Untitled Lecture)
7:00 – Main Space
Craig Hodgetts and Ming Fung (the SCI-Arc Graduate Program Director) have been partners in the Los Angeles based architecture firm Hodgetts+Fung for several years. Hopefully some trouble-makers will ask tough questions to spice up the home-turf lecture.

University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture:
Billie Tsien – (Untitled Lecture)
6:30 – McNichols Campus (at the corner of Livernois and McNichols)

New York:
Resonating Frequencies with Lebbeus Woods and DJ Spooky
6:30 PM - Center for Architecture (536 LaGuardia Place)
The full title of this event is Resonating Frequencies with Lebbeus Woods and DJ Spooky - an exploration of the symbiotic relationship between architecture and music. It is moderated by architect/composer Christopher Janney and features special guests Lebbeus Woods and DJ Spooky.

People Talking About Architecture – 03.30.2006

Ricky Burdett - Urban Transformations
6:00 PM - Higgins Hall Auditorium

Columbia University:
Symposium/Exihibit - Chaos, Delirium and the Phantom Territories
8:00 PM - Avery Hall, Wood Auditorium
It is not understood if this is an architectural event, but giving it the benefit of the doubt, it is posted. This event is billed as the official introduction to a new movement entitled “The Breaking”. To quote Columbia's literature, "At this occasion, unseen procedures of perception and experience will be exposed and encountered. By traversing the borders of the real and turning thought into action, the opening night of the Center for Broken Thought intends to provide a bridge to the extreme, and therein a new form of vitality."

University of Pennsylvania:
Terence Riley - Modern in a Post-modern World
06:30pm | B-1 Meyerson Hall
The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA and Principal of K/R Architects may be delivering his last lecture with that first title.

Syracuse University:
Aaron Betsky - How Dutch Design Will Save You
4:30 PM - Slocum 108
The Director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam will have some explaining to do with a lecture title like that.

New York:
Wolf Prix presents the Busan Cinema Center
6:00 PM - Center for Architecture (536 LaGuardia Place)
The co-founder of Coop Himmelb(l)au, will present the competition winning proposal for the Busan Cinema Center in Busan for South Korea. The project will serve as home of the Pusan International Film Festival, and is billed to suggest new intersections between architecture, cultural programs and public space that create lively and vibrant icons within the urban landscape.

Washington University:
Olafur Eliasson - Moelmania
6:00 PM - Steinberg Auditorium
This lecture simultaneously inaugurates the international symposium After the Digital Divide? German Aesthetic Theory in the Age of New Media and concludes the series Unsettled Ground: Nature, Landscape, and Ecology Now!

People Talking About Architecture – 03.28.2006

University of Toronto:
Peter Eisenman - Architecture Against Itself
6:30 PM - Earth Sciences Auditorium (5 Bancroft Avenue)

People Talking About Architecture – 03.27.2006

Yale University:
Stephen Johnson - The Urban Web
6:30 PM – Hastings Hall (180 York Street)

Columbia University:
Mark Cousins - Architecture and the Lost Object
6:30 PM - Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall
The Director of Histories and Theories at the Architectural Association Graduate School in London will continue this theme with two additional lectures on April 4th and 11th.

Washington University at St. Louis:
Rainer Mahlamäki – (Untitled Lecture)
7:00 PM - Steinberg Auditorium
Mr. Mahlamäki is currently professor and head of the Department of Architecture at Oulu University and has been chairman of the Museum of Finnish Architecture since 2002.He is a partner at Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects and is expected to present recent work.

Rice University:
Robert Fishman – Cities After the End of Cities
The Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan will discuss a 21st century urbanity.

Washington DC:
Shigeru Ban – "Spotlight on Design" Lecture
6:30 PM – National Building Museum (401 F Street NW)
The celebrated Japanese architect will discuss his work in temporary housing, the Nomadic Museum, the Curtain Wall House, and a new outpost for the Pompidou Center, to be built in Metz, France.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Materiality and Architecture - Leon Krier

In this forum, a reoccurring theme in some posts has been the relationship between the materiality of Architecture and the ephemeral and transcendent nature of Architecture. It’s materiality has been painted as a medium for larger concepts, and sometimes hindrance to the delivery of these ideas, by infatuation, fetishization, or disinterest. The Jacque Herzog quote two months ago, from his Pritzker Prize acceptance speech, may have most succinctly and poetically captured this duality – how the conceptual and the material in Architecture are forever interdependent, yet necessarily autonomous at operational levels.

Mapping an unexpected corner of this relationship is Leon Krier. The Belgian architect and designer for Prince Charles has built a career from a frontal assault on Modernism, earning professional celebrity in the 80’s from an ongoing debate with Peter Eisenman about the direction of design exploration. The two are dear friends now, and recently Mr. Eisenman sat on a final jury for Mr. Krier’s studio. The following discussion is a polite exchange between the two as Mr. Krier introduced the studio problem. It is valuable as it suggests a way to approach Western Architecture’s cultural heritage and even catches a participant in one of those “Architecture is…” moments, where in order to explain why we intervene in a certain way with our work, we end up offering a definition of Architecture as a common starting point…
Leon Krier: We looked at this. The students – everyone—had to draw. We had to research here. They had to draw for the first time in their life one of the buildings. Not only in […] but also in grade elevation, understand the construction, understand the materials. An all of this material had to be put on the computer so it becomes a bank of knowledge, not only of style but also of technique. Which then became a common index which can be reused by everyone in the next phase, which was the problem phase. Once these records were made, we could do some brief exercises -- to take a detail and to distort it. Distort it from the grotesque to the sublime, [in order] to be able to understand what is classical. To understand what is the nature of the classical, what is the best proportion of the column in a given situation.

[Three minutes later, at the end of the studio problem introduction.]

Peter Eisenman: Leon, before we get started, I have two questions. What is the difference to you between the grotesque and the sublime? You said before you were going to take a classical column and move it towards the grotesque or the sublime

Krier: There are many, many ahh...

Peter Eisenman: I need a quick mission statement.

Krier: Bulimia or anorexia would be a good, ahh...

Peter Eisenman: Oh. And the other would be, what's the difference between classical and vernacular?

Leon Krier: Yes. Ahh. [...] I think that architecture is ninety percent vernacular. Any of it...

Other: But what does it look like?

Leon Krier: It is technology. It is technique of building. It has no "style." It is joining natural materials in a tectonic way. Concrete and steel displaced this, because everything becomes style. When you use concrete there is no more "vernacular."

Peter Eisenman: Why not use concrete instead of vernacular materials?

Leon Krier: No. It’s not a natural material. It’s nature. And we are not nature, we are cultural. We are artificial. Whereas concrete is a form of blubber, which has no shape. It sticks together in forms which are completely untectonic and holds up for a while. But not for very long. Its a very fragile material. And very well nasty...

Peter Eisenman: What's the difference between bricks... bricks and mortar, mortar and concrete materially?

Leon Krier: Bricks? Oh, the cost. The energy cost. We should have Glenn Murcutt up. The energy cost to produce or create one brick is about... "x", and to produce reinforced concrete cost would be a factor of about seven -- at a minimum.

Peter Eisenman: But P.S. -- just in terms of cost – [Demitri Porphyrios?]'s brick-and-mortar building at Princeton is the most expensive buildings ever built, at Princeton. And I don't know what...

Leon Krier: We are conducted to an architecture, to brick buildings, any style -- all our buildings are fake. Even our industrial building. But that's the industrial condition. Nevertheless, we have the model of joining natural materials in a tectonic way, that is the overriding intellectual discipline. Materials, which informs architecture. Now Architecture is when you join these materials in an artful way. But I don't think you need 150% of []'s to be happy. Maybe 10% of the [] is enough. It is correctly those...

Peter Eisenman: That's the artfulness of the vernacular? When vernacular becomes artful it's classical?

Krier: Yes.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The shifting Forms of Architectural Debate

Over the past month, a master-student in the Netherlands has been organizing and dominating one of the most directed debates the Archinect forum has seen in quite some time. Citing last year's article 'The Hokusai Wave' by Alejandro Zaero-Polo, he tries to weave a more clearly defined relationship for Architecture and iconography, with balanced input from several forum contributors. In this way, the efforts of one student has given this “discussion” thread the look, weight, and feel of the “features” section The illustrations certainly work in the image-focused subject's favor, but the discussion feeds off a point-counterpoint method of debate with images and words and genuinely profits from these different ways to make a point. This type of well-illustrated, somewhat-thought-out dialogue between designers is usually reserved for university lectures and other prepared events. Its willful emergence in other public forums is a promising for the quality of future architectural debate and as a medium to bring outside attention to the discussion. Even in spite of less directed thread topics.

Friday, March 17, 2006

People Talking About Architecture – 03.23.2006

Los Angeles:
Convention – CA Boom 3
March 23 thru March 26 – Several Venues
This year the convention is billed as THE FIRST EVER MODERNIST PREFAB MARKETPLACE (!!!) (Emphasis, only in the form of exclamation points, added.)

UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Paul Lewis – (Untitled Lecture)
6:00 PM - C 300 Theater, (800 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC)

People Talking About Architecture – 03.22.2006

Harvard University:
Sarah Graham & Marc Angelil - Between Cultural Landscapes
6:00 PM - Gund Hall, Piper Auditorium
Here two of the five architects at agps architecture speak about some recent work, likely to include the ULB Darmstadt.

Paffard Keating-Clay – Modern Architect(ure)/Modern Master(s)
7:00 PM – Main Space
This architectural lecture that continues the use of parentheses to facilitate double antandre will be webcast at 7:00 PST at

University of California, Berkeley:
Dennis Crompton - Experimental Architecture 1961-74 (and beyond)
7:00 PM - 112 Wurster Hall
Archigram’s Dennis Crompton will catch us up, maybe about a new book.

Maryland Institute College of Art:
Ray Huff – (Untitled Lecture)
6:00 PM - Falvey Hall at Brown Center
The other partner at Huff & Gooden Architect will speak to a crowd assembled through the efforts of the Baltimore AIA.

Washington D.C.:
Bercy Chen Studio & Escher GuneWardena – (Untitled Lecture)
6:30 PM – National Building Museum

People Talking About Architecture – 03.21.2006

Harvard University:
Susan Fainstein - Planning and the Just City
6:00 PM - Gund Hall, Piper Auditorium
This night in Boston one can hear both Columbia’s Professor and Acting Director in the Urban Planning Program, and Harvard’s Professor of Planning, GSD, give a home turf lecture.

Woodbury Institute (San Deigo):
Kevin Alterwill – (Untitled Lecture)
6:30 PM - Design Center
In this lecture Mr. Alterwill will share his research in new materials and emerging fabrication techniques.

University of Toronto:
Christopher Girot – Shifting Landscapes – Moving Horizons
6:30 PM - ROOM 103 (230 College Street)
Listen to the Professor and Chairman of the Landscape Design Department at Ecole Nationale Supérieure du Paysage in Versailles France, and Visiting Critic in Landscape Architecture give a home turf lecture.

People Talking About Architecture – 03.20.2006

Washington University:
Iñaki Abalos – (Untitled Lecture)
7:00 PM - Steinberg Auditorium

New Jersey Institute of Technology:
Douglas Gauthier & Jeremy Edmiston - SYSTEMs in play
5:45 PM - Weston Lecture Hall 1
Douglas Gauthier & Jeremy Edmiston are partners at SYSTEM Architects, hence the title. Hopefully someone will comment here on how the two present the Parish House, recently constructed in Austrailia.

Rice University:
Juan Hernandez Leon – The Resonance of Place (My work with Alvaro Siza)
5:00 PM – (6100 Main Street, Houston TX)

University of Florida:
Lawrence Scarpa – Outside the Frame
6:00 PM - Harn Museum
The principal of Pugh + Scarpa in Los Angeles will speak about recent work. This will close out Rice’s Lecture series for the school year

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Pixel Points

Nancy Levinson has posted another well-crafted piece at, with her endorsement of Terry Castle's article about "shelter magazines" in this month's Atlantic. The two turn a critical eye to the basic impulses that young designers all suffer -- the need to be different, to express that difference thought materialism, and the inevitable run to modernist-oriented furniture stores to satisfy the need. Of course the posts continue to be so well written it makes this modest endeavor look downright amateur, but the work these two have done hands all readers a little more ammunition for a serious look at architecture. The reminder is for an attention to content, not image -- and reminds readers of the wisdom in digging for the philosophical underpinnings of what we strive for.

People Talking About Architecture – 03.17.2006

University of Virgiana:
Gregg Pasquarelli - Virginia Society of the AIA Design Forum
5:00 PM - Culbreth Theatre

University of California, San Diego:
Anuradha Mathur – (Untitled Lecture)
12:00 PM - VAF Seminar Room
The assistant professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania will speak about design and the representation of landscapes as shifting and dynamic. Mathur is currently investigating the landscape of the Deccan Plateau in South India, providing the basis for an innovative design strategy for the city of Bangalore. Mathur and Dillip da Cunha along with Tom Leaders were one of the 6 teams invited to compete in the Fresh Kills competitions.

People Talking About Architecture – 03.16.2006

Jeppe Aagaard Andersen – (Untitled Lecture)
6:00 PM - C 300 Theatre, UBC Robson Square (800 Robson Street)

University of Pennsylvania:
David Adjaye and Nikolaus Hirsch - Making Public Buildings
6:30 PM - B1 Meyerson Hall (210 South 34th Street)
This is an opportunity to watch a discussion between David Adjaye, the Louis I. Kahn Visiting Professor of Architecture Penn, and Nikolaus Hirsch, who is a Partner at Wandel Hoefer Lorch & Hirsch in Frankfurt.

New York:
New Practices Roundtable: Marketing by Design
6:30 PM - Center for Architecture (536 LaGuardia Place)
The roundtable will focus on how new architectural practices can define themselves while nurturing clients and generating business. It will be moderated by Martin Finio, and speakers include Michael Beirut, Graphic Design Partner at Pentagram; Cathy Ho, Editor of The Architect’s Newspaper; Nancy Kleppel, Independent Marketing Consultant; Linda Ong, Branding Consultant; David Resnick, AIA, Associate Commissioner NYC Department of Design and Construction.

Architectural Association:
Symposium: Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic Design
10.00 AM - Lecture Hall
This symposium aims to introduce the interrelated concepts of self-organisation and emergence in relation to morphogenetic design and introduce relevant methods, techniques and technologies. The symposium will mark the launch of Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic Design, guest-edited by Michael Hensel, Achim Menges and Michael Weinstock. Participants include Robert Aish (Director of Research at Bentley Systems; Smart Geometry Group), Christopher Hight (Rice School of Architecture), Prof. George Jeronimidis (Chair of Biomimetic Engineering, University of Reading), Benot Fauchon, Hugh Whitehead (Director Specialist Modelling Group, Foster and Partners, Smart Geometry Group), Michael Weinstock (Director of Emergent Technologies and Design, AA), and Michael Hensel and Achim Menges.

People Talking About Architecture – 03.15.2006

University of California, Berkley:
Alice Friedman - People Who Live in Glass Houses: Gender, Sexuality and Modernism Print
7:00pm PM - 112 Wurster Hall

Peter Swinnen - In Comes the Space Producer (The Architect Dissected and Declared Dead)
7:00 PM – Main Space

Cornell University:
Riken Yomamoto - Urban Fusion
6:30 PM - Lewis Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall

University of Toronto:
David Adjaye - al&d Lecture Series
6:30 PM – 230 College Street
(If you miss him in Canada, you can catch Mr. Adjaye tomorrow in Philadelphia.)

Harvard Univerity:
Stefano Boeri - SUPER PLACES: A Couple of Compelling Metaphors for Globalisation
6:00 PM - Gund Hall, Piper Auditorium

New York:
John Krieble & Laurie Kerr - Greening the Knowledge Base
6:30 PM – Steelecase (4 Columbus Circle)
The full title of this event is Greening the Knowledge Base: The Research Program at NYC DDC's Office of Sustainable Design. The pair from New York City’s DDC's Office of Sustainable Design will discuss the relationship of research to sustainable practice as it has evolved at the DDC. The agency's sustainable program began with a large study -- how to implement sustainable design within the context of city operations, and this resulted in The High Performance Building Guidelines.

Ellen Lipsey - Preserving Boston’s Landmarks
6:00 PM - Rabb Lecture Hall, Boston Public Library
The Director of the Boston Landmarks Commission will examine “what’s new with Boston’s old buildings” as she reviews current preservation issues and recent and current preservation projects in Bean Town.

People Talking About Architecture – 03.14.2006

Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
Thom Mayne - Working Progress
6:30 PM - Room 10-250
If you haven’t seen him all over the rest of the country, here’s a chance for Bostonians to see the Prizker Laureat and Santa Monica Architect present recent work.

Harvard University:
Robert Marino – (Untitled Lecture)
6:00 PM - Gund Hall, Piper Auditorium

Elizabeth Kolbert - Field Notes from a Catastrophe: The Future of Climate Change
5:30 PM - Higgins Hall Auditorium
If you can’t catch the lecture, here’s a recent interview.

Craig Dykers – (Untitled Lecture)
6:00 PM - Buck Lecture Hall Gallery, ArchiCenter (224 South Michigan Avenue)
The guys from Snohetta are everywhere it seems. This time Mr. Dykers is joined by Alexander Garvin, Edward Uhlir, Charles Renfro.

City University of New York:
George Ranalli - Architecture as Icon
6:00 PM - CCNY, Shepard Hall S95 (Convent Avenue at 138th Street)

Architectural Association:
François Roche – (Untitled Lecture)
6:30 PM - - Lecture Hall (36 Bedford Square, London)
The designer who collaborates with architects Stephanie Lavaux and Jean Navarro to form R&Sie(n) architects, will present speculative urban planning, biomorphic space, and generative heterogeneous mutations.

People Talking About Architecture – 03.13.2006

New York:
Shaun Donovan & Donald Elliott - New York New Housing: A Discussion
6:00 PM - Room 905, The Kimmel Center at NYU (60 Washington Square South)
This conversation between the current Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development and the former chair of the NYC Planning Commission will look at Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced plans to build and preserve 165,000 units of low- and moderate-income housing by 2013. The event is one of the first this year sponsored by the Forum For Urban Design, a friend of the blogging community.

New York:
William Horgan & Shane Burger - Venturing Forth from Eden
6:00 PM - Main Lecture Hall, Center for Architecture (536 LaGuardia Place)
The Associate and Designer from Grimshaw Architects will be presenting underlying and aesthetic philosophies adopted by their firm. They look forward to presenting a system of form generation based site and program characteristics, which inform a rigorous relationship-based geometry

University of Illinois at Chicago:
Keller Easterling – (Untitled Lecture)
6:00 PM - 1100 A+A Building
The Associate Professor at the Yale School of Architecture will likely present concepts for his new book Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and its Political Masquerades. Hopefully she will also find time to present her two web installations Wildcards: a Game of Orgman and Highline: Plotting NYC.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
Kenneth Neumann - Building on Lessons Learned From the UIUC
7:00 P.M. - Lawrence J. Plym Auditorium, Temple Hoyne Buell Hall

University of North Carolina, Charlotte:
Mark West – (Untitled Lecture)
2:00 PM - 9201 University City Blvd.
See the founding director of CAST - The Centre for Architectural Structures and Technology and Assistant Professor of Architecture at University of Manitoba discuss current research projects are in two areas: 1. The design and production of pre-cast, fabric-formed, compression vault and shell panels; and 2. The design of the first fabric-formed building.

New Jersey Institute of Technology:
Lalurie Hawkinson - Working Public Infrastructure
5:45 PM - Weston Lecture Hall

University of California, Berkley:
Tracy Metz - Holland and Water: A Restless Marriage
7:00 PM - 112 Wurster Hall
Tracy Metz, a native of California who now lives in the Netherlands, is a journalist who writes about architecture, urbanism and landscape, and is an international correspondent. She has published books on highways, on manmade ‘new nature’ and in 2002 a book called FUN! Leisure and Landscape that deals with the influence of leisure on historical city centers, on large-scale developments at the urban edges (‘the pleasure periphery’) and on the transformation of the traditionally agricultural countryside.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Summary of the BIM Symposium at the University of Minnesota

There was a time when a person who missed a symposium was out of luck. He could ask for first hand accounts of what was said, or if the discussion was broadly appealing, a book might come of the papers delivered to profit from the endeavor and document who was on that cutting edge. In yet another way the web is changing the dissemination of information, the symposiums that don't get books may still enjoy a healthy afterlife. The work Lachmi Khemaini has done at AECbytes to document the recent BIM symposium at the University of Minnesota is an excellent example of this.

Not only is the article a great primer for professionals or offices considering BIM implementation for their own work, but also the document is the first in a while to raise pedagogical concerns for the new technology. By just dedicating ten minutes to this piece and skimming the 2004 AB roundtable about architectural technologies, one can get a healthly overview of the genuine paradigm shift occurring with architecture's "deliverables." (The kind of paradigm shift Thomas Kuhn wrote about in The Structure of Scientific Revolution, not the abused term so many snake-oil salesmen are quick to use.) From the "Panel Discussion and Conclusions" section of Mr. Khemaini's article...
"It was generally agreed that BIM is going to bring about many changes in the architectural profession. It calls for new learning, the application of new processes, the development of new workflows, and better knowledge of other building disciplines. The position of draftsperson will certainly be eliminated. What is not clear is if it will be replaced by a new "modeler" position with the same disconnect between designer and modeler as there currently is between the draftsperson and the designer. This also relates to the question of how to best educate students for a professional future in which BIM will play an important role. How much of BIM should be taught in schools? Even with CAD, there was always the fear of "students getting lost in the computer," which made many studio instructors prohibit their students from using CAD on projects. Will this be the same with BIM? Or is BIM so fundamentally different from CAD that it could prove of tremendous value in core architectural education, in helping students understand how a building goes together?"

... and from the AB roundtable in the November / December 2004 issue intitled "Blur"...
[Phillip Bernstein] Nicholas Negroponte — the founder of the MIT Media Lab — talks about the phases of technology adoption. In the initial phase, you use the technology to replicate the ways you’ve always done things — so for architects, it’s the replacement of hand drafting. Then there’s the intermediate step of integration, where the relationship gets changed. And then ultimately the technology enables a way of pproaching the problem that’s fundamentally different. Technology is an underlayment that creates a degree of fluidity that didn’t exist before. And that fluidity combines with some other external factors that have to do with widespread dissatisfaction with the way current processes work. The reason your clients today say, “We don’t care what your role is” is that they are desperate for a good idea; they don’t care about the source. In many ways, the disintegration of old processes and old structures has to happen before things re-form into new, clear approaches.

[Mikyoung Kim] Technology is also an enabler for this kind of collaborative dialogue.When you can send a drawing back and forth so quickly between all the different parties, it allows a dialogue through the drawing that didn’t happen with hand drawings.

[Phillip Bernstein] And with certain kinds of technologies, you don’t just send a drawing any more. You can send insight. It’s not like a better fax machine — it’s something more. You can transmit intent and relationships and other kinds of metadata that create a whole different dynamic around the design process. What we haven’t yet developed are clear business processes that respond to what this means. For example, the owner says, “Why don’t you just do this and send this thing over to this other guy?” and the architect says, “Well, I didn’t get paid to make the data. I’m not going to take the risk of sending the data over there.”

[Jeffrey Inaba] It strikes me that “metadata” and “data” seem now to be the same thing, in the sense that meta-information, like intention or insight, is as much a part of the scope of architectural work as, say, dimensions on a drawing. We are responsible for having both the intention and insight in hand, as well as very specific descriptive bits of information.

[Phillip Bernstein] There’s still a useful distinction between “data” and “metadata.” Data is the information that’s transacted as part of traditional processes. You send me a drawing; I send you data that indicates the boundary of your landscape work. But the metadata is the stuff that, at least in traditional transactions, rides on top — non-graphic stuff like area calculations, quantities, or key relationships between components. It’s now possible to communicate both kinds of information. But unfortunately, there are no well-understood protocols for how to do all this.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Michael Graves at The New School

In case is got buried in the People Talking About Architecture postings, Michael Graves will join Dean Paul Goldberger for a discussion this evening at 6:30. This is the first public event DYWSC? has found since his serious illness several years ago. Luckily, the whole event will be webcast at the New School's website, so anyone not able to attend might still see.

Tough Questions

To compliment the Emerging Voices series that the New York Architectural League puts together, it has now started podcasting ten minute interviews of the spotlighted architects done immediately after their presentation lectures. Although the interviews and lectures seem to focus on the issues that the next generation of architects is tackling, listeners may find interviewer Andrew Blum asking accidentally grilling questions. The following exchange, from the Teddy Cruz discussion, was at first listen a cordial getting-to-know-you discussion. But after a moment of reflection, listeners may hear the almost epic struggle that these Emerging Voices designers are engaged in -- to just find their voice and be heard, even while the spotlight is on them. From the interview...

[5:53] Cruz: ...That's the reason people say "What have you built?" "Why aren't they built?" It takes time to build a position -- even more at times than building a building. It really has taken time to negotiate with the non-profit and the city itself. I realize out of interaction with the non-profit that these projects could not happen without designing or sculpting a policy, a kind of political framework..."

Blum: So it's almost as if instead of designing within the zoning code, working within the existing code, you're using these designs and the association with the community in order to change that."

Cruz: Exactly. That maybe summarizes it better. The project became a political instrument to change code.

Blum: So what have you built?

Cruz: I mean, I built a big house in Tijuana, I've done a winery in Baja California, you know, a couple of houses...

Blum: But that's not the way you've arranged your practice.

Cruz: Right. In reality its part of my experience, but the relevance... I mean, I think it was Steven Holl once who said "In order to build a practice..." it's not to just build like everything but the stuff that is important to you, that interests you. It's about being selective. I think the projects I presented, even thought they're not built yet, they really were the facilitators of this transformation of the regulation. [ed -obscured] That for me is a missing legacy.."

Sunday, March 05, 2006

People Talking About Architecture – 03.10.2006

Cornell University:
Ricahard Meier - (Title to be announced)
6:30 PM - Baker Auditorium (Goldwin Smith Hall)
Meier is the second and last of the New York Five to speak in the New York metro area this week. It is unclear wether he will be speaking in conjunction with the Project Architect Symposium that lasts from 9:30 -6:30 Sunday, in the same space. However, perhaps he will shed light on the design issues his office faced while designing Life Science Technology building.

People Talking About Architecture – 03.09.2006

New York:
Colloquium - On-Site: New Architecture in Spain
6:30 p.m. - KJC Auditorium (501 Washington Square South)
The Museum of Modern Art and The King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center (KJC) will co-sponsor an interdisciplinary colloquium held in conjunction with the exhibition On-Site: New Architecture in Spain. Colloquium participants will include Alexander Tzonis, Professor of Architectural Theory, Deft University of Technology; Susan Larson, and others.

The Art Institute of Chicago:
Brad Cloepfil - The Projects of Allied Works
6:00 PM - Fullerton Hall

San Francisco:
Steven Ehrlich – (Untitled Lecture)
6:30 - SFMOMA Phyllis Wattis Theater (151 Third Street)
The principal of Steven Ehrlich Architecture, in LA will speak -- as confirmed with his office. This is confusing though.

Discussion - Let the People Design
6.30 PM - The Yard, 49 Old Street
The third of four consecutive seminars aimed at brining architecture to wider audiences. Sarah Carrington, Alex de Rijke, Sophia de Sousa,and Liza Fior, tackle issues surrounding the question “ Why should the public participate in architecture and how can it be done successfully?”

People Talking About Architecture – 03.08.2006

Parsons (The New School):
Micahel Graves - At the Parsons Table
6:30 PM - 66 W. 12th St. Tishman Auditorium (New York)
In some small way, this is history. Since many cannot make it to the event, Parsons has set up a webcast location at

Stanley Tigerman - Ethics and Morality in Architecture
7:00 PM – Main Space
The principal of Tigerman McCurry Architects and Co-founder of ARCHEWORKS will speak, and like Mr. Grave’s discussion, this lecture will be webcast live through the SCI-Arc website.

Syracuse University:
Mark Linder - Literal is More
4:30 PM - The Warehouse, Main Auditorium

Princeton University:
Edward Dimendberg - Falling to bytes: Preservation and Cinematic Memory in Los Angeles
6:00 PM - Betts Auditorium

Harvard University:
Gary Hilderbrand – (Untitled Lecture)
6:00 PM – Gund Hall Piper Auditorium
The principal of Reed Hilderbrand Associates and Adjunct Associate Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Design will likely speak about recent work.

Ohio State University:
Kevin Kennon - (Untitled Lecture)
5:30 PM - Knowlton Hall Auditorium
The award winning architect and founder of KKA will speak in the at The Ohio State University campus as part of the Winter 2006 Lecture Series.

University of California at Berkley:
Klein Dytham - Architecture is More Print
7:00 PM - 112 Wurster Hall

Washington DC:
Jeanne Gang - Discussion
6:30 PM - National Building Museum (401 F Street NW)
The Principal of Studio Gang will discuss the Chicago-based firm and work, which includes the Starlight Theatre at Rock Valley College in Rockford, IL; a community center in Chicago’s Chinatown; and the Marble Curtain, an installation for the Masonry Variations exhibition at the National Building Museum.

Discussion - Underage Architecture
6.30 PM - The Yard, 49 Old Street
The second of four consecutive seminars aimed at brining architecture to wider audiences. Nicole Crockett, Catherine Smith, Sally Tallant, and Frances Morrell will try and tackle the question “How can you teach children about contemporary architecture?”

Chris Wilkinson - - (Untitled Lecture)
6:00 PM - H.R. MacMillan Space Centre (1100 Chestnut Street)

People Talking About Architecture – 03.07.2006

Architectural Association:
George Legendre - Before and After: What a Mess
6:30 PM - - Lecture Hall (36 Bedford Square, London)
Mr. Legendre will present a home-turf lecture where he tackles the question, “Is the surface any good?” The author of IJP: the Book of Surfaces, the esteemed theorist of mathematical surface ontology, and the architect of a large surface-inspired infrastructural project, will ponder the usefulness of the three-dimensional surface in writing, teaching, and practice – and offers a couple of tips.

Cornell University:
Michael Van Valkenberg - Recent Works
6:30 PM - Hollis Cornell Auditorium (Goldwin Smith Hall)

Harvard University:
Grahame Shane – (Untitled Lecture)
6:00 PM – Piper Auditorium (Gund Hall)

University of Toronto:
Jorge Silvetti - Recent Work
6:30 PM - Room 103
The principal at Machado and Silvetti Associates in Boston will likely present the Getty Villa & Museum in Malibu, CA.

New York:
Discussion - Views and Vision: Megaprojects in New York City in the 21st Century
6:30pm - Center for Architecture (536 LaGuardia Place)
Nicolai Ouroussoff, the Chief Architecture Critic for the New York Times, Mark Wigley the Dean of Columbia’s GSAPP, and others discuss the relationship Architecture and Journalism have enjoyed.

Discussion - Architecture on Show
6.30 PM - The Yard, 49 Old Street
The second of four consecutive seminars aimed at brining architecture to wider audiences.

People Talking About Architecture – 03.06.2006

Rice University:
Paul Lewis – Opportunism at Play
5:00 PM - Farish Gallery, Anderson Hall

University of Florida:
Enrique Walker – (Untitled Lecture)
6:00 PM - Harn Museum of Art auditorium

New Jersey Institute of Technology:
Ron Witte - Watch Your Figure
5:45 PM - Weston Lecture Hall 1

Washington University (St. Louis)
Ben van Berkel - (Untitled Lecture)
7:00 PM - Steinberg Auditorium
The architect and co-founder of Amsterdam’s UN studio, to lecture about recently realized projects -- the refurbishment and interior design for a Fashion Hall in Seoul, La Defense office building in Almere, an exhibition pavilion for Living Tomorrow in Amsterdam, and a hotel expansion and apartment building in Zuoz (Switzerland). Current projects include restructuring the station area of Arnhem and a new Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart (Germany).

University of Illinois at Chicago:
Joe Rosa – (Untitled Lecture)
6:00 PM - 1100 A+A Building

Kolatan & Erich Schoenenber - Composite Strategies
12:00 - Higgins Hall Auditorium

Discussion - The Image of Architecture
6.30 PM - The Yard, 49 Old Street
The first of four consecutive seminars aimed at brining architecture to wider audiences. Monday’s session will look at how different media can be used, and the challenges architecture faces in presenting itself to the public in this way. Print, TV and other media offer different opportunities and challenges for architecture. The panellists will explore how they approach this, and how the sector is developing. Panelists include David Barrie, of Channel ; Shumon Basar, Architect, Curator and Journalist; Jane Wentworth, Brand Consultant at Jane Wentworth Associates; and Marcus Fairs, the Editor of Icon Magazine.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Lessons from the Father

The managing editor at Artforum has brought DYWSC?'s (and other's) attention to this month's Artforum Feature Article; it spotlights six proposals for the redevelopment of the disaster area left in Katrina's wake. Like Rowe and Tafuri before him, Aaron Betsky's multi-page introduction eloquently encapsulates the fear that Architecture cannot reach Marx's "base," or affect the economic and political structures whose invisible hand shapes our landscapes more than the product of ten thousand drafting boards. From Rowe's introduction to Five Architects...

"For we are here in the presence of what, in terms of the orthodox theory of modern architecture, is heresy. We are in the presence of anachronism and, probably, frivolity. If modern architecture looked like this c. 1930 then it should not look like this today; and if the real political issue of the present is not the provision of the rich with cake but of the starving with bread, then not only formally but also programmatically these buildings are irrelevant. Evidentially, they propound no obvious revolution... "

Ground zero presented the far simpler challenge of encapsulating the "spirit of rebuilding," or the "will of the nation" in a small complex of skyscrapers. Plenty of argument has been waged on whether the nine teams even approached that artistic goal. But Betsky and Kroloff risk exposing a far more embarrassing impotence, and one wonders if the six teams they've assembled had a chance to read the introduction Betsky would publish before accepting the challenge. From this month's Artforum...

"…Can the art of building solve problems created not by nature alone but by the very ways in which we have historically tried to conquer its potent forces? And on a more practical level, can architecture provide structures that are more logical, just, and useful than those now seemingly ordained by the economic and political powers that be (and not just in the Big Easy)? These, at any rate, were the questions we asked ourselves as the possible contours of a rebuilt New Orleans began to emerge from the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina. The situation in New Orleans, it seemed to us, was only an extreme instance of the quandary in which architecture in general finds itself. When the economic "realities" imposed on us by relentless market forces compel the proliferation of nonplaces leached of any individual or social meaning or coherence, how is architecture to respond? When the aim of building is merely to achieve the highest possible return on the smallest possible investment in the shortest amount of time, and when the very notion that urban development should be anchored by common services and communal spaces has all but disappeared, there seems little for architecture to do beyond slapping up prefab high-rises, cloning glass-and-steel office towers, and providing basic shelter for the masses (not to mention the occasional escapist fantasy for those who can afford it). But now, with the rebuilding of an entire city on the line, don't we need at least to ask whether architecture can do more?”

Before deciding for yourself weather or not the following projects rise to the challenge, remember what the introductions remind readers at least twice, that "the results appearing in the pages that follow are offered not as polished proposals or completed plans, but as images and forms meant to trigger discussion and widen the scope of possibilities for New Orlean's resurection."

"Images" and "Forms" -- of course not for their own sake, but as trusted stewards of larger, sweeping, grand ideas. Now imagine the pause this must give a reader, especially if they just attended the MoMa discussion where Jeff Kipnis and Terrance Riley bid adieu to Philip Johnson before the Yale Symposium and Mr. Kipnis snuck into his presentation...

"[Philip Johnson copied. He copied in a way that had a message...] These kinds of activities bother us. It bothers us for a couple reasons. It bothered us because, I think, at the core of modern life is a distrust of aesthetics and a distrust of representation. And Philip made it his career to explore those issues. Representation and Aesthetics."