CONFESSIONS OF AN ARCHIPHILE
Obsessed with Architecture and I write a lot about it | From Miami via Chicago, which is great because it's not New York | Co-creative director @ AND/OR Architecture Collaborative

Eulogizing Prentice’s Image while pushing Prentice’s practice

No need for political debate. No need for springboards for architectural restoration design competitions. No need for social advocacy. The deals done in the Chicago Way and one thing you can bet on is that ‘house wins’ more often than not. Lamenting over the loaded dice that the city plays with is like going to Vegas and expecting to break even, let alone win – it’s fruitless, positionless and a waste of time. It could do well for architects and citizens alike to shed a tear or two over the end of Prentice, as a physical structure in Chicago, but built work is hardly the driving force of architecture. What I mean is, there are far more unbuilt projects than built ones that we all take more seriously than the 99% of buildings or 1% of architecture in this world.

If anything, now Prentice is free to be a paradigm. What would be more fitting than architects resurrecting the spirit of Bertrand Goldberg’s architectural fervor and publicity, making Prentice a position from which to design, to think, to project through. That is to say, Prentice is a dead woman walking right now and all we can do is decide what it means to us in terms of the future.

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Obsessive Consumption Disorder: an architectural diagnosis of intuition

The term, ‘don’t take your work home with you’ does not apply to architecture. More specifically, it is impossible to ever get away from it, in one form or another. Architecture is everywhere, all the time. From the moment we awaken in a room designed by an architect or put on our clothes in a closet in that room, to most likely making a cup of coffee in a kitchen, to walking out the doorways and stairs that lead us onto the streets next to other buildings and into our modes of transportation that take us into our places of work/play, we are completely dominated by architecture – match, set and point. Although a minor glimpse into the discipline and its practitioners, this inability to ever cease working or at least thinking about work, borders on a great pathology that many misdiagnose.

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REVIEW: Archi-Salons II - From Outside the Discipline

Archi-Salon’s second installation “From outside the Discipline” at the Art Institute of Chicago this past weekend stirred up positions of disciplinary exchange, but also confused means for ends, at times. Extra-disciplinary association and influence is a mainstay, if not driving force, of architectural practice, yesterday and today. So That is to say, clichés like “guilty by association” or “by the company you keep” make a lot of sense in terms of what you produce. If you are around visual artists pushing some form of products out of graphic based practice, you may end up with a very graphic project. But these things are normal; because we are creatures of habit, we enjoy conversation, exchange and transactions with our peers – intellectual, physical, and emotional. But understanding the terms of exchange and the modes of transactions can mean the difference between allowing yourself to become consumed by a technique/trend or using it for your own ends.

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A New Year, a New Hope

I love Star Wars, but that’s old news.

In 2012, the architectural profession still was codependent with markets,
exploited its young,
ate its young,
pushed rigid images of what architects should be,
and expected to make itself publicly viable by following public trends and themes.

In 2013, I am hopeful that my generation can end slave internships and forego the master/student model for a more horizontal form of post-education.

In 2013, I am hopeful that my generation can continue to redefine the boundaries of what is and isn’t architecture through alternative practice. This may mean hitting walls constantly, but it could also mean opening up a place at the table, or hell, even designing a new table to eat on. I personally want to be more comfortable with not having a traditional path within the discipline.

Finally, in 2013, I hope to see a bigger challenge from my generation to stop following the buzz of sustainable and social themes, instead becoming engaged with the public they are designing for. I hope for a more acceptable and open public place for architects, one that sees an end to jaded specialists consumed with the recession and obsessed with the old days.

I hope for relevance by our own design and a future cultivated with our endless ideas.

Crash Course Modernism: Arts and Architecture Magazine 1945-1967

“The magazine was hopeful about life; it had a sense of mission”.  

- David Travers on Arts and Architecture, Santa Monica, Ca., 2007

(the) image of process includes the consumer in the producer role as well”.[1]                                                                                                         

- Marshal McLuhan

“…the focus was more on the home than on architecture - the home entered through what seemed to be its ‘back door’: furniture”. [2]                     

- Manolo Di Giorgi Vicissitude of the 1940s

 

The home is still the front door into the discipline of architecture.  In this instance, the front door allows for public dialogue, the easy way in. Arts and Architecture magazine, under the tenure and curation of John Entenza from 1945-1967, recognized the issues with the back door approach to dissemination and instead attempted to create a magazine that not only spoke to people through the images of ‘home’, but also inserted them into the potential image of producer; not as specialists but generalists. The front door allows for this ambiguity between the role of consumer/producer to occur, where as the back door still serves the main drive of the consumer magazine and trade journal to keep the consumer in a consumptive role, only to buy into modernist ideologies and not necessarily grasp them. Through paying close attention to language and modes of delivery, as well as having world-renown artists, critics, and architects writing these pieces, ­Arts and Architecture create a Crash Course Modernism accessible to readers, encouraging them to become generalist connoisseurs and informed modern individuals.

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Off time/On time

I will be posting several new essays and ideas in the next few days! Sorry for the Hiatus, but contrary to our virtual lives, real life does occur from time to time. It’s ON! Also, look out for And//Or…details soon!

Abstract : Project 41 Studio (F.I.U. + Dept.US.)

(Design 7 - Summer 2011 @ FIU co-taught with Malik Benjamin)

“Since the recent rediscovery of the street as the core element of all urbanism, the simplest solution to this complex and ambiguous condition would be to undo the mistakes’ of the fifties and sixties and to build again along the plot lines, as a sign of a regained historical consciousness”.

- Rem Koolhaas, IBA 1987 - KOCH-/FRIEDRICHSTRASSE, BLOCK 4 Proposal, 1988 

“The relationships and affairs of the typical metropolitan (environment) are usually so varied and complex that without the strictest punctuality in promises and services the whole structure would break down into an inextricable chaos. Above all, this necessity is brought about by the aggregation of so many people with such differentiated interest, who must integrate their relation and activities into a highly complex organism”.                                                                                         

 - Georg Simmel, The Metropolis and Mental Life, 1903

Abstract:

This class proposes a speculative design-build studio, which investigates US-41 that runs through Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and ends in Michigan in cul-de-sac. This street/road/highway is not only Calle Ocho in Miami and Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, but allows for an urban analysis of the conditions which arise along its axis and also situates contemporary urbanism in a realm of situationist possibility through the speculative proposal of engaging it through a vehicle; and with the end result being far more engaged with a culture, than the vehicular studies of the 1960s and 70s (i.e. Robert Simthson’s Monuments of Passaic, Ventrui Scott-Brown’s Learning from Las Vegas, as well as Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles and his book, Los Angeles and its Four Ecologies). Through a careful introduction to some of the theories and traveling urbanism’s of the past 50 years, as well as an architectural production of a M.U.D. (Mobile Urban Device in the form of a trailer) and the production of script called M.A.P.(s) (Mobile Architectural Planning Scripts), this studio will engage with the emerging nature of speculative architecture, in the form of performative mobile urbanism. 

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Existence through the Virtual: The Adaptable, Rigourous and Appropriated Urbanisms of the Situation and the Metabolic

“As opposed to spectacle, Situationist culture, when put into practice, will introduce total participation. As opposed to the preservation of art, it will involve direct organization of the lived moment”.[1]

-        Guy Debord

 

“Individualist culture is at an end, its institutions are exhausted. The present , task of the artist can only be to prepare the way for a future mass culture. For’ if there is still to be any talk of culture it will have to carry a mass society, and , then the means can be sought only within mechanization. The shaping of the .’ material environment and the liberation and organization of everyday life are, the points of departure for new cultural forms”.[2]

-        Constan Nieuwenhuys

 

 

 

In regards to the idea of the instantaneous, characterizing this concept through its material realization and its temporal quality, focuses more on attainability, constructability, and issues pertaining to the real. The instant as played out through the work of the Situationaist and the Metabolists, although also related to the real, was more closely related to affect the instant had on our psychological urban existence (both individual and collective), more directly, the virtual. Kenzo Tange visionary megastructures allowed for an immediate future to be projected onto the Tokyo Bay, one that was purely formal and formally pure. In the Western Hemisphere, specifically Paris, the Situationists were conducting urban experiments to re-propose how we as individuals break our societal bonds with Capitalism through a derive or our drifting (albeit pointless sometimes) through an urban environment. The resultant urbanisms of both the Situationists and the Metabolists activated architecture on not only an urban formal level, but on a virtually active level, both detouring the status quo way of passively ‘existing’ with ways to actively ‘live’.

 

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Light Speed or Speed-Lite: Ideas on the ‘Instant’

“We no longer feel ourselves to be the men of the cathedrals or ancient moot halls, but the men of…railway stations, gint roads, colossal harbours, glittering arcades…We must invent and rebuild ex novo our modern city like an immense and tumultuous shipyard, active, mobile and everywhere dynamic, and the modern building like a gigantic machine”.

-Sant’Elia, Messagio [i]

 

“The straight line enters into all human history, into all human aim, into every human act”.

Le Corbusier. The City of Tomorrow [ii]

Notions of temporality, in both an experientially qualitative sense, as well as a materially productive one, have located conceptions of the instantaneous in a realm that has currency in many different places historically and theoretically. Sant’Ellia, Marinetti, Boccioni and the Futurists applied their understanding of speed, as an instance of the instant, into a formally manipulative architectural device. Their integration of the literal speed of infrastructure and transportation was merged with their immaterial notion of the aesthetic of speed. In another approach, Le Corbusier’s Villa Contemporaine project for the center of Paris, dealt with speed in organizational and rational way, associating the mechanical production and modernization of the early 20th century, with ways to deal with urban problems in a brisk and swift way, in terms of time. The interesting problem of permanence also plays into the development of the instantaneous specifically through perceiving of an architecture that changes as much as a society does in a lifetime, something definitely theorized by both the Futurists and Le Corbusier. Incorporating the instantaneous as a device to inform aspects of architecture have affected not only the way we perceive space, but build and construct it too, making it an integral part of contemporary design.

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Out of your element, but with a frame of reference

Let’s assume a way in which a general public becomes associated with a place is through news, media, books, and films regarding it. How then can these quotidian catalysts for observation and criticism be used for something other than making comparisons to the reality of a place? The point lies in the jump off or frame of reference, but does not end there. The three films or references I am using are the popular, Risky Business(1983), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), and Candyman (1993). Each paints a different, but indelibly reflective, picture of Chicago. The movies themselves serve only as placeholders and their message could be of even less importance, yet the scenes that portray the city speak about very real things that can be criticized.

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