Sunday, July 23, 2006

People Talking about Architecture - 07.26.2006

Duo Dickinson - What's a Nice Person Like You Doing in a House Like That?
7:30 PM - 189 VT Route 100
A lecture detailing how architects, builders, real estate agents and bankers prevent homeowners from controlling their homes.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A missed conversation

It's frustrating to miss a good comment until a week later. Definitely the editor's fault for not being on the ball.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Architecture and the Establishment: Why Architecture cannot perform like the Fine Arts.

A definition of "Art" is tough to come up with competently, and the task is probably well outside the scope of this forum. However, recent discussions at Contamination: Architecture and in London have compared Architecture with its sister mediums in Sculpture, Dance, Film, and Painting without exploring how Architecture cannot ever perform like these other ‘pure' arts.

Many argue the main difference is Architecture's primary need to satisfy a function: shelter. This post takes a different track though. Instead, the argument shall be that Architecture's position in society severely restricts it from questioninging or uprooting shared conceptions, as advances in sculpture and painting have been successfully doing for generations.

These other arts subvert by questioning established concepts, but there is a problem with expecting subversion through architecture. By its very nature of participating with the built environment, Architecture inevitably becomes part of it. The built environment is inherited and all participants, by that nature, it becomes the establishment. Literally. Architecture shelters all the functions that are required for a society of operate, (the following statement is extreme,) but only by abandoning a culture’s buildings can you truly shed its values. Corb, Loos, and even Wittkower all found words to say this.

A big part of this predicament stems from how Architecture is realized. Of all forms of art, Architecture is the hardest with which to achieve subversion because it is commissioned, not patronized. Those with the most power, those with the most money, dictate intimately how functions are arranged in a building. This is true of capitalists, corporations, or whole cities. Of course it is in the best interests of those with power to maintain or insure their power, thus the built environment, being controlled by the powerful, is most likely to reinforce the status quo.

This last observation is not new. Manfredo Tafuri abandoned his participation in Architecture because of similar frustrations decades ago. The challenge is still just to engage at level where one can effect this situation. Here is Peter Eisenman, from the 1992 interview in Cities of Artificial Excavation. It’s a shame he’s talking about something completely different…
“Any architecture is subject to this total loss of control any time you
begin to realize a building whether it is because of cost, or because the client
is not interested in ideology or conceptualization, or because of zoning.
Every time you challenge the condition of authority, of what is realizable in
whatever kind of project you do, it becomes an enormous problem. And
certainly my architecture pushes the limit of what is realizable.”

People Talking about Architecture - 07.20.2006

Washington DC:
Stefan Behnisch - "Spotlight on Design" Lecture
6:30 PM - National Building Museum (401 F Street NW)
Earlier this year, Harvard University announced the selection of the German architecture firm Behnisch Architects as the designer for the Harvard Stem Cell Institute on the University’s Allston campus. The co-founding principal and lead designer for the project, will discuss the studio’s “green” building designs, including the Allston project. Expect slides about the Genzyme Center, just down the street.

People Talking about Architecture - 07.19.2006

Bill Reed - Regenerative Design: Thinking and Practicing Beyond Sustainability
7:30 PM - 189 VT Route 100

Mr. Reed will speak about using ecological systems as a basis for design that regenerates the health of the environment .

Catholic University:
Stephen Roe – "Material Means…"
5:30 - Crough Center (620 Michigan Ave NE)
The principal or ROEWU architecture, in London, will discuss materiality in his young firm's work.

People Talking about Architecture - 07.17.2006

Washington DC:
James Campbell - The Amazing Brick
6:30 PM - National Building Museum (401 F Street NW)
The fellow in architecture and the history of art at Queens College University of Cambridge, England, and the author of Brick: A World History, will discuss the evolution of this simple material in architecture and engineering.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

People Talking about Architecture - 07.13.2006

New York:
Mark Rosenhaus - Dynamic Symmetry: The Cure for the Common Design
6:00 PM - Hafele America Co. NYC Showroom (25 E. 26th St.)
"What do a pineapple, space shuttle and your finger have in common?" and marvels that they are all designed using identical proportions. His presentation, as if ripped from the 16 Century, will focus on how the Golden Rectangle, Fibonacci numbers and geometry in nature influence art and design, creating Dynamic Symmetry in many designs.

People Talking about Architecture - 07.12.2006

Catholic University:
Mark Tsurumaki - (Untitled Lecture)
5:30 PM - Crough Center (620 Michigan Ave NE)

People Talking about Architecture - 07.11.2006

New York:
Toshiko Mori - The Dilemma of our Time: Technology and Culture
6:00 PM - Center for Architecture (536 LaGuardia Place)
The Principal of Toshiko Mori Architect and Chair of the Department of Architecture at Harvard will address the relationship between history and innovation, material and its effects, and preservation and renewal. She will discuss several recent projects that deal with sensitive climate, ecology, and environment; and she will address the intersection between preservation, conservation, and sustainability - in technological as well as cultural and historical terms.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

People Talking about Architecture - 07.03.2006

Peter Zumthor - Summerworks
6.30 - Main Galleries, Royal Academy of Arts
From the lector, ‘The core of my work is staying at home, forgetting the world around me and submerging myself in the tasks I have to do, the atmospheres I want to create. Research, the joy of working, of finding a form for an everyday ritual, for a special moment in the future life of a building not yet known; the pleasure of working together with my collaborators in a concentrated way, in a specific environment with the light of the sun entering from the garden and every once in a while my grandson visiting me from across the street. Summerworks. Splendid concentration. My lecture will report on the outcome of that.’