Wednesday, March 08, 2006

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.."


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