FORWARD The Architecture and Design Journal of the AIA National Associates Committee
Temporality Fall 2013
Published by The American Institute of Architects
FORWARD SUBMISSIONS Forward welcomes the submission of essays, projects and responses to articles. Submitted materials are subject to editorial review. All Forward issues are themed, so articles and projects are selected relative to the issueâ€™s specific subject. Please contact Erin Murphy, Director of Emerging Professionals, at ErinMurphy@aia.org if you are interested in contributing. NATIONAL ASSOCIATES COMMITTEE (NAC) EXECUTIVE BOARD Haley M. Gipe, Assoc. AIA - Chair Wayne A. Mortensen, Assoc. AIA - Associate Director Ashley W. Clark, Assoc. AIA - Senior Associate Director Venesa Alicea, AIA, LEED AP BD+C - Advocacy Director Jared Hueter, Assoc. AIA - Community & Communications Director Cesar Gallegos, Assoc. AIA - Knowledge & Programming Director Michael Waldinger, Hon. AIA - CACE Liaison Brent Castro, Assoc. AIA - AIAS Liaison Erin Murphy, AIA, LEED AP - AIA Staff Director, Staff Liaison NATIONAL ASSOCIATES COMMITTEE MISSION The National Associates Committee is dedicated to representing and advocating for Associates, both mainstream and alternative, in the national, regional, state, and local components of the AIA. FORWARD MISSION To be the architectural journal of young, aspiring architects and designers of the built environment specifically targeting design issues.
FORWARD Olivia Graf Doyle, Assoc. AIA - Director C.A. Debelius, Assoc. AIA - Assistant Director Cindy Louie, Assoc. AIA - Assistant Director Janice Ninan, Assoc. AIA - Assistant Director Chris Werner, Assoc. AIA - Assistant Director FORWARD 213: TEMPORALITY Fall 2013. Volume 13, No. 2. Published bi-annually by the AIA. COVER IMAGE In Memoriam, s.d.p. by John J. Kerner & Justin T. Wang THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS 1735 New York Ave., NW Washington, DC 20006-5292 P: 800-AIA-3837 or 202-626-7300 F: 202-626-7547 www.aia.org/nac ISSN 2153-7526 Copyright and Reprinting: (C) 2012 AIA. All Rights Reserved. Each article reflects the opinions of the individual authors and not the American Institute of Architects. © Copyright of Individual Articles belongs to the Author. All image permissions are obtained by the articles’ authors and © Copyright of Article Images belong to the Authors
In Memoriam, s.d.p.
by Olivia Graf Doyle
by Georg Rafailidis
by John J. Kerner & Justin T. Wang
by Brent Sturlaugson
by Gregory Marinic
Step Wells: A Temporal Evolution
A Brief Moment in Time
Exhibitions of Temporal Ideology
by Shoonya Kumar
by Patrick Doan
by Benjamin Lawrance Miller
Steady State Architecture by Loren Johnson
Forward Team Bios
by Krishna Bharathi
â€œTo me, buildings can have a beautiful silence that I associate with attributes such as composure, self-evidence, durability, presence, and integrity, and with warmth and sensuousness as well; a building that is being itself, being a building, not representing anything, just being.â€? - Peter Zumthor, Hon. FAIA Thinking Architecture
Topics: Temporality by Olivia Graf Doyle We may often comment on the beauty and clean lines of a building, on a novel and thought-provoking design or on an elegant and artistic concept. These perceptions can be both ﬂeeting and lasting, however, it is the experiences and memories which can assist in evaluating both the changes in appearance and essence of a project or work, and the adaptation that occurs to this built environment over time. How do we consider projects that exist for brief moments or those that have long since become ruins of a bygone era and hence morphed into a completely different use? If a building, as Zumthor states, needs simply to exist -- to have a presence without pretense and elicit positive emotions such as integrity, composure and warmth -- how might we create such experiences that combine a sense of joy in the moment with contemplative, reﬂective memories that can last a life time?
Permanent + Temporal Objects Temporal is deﬁned as relating to time as opposed to eternity. A building can seem much more permanent than an object such as a chair. While it is impossible for any structure to truly be permanent, a building usually feels like a ﬁxed point; set on foundations built to last, often with durable materials and systems incorporated to enhance the structure’s lifespan. A chair, on the other hand, implies a degree of ﬂexibility, can be easily moved or replaced, and serves a more deﬁned and immediate purpose. Depending on the level of comfort of the chair, the user might experience it only brieﬂy or be enticed to curl up with a favorite book. Take the Eames Molded Plywood Chair, for example, which
straddles somewhere in between comfort and discomfort, but it is so aesthetically beautiful to behold, it might change your perception of the chair. If having had a negative experience due to discomfort, the user may then have a negative memory and attitude to the chair despite its beauty and elegant design. On the other hand, another user might look past that same discomfort purely because of the beautiful design. As the latter type of user, my positive memory causes me to exclaim “love that chair” every time I see it, despite the fact it doesn’t ergonomically suit the length of my legs causing me to awkwardly slouch back, my feet not touching the ground. Although the functionality of an object or design 2
– in this case the chair - might be called into question, the prominence of its design is still relevant because it invokes a positive and lasting memory. Design thus informs experience on a functional, theoretical and formal level.
reinforce certain reactions, (…) in a quest to experience a favorable result, which brings satisfaction, comfort, or wellbeing.”2
Comedy writer, Tom Saunders, has created a series for radio station KCRW’s Design & Architecture, called Everything Talks, in which inanimate objects have conversations. 1 In one installment, the Eames Lounge Chair and Le Corbusier’s LC3 grande sofa ﬁght about who is more comfortable. The LC3 grande sofa argues that he is the greatest design of the century to which the Eames Lounge Chair responds he must have missed that accolade as he’s “been so busy being relevant in the current millennium.” “I will never understand the American hatred of discomfort. I am not a beanbag chair, I am a machine for sitting in,” the LC3 grande sofa exclaims.
Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate for pioneering work in behavioral economics, postulates that we have two selves: the Experiencing Self (which is of the physical moment) and the Remembering Self (which keeps score and maintains the story of our life). Each “self” perceives happiness differently, which can have a profound impact on public policy, economics and self-awareness. Kahneman explains, “If you think in terms of time you might get one answer and if you think in terms of memories you might get another answer,” and describes that based on research, we put more weight on memory than we do on experiences. Kahneman gives the example of someone listening to a beautiful classical piece of music, however, at the end there was a loud screech because of a scratch on the record. When asked about the music, the person listening to it said this interruption ruined the whole experience. This in fact was not true, as up until that point, he had been able to enjoy 20 minutes of music. The memory (not the experience) was ruined and the memory was all he was left with.3
These two iconic chairs have withstood the test of time. They trigger emotions that affect both the physical experience and the memory of the object or event. The limbic system in the brain is responsible for interpreting the emotional value of stimuli. If the experience (stimuli) helps shape the positive or negative memory, perhaps the perceived importance placed on the memory can be lessened due to the notion that temporary and ﬂexible objects don’t require the same level of commitment as that which will likely be affecting the user’s decisions for a longer time period. The value placed on an emotion which is perceived to give us more freedom may not be as daunting because the object isn’t identiﬁed as crafting an immutable experience. However, a building, which is viewed as more permanent, could prompt a higher emotional value to be placed on the memory, making for tougher decisions but perhaps a more rewarding experience. Studying these emotional values as they relate to architecture and design becomes important, as “behavioral rewarding conditions
Experience vs. Memory
When related to architecture and temporality, importance is placed on prompting a positive memory when creating or experiencing space, as well as when making design decisions regarding aesthetics, layout and function. These decisions are also crucial from the user’s perspective. How can we anticipate their memories and experiences in order to design an effective space? Combined, the temporal physical experience and the lasting memory inﬂuence everything from our perception of the design of a chair, to nostalgia of a childhood home, to a musical experience. While memories might be inﬂuenced by certain events, they are ultimately more durable, perhaps more profound. “Our
emotional, cognitive, and perceptual processes place limits on how rationally we can view the world around us. ... These limits have a profound effect on the decisions we make.”4 Memories inﬂuence our ability to learn, absorb information and generate creativity.
Memory + Temporality Temporality as related to memory can be explored in various ways as detailed below. This includes how positive and negative memories can affect the ability and willingness to learn; how our two selves can unite to form lasting memories; and how temporary installations of architecture are conducive to affecting the Experiencing Self. When examining the Remembering Self and the Experiencing Self, one can outweigh the other or they can work together.
The Role of the Remembering Self in Learning
Image 01_Castillo Belmonte Ramparts
The negative emotional value of anxiety, discomfort, fear or embarrassment effectively shut down the brain’s willingness to learn and this creates a negative memory. A deeper understanding of the responses of the brain to the type of memories we can develop could have an insightful impact on the decisions we make when designing educational spaces. If the experience is negative, the memory will be tied to the space as part of the experience. Similarly, if effective teaching occurs, surrounded by an engaging atmosphere where there is a feeling of comfort and belonging, the memory of that space will be positive and lasting. This promotes a future inclination to learn. The student might go home and talk about what a great day they had. Those memories can stay with you long after your school days are over, as you remember your 4th grade class with nostalgia and fondness. The experience may be speciﬁc to time and place, but the memory is not. 4 Image 02_Castillo Belmonte Restoration
Image 03_Castillo Belmote
The Role of Our Two Selves in Lasting Architecture The duality between the temporal experience and the lasting memory creates an interesting concept to ponder as related to the built environment. I am reminded of a 2007 visit to the Castillo de Belmonte, a 15th century gothic Mudejar-style castle my husband and I stumbled upon driving through central Spain. This was most deﬁnitely not a tourist spot. Dilapidated and in ruins, the process of restoring the castle had just begun. We experienced “the before and after” as we roamed the ramparts and halls, unsupervised and unrestricted. The permanent nature of the architecture created a back drop conducive to reﬂecting on time and place. I did not experience the architecture as an accurate historical representation of the 15th century (which the restoration would more closely emulate), but as a speciﬁc moment in time – it will never look
exactly as those ruins did when we experienced them prior to restoration. This emphasizes and sets more weight on the memory; the memory is so potent that the photos do not do it justice. From the countryside drive passing the windmills of Castilla La Mancha to the excitement of the unplanned and unexplored, the Experiencing Self and the Remembering Self united to create an amazing experience in both the context of time and memory. The castle ruin’s restoration was completed in July 2010 and includes guided audio tours and themed light shows. Would the memory thereof have been just as satisfying with the added technology and beautifully restored building? Not only did the Belmonte Castle represent a historic moment in time, but my memories have adapted and morphed the architecture to elicit emotions of happiness and creativity despite the derelict state of the space.
The Role of the Experiencing Self in Temporary Architecture Experiential architecture is immediately recognizable as you are sensing it in the moment. One such example is the Blur Building by Diller + Scoﬁdio, a temporary exhibit for the Swiss National Expo of 2002 in Yverdon-lesBains, Switzerland. Suspended over the Lake Neuchâtel with 35,000 high pressure nozzles spraying fog, the structure creates the illusion of a hovering cloud. An architecture of atmosphere,5 the fog mass “expands and produces long fog trails in high winds and rolls outward at cooler temperatures,” 6 changing from minute to minute depending on weather conditions. Sensory deprivation – or a play on the senses – creates another layer of temporal experience. Whitenoise from the fog nozzles and an optical whiteout divorce the visitor from acoustical and visual stimuli and force them to experience the physical nature of the installation. Reference to time and
place is removed. All that is left is the encounter and the visitor’s perception of the space. Of course, the Remembering Self will extrapolate its own memories of the installation, but the architecture itself is successful in connecting and interacting with the Experiencing Self.
In this Issue Temporality in architecture can imply an experiential evolution, from a temporary exhibit to a re-purposed existing space. It is a commentary on time itself, a commentary on the unexpected and on a unique set of outliers that are never exactly the same twice. Whether relating to the physical duration of a building or expressing the transitory nature through a theory, the topic of temporality can be explored in many ways. This issue of Forward endeavors to present works that reﬂect on the roles of time, duration, adaptation and presence in design.
Image 04_Blur Building by Diller Scoﬁdio + Renfro
The issue showcases three temporary exhibits. An elegant solution to the temporary nature of street festival tents, the functional design of Mirror, Mirror creates a relationship to the surrounding context. The poetic In Memoriam, s.p.d. and experimental Cavate create a theoretical dialogue to discuss time and place. Much like the seed drying chamber in the derelict farm the In Memoriam, s.p.d. installation is housed in, articles also explore the re-purposing and relationships of old architecture. Indian “step wells” (Step Wells: A Temporal Evolution) from the 15th century originally created for water storage, have become spiritual havens for reﬂection. A similar duality exists in Holiday Inn Beirut (Contested Memories), which epitomizes the modernity of a bygone era and at the same time now symbolizes a battleﬁeld. A commentary on the Hudson Yards development in New York (Exhibitions of Temporal Ideology), the idea of the construction site as a glimpse into the building’s future (A Brief Moment in Time), pressures of ﬁscal, global and client responsibility as related to a buildings life cycle (Steady State Architecture), and the transition of the discipline inﬂuenced by
time and place (Framing Transitions), all initiate important dialogues about the temporal nature of architecture.
Creating Future Memories The experiences and memories we generate can become important bench marks in the types of spaces we create as architects and designers. A positive or intriguing memory might inform how the visitor/ user make use of the space in the future. Whether temporary exhibits that occur for a certain duration or architecture that has existed in a past era – all remind us that architecture is temporal in nature. Due to its impermanence, we should reﬂect and contemplate about it accordingly. Our hope is that in this issue of Forward, you might ﬁnd inspiration in the temporality of art, architecture and design.
Please visit our website to view current and past issues of Forward at the following link: www.aia.org/NACForward
“We don’t choose between experiences, we choose between memories of experiences. Even when we think about the future, we don’t think of our future normally as experiences. We think of our future as anticipated memories.” 7 - Daniel Kahneman
References Frances Anderton. “Everything Talks: Eames Lounge Chair and an LC3 Grande Sofa Tell us What They Really Think”, Accessed November 5, 2013, http://blogs.kcrw.com/dna/everything-talks-eameslounge-chair-and-an-lc3-grande-sofa-tell-us-whatthey-really-think 2 Marcelo R. Roxo et al. “The Limbic System Conception and Its Historical Evolution” The Scientiﬁc World Journal, Volume 11, (2011) Accessed November 5, 2013, http://www.hindawi. com/journals/tswj/2011/157150/ 3 “Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs. memory,” From TED Talk 2010, Accessed November 5, 2013 http://www.ted.com/talks/ daniel_kahneman_the_riddle_of_experience_vs_ memory.html 4 John H. Fleming and James K. Harter, The Next Discipline: Applying Behavioral Economics to Drive Growth and Proﬁtability, (Washington D.C.: Gallup Inc., 2009), 2. 5 “Blur Building,” Diller Scoﬁdio + Renfro, Accessed November 5, 2013, http://www.dsrny.com/ 1
“Diller & Scoﬁdio: The Blur Building,” Designboom, (2002) Accessed November 5, 2013, http://www. designboom.com/eng/funclub/dillerscoﬁdio.html 7 “Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs. memory,” TED Talk 2010, Accessed November 5, 2013, http://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_kahneman_ the_riddle_of_experience_vs_memory.html 6
Image Credits Image 01, 02, 03_Photos by Olivia Graf Doyle Image 04_Courtesy of Diller Scoﬁdio + Renfro
Olivia Graf Doyle, Assoc. AIA Forward Director Olivia Graf Doyle, Assoc. AIA, is the Design Leader at Architecture for Education, Inc. in Pasadena, CA. She graduated with degrees in Architecture and Advertising from the University of Southern California. Olivia has worked on a variety of projects that range from medical to K-12 and university to interior architecture. Her work at A4E focuses solely on her passion for educational spaces. Outside of work, Olivia is actively involved with the local design community; she was an Associate Director on the board of AIA Northern Nevada, started chapters of the Young Designer’s Networking Group in Reno and Sacramento, and has been published in several architecture history textbooks.
MIRROR MIRROR by Georg Rafailidis
In our culture today, the life span of program, or how a building is used, is getting shorter and shorter in comparison to the life span of architecture. This tension often leads to vacant buildings which are demolished prematurely. Without a viable use, the eroding, empty shells become a burden of upkeep and expense. The mis-ﬁt between form and function which leads to redundant architecture could be addressed through architectural design. Currently, design often involves tailoring a building to a single, speciﬁc use.
An alternative approach could be to focus on more fundamental architectural qualities and facilitate strong physical relationships between buildings and inhabitants, independent from a speciﬁc program. This could lead to buildings with more possibilities for varied uses. There are two possible routes for this more quality-driven architectural design approach which could address the temporal conﬂict between the life span of buildings and their uses: 1. Durable, long-term buildings could be designed, which relate to people in immediate ways, independent from a singular program. 2. Instant, fast architecture could be
designed, which simply disappears after a predictable, short-term use and reappears for unrelated future uses at different sites. In the following text, as illustrated by a recent case study, I want to focus on the idea of an instant architecture, one that avoids the physical inertia of buildings and the efforts of typical building construction. Since a short lifespan has become a predictable part of the character of current business models, why doesn’t architecture react with a typology of structures that leave no imprint, structures that could be taken away in an extremely short time? This architecture, rather than leaving itself prone to redundancy,could be deleted,
Image 01_Tents installed early in the morning outside the New Museum with curious NYC street sanitation workers.
Image 02_Arcade of nine tents from above, at the New Museum.
Image 04_Storefront for Art and Architecture booth in a tent in the Eleanor Roosevelt Park, Bowery, NYC.
reversed, almost as easily as it was on-screen – Ctrl-Z – during its inception. Such an approach to architecture immediately brings a string of questions to the forefront: What is the amount of prefabrication such structures would need? What are the material, constructive and formal consequences of such structures on the built environment? What would a shift toward instant architecture mean for traditional architectural elements like the foundation? How can such structures be sitespeciﬁc if the site is so easily exchangeable? How could these structures make their ephemeral character experiential? How could an instant architecture reﬂect the temporal use
for which they are designed? Are they program speciﬁc at all? Can they have character at all? Street festival tents offer a prime case study into the potential of an instant architecture, one that anticipates its own disassembly instead of mimicking permanent architecture. Our proposal, MirrorMirror, was the winning entry to an international architecture competition to reinvent the typical white canvas street festival tent organized jointly by the Storefront for Art and Architecture and the New Museum in New York City.
MirrorMirror tents are extremely lightweight, portable street fest / event structures with a double-sided mirrored canopy. The simple, gabled roof, angled at 45 degrees, reﬂects urban activity on the ground in multiple ways and offers a radically new and intensiﬁed view of street life. The exterior of the mirrored roof reﬂects its surroundings. The reﬂective structures follow the logic of
an instant architecture – they are not tied to a single site, but they remain contextual. The reﬂection follows the context to the point where the structures almost camouﬂage themselves. They take on an entirely different character in different locations. At the IDEAS CITY street fest, the structure looked dramatically different in the park compared to the heavily trafﬁcked street. In the Sara Roosevelt Park, the exterior of the tents reﬂected the trees, appearing as a
Image 05_ Exterior Concept Rendering
seamless extension of the green canopy. The dappled light, ﬁltered through the tree foliage and moving in response to a breeze, was also picked-up and reﬂected in the tents, both inside and out; the roof of the tents didn’t register as a barrier at all. In contrast, the arcade of tents set-up beside the New Museum on the Bowery reﬂected the monumental SANAA museum, with its homogenous aluminum mesh façade, on one side, and a cloudless sky
on the other. With the sun overhead, the roof created a dramatic and intense sun reﬂection on the museum’s ﬁrst-ﬂoor façade, causing passers-by to shield their eyes from the blast of light. Inside, the already dense crowd of festival goers was multiplied, giving visitors the impression of being surrounded by people on all sides. 16
Image 06_Storefront for Art and Architecture booth in a
tent in the Eleanor Roosevelt Park, Bowery, NYC.
The roof of the modular unit is made using reinforced aluminum framed panels with stretched, reﬂective Mylar foil. This material is typically used in space craft construction or for large mirror panels for ﬁlm sets. The panels are extremely lightweight, which is a huge asset in being able to move, assemble and dismantle the tents quickly and easily. One hinged roof structure, consisting of four 8’x5’ panels, weighs 90lbs. Mylar foil has a signiﬁcantly higher reﬂectivity than typical mirror glass. It is this unusual level of reﬂectivity which allows them to be absorbed seamlessly into their environment. Even the steel tripod is shiny and, although to a lesser extent than the roof, reﬂective of the surrounding colors. The structure has a dreamlike presence, and is, at least optically, more about the images around it than the image of itself. The tents are playing constantly with our perception of temporality, by registering the image of both the static surroundings and the elements, like people, cars, weather, that are changing constantly over the course of day. The structural system consists of two components: the mirrored gabled roof and a steel frame tripod. Both structures are hinged, allowing them to fold completely ﬂat for packing, transport and storage. The entire assembly of tents installed for the IDEAS CITY street fest covered 1000 sq. ft. Packed-up, it barely ﬁlled half of a 26-ft U-Haul truck.
Image 07_Storefront for Art and Architecture booth in a tent in the Eleanor Roosevelt Park, Bowery, NYC.
The on-site assembly of the tents is extremely fast. First, all steel frames unfold to form tripods. Then, all mirrored panels unhinge and slide onto the steel frames to form a rigid structural system. Standard concrete blocks provide the necessary weight to resist uplift by winds. The only tool needed is a ½ inch wrench to secure the roof panel onto the steel frame. The nine units could be set up in about an hour. 20
Image 08_Three tent units being used as a shelter for ticket sales for the Echo Art Fair, downtown BuďŹ€alo, NY.
Image 09_Plan view as reďŹ‚ected in the underside of the mirrored roof canopy.
Image 10_Illustration showing rapid assembly process of a single tent unit.
Image 11_Plan and section of ten tents set-up in a linear conďŹ guration, as they were assembled for IDEAS CITY 2013.
Image 12_Diagrams showing plan-view of tents assembled into various possible conﬁgurations.
MirrorMirror allows for extremely different conﬁgurations in scale, use and spatial experience. It can be used as a single unit but also combined to larger structures to form linear or ﬁeld-like typologies. For the IDEAS CITY installation, we chose a linear, barn-like conﬁguration in front of the New Museum building by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA. The house-like section forms a dialogue with the abstract cubic structure of the museum building. The familiar, modest gabled roof of the tent and its expressed, selfexplanatory structureis in contrast with the abstract sculpture of boxes that makes up the museum.
With MirrorMirror, we tested our thesis that an architecture which is able to accommodate different uses over time should not be generic or neutral, but rather, relate to users in instinctive, program-independent ways. MirrorMirror is not tailored to a speciﬁc use, but it does offer a highly speciﬁc spatial experience. It relates people to one another and to their surroundings by making them hyper-aware of their new, ﬂipped perception. From the outside, it reﬂects the constantly changing context of the different street festival val locations. It is a study in how temporary structures can retain a long-lasting relevance or connectedness to their everchanging contexts.
Image Credits Title Image_Collage: Davidson Rafailidis, 2013 Image 01_Photo: Georg Rafailidis, 2013 Image 02_Photo: James Rice, 2013 Image 03_Diagram: Davidson Rafailidis, 2013 Image_04_Photo: Benoit Pailley, 2013 Image_05_Collage: Davidson Rafailidis, 2013 Image_06_Photo: Georg Rafailidis, 2013 Image_07_Photo: Benoit Pailley, 2013 Image_08_Photo: Georg Rafailidis, 2013 Image_09_Photo: Georg Rafailidis, 2013 Image_10_Drawing: Davidson Rafailidis, 2013 Image_11_Drawing: Davidson Rafailidis, 2013 Image_12_Diagram: Davidson Rafailidis, 2013
Georg Rafailidis Georg Rafailidis is an architect, registered with the Chamber of Architecture, Berlin. He studied at the University of Applied Sciences in Munich, and at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. Prior to working with his partner, Georg worked for Allman Sattler Wappner in Munich and for Herzog & de Meuron in London and Basel. He has taught at the RWTH University in Aachen and is currently Assistant Professor at SUNY Buffalo.
about the practice: Davidson Rafailidis Davidson Rafailidis is an architectural practice established in 2008 by Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis. Both also teach currently at the State University of New York at Buffalo, School of Architecture and Planning (B/a+p). In their work, they aim to encourage heightened physical relationships between buildings and people. Each of their projects offers instinctive, immediate spatial experiences, which are independent from the typically short lifespan of contemporary architectural programs. They pursue a “generous architecture” that facilitates free programmatic appropriation and triggers constant reuse.
Project Team The structure was fabricated in Buffalo, NY, at the Essex Art Center and assembled onsite. Practice: Davidson Rafailidis, Buffalo, New York Project team: Georg Rafailidis (lead), Stephanie Davidson Project staff: Jia Ma, Aleksandr Marchuk Fabrication and assembly: Spielman Fabrication LLC, Jon Spielman, Tyler Grifﬁs Structural engineer design phase: Matthias Michel, Imagine Structure, Frankfurt, Germany Structural engineer realization: Peter Grace, State University of New York at Buffalo Fabrication support by students of the University at Buffalo: Zakaria Boucetta, John Costello, James Rice, Matthew Rosen, Fan Yang Mirror panels: LiteMirror—Shatterproof Glassless Mirrors, Lighter and Brighter than Plate Glass, litemirror.com, Irvington, New York 28
in MEMORIAM s.d.p. by John J. Kerner & Justin T. Wang
. Image 01_Temporal Shroud 30
Chamber Memoriam is a reoccupation of an empty building set within Iowa’s industrial landscape. This exploration was to focus on the act of making and curating temporary assemblies within the dormant space. The framework of study was intended to provide an opportunity to make full-scale inquiries that move beyond representation and to the construction of a spatial experience. The inquiry is set in a derelict seed-drying chamber south of Ames, Iowa, on the Black’s Heritage Farm. Conceptual explorations invoked dialectic continuities between the past and present. Our chamber setting seeks to create dialogues across time by staging a space of memorial. Cabinets Initial studies take the form of conceptual “cabinets” titled Sites of Labor and Inscribed Topography. In Sites of Labor, three mason jars, instruments of stasis and preservation, contain a dead light bulb, a thermometer, and a pile of debris, telling a story of the darkness, heat, and time inherent to the seed drying process. A drawing, constructed architecturally, brought about an understanding of labor as a source of inscriptions. Laboring to the architect is drawing, and the source of markings on the page of the drawing. Laboring to the farmer is seed drying, and is the source of the chamber, a marking on the Iowan landscape. The drawing is what negotiates and connects the two kinds of laborers. Inscribed Topography, an antique cabbage cutter, shows past programmatic action through the surface markings that are topographical on an object scale. A new event, the burning of incense, was enacted on the cabbage cutter, presenting a means by which abandoned topographies could be re-inhabited. A synthesis of the cabinets’ conceptual frameworks led to an understanding of the seed dryer as a site of relationships between past and present.
Image 02_Sites of Labor
Image 03_Inscribed Topography
Memorial The defunct nature of the chamber brings into question changes that have taken place in the agricultural industry of Iowa. Larger populations and higher demand for food has made it impossible for family-sized operations to continue, resulting in leftover spaces like the seed-drying chamber. A shift in scale from family farming to corporate farming has caused a disconnect between production and consumption. The Black Seed Farm, which was once the largest parent seed company in the nation, is obsolete as a result of this shift in scale. The scalar disconnect has prompted a backlash in the form of organic food, the slow food movement, and farmers’ markets. “Knowing your farmer” is a common term now being used as a marketing tool for these movements. A “recalling” has been made: a revival of past practices, closer to the farmer. The seed-drying chamber, now empty, is an artifact of a prior, more intimate way of life.
Image 04_Seed Dryer Plan
Image 05_Section Through Chamber
Image 06_Seed Dryer Section
34 Image 07_Shroud Catenary Curve
Within the chamber, we stage a memorial to the seed drying process that took place in the chamber. The memorial space calls attention to the intimate scale of the chamber and its construction. We insert three elements into the space: shroud, memoriam, and perch. The shroud, a white fabric volume, controls view and light and brings the occupant into dialogue with the scale of existing construction. By obscuring view through the chamber door, the shroud creates a monadic experience within; only diffuse light provides a hint of the world outside. Connected to the farthest extents of the chamber, the shroud brings distant construction to the occupant, providing humanistic scale. Its position divides the space into chamber and antechamber, further reducing scale. Suspended from three points, the shroud takes on a catenary curve, recalling the gravity necessary to seed movement on the sloped grate. Beneath the grate, a memoriam is staged as an array of candles. As a result, the space below came to be known as the “crypt,” analogous to crypts of traditional churches, which contained sacred relics or tombs beneath the altar. Often, apertures in the church ﬂoor allow visitors to view the crypt from above, much as the grate does. The crypt in the seed dryer also became sacred, being the only space within the chamber that retains its original function: a void for the passage of heat and air. Candles memorialize this sacred zone while recreating the heat necessary to dry seed. Some candles are burned out, others are untouched, and still others burn. This collection of various states recalls the cyclical nature of seed drying and agricultural practice. Additionally, the candles bring about an intuitive understanding of the space below, creating a relationship to the occupant through distance and temperature.
36 Image 09_Inside Chamber
The perch, a 10-gauge folded steel plate, fastened to existing masonry, places the occupant into ergonomic and physical dialogue with the chamber. Seated on the perch, the view out is obscured by the shroud, and the heat of the candles and the smell of wax envelope the occupant. The perch becomes an element where the occupant can dwell in the phenomena of the candles and gaze at both shroud and candles. The shadow cast by the shroud onto the raked ďŹ‚oor becomes an organizing principle in the chamber. The majority of the lit candles occur directly below the shadow, and the edges of the shadow coincide with the ends of the perch. As the inhabitants occupy the staging they are confronted with time. The assembly is inherently temporal in the nature of material used. Yet they are confronted with deeper memories of past experiences, each person bringing their own histories. In summary, shroud, memoriam, and perch shape the chamber into a space of remembrance and contemplation: a memorial for the seed drying process. Candles recall heat and air ďŹ‚ow. Fabric recalls darkness, gravity, and scale. Altogether, a production process and a way of life are remembered and contemplated.
Image Credits All images by authors.
38 Image 10_ChamberOverhead
John J. Kerner / Justin T. Wang John Kerner, Assoc. AIA and Justin Wang are artists, writers, and designers. In 2013 Kerner and Wang both graduated from Iowa State University’s Bachelor of Architecture program with extensive honors and awards. Kerner consistently works in the threshold of art and architecture investigating themes of identity, experience, place and perception. He is an intern architect at OPN Architects in Des Moines, Iowa. Wang’s work stems from issues of memory, cultural history and material phenomena, and their relationship to the constructed world. He practices architecture at HGA in Minneapolis. The body of work for Chamber Memoriam was completed under the supervision of Peter Goché, AIA, Senior Lecturer at Iowa State University’s Department of Architecture.
â€œAs the inhabitants occupy the staging they are confronted with time. The assembly is inherently temporal in the nature of material used. Yet they are confronted with deeper memories of past experiences, each person bringing their own histories... ...a production process and a way of life are remembered and contemplated.
cavate cavate cavate cavate Cavate
cavate cavate cavate by Brent Sturlaugson
Image 01_Inconsistencies in the soil reveal themselves in the process of decay.
42 4 2
In many contemporary suburban environments the destructive nature of new construction is often veiled by a false consciousness of environmental sensitivity. Measures aimed at offsetting the inordinate energy demands of single-family households, however, merely mask the inherent problems of this typology—namely the irreversible consumption of massive quantities of natural resources. While recent innovations in environmental control systems and a growing popularity of sustainable design strategies promote energy efﬁciency in new construction, the underlying problem remains—inordinate consumption of raw materials attributed to the residential building sector.1 This, in turn, contributes to an architectural pattern in which development outpaces itself. To better understand this phenomenon, a recent installation at Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild in New York seeks to distill the elements of suburban residential development in a temporary construction based on ancient building technology. Entitled Cavate in relation to the habitability of earthen voids,2 the installation highlights the relationship between single-family detached housing and the raw material required to build it. The juxtaposition of an iconic suburban image and the void from which it came seeks to establish an inescapable connection between an everyday building typology and its material origins. In doing so, the viewer is encouraged to explore this link in the built environment and consider the source of single-family housing construction.3 Situated on the terraces of the former artists’ colony utopian experiment, Cavate occupies a previously disturbed site in need of remediation. There, excavated material was used to construct an object of rammed earth using traditional formwork and hand tools.
Collectively, the installation consists of the negative space created by excavation and the built object itself, a symbolic depiction of a suburban family home. Surrounding each entity is a border of planted grass that pronounces the juxtaposition of forms and references the suburban demarcation of land as personal property. The dialogue between components is straightforward and approachable, as the positive shape appears to have been meticulously carved out of the adjacent terrain. This relationship is reinforced by using rammed earth as a construction technique, which simulates the natural process of accumulation and compaction of sedimentary material. As a practicable building material in many climates, rammed earth expresses the direct relationship between the source of the object and its product of creation. Extending the commentary of the harmful nature of suburban residential practices, Cavate contains no space that is suitable for human habitation. The void carved out of the ground
Image 02_The rammed earth object and excavated void in its initial stages of completion.
has no roof, and the object of its creation has no form of entry. Instead, the installation demonstrates the environmental hostility and social isolation embodied in contemporary suburban living. Each component is constructed at a scale large enough for one person to conceivably occupy, though neither solid nor void serves as shelter. As the exhibition runs its course, Cavate decays. The temporal nature of unsustainable development manifests itself in the accelerated degradation of the installation. As unmitigated suburban sprawl consumes land at a rate beyond its capacity to sustain, the development pattern inevitably breaks down. Cavate illustrates this process as its archetypal suburban iconography slowly becomes unrecognizable. Without proper shoring in the excavated hole, the edges erode. Without adequate rooďŹ ng material to protect the built object from rain, the corners cleave. As time passes, Cavate suggests the inevitability of adapting suburban development to meet a more sustainable model by enacting its own demise. This process of erosion is engineered to occur slowly over time so that the concept remains intact throughout the duration of the exhibition. As decomposition occurs, the installation gains another dimension as the symbolic suburban home is reabsorbed into the earth. Once a newly minted geometric form, the prism crumbles in a showcase of destruction. The viewer is encouraged to consider this exposition as an allegory to the built environment. This process is further exposited by the slow maturation of
surrounding foliage and gradual disappearance of its original form. Conceived in terms of its subject of interrogation, Cavate predicts the end of single-family housing as the dominant model of suburban residential development. As practitioners of the built environment, we must understand the implications of our interventions and seek holistic solutions that reďŹ‚ect this balance. Cavate serves as a reminder of the precariousness in which we interact with nature and demonstrates the temporal nature of consumptive development patterns. At the conclusion of the exhibition, the object will be fully dismantled and returned to the void from which it came. In contrast to many temporary outdoor displays that require site repair upon removal, the aftermath of Cavate will leave a net positive impact, visible in the landscape it sought to repair at the outset. As we begin restructuring our urban environments, new patterns of development must respect the irreversibility of new construction and demonstrate a more responsible utilization of raw material. At its core, Cavate intends to expose the inextricable link between single-family residential construction and the raw material required to build it. As the installation erodes, we are drawn to consider alternative solutions that foster a healthier relationship between housing and the environment.
Image 03_Portions of the rammed earth object in the process of decay.
Image 04_Layers of varying soil consistency visible in the inverse order in which they were excavated.
Image 05_Inconsistencies in the soil reveal themselves in the process of decay.
Image 06_Preparation of the site and forms.
Image 08_Removal of the forms to reveal the rammed earth object in relation to the void from which it came.
Image 07_ransfer of the excavated soil into the forms.
Image 09_Portions of the rammed earth object become reabsorbed into the earth as it erodes into the void.
References In its report, “New Residential Construction in July 2013” issued August 16, 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued its projected ﬁgures for 2013, which identiﬁed 613,000 new single-family building permit authorizations and 303,000 new multifamily (5 or more units) building permit authorizations. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “U.S. Census Bureau News: New Residential Construction in July 2013”. By Raemeka Mayo and Stephen Cooper. Accessed September 5, 2013. http://www.census.gov/construction/nrc/pdf/newresconst. pdf. 1
Deﬁned, cavate refers to something “cut in soft rock; excavated.” Merriam-Webster.com. Accessed September 6, 2013. http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com/unabridged/cavate 2
According to the National Association of Home Builders Research Center (NAHB), “a single-family house contains 13,127 board feet of lumber, 14 tons of concrete, 2,085 square feet of ﬂooring material, and 2,427 square feet of rooﬁng material.” “How much material is typically wasted in the construction of a home?” NAHB Research Center. Accessed September 5, 2013. http://www.toolbase.org/ToolbaseResources/level4FAQ.aspx?ContentDetailID=1094&BucketID=2&Categ oryID=17. 3
Image Credits All photographs by Brent Sturlaugson.
Brent Sturlaugson Brent Sturlaugson, Assoc. AIA, earned his Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Oregon in 2008 and received the President’s Award for Distinguished Theses for his publication, “Housing the Homeless: Mapping the Design Process of Service-Enriched Housing.” Since then, he has worked at a variety of scales, ranging from the design and construction of passive solar minimal dwellings to the teaching of design charrettes and master planning workshops. Currently, Brent is pursuing a Master in Environmental Design degree at Yale School of Architecture. His primary research interests revolve around spatial injustice and its implications on the built environment, as studied on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation near his hometown in South Dakota.
â€œAs the exhibition runs its course, Cavate decays. The temporal nature of unsustainable development manifests itself in the accelerated degradation of the installation. As unmitigated suburban sprawl consumes land at a rate beyond its capacity to sustain, the development pattern will inevitably break down.â€?
CONTESTED MEMORIES: ConďŹ‚ict, Commemoration, and Change in the Built Environment of Contemporary Beirut
by Gregory Marinic
Image 01_Holiday Inn Beirut
/’temp(e)rel/ adjective 1. 2. 3. 4.
of or relating to time of or relating to secular as opposed to spiritual or religious affairs lasting for a relatively short time grammar of or relating to tense or the linguistic expression of time in general
Temporality is generally understood in reference to the passing of time. However, apart from its most conventional application, the temporal relates to secular aspects of a civil society rather than religious or sectarian concerns. In Lebanon, both notions of the temporal evoke memories of a gilded era in the early 1970s when cosmopolitan Beirut served as the uncontested commercial and cultural heart of the Middle East. As a secular, aspirational, and in many ways hedonistic, anomaly in the midst of a conservative and unstable region, Beirut epitomized jet-set modernity before political conﬂict transformed it into a war zone. Today, as construction cranes signal the rebirth of contemporary Beirut as a hub of commerce, tourism, and the arts, the civil war that decimated the country between 1975 and 1990 seems like an increasingly distant memory. The phantom shell of the abandoned Holiday Inn Beirut continues to bear witness to the
conﬂict that ravaged it. Set amid European-style boulevards, sidewalk cafes, designer boutiques, and avant-garde galleries in downtown Beirut, the Holiday Inn was once the largest and most opulent hotel in the region. Opening in 1974 and operating for less than one year until sectarian violence led the city toward chaos, various factions occupied the hotel and made it a base. Today its empty shell looms as a haunting reminder and de facto memorial to the war that profoundly transformed Beirut and Lebanese society. This essay examines the iconic Holiday Inn and the duality of its memory as both a symbol of the golden age of Beirut as well as battleﬁeld during the Front des Hôtels sub-conﬂict of the Lebanese Civil War. Referencing various aspects of temporality, it positions the hotel as a place of collective memory linking the promise of prewar modernism with contested perspectives on territory. The infamous Holiday Inn Beirut has become the one of the highest proﬁle and most contested hotels in the history of the world. Its
Image 02_Holiday Inn Beirut
clear, however, that Beirut is attempting to move beyond this view of the past and to reject reminders of the social, economic and cultural divisions that turned Lebanon into a tinderbox. The Solidere urban redevelopment authority serves as the primary agent of change.
Remembrances of the Lebanese Civil War are mirrored in the fragmented writing of its many histories.1 Countless books, memoirs, and ﬁlms pay homage to it, yet the abandoned Holiday Inn deﬁnes the enormity of the civil war, its omnipresent architecture is marked by informal “interventions” and reﬂects the various religious and political divisions which have historically cut across Lebanon. It is
Founded in 1994, Solidere has been at the forefront of transforming downtown Beirut into an updated—and in many ways disingenuous-version of its former self. Promoting Beirut as the “Ancient City for the Future”, the company has been roundly criticized for wiping memories clean in favor of an unblemished and homogenous tabula rasa. Ambivalent to the layered histories and nuances of the built
interior shaped various factions that sought to divide and conquer Lebanon, while its enduring presence on the skyline quietly memorializes a tragedy of monumental proportions.
environment, Solidere’s proposals offer a visual pastiche that sanitizes the “history” of central Beirut so that the future and past have become increasingly indistinguishable. Much like an amusement park, it is unclear, however, if the new Beirut rising in place of the old replicates the past or exists as a fantastical interpretation of the original. Nonetheless, the Beirut Central District (BCD) continues to transmit physical traces of a violent recent past. In an attempt to secularize history, there has been a concerted effort to purify the surface of central Beirut since the mid-1980s--to erase conﬂicting historical associations with its buildings and to render it as an “uncontested” space. Gaining momentum under Solidere’s demolition crews and its powerful multinational ﬁnancial interests, a pairing of big money and master planning has produced an irreversible fait accompli. Rubble and decay remain ubiquitous in the BCD, while an antiquated rent control system allows tenants who stayed in their apartments throughout the war to continue to pay 1970s rates. With a diaspora spread around the globe maintaining legal deeds to long forgotten assets, abandoned properties will remain vacant and untouched for quite some time.
Building the Frônt des Hôtels The 26-story Holiday Inn Beirut was built between 1971 and 1974 and designed by French architect André Wogenscky in collaboration with Lebanese architect Maurice Hindié. The hotel was planned as a world-class resort by the Holiday Inn corporation in the late 1960s, during a time of rapid overseas expansion for the company. International modernism reigned supreme during this golden age of modern architecture in Lebanon. Like other aspiring nations in the underdeveloped world, Lebanese architects reﬂected the ideals espoused in the symbolic
Image 03_Holiday Inn Beirut
United Nations headquarters in New York—a model architecture for emerging nations and a metaphor for modernity. Lebanese architects who had been trained in the West introduced a style that adapted modernist tenets and pure forms to the climate and culture of the Middle East. Although the Holiday Inn was built in the later years of the Modern movement, it epitomized its most salient ideals.2 Reﬂecting the spirit of the most important examples of International Style modernism in the West, the Holiday Inn’s imposing size dominated the skyline as the premier hotel in the Minetel-Hosn hotel district—a cosmopolitan tourist district which included the Alcazar, Excelsior, Hilton, Normandy Palm Beach, and Phoenecia Intercontinental hotels. The Holiday Inn was built near the Corniche—a mediterranean seafront esplanade in the northwest corner of downtown Beirut situated at the edge of the famous Green Line that separated the city into a predominantly Muslim west and predominantly Christian east. As a dividing line between these communities, the Minet-el-Hosn district was contested territory, and thus, it experienced some of the most dramatic wartime destruction. Due to its height and prominent position near the Green Line, numerous militias sought out the Holiday Inn’s strategic site and attempted to occupy the building during the war. The Battle of the Hotels, known as the Frônt des Hôtels in French, was a 1975-77 sub-conﬂict during the early years of the civil war which centered on the Minet-el-Hosn hotel district. In October 1975, the Holiday Inn was seized by the Christian Phalangists.3 Over the next years, a battle raged between the Phalangists and the United Front, a union of Muslim pan-Arab militias allied with the Palestinians. The battle focused on control of the tallest hotels in the Hotel District.4 Both factions and the national army successively
Image 04_Holiday Inn Beirut
occupied the Holiday Inn sporadically throughout the war, while the interiors of the hotels and the urban space between them acted as sites for various battles.5 The various Front des Hôtels battles were the ﬁrst truly largescale confrontations between the Christian Lebanese Front and the Muslim Lebanese Nationalist Movement. The often ﬁerce battles were fought with heavy exchanges of rocket and artillery ﬁre from the hotel rooms and rooftops of the Minet-el-Hosn district. The tactics and strategies honed by militias in the Front des Hôtels quickly spread to other areas of the city. This phase of the civil war ultimately resulted in Christian militias being pushed out of the area.
Image 05_Holiday Inn Beirut
Image 06_Christian gunmen in the Holiday Inn Beirut, 1976
Fractured Lens French philosopher and sociologist Maurice Halbwacks (1877-1945) developed the concept of collective memory in his book La mémoire collective, and examined how individuals and groups use mental images of the present to reconstruct a selective vision of the past. His primary thesis asserts that human memory can only function within a collective context, that memory is always selective, and that groups of people share different collective memories.6 For Halbwacks, individual memories are lived through society within the collective domain and thus subjugated to the impact of outside inﬂuences. Experienced through one’s own body moving through space, the participatory agency of social engagement, particularly in times of upheaval
and seismic change, cannot be underestimated. Halbwacks states that extraordinary events ﬁt within this spatial framework because they allow the group a more intense awareness of the past and present. Furthermore, the bonds which attach the group to physical places gain greater clarity through their destruction. Major events transform the relationship of the group to a place and result in heightened awareness and territoriality.7 Giving rise to plurality in relation to both time and place, collective memories are most frequently remembered through physical manifestation—through the material rather than the temporal aspects of the built environment. Halbwacks asserts that during times of political and social upheaval inhabitants pay disproportionate attention to the material aspects of the built environment.8 60
Image_07_Holiday Inn Beirut
He states that the great majority of people tend to be more sensitive to streets or buildings being razed, rather than to the larger political or religious conﬂicts that cause ancillary material dislocations within the built environment. The convergence of both aspects of temporality—the civil society that was fractured and the rapid physical change of Beirut during the civil war—severely shook Lebanese society. Since that time, every community has reconstructed its own memories of the war based on individual biases and perceptions. And so, with a fractured history viewed through the lens of multiplicity, the notion of a so-called “collective memory” appears to be an inherent contradiction. Representing the accumulation of perceived spatial layers in corporeal terms relate to growth and change in the city, the passage of time is viewed subjectively by
various special interest groups. Parallel to the reconciled perceptions of its citizens, Beirut’s monumental reconstruction effort has resulted in an increasingly placeless place. In “Beirut, A City without History?”, Saree Makdisi asserts that the Solideresponsored rebuilding program has blindly embarked on a plan to restore the feeling of the old city, while disregarding its essence.9 These efforts are based on visual cues supported by erasures that omit traces of the war, resulting in sanitized, apolitical, and uncontentious spatial experiences for citizens and tourists alike. Coopting a design aesthetic more akin to instantcities in the Gulf region such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, generic homogenization ignores the reality of the messy and inconvenient life that deﬁned the city before and during the war. Thus, both the conﬂict and the rebuilding effort
have equally contributed to the destruction of the center city, while the BDC has been redeveloped into an empty and neutral tourist zone.10 Increasingly generic, its atmospheric and emotive qualities have been suppressed in an effort to appease the masses.
Temporal Ghosts There are very few memorials to the war in Lebanon. Those that do exist are devoted to a speciﬁc community and reﬂect a singular interpretation of an event of the war. One of these is the monument to Bachir Gemayel, located in Sassine Square in the mainly Christian area of East Beirut—Achraieh— and base for the Kataeb Party, also called the Phalanges.11 Ofﬁcially secular, the monument draws most of its support from the Maronite and Greek Orthodox communities. To many Christians, the monument to Bachir Gemayel is viewed as symbolic of their cause, while the Phalanges, the Achraﬁeh neighborhood, and the Gemayel family dynasty ﬁgure prominently in the Maronite Catholic vision of Lebanon. Bachir Gemayel was both the leader of the Lebanese armed forces, and then, presidentelect of Lebanon in 1982. In September of that year, a Syrian bomb killed him and several others. The temporal ghosts of Sassine Square commemorate a distinctly Christian view of remembrance. The monument bearing the image of the Bachir includes the names of martyrs of the Lebanese forces killed in the war. A collection of six mulberry trees in three parallel rows mark the exact location were Bachir Gemayel was assassinated in 1982. An illuminated torch and a wall inscribed with the word “Wanabqa” (We will always be here...) refers to the Christians in Lebanon. For many, Bachir represented their community’s hope for peace in the early 1980s.
Curated Ruins The Christian monument to Bachir Gemayel and the Muslim communal grave in Sabra and Chatila create spaces of commemoration serving as biased, yet honest, views of the conﬂict. In both cases, the memorials are meaningful to only one community and generally inaccessible to the other. After the war ended, urban war sites such as these have rarely been conserved for their historical value as shared national memorials. Meanwhile, as Solidere continues to bulldoze and rebuild the city, a lack of collective commemoration subverts the writing of objective histories. These progressively bolder and more brutal acts of “urban renewal” do more harm then good in regard to inter-community relations.12 Ruins reveal time and multiplicities in the construction of memory, whereas removals and erasures seek to deny those memories. The conventional post-war urban planning processes and heavy-handed approach of Solidere and its ﬁnancial partners lacks subtlety. The city of the past is being eliminated while a discrete city of the future rises in its place. Solidere and its allies view the rebuilding effort in Beirut as an opportunity for architects to create a rational and ordered new city. Privileging newness rather than the renewed, the ﬁne-grained qualities of the historic heart of Beirut—both material and immaterial—are being sacriﬁced at an alarming rate. Collective memory and the temporal qualities of an ancient, layered, and complex Levantine city are disappearing along with the buildings.13 Solidere’s rhetorical claim of resurrecting the pre-war golden years, as well as the myth of the stable Levantine metropolis, attempts to high-jack historical memory through selective editing. A potential war memorial that could be left untouched in its scarred state—the shrapnel-marked statue in Martyrs’ Square—is set to be completely repaired by Solidere in 62
64 Image 08_Holiday Inn Beirut
the near future. Another missed opportunity for preserving a collective realm of memory, the planned renovation of the damaged statue reveals the Solidere’s relentlessness pursuit of purifying the past by editing memory.
From the Past, A Future In contrast to much of the BCD, the Holiday Inn remains unaltered. Standing as an informal reminder of the most devastating period of Lebanese history, it serves a role similar to the ruined Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin, damaged in 1943 during a World War II air raid and subsequently maintained as a memorial in post-War West Germany. The Wilhelm Memorial Church offers an early example of memorializing a divisive past through untouched commemoration. Consisting of the ruined spire dating from 1895 and an attached contemporary foyer, chapel, and belfry that was built between 1959 and 1963, the damaged spire of the old church has been retained and its ground ﬂoor has been made into a memorial hall. Bearing witness to how far the country has come since that time, Germany’s memorial provides a precedent for Lebanon. Although Beirut has re-emerged as a safe haven within a region wracked by continual political turmoil, it may lose its soul in the current historical editing of its built environment. In The Texture of Memory, James Young asserts the magic of ruins lies in the near mystical fascination with sites seemingly charged with the aura of past events—as if the sites themselves vibrated with the memory of their history.14 Both notions of the temporal—of the secular city that was lost as well as the healing power of time—are manifested in Beirut. So, while the Holiday Inn reveals painful memories, it has also become a symbol of hope. As the abandoned monolithic shell discontentedly lords over the ﬁne-grained texture of the city
center, the people of Beirut remain similarly ambivalent and divided regarding its status and future. The sheer enormity of the structure and the prohibitive cost of demolition buys time for this threatened memorial, as well as the potential for an alternative future as a curated ruin. Although Beirutis share a desire to reproduce the lost city of the golden age as a preferred future, continual erasures result in an increasingly soulless and banal city. The resilient temporal qualities of Beirut offer a more profound, nuanced, and negotiated relationship with the recent past. For it is this past—the very inconvenient but real past—that suggests a bolder opportunity for collective stewardship of memories and rebuilding of the central city as a singular effort.of the garden is overlaid with a set of standard, hypothetical, and imagined texts that delivers multiple simultaneous readings of the process. Through aggregation a rigid controlled structure is undone by the aggregation of multiple narratives set up by the designers but assembled by the ﬂora and the program’s responses to it. We can easily identify with this mediated experience of the environment, after all, ecology has long been transcribed for us in ﬁction and science. But in Unseen Nature, with the assistance of technology, can construct its own stories. While it presents a heightened awareness of the performance related mentality that pervades our society, this parcel does not pass judgment but implies coexistence of ﬂora, man, and technology. Unlike Descartes’ mandate for man’s mastery over the natural world represented by André Le Nôtre’s gardens at Versailles or Mrs. Reford’s Naturalistic garden, which aim to control or exhibit nature, this garden expresses an “optimistic view of the contemporary environment, in which landscape, technology, astructure and nature … intertwine.” infrastructure
References Makdisi, Saree. “Beirut, a City without History?” in Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa, Makdisi and Silverstein. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006 2 Tabet, Jad. “From Colonial Style to Regional Revivalism: Modern Architecture in Lebanon and the Problem of Cultural Identity” in Projecting Beirut: Episodes in the Construction and Reconstruction of a Modern City, editors: Rowe & Sarkis, Munich/ New York: Prestel, 1998,p. 93. 3 O’Ballance, Edgar.. Civil War in Lebanon 197592. New York: Palgrave McMillan, 1998. 4 Ibid. 122-138. 5 For historical background on the Lebanese Civil War and details regarding the Holiday Inn Beirut, see publications by the Itamar Rabinovich, The Lebanese Civil War, 1970-1985, Cornell University Press, 1985; Al Maktaba al-Haditha,“The Fall of the Holiday Inn” in The Lebanese War: The Siege of Beirut…The Mountain War, (Beirut: al Haditha/ Nashir 1983), 208-215. 6 Maurice Halbwacks, On Collective Memory, 1st edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. English translation by Lewis A. Coser 7 Ibid. 120-133 8 Ibid. 140-152 9 Makdisi. “Beirut, a City without History?”, 211. 10 Ibid. 212. 11 Ibid. 1
Regarding the Martyr’s Statue, see Makdisi, “Beirut, a City without History?”, 203-205. 13 Young, James Edward. The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning. “Preface”, xixiii. 14 Ibid. 18-22. 12
Image Credits Image 01_Holiday Inn Beirut, Courtesy of E. Khoury Image 02_Holiday Inn Beirut, Courtesy of A. Abu Khalil Image 03_Holiday Inn Beirut, Courtesy of J. Bollens Image 04_Holiday Inn Beirut, Courtesy of S. Preston Image 05_Holiday Inn Beirut, Courtesy of S. Preston Image 06_Christian gunmen in the Holiday Inn Beirut, 1976, Courtesy of D. McCullin Image 07_Holiday Inn Beirut, Courtesy of B. Maxwell Image 08_Holiday Inn Beirut, Courtesy of B. Maxwell
Gregory Marinic Gregory Marinic in Assistant Professor of Architecture in the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture at the University of Houston where he serves as Director of Interior Architecture and a contributing faculty member to the graduate Architecture program. His New York and Houston-based architectural practice, Arquipelago, has been awarded by the various AIA chapters, the Seoul Metropolitan Government, ACSA, and others. Gregory’s essays and reviews have been published in the United States and internationally, most recently in AD, the Journal of Architectural Education, and the International Journal of the Constructed Environment. Work from his practice and academic design studios has been exhibited in the Estonian Architecture Museum, Lisbon Triennale, and Seoul Dongdaemun History & Culture Park, as well as galleries and exhibitions in New York, Milan, Tallinn, Montreal, Toronto, Monterrey, Cleveland, Houston, St. Louis, Savannah, Raleigh, Greensboro, and elsewhere.
Step Wells : A Tem
mporal Evolution by Shoonya Kumar
Image 01_View of balconies from the lowest level where the water is stored.
Architecture does not end when construction of a project is completed. It is a by-product of time- constantly evolving - and it is this factor which cultivates a building into architecture, a structure into something more profound. As architects, we deﬁne spaces where ﬂexibility and adaptability transform temporality into permanence. In India, the idea of temporality is poetically evident in the Ghats of Banaras (which are stepped Ganges River banks) and the Step Wells in Gujarat and Rajasthan, where life and death co-exist in a spatial context. Given time, architecture does not restrict itself to the program, planning or intentions with which it was originally created. Instead, architecture evolves into a more challenging and passionate version of itself – one that serves humanity and a greater social purpose. The temples and step wells of India are interesting examples of how a project can be both conceived and predetermined, yet evolve through time to create not only a cultural identity, but develop an architectural vocabulary of its own. Stepwells, also known as “bawadi” or “Baoli” in Hindi, are forms of wells which are accessed by a series of steps. They are mostly found in the western part of India. The photographs shown here are of the Stepwell Adalaj, which is located in Ahemdabad, Gujarat, India, and was built in 1499 A.D by Rudabai, the wife of Hindu Rajput King VikramsinghVaghela.1 This ﬁve story structure is braced with cross beams along its length to retain earth. The only visible clue of its existence above the ground is a pair of large outcroppings ﬂanked by a small ﬂight of steps up a plinth. Steps descending to a square platform provide a moment to pause and reﬂect; a shift in the visual axis. There is a linear, symmetrical organization of elements along the horizontal axis at each of the intermediate levels due to the stone crossbeams. Visual references continuously and radically change due to inclined downward movement at every step. Each step reveals only the next step beyond; the subsequent ﬂights of steps and water are concealed from the visitor’s angle of view by a series of platforms.2
Image 02_Plan of step well
Image 03_Axonometric of the step well showing various levels.
Image 04_View from the top level , accessed from the ground plane, reveals the series of platforms. (Rudabai Stepwell, Adalaj)
Conceived and designed as water storage tanks, the spaces have evolved to become hosts for cultural activities, celebrations, festivals and rituals. Over centuries of time, the step wells have been transformed to facilitate an entirely different use: from the functional to the poetic. These steps have become one of the most powerful Indian cultural anecdotes, serving as a myth and relating to Indian religion. An unintended temporal shift saw the step well change from storage tank to a mystical residence for god. As structures, these stone monuments have stood the test of time â€“ they are permanent in existence, yet they have also gradually altered over time. As spiritual temples, they are ephemeral structures for the intangible. Architecture develops existential and experiential metaphors through space, structure, matter, gravity and light. It does not only engage ideas of philosophy, literature, painting or other art forms, architecture is theoretical and a mode of
thinking in its own right. Architecture is an artistic expression that transcends the purely utilitarian, technical and rational realm, and turns into a metamorphic expression of society and the human condition. 3 Architecture cannot become an instrument of mere functionality, bodily comfort and sensory pleasure without losing that which gives it a meditative quality. A distinct sense of distance, resistance and tension has to be maintained in relation to program, function and comfort. A piece of architecture should not become transparent in its utilitarian and rational motives; it has to maintain its impenetrable secret and mystery in order to ignite our imagination and emotions.4 Tadao Ando has expressed a desire for a similar opposition between functionality and uselessness: “I believe in removing architecture from function after ensuring the observation of a functional basis. In other words, I like to see how far architecture can pursue function and then,
after the pursuit has been made, to see how far architecture can be removed from the function. The signiﬁcance of architecture is found in the distance between it and function.” 5 Stepwells are an example of this analogy where architecture is found beyond the functional aspect and these storage tanks are used to express a cultural dimension of the society. Architecture never seeks deﬁnite answers. It is the parameters of change and temporal behavior of practice and theories which an architect should learn and unlearn - discover and rediscover through time. The change in the behavior of spaces is a resultant of the cultural layer expressed through architecture, which also allows the nature of temporariness to express itself. Stepwells are the result of an architecture built for function and culture, which have adapted to become as relevant today as they were centuries ago.
Image 04_Stay Down, Champion, Stay Down
74 Image 05_Section through the step well
76 Image 06_The well is carved in stone with gods and goddesses
Pandya, Yatin. Elements of Space Making, Vastu-Shilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design. (Mapin Publications, 2007), 178,179. 2 Pandya, Elements of Space Making, 179. 3 Pallasmaa, Juhani. The Thinking Hand: Existential and Embodied Wisdom in Architecture. (John Wiley & Sons, UK, 2009), 115. 4 Pallasmaa, Juhani. The Eyes of the skin: Architecture and senses. (John Wiley & Sons, UK, 2005), 62. 5 Pallasmaa, The Thinking Hand ,143.
Images 02, 03, 05_courtesy of Yatin Pandya from Elements of Space Making, Vastu-Shilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design, Mapin Publications.
Shoonya Kumar Shoonya is an Assistant Professor currently working at the MEASI Academy of Architecture, Chennai, India. He completed his Masters from CEPT, Ahemdabad focussing on History, theory and criticism. His Master’s thesis entitled Theoretical Construct for Architectural Spaces –Post Independence India-1980 Onwards, explored an architectural language in Contemporary Indian Architecture after 1980. His publications include a paper on Bionic Architecture, an article on Tradition versus Technology: a reﬂection on Wenchuan Earthquake and the Inﬂux of Foreign Multinational Corporations on Indian Architecture. He works as a Research Associate in Ahemdabad focussing mainly on preparation of monologues, documentation work and involvement in workshops and academic lectures. His other research interests are Cinema as related to Architecture, and understanding social and cultural theories and their impact on Architecture.
All photographs by Shoonya Kumar.
“Architecture never seeks deﬁnite answers. It is the parameters of change and temporal behavior of practice and theories which an architect should learn and unlearn - discover and rediscover - through time.”
A BRIEF MOMENT IN TIME: The Construction Site in Repose
by Patrick Doan
Image 01_Resolving Forces
On a recent visit to the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth, Texas, I stood under its porch and looked out onto a vast construction site with a dizzying array of cranes, machines, and workers in action. Renzo Piano’s addition to the Kimbell was quickly emerging from the deep excavation that had consumed the majority of the museum site.
Image 02_Construction Site: The Kimbell Art Museum Addition by architect Renzo Piano
I found it quite appropriate and invigorating to see the ‘front yard’ of the Kimbell turned into a construction site. Louis Kahn, architect of the Kimbell, valued and respected construction. He understood that to approach architecture, materials, assemblies, details, and means and methods had to be considered and embraced by the architect. His observations and musings of the crane as an extension of the architect’s hand revealed his willingness and desire to allow the construction site to teach the architect and inform architecture.1 Watching the work unfold in front of the Kimbell, it was difﬁcult to see the actual building that was under construction. Temporary shoring, construction apparatus, workers, and staging
areas ﬁlled every inch of the site. To the untrained eye this scene must seem chaotic, yet to the architect and builder it is typical of the ebb and ﬂow of the construction site where a dynamic constructive dance of stacking, forming, erecting, and joining set to the tempo of sequencing, schedules, budgets, deadlines, weather, and the typical unpredictability of construction are all part of the day’s work. Kahn was aware of how quickly a building transformed during construction, describing it as,“A building being built is not yet in servitude. It is so anxious to be that no grass can grow under its feet, so high is the spirit of wanting to be.”2 While he appreciated and respected the work taking place on the construction site, he was reluctant to give in to its speed. For Kahn, time was not
Image 03_Animating the Envelope
Image 04_Wall Transformation
Image 05_The Structure of a Room
calculated and accounted for by the seconds, but was savored and taken as an opportunity to consider, ponder, and debate. He worked deliberately and methodically trying to draw out what was most appropriate to the work, no matter the stage of the project or deadline demands. It was in fact Kahn’s ‘slowness’ in ruminating over pending questions and decisions during the construction of the Kimbell that almost led to his ﬁring from the project.3
his work that was under construction at night carrying a ﬂashlight. The solitude and darkness that enveloped the construction site allowed him time to illuminate and contemplate the work at hand; to see his drawn lines materialized. Scarpa was not the ﬁrst to make nightly excursions to study architecture. Piranesi would use the light of a candle to survey sites of buildings he was going to document and represent in his etchings of the Antichita Romane.4
The end of the work day brings to rest the frantic pace of the construction site. It is in these quiet moments of walking the site when the natural progression of construction can yield unexpected and unintended moments of clarity and depth. Often the ﬁnest parts of a building are revealed in these brief construction respites. The Italian architect Carlo Scarpa would visit
The select images that follow are of construction sites that document a range of constructive moments from the large institutional building to the ubiquitous developer house. Curiously, I observed by walking through and documenting these works, that the construction site was not so concerned with building program, what tool the architect used to produce the construction
Image 06_Foundation Walls
drawings, the architect’s status, or design intent. The construction site took on a life of its own in these brief still moments. All dealt with the real and direct facts of a building’s making from digging excavations, pouring foundations, erecting structures, and enclosing space. Even though these works are not ‘complete’ they possess a completeness that invites our inhabitation; where the sounds of construction slowly give way to the silence of architecture. Both Kahn’s and Scarpa’s interest in the construction site are necessary reminders of the power and prowess embodied within architecture’s constructive nature. The temporary repose found in the midst of the frenetic energy of the construction site provides vides glimpses of the possible and the potentiality of architecture.
Louis Kahn, “Silence and Light,” in Louis Kahn: Essential Texts, ed. Robert Twombly (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2003), 250. 2
Louis Kahn, “The Room, the Street, and Human Agreement,” in Louis Kahn: Essential Texts, ed. Robert Twombly (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2003), 258. 3
Luca Bellinelli, “Preface,” in Louis I. Kahn: The Construction of the Kimbell Art Museum, ed. Luca Bellinelli (Milan, Italy: Skiraeditore, 1999), 7. 4
Marco Frascari, “The Tell-the-Tale Detail,” in Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: An Anthology of Architectural Theory, 1965-1995, ed. Kate Nesbitt (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996), 507.
Image Credits All images by author.
Patrick Doan, RA Assistant Professor School of Architecture + Design, Virginia Tech Patrick Doan is an architect and Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture + Design at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. He maintains Architectural Registrations in Texas and Virginia and holds an NCARB Certiﬁcation. He received a Master of Architecture from Virginia Tech and a Bachelor of Environmental Design from Texas A&M University. His professional, teaching, and research interests focus on the constructive nature of architecture as it relates to detail, craft, making, and poetics.
86 Image 07_Constructed Shadows
EXHIBITIONS OF TEMPORAL IDEOLO T H E H U D S O N YA by Benjamin Lawrance Miller
OGY: ARDS Image 01_Hudson Yards Model
It is interesting to analyze how ideologies, which ﬂuctuate according to the times, inﬂuence urban spatial logistics. In one sense, New York City is often thought of as a place for perpetual urban modernization and development, as it is a city where people go to realize grand ambitions. In other words, collectively, New York City might have the dream of always being the most modern city of the world. However, like any city, the dominant ideology of a given moment determines the shape and character of the place. We see time in structures, but we also see the structures according to the time. During much of the Robert Moses era of the twentieth century, the city was focused on radical modernization for the automobile at the same time that the country was promoting suburbanization. This ideology caused the city to look outward to the suburbs, to the surrounding nation, no matter how much local neighborhoods and its people were uprooted. The resulting protests that occurred because of Moses’s overreach ushered in an ideology of preservation and a focus on a city’s community of the sort advocated by Jane Jacobs. Today, corporations and politicians control the development of major urban projects that often are conceived in public / private partnerships without a meaningful public debate. These elite decision makers operate according to the
ideology of globalization, and local problems are pushed aside for concerns about the city’s place in the world market. The current ideology dictates that it is best for the city to make decisions about its urban spaces in relationship to how other cities in the world make theirs. Consider how the Bloomberg administration has ushered this as support for the need to rezone Midtown, the idea being that we need to compete with other cities with grand architectural transformations. In response, Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic of the New York Times points out that “New York can surely never win a skyscraper race with Shanghai or Singapore.” Rather the author points out, New York City should focus on what already makes the city great: “mass transit, pedestrian friendly streets, social diversity, neighborhoods that don’t shut down after 5 p.m., parks and landmarks like the Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building.” In other words, perhaps, the way to make New York City great
is to strengthen what we already have. It is my contention that we should be suspicious of the city transformations that come about because of globalization because of the radical neglect of the local that such an ideology dismisses. We should not look at globalization and its effect on urban life as perpetual, but as a temporal result of the dominant ideology of the moment. This summer the public had the opportunity to view an exhibition at the Center for Architecture: AIA New York called Design (In) The New Heart of New York. Visitors were able to preview the massive development project already underway on the Hudson Yards, a train yard on the westside of Manhattan, a site which has been surveyed for development opportunities for years. This is just one of many major changes going on in the city: the recent addition of the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, the Downtown Brooklyn development, the World Trade Center development, the construction of the Second Avenue subway line, and a proposed rezoning for Midtown East. New
York City can feel like a constant construction site. The New York Times reports that this may be the legacy of the Bloomberg years, as it focusses on the numerous transformations of the city during his administration. The Hudson Yards design is impressive and will include contributions from Diller Scoﬁdio + Renfro and Rockwell Group, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, Elkus Manfredi Architects, and David M. Childs / Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The design promises over 13 million square feet of residential and commercial space, as well as 14 acres of public space. The exhibition mostly detailed the ﬁrst phase of development which will be the Eastern Railyards, an area between 10th and 11th Avenue and 30th and 33rd Street. On the east side of the site, will be two impressive ofﬁce towers with a retail podium in between. A public square will be at the center tying everything together. Along 11th Avenue, there will be two luxury residential towers with additional retail space. In addition, there will be a place for performing arts and 90
culture called the Culture Shed. What is obvious from the master plan is an attempt to link the neighborhood with already existing structures of public use. The extension of the 7 train and the expansion of the High Line will make the future neighborhood much more convenient to tourists and residents. Perhaps this is why the Hudson Yards Infrastructure Corp. was able to secure over $234 million in public subsidies. The exhibition prominently displayed a quote attributed to Stephen M. Ross, Founder of Related Companies, the real estate ﬁrm that is building the development: “Looking at Hudson Yards I see the new heart of the city.” It occurs to me that a city’s heart seems to be an intrinsic metaphor within discussions about cities in general. What you consider to be the city’s heart is related to the ideology of the city that you subscribe. What and where is the most essential organ of a city? It is a trite enough metaphor, but one that is appropriate if we envision the city as a massive body, impossible to be seen as a whole, where we are individual cells so to speak, contributing to the city’s overall livelihood, but not necessarily essential to the city’s longevity or history. A city’s heart is temporal, shifting, changing, argued about. For Robert Moses it was mobility, the roads, and the automobile. For Jane Jacobs it was the street, the encounter, and the people. Will the Hudson Yards be the new heart of New York City? In my opinion, it is doubtful, as it seems that the Hudson Yards will mostly be a place for luxury living and consumption, a place that a majority of New Yorkers will not be allowed economic access.
The project in scope seems similar to other modernist utopian visions. First, the principles behind the vision seem to be comparable to Le Corbusier’s Radiant City. Residents will be in towers, and appreciate public spaces with greenery in between. There is a rationality to it all that is implicit. I’m reminded of another often overlooked city within a city of New York, Starrett City Brooklyn, a neighborhood south of East New York, that offers towers, greenery, retail, and schools, all built into the neighborhood plan. What is different is that Starrett City was built for middle to lower income people, while Hudson Yards will obviously be marketed to people who are able to engage in luxury consumption, but the spatial logistics and principles of living are essentially the same. With this in mind, couldn’t Starrett City be considered the heart of the city as well?
“We should not look at globalization and its eﬀect on urban life as perpetual, but as a temporal result of the dominant ideology of the moment.”
It’s hard to imagine that the Hudson Yards will breed the kind of encounters and mixing of races and classes that so many New Yorkers long for, as capital and market forces seem to push working class people further and further away from the city’s center. This inequality and the relationship to urban spatial logistics is obvious. Recently, The New Yorker tracked income inequality by subway line, and it shows the disparity quite clearly. One of the most interesting of Situationist contributions to urban investigation is the concept of psychogeography. Guy Debord, the leader of this European political avant-garde
group of social critics and urban visionaries, wrote that “psychogeography could set for itself the study of precise laws and speciﬁc effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.” So the Situationists set out to map the emotional environments of Paris during the mid twentieth century. Perhaps what is needed for those of us critical of the current dominant ideology of the moment and how it might inﬂuence urban space is to try to explore and measure how a neighborhood’s change inﬂuences the mood of its people. This, of course, is a temporal exercise, but following the Situationists, it would be a way to be critical in practice. It was in such a critical spirit that I decided to try to make sense of the existing spaces around the construction site of Hudson Yards to see if I could begin to map a psychogeography of my own. This was not going to be an ethnographic
exercise so much as a wandering expedition to give the transformative visions depicted so impressively in the exhibition more context. Trying not to be too dismissive, I considered whether or not this was the new heart of the city, and I thought about how what I would see or feel could be emblematic of a changing Manhattan. I’m walking down the hill on 34th Street that slopes to the Hudson River. There is a pleasant breeze that is much needed on a hot August day in the city. It’s about noon, so I see construction workers on their lunch breaks. Many are sitting on a ledge outside the McDonald’s on the corner of 10th Avenue and there is a line of cabs. Men are hunched over their food like they are guarding it. At the base of an older building is the Tenth Rail restaurant and lounge. (Image 02) In contrast to the surrounding buildings, it looks lonely, insigniﬁcant, and old as the cranes loom in the background. I walk south on 10th Avenue, and I can’t really see the construction site because of a large wall that serves as barrier
Image 02_Hudson Yards site, 10th Avenue looking southwest
and advertisement. (Image 03) As I drift along, just trying to take in the atmosphere of the neighborhood, I wonder how many people are cognizant of the changes in store. Most people probably experience construction sites and scaffolding as annoying city barriers that they must avoid in their cars or on foot. I realize that I’ve lived in this city for six years, and I rarely actually look around at it or know in advance what changes are happening. New Yorkers are transient, moving. We don’t look up. We don’t stop to consider space because we are always competing for it.
through it. Everybody is taking pictures with their phones. I see lots of designer labels, a few construction workers shout from below. I notice the amount of outdoor advertising. On the side of a building is an advertisement for Ohm, apartments. I walk a bit south and spot a small billboard obviously erected for the sole purpose of attracting eyes on the High Line. What is obvious is that this is a leisure environment for everybody, but mostly utilized by tourists and upper middle class workers. Because of the construction and advertisements, it all feels prescriptive.
I’m on the High Line looking north past the train yards. I hear sounds of construction, a passing group of girls with a severe inﬂection that must be learned, and a conversation of a couple of professionals, sitting down on the nearby benches. (Image 04) They are eating salads, and I detect European accents. A father passes by with his son, moving too quickly. An old man in a ﬂuorescent green shirt is sweating
Hudson Yards is not necessarily a place that is responsible for inequality, but it is a place where inequality can already be felt, and I fear that it is not necessarily a project that addresses the major needs of the city so much as it is an expression of the temporal ideology of globalization. Although there are promises of affordable housing, it remains in doubt whether these promises are serious. All of this is troubling
Image 03_Hudson Yards site, “New York’s Next Great Neighborhood. On 10th Avenue looking west.
Image 04_ Hudson Yards site, taken from High Line
considering New York City “is experiencing record levels of homelessness with 50,000 people, including 21,000 children, in shelters every night.” Besides this visible sign of disparity, the city is experiencing a shortage of affordable housing as “there are now 227,000 individuals and families on the waiting list for Housing Authority apartments, totaling roughly half a million people, and the queue moves slowly.” It will take a modern awareness of the perils of globalization from our city leaders in order to
shift from the temporal ideology of a belief in markets and their inherent superiority to fully realizing a heart of the city that is about inclusion and economic diversity. It seems clear to me that New York City is its greatest self when it allows you to engage in the randomness of the encounter of disparate elements, ideas, and people. It is its diversity that gives it strength. It seems to be less interesting, in other words, when there is an urban plan in place
Image 05_ From High Line Looking North
or when the city creates spaces that are windfalls for the developers. Thankfully, New York City is still a city that offers random encounters, and has places where this is visible. It is a city where on a late night you might ﬁnd a Caribbean chess club practicing strategies in a Prospect Lefferts Garden Wendy’s. It’s a city that can be a stage for a one armed trumpet player, b-boys from the Bronx, or a seven year old pianist. It’s a city where you can still see culture, pride, diversity. It’s a city that hopefully shows you something you’ve never seen before. Unfortunately, it’s also the city where homeless men sleep on the same park benches that are only a few hundred feet down the block from a ﬁlm set for a bad sitcom. It is a city that is in danger of denying regular people economic access to its spaces, and I worry about all of this as I continue west towards the Hudson River.
Kimmelman, Michael. “The Plan to Swallow Midtown.” The New York Times, 24 July 2013. Web. 11 September, 2013. 2 Ibid 3 “The Bloomberg Years”: Reshaping New York.” The New York Times, Interactive Feature, 2013. Web. 20 August, 2013. 4 “Design (In) The New Heart of New York.” Center for Architecture, 536 La Guardia Place, NY, NY 10012. 20 August, 2013. 5 Gonzalez, Juan. “Bloomberg Secretly Funneled $9 Million in City Property Taxes to Hudson Yards Project” Daily News, March 7, 2013. Web. 11 September, 2013. 6 “Design (In) The New Heart of New York.” Center for Architecture, 536 La Guardia Place, NY, NY 10012. 20 August, 2013. 1
Buchanan, Larry. “Inequality and New York’s Subway” The New Yorker. 16 April, 2013. Web. 1 September 2013. 8 Debord, Guy. “Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography.” Situationist International Anthology. Ed. Ken Knabb. Berkeley: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1995. 9 Gonzalez, Juan. “Hudson Yards Project on Manhattan’s far West Side Fails to Deliver on Promise of Affordable Housing.” New York Daily News, 7 May, 2013. Web. 29 September, 2013. 10 Bellafante, Ginia . “Gentrifying Into the Shelters.” The New York Times, 6 July, 2013. Web. 20 August, 2013. 11 Navarro, Mireya. “227,000 Names on List Vie for Rare Vacancies in City’s Public Housing” The New York Times, 23 July, 2013. Web. 29 September, 2013. 7
Image Credits All photos by Benjamin Lawrance Miller except Image 05, by Soumaya Belmecheri.
Benjamin Lawrance Miller Benjamin Lawrance Miller is a writer and teacher. He studied Philosophy at Boston University, and he graduated from CalArts with an MFA degree in Writing. He has lived in New York City since 2007, and currently, he teaches in the English Departments at Queensborough Community College, CUNY and Bronx Community College, CUNY. Last year, he published a conference paper on his teaching called Countering ‘Depressive Hedonia’ with Egalitarian Pedagogy.
STEADY ARCHITE STEADY ARCHITE
Steady State Archi Arch by Loren Johnson
Y ST STATE ECTURE Y ST STATE ECTURE
- An Alternative Paradigm
Organic decomposition and the Second Law of Thermodynamics dictate the life cycle all buildings undergo. Over time; the average building will become increasingly expensive, require more physical energy to maintain, and become less effective in terms of its original intent. Buildings designed to be energy-efﬁcient will inevitably become less so, projects intended for a speciﬁc programmatic use will change owners or the program may be altered, and changing urban conditions may render original design decisions untenable. These attributes all contribute to magnify the total pressures on a building owner, weakening their ﬁscal ability to invest in future projects. Instead of allowing these pressures to compound over time, it is within the ability of the AEC community to redesign this system toward long-term services, demountability, and cyclical material ﬂow.
The following analysis explores the current relationship between time and pressure in a theoretical, normative building, based on the passage of time as compared to relative pressure on the project’s client. A graph of the harmful attributes listed above illustrates the total pressures on a client that may accrue over time (see Image 01). Time moves forward in the horizontal direction and pressure is graphed in the vertical direction as a percentage of pressure on a client required to cease the projects process. In some cases unforeseen circumstances can force a client to shutter a project in the design phase, but the project analyzed here, is one project which proceeds normatively through its life-cycle. The ﬁrst period of time, labeled the “Genesis Period” accounts for all pressures induced on a client including the design phase, construction, and the period after construction during which the client is becoming accustomed to the building, making small changes, and ﬁxing operational glitches. This period is marked by a proportional dominance of ﬁnancial and temporal pressure, as the client is spending more time and money on the building than they are physical effort. The center period of time on the graph, labeled the “Operations Period”, is the phase of least pressure on a client, when the mechanical, plumbing, and material systems are functioning at an optimal level and money and time are spent only on preventative maintenance or day to day operations. The last phase of time is when the client will experience the most pres-
sure, labeled the “Maintenance Period”, as systems begin to fail, elements of the exterior facade require replacement and the utility systems lose efﬁciency. This period is marked by evenly distributed pressure dominances, as the client expends ﬁnancial, temporal, and physical effort to keep the building in good condition. Graphed in this way, these attributes indicate that the client may be better served by an alternative architectural paradigm in which the conditions that precipitate the accumulated pressures near the end of a building’s life cycle are altered. The impetus for the imbalance shown in the graph above may be a result of conﬂicting realities in the architectural profession. Our collective history is grounded in the logos of Vitruvius, who informed architects of the three pillars; utility, ﬁrmitas, and delight. Firmitas is interpreted differently, but largely represents the principle of building in a timeless manner. The problem, of course, is that all materials trend towards entropy—due to any number of factors, including temperature change, particulate in the atmosphere, human activity, and so forth. Why then would humanity attempt in vain to impede these factors by constructing buildings which, in their very nature, are subject to these forces? It may be possible to relieve these pressures by redesigning the system by which materials are delivered and utilized at a building site.
“Our collective history is grounded in the logos of Vitruvius, who informed architects of the three pillars; utility, ﬁrmity, and delight. It is this second pillar that we should begin to question at this juncture.”
Image 01_Temporal pressures_1
For any paradigm shift of this scale to be feasible, several social changes need to occur. As the industry currently operates, buildings are commissioned by clients or developers who own the property and building until it no longer serves their needs, at which point the building is sold or demolished. This system is inherently wasteful, diverting massive amounts of material to landﬁlls at several points during the building’s lifetime. The construction process is the ﬁrst of these waste points in the life cycle of a building, followed by a period of material efﬁciency during normal operation and before material degradation becomes a factor, after which the building produces exponentially more waste each year due to replacement and maintenance until its destruction or major renovation. It is this ﬁnal stage which stands to be avoided by using a pre-waste reclamation model. In order
to circumvent this process building owners may take on a different purpose, becoming caretakers and overseers of the land as opposed to owners of vast amounts of degrading material. In this new theoretical model, a building would be separated into a resilient, durable, programmatically ﬂexible structure and a separable, organic, decomposable skin. The logic behind this is based in the inevitability of natural decay. Of all materials used in architecture, glass is presumably the most resistant to natural decay, but it is also most problematic due to solar over-exposure, low insulation capabilities, and reliance on less hardy joining materials. Other materials typically speciﬁed on the exterior of buildings are all subject to natural erosion or decay, but they are left on the building surface past their period of effectiveness. Instead of using hardy materials in places where they are subject to decay and risk 100
violation of the entire building, this paradigm suggests using the hardiest of materials as the core structure of a building, ensuring that they will last for ages. This inner core can then be covered by a temporary, organic skin which is changed out and replaced in a repetitive, reliable, and foreseeable manner. Instead of ﬁghting the inevitable and risking damage to the building’s facade, this system accepts the natural decay model and takes steps to integrate itself. The following case studies illustrate two approaches architects have taken that parallel this research.
Case Study: Sinclair Meadows, Four Housing Group This project relies heavily on biodegradable materials for its structure in addition to passive heating, cooling, and ventilation strategies to reduce its energy consumption. The wall assemblies are primarily constructed of timber framing, hemp insulation and lime render. The project is made up of 21 homes connected together in a multi-unit building. The project includes areas for family gardens, balconies, as well as a broad mix of housing types. While the subject of this research posits the energy and material systems that serve this building will become inevitably less efﬁcient over time, its material composition allows it to be deconstructed or allowed to naturally degrade, instead of forcing it into a timeline for which entropy does not account.
Case Study: Straw Bale Café, Hewitt Studios De-mountability - the process of systematically separating the component parts of a building, was designed into the original purpose of this project. Accomplished through a Modcell prefabricated timber frame structure, the insulation in these timber cells is cedar, sedum, and straw insulation to be grown on-site, thereby reducing the travel impact of the building. By designing this building with an “end-of-life” plan in place, the designers effectively restricted its temporality, allowing its materials to ﬂow freely in and out of the built environment. A new paradigm of this type conveys a distinct departure from the conventional thought regarding building aging. While conventional design methods dictate a massive increase of ﬁnancial, chronic, and physical pressure on the building owner until its eventual renovation or demolition, this model uses repeated, small changes over a longer period of time to bring stabilization to the system as a whole (see Image 02). In reading this graph as opposed to the ﬁrst, one can infer that time is segmented into repeated and sequential binary periods of genesis, operations, and genesis again. The ﬁrst “Genesis Period” is extremely similar to the same period in a conventional building, and the “Operations Period” follows as it normally would. The revision here is the end of the ﬁrst operational period. This is the point at which the building experiences the replacement of its outer skin, which is why the
“By using the outer skin of the building as a sacriﬁcial layer to be removed at various points along a building’s life cycle, the durable materials underneath can be allowed to persist.”
Image 02_Temporal pressures_2
“Genesis Period” repeats here. As maintenance costs are typically incurred at the exterior of the building, they have little bearing in this model. Of course, interior maintenance would need to occur at some point, but not at the same scale as the conventional model. The overall impact of the image is that of a steady-state system to which small changes are made over a distributed period of time in order to maintain the stability of the system as a whole. By using the outer skin of the building as a sacriﬁcial layer to be removed at various points along a project’s life-cycle, the durable materials underneath can be allowed to persist. Due to the long-lasting and ﬂexible nature of the durable structure in this theoretical model, it would be advisable to limit this overall approach to building functions best suited for rented, cityfabric properties such as apartment complexes, mixed use developments, ofﬁce real estate, and general housing. In this “pre-waste reclamation model”, the organic contents of the building skin could be “rented” from one of many bioindustrial entities whose purpose is to farm,
manufacture, design, and install, and reclaim components which compose the outer skin of a building. By utilizing the efﬁciencies inherent in cyclical industrial processes, building components become less prone to failure and the bio-industrial entity who supplied them is responsible for their proper reintegration into the technical/biological industrial/organic loop. The supply corporation would have a ﬁscal stake in the project as well, being able to gain access to a large supply of decomposable nutrients to be diverted for composting, energy generation, or utilization as organic nutrients in order to grow a new generation of virgin supply. Due to the global pressures the built environment is now under, architects, builders, and engineers must make inroads into new ways of thinking. Society’s expectations of the built environment are changing, and the old standards will not survive if they do not parallel this change. Given the approaching scarcity of resources and outside pressures on our clients, it is our responsibility to give due diligence to any new ideas, as extreme as they may appear. 102
References “It is estimated that anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of the national solid waste stream is building-related waste and only 20 percent of construction waste or demolition debris (C&D) is actually recycled. In 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 136 million tons of building-related waste is generated in the United States annually.” (BP 16.01.06 Construction Waste Management Strategies, AIA) 1
Prigg, Mark. Daily Mail UK, “Britain’s ﬁrst carbon negative street - where toilets are ﬂushed with rainwater and there is even a hotel for bugs.” Last modiﬁed 09 27, 2012. Accessed August 30, 2013. 2
h t t p : / / w w w. d a i l y m a i l . c o . u k / s c i e n c e t e ch / article-2209572/Britains-carbon-negative-street-toilets-ﬂushed-rainwater-hotel-bugs.html
Loren Johnson Loren Johnson is a recent graduate from the School of Architecture at Judson University in Elgin, IL. His graduate thesis focused on the development of a metaphor, a theoretical transposition of architecture into the realm of species interaction theory. His design work for this thesis received Chicago Award - Honorable Mention from Chicago Chapter of the AIA in 2013. This thesis is being developed as the subject of a seminar for the Chicago Center for Green Technology in the spring of 2013. Recently hired to the Municipal division of FGM Architects, Loren is looking forward to developing his thoughts and research within the realm of architectural practice. Loren resides in Oak Park, Illinois with his wife Krysta and their rabbit Rupert.
Chang, Gordon. Forbes, “Visit China’s Changsha, See World’s Tallest Building.” Last modiﬁed 06 17, 2012. Accessed August 30, 2013. http://www. forbes.com/sites/gordonchang/2012/06/17/visitchinas-changsha-see-worlds-tallest-building-2/. 3
William McDonough, Cradle to Cradle, (New York: North Point, 2002). 4
Image Credits All images by Loren Johnson.
â€œ A new paradigm of this type conveys a distinct departure from the conventional thought regarding building aging. While conventional design methods dictate a massive increase of ďŹ nancial, chronic, and physical pressure on the building owner until its eventual renovation or demolition, this model uses repeated, small changes over a longer period of time to bring stabilization to the system as a whole.â€?
Image 01_Stadt 2/41 (Berlin), 1999 ÂŠ Frank Thiel and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn All works courtesy of the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, Galeria Leme, SĂŁo Paulo, Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna and Galeria Helga de Alvear, Madrid
by Krishna Bharathi Photography by Frank Thiel
Image 01_Life Will Kill You by Sports
Architects, like the buildings we produce, are temporal. We reﬂect the attitudes of the environments where we work, the site-speciﬁc pressures of time and place, into the spaces that we design. That is, irrespective of typology or complexity, every piece of architecture is implicated within a wider landscape of social, political and technical decisionmaking. Collectively our choices support seemingly disparate, but intertwining narratives, which inﬂuence and are inﬂuenced by the built environment in the shape of federal, state and local policies that create the basis for land use, energy consumption, building standards, construction and funding mechanisms. Undeniably, architecture is rooted in long standing traditions that are inextricably artifact oriented. However, as we face the immense task of transitioning the built environment to a more sustainable state, the relevance and, indirectly, the longevity of practice has been repeatedly called into question. This suggests that, as professionals, we must critically interrogate our positions on what constitutes architectural authenticity, and candidly ask ourselves about the current state of the discipline. According to scholar Chris Abel, architectural pedagogy continues to undermine the practice by encouraging “architects to see themselves primarily as form-givers in a role set apart from other professions and classes – an attitude strongly encouraged by an academically inclined education system – rather than as equal members of a design and production team.” 1 Practicing architects and educators Kieran and Timberlake take a different stance, arguing that the discipline’s diminishing inﬂuence is the result of a gradual process of institutionalization “by means of separate educational programs, separate licensing and insurance requirements, and separate professional organizations” and imply that this trend has been accelerated by the architect’s loss of involvement in the product engineering of building materials.2 Urban planning and policy think tank strategist Allison Arieff highlights yet another symptom of growing isolation, evidenced in the habitual struggle of theoretic architectural discourse to communicate to wider audiences.3
108 Image 02_ Stadt 14/12 (Berlin), 2010 ÂŠ Frank Thiel and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Image 03_Garlands (Berlin), 2011 ÂŠ Frank Thiel and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Each of these observations reﬂects a mix of concerns that engage notions of legitimacy, identity, technology, education, society and environmentalism. Yet, as in every challenging situation, room for change also exists. Kenneth Frampton has observed, “since the emergence of the profession, a salient, often undeclared aspect of architectural practice has been the reconciliation of conﬂicting values through the creation of inﬂected form” 4 that is present irrespective of project typology. Frampton articulates that, in our modern context, managing the typically variegated processes of design has been overwhelmed by complexity of other types, speciﬁcally “the constantly escalating rate of technological change and the greatly increased scale of urbanization.”5 Recognizing that architecture is not only about formal strategies, Frampton intimates that its practice is as much about understanding context as it is about building artifacts. Essentially, this means that as the disciplinary viability of architecture is called into question, the ﬁeld’s continued relevance depends on the directions taken in the academic and practical education of architects. And critically, these temporal choices must not only be grounded in historical context, but must also be farsighted and resilient enough to support the efforts of future practitioners. With this in mind, the following sections propose three strategic areas of reﬂection that frame critical, transitional challenges for the discipline.
Sustainability as a design value In a design discipline where professionals often ask, “How can we work from principles when what we do is produce artifacts?” 6 shifting the understanding of sustainability to function as a multi-scalar framing, rather than as discrete, physical building solutions is easier said than done. In their work, researchers Farmer and Guy argue that object oriented outcomes often result from the dominantly “physicalist” interpretation of buildings that “has underpinned the production of a series of mainly technical, resource saving initiatives epitomized by the concept of best practice,” with a tendency to emphasize “the efﬁcacy of particular technologies.”7 The researchers assert that representations of sustainable buildings spring from the two following assumptions: First, the central environmental challenges are “essentially physical in nature and global in scale,” and second, that technological solutions are capable of resolving the environmental damage already 8 done. These conframe ceptions the current context of sustainable construction. That is, they delineate the temporal arena where development strategies are conceived and subsequently operationalized. Evidenced in for example, the assumption that the ‘greenness’ of a building can be objectively calculated through the use of powerful, but limited evaluative methods such as life-cycle analyses.9 It is not surprising then, that even many architectural pioneers do not stray very far from ambition
“(...) the control of architectural expression has shi$ed in many design arenas from the architect to the construction and engineering members of the team.“
of technological optimization given the interpretive ambiguity that this goal often holds, in addition to the legitimate value that benchmarking has in relation to the implementation of higher construction standards. However, as Frampton points out, “irrespective of whether it is bureaucratically enforced or ideologically adopted” this approach also has the unfortunate tendency “to reduce the creation of builtform to the production of free-standing objects, whether the object in question is merely a technological instrument or the occasion for a spectacular aesthetic display.” 10 The professional bias to view buildings as discrete artifacts runs deep for other reasons as well. It is a straightforward and obvious reality that the primary service the profession offers is the design and construction of form. Kieran and Timberlake go further; observing that the fetishistic focus on aesthetic aspects of building design partially stems from a general loss of agency throughout the construction process. Speciﬁcally, they suggest that because of the inclusion of more engineered building systems and greater construction related liability carried by each of the trades, the control of architectural expression has shifted in many design arenas from the architect to the construction and engineering members of the team. 11 This observation links to a broader, but no less critical debate in the practice regarding agency, that elicits perspectives grounded in a wide spectrum of experience. For example Dana Cuff argues that integration of the business of architecture with good design is not only possible but also necessary.12 Whereas Sami Rintala states that, “raw capitalism cannot – and will not – create good environments.” 13 So, how can we collectively as a discipline, begin to legitimately bridge these deeply entrenched beliefs? If dismantling institutionalized, rote approaches to design can happen though intelligent critique and strategic intervention, where and how do we begin in this time and place? 14
Non-disciplinary perspectives on design Social science thinking on design and construction presents options to explore the relationships between society and its architecture, from the unique perspective of the interaction between objects and the cultures in which they are embedded.15 Perspectives such as Science and Technology Studies (STS), critical urban theory and assemblage urbanism have steadily gained in popularity, since they provide research methods that have shown in iterative design, development and construction processes, how objects and individuals have the power to direct outcomes in tandem. 16 Although to the ears of design professionals some of this scholarship17 lacks a notable balance with longstanding rhetorical traditions within architectural, landscape and urban planning discourses, more moderate social science framings have shown to be capable of acting as accessible provocations in examining the implications of these practices within their societal contexts. 18 For example, an empirical study conducted by researchers Guy and Farmer highlights how social science discourse analysis can help practitioners understand the impact of their project framing concepts. In their research, environmental concept strategies for buildings were sorted by descriptive language used, and a pattern of connections to proposed solutions was found. By framing aggregates of design concepts as environmental discourses that take architectonic form in buildings, the researchers illustrate “the tension between alternative environmental beliefs and strategies.” In other words, by meaningfully employing an interpretative framework outside the practice of architecture and “exploring the notion of discourse,” complementary ways of understanding the social production of space, place, and the environment can be developed. 19 This type of analysis offers fresh
Image 04_Stadt 5/31 (Berlin), 2011 © Frank Thiel and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
insight into how the trajectory of architectural decision-making can be managed and directed depending on which concept framing is used. Also, Guy and Farmer’s efforts critically underscore the delicate boundary between subjective and objective design solutions. 20 In short, these framings offer alternate theoretic instruments to unpack the links between the ‘what,’ ‘why’ and ‘how,’ or the connections that shape current, working architectural knowledge practices.
As a discipline, architecture faces legitimate challenges as it consumes the theories, and inadvertently the assumptions of neighboring ﬁelds, whether applied science in the form of building technologies or sociology, geography and anthropology in theories of space production. The reality is that practitioners frequently convert a wide range of concepts into simpliﬁed heuristics, though often lacking a depth of understanding in the source ﬁeld’s drivers. To further complicate matters is the observation that, “while the need to know originates in one discipline, 112
the required knowledge itself often belongs to many others.”21 Practicing architect, educator and scholar Ken Yeang asserts however, that it is not for a lack of interest in accurately absorbing the knowledge of other ﬁelds that errors are made. Rather, the problem lies in critically assimilating knowledge from wide ranging areas of expertise, which are also rapidly expanding. He continues, alluding that frequently, comprehensive understanding is traded for data, and “architects often end up appropriating the knowledge from other disciplines as an ever growing database of strategies from which they can pick something that seems appropriate to the task at hand.” 22 Yeang’s observations imply that the prevalent, unexamined practice of mixing and matching formal strategies with technical ones undermines the development of practitioners capable of holistic decisionmaking. In this same vein, pervasive examples of environmental ‘green washing,’ are not so different from trends that have reduced principles of the modern movement to formal styling. This point is recognizable in buildings worldwide, which are often incompatible with local climates, but are made habitable by the use of heating, ventilation, and cooling systems. Ultimately all of these examples show the existing need for continuing, non-disciplinary research focused on integrating architectural knowledge, and that current scholarship on how the building sectors acquire, appropriate, and implement information can provide valid insight into the implications of design work.
The notion of cities “Discussion about sustainable construction tends to focus on the fabrication of buildings and their attendant processes. But the building alone soon becomes a white elephant if not seen in the larger context of cities.” 23 In a recent interview, Ricky Burdett, an architect and educator, 24 acknowledges that the ability to manage linked, complex urban problems ﬁrst requires better tools to assess the relationships between them. He reasons that “in terms of the economics of running cities” it is “the shape of the city” over its discrete “buildings and their technology” that has the potential to act as a springboard for human progress and serve the needs of many.25 When considered within a global, societal perspective, urban areas become the most strategic sites to develop, test, implement and reﬁne strategies to responsibly reduce carbon emissions and energy use while achieving balanced infrastructure development targets. In terms of their impact, cities pose compelling contradictions. As producers of the brunt of the carbon emissions which contribute to global warming, urban centers also house the majority of the world’s population. As a result, the notion of cities and their accompanying issues of urbanism are quickly becoming inseparable from discussions involving the future of the profession of architecture. Within this view, coordinated efforts to transition the built enviroment to a more sustainable state not only reﬂect strategic economic and environmental necessities, but also represent the ongoing process of striving for an architectural
“(...) it is the ‘shape of the city’ (...) that has the potential to act as a springboard for human progress and serve the needs of many.”
Image 05_Stadt 7/12 (Berlin), 1999 ÂŠ Frank Thiel and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Image 06_Stadt 2/36 (Berlin), 1998 ÂŠ Frank Thiel and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
utopia in terms of the well being of its citizens. Practically speaking, the physical transformations needed to achieve more sustainable urban futures will simultaneously provide viable opportunites to mitigate the burdens of climate change on the most vulnerable, an increasingly diverse group which no longer includes only the poor, disabled, elderly and very young of developing nations. To many, the assertion that cities are a “key part of the solution” 26 is hardly revelatory. However, the explicit linking of environmental concerns and the built environment, to issues of social justice is often overshadowed by the potential for sustainable development to act as a driver for new managerial protocols and economic growth in its “construction, operation, maintenance and disposal.” 27 This unbalanced focus has skewed architectural education, research and industry aggressively toward “a market-based interest in developing new technologies for new constructions, and the inherent bias towards simple regulatory solutions, in particular enhanced building codes and standards,” which are primarily “considered only for the effects of ﬁnal operating energy in new construction.” 28 More importantly, it has been shown that this approach does not yield its intended results, especially since new construction comprises a small part of the total building stock. For example, it has been observed that in Canada “greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption per capita continue to increase,” despite the fact that “best practices
are borrowed from countries around the globe, green certiﬁcations are becoming the norm in architecture, public transportation systems are being built, and ecocommunities develop.” 29 This indicates that neither technological, nor regulatory solutions are enough, even when coordinated on a master planning level. Critically, practitioners should be explicitly aware that “if an innovation, a technology, a strategy, a policy, a plan, a way of thinking becomes categorically ‘sustainable,’ economic, social and political” beneﬁts often follow. 30 Centrally, what is important to recognize here is the scale of these pressures is enormous and can inadvertently encourage reductive, repetitive strategies in architectural expression. Think of pervasive, suburban single-family detached housing developments, big box retailing and ubiquitous strip shopping malls where economic risk is the central criteria for sustainability. True, often architects have little control in determining the extent of the site or program ﬂexibility.31 However, actively participating in local, regional and national professional organizations can create opportunities to collectively exert pressure on scales beyond the ones we typically work.
“We must continuously challenge how the notion of the architectural artifact both informs and is formed by its temporal context; a context aﬀected by the actions of each practitioner.”
Conclusion According to anthropologist Marc Augé in our current phase of ‘supermodernity,’ seemingly programmed public space is primarily dominated by solitary non-spaces that are typically incomplete, void of meaning and lack cultural coherence. He observes a society, which appears less capable of producing spaces that yield the genuine communal beneﬁts of place.32 Obliquely, his work is a critique that also implicates the shortcomings of mainstream architectural practice, which often appears disinterested in actively questioning what constitutes design integrity and professional civic responsibility. Michael Sorkin envisions an alternative in his statement “a useful urbanism needs to take a stand about what it is.” 33 It is a reminder to practitioners to not only participate in shaping the expressive potential of the built environment through their respective projects, but also a call for architects to carefully reconsider the boundaries of the discipline and support broader coordinated efforts – social, technical, aesthetic and environmental. We know that cities symbolically represent shared interests far beyond optimized technological performativity or visions of aesthetic perfection. That, the built environment is not just a composition of buildings, monuments, infrastructure and open spaces, but reﬂects the vitality of mixing diverse perspectives. However, simply knowing Architecture is about more than the creation of discrete buildings is absolutely not enough anymore. We cannot continue to mirror unexamined contemporary attitudes into the spaces and technologies that we design, but must continuously challenge how the notion of the architectural artifact both informs and is formed by its temporal context; a context affected by the actions of each practitioner. Thus as a reﬂexive practice, as a mode of thinking – every individual involved in the building industries – must critically consider which framing perspectives they prioritize in their work and engage in the collective, public debate of how those values can be expressed through design. 116
Chris Abel, Architecture, Technology and Process (Oxford: Architectural Press, 2004), 88-89. 2
Stephan Kieran and James Timberlake, Refabricating architecture: How manufacturing methodologies are poised to transform building construction (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004), 29. 3
Allison Arieff, “Why Don’t We Read About Architecture?” New York Times. (March 2, 2012) . 4
Kenneth Frampton, ed., Technology, Place and Architecture (New York: Rizzoli 1998), 12. 5
Ken Yeang, Foreword to Architecture, Technology and Process, ed. Chris Abel (Oxford: Architectural Press 2004), vii. 7
Graham Farmer and Simon Guy, “Hybrid environments,” In Sustainable Architectures: Cultures and Natures in Europe and North America, eds. Simon Guy and Steven A. Moore (New York: Spon Press, 2005), 20. 8
Ibid. Simon Guy and Steven A. Moore, “Introduction: The paradoxes of sustainable architecture,” In Sustainable Architectures: Cultures and Natures in Europe and North America, eds Simon Guy and Steven A. Moore (New York: Spon Press, 2005); Graham Farmer and Simon Guy, “Hybrid environments”; Anna Joanna Marzal, Julien S. Bourrelle, Eike Musall, Per Heiselberg, Arild, Gustavsen, and Karsten Voss, “Net Zero Energy Buildings: Calculation Methodologies versus National Building Codes,” In proceedings of EuroSun 2010: International Conference on Solar Heating, Cooling and Buildings: 28 September - 1 October 2010, Graz, Austria. EuroSun, 2010. 9
Kenneth Frampton, ed., Technology, Place and Architecture (New York: Rizzoli 1998), 14. 11
Kieran and Timberlake, Refabricating architecture: How manufacturing methodologies are
poised to transform building construction. 12
Dana Cuff, The Story of Practice (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991), 257. 13
Sami Rintala, “Edge On Paracentric Architecture,” Topos 70 (2010): 48. 14
See Kevin Lynch’s classic text. What time is this place? (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1972). 15
Neil Brenner, “What is critical urban theory?’ City 13, no 2-3 (2009); Neil Brenner, David J. Madden and David Wachsmuth, “Assemblage urbanism and the challenges of critical urban theory,” City 15, no. 2 (2011); Michel Callon, “Society in the Making: The Study of Technology as a Tool for Sociological Analysis,” in The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology, eds. Wiebe Bijker et al. (London: MIT Press, 1987); Ignacio Farías, “The politics of urban assemblages,” City 15, nos. 3-4 (2011); Ignacio Farías and Thomas Bender, eds. Urban Assemblages: How Actor-Network Theory Changes Urban Research. (New York: Routledge, 2010); Karin Knorr Cetina, “Laboratory Studies. The Cultural Approach to the Study of Science,” in Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, eds. Sheila Jasanoff et al., (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1995); Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar, Laboratory Life: the Social Construction of Scientiﬁc Facts, (Los Angeles: Sage Publishing 1979); Bruno Latour and Albena Yaneva, “Give me a gun and I will make all buildings move,” in Explorations in Architecture: Teaching, Design, Research, ed. Reto Geiser (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2008); Thomas Gieryn, “What buildings do,” Theory and Society 31 (2002). 16
Krishna Bharathi, “Engaging Complexity: Social science approaches to green building,” Design Issues, 29, no. 4 (2013). 17
Actor Network Theory approaches, which superimpose strictly ontological constructivist readings onto activities in architecture and urbanism, have been critiqued as potentially reductively problematic in a singularly critical dimension. Speciﬁcally, as Reinhold Martin points out, “for Latour as for so many others, the problem of post-
modern semiotics is that its signs (and we must assume, its decorated sheds) are insufﬁciently real.” Reinhold Martin, “Postmodern Precision? The Science of Images,” in Precisions: Architecture Between Sciences and the Arts, eds. Ákos Moravánszky and Ole W. Fischer (Berlin: Jovis Verlag, 2008), 97. 18
See Hommel’s text which discusses the challenges of coordinating train infrastructure. Anique Hommels, “Studying Obduracy in the City: Toward a Productive Fusion Between Technology Studies and Urban Studies,” Science Technology and Human Values 30, no. 3 (2005); Also see the debate surrounding planner Robert Moses’s bridges. Langdon Winner, “Do Artifacts Have Politics?” Daedalus 109, no. 1 (1980); Bernward Joerges, “Do Politics Have Artefacts?” Social Studies of Science 29, no. 3 (1999); Steve Woolgar and Geoff Cooper, “Do Artefacts Have Ambivalence? Moses’ Bridges, Winner’s Bridges, and Other Urban Legends in STS,” Social Studies of Science 29, no. 3 (1999). 19
Simon Guy and Graham Farmer, “Reinterpreting Sustainable Architecture: The Place of Technology,” Journal of Architectural Education 54, no.3 (2001): 140.
Ramin Keivani,“A review of the main challenges to urban sustainability,” International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development 1, no. 1-2 (2010): 11. 28
Sebastian Moffatt and Niklaus Kohler, “Conceptualizing the built environment as a social ecological system,” Building Research & Information 36, no. 3 (2008): 259. 29
Carole Deprés, Geneviève Vachon and Andrée Fortin, “Implementing Transdisciplinarity: Architecture and Urban Planning at Work,” In Transdisciplinary knowledge production in architecture and urbanism, Towards hybrid modes of inquiry, Eds. Isabelle Doucet and Nel Janssens (New York: Springer, 2011), 33-34. 30
Gordon Walker and Elizabeth Shove, “Ambivalence, sustainability and the governance of sociotechnical transitions,” Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning 9, no. 3 (2007): 217. 31
The controversy surrounding the programmatic development of Potsdamer Platz is an example of this. See Krishna Bharathi, “Berliner by construction,” Le Journal Spéciale’Z 3 (2011). 32
Marc Augé, Non-places: Introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity, trans. John Howe (London: Verso, 1995).
Ken Yeang, Foreword, vii-viii. Ibid.
Michael Sorkin, All over the map (London: Verso, 2011), 50.
Klaus Töpfer, “Baby steps and giant leaps,” Archithese, November-December 39, no. 6 (2009): 33. 24
Director of the LSE Cities and the Urban Age program, http://lsecities.net/about/whos-who/ centre-staff/. 25
Tor Inge, Hjemdal, “Interview with Richard Burdett.” In Exhibition Catalogue, Manmade Environment, New Nordic Scopes, ed. Julie S. Oftedal, 2010: 93. 26
Töpfer, “Baby steps and giant leaps,” 30-31.
Bibliography Abel, Chris. Architecture, Technology and Process. Oxford: Architectural Press, 2004. Arieff, Allison. “Why Don’t We Read About Architecture?” New York Times, March 2, 2012, http://opinionator. blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/02/why-dont-we-read-about-architecture/. Accessed March 23, 2012. Augé, Marc. Non-places: Introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity. Trans. John Howe. London: Verso, 1995. Bharathi, Krishna. “Berliner by construction.” Le Journal Spéciale’Z 3 (2011): 64-77. Bharathi, Krishna. “Engaging Complexity: Social science approaches to green building.” Design Issues, 29, no. 4 (2013): 82-93. Brenner, Neil. “What is critical urban theory?’ City 13, no. 2-3 (2009): 198-207. Brenner, Neil, David J. Madden and David Wachsmuth. “Assemblage urbanism and the challenges of critical urban theory.” City 15, no. 2 (2011): 225-240. Callon, Michel. “Society in the Making: The Study of Technology as a Tool for Sociological Analysis.” In The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology, eds. Wiebe Bijker et al., 83–103. London: MIT Press, 1987. Cuff, Dana. The Story of Practice. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991. Deprés, Carole, Geneviève Vachon and Andrée Fortin. “Implementing Transdisciplinarity: Architecture and Urban Planning at Work.” In Transdisciplinary knowledge production in architecture and urbanism, Towards hybrid modes of inquiry, Eds. Isabelle Doucet and Nel Janssens, 33-49. New York: Springer, 2011. Farías, Ignacio. “The politics of urban assemblages,” City 15, nos. 3-4 (2011): 365-374. Farías, Ignacio and Thomas Bender, eds. Urban Assemblages: How Actor-Network Theory Changes Urban Research. New York: Routledge, 2010. Farmer, Graham and Simon Guy. 2005. “Hybrid environments.” In Simon Guy and Steven A. Moore, eds. Sustainable Architectures: Cultures and Natures in Europe and North America. New York: Spon Press. 15-30. Frampton, Kenneth, ed. Technology, Place and Architecture. New York: Rizzoli, 1998. Guy, Simon and Steven A. Moore. “Introduction: The paradoxes of sustainable architecture.” In Sustainable Architectures: Cultures and Natures in Europe and North America. Eds. Simon Guy and Steven A. Moore, 1-12. New York: Spon Press, 2005. Gieryn, Thomas. “What buildings do.” Theory and Society 31 (2002): 35-74. Guy, Simon and Graham Farmer. “Reinterpreting Sustainable Architecture: The Place of Technology.” Journal of Architectural Education. 54, no.3 (2001): 140-148. Hjemdal, Tor Inge. “Interview with Richard Burdett.” In Exhibition Catalogue, Manmade Environment, New Nordic Scopes, Ed. Julie S. Oftedal, 90-93. 2010. Hommels, Anique. “Studying obduracy in the city: Toward a productive fusion between technology studies and urban studies.” Science Technology and Human Values 30, no. 3 (2005): 323-351. Joerges, Bernward. “Do Politics Have Artefacts?” Social Studies of Science 29, no. 3 (1999): 411-431.
Keivani, Ramin. “A review of the main challenges to urban sustainability.” International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development 1, no. 1-2 (2010): 5-16. Kieran, Stephan and James Timberlake. Refabricating architecture: How manufacturing methodologies are poised to transform building construction. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004). Knorr Cetina, Karin. “Laboratory Studies. The Cultural Approach to the Study of Science.” In Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, eds. Sheila Jasanoff et al., 140-166. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1995. Latour, Bruno and Steve Woolgar. Laboratory Life: the Social Construction of Scientiﬁc Facts. Los Angeles: Sage Publishing, 1979. Latour, Bruno and Albena Yaneva. “Give me a gun and I will make all buildings move.” In Explorations in Architecture: Teaching, Design, Research, ed. Reto Geiser, 80-89. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2008. Lynch, Kevin. What time is this place? Cambridge: MIT Press, 1972. Martin, Reinhold. “Postmodern Precision? The Science of Images.” In Precisions: Architecture Between Sciences and the Arts. Eds. Ákos Moravánszky and Ole W. Fischer, 82-111 .Berlin: Jovis Verlag, 2008. Marzal, Anna Joanna, Julien S. Bourrelle, Eike Musall, Per Heiselberg, Arild, Gustavsen, and Karsten Voss. “Net Zero Energy Buildings: Calculation Methodologies versus National Building Codes.” In proceedings of EuroSun 2010: International Conference on Solar Heating, Cooling and Buildings: 28 September - 1 October 2010, Graz, Austria. EuroSun, 2010. Moffatt, Sebastian and Niklaus Kohler. “Conceptualizing the built environment as a socialecological system.” Building Research & Information 36, no. 3 (2008): 248-268. Rintala, Sami. “Edge On Paracentric Architecture.” Topos 70 (2010): 48-55. Sorkin, Michael. All over the map. London: Verso, 2011. Töpfer, Klaus. “Baby steps and giant leaps.” Archithese, November-December 39, no. 6 (2009): 28-33. Walker, Gordon and Elizabeth Shove. “Ambivalence, sustainability and the governance of socio-technical transitions.” Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning 9, no. 3 (2007): 213-225 Winner, Langdon. “Do Artifacts Have Politics?” Daedalus 109, no. 1 (1980): 121-136. Woolgar, Steve, and Geoff Cooper. “Do Artefacts Have Ambivalence? Moses’ Bridges, Winner’s Bridges, and Other Urban Legends in STS.” Social Studies of Science 29, no. 3 (1999): 433-449. Yeang, Ken. “Foreword” In Architecture, Technology and Process, ed. Chris Abel, vii-ix. Oxford: Architectural Press, 2004.
Image 07_ Stadt 14/15 (Berlin), 2010 ÂŠ Frank Thiel and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Acknowledgements The author would like to acknowledge the support of the Research Council of Norway; the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture (KULT), Centre for Technology and Society (CTS); as well as several partners through the Research Centre on Zero Emission Buildings (ZEB).
Krishna Bharathi & Frank Thiel Krishna Bharathi (b.1975 Tirunelveli, India) is an artist and licensed architect (WA #9722, NCARB #67149) who draws on experience gained from working as both a lead designer and ﬁeld architect in multiple building typologies and planning scales in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Krishna has a Bachelor of Psychology from the University of Chicago (1997, Honors) and a Master of Architecture from the University of Washington (2004, Tau Sigma Delta). Since 2010 Krishna has been working as a doctoral research fellow in Scandinavia addressing topics of sustainable development implementation, and in 2012, she was an invited exchange researcher to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) under the EU Erasmus Program. Currently she is a visiting scholar to Columbia University under the endorsement of Professor Kenneth Frampton. Frank Thiel (b.1966 Kleinmachnow, Germany) moved to West Berlin in 1985 and attended a training college for photography from 19871989. His work describes a type of architecture in transition; the formation of a new political space within urban structures. However, the narrative of the incomplete - processes of construction over ﬁnal results, of temporality and change - is present throughout his work. Frank has exhibited extensively in museums and galleries worldwide and his works are included in the collections of many major international museums including the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain; Museu National Centro de Arte Reina Soﬁa, Madrid, Spain; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Olivia Graf Doyle, Director Olivia Graf Doyle, Assoc. AIA, is the Design Leader at Architecture for Education, Inc. in Pasadena, CA. She graduated with degrees in Architecture and Advertising from the University of Southern California. Olivia has worked on a variety of projects that range from medical to K-12 and university to interior architecture. Her work at A4E focuses solely on her passion for educational spaces. Outside of work, Olivia is actively involved with the local design community; she was an Associate Director on the board of AIA Northern Nevada, started chapters of the Young Designer’s Networking Group in Reno and Sacramento, and has been published in several architecture history textbooks.
C.A. Debelius, Assistant Director C. A. Debelius, AIA, LEED AP, is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He is an Associate Professor at Appalachian State University where he teaches undergraduate architectural design studios and structures courses in the Building Science program. In addition to teaching full-time, Debelius is pursuing a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. His most recent article, “Thinking + Making,” was published in Forward 113. In 2007, Debelius’s design work was the subject of a solo exhibition at The Knoxville Museum of Art.
Chris Werner, Assistant Director Chris Werner, Assoc. AIA, graduated from Cornell University with a Master of Architecture degree in 2010. He served as project manager for the Cornell University Solar Decathlon team’s Silo House from 2007 - 2009. Prior to studying architecture, Chris studied English literature at Miami University, worked as a kayak guide in Washington state and Costa Rica and a carpenter in and around Washington, DC. Most recently, he has worked as a designer and builder at BUILDlab, LLC in Ithaca, NY and aspiring architect at Studio Pali Fekete Architects in Los Angeles, CA.
Cindy Louie, Assistant Director Cindy Louie, Assoc. AIA, is a recent graduate of the Masters of Architecture Program at Arizona State University. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from Arizona State University with concurrent studies in Graphic Design. Cindy Louie is currently a designer at Durkin + Durkin architects and serves on the membership development committee for the Phoenix Metro chapter of AIA, as well as a graphic/web editor for the AIA Forward Journal.
Janice Ninan, Assistant Director Janice Ninan, Assoc. AIA, is an ‘artrepreneur.’ She started her own company, J-Space Studio, Inc in March 2012, offering architecture related design services. She graduated with a Masters in Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago in August 2011 with a focus on highrise and long span structures. Janice earned her Bachelors in Architecture from M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore, India. Her professional portfolio covers a wide gamut of projects residential, hospitality, tourism related government projects, residential and commercial interiors and conservation work. Currently, Janice works at FGM Architects, Chicago.