FORWARD The Architecture and Design Journal of the AIA National Associates Committee
Identity Fall 2012
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 the Forward Director, Olivia Graf Doyle, at email@example.com if you are interested in contributing. NATIONAL ASSOCIATES COMMITTEE (NAC) EXECUTIVE BOARD Wayne Mortensen, Assoc. AIA, NASW - Chair Ashley Clark, Assoc. AIA - Associate Director William Turner, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP BD+C - Senior Associate Director April Trojniak, Assoc. AIA - Advocacy Director Patrick Weber, Assoc. AIA - Community & Communications Director Matthew Hart, Assoc. AIA - Knowledge & Programming Director Gary Demele, AIA, NCARB - NCARB Liaison Laura Meador, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP - 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 Christina A. Noble, AIA, LEED AP - Past Director Gregory Marinic, Assoc. AIA - Assistant Director C.A. Debelius, Assoc. AIA - Assistant Director Meg Jackson, Assoc. AIA - Assistant Director Joe Lawton, Assoc. AIA - Assistant Director Cindy Louie, Assoc. AIA - Assistant Director Janice Ninan, Assoc. AIA - Assistant Director FORWARD 212: IDENTITY Fall 2012. Volume 12, No. 2. Published biannually by the AIA. COVER IMAGE Aerial of Animal Farmature Pasture by Design With Company 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
Topics: Identity by Olivia Graf Doyle
Against Romancing Ecology
Identity Under the Gaze
by Adam Richards
by Laura Garofalo
by Niall Anderson
by C.A. Debelius
by Stewart Hicks + Allison Newmeyer
by Katherine Bambrick Ambroziak
Welcome to Albuquerque by Genevieve Baudoin + Bruce Johnson
Architecture is Entrepreneurship by Nathan Richardson
Evolution or Revolution?
by Michelangelo Sabatino
by Meg Jackson
Our buildings are a manifestation of what we value as shaped by our cultures, how we act as a society, and who we want to become.â€?
Topics: Identity by Olivia Graf Doyle
Dressed in black. Trendy glasses. Moleskin notebooks. Is that drawn to scale? At some point we’ve all had a good chuckle about these stereotypical traits of an architect. I can never decide if I am annoyed that we perpetuate those stereotypes or if I’m secretly proud that I am part of a fellowship with such a strong bond. We each have personal and collective identities that define us. Born and raised in Europe, I identify first as a Swiss citizen – it is the culture I feel the strongest connection to. It informs the way I think by being part of a shared belief system and mannerisms. Secondly, I identify as an American – this is the community I am now a part of. My actions are influenced by the way I live and where I live. I want to make my community stronger and a better place to live. Lastly, I identify with architecture. It informs who I want to be. It combines my past (culture) and my present (community) to give me purpose. Although I may complain about the long hours, the low pay and the lack of recognition, there is nothing I would rather do. It is part of how I define myself. Although it is in some sense like being part of a type of community or club, architecture is such a diverse profession that it creates unique identities in each of us; it is personal. The profession is constantly evolving, whether altering the way we do business, using new technologies, design methods and software, or defining non-traditional career paths and interdisciplinary collaboration. 2
An Architecture of and for Identity
Architecture is a combination of psychology, philosophy, history and art. Whether designing a church, prison, house or school, the identity of architecture is tied to several things: Thought Process: Ours, the clients, and the publics ideas on what the building should convey and how it should function to respond to our perceived needs Reason and Logic: Developing a solution to a problem using learned skills, concepts and theory The Past: Precedents are used to inform the way things have been previously accomplished and to build upon those romanticized examples to create facsimiles, abstract connections and comparisons or complete departures Our Personal Creativity: The ego in architecture, but also the beauty. Itâ€™s the ability to shape the future and to put just a little bit of our own belief system, poetic license and uniqueness into a project We are a group of individuals who believe in providing a service, in the opportunity to create beauty to elevate the human spirit, and in shaping the future. Our buildings are a manifestation of what we value as shaped by our cultures, how we act as a society, and who we want to become. Culture, community and practice shape the identity of architecture and design. Each of the articles in Forward 212: Identity focuses on one of these three categories.
Topics focus on the effects of culture on identity, such as heritage and the use of architecture as a catalyst to heal the scars of memories when displaced from home, the history and creation of an American national identity, the integration of nature into the project rather than treating nature as a bi-product of design, and subverting the manipulation of the mass media to redefine an optimistic message for society.
Projects discuss personal and local communities and outreach efforts, such as the sentimental image of the Midwestern landscape and itâ€™s potential for a new vision, creating urban renewal and community engagement in rejuvenating a neighborhood cemetery, and embracing the evolution of a project postoccupancy in suburban Albuquerque.
Articles discuss issues affecting the profession, such as blurring the lines between territorial and inclusive fields of practice, and a call to arms to embrace our roles as an industry of entrepreneurs. We received a large amount of impressive submissions for this issue – all with different takes on the theme. We thank everyone for their contributions, and hope that you will submit articles for our next issue for Spring 2013, where the topic will be Craft. Please visit our website for submission guidelines at the following link: www.aia.org/NACForward
The Identity of Forward
Much like the AIA’s re-positioning efforts, Forward is constantly evolving. We are a group of passionate emerging professionals, who dedicate and volunteer our time to this publication in order to facilitate a discussion about design, growth and change within the industry and to highlight new ideas and creative projects. The intent of the journal is to research, hypothesize, and innovate, to generate controversy, debate and ultimately share. Forward is a forum and an outlet for
ideas, whether you are a recent graduate, intern, professor, new or seasoned architect. The unity and combination of your voices is ultimately what defines an identity of architecture… an identity of fortitude, altruism and creativity. Always moving forward, in this issue, editors added their creative intuition and scholarly knowledge to slightly tweak the graphic layouts. We aim to push this publication’s design and content further, constantly improving our craft and ourselves. The cover is probably the most noticeable departure from some of the previous editions. Will it stick? The next issue may evolve to yet another version. As a fairly new publication and with a revolving volunteer staff, perhaps Forward’s identity is that of change. This is the beauty of working with a diverse team and profession; all our experiences, whether influenced by culture, community or practice, inform the future of the journal, and hopefully, the future identity of architecture itself.
Olivia Graf Doyle, Assoc. AIA Forward Director
Olivia Graf Doyle joined the Forward team as an Assistant Director in 2011, and is excited to be taking on the role of Director for the 2012 and 2013 issues. Olivia is a Design Leader at HMC Architects in Los Angeles. 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, in addition to being a contributer to her firm’s internal blog. Outside of work, Olivia is actively involved with the local design community; 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.
A O RECLAIMING IDENTITY An Architecture of Homecoming
by Adam Richards
The plight of Cuban exiles is a living history, spanning more than fifty years since Fidel Castroâ€™s rise to power in 1959. Individual reasons for leaving may vary, but each resonates with enough desperation to leave oneâ€™s homeland. They are a people who largely do not consider themselves immigrants to the United States but living in continued exile from Cuba. What happens to our memories and identities when we are exiled from the places in which they were created? With the objective to understand the link between built space and cultural identity, my proposal, designed in a thesis studio environment, concerns the case of the exile: one who is displaced from an architecture of home. As places grow in personal or cultural significance, our identities become tethered to these spaces, connecting memories and events to specific locations. Forced separation, such as political exile, from such places can lead to a shift in identity. My design proposal is an extension of White Street Pier on the island of Key West, exploring the use architectural space as a catalyst in the reclamation of cultural identity for the Cuban exile. Key Westâ€™s location off the southern coast of Florida serves as an ideal location to highlight the history of separation and exile across the Straits of Florida. The White Street Pier proposal includes a marketplace sited along the existing pier, which serves to evoke the cultural history of the region, and an offshore terminal, which will operate in hope that the persistent separation might be overcome. (Image 01)
Image 01_Site Plan
The Significance of the Past In his essay, â€œThe Medicine of Reciprocity, Tentatively Illustrated,â€? Dutch architect, Aldo van Eyck, expresses a link between people and the spaces they inhabit: a bond that over time establishes a sense of home and identity. In the essay, which features an analysis of the design of his Amsterdam Orphanage, he writes: I came to the conclusion that whatever space and time mean, place and occasion mean more, for space in the image of man is place, and time in the image of man is occasion.1 When inhabitants ascribe meaning to a space, because of events or occasions that have occurred there, that place begins to grow in significance. We write memories and histories onto and into our spaces in our desire to feel at home and experience permanence. Van Eyck continues to discuss the necessity for architecture to evoke
and provide a sense of home, saying: Leaving home and going home are often difficult matters; to go in or out, to enter, leave, or stay, are sometimes painful alternatives. Though architecture cannot do away with this truth it can still counteract it by mitigating instead of aggravating its effects. It is human to tarry. Architecture should, I think, take more account of this. The job of the planner is to provide a built homecoming for all, to sustain a feeling of belonging - hence, to evolve an architecture of place - a setting for each subsequent occasion, determined or spontaneous.2 Though van Eyckâ€™s ideas about the nature of belonging are applied to the design of a home for orphaned children in Amsterdam, his philosophy of an architecture of homecoming has larger implications for the role of design in reconcil8
ing humans to their surroundings. This notion of belonging, or feeling at home, is what bonds people to places. Histories and memories of a place become as much a part of the space as its physical materiality, linking our identities, both personal and cultural, to the place. Our identities come from our past, especially a past we desire to remember. By giving attention to our own history we can begin to define the meaning we give to places. In his book, Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino describes the city of Zaira that cannot be defined apart from its past. Every nook, shadow, and alleyway has history written in it. To understand the city one must look to the “relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past.”3 Calvino’s words imply that the history of a place is not always overt. Over time, the spaces we inhabit become embedded with our memories. Like the creases in our hands, the deeper our bond with a place becomes, the more that place will increase in personal significance. Our memories remain vivid, and our identities become rooted to the space. When a place is tethered to identity, if it is taken from us, or we are taken from it, our history and culture can become endangered, and our identity is at stake. In her book, Building Change, Lisa Findley notes that this type of forced removal of people from places of home is the equivalent of dictating where and how those people are to move and act in any space: “it is to take away the power of individuals to determine movement through the world and to rob them of the dignity of the spatial aspect of free will.”4 If we are not allowed to occupy spaces appropriate to us, we risk losing a sense of identity. By destroying a physical connection to a place of significance, the control and forced exodus of people from home causes a shift in identity, where memories often remain the only link to home. For those in exile, nostalgia often exists for these places of the past. Stanley Tigerman, in The Ar-
chitecture of Exile, explains this condition, noting that exiles attribute a great deal of significance to these places even though the exiles may never again inhabit them.5 Exiles appropriate the spaces around them to be a reminder of home, yet there is often a longing to return to the place they have left behind. As Edward Said writes: “Exile is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home. The essential sadness of the break can never be surmounted.”6 The exile is a person who is neither here nor there: clinging to a place of the past, while disconnected from it in the present. The condition of exile is evident in the case of political refugees who, for various reasons, find themselves forced to leave home to seek political asylum in other lands. For refugees, the legacy of exile can extend to future generations as well. Second- and even third-generation exiles are especially significant in the history of Cuban exiles. One need not look far to find accounts of those who, hearing only stories of the Cuba in which their parents or grandparents grew up, long to connect to these places of memory. In his memoir entitled, Take Me With You, Carlos Frías, a reporter gets the opportunity to travel to Cuba on business and is eager to visit some of the sites of his father’s past. He tracks down the location of a café in Old Havana, which his father owned and operated, only to find a field covered with rubble where boys kick around a soccer ball. Though he wants to step onto the lot, his feet will not budge, as if stepping one foot onto the rubble would erase all memory of his father’s presence: “Those dreams are my memories, and I won’t give them up for piles of rocks.”7 Circumstances such as this are prevalent: spaces are now lost, sometimes even permanently destroyed, affecting memories and identities connected to the space. Frías goes on to admit that the boys playing soccer and piles of rubble are now a part of his past, embedded in his identity.8
Key West: A Focal Point Throughout history, humans have discovered and demarcated the earth, establishing ownership and drawing boundaries on the land. Today political boundaries are also drawn at sea in an attempt by nations to take possession of the oceans.9 For the exile, a boundary is a threshold
that, once crossed, creates a disconnect from home. For the Cuban exile, this boundary is the Straits of Florida. Prior to Fidel Castroâ€™s rise to power in 1959, the cities of Havana, Miami, and Key West were
Image 02_The Straits of Florida becomes a boundary for the Cuban exile. Despite the oceanâ€™s fluidity, political lines have been drawn, including the International Maritime Boundary established in 1977.10
Image 03_The identities of Miami, Key West, and Havana have been intertwined throughout history. This montage depicts the characteristics of the three cities before, during, and after the revolution, with corresponding diagrams showing movement across the Straits.
Today, Miami has become the cultural epicenter of Cuban-Americans, and Havana, having slowed signiďŹ cantly in growth, is oen seen as a place of memory. Key West is now a travel destination for tourists and has become a place of transience. ...â€?
connected by commerce, travel, and cultural exchange, linking the U.S. and Cuba across the waters.Img 4. describes the character of these cities over time as well as noting movement and travel between them. The island of Key West rests at the center of much of the history of U.S.Cuba relations. Its proximity to Cuba makes it a dynamic travel port; the island saw the first flight to Cuba in 1913, as well as the establishment of Pan American Airlines in 1927.11 Following the Cuban Revolution, Key West, again because of its location, served as a landing point for many refugees travelling by sea. The most significant exodus of Cuban refugees using Key West as a port was an event known as the Mariel Boatlifts of 1980. An agreement between Castro and U.S. President Jimmy Carter allowed more than
125,000 refugees to leave from the port town of Mariel and make for U.S. shores. The agreement was stopped after only six months due to the sheer magnitude of the exodus.12 Today, Miami has become the cultural epicenter of Cuban-Americans, and Havana, having slowed significantly in growth, is often seen as a place of memory. Key West is now a travel destination for tourists and has become a place of transience. The White Street Pier proposal serves to recapture a spirit of travel and cultural exchange for the city of Key West that has subsided over time. By tapping into this history, architecture can serve as a reminder of the past, re-linking Key West to its former identity as an important cultural and travel hub, particularly between the United States and Cuba. 12
White Street Pier reaches out over the water, extending man’s reach across the ocean. A map of Key West (Img 5.) shows my proposed addition to White Street Pier—seen in its existing state in Img 6. Built in 1960, the pier caps a main avenue of the city, with locals referring to it ironically as the “unfinished highway to Havana.”13 This enigmatic nickname, coupled with the pier’s location at the southernmost part
of the island, sets the stage for a reclamation of cultural identity for the Cuban exile. Currently, the pier sees tourists, street performers, and fisherman daily and provides a setting to glimpse brilliant Caribbean sunsets. My proposal seeks to enhance these attributes with a marketplace and café sited along the existing portion of the pier, while providing passage to the proposed transit terminal connected offshore.
Image 04_Map of the island of Key West, showing the scale of the terminal and runway, extending over a mile offshore.
Image 05_White Street Pier in its existing state
An Architecture of Homecoming The White Street Pier proposal serves to mediate the past and the future: providing spaces that evoke the regional cultural history and anticipate a time when exiles may return home. A marketplace sited along the pier intends to recall memories of Old Havana through textures of canvas and wood; smells of fruit, fish, and flowers; and sounds of musicians and performers, of people swimming along the shore. An offshore terminal recognizes the longing for home and a hope to return there some day. The open-air market and boardwalk promenade are opportunities for the larger public to engage in the cultural character of Key West and the Caribbean. The marketplace taps into the history of the region, suggesting some of the smells, textures, and colors of cultural memory. Catching the morning light, wooden kiosks line the northeastern edge to create a streetscape on the pier. The business day begins as artisans
and craftsmen display their goods. Smells of fruit, flowers, and fresh food fill the air. Canvas overhangs demarcate places for the display of goods, and at the end of the day, the kiosks may be fastened down to store merchandise over night. A trolley paces by in a rhythmic pattern, carrying people to and from the terminal offshore. (Image 06) A row of support space, public restrooms, and planters separates the marketplace from the promenade. The boardwalk promenade carves into the existing pier, marking the beginning of a sweeping curve that extends out to the terminal offshore. Pedestrians may occupy the level of the current pier, which steps down to meet the water. Pieces of the existing pier have been carved out and extend the boundary of the pier, providing platforms on which swimmers may sunbathe or to which small boats and kayaks may dock. Tourists and visitors may also access an elevated boardwalk via a gently sloping ramp, which meets the cafĂŠ, located at the end of the existing pier. (Image 07) 14
Image 06_The marketplace, morning 14
Image 07_The view from shore, sunset 15
Image 08_CafĂŠ and plaza, night 16
Image 09_Diagram showing existing site geometries of the pier. The use of a curved bridge allowed for a smooth transition to an orientation of the runway that correlates to wind patterns of the region. The curve of the terminal continues just past north-south to point toward the isle of Cuba.
A café overlooking the plaza caps the pier. Architecture acts as a stage, a setting for occasions. The café serves the everyday experience, for the morning espresso or the evening drink. Situated on the elevated portion of the promenade, one side provides counter service, and the other side opens to an enclosed dining space, providing a moment of rest where one could sit and watch the plaza below or look out to the sea beyond. The plaza is a setting for occasions—festivals and concerts—both planned and spontaneous, where anything from a formal quinceañera or an impromptu musical performance can take place. A ramp wraps around the edge of the plaza, leading people up to the level of the café and the start of the bridge leading out to the terminal. (Image 08) A softly curving bridge stretches across the sea. One’s eyes could follow its sweeping arc as it leaves the pier and connects to the terminal in the distance. The curve not only mediates the angle of the existing pier to a more appropriate north-south orientation for the airport runway, but its position acts to encapsulate views to the east and west, sunrise and sunset. (Image 09) Built as an inhabitable truss, the trolley line runs beneath the pedestrian walkway. Bright canvas overhead and vine-covered metal work shade portions of the walkway for those who choose to travel by foot out to the terminal. (Image 10) 18
The airport and ferry terminal expresses the spirit of travel and exchange that once existed across the Straits of Florida. Pulled away from shore to reach necessary water depths, the terminal and mile-long runway mark a significant trajectory across the ocean, extending man’s reach even further in a symbolic gesture of an attempt to re-link the two nations. Passengers arrive and depart on planes and ferries, recognizing the historical connection of water and sky between the U.S. and Cuba. The air and ferry terminals are separate, with distinct entries to accommodate security needs. The air terminal’s departure lounges line the eastern edge of the structure, while the ferry terminal and departure docks rest on the western side. The roof structure of the air terminal extends and shelters a public plaza and the ferry docks, both open-air. (Image 11)
A View Toward Home The public plaza creates a wedge between the air and ferry terminal, stretching beyond the departure lounges and the waiting gates of the terminal. An expansive open-air space, it offers a place for the general public to come and watch planes take off, an activity that has faded in its sensationalism with the ubiquity of air travel.17 Structural frames are in place should the need arise to begin expansion of the terminal. For now, their bare skeletal nature continues the curve of the terminal, drawing one’s gaze further to the west, to Cuba. (Image 12) What does it mean to sit and watch the sunset? For many CubanAmericans, it may be a connection to home, knowing that their relatives across the ocean could be watching the same sun set. The ethereal natures of sunrise and sunset evoke a sense of temporality about the present, a threshold marking the beginning or the passing of the day. Many Cuban-American exiles ache for a homecoming. Their identity is wrapped up in the search for a place of the past, while separated
from it in the present. The struggle to hold on to an identity of the past, to long for a return home, has led me to broaden my definition of exile. Knoxville author, James Agee, speaks of our need and longing for home as something inherently human, acknowledging that in some way, we are all exiles from home. In his autobiographical novel, A Death in the Family, he writes, How far we all come. How far we all come away from ourselves. So far, so much between, you can never go home again. You can go home, it’s good to go home, but you can never really get all the way home again in your life.19 Inevitably, a return to Cuba, for the exile, can only reside in memory. The Cuba to which they long to return is, in many ways, gone. Instead, the exile seeks the freedom to own space, to act willfully and carve memories into it. In essence, the mark of exile, if accepted, may become nothing more than a part of the past: a part of one’s identity. Or as Cuban exile, Carlos Eire, so eloquently writes, the mark of exile becomes nothing more than a “luminous scar.”20 To understand the link between architectural space and cultural identity, the focus of this theoretical design proposal is to examine the effects that political exile can have on identity and the ability of architecture to reclaim a sense of cultural identity for those in exile. The White Street Pier proposal uses space as a catalyst in the reclamation of identity for the Cuban exile. As a facilitator of such a change, rather than change itself, architecture can mediate the conditions of exile. To do this architecture must acknowledge the past to which the exile clings and look to the future, when the condition of exile may be alleviated. With these efforts, architecture is able support a feeling of home, where past identities, altered by exile, are not ignored but allowed to heal over as an old wound.
Image 10_Promenade bridge, midday
Image 11_Section through terminal, midday
Image 12_The view out to sea, sunset 18
Acknowledgments I would like to thank Professor Tricia Stuth from the University of Tennessee’s College of Architecture and Design, for her invaluable contribution to the design process. Under her guidance, this selfdirected project is the culmination of a research seminar and fifth year design studio. I would also like to thank Professor Avigail Sachs for her thoughtfulness and insight as a critic during process and final reviews, as well as her continued advice on the development of this article.
References 1. Eyck, Aldo van, “The Medicine of Reciprocity, Tentatively Illustrated,” Works, Compilation by Vincent Ligtelijn (Birkhauser Publishers, Basel, Switzerland, 1999), 89.2 Elizabeth Bott Spillius and Edna O’Shaughnessy, ed. Projective Identification: The Fate of a Concept (London; New York: Rutledge, 2012) 2. Ibid, 89. 3. Calvino, Italo, Invisible Cities (New York and London: Harcourt Brace Jovenovich, 1972), 10, 11. 4. Findley, Lisa, Building Change: Architecture, Politics and Cultural Agency (New York and London: Routledge, 2005), 5. 5. Tigerman, Stanley, The Architecture of Exile (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1988), 124. 6. Edward W. Said as quoted in Tigerman, Stanley, The Architecture of Exile (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1988), 124. 7. Frías, Carlos, Take Me With You (New York: Atria Books, 2008), 39. 8. Ibid, 39 9. The Times Atlas of the Oceans, Ed. Alastair Couper (London: Times Books Limited, 1983), 220. 10. United States Department of State: Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. “Limits in the Seas, No. 110 Maritime Boundary: Cuba - United States,” accessed December 2011. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/58380.pdf 11. “Airport History,” Key West International Airport, accessed February 2012, http://www.keywestinternationalairport.com/history.html 12. “Mariel Boatlift,” Global Security, last modified May 7, 2011, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/mariel-boatlift.htm 13. “White Street Pier,” Key West: The Blog, last modified August 21, 2010. Accessed December 2011, http://keywesttheblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/white-street-pier.html. 14. Martí, Jose, Versos Sencillos / Simple Verses (Houston: Arte Público Press, 1997), 104-105. 15. Eire, Carlos, Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy (New York: The Free Press, 2003), 12. 16. Frías, Carlos, Take Me With You (New York: Atria Books, 2008), 53. 17. Rybczynski, Witold, Looking Around (New York: Penguin Group, 1992), 139-143.
18. Eire, Carlos, Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy (New York: The Free Press, 2003), 380. 19. James, A Death in the Family (New York: Penguin Group, 2008), 87. 20. Eire, Carlos, Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy (New York: The Free Press, 2010), preĂĄmbulo.
Image Credits Title Page_Image by Adam Richards, University of Tennessee Images 01 to 12_All images in article by Adam Richards, University of Tennessee
Adam Richards Adam Richards graduated with honors from the University of Tennesseeâ€™s College of Architecture and Design in 2012. He received the Henry Adams AIA Medal, awarded to the top-ranking student of the graduating class. His project, Reclaiming Identity, received a Faculty Letter of Excellence and was featured in the 2012 Senior Exhibition in the Ewing Gallery at UT. Recently, he has been a part of a collaborative team of students from UT and Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences to design an installation entitled Hidden Gardens of Light, exhibited in November 2012 in Helsinki; and he is currently an AmeriCorps member, working at Knoxville Habitat for Humanity. He owes a great deal of his passion for culture and stories to his grandfather, who immigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1956 to pursue an internship in medicine.
AGAINST ROMANCING ECOLOGY by Laura Gar贸falo
Our identity as architects is still very much tied to a specific relationship with Nature left to us by Romanticism. This places architecture and other human constructs strictly outside of a “wild” Nature that is pure, vibrant and untamed. The reality of climate change should enlighten us to the fact that such a separation has been problematic, since no piece of Nature is immune from human influence. Unfortunately, one reaction has been to develop nostalgic eco-narratives that attempt to retrieve a loss that never was and to which architects remains outsiders viewing in from their technology bubbles. To retrieve some ground for the architectural imagination we need to understand our role as part of this evolving relationship with Nature, coexisting as interdependent entities (both physical and conceptual), with which we can imagine productive and healthy infrastructures for a collective ecology. This paper addresses the formulation of an ecocentric identity through three installation projects.
In the West, we are indebted to the Romantic Movement in the arts, from literature to garden design, for teaching generations to appreciate the landscape. However, in conjunction with this appreciation, an exclusionary image of ecology was concretized by the Romantic’s adulation of wilderness in its many forms. In concert with the Enlightment’s mandate to exercise control over the natural world that this image intended to debunk, it helped establish the nature/culture duality that defined Modernity. In Practice, this duality still defines our self perception along with our perception of ecology although it may no longer do so in theory. In the formulation of architectures’ relationship to Nature, there are two veins of Romanticism to consider, the Pastoral and the Sublime. The bucolic Pastoral, engages people with the environment through constructed landscapes. Assembled from multiple sources these Arcadian representations in painting, text, and
scenery actually composed the harmonious environment that the same arts claimed to emulate.This circular reference turns Nature into a product of our minds. Consequently, it lacks its own identity making the Romantic image promote the Kantian anthropocentrism that strips away the agency of non-human objects. Bolstered by this world view, the constructed picturesque vision of a peripherally occupiable landscape gave license to reconstruct entire ecosystems and create the “right” image in the English Landscape Garden. In contrast, intending to evoke awe, sublime landscape paintings like those of Thomas Cole, portray wild landscapes as untamable, even dangerous, and certainly beyond human control. These constructs can only be admired from afar, for the power of the wild would be diminished by man’s transgression. These images have defined how we interface with our context: we cordon off that which we hope to maintain as natural (Image 01).
Image 01_Unmanaged wilderness: Metis River Park is a reserved area untouched since before the first settlements in Northern Quebec
However, ecologies are not easily contained, so longing for Romantic Nature transforms into a narrative of loss of the “wild”. An exclusionary framework, this image keeps us from engaging the non-human agents that make up the multiple intertwined ecologies we live in. In turn, by dissolving the perception of the Romantic wilderness we may be able to see ourselves as part of the community of entities rather than fluctuating from being outsiders to being monarchs of non-human ecologies. Since an identity can be defined by the relations we form, understanding our relation to the environment contributes to the construction of our self-image. Romantic authors tried to identify with the wild side of human and nonhumans, mostly through opposition to cultural norms. An identity, like that of the architect whose task has been to carve a place of human dwelling out of an uncontrolled wilderness, must be set strictly in opposition to nature. It follows that -like for the characters in Romantic
landscape paintings that remain on the fringesstories, studies, and landscape designs abound where architectures are identified as observers rather than actors…unless, of course, they are trespassers. However, the clarity of the nature/culture dichotomy, and the images of unattainable unadulterated wilds, are both under assault by our growing understanding of the planet’s intertwined ecologies and the role we play in them. Acknowledging that today’s ecologies are as constructed as the Romantics’ landscapes, fields from philosophy to anthropology recognize that human actions have affected the environment to such a degree that we have constructed the current state of the world. In concert with this there is an understanding that non-human biological, cultural, and technological entities have agency. Functioning in a community of distinct human and non-human objects with their own identities, proposes a paradigm shift in design thinking to an ecocentric perspective. 28
Image 02_Landscape at Reford Garden/ Jardin de Métis in northern Quebec, Canada
The Garden: An Interface for Engagement By changing the interface between ourselves and the environment we may be able to realize our coexistence as interdependent agents. The glass wall – an exclusionary interface between architecture and the environment that that places its occupants in an inverted terrarium stands in direct opposition to the garden. An active interface, the garden is a thickened space where culture, biology, science, technology, history, art, and architecture interact. Their design invariably challenges the Modernist paradigm. The architectural imagination has long had a role in this evolving ecocentric venue which has defined our relationship to the ecologies we coexist with (both human and cultural). Gardens function metaphorically and literally as the transformation of the wild into a cultured
landscape. Not the constructed productive landscape that Cicero termed second nature, but a third nature that acknowledges multiple agents. Perhaps because it is uncluttered with the economic exigencies of production, it does not need to serve its human master as a farm does but is itself served by its caretakers. Because it is neither a comodification of, nor an isolation of Nature from our actions, in the garden we can imagine infrastructures for a collective ecology of human and non-human actors. The Romantic Landscape evolved into a Naturalist sensibility that persists in garden design to this day. Derived from the Romantic collage of species of the “right” form and color, it evokes what we have come see as a “natural” setting, set apart from its context. Reford Garden/ Jardin de Métis in northern Quebec, Canada, painstakingly carved out of the wilds
Image 03_The ravine at Reford Garden
of the northern forests, is a striking New World example of the Romantic English Landscape Garden (Image 02). This Eden on the shore of the St. Lawrence Seaway was constructed over three decades by Elsie Reford. The meandering ravine enveloped by elaborate planting arrangements, flowered meadows, and shady paths present Naturalist garden aesthetic in grounds that were manufactured from the flora down to the soil composition (Image 03). Today, this garden engages in the cultural (an arts venue), economic (an employment resource), and social (an events venue) ecologies of the region. Intentionally binding nature and culture, in 2000, a portion of the property became devoted to an annual International Garden Festival, which its founders conceived of it as a venue to reevaluate the Naturalist aesthetic that dominates the practice (Image 04).
Promoting the garden as a â€œpotent vehicle for contemporary investigationâ€? of design practices, the installations here strongly engage the architectural imagination. Two installations, Unseen and Never Ending Story, as well as my own, Buoyant distinguishing themselves from Romantic expression in attempting to present an ecocentric identity for both the makers and the gardens. They give agency to the process of growth through three disparate frames of reference: the technocratic, ecological, and the Biophilic. The three gardens replace the narrative of loss with a proposal for coexistence and engagement.
Cyborg Unseen, A Nature Interpretation Center with Second Thoughts, constructed in 2003 by artist /engineer Marc BĂśhlen and architect 30
Image 04_Garden Festival site during the construction of the gardens, 2012
Image 05_Unseen, Planting plan â€“ flora and technology.
Image 06_Unseen, Cameras filming growth.
Natalie Tan presents a garden that examines the designerâ€™s understanding of ecology through media (Image 05). It weaves science, technology, history, and plant life to construct a set of narratives that help us inhabit the garden on a more intimate level. The digital processing of this environment, coupled with the planting of camera equipment, monitors, and a computer in the landscape, takes the garden out of the Romantic notion a pure ecosystem. Because media is imbedded in the garden, the garden itself inventories the growth process of its constructed strip of regional flora. Arranged in rows according to strict metrics of growth: how tall, how deep, how wide, the garden is designed to facilitate the analysis and observation of a non-utilitarian ecosystem. Each plant is filmed and its change over time is digitally documented, analyzed and matched with scientific descriptions.
(Image 06) Unseenâ€™s catalogue grows with the flora, as imperceptible details are revealed through digital analysis. There is a well established tradition tying biology and data, as it is routinely turned into information by scientists and industrialists managing it for profit and damage control through imaging and remote sensing. Even Elsie Refordâ€™s garden is known through a collection of data. Diaries and photographs meticulously recorded its development is as the garden was inscribed in the landscape. But Unseen is not a just parallel development of a document and a garden; it is an augmented environment, an environment that weaves technology and biology together creating a new ecosystem. Not buying into a narrative of loss or the commodification imperative, this real-time analysis is not a mode of stewardship aiming to improve the performance of the flora either. Instead, through this medium, the experience 32
Image 07_Never Ending Story, Stacked log walls
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 the 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, infrastructure and nature … intertwine.”
Emergent Regenerative landscape designs which reconstruct ecosystem services on a site adhere to images of Arcadian ideals which we can no longer identify with. Like the English Landscape tradition, they manufacture bucolic images in park-like settings. The installation Histoire sans fin ou Le bois dans tous ses états (Never Ending Story: Ecologies of Decay) by Paris based ATELIER EEM: Marc Blume, Estelle Nicod, and Francesca Liggieri, offers an alternative image by aestheticizing the biological process articulated in the design
rather than forms of natural beauty (Image 07). An exploration of the temporality of ecology, it creates a narrative, not just a garden where decay is arduously constructed. It contrasts with static Romantic images and debunks notions of abundance and purity. The garden’s structure is simple, thin elms make a hypostyle hall like sunken garden room which holds five parallel walls. The walls are made of cut logs (two foot lengths) stacked at varying heights (Image 08). The stacking makes reference to a fence making strategy used in Canada when clearing or maintaining wooded areas. Hence, the walls embody a process that records a transformation of the landscape. Looking closer we move to a more intimate but temporally expansive process, since the role of the bastions is to host a cycle of decay and succession (Image 10). The walls made to feed fungal growth not only allow for the process to modify them, but encourage their own decomposition, providing a site for the emergence of a new ecology. The garden is maintained to accelerate decay, excessively watered, profusely shaded, and planted with mushrooms and pioneer plants. It requires as much maintenance in order to be undone as the Elyse’s gardens need to be kept in their manicured state (Image 09). A garden’s keeper works with an understanding that their creation will reorganize itself as it matures. Such an understanding requires the recognition of non-human agents in the design process rather than their exclusion. But Atelier Eem does not propose an ecological practice that tries to remediate the loss of an environment’s affordances. For, if we look at such a stance critically, it commodifies ecosystems rather than coexisting with them. The Positivist engagement with the environment that many practices try to engage today is re-focused when it celebrates that which traditionally devalues our urban context
Image 09_Never Ending Story, Fungal growth taking hold.
- decay. An ecocentric world view defines a practice with this close an engagement with a biological process as it helps in the conception of a designed ecology that not only involves, but caters to non-human agents.
Collective Buoyant was also part of the 2012 Jardin De Métis International Garden Festival (Image 11). The project reflects on the role of the fabricated landscape and contemporary rhetoric on ecological aesthetics by problematizing our understanding of autonomy and control. It does this by confounding the roles played by armature and plants, designer and steward.
Image 10_Never Ending Story, The team’s architect planting decay.
The installation plays with the perceived functions of common architectural garden devices- the wall, the trellis, and the reflecting pool- by allowing existing and planted vegetation to assert equal agency in structuring of the garden (Image 14). It is organized by three components: a trellis without rigid components, a reflective ground, and a wall of trees. The trellis, a net that holds transparent inflated bubbles, hovers over the site and vines grow up its tethers to perceptively ground the structure (Image 12). Throughout the season, the vines reshape the trellis by bunching, and pulling and adding weight to it (Image 13). The mutable trellis’s construction contrasts with that of the ground level but its behavior is similar. Composed of mirrored cubes in a gridded shallow pool, it is ordered, and rigid, but its surfaces reflect the movement and play of its surroundings, collapsing images of the flora onto the tiles and displacing the adjacent forest into the garden. It is said to be primarily a garden’s boundary that sets it apart, that gives shape and delineation to its living form while it keeps the garden related to the world. Buoyant’s garden wall is a diaphanous forest. The ring of trees that defines the garden room is literally the structure for this garden - the
Image 11_Buoyant, Planting infrastructure diagram.
trellis is suspended from it. The architecture literally hangs on Nature and vice versa giving construction and flora equal agency in the design. Caretakers interact with the structure at “maintenance bundles” where air tanks feeding the bubbles sit alongside planters of Cobaea scandens vines, and tether lines provide paths for air hoses and vines to move between the ground and the sky. The garden’s dependence on maintenance procedures recognizes the intricate network of service mechanisms we have created to maintain our controlled ecologies. A growing collective, the architecture and the flora together not only change the ambient and visual perception of the garden room, but they literally reform trellis over the growing season hence the role of “caretaker” is transposed to them. As the architecture mutates over time in response to vegetal growth, rather than controlling and ordering the growth it evolves as a collective that includes multiple players and their real and possible worlds.
Dissolution and Resolution Identity, as relational construct, it builds on the understanding of subject’s self and its distinction from others (within and outside its context) as well as its context. In Modernist ideology our identity as builders is clearly defined on the side of culture, and Nature is identified as the other. When we become aware of ourselves as makers of the ecological context, and recognize non human entities as having agency, we redefine our self-image for we redefine the relation architecture holds with itself. Once Architecture no longer identifies Nature as the proverbial “other” that needs to be subjugated in order for it to assert its place in the world, its identity as a purely cultural object begins to blur at the edges. Through their
construction, these gardens show a picture in which biology, technology, history, art, ecology are fused by the harmony (or lack thereof) of the grouping of parts. They are communities of specialized organisms, from the biological to the technological, that are integrated to one another and not capable of independent survival. Like the proposals of urban planner Timothy Beattley’s Biophilic Cities the gardens promote a community of distinct human and non-human objects where Architectural form and structure dissolve to allow the process of plant growth to reconfigure a mediated and constructed ecology. We thank the management, volunteers, and patrons of the Reford Gardens/Jardins de Métis, Québec, for the opportunity to contribute both pleasure and cultural engagement with these gardens.
“Identity...builds on the understanding of subject’s self and its distinction from others as well as its context.”
Image 12_Buoyant, flattening the surrounding canopy into the distorted grid of the trellis.
Image 13_Buoyant, The net disappering from view and the translucent bubbles creating openings in the canopy to diffuse light into the cool grotto space beneath.
Image 14_Buoyant, Trellis
References 1. Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, “What Is The Romantic Landscape? “ in Sonja Duempelmann, ed. German Historical Institute Bulletin Supplement 4. (Washington DC: German Historical Institute, 2007), 11-15. 2. Matthew Brennan, Wordsworth, Turner, and Romantic Landscape: a Study of the Traditions of the Picturesque and the Sublime. (Columbia: Camden House, 1987). 3. Graham Harman, Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects. (Peru: Open Court, 2002) 2. 4. Timothy Morton, Ecology Without Nature : Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,2007)140. 5. Bruno Latour, We have never been modern. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,1993). 6. The Anthropocene is a geological time period revealing human impact on the not only the atmosphere and ecology but even the geology of the planet. The classification has not yet been formally accepted into Geological Time Scale yet, although the term has been in use for over a decade. 7. Timothy Morton: Object Oriented Ontology Class 1-3 April 2, 2012. 8. Bruno Latour, Pandora’s Hope, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999).174-175. 9. Morton, Ecology Without Nature, 35. 10. Robert Pogue Harrison, Gardens : an essay on the human condition. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008). 11. John Dixon Hunt, Greater Perfections: The Practice of Garden Theory, Chapter 3 “The Idea of a Garden and the three Natures” (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000). 32-75 12. Latour, Pandora’s Hope, 275-280. 13. Hunt, Greater Perfections, 57. 14. Alexander Reford, “Foreword”, in Lesley Johnston ed. Hybrids: Reshaping the Contemporary Garden in Métis,. (Vancouver: Blue Imprint, 2007). 1-2. 15. Lesley Johnston ed. Hybrids: Reshaping the Contemporary Garden in Métis,. (Vancouver: Blue Imprint, 2007). 5. 16. A narrative of loss is performed every time we engage a site, propose a regenerative
landscape program, or embark in the design of green infrastructures, because we are constantly measuring and assessing its performance. 17. http://www.realtechsupport.org/repository/ unseen.html 18. Marc Böhlen, Natalie Tan, “Garden Variety Pervasive Computing”. Pervasive Computing Journal, (IEEE CS and IEEE ComSoc, 2004). 2934. 19. Böhlen, Tan, Pervasive Computing Journal, 29-34. 20. Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method (1637) (West Yorkshire: Pomona Press, 2008). http://frshr.com/Unseen.htm 21. The project Never Ending Story is one of five gardens built for the 13th International Garden Festival in the Jardin de Métis, Québec Canada in the summer of 2012 22. The project Buoyant is one of five gardens built for the 13th International Garden Festival in the Jardins de Métis, Québec Canada in the summer of 2012. This annual festival, touted as a forum for experimentation and innovation, is sponsored by the Fondation des Jardins de Métis /Reford Gardens. 23. Robert Pogue Harrison, Gardens : an essay on the human condition. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), 48. 24. Morton, Ecology Without Nature, 141. 25. Noonan, Harold, “Identity”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Ed N. Zalta (ed.), http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2011/ entries/identity/. 26. Harrison, Garden ,86-87.
Title Page_ Buoyant, Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens, Laura Garofalo, Buoyant, photo: Robert Baronet Image 01 - 04_Laura Garófalo Image 05_Image by Böhlen and Tan Image 06_Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens, Atalier Eem, Unseen, photo by Lindsay Hurni & Jean Claude Image 07 - 11_Laura Garófalo Image 12_Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens, Laura Garofalo, Buoyant, photo: Robert Baronet Image 13_Laura Garófalo Image 14_Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens, Laura Garofalo, Buoyant, photo: Robert Baronet
Laura Garófalo Laura Garófalo is a founding partner of Liminal Projects Inc. and an Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo, SUNE. Her recent premiated design competition entries include: the 13th International Garden Festival of the Jardins de Métis/Redford Gardens in Canada, Second Place in the 2012 Modern Atlanta Prize Competition (w/ O. Khan), First Place: Charleston Transit Hub Design Competition by Architecture for Humanity, Charleston (w. D. Hill). Among other honors, her firm has been exhibited at the Architectural League of New York, the National Building Museum, and was selected by the Architectural League of New York as Notable Young Architects.
The mass media, through its omnipresence and deep cultural inďŹ ltration, has determined the culture of our age.â€?
Identity Under the Gaze by Niall Anderson
The mass media, through its omnipresence and deep cultural infiltration, has determined the culture of our age. Due to the constant bombardment by the media our sense of self, and the perceived identity of architecture, have been mutated. Identity cannot be constructed in isolation from the environment in which the subject exists and it is as part of a media-society that contemporary subjectivities are formed. Through an analysis of the role of the media in defining subjective identity and of the appropriation of architecture as a manipulative tool, this paper examines how the existing power structures can be subverted and how architecture can play a role in redefining our sense of self. 46
The increasingly homogenising and ultimately dehumanising effect of mass media is one which has a considerable influence on contemporary society and consequently, on the production of identity in the post-modern subject. Through the ubiquitous media presence in almost every aspect of modern life, society’s consciousness is unwittingly being shaped and manipulated. In the hands of a ruling elite, the media exists to turn the general public into passive consumers, to endlessly propagate consumer culture and to shape potentially divergent societal identities into a single, streamlined, generic identity which is most profitable. In the contemporary social conditions which see a privileged few holding vast amounts of power over the majority, and the utilisation of that power to manipulate the majority, the Marxist dialectic of class struggle has a new relevance. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in their early collaboration The German Ideology, discuss the dominance of the ruling classes in the shaping of society: “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it.”1 If, as Marx asserts, the subordinate classes are subject to the ideas of the ruling elite - ideas which are based entirely on creating optimal conditions for private accumulation through the distortion of individuality - the mass media would appear to play a pivotal role in this subjugation. Societal identity is defined by the prevailing ideas of the age and the media is used as an exceptionally powerful tool by the elite to disseminate their ideas and engender specific appetites for consumption within society. An ideology which exists to reproduce social domination by legitimising the premiership of the ruling classes and thus continually replicate the existing hierarchies of power and control is one which poses a great threat to individualism and the critical faculties of society at large.
“Through the ubiquitous media presene in almost every aspect of modern life, society’s consciousness is unwittingly being shaped and manipluted.”
Our true identity is obscured and ignored to make way for a fabricated image of the way we are expected to see ourselves. We set out to make ourselves visible in the world but our self image is projected back to us through the desire of others. French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan in his seminal 1949 paper The Mirror Stage proposed that children pass through a specific stage in infancy in which they begin to identify with their own image.2 As this process occurs prior to the acquisition of physical co-ordination however, the child initially experiences this recognition as a rivalry. The disparity between the synthesis, or wholeness, the child sees in the image and the fragmentation they perceive in their own body due to their lack of co-ordination gives rise to a hostile tension between the subject and the image. This hostility is resolved in the psyche by the child identifying with the image; his identity is assumed from the objectification of his image: “It suffices to understand the mirror stage... as an identification...: namely, the transformation that takes place in the subject when he assumes an image.”3 The mirror stage, then, describes both the process by which a child’s sense of self begins to form and the lasting structure in subjectivity by which identity is formed via the process of objectification. This mirror self, however, is a misrecognition; it is an ideal self which provides an antidote to the fragmentary nature of the child’s body. The identification provides the comforting illusion of wholeness and control but ultimately, is incomplete as it represents only one half of the scopic field. Lacan describes: “I see only from one point but... I am looked at from all sides... consciousness, in its illusion of seeing itself seeing itself, finds its basis in the inside-out structure of the gaze.”4
The gaze describes the relationship between the subject and object and disrupts the subject’s externally defined sense of self. From its initial inception, the subject’s selfhood is shaped, manipulated and perhaps resisted by others “acting as the screened gaze of culture.”5 This gaze is the intermediary through which identity is always experienced, or produced, and reveals the bilateral nature of identity; the co-existence of ‘existing as’ and ‘being seen as’. For Lacan, when a subject perceives, he turns himself “into a picture under the gaze... [He is] looked at, that is to say, [he is] a picture.”6 As we have already seen, identity is nothing more than an assumed image and the awareness in the subject that he exists in a world in which he is perceived is omnipotent in defining identity. The image that is introjected (‘how society sees me’) is internalised and becomes the primary influence on subjective identity. If subjective identity, then, is defined by the duality of the scopic field, then there is the potential for this to be manipulated. The media can utilise its vast power to mould what should be seen by society as desirable (thus what a subject sees in himself) and transform identity into a commodity which can be bought and sold. The Frankfurt School was a group of neo-Marxist theorists concerned with social reproduction and domination and the role of mass culture in facilitating the rise of consumer culture in the subjugated classes. Principal theorists Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno developed an account of the “culture industry”7 to call attention to the industrialisation and commercialisation of culture under capitalist relations of production. The culture industry aims to homogenise individuality and consolidate individual desire and through this the ruling elite, who have vested interests in the proliferation of consumption, can cultivate the largest possible potential purchasing audience to be bombarded by their media. 48
This is the effect of the screened gaze of culture: by artificially implanting standardised desire and by ostracising unprofitable desire, the consumerisation of society can be streamlined and Fordist concepts of mass production can be deployed to maximise accumulation. The Frankfurt School saw this as the end of the individual: “The most intimate reactions of human beings have been so thoroughly reified that the idea of anything specific to themselves now persists only as an utterly abstract notion: personality scarcely signifies anything more than shining white teeth and freedom from body odor and emotions. The triumph of advertising in the culture industry is that consumers feel compelled to buy and use its products even though they see through them.”8 In Fordist thinking, the creation of a mass – a mass audience, a mass produced commodity – helped to produce the capitalist marketplace based on the economies of scale and scope which both, at their core, rely on the standardisation of previously craft produced commodities with the aim of achieving interchangeability. This process relies not only on the standardisation of material commodities - parts for example - but also on the standardisation of the commoditised labour force. In giving each employee only one task, the assembly line was deskilled and the once qualified, professional workforce was replaced with unskilled and easily replaceable drones. The Frankfurt School recognised the implications of this practice and, as Douglas Kellner, a critical theorist in the tradition of the Frankfurt School describes, “[t]he culture industry thesis described both the production of massified cultural products and homogenized subjectivities. Mass culture for the Frankfurt School produced desires, dreams, hopes, fears,
and longings, as well as unending desire for consumer products.”9 Horkheimer and Adorno’s analysis of the culture industry sees the public sphere as having come under corporate control and as a result, it has been mutated from the realm of the individual into one of manipulative mass consumption. This suggests the ambient environment in which we exist is in fact an artificially manufactured media society which is dominated by the treatment of citizens as consumers of commodities and within which each individual’s social identity is repudiated in favour of the promotion of mass appetites for consumption. This is the space of the advert where desire must be uniform and individuality must be kept on a very tight leash. Urbanisation and the notion of the limitless can be seen to be a direct result of capitalist society and forms the basis of what constitutes the generic space of the advert. Spanish engineer and planner Ildefons Cerdà theorised the city as a “vast swirling ocean of persons, of things, of interests of every sort, of a thousand diverse elements”10 that exist in a reciprocal relationship and thus cannot be solidified into a finite form. For Cerdà, “to ruralise the city and urbanise the countryside”11 was the task of urbanisation, thus decentralising the concept of the city and creating potentially infinite urban space. The vision of Ludwig Hilberseimer for his 1924 Hochhausstadt project develops this notion, and crucially, removes the diversity which Cerdà envisaged. In doing so, Hilberseimer seems to create an example of this economic space taken to its most extreme manifestation. The seemingly endless repetition of uniform urban blocks creates the possibility for infinite homogenous space within which the mass media can deliver identical messages to the normalised consumer who constitutes society. What this vision lacks, however, in terms of its credentials as archetypal economic space, is the urban landmarks of ‘iconic buildings,’ the “final and celebratory manifestations of…the
victory of economic optimisation over political judgement,”12 according to architect and theorist Pier Vittorio Aureli. These monuments represent the submission of architecture to the realm of advertisement and can be seen to constitute nothing more than the celebration of economic success. Rem Koolhaas’ 1972 project ‘The City of the Captive Globe’ can in many ways be read as the development of Hilberseimer’s plan but for the contemporary age in which pluralism is key to the notion of architecture as advert. He constructs a system, akin to Hilberseimer, of a potentially infinite and repeatable series of blocks which seem to suggest a human density and homogenised collective. Koolhaas describes these blocks as “ideological laboratories” upon which “each philosophy has the right to expand indefinitely towards heaven.”13 Atop these bases, avant-garde archetypal buildings are reduced to performing the role of icons of competing ideologies; “lobotomised from their original context”14 the horizontal grid facilitates their coexistence. The key difference between the projects of Koolhaas and Hilberseimer is found within the globe which lies at the centre of Koolhaas’ city. If the project is read as a portrait of Manhattan, the void the globe occupies is analogous to the role of Central Park in New York. The artificiality of its ‘nature’ and emptiness, or role as a void, whilst attempting to provide relief from the density of the city, in fact reinforces its congestion. Similarly, the artificially constructed difference in the monuments of the capitalist city serves only to reinforce their primary role as advertisements for, and reification of, economic success and accumulation. Their identity, like that of their subject, has become a massified commodity.
“The triumph of advertising in the culture industry is that consumers feel compelled to buy and use its products even though they see through them.”
However, the submission of architecture to the role of the advert could be seen to be only the latest manifestation of the long history of architecture acting as apparatus for reinforcing social order. French philosopher Georges Bataille in his discussion of the projection of authority states: “it is in the form of the cathedral or the palace that Church or States speak to the multitude and impose silence upon them.” He continues: “It is in fact obvious that monuments inspire social prudence and often real fear. The taking of the Bastille is symbolic of the state of things: it is hard to explain this crowd movement other than by the animosity of the people against the monuments that are their real masters.”15 This statement reveals the inherent political dimension of the built environment which, Henri Lefebvre argues, architecture is guilty of ignoring with the result that, “[architecture] answers to particular strategies and tactics; it is, quite simply, the space of the dominant mode of production.”16 Architecture is the built manifestation of the ruling elite’s will being forced upon society and defining its ideals. Through the appropriation of architecture, the elite has granted itself the power to define the architectural subject. The potential of architecture to subvert this mode of production and produce (or reproduce) a new (or revised) subject, however, has been explored by architects such as Peter Eisenman and Rem Koolhaas, amongst others, in distinct manners in their respective practices. Eisenman and Koolhaas each begin, however, from a similar point by constructing a critical relationship between themselves and society (or the media) and utilising this in their practice to comment on how power relationships, the basis of subjectivities, are generated. Eisenman’s Holocaust Memorial in
Berlin is paradigmatic of the way he envisages subjectivity in his work. The experiential subject he tries to produce (representing the first part of the scopic field which defines the identity of the architecture ‘existing as’) is an attempt to return to the notion of the individual and deals with individually defined experience through a kind of alienation, or estrangement. He challenges the media’s raison d’être, and that of architecture under capitalist modes of production, by removing the ability to generate and deliver mass messages and meanings. His architecture is not designed to communicate to a large audience simultaneously but to enter into a cerebral dialogue with its subject on an individual basis, the manifestation of which can be seen throughout the project from the scale of the routes between the stelae to the sense of individual enclosure it affords the subject. As well as dealing with this experiential subject, Eisenman utilises techniques to disestablish the power of the architecture (in the Bataillean sense) and invokes a second type of subject the spectator (representing the second part of the scopic field which completes the identity of the architecture ‘being seen as’). The spectating subject exists outwith the building and views it through the screened gaze of culture. This subject is aware of the conceptual drivers for the project and has the ability to view it in its entirety as an image: he can see the tiles which are used on the pavement throughout Berlin sloping down into the monument to form the routes through the concrete stelae. The undulating tops of the stelae read as a landscape: a new ground which rests above the old. This is where the true architectural merit of the project lies. This new ground represents a new future and a new possibility for Germany and is aspirational in its conception. It represents not the tabula rasa from which Modernism wanted to rebuild but a palimpsest from which lessons of the holocaust have not been forgotten. As in the production of identity in humans, both parts of
â€œarchitecture is guilty of ignoring with the result that, [architecture] answers to particular strategies and tacticsâ€?
the theoretical scopic field of the architecture need to be considered to ascertain its identity. Eisenman’s subject, then, deals with the problem of the media in two ways; he confronts the media’s attack on individualism whilst at the same time utilises the image of the building to convey his own message for the masses, a message that is optimistic about society rather than based purely on a desire for economic gratification. The identity of both the subject and the architecture relate directly to Eisenman’s critique of the power of the media. Koolhaas treats subjectivity in a very different manner. Instead of a return to the individual, he accepts the power of the media and envisages his subject and architecture accordingly. This is not to say he is complicit with the aims of the ruling elite or ignores the political dimension of architecture in his practice, but approaches it from a different theoretical standpoint: Eisenman looked to reproduce individual subjectivity, whereas Koolhaas concerned himself with the multiple, collective subject which exists within the metropolitan field of the city. The metropolitan field represents the dynamic coexistence of activities, identities and information which facilitate capricious relationships within the collective. It is through the freedom that this dynamism affords that hybridisation and unexpected encounters can develop and enable the city to operate for the collective subject of today. Koolhaas’ practice argues that the city is not the built environment that surrounds us but that our relationships are global and our city is formed by these relationships. The existence of communities which are no longer based on location or proximity has lead to the creation of a subject which is metropolitan. Koolhaas clarifies his definition of ‘metropolitan’ in his book S, M, L, XL:
“OMA produces an architecture that embraces aspects of the maligned metropolitan condition with enthusiasm, and which restores mythical, symbolic, literary, oneiric, critical, and popular functions to large urban centers. An architecture which accommodates and supports the particular forms of social intercourse, characteristics of metropolitan densities, an architecture that houses in the most positive way the Culture of Congestion.”17 Koolhaas envisages his subject as a product of the market economy and subverts the traditional power structures of architecture to create new communities and new forms of collectives which did not previously know they existed. He is producing a subject from the density and hidden diversity of the city by providing space for these communities to meet. As in Eisenman’s work, modification and urban intervention have superseded the conception of a clean slate as a viable strategy for the city. “Urbanism will never again be about the new only about the “more” and the “modified.”18 In these two brief examples of the production of a thinking, productive (as opposed to passive, consuming) post-modern subject, identity is defined by the forces which act upon, and produce effects in, the world. Architecture, although traditionally an authoritarian discipline, has the potential to positively affect subjectivities through entering into a critical dialogue with society’s prevailing ideals. In recognising how both human identity and built identity is produced, architecture can play a pivotal role in redefining subjectivities in the contemporary media society.
Niall Anderson Niall Anderson recently graduated from the University of Dundee, Scotland, with a Masters Degree in Architecture with Distinction. His thesis, entitled Pamphleteering: Mass Media and the Contemporary City, considered the exclusivity of the mass media and speculated about the potential architectural manifestation of a new public media institution. He has worked in a number of practices throughout Europe, most recently with Ensamble Studio in Madrid, Spain.
1. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology (London: Lawrence & Wishart,  1970), 64. 2. Jacques Lacan, “The Mirror Stage,” in Écrits (New York: W. W. Norton, 2006) 3. Ibid. 76. 4. Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis (London: Karnac Press, 2004), 72. 82. 5. Catherine Marie Jennings, “Paintings and the Nuanced Gaze” (PhD diss., Texas Tech University, 2001), 23. 6. Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis (London: Karnac Press, 2004), 106. 7. Cf. Max Horkheimer & Theodore W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment (London: Allen Lane, 1979). 8. Horkheimer & Adorno, Op. Cit. 167. 9. in Tim Edwards, Cultural Theory (London: Sage Publications Ltd, 2007) 57.
10. Ildefons Cerdà, The Five Bases of the General Theory of Urbanisation (Florence: Electa, 1999), 79. 11. Ibid. 7. 12. Pier Vittorio Aureli, The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011) xii. 13. Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York (New York: The Monacelli Press, 1994), 294. 14. Aureli, Op. Cit, 23. 15. Georges Bataille, as quoted in Rem Koolhaas and Peter Eisenman, Supercritical (London: AA Publications, 2010), 59. 16. Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space transl. Donald Nicholson-Smith (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing 1991), 360. 17. Rem Koolhaas, Rem and Bruce Mau, S, M, L, XL, (New York: The Monacelli Press, 1998) 926. 18. Ibid. 959.
NATION ANNUIT COEPTIS by C. A. Debelius
N D National Identity, Aspiration, and Latrobeâ€™s Invention of an American Order
Beginnings The revelation of Identity—as an idea, as a set of common values, or as the recognition of a shared affiliation—may be expressed in a painting or a sculpture, even in a building. And the reading of a particular image? The understanding, a kind of deciphering, of a two or three dimensional representation may require something more— additional information or some long forgotten knowledge, as well as the ability to make a few critical connections. An excellent demonstration is as close as the nearest one-dollar bill. Take a look: one side includes the obverse and reverse sides of the Great Seal of the United States. Many are familiar with the symbols of the obverse side of the seal—a bald eagle, wings outstretched and supporting the United States shield, clutches thirteen arrows in its left talon and an olive branch (with thirteen leaves) in its right. In its beak, our national bird holds a scroll adorned with the words “E Pluribus Unum” (thirteen letters)—Out of Many, One. Above the eagle, thirteen stars are arranged to form a six-pointed star (the Star of Creation). The eagle looks to the viewer’s left (known in heraldry as dexter, the side of greatest honor) and toward the olive branch, signifying the preference of the thirteen original states for peace rather than war. While the symbolism of the obverse side of the Great Seal is clear (the bald eagle, the olive branch, the arrows, the recurring use of the
number thirteen, the Star of Creation, and the preference for peace), the references of the reverse side (eye in a floating triangle, truncated pyramid, unfamiliar Latin mottoes) are murky at best. A closer look at the dollar bill reveals that the unfinished pyramid has thirteen tiers; 1776, in Roman numerals, is inscribed on the pyramid base. According to William Barton, the designer of the first version of the Great Seal, the unfinished pyramid, a work in progress, signifies Strength as well as Duration, and the eye is the Eye of Providence, the divinity watching over— and blessing!—the activities of humankind. This, then, is a good and auspicious start, a beginning favored by Fortune. And those unfamiliar Latin phrases? The reverse side of the Great Seal is an affirmation of the rightness and permanence of the American experiment with democracy. Any doubts are put to rest by the mottoes above and below. Both phrases are from Virgil’s Aeneid. Beneath the base of the pyramid is the motto “Novus Ordo Seclorum”: New Order of the Ages. A new order, the order of the United States of America, has arrived. Above the Eye of Providence is the thirteen-letter phrase “Annuit Coeptis,” He Approves of the Undertakings or, as Stephen Jay Gould famously wrote, He Smiles on Our Beginnings.1 The iconography of the onedollar bill is not only about values or national identity: it is also a tentative thesis regarding national aspirations.
Very Bad Beginnings which was by architect Stephen Hallet. Four months after the deadline, Dr. William Thornton
Annuit Coeptis? It is easy to overlook the fact that, in the earliest decades of the republic, the United States’ experiment in democracy submitted a design inspired by the Paris Pantheon. should have failed. The population was small Washington and Jefferson were far more enthusiastic about Thornton’s proposal, which and distributed over a large area: in 1800, the included a rotunda 114 feet in diameter, than number of residents of Washington, D. C. was approximately 3,000—less than one-half of any of the design competition entries reviewed one percent of the population of the City of earlier.3 Though the design was submitted after London. In the face of a determined adversary, it the deadline, the Commissioners of the District was unlikely that the of Columbia formally young country could awarded Thornton first “...Annuit Coeptis? it is easy have mustered a prize in March 1793 sustained defense: and, six months later, to overlook the fact that, in the standing army of the cornerstone of the earliest decades of the the United States was the building was laid. small, about 4,000 Surprisingly, Hallet, the republic, the United States’ troops, and the frustrated runner-up in the U.S. Navy consisted design competition, was experiment in democracy of approximately appointed superintendent of construction. 25 vessels. In should have failed...” comparison, the fleets of England and Russia each exceeded 660 vessels Work on the Capitol proceeded slowly. In and the fleets of France and Spain each exceeded November 1794, Hallet was dismissed for altering 220 vessels. Most important, there was not Thornton’s design and English architect George a strong sense of a national identity; regional Hadfield was hired to replace Hallet. The project disputes threatened to dissolve the fragile union was plagued by unconfirmed reports of faulty on a regular basis. The republic, a long shot workmanship, unstable walls, and serious design by almost any definition, beat the odds. Not problems, but another challenge for the project surprisingly, a short list of buildings with bad architect was the differing views regarding the beginnings—very bad beginnings—would surely design—as well as the active involvement in include the Capitol of the new United States of the project—of Washington, Jefferson, Thornton, and James Hoban, architect of the White House. America. In 1798, Hadfield was fired and Hoban was At the urging of Thomas Jefferson, a design appointed architect of the U.S. Capitol. Four competition for the U.S. Capitol was held in years later, a committee of architects and builders 1792: ten entries were submitted for a building appointed by newly inaugurated President to be located in a 10-mile square city that, at that Jefferson reported to the President that Hoban’s moment, existed only on paper. Furthermore, House Chamber was unstable and should be Congress had yet to appropriate funds for razed.4 construction of the building.2 President George Washington and Secretary of State Thomas In March 1803, Jefferson, frustrated by the slow progress on the project, appointed Benjamin Jefferson were unimpressed by the design competition submittals, the most promising of Latrobe to serve as Surveyor of Public Buildings 58
and as superintendent of construction of the Capitol. Latrobe brought architectural expertise as well as experience on the design and construction of several major projects in Virginia and Philadelphia. In addition to his responsibilities as architect, Latrobe’s duties included the coordination of the design of the building with the multitude of paintings, sculpture, and artifacts that would be displayed at the Capitol. Latrobe embarked on an exhaustive inspection of the completed portions of the Capitol building and, within a year of his appointment, reported a number of significant design problems and the generally poor quality of the existing construction. As a result, part of the work completed under the supervision of Hoban was dismantled. In August 1805, nearly twelve years after the start of construction, Latrobe recommended the interior of the Senate wing be demolished (“compleatly gutted” he wrote) and rebuilt. During this period the program for the Capitol expanded many times; one example is the addition of the Library of Congress. The project was star-crossed: in 1808, John Lenthall, Latrobe’s Clerk of the Works, was killed when a section of an arch in the Supreme Court collapsed. And, in June 1812, construction ground to a halt due to failure of the First Bank of the United States and the outbreak of hostilities with Great Britain. Yet that was not the worst. In August 1814, British troops under the command of Major General Robert Ross burned the public buildings of Washington, DC, including the unfinished Capitol. Heavy rains from a hurricane quenched the flames but damage to the building was extensive. Nearly twenty-one years after Washington presided at the ceremony to mark the laying of the cornerstone, the unfinished U.S. Capitol was reduced to a few fire-scarred exterior walls. Image 01_Freedom Triumphant, Thomas Crawford,
Benjamin Latrobe and the Invention of an American Order During the War of 1812, Latrobe relocated to Pittsburgh. He returned to Washington in 1815 and, on March 14, was appointed Architect of the Capitol by President Madison. Over the next two years, Latrobe continued to work on the development of the design for the Capitol, prepared a detailed report on the damage to the building due to the fire and finished work on a complete set of drawings for the project. He resigned his position as Architect of the Capitol late in 1817; Charles Bullfinch, architect of the Massachusetts State House and Harvard’s University Hall, was appointed to replace Latrobe. Work on the Capitol continued over the next five decades, and it was not until 1863—with the installation of Thomas Crawford’s bronze statue “Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace” atop the Capitol dome—that construction of the project was effectively complete. More than two hundred years after the design competition for the U.S. Capitol, one may not fully appreciate the challenge faced by the architects, artists, artisans, and builders in the earliest decades of the United States. At that moment in our nation’s history, there were at three strong and competing considerations: the desire for an easily understood set of symbol and icons for the new republic, the resistance to the mere imitation of European precedents, and the goal of developing a uniquely American culture of art and architecture as good or better than that to be found in Europe. The use of a common visual language—based on the precedents and symbols recognizable in the eighteenth century—was essential in the effort to define the iconography of the new republic, forge a sense of national unity, inspire patriotic fervor, and prompt a consideration of the essential characteristics of the new American identity. The design of the Great Seal of the United States and its easily understood iconography was part
of that effort. It was also clear that the mere replication of European works of architecture and art, works almost entirely associated with autocratic systems of government, was objectionable for any number of reasons. Finally, the goal of Jefferson, Madison, and their peers was to establish a climate of art and architecture that would allow the United States to compete with Europe culturally, and refute the criticism that America was “inferior.” The design challenge was to articulate the principles and values of the new nation in a manner that adapted and transformed, rather than rejected, the most recognizable Classical and Neo-classical precedents. While Latrobe’s impressive abilities to execute and manage a project as large and complex as the construction of the Capitol are laudable, his talent and genius as an architect are most evident in his invention of two American Orders, adaptations of the classical orders of architecture. His ability to use the language of classicism to develop an order that was simultaneously contemporary and traditional was instrumental in the effort to articulate a coherent national identity for the new nation. In 1809, Latrobe designed a “corn husk” order, corncobs for the capitals and bundled corn stalks for the shafts, for the six columns in the vestibule of the original Senate Chamber. The columns symbolize the nation’s Bounty; they were carved by sculptor Giuseppe Franzoni and are one of the few architectural survivors of the disastrous fire of 1814. Paul Norton writes that, according to Latrobe, the corn columns received more attention from the senators “than any of his more difficult feats of construction.”5 Latrobe sent his model for the new order to Jefferson; unfortunately, it is no longer existent. Norton observes:
Image 02_Model, Corn Order Capital
Image 03_Vestibule, original Senate Chamber with corn order columns.
These fanciful episodes of Latrobe’s away from the pure and chaste Greek style into the realms of the imagination add a lively originality to his architecture, keeping the work from being merely a slavish copying of the past. The use of a modern and American plant for a capital, instead of the acanthus or other foreign species, marks him as leading us inevitably towards a conscious nationalism.6 When construction on the Capitol resumed after the War of 1812, Latrobe designed a circular arcade of sixteen columns, known as the small Senate Rotunda. The capitals of the columns are Latrobe’s uniquely American tobacco-leaf order, and symbolize the Wealth of the new nation. The capitals were executed by sculptor Antonio Iardella in 1816. A plaster model of a tobacco-leaf capital was also sent to Jefferson; it is exhibited at Monticello. In an1816 letter to Jefferson, Latrobe wrote: I have…composed a capital of leaves and flowers of the tobacco plant which has an intermediate effect of approaching a Corinthian order and
Image 04_Model, Tobacco Capital.
retaining the simplicity of the Clepsydra or Temple of the Winds. … Iardella…has made an admirable model for execution in which he has well preserved the botanical character of the plant...7 Latrobe’s design of an American Order based on two ubiquitous but important crops, expressions of Bounty and Wealth, is an architectural tour de force. The American Order does not rely on the self-conscious symbolism of the Great Seal of the United States and similar works. Two familiar plants are presented in a new and unexpected way: they are part of life, they are enduring, and they constitute a portion of the republic’s national treasure. The representations of corn and tobacco are far less about European precedents and far more about the identity and aspirations of the United States. The architectural poetry of the American Order challenges our preconceptions and offers an alternate interpretation of the essence of the United States. Latrobe’s design is an act that honors the country’s agrarian tradition; honors 62
“...Benjamin L Latrobe’s invention of an American carefully considered adaptation and Order—a care transformation of the language of classicism— was an important step toward the articulation of a national identity...”
hard work, perseverance, and love of land; and asserts the nobility, power, and importance of the American Everyman. Benjamin Latrobe’s title of “Father of American Architecture” is well-earned and well-deserved. In addition to his work at the U. S. Capitol, his architectural works include Philadelphia’s Bank of Pennsylvania, the Latrobe Gate at the Washington Navy Yard, and the Baltimore Basilica. He is also credited8 with suggesting to his friend Thomas Jefferson, in 1817, that a central building—a rotunda based on the Pantheon in Rome—be added to Jefferson’s design for an Academical Village, a proposal approved by the Virginia Assembly in 1819 and chartered as the University of Virginia.
have embarked on the design of public projects with bold agendas that were surely aspirational in nature, few of those architects appreciated that the expression of aspirations can only be understood and acted upon when there is already a strong and clear sense of national or regional identity. Benjamin Latrobe’s invention of an American Order—a carefully considered adaptation and transformation of the language of classicism— was an important step toward the articulation of a national identity. At a time when Americans were most inclined to perceive themselves as citizens of a state rather than a nation, Latrobe’s American Order made manifest the expression of a national identity that was inclusive rather than exclusive, an identity that was understandable rather than elusive.
Identity and Aspiration The architectural achievements of Latrobe at the U.S Capitol are best understood and appreciated in terms of the desire for an expression of national identity as well as the cultivation of a sense of national aspiration in the early decades of the 19th century. And, while a number of American architects of the past two centuries
Furthermore, Latrobe’s transformation of the classical orders of architecture shifted emphasis from the expression of a social or political hierarchy rooted in the autocracies of Europe to the expression of democratic principles and the affirmation of an agrarian way of life, the foundation of the new republic.
Image 05_Small Senate Rotunda with tobacco order columns.
Image 06_Exterior, United States Capitol
Latrobe, as the architect charged with responsibility for construction as well as design development of the U. S. Capitol, faced many daunting tasks in the first decade of the 19th century. But the first term of Jefferson’s presidency also included the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of the United States, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, a venture that would have to be celebrated for its sheer audacity even if it had failed. At the foundation of the transcontinental expedition of the Corps of Discovery are Jefferson’s myriad interests of as well as his passion for new knowledge. The expedition to the Pacific was about exploration rather than conquest, an experiment conceived and initiated in the same spirit as the new republic’s ongoing experiment in a democratic system of government. Benjamin Latrobe’s design innovations must be understood and appreciated in that same spirit: as a series of inspired architectural experiments that, while acknowledging tradition, stepped boldly and confidently in new directions that celebrate the values of the young United States. Yet Latrobe’s American Order is not only a statement of national identity but an affirmation of the principles set forth in the Constitution, a timeless call to action with an eye to the future, and a reminder that many of our country’s most notable successes are directly tied to our ability to adapt, invent, and innovate.
References 1. Gould, Stephen Jay, “The Creation Myths of Cooperstown,” Bully for Brontosaurus: Reflections in Natural History (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1992), 45. 2. Maroon, Fred and Maroon, Suzy, The United States Capitol (New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1993), 22. 3. Allen, William C., “Pantheon on the Potomac: The Architectural Evolution of the Capitol Rotunda,” from Donald R. Kennon and Thomas P. Somma (Eds.), American Pantheon: Sculptural and Artistic Decoration of the United States Capitol (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 6. 4. Scott, Pamela, Temple of Liberty: Building the Capitol for a New Nation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), xiv. 5. Norton, Paul F., Latrobe, Jefferson and the National Capitol (New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1977), 220. 6. Ibid., 220. 7. Letter, Latrobe to Jefferson, Washington D.C. (November 5, 1816), Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress. 8. Howard, Hugh, Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson: Rediscovering the Founding Fathers of American Architecture (New York: Bloomsbury USA, 2006), 162-163
Image Credits Title Page_Architect of the Capitol Image 01, 02, 04, 05, 06_Architect of the Capitol Image 03_Collection of the U.S. Senate
C. A. Debelius C. A. Debelius, AIA, LEED AP, is an Associate Professor at Appalachian State University where he teaches undergraduate architectural design studios and structures courses in the Building Science program. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. In 2007, Debelius’s design work was the subject of a solo exhibition at The Knoxville Museum of Art.
Midwestern Architectural Fictions
by Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer 68
“As a ru rule, almost all of them are Midwesterners...This area of country, what are we to say of this area of the country, Ms. the coun Beadsman?...Both in the middle and on the fringe. The physical heart and the cultural extremity. Corn, a steady waning complex of heavy industry, and sports. What are we to say? We feed and stoke and supply a nation much of which doesn’t know we exist…What are we to say about it?”1 “Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, here I am, Stuck in the middle with you.”2
The Midwestern United States is historically defined and identified by the ground upon which it is situated. Propping up this region is fertile dark soil that is exceptionally suited for nurturing the seeds that grow into the vegetal matter we put in our bodies, feed our livestock and even power our cars. This fragment of its complex identity comes from its geography, a fact of its essential nature. When one stands on this vast soil stage of the Plain States [sic], it seems to expand infinitely in all directions and is only incrementally marked by the stretched and subdivided Jeffersonian grid, laid upon the largely amenable terrain. The most iconic architectural “style” born from this image of the Midwest is the Prairie Style. It was popularized at the turn of the last century and is characterized by broad sweeping overhangs that reference and frame the sweeping expanse of farmland and prairie. Frank Lloyd Wright is both a progenitor of this style and its most famous practitioner. Complete with utopic visions of early suburban living called “Broadacre” FLW dreamed for a Midwest that engulfed the entirety of the United States. When asked to build a museum in the largest and densest city on the East Coast, FLW chose to build an object in the field. This typology is normally reserved for less dense and rural contexts, but when exported to the heart of New York City, the Guggenheim Museum seems to pull defiantly away from the buildings and streets that bind the fabric of the city.
This mentally super-sized Midwest is further present in the statistical use of its people and cities as the American standard “average.” The substitution of a Midwesterner for the typical American is an important tool in culture industries and in measuring the progress and prosperity of America. Everytown, USA is certainly located there. “Will it play in Peoria?” (referring to Peoria, IL) is a saying that is used to evaluate the appeal of a product in mainstream America. 3 At some point it was established that Peoria possessed the broad range of demographic and psychographic attributes of the most typical American consumer market. Even today, Peoria is still the test market capital and cultural yardstick of the United States. Boundary pushing comedians like Sam Kinison and bands like Metallica or Bob Dylan often begin their tours there to practice and perfect their performances. If a routine is too outlandish for Peoria, it will most likely make the rest of the country uncomfortable as well. As such, the Midwest exports a middle point of view. Like sandpaper, it helps to shape culture without producing it directly. As a testing ground, its grit and contact yields more polished results. Even the speech patterns of US television news anchors, designed to appeal to the broadest audience possible, all use what is typically considered a generalized Midwestern accent. However, the ability of the Midwest to represent the ordinary is also a main ingredient in the recipe for its dismissal. Characteristics that pass for average often go unnoticed or are assumed to lack any specific qualities of their own. Newscasters aren’t perceived to have an
accent and when they pronounce the words Don and dawn alike, it seems “normal.” From above, the “flyover states” moniker references the monotony of this particular leg of a journey on an airplane between coasts. Beyond the undifferentiated terrain, the term also connotes the perceived lack of other “qualities” in this region, mostly referring to cultural identity and production. When viewed from this direction - rendered from the outside - it appears like a sponge that merely absorbs, enduring as no more than a product of its surroundings. It continues to accommodate the average consumer, but certainly not the typical producer and its composition includes an amalgam of imports from the coasts. This struggle with identity and the Midwestern landscape come together curiously in the writing of ecstatic realist author David Foster Wallace. In particular, in his first novel, The Broom of the System, the theme of identity is a plotline of both the characters and of the Midwestern settings themselves. Lenore, the main character, is merely the accumulation of other’s expectations that are projected upon her. She is ultimately like the broom who’s “meaning is nothing more or less than its function.” The broom is sometimes valued for its ability to sweep, where the bristles form its identity. Conversely, it is also sometimes used to break a window and the handle is “clearly the fundamental essence of the broom.” This question is further solidified when Gramma Lenore is in the nursing home and suffers a “perceived loss of identity without function.” Identity is defined as merely the use value it contains at any given time. 70
In one of the more telling passages of the book, Mr. Bloemaker asks, How to begin to come to some understanding of one’s place in a system, when one is a part of an area that exists in such a troubling relation to the rest of the world, a world that is itself stripped of any static, understandable character by the fact that it changes, radically, all the time? 4 Design With Company is an architectural design practice that asks a similar question of themselves and of their Midwestern context. DWC extracts architectural tactics by observing their environment in order to solidify a uniquely Midwestern architectural project. Long gone are the family-run farms and “authentic” small towns that formed our now outdated mental image of the region. Farming is big business and it can’t be left to the inefficiencies and inconsistencies of individuals. Corporations that specifically breed every stalk of corn to yield the highest volume of product possible are necessary to manage these land factories. The current connection to the land is not one of individual direct interaction. The land is still there and it looks about the same, but it functions very differently. This difference is not
and his fictional geographies as a means to produce architectural strategies. The Broom of the System supplies two such landscapes: The Great Ohio Desert (G.O.D.), a man-made area filled with black sand, intended to restore a sense of the sinister to Midwestern life; and East Corinth, a suburb in the shape of Jayne Mansfield’s curvaceous body, complete with zoning ordinances that require houses to be painted in provocative flesh tones. Residents of East Corinth don’t realize the grand ‘figure’ they live within, despite the popularity of their city with passing airplane pilots. The G.O.D. performs from within, creating a set of experiences that remind Midwesterners of a historically dependent yet contentious relationship to the land. East Corinth performs from without, only revealing its structure to those flying high above the town. These examples of landscape as ‘moral coercion’ and ‘urban plan as figure’ are literary examples of fictive landscapes and urbanisms that estrange the familiar. But, what if our real landscapes, cities and architectures can embody similar literary cache as Wallace’s fictional geographies? As an initial survey of this Midwest, DWC uses aerial landscape images as a sampling method – both in the scientific and hip hop sense of the term. They use these samples as a form of synecdoche, the linguistic classification for a figure of speech where the parts stand in for the whole. These microcosms are snapshots of an ever-evolving land pattern. In this survey, the land has a personality and motivation that is revealed through surreal juxtapositions of use, conflicting logics and interrupted cultivation patterns. These motivations can be “read” like a story and without the history of their formation, can produce new narratives from the photographic evidence.
“Long gone are the family-run farms and ‘authentic’ small towns that formed our now outdated mental image of the region.” only economic; it is social, geographic, political and psychological. Our relationship to this land has been fundamentally altered and we should reconsider the cultural consequences of such a shift. Under these conditions, DWC again found inspiration in David Foster Wallace
Snout House Farm (Image_01)
Moldy Sub (Image 02)
A single row of trees divides two distinct crop yields. These â€œsnout houses,â€? on the left, named for the pig face-like garages emerging from their facades, seem to both break from the neighboring farm while maintaining an extraordinarily similar pattern. Vertical rows organize their natures while ghosts of streams long dried discolor the ground. Planning patterns are sampled from planting patterns. These configurations are meant to yield the most corn and dreams per acre, though not all patterns are ideal for human consumption.
Colonizing occurs in Jeffersonian sized Petri dishes. This subdivision in formation reveals the process for another type of land cultivation. Freshly planted natural and picturesque features such as ponds, curved paths and lush grass appear almost ruin-like in this stage of transition. One square mile at a time the landscape regenerates, a fall burn is required so that it keeps. Midwestern Tactic: Development and decay look the same.
Midwestern Tactic: Radical differences made similar through organization. 72
Corduroy Crop (Image_03) A nappy landscape can be prone to snag. Wetland islands really disrupt the flow of efficient irrigation and planting patterns. Lopsided bull’s-eyes spotlight moisture intruders, and barricade areas deemed too wet to plant into pockets. Meanwhile, the surrounding tapestry thirsts for irrigation. Combines control the wale of the earth. Midwestern Tactic: Go ahead and over do it.
I Heart the Field (Image_04) It has been said that ‘there is no such thing as Illinois humor.’ A dusty cloud left over from working the fields doesn’t have to hang over the landscape. Someone thought this was cute as a desperate love cry to crop-dusters or perhaps unintentional consequence of farm activities. Either way, iconography and the flows of agricultural infrastructure combine [sic] into a reminder to us all – love your fields. Midwestern Tactic: Be light-hearted.
Split Ends (Image_05) An impatient adolescent neighbor with nowhere to go is tapping on the fence, calling for the curmudgeon to move aside. These undeveloped sacs haven’t even sprouted shrubs yet but they’re of a precocious sort. They have a bold plan and a teenage mentality. There is no need to think through the consequences of a flailing outburst, even when stopped in your tracks. Midwestern Tactic: Don’t be a product of your environment; make your environment and product of you.
The work of Design With Company explores the territory between the architectural and the literary, real and unreal, mundane and fantastic. With these tactics as an arsenal for approaching architectural questions, things constructed and things imagined go into rendering our world wondrous, full of mystery and surprise. They prompt us to live creatively in what we have through architectural fiction. The following two examples are a pair of stories with a symmetrical exchange of the rural and the urban Midwest.
From the Rural to the City: the Chicago Institute of Land Generation Chicago’s Institute for Land Generation and the Accumulation Administration, which generates and manages more salvaged land, industry, and opportunity for civil expansion than any another land manufacturer in history, had its humble beginnings in the wreckage of a ship. The night was black with new moon; thunder cracked and lightening flashed as the steamboat the Ruetan, captained by George W. Streeter, plowed into a sandbar hidden just below the waves of Lake Michigan. Once the storm had receded, Streeter, a seasoned circus owner, took command of the submerged sandbar and declared from the bow of his boat the new-found land to be the sovereign United States District of Lake Michigan. Situated in the choppy waters just a few hundred feet east of the growing city of Chicago, Streeter envisioned his newly discovered land expanding into a thriving business just as the circus had under his direction as ringmaster. Always resourceful and ambitious, Streeter saw opportunity in the tragedy of the Great Chicago Fire with his recently claimed land as a foundation. Encouraging and charging contractors to dump the charred rubble remains on his claim, Streeter’s empire grew wildly.
Padded by donated silt from the Chicago River, the land mass was free from the regulation and rules that hindered citizens trapped within the boundaries of the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois. Soon the demands resulting from its popularity could not keep up with its growth. Streeter sold deeds to parcels at a hefty profit, maintaining his own circus inspired law. However, as Streeterville (as it is now known) grew ever closer to Chicago’s shoreline, city officials ordered Streeter to turn over the land he had cultivated. A feud began as shorelines kissed. Government officials declared Streeter an illegal squatter and preparations for his removal ensued. Streeter brought in reinforcements, mooring another ship named the Castle and readied for battle. He guarded his claim for decades with heavy fortifications and a trained army. Streeter grew old and eventually died defending his rights and his way of life. The city, recognizing no claim to the land for any of Streeter’s descendants, buried the issue. Streeterville soon became part of Chicago proper and its independent status revoked. More than a century later, as Chicago attempted to revive itself from brutal recession, the Institute for Land Generation (ILG) was formed. The Institute brought new industrial economy to the shoreline, replacing picturesque green garnish with production. With the city burdened by unfinished buildings and unpaid bills, the ILG set out in the spirit of G. W. Streeter to take the wreckage of the past and rebuild with it. Headquartered in the hole of what was set to be the greatest skyscraper known, the ILG was established to produce and oversee the process of land production and choreograph its distribution. Steered by the elected Accumulations Officer, materials salvaged from building demolition are transformed into P.L.O.T.s (Patties Of Land Trash). P.L.O.T.s don’t reach toward the sky, but instead spread out across the horizon, redefining the role of land and urbanism in Chicago.
Image 08_ The site organization and the process of material transformation is revealed from initial collection to patty export.
Image 09 (below)_ Once the land is molded into patty form it is pushed underground through the
The distinct regional mentality of the Midwest towards the role of architecture, infrastructure, politics and the regulation of land is the pressing issue occupying the Institute. What are the possibilities afforded by newly formed P.L.O.T.s? These land patties allow for the foundation of new political scenarios, new societies, and new relationships to land. P.L.O.T.s provide the nutrients to grow colonies never before imagined by Chicagoans. Like bacteria, these colonies can multiply and grow, mutate and adapt. Each colony has the potential for a new offshore infrastructure for the mother city of Chicago. Given the exciting and unpredictable method of their growth and geopolitical situation, the city becomes a lab, experimenting with ways to make the colonies useful. Some are more successful than others... Chicago continues to define, layer and grow land in the southwest region of Lake Michigan. Streeterâ€™s legend illustrates and typifies the cycle of conflict that results from growing land in the Midwest. From natural nuisance to debris re-distribution, the ILG generates a desirable commodity challenging the relationship to new land that defines a particular brand of Chicago urbanism. Mistakenly, recent developments have lost sight of this uniquely Chicago tradition and the narrative presented here through text and graphics recovers, extends and ultimately exports this lineage of urban progress. 78
The nature of farming is forever changed.â€?
Image 10_ The glowing turnip of the Farmland World Hotel lets you know you are near, while the Animal Farmatures work the land for your nourishment and entertainment.
From the City to the Rural: Farmland World The nature of farming is forever changed. Farming is a practice that by it’s own nature unites humans, technology and animals in productive combinations. Hybrids and various mutant biomechanical mixtures—Caterpillar combines, John Deere tractors, etc.—began transforming the rural landscape of America beginning in the early 20th century by subjugating the pastoral ideal to the ingenuity of human invention. By 1954, tractors outnumbered horses and mules for the first time. Since then, the farm has continued as a complex exchange between humans, animals, machines and land to the point where delineations between these categories are permanently intertwined and indistinct. Today, the overriding agri-business attitude towards solving the problem of the farm is to remove humans from the equation. The everyday life of the average American is almost completely disconnected from the land and animals that support them. Even farmers perform their duties primarily through automated mechanisms that remove them from the subject of their industry. The constructed distance between the human “us” and the animal “others” is increasing to the point that distinctions between machines and animals look blurry purely from distanced detachment. From our removed perspective, the extreme demand for cheap food production and the diversion of the pet economy distorts animals until they look more like utilitarian machines (bacon) or anthropomorphic projections to entertain and decorate (tea-cup terrier). As we relate to animals and machines similarly, where
each begins to exhibit characteristics of the other, their converging trajectories point to an impending crisis at their collision. While we sift through the broken branches of our ecological dependencies, the need to reconnect with our literal and figurative roots is exposed in revealing ways. Eco-anxiety and ecoguilt are psychological disorders defined as the persistent nagging concern for environmental issues. These conditions result from the inability to grasp our contribution to the natural world and the helplessness associated with our disconnection from it. A potential cure is to carry a piece of bark in your pocket as a visceral reminder. Further, in 2010, the hugely successful on-line virtual farm, Farmville, engaged over 73 million users. It mixed humans, animals, social networks, commerce and the rural landscape in one giant collective gaming phenomenon. The virtual game broke all gaming rules, but remarkably revealed the ability of the farm to encourage social bonds. The overlaps and mutable identities of animals and machines through technology are not just sites for crisis and detachment; they can also be the locus of unprecedented opportunity. Farmland World is a chain of agrotourist resorts sprinkled across the American Midwestern countryside. Part theme park and part working farm, guests arrive to the resort via train and stay as part of 1-day, 3-day or 5-day experience packages. Capitalizing on both recent governmental investments in high-speed rail infrastructure and the plentiful subsidies for farming, the network of resorts combine crowdsourced farm labor with eco-tainment. 80
PLANT A NEW CITY
MARINA CITY SAMPLING
CAR & BOAT PARKING
MARINA CITY BLOATING
Farmland World is a human/machine/animal hybrid adventure-land. As our animal-machine identity blurs beyond imagination, so does our connection with the land on which we roam. Metal monsters move, shape and contour the land and drastically alter our relationship to space, time and ecology. With this ubiquitous condition as our new everyday reality, our perception of the pastoral and the sentimentality of farm life must change to engage the human participation that shapes our existence. What are the techno-natural hybrids that will capture the wonder of today’s urbanites? Farmland World proposes a new condition, which repurposes the rural, where animatronic appliances explore the world’s largest freerange zoological garden. Can humans
and entertaining in a rural-techno spectacle. The robotic performers extend the tradition of machines using and mimicking animals for moving, operating, branding and processing food crops while temporary farm excursionists work, sowing and harvesting fields, becoming part of the herd. Farmland World embraces this hybrid human-animal-machine relationship reinvigorating the rural landscape. From the moment travelers arrive to the resort, they are instantly captivated by Farmland’s hyper-techno pastoral views. Commanded by the spectacle of the behemoth Farmhouse Bulb Hotel rising from the prairie with sights once reserved for the gods, the farm excursionists are completely enraptured by Farmerlust. After all, their curiousity was piqued when the selfimposed daily chores promised to distract
“Our perception of the pastoral and the sentimentality of farm life must change to engage the human participation that shapes our existence.” commune with machines, cohabitant with animals and cultivate the land in a mutually beneficial way? In Farmland World, Animal Farmatures create a majestic terrain of roaming beast, simultaneously cultivating farmland
them from the toil of their daily lives. As trainloads of itinerant fantasy farmers arrive, they are herded to the Grazing Coliseum to receive their complimentary overalls. From there, the adventure begins.
Image 11 (above opposite)_ Marina City samples programs from the surrounding Chicago and stuffs them into a giant vegetable. Image 12 (below opposite)_ The majestic reconstructed terrain of roaming beasts over the vernacular Midwestern landscape.
Image 13 (opposite)_Land cultivation is made spectacular through the inner workings of the animal/machine hybrids: the head articulates by bowing and disengaging the combine to harvest corn; the body contains a processor and storage bin; the bladder houses the irrigation system; fuel is stored in the belly, under the chassis; and the ears and tail articulate for exhaust. Image 14 (above)_ Adjacencies between Farmatures, farm animals, and human occupation are revealed within the poche between the Farmature docks and the Farmland World commercial zones (the Cow Combine dock is located near the steakhouse and ice cream parlor; the Pig Plough dock is located between the breakfast restaurant and hot dog stand).
Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer are cofounders of the practice Design With Company (www.designwith.co) which was founded in 2011. They both live and work in Chicago, Illinois and teach architecture at the University of Illinois in Chicago. They practice what they call “Slipstream Architecture,” which reveals latent conditions of reality through design narratives and fictions.
References 1. Wallace, David Foster. The Broom of the
Image 15 (opposite)_ The gassy Farmhouse Hotel bulb (composed of
System. London: Abacus, 1997.
comically too many farmhouses) sits atop and overlooks the Pasture
2. Rafferty, Gerry and Egan, Joe. “Stuck in the Middle with You” Stealers Wheel, 1972.
Arena where visitors compete in traditional farm tasks. Farmatures are also allowed a glimpse at the action through portals in their docks.
Lemon Recordings. 3. Bruce Weber, “A Shifting American Landscape; In the Heartland, A Cornucopia Of Culture”, New York Times, December 6, 1998 4. Foster, The Broom of the System, 143.
Image 08_ Chicago Institute for Land Generation © Design With Company
Image 09_ Chicago Institute for Land
Image 01_“Snout House Farm.” © 2011
Generation Section © Design With Company
Image 10_ Farmland World as seen from the
Image 02_ “Moldy Sub” © 2011 Google
train tracks © Design With Company
Image 03_“Corduroy Crop” © 2011 Google
Image 11_ Corn City Building Diagram ©
Image 04_ “I Heart the Field” © 2011 Google
Design With Company
Image 05_ “Split Ends” © 2011 Google
Image 12_ Aerial of Animal Farmature Pasture
Image 06_ This bird’s eye perspective of the
© Design With Company
Land Institute shows some freshly minted
Image 13_ Section of the Cow Combine
land patties ready for export to the colonies.
Farmature © Design With Company
Chicago Institute for Land Generation ©
Image 14_ Farmland World Plan © Design
Design With Company
Image 07_ The History of Defining, Layering,
Image 15_ Farmland World Section © Design
and Growing Land © Design With Company
Can humans commune with machines, cohabitant with animals and cultivate the land in a mutually beneďŹ cial way? 86
ODD FELLOWS Constructing the Positive Place|Self by Katherine Bambrick Ambroziak
WE ARE IN CONSTANT DIA DIALOUGUE... We are in constant dialogue and interaction with the environment, to the degree that it is impossible to detach the image of the Self from its spatial and situational existence.”1 - Juhani Pallasmaa An Architecture of the Seven Senses Neighborhood identity is manifested in the urban spaces and landscapes that support it; personal identity may be reinforced through emotional ties to place. These two scales of habitation contribute to our understanding of relational space, spaces and places that are defined and measured in terms of people’s values, feelings, beliefs, and perceptions about their contextual environment. Identity of place may be a communally shared perception, or may be constructed individually through specific interactions. In the neighborhood context, open spaces are visible, public venues capable of displaying the health of a community’s structure and social networks. Translating theories of projective identification2 to spatial landscapes, the degree to which open spaces are cared for or neglected, protected
or mistreated, used or disused, reveals telling aspects about a community-constructed selfperception. In marginalized communities, effects of neglected public lands are especially detrimental as they often reinforce an ongoing, self-perpetuating view of abandonment and disenfranchisement. A negative perception of the physical realm translates to public, economic, social, and cultural causes of concern. The question posed herein is how architects and others engaged in environmental and spatial design may play an active role in cultivating beneficial relationships between communities and place and form a positive image of Self. Urban renewal is meant to target the physical, economic, and aesthetic concerns of neglected
public space, but in and of itself, it does not communities where the needs for healthy urban spaces are most paramount, the economic, maguarantee a useful or relevant outcome for the terial, and professional resources to begin and people it is meant to serve. It may seem inconsustain the process are often absent, resulting sequential or, worst yet, imposed without perin an outward expression of apathy and further ceived consideration of a community’s values restricting residents’ abilities to participate. or true needs. Studies examining the processes of engaged memorial The first point of obligadesign offer interesting “...reconstruction of self tion for persons workinsight into why this and identity “ is both a ing with communities is may be the case. In to ensure involvement The Urge to Remember: goal and a process,” and by the community by the Role of Memorials presenting interactive in Social Reconstruc- initiatives that have “the opportunities that suit tion and Transitional individual abilities, inmost positive eﬀect are Justice, authors Judy terests, and comfort Barsalou and Victoria those that promote dynamic levels. This study recBaxter present a theory ognizes that there are of memorialization that performances of civic a growing number of may be aptly applied outreach models that are engagement...” to communities workworking towards these ing together to improve goals through directed means of engagement. and reclaim public lands. They state, “memorials To form a base for approach, they ask: How planned and built through a top-down process can we, as architects, planners, landscape arwithout significant participation from key stakechitects, and civic designers, present our work holders run the risk of becoming irrelevant,”3 visibly and transparently enough to gain the and memorial proposals “must be initiated and trust of the community and generate an ongoing controlled by local actors if they are to become sense of authentic engagement? How can we truly meaningful.”4 This translates to a need for provide varying degrees of opportunities that some discernible sense of grass-roots initiatives allow people to communicate most effectively and authentic experiences to re-engage a comand participate at points where they feel most munity with place. comfortable? How may we, ourselves, identify with the values of a community and gain empathy Barsalou and Baxter add that reconstruction of for their sense of place? What effects may these self and identity “is both a goal and a process,” 5 efforts have on our design process? and initiatives that have “the most positive effect are those that promote dynamic performances of civic engagement.”6 The words process and Case Study of Design Work: Community engagement are keys to a community’s ability Engagement in Odd Fellows Cemetery to identify with and take cognitive ownership of public spaces. Public-worth becomes synThese are the types of questions that have been onymous with self-worth when an individual motivating participants in the Odd Fellows Cemfeels that he or she has contributed to a neighetery and Potters Field Rehabilitation Project. borhood’s improved conditions. It is a personal The project focuses on two historically and culgain. But in reference to these marginalized 90
Image 01_Panorama of Odd Fellows Cemetery, January 2009
turally significant landscapes in East Knoxville, Tennessee, which have been sitting fallow and abandoned for over a half-century. They are bordered by low-scale subsidized housing, are overrun by invasive vegetation, and are littered with glass, plastic bags, and drug paraphernalia. Currently without full ownership, they present an image of neglect to the communities that surround them who hold them as a symbol of their own identity.
associations with the space, and a willingness by community, local business, and university volunteers to invest their time and resources in the process. As a case study analysis on outreach and the design process, this narrative explores various approaches the design team has taken to work with and engage the community, describing how dedicated interactions have helped to build a more positive image of place and self.
Recent work by a collaborative design team composed of volunteers from the Community, City, and University7 has started to modify this view. Studies began in 2009 with a particular focus on reciprocal learning and on-site engagement. Research is on-going and we are currently developing details of a master plan for the memorial heritage park. Though we have executed only a small portion of the desired work, with interventions targeting stabilization of the landscape, we have been witness to a renewed public interest, a growing expression of positive
Community Introductions: Presenting an Alternative Image â€œIf we consider the order (of the idea) to be the outer perception and phenomena (the experience) to be the inner perception, then in a physical construction, the outer perception and inner perception are intertwined.â€?8 - Steven Holl Anchoring
Deterioration of urban landscapes occurs as a process of neglect over time. The cemeteries in our case study have been without ownership and proper maintenance for nearly a century, and generations of residents surrounding the properties have grown accustomed to their inactive state. For all whom we spoke with, these lands were devoid of any experiential connection. There was no sense of place that would foster sustained associations. Neighborhood residents viewed the cemeteries from the periphery and characterized their condition as tragic, but unavoidableâ€Ś and essentially unalterable. There was expressed disillusionment regarding outsidersâ€™ efforts to sustain real change and what they, as insiders, could do to affect a change. These views were deeply embedded and symptomatic of how many of them addressed other issues affecting their community, i.e. poor job growth, low high school graduation rates, increased crime, and inequitable resources. Our discussions also revealed the limited framework by which the community viewed the potential of
a rehabilitation venture. For most, there was a single vision for what could be offered. They wanted their cemeteries to be cleaned up, a non-sustaining action offering temporary value to the land. As we began our community engagement, our immediate concern was with the expressed negativity regarding the landscape that was deeply rooted in the communityâ€™s reflection upon itself. We felt it was important to impress upon them a potential to reveal the underlying beauty inherent in the cemetery structure, and we wanted to make this vision tangible, phenomenal, affecting them as an experience that they could internalize, potentially altering their relationship with the place. Following our initial line of questions about process and opportunities for engagement, we considered how we might demonstrate the potential for transformation by means other than showing them two dimensional images of rendered designs. Our answer came in the form of a constructed performance of illumination, 92
publicly staged in the cemeteries and reliant on the physical order of the burials.
Community Meetings as a General Practice of Engagement
The Illumination of Odd Fellows Cemetery served Granted, not all projects so readily lend themas an opportunity to introduce ourselves to the selves to these types of performative ceremonies. community and to outline the goals for the re- Through convention or best practices, Commuhabilitation. We recruited twenty-four university nity Meetings hold an important place in the students and several volunteers from our sponplanning process as they provide opportunities soring community organization to clean up the where information about public projects may cemeteries and to assemble 1000 luminary bags, be reciprocally shared. Though there are many laying them out along the primary perimeter models for the itinerary of these meetings, a tradistreets bordering the site and placing them on lotional structure suggests an A-B division – (A) an cated tombstones within the cemeteries. During introduction followed by a presentation and (B) the day, our activities a question/answer became a curiosity session. The (A) pro“...The Illumination was the ﬁ rst to passers-by who vides the context for stopped to ask what the discussion, the large scale public ceremony we were doing. This, identified scope of performed in the cemetery in more than the public issues that the design mailing of postcards, team is to address over ﬁ y years....” a city press release, and (B) is meant to and flyers distributed provide the commuto local churches, served to advertise our project nity with an opportunity to offer feedback. A and attracted the public to our inaugural meetcritique of this structure reveals a general disconing. As dusk approached, the luminaries began nect in the inclusiveness of that dialogue.9 This to modulate the space, focusing attention on claim is based on considered levels of comfort the sacred limits of the burial grounds and on held by individuals attending these meetings. the individuals there interred. By nightfall, we Even taking for granted that they are interested were all struck by this new landscape. The di- in the material being shared, since attendance lapidated ground had completely disappeared is voluntary and they are willing to donate an and in its stead was a constellation of a comhour or so of their time to be there, this doesn’t munity’s history. guarantee that they will take the next step and provide the verbal information necessary to The Illumination was the first large scale public guide the design process. For a majority of large ceremony performed in the cemetery in over fifty group attendees, community meetings simply years. It served our goal of bringing the project serve to provide information and make them to the immediate attention of the community so aware of future plans. we could begin to dialogue with them about an overall vision for future rehabilitation. Yet for stu- The effectiveness of the dialogue is also contindents and neighborhood participants, the effect gent on the timing of the meetings. As with other of working on-site in this typically unorthodox professional systems of collaboration, communifashion seemed to have a greater effect. Even cation regarding primary issues and expectations if just for a few hours, the experience showed of each of the parties is best if shared openly in them an image of celebration and dedication the early stages of the design process. If public in an area they previously considered forgotten. meetings happen too late, if the material is too
Image 02_Illumination of Odd Fellows Cemetery, East Knoxville, February 29, 2009
well formed and seemingly final, the perception to sit passively or who generally discuss ideas of the attendee is that decisions have already verbally. Constituents in communities with less been made and that they are there only to enactive participation, who see themselves as disdorse. And if it is the case that these decisions enfranchised and who are hesitant about working truly have been made and the design lacks the with outside groups, or who are less confident flexibility to adjust to expressed concerns, then in their own abilities to express themselves, are the practice loses credibility as a community vetless likely to engage in this level of graphic or ted process. When community members do not verbal dialogue. play a role in the process of information gathering and sharing, they lose These examples are the sense of cognitive described in very gen“...Public Design Workshops investment and there is eral terms in order to are the sister model of the less potential for relamake a point about tional space and place the obligations of the Community Meetings...” identity to be formed. design professional to engage the public in Public Design Workshops are the sister model of a meaningful way. The inherent limitations of the Community Meetings and are perceptually these models are well understood through the more successful as structured opportunities for public design field, and though many adaptacommunity engagement because they put the tions have been developed that expand upon tools of representing design intent – the plan, the the opportunities for reciprocal learning, we marker, the scale, etc. - in the hands of the end cannot claim that this is always presented as a users. These types of meetings often do occur in goal to the public. Exclusionary practices are the early stages of the design process since they still seen, and the detrimental effect that poor tend to focus on issues and concerns, rather than communication has on the formation of placeon detailed design. Though the (A) introduction identity associations has rarely been discussed. and presentation of context or scope may still exist, the (B) has been modified to describe an active, participatory process. Generally, there is Community Meetings: Offering Alternaa point in the process where data generated by tive Forms of Voice the workshops is analyzed and a deeper design process begins. Often there is a transfer back to We continue to examine these issues in the conthe original model of the Community Meeting to text of the Odd Fellows Cemetery and Potters disseminate information. But even at this point, Field Rehabilitation Project. Through the proce with a continuity of attendance, participants of restructuring the outreach model to reflect are able to assume authorship of the values and qualitative research communication, our public perspectives that inform the design and perceive meetings take a hybrid form between the commuthem instilled in the executed project. nity meeting and public design workshop where emphasis is placed on open dialog, both written The participant in this scenario is fully engaged and verbal, focused on “community member’s and feels comfortable engaging in the process. knowledge and place-based experience(s).”10 Design workshops cater to community memTo accomplish this, we have explored various bers who are more confident in their abilities to ways to elicit feedback and prompt individuals draw with marker or read plans. They present a personality very different from those who tend to share their stories.
LET US TELL STORIES... Let us tell stories… Let us tell stories about prosperity and hope… Let us tell stories about grand achievements, at home and in the community… Let us tell stories about sorrow and the support we receive from family and neighbor… Let us tell stories about how we came together to save an endangered landscape, a deteriorating cemetery… Let us be proud and tell our stories to our children and grandchildren… Let us listen to those stories… 11 - Call for action at the First Community Meeting, Odd Fellows Cemetery and Potters Field Rehabilitation Project
Following the Illumination of Odd Fellows Cemetery and our introduction to the community, we organized four public outreach meetings that ranged in content from outlining the proposed scope, reporting on community driven research, initiating volunteer activities based on that research, presenting spatial diagrams based on that research, presenting a master plan, and reviewing mock-up design models for specific components. Each meeting began with an invocation by a local pastor, respecting the religious values engendered by the community. The informational content began with a short introduction and synopsis of the previous meeting, acknowledged new participants, and followed with a list of questions or comments we received from the community. This effectively grounded all new content being presented in a context of the community’s voice. As research and design content was presented, we continually referred back to the public comments that served as a basis for our inquiry. The second part of the meeting was always geared toward supporting new dialogue. As a premise, we avoided the phrase, “now we’ll open up for questions and answers,” as this would imply that we had the answers. Instead, we formed questions to ask to
the community. We asked participants to tell us what they were taking from the experience, to make suggestions, and to share their personal stories that relate to the cemeteries. By framing the information exchange as a reciprocal action, we empowered community members to take an active role in generating content, not just responding to it. Their stories became the stories of the cemeteries and helped both parties form an empathetic relation to each other and the landscape. Individuals are comfortable expressing their ideas in various ways. Some attendees are comfortable speaking directly to the point; others are more prone to offer information in written form. At each of our initial meetings, we prepared questionnaires with both directed and open questions regarding values in relation to potential program activities, landscape opportunities, and memorial foci. As a final question, we supplied a plan of the cemetery land in the context of the neighborhoods and asked participants to locate both the areas they found positive about site, their favorite locations, and areas that gave a negative impression, areas of concern. By putting forth that we were interested in hear96
Image 03_Community Feedback: Favorite Places in Cemeteries and Park
ing about both, we presented an unbiased and non-judgmental stance. In actuality, we learned much more about those areas that were valued by the community. This framing of the issue allowed participants to focus on the positive and reconnect with past experiences, allowing them to identify with the cemeteries. In addition, the request to locate those experiences spatially on the drawing suggested that they should cognitively occupy the landscape.
Both the verbal and written process of soliciting information from participants provided great insight into the communityâ€™s understanding of their relational space. These examples, especially the questionnaire, illustrate relatively formal means by which we were able to request and document community feedback. But many individuals are more comfortable with and responded better to informal encounters. To compliment the written questionnaire, we provided note cards
The reader should see that there is nothing revolutionary in these methods, but hopefully perceive some of the subtle layering of permeations that have allowed us to redirect the flow of information between designer and community more equitably. We rely on tools that are familiar – informal conversation, post-it notes, street-map graphics – to encourage more informal, spontaneous, authentic dialogue, but in the context of the Community Meeting, impress upon the community the committed nature of the inquiry.
Bodies in Space: A New Context for Exploring Identity “I have written about my memories of my grandfather’s humble farmhouse, and pointed out that the memory house of my early childhood is a collage of fragments, smells, conditions of light, and specific feelings of enclosure and intimacy, but rarely precise and complete visual collections. My eyes have forgotten what they once saw, but my body still remembers. We internalize our experiences as lived situational, multi-sensory images and they are fused with our body experience. Human memory is embodied, skeletal and muscular in its essence, not merely cerebral.”12 - Juhani Pallasmaa Space, Place, Memory, and Imagination
and post-its and provided accessible maps and image boards with the intention of garnering spontaneous reactions. After each meeting, we made a point to linger and make ourselves available for more intimate conversations. We were active in initiating conversation, especially with new faces. This conscious practice offered participants respectful courtesy that acknowledged their contributions, giving them added purpose in support of the process.
The cemetery maps presented in the questionnaire and the responsive site diagrams and master plan provided opportunities for participants to spatially locate both recalled experiences and projected occupation of the site. However, the skills required to conceptualize space from twodimensional representations is far from universal and a healthy percentage of the community were reluctant to comment on any planar imagery. We perceived greater cognitive recognition of 98
space when we presented perspectives of the proposed design interventions. We developed these as montage images using site photographs as the base layer, thus providing a clear reference to specific places with which they could already identify. Still, in each of these cases, the viewer was removed from the actual place of habitation. Referencing the Illumination event, we understood that a physical occupation of the site holds greater potential for affecting the entire body precept, stimulating experiential memory, and generating a more tangible spatial association. We were fortunate to be able to stage our fourth and most recent public meeting within the park adjacent to our cemeteries, the place of our initial Illumination introduction. Visible from a primary neighborhood street, the event caught the attention of a greater public â€“ we enjoyed an attendance twice as large as any previous meeting. Not only were we physically located in and adjacent to our focus sites, but the new content presented at the meeting included a pair of full scale models, design options for a cemetery wall that is an integral component of our proposed intervention addressing the public realm. The design and construction of these mock-up cemetery walls had been the focus of a constructions exploration course at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Architecture and Design. The course had been predicated on enhancing opportunities for students to engage with communities through the construction of small scale interventions. Their involvement in the public presentation added a new dimension to the conversational dynamic. The students represented an intermediate voice, neither novice nor expert, that was automatically more accessible. Their research and construction work on the site had given them a degree of familiarity that became apparent as they described each of the proposals. Their enthusiasm was infectious.
Community dialogue after their presentations lasted a full thirty minutes and continually referenced the projected execution of the interventions on site with adamant specificity that comes with true knowledge of the landscape. The physical entities of the walls themselves provided measure through which the public could consider their own spatial relationships. Many of the underlying performance criteria presented
Image 04_UT student John Calvert presenting cemetery wall study during Fourth Community Meeting, April 30, 2012
to the students focused on scale, function, and opportunities for the community members to â€œmakeâ€? or otherwise engage. The walls were to be low to provide clear visibility, ideally set at seat height in particular areas, though in other areas they needed to be flush with the ground to serve as threshold. Students were instructed to consider the construction module: could elements relate to the scale of the hand or the body as a whole? Students were asked to con-
sider textures â€“ abrasive or smooth: what is the potential for visual and haptic associations? In this space of the dead, what were the opportunities to engender contemporary visitors and give them identifiable place? These were the types of question we had been grappling with in the design of the master plan in its entirety, but as explorations became concrete, the consequences of decision-making became more apparent for both the design team and the general public. 100
we developed a strategy whereby we could prompt a greater number of persons to spatially engage with the landscape...” For students and community, this event promoted the type of “dynamic performance of civic engagement” that Barsalou and Baxter claim is so important to the reconciliation of self with a contested site. The discussion became lengthy because the walls were actually being tested in situ. Community members sat on them, ran their fingers and calves over their surfaces, and walked over the threshold sills, often with arms stretched to the sides, adjusting to the physical proportions. Attendees’ reactions took both an instructional and familial tone, as an adult mentoring a youth in the community. Playing witness to this dialogue and registering the acceptance of the proposals, there seemed to be a clear recognition of the value of the process and a positive change taking place in the community’s identification with their context.
Continued Place Engagement Though this narrative has focused primarily on community and place engagement in the context of the public meeting, I reemphasize the need to provide accessible and comfortable means by which various constituents may access the process and form associative relations with the site. I have put forth that only a small percentage of the population will actually engage in formal community meetings. To reach a larger whole, it is the added responsibility of the design team to consider conditions in which others may become involved, either as active participants or as spectators. Considering that these may be casual encounters, our case study looked for non-invasive ways to activate the site and bring further recognition of potential to engage.
During the first year of the project, we invited several middle-school students from the community to join us for a May Day planting event. The planting was used as a pretext to bring the youth to the cemeteries, a place they had studied but never before visited, and to begin to spatially, cognitively, and emotionally connect them to the landscape. We specified where the planting would occur – adjacent to gravestones bearing the Odd Fellows’ Three Link Chain of Truth, Friendship, and Love. We made associations between these identified values with the basic values of the current community to which these youth belonged. Then we began identifying names, birth dates, known familial relationships, and professions, giving the participants tangible information with which they could associate and begin to form a sense of empathy. The meditative process of planting after the instruction gave them time to digest the relevancy of their actions with a new sense of self-awareness.
follow the trail. Over time, foot trails began to develop, demonstrating to us a new acceptance and belonging.
In closing, I offer one final example to illustrate the potential for design coordinators to offer meaningful opportunities that build a more positive identity through the direct engagement of place. Contested public landscapes often provide platforms for outreach by civically responsive citizen groups, church, school, fraternal organizations, and those seeking service learning opportunities. Because of their unique heritage, Odd Fellows Cemetery and Potters Field have long been areas of interest for citizens groups. These groups may be from the neighborhood, or from a more general region, providing an increased radius of influence and awareness. For decades, the primary engagement with the cemeteries has been in the form of volunteer trash removal. Though the efforts are appreciated, and we acknowledge that the landscape More recently, we developed a strategy whereby has a better appearance when these services are we could prompt a greater number of persons to performed, we also recognize that this kind of spatially engage with the landscape. As part of engagement tends to support an increasingly the design process, we identified routes through negative view of the site and the community. the cemetery for a proposed wheelchair acces- Volunteers arrive for clean-up because litter has sible memorial walk. Criteria for the pathway been dumped, presumably by the immediate included typically level topography, a direct community. From the residents’ point of view, avoidance of headstone markers and mature these outside groups have come to help because trees, and a potential for layered views that showthey are not capable of helping themselves. The cased some of the more magnificent examples landscape presents a projective identification of cemetery monuof a community incaments. We staked pable of maintaining “...we explored how to these routes and its own public lands. marked them with oﬀer alternate, meaningful brightly colored As part of the rehapink surveyors’ ribbilitation project, we experiences for outside groups bon. The ribbon was explored how to offer and local members ...” a non-verbal invitaalternate, meaningful tion to engage with experiences for outthe site. The subtle side groups and local guide indicated direction and purpose. Within members to address the site in a positive fashion. days of their installation, we began to see curious Based on an expressed community need to learn passers-by enter into the cemetery and begin to more about the physical construct of the cem102
etery, we designed a service learning research activity to assist us in surveying the cemetery to locate all existing, above ground markers and tombs. The activity required a dedicated look at smaller areas in the cemetery and to record all physical, statistical, and graphic information relating to an individualâ€™s burial. Focus was taken from the poor conditions of the cemetery as a whole and redirected towards the individuals interred. Volunteers were able to make cognitive associations between the burial ground and the community, revealing a human aspect of the site. There was potential for developing empathy. Also, the activity required the participant to sit still for periods of time as information was being recorded. The process was meditative. Opportunities for positive place identity were increased. From a community perspective, this type of research activity is more proudly accepted. Rather than helping to clean up their mess, volunteers were working to preserve their history. This implied an inherent interest in the community. The message was that there are people who care, and more importantly, that the landscape and its people are worthy of that care. Through the process, the reframing of Self had a new, positive spatial existence.
Image 05_Odd Fellows Cemetery Survey, volunteers from Girl Scout Troop 20247, February 20, 2011
References 1. Juhani Pallasmaa, “An Architecture of the Seven Senses,” in Questions of Perception: Phenomenology of Architecture, by Steven Holl, Juhani Pallasmaa, and Anberto Pérez-Gómez. (San Francisco: William Stout Publishers, 2007), 35. 2. Elizabeth Bott Spillius and Edna O’Shaughnessy, ed. Projective Identification: The Fate of a Concept (London; New York: Rutledge, 2012) 3. Judy Barsalou and Victoria Baxter, “The Urge to Remember: The Role of Memorials in Social Reconstruction and Transitional Justice,” in Stabilization and Reconstruction Series No. 5 (January 2007),15. 4. Ibid, 2. 5. Ibid, 5. 6. Ibid, 13. 7. The cemetery rehabilitation project was initiated by the Knoxville Re-Animation Coalition, a community organization in East Knoxville whose mission is to educate and create wealth amongst Knoxville’s African American community through projects that illuminateand valorize its past achievements while creating an overall sense of pride in their environment. The author serves as the coordinator and architect of the project and has been assisted by an evolving list of faculty and students of the University of Tennessee, the Public Works Department of the City of Knoxville, the East Tennessee Community Design Center and their professional design consultants, Knox Heritage, and community volunteers. Decisions are vetted through representatives of the City of Knoxville and members of the community. 8. Steven Holl, Anchoring: Selected Projects, 1975-1991 (New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 1989) 9. Maren King, “The Effect of Public Participation on Traditional Practice Roles and Methods” in CELA 2002: GroundWork, ed. M. Elen Beming (Syracuse, NY, 2003), 69. 10. Ibid. 70. 11. Katherine Ambroziak, Let us tell stories…, presented at the First Community Meeting for the Odd Fellows Cemetery and Potters Field Rehabilitation Project, Eternal Life Harvest Center, East, 2410 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, November 29, 2010. 12. Juhani Pallasmaa, “Space, Place, Memory, and Imagination: The Temporal Dimension of Existential Space,” in Spatial Recall: Memory in Architecture and Landscape, ed. Marc Treib (London; New York: Rutledge, 2009), 20.
Image Credits Title Page_Graphic design by Janice C Ninan Image 01_Photograph courtesy of Chris Melander Image 02_Photograph courtesy of Douglas Newby Image 03_ Presentation graphic from Second Community Meeting, March 28, 2011 Image 04_Photograph courtesy of William Love Image 05_Photograph courtesy of Antigone Collier
Katherine Ambroziak Katherine Ambroziak is an Assistant Professor in the College of Architecture and Design, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She received her Master of Architecture from Princeton University and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Virginia. Her research addresses holistic systems of environmental perception and geographic experience as influences on corporeal activity and memory. She focuses on contemporary and cultural reading of space, spatial theory related to sensory response and the body precept, and specific themes associated with ritual theory and interactive memorial space. Since 2009, she has served as the primary designer and coordinator of the Odd Fellows Cemetery and Potters Field Rehabilitation Project, a conservation and rehabilitation study focusing on the stabilization and memorialization of two historic cemeteries in East Knoxville.
In October 2012, Professor Ambroziakâ€™s exceptional efforts and outstanding leadership of the Odd Fellows Cemetery rehabilitation project was recognized by an East Tennessee AIA Award of Merit for Unbuilt Work.
Identity and the City Shaped
WELCOME TO A
ALBUQUERQUE by Genevieve Baudoin and Bruce Johnson
Image 1_Welcome to Albuquerque - layers of transformation
Introduction The things we build shape the identity of our cities, but it would be hubris to assume that the buck stops there. Any piece of architecture lies in the hands of the designer for a minute period in relation to the amount of time it lies in the hands of its owners or its users. The identity of our built environment is surely influenced by the objects we place in it, but that identity is built on the way users handle those objects given them over time. So what is identity relative to architecture? What is the role of change in relation to identity and how does memory function to facilitate or hinder identity? Do the urban centers, the parks, the hinterland, and the suburbs solely define our cities? Or is there more at work? Or can a city be potentially devoid of an architecture or architects? In Against Architecture: The Writings of Georges Bataille, Denis Hollier argues that Bataille, “…denounces architecture as a prison warden….Architecture is society’s authorized superego: there is no architecture that is not the Commendatore’s.” Bataille writes: “Architecture is the expression of every society’s very being…. Thus great monuments rise up… Church and State in the form of cathedrals and palaces speak to the multitudes,
or silence them. It is obvious that monuments inspire social good behavior in societies and often even real fear. The storming of the Bastille is symbolic of this state of affairs: it is hard to explain this mass movement other than through the people’s animosity against the monuments that are its real masters.” Like Bataille and Hollier, we are against a complicit architecture authorized to mold societal behaviors and express its identity. Over time, however, the ability for architecture to impose and express becomes more complex. Architecture can mold behavior and identity in the sense of absolute power, but we are seeking form(s) that can translate and transform into spatial/ aesthetic conditions that speak to formerly invisible histories through the democracy of personal invention and the everyday object. The architect’s ultimate act is that of letting go, freeing a design from their own control. As designers, we must begin to fully understand and address this evolution “post-occupancy” to recognize our place within the larger process of shaping the identity of our built environment. The following analytical project serves as an investigation into these questions and as a response that could stipulate a point of departure and possibly creation, for something organizational, spatial – a not-quite architecture/landscape.
Welcome to Albuquerque Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a unique city to investigate with regard to both the process of expression and with regard to the inherent complexity of identity in the city. But what is the city today? We define the “city” here as the sum of its parts, not as an objectified core or zone – our definition includes the ugly bits (and we mean really ugly - not so unlike the concept of Bataille’s “Big Toe” where humanity is drawn to lofty ideas/heavenly things by the aerial location of the intellect and where we find to our despair that we remain grounded to the earth, to the dirt, and to our ugly and worn feet/toes ). We are interested in the city as an inclusive idea – not just as a collection of designed and built objects and infrastructures, but as a collective consciousness (or unconsciousness in the sense of Carl Jung) of individual expressions of identity, from suburban Pink Flamingos to the antique cars or RVs that are perched confidently on concrete blocks in front yards awaiting some great miracle of repair. Albuquerque’s origins are distinct: it was a Spanish city for far longer than it has been an American city (the city is over 300 years old, while the state has just celebrated its centennial). Following the Spanish land grants,
Albuquerque was formed around an integrated irrigation and water distribution system of acequias and their resultant land right plats that gave pressure to the formation of long rectangular lots to assure access to precious water. The railroad initially brought tourists and prospectors to the state, reinforcing the myth of the Frontier and crystallizing a regional architecture that was itself a myth-building merging of Pueblo, Spanish/ Moorish, and Mexican building strategies. With its nomination to statehood, and later the introduction of the highway systems, came the motto that can now be read on New Mexico’s license plate - the “Land of Enchantment”. The open road, the automobile and the quest for individuality and adventure are all wrapped into an idea about the American dream that defines how Albuquerque evolved from its Spanish roots. Route 66 provided the path, and Albuquerque became the stop along the way: fill your tank, spend the night, maybe stay. Route 66 also brought the American City with it: the dream to own a house, a yard, a car. During and after World War II, Albuquerque experienced an extreme housing shortage as the population in the city ballooned. In part this was due to the United States government battling time in order to harness the Atom before the Nazis. To quell this shortage, both 110
contractors and architects alike developed typical house patterns to cope with the rapid construction needed that combined modern living and modern construction methods with the aesthetic and proportional qualities found in vernacular buildings. Books and pamphlets such as William Lumpkin’s La Casa Adobe and Wilfred Stedman’s Santa Fe Style Homes were both an analysis of existing vernacular strategies and a proposition to homemakers to borrow from the aesthetic traditions found locally and meld these with contemporary luxuries such as the two-car garage. The Southwest’s rich architectural tradition was subsequently wedded to this suburban dream. The exotic, even wild, aspects of the frontier carried through the building culture, becoming a badge, a chance to play the mythic homesteader from the convenience of your suburban plot. Albuquerque is now an amalgamation of nostalgic and iconic representations of both Route 66 and the myth of the Southwest, also managing the realities of day-to-day contemporary life. Its identity has developed out of how it has coped with this mythos over time, adapted to it. From the suburban dream came the reality of the remodel, the addition, the repair.
exposed as if to communicate internal comfort and cash-valued real estate improvement, but these additions are almost never designed by an architect. Instead they are installed with the rhyme and reason of a specialized contractor and with the permission/blessing of the homeowner. Intriguingly, this frank exposure can be perceived as architectural as in the work of Piano, Rogers, Foster, Grimshaw and other like-minded “High-Tech” thinkers. Quinlan Terry sums up a characteristic attitude of these architects: “All a man needs in an office is a table and chair near a window and few electric wires.” A key stance of these architects proposed that any building’s identity came from its systems and their function, so the integration and exposure of the building’s systems were vital to its expression, versus a typical stylized aesthetic that would suppress a building’s true identity as the sum of its parts and systems. The exposure of systems, however, holds consequences. Colin Davies, in his book High Tech Architecture, writes: “The motifs of High Tech – exposed steel structure, visible air conditioning ducts, plug-in service pods, and so on – are almost never the most economical solutions.” Unlike the work of these High Tech architects, the exposure of the systems in Albuquerque’s typical home is rarely Climatically, Albuquerque differs from Middle complete, and rarely finessed; it may however America, being both dry and hot as opposed to be economical. These homes illustrate a kind more temperate and humid. However, both of of Occam’s razor approach to retrofitting that these regions gained are at once as clunky significant housing as they are beautiful. From the suburban dream stock that was These exposed fashioned prior to came the reality of remodel, the system retrofits are the advent of central however essential to addition, the repair. air and heating. The a real understanding Albuquerque home of Albuquerque’s adapted to these services in a manner that complex identity, and an intriguingly allowed for an uncanny exposing of systems architectural proposition. Building in modern (largely roof top aerially accessed units with materials precipitated the loss in passively visible ducts attached to “swamp coolers,” and controlled cooling provided by traditional even more recently with the advent of solar adobe. The exposed ductwork of the typically technologies). These services are almost gladly Albuquerque home speaks as loudly as the
traditional, vernacular adobe brick – exposed ductwork is more about Albuquerque’s identity than the authenticity of traditional adobe construction. Operationally, Albuquerque is a kind of matrix of homes synthesizing the “Casa Adobe” type, building from prototypical housing patterns, such as Lumpkin’s, with a visible record of add-ons, punctures, retrofits and nostalgic ramblings. In addition to the typical systems exposed on the roofs, owners have altered the form of this type through various means – at times adapting to xeriscaping strategies by returning their lawns to a reined-in wild landscape, replacing windows and doors to provide better insulation, adding exterior walls to provide privacy, or even by adding a pitched roof or second stories onto their existing homes, to name but a few. These strategies vary wildly from nostalgic meanderings towards southwest “authenticity,” to contemporary updating of outdated technologies, to the audacity and awkwardness of wholesale re-roofing or reskinning. This matrix works, not unlike a patchwork quilt, to stitch together a locally independent yet interdependent whole that works to express a larger idea of what the city is. Not unlike High Tech architecture’s ideas about identity – the identity of the city is the sum of its parts and systems, giving expression and exposure equally, if not awkwardly, to each. An analysis of this matrix of homes made graphic flirts with a representational spatiality that goes beyond a prose/poetic diatribe and begins to visually grasp the complexities of the identity of the city. This approach is not without precedent - architects from Le Corbusier (whose use of the axonometric uncovered his own hidden cubic playbook) to Daniel Libeskind (whose infamous Micromega drawings trace labyrinthine circles from the inside to outside to the inside yet again) to James Corner’s collages
(as a means to manifest a spatial condition and thus an architecture of landscape) all work as a kind of visual contextual analysis tackling the intricate conceptualities at work in the city. The visual analysis Welcome to Albuquerque, shown here, makes a pretense towards a complex space seen through time by layering and codification. The viewer is left to “fit” space back into a photograph that at once manifests a second of light (as time) on a paper surface or into a digital file, comingling with space in real time to reveal an identity simultaneously fabricated of the past, present and future. Welcome to Albuquerque examines the transmutation of the city from a collection of designed and built objects and infrastructures into an inhabited idea of “city.” This begins, in this case study, with a valuing of the real estate snapshot. (Image02) We value it because it defines value - the average American’s largest lifetime investment is their personal residence, and as such, banks and real estate markets fix prices to these images plus their amenities (number of bedrooms, baths, vaulted ceilings, landscaping, updated kitchen, garage size, etc.). Welcome to Albuquerque opens the door to the sometimes kitsch, the sometimes elegant, the sometimes cartoony ownerdriven modifications that are typically done sans architect and by contractors or DIY homeowners. Surely these acts and their testament relics count as contributing to the development of the identity of a city as a whole? Prior to the infamous burst in the housing bubble, real estate value was so predictable that homeowners would buy property simply to makeover and flip. Or, spawned by mass media, homeowners radically over-improved their properties by way of countless HomeDepots, Lowe’s, neighborhood hardware superstores, or small residential contractors. The onslaught of HGTV and numerous spinoffs like the DIY Channel forged a home 112
Image 02_ Real estate snapshot / Casa Adobe type transformed
improvement lifestyle where the individual homeowner’s perception of the value of one’s home became an augmented expression of one’s identity. Welcome to Albuquerque is not only an analysis of the suburb, or the suburban ideal, but also an analysis of regionalism and simulacra. William Lumpkin’s prototypical pattern homes, among others, serve as the baseline to facilitate a very specific typology, a nostalgia or utopia (depending on the pleasure center of the buyer) for countless synthetic New Mexican Casa Adobe homes, minus 50 acres and an arroyo or two. Over time, even these scaled down copies of larger, more stately, originals either lose their modicum of purity by both internal and external fragmentation, or they build on references to an original that cannot be found (as it never truly existed) through larger moves that operate to quiet the neighbors’ noisy and infiltrating kitsch-like add-ons or landscape appendages. Spatial Implications and a Forecast The analysis illustrated here deconstructs and codes the layers of the aging Albuquerque suburban home. Elements that alter the original Casa Adobe type literally pull away from the image to reveal the traces over time. Borrowing from William Lumpkins’ La Casa Adobe as a kind of ground zero layer, this key elevation also asks the reviewer to contemplate the Casa Adobe prototype versus the suburban reprogramming of the idealized design. Some viewers report no noticeable difference and others are keen to see proportional variation. The separation of these elements relative to this Casa Adobe layer outline a new topography, an adaptation of the “long” exposure as compared to the single privileged moment of light encapsulated by traditional photography. The fabricated and three-dimensional nature of the analysis is then delimited by the rules that materials like Plexiglas and transparencies
require for reproduction.
Welcome to Albuquerque maps layered changes over time (Image03) by codifying them as discreet items. The iconographic traces from the “original” are preserved by the very thing photography does best: recording (just ask any local police department or a detective). Dissections of the real estate snapshot pull away from the original image as transparencies. This procedure yields two side effects – one that operates to contain and retain specificity (detail, color, texture, mechanisms, systems, routings, landscaping, lighting, etc.) and the other that makes space (through the floating elements as tethered to fixed conditions) and opens alternative relationships. These floating layers spatially slide due to their physical offset from the host images – they can be viewed head on or from an angular trajectory, resituating individual elements and allowing whole façades to comingle. This aproach reveals a kind of reverse Cubism - rather than being a fragmented and collaged image of an object pieced together by memory (as seen applied by Cubism in painting), these resultant layers and spatial meanderings eclipse and coalesce accuracy and origin to create a stitchedtogether ensemble of generalized conditions laced with DNA-like specific components and dimensions (Image04 & Image05). Somewhat akin to Mary Shelly’s infamous Frankenstein without a readily assignable head or arms, the floating layers become a network of components stitched together, an identifiable mass greater than the sum of its constituent parts. Any form of representation brings with it a set of rules or perversions that obstruct or aid in delivering information to the reader/viewer and certainly this is true for Welcome to Albuquerque. The semi-transparent Plexiglas material that has a 1/8” depth of materiality 114
Image 03_ Welcome to Albuquerque
Image 04_ Welcome to Albuquerque â€“ diagonal view
Image 05_ Welcome to Albuquerque â€“ external reflections
for fabrication as per laser cutter requirements works to hinder the translation from image to eye, and this in combination with the 2 mill thickness of the standard transparencies that are home to the actual photographic information (which are also fastened to the Plexiglas by way of transparent tape where each piece of tape is over-sized to allow a standardized method of construction to appear despite the varying size of each photographic image (Image06)) creates patterns that regulate what at first appears to be a random landscape of housing modifications. What this tectonic system supports it taints as well. As an armature to allow transparency, the system also mandates a grid of classification much like a 19th century Butterfly collection.
Due to the thickness of these combined component/layers, and from the viewerâ€™s ability to see diagonally through this ensemble of lines, tones and external reflections, the viewer perceives a collaged interference that is perceptually as interesting as the analysis itself. In a way, the Plexiglas layers evoke both bizarre apparitions and precise lens-like views. Rather than using traditional modes of site analysis or precedent study to create an almost Platonic form of an existing building type (house, office, school or mall for instance), representation by abstraction (a very literal form of abstraction mind you as it is based on photography and is coded by history over time) 116
can yield an equally valid reading of the world. Welcome to Albuquerque defines site via its reduction to fragments. Site can then read as a complex texture created over time and not just property lines or real estate dollars. This reading is not fixed, frozen, or tied to a direct operational principle. Rather, this form of representation opens up play between isolated objects so as to allow outsiders (those not privy to witnessing change over the 40-50 years encapsulated in these real estate photos) to witness change that is tangible and corporeal. The transformation of a city/suburban block is the transmutation of lead-like common materials/systems into the alchemical gold of a potential architecture. One particular attribute of studying a set of conditions like that of the typically suburban zones of Albuquerque is that one begins to discern a growing feeling of appreciation for “clunky” add-on elements that are in reality items that an architect would work to eliminate or mask in a normal sequence of design development. But when seen after the fact, as visual traces of a homeowner’s care and attention, one begins to feel the need for the celebration of these sometimes over-scale (fat or tall), ill-placed and often daring acrobatic maneuvers. While tiptoeing perilously close to Venturi’s celebration of the everyday , these maneuvers seem a likely foreshadowing for the remaking of aging homes and infrastructure alike; an identity that surely exists in a Heidegger-ian state of becoming.
Image 06_ Welcome to Albuquerque â€“ template/transparency detail
1. Denis Hollier, Against Architecture: The Writings of Georges Bataille, trans. Betsy Wing, An OCTOBER Book (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press), 1989, ix. 2. Denis Hollier, Against Architecture: The Writings of Georges Bataille, trans. Betsy Wing, An OCTOBER Book (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press), 1989, ix. 3. Rosalind Krauss, The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press), 1985, 80. 4. William Lumpkins, La Casa Adobe (Santa Fe: Ancient City Press), 1961. 5. Wilfred H. Stedman, Santa Fe Style Homes: Eighteen Interpretive Designs (Santa Fe: Santa Fe Builders Supply), 1936. 6. Martin Pawley, Theory and Design in the Second Machine Age (Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd), 1990, 114. 7. Colin Davies, High Tech Architecture (New York: Rizzoli International Publications), 1988, 8. Work originally exhibited in Unprivileged Views, WUHO Gallery, Hollywood, March 3-25, 2012. 9. William Lumpkins, La Casa Adobe (Santa Fe: Ancient City Press), 1961, plate 4. 10. Robert Venturi, Denise Scott-Brown and Steven Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas, revised ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press), 1977.
Image 1_ Welcome to Albuquerque - layers of transformation by Bruce Johnson photographer Image 02_Real estate snapshot / Casa Adobe type transformed by Genevieve Baudoin photographer Image 03_Welcome to Albuquerque by Bruce Johnson photographer, composite by Genevieve Baudoin Image 04_Welcome to Albuquerque – diagonal view by Genevieve Baudoin photographer Image 05_Welcome to Albuquerque – external reflections by Bruce Johnson photographer Image 06_Welcome to Albuquerque – template/transparency detail by Bruce Johnson photographer
Genevieve Baudoin, RA Assistant Professor Department of Architecture University of Kansas Genevieve is an architect and an Assistant Professor in the department of Architecture at the University of Kansas. She received her BA in music and visual arts from Oberlin College in 2002 and her MArch from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University in 2007. She has worked professionally with both Foster + Partners in London, UK and Antoine Predock Architect in Albuquerque, NM. She has taught previously as a lecturer at the University of New Mexico before taking her position at KU. Her research interests are in the flexibility of architecture and architectural systems as they relate to a more complex understanding of context and the city.
Bruce A. Johnson Assistant Professor Department of Architecture University of Kansas Bruce A. Johnson graduated with honors from the Kansas State University in 1991 where he was awarded the American Institute of Architects Certificate of Merit. In 1995 he received a scholarship to attend Columbia University where he was a recipient of the Lowenfisch Memorial Prize for best thesis (The SplitLevel Sod House). He has practiced in Kansas City for firms such as Populous and Shaughnessy, Fickel and Scott Architects, and in Chicago for Stanley Tigerman and Margaret McCurry. In 1991 he was awarded the prestigious Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Bachelor of Architecture Traveling Fellowship, which afforded research and travel to study sacred architecture in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. His current research interest is in Direct Fabrication as it pertains to the radical integration of Structure, Systems and Emergent Materials.
En Entrepreneurship is a process by which individualsâ€Ś pursue opportunities without regard to the resources they currently control.â€?
Architecture is Entrepreneurship by Nathan Richardson
rchitects often frame their professional identity with almost exclusive respect to the buildings they design. In reality, few architects have ventured far from a common conception of practice in which they provide design services to a client who intends to build. However, the changing nature of society and the issues it confronts should compel more architects to reconsider their expertise and the manner in which it is deployed.
Given the current economic distress, environmental strain, and geopolitical unrest, there is growing pressure on societies to find creative solutions to vast, complex, and acute issues that transcend the design of the built environment itself. Clearly, the built environment and those that shape it are critically important, but it isnâ€™t the only venue for architects and designers to make meaningful contributions to society. One key to exploring enhanced productivity for architects may reside in the professionâ€™s self-conception and its relationship to entrepreneurship.1 122
Consider the following. “Entrepreneurship is a process by which individuals… pursue opportunities without regard to the resources they currently control.” 2 While this definition was conceived in a business oriented body of research, it bears a striking resemblance to the activities of an architect. In other words, architects are adept at pursuing opportunities to shape the built environment without much deference to their relatively limited control of the capital resources employed in building. Another commonly cited definition of entrepreneurship frames it as the process of creating value by bringing together a unique combination of resources to exploit an opportunity.3 This statement can likewise be understood in the context of architectural practice; architects are no doubt skilled in leveraging opportunities by bringing together a diverse combination of resources to create value through architecture. Even though architecture can be understood as an entrepreneurial endeavor, entrepreneurship isn’t often an explicit part of architectural practice or education. As such, architects rarely view themselves as active entrepreneurs or leverage their entrepreneurial potential in any vehicle other than architectural practice. This paper explores entrepreneurship and its potential role as a more integrated component of architectural education and practice. Not only does an expanded understanding of architecture and entrepreneurship promise to make architects more effective within standard modes of practice, but it also represents latent opportunities for architects to deploy unconventional methods of practice to address an expanding array of societal challenges, both locally and globally.
Architecture As-Is If you want to find a definition of architecture that suits your objectives, there has been plenty of material amassed over the history of the profession to find a well-nuanced version that fits your specific needs (especially if one needs a dose of design inspiration). Architecture defined—in most cases—frames it as a critical societal, cultural, artistic and/or professional production of the built environment in which the architect plays a central role. As Andrew Saint argues in The Image of the Architect, Down the centuries one strain of architectural ideology has been heard much louder than others. That is the strain of artistic individualism, which ascribes both merit in particular buildings and general progress in architecture according to a personal conception, usually of style, embodied in buildings and developed from architect to architect over the course of history. 4
That view of course, only adds a degree of autonomy to the idea that architects, at a fundamental level, do little more than design buildings. As Spiro Kostof explains, “…this is what architects are, conceivers of buildings… The primary task of the architect, [in antiquity] as now, is to communicate what proposed buildings should be and look like.” 5 Throughout history, and most likely into the future, such a conception of architecture will suffice in most cases; but for those practitioners that seek expanded opportunities to make distinct contributions in the face of emerging challenges, an alternate view may prove necessary.
“for those practitioners that seek expanded opportunities, an alternate view may prove necessary..” Contextural Perspective Couple the previous conception of architecture with the following 21st century contextual realities. Among the global risks assessed by the World Economic Forum, the most significant based on their likelihood to occur and economic impact are climate change, fiscal crises, economic disparity, geopolitical conflict, extreme energy price volatility, failures in global governance, water security, chronic diseases, demographic challenges, corruption, flooding, storms and biodiversity loss. 6
For further perspective on context, consider the National Intelligence Council’s “Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World.” It includes the following perspective on the risks inherent in their estimation of the next twenty years. We do not believe we are headed toward a complete breakdown [of the international system]…However, the next 20 years of transition toward a new international system are fraught with risks…These risks include the growing prospect of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and possible interstate conflicts over resources. The breadth of transnational issues requiring attention also is increasing to include issues connected with resource constraints in energy, food, and water; and worries about climate change. 7 The very fact that the report’s authorship feels compelled to establish that it does not envision a complete collapse in the international system is telling. If not sufficiently alarming, the report goes on to state—“global institutions that could help the world deal with these transnational issues and, more generally, mitigate the risks of rapid change currently appear incapable of rising to the challenges without concerted efforts by their leaders.” 8
Limitations Clearly no single nation, organization, or profession is prepared to handle even one of these pressing issues alone. However, if the architecture profession writ large persists in a conception of practice steeped in the past, it almost ensures its diminishing relevance as the weight of context bears down over the decades to come. For the profession of architecture to confront the challenges, it is burdened to explore 124
new paradigms of practice; this has already begun, albeit in relatively isolated pockets. New forms of practice and architectural engagement, while they need not eclipse a conventional view entirely, put the profession on better footing in the face of these larger global issues. Entrepreneurship, as one form of engagement, represents a latent condition of architecture itself and, once leveraged, provides a sound framework for divergent models of practice to engage the tectonic shifts in the global contextual landscape.
Entrepreneurship While the definition of entrepreneurship is nearly as fungible as architecture, a couple views appear to have a higher degree of traction. One defines entrepreneurship as “a process by which individuals…pursue opportunities without regard to the resources they currently control.” 9 Another view frames it as the process of creating value by bringing together a unique combination of resources to exploit an opportunity. First, it’s evident that even the most conventional form of architectural practice in essence represents “the pursuit of opportunities without regard to the resources controlled.” Likewise, architects are—or certainly should be—entirely capable of creating value as they bring together unique combinations of resources through a building opportunity. By definition, therefore, architecture is a form of entrepreneurship, if not an entrepreneurial endeavor entirely. This argument however, seeks more than a cooption of terminology. Simply because one can draw connections from entrepreneurship (defined) to architecture (in practice) doesn’t mean architects are necessarily prepared for significant shifts in their business models. To draw a more meaningful relationship and test the architectural profession’s preparedness to embrace entrepreneurship, one must explore the characteristics and competencies that are fundamental to entrepreneurial activity.
Beyond Terminology What are some key characteristics of entrepreneurs and their activities? A review of the literature on entrepreneurship reveals a significant array of attributes that are consistent with entrepreneurship, among which are creativity, adaptability, criticality, confidence, initiative, and attentiveness.10 While many professions may argue these characteristics reflect important attributes for success, the same is no less true in architecture. Architects are commonly charged with employing creativity in proposing solutions for complex problems, requiring them to adapt as project parameters shift around them. This often takes a significant level of critical thought and attention to issues at multiple scales. Furthermore, it is difficult to find success without a level of initiative in the face of uncertainty and confidence in confronting obstacles. In addition, consider the following activities that comprise an entrepreneurial process: recognizing opportunity, generating ideas, testing feasibility, developing an effective business plan, analyzing the industry, competition, and financial viability, assembling a team, and obtaining funding.11 On one level, it could be argued that navigating this process is precisely where architects fall short in entrepreneurial capacity, and that me be true to a degree. But a review of these activities bears striking resemblance to the design process itself. Architects, if nothing else, should certainly be capable of exploring opportunities, analyzing ideas, testing feasibility, developing a plan for implementation, and pitching a proposal to a team and potential financial supporters. Where architects most likely fall short, is not in their professional characteristics or knowledge of process, but in their ability to apply such expertise to a different end: namely, to business, or other public interest ventures rather than a building proposition. Nearly all
of the competencies covered in architectural education and practice have been relentlessly focused on designing buildings, rather than a broader array of enterprises one might associate with architecture. The profession should learn to take their expertise with its latent entrepreneurial capacity and actively apply it to new and expanded opportunities.
Entrepreneurial Momentum There are signs that indicate academia and practice are moving in such a direction. Architectural programs and curriculum are expanding to make more advanced connections to real estate, business and entrepreneurship.13 While the direct effects from an expansion of architectural education will take some time to track, there are certainly a few practitioners in the profession who illustrate a more fundamental symbiosis between architecture and entrepreneurship. There are many, but just two examples should suffice to illustrate. Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd. is one example of practitioners stretching the boundaries of architecture through entrepreneurship. Though the firm engages in the design of buildings for clientele in a time-honored architectural capacity, they’ve also embraced a broader range of issues such as energy, resource conservation, and other environmental concerns as illustrated through the projects undertaken by MATx research. One of the products they’ve developed is “the Portable Light Project [which] enables the world’s poorest people to create and own energy harvesting textiles, providing the benefits of renewable power as an integral part of everyday life.”14 This initiative in particular, exhibits the firm’s intention to explore “new relationships between architecture, digital technology and emerging public needs.”15 As another illustration, consider John Peterson of
Public Architecture. In a nod to the importance of their mission statement, it doubles as the firm’s logo. Public Architecture puts the resources of architecture in the service of the public interest. We identify and solve practical problems of human interaction in the built environment and act as a catalyst for public discourse through education, advocacy and the design of public spaces and amenities.16 The firm also champions the 1% program to challenge architects and designers to engage in pro bono design activities (it’s also envisioned as a network to connect architects with nonprofit organizations in need of design assistance).17 These two firms are indicative of practice unbound by conventional identities. They embrace entrepreneurship, apply expertise in unconventional ways, and address a broad range of issues in a search for solutions that even transcend the built environment itself.
“architects and educators must understand their identity in a more expansive fashion...” Entrepreneurial Action The pressing global challenges and the potential contribution an entrepreneurial architecture can make are significant. If the status quo is untenable and changing (as it appears to be), what actions are available for practitioners and educators seeking to accommodate a transition to a more robust form of entrepreneurship? First, it’s evident that architects and educators must 126
understand their identity in a more expansive fashion, as entrepreneurs with expertise in the built environment. Second, they must make themselves students of context more broadly defined, exploring local and global issues (and by extension opportunities) that impact or even transcend the built environment itself. Developing opportunistic solutions to critical problems that pertain to the built environment is a given; doing so for challenges that bear a marginal if any significant relationship to the built environment is transformative. Third, architects and educators must pro-actively establish relationships with other entrepreneurial entities. Such formal and informal networks can elevate the role of entrepreneurship within architectural education and practice (not to mention elevating architecture and design within bastions of business and entrepreneurship). Fourth, architects
can and should explore initiatives and models of practice that leverage an expanded competency in environmental, economic, social, and other public concerns in formulating solutions to the many pressing problems societies now face. Fifth, architects, whatever the initiative, must embrace their role in advancing, promoting, and even financing solutions, rather than simply waiting for a benevolent client to rally around a common cause. The issues society confronts appear too significant and immediate for such an extension of the practice status quo. Architecture is entrepreneurship and a rapidly advancing storm of global challenges is bearing down upon it. If significant elements within the profession embrace an entrepreneurial identity, they may do more than weather the stormâ€”they may just harness its energy for more good than society ever expected.
â€œformal and informal networks can elevate the role of entrepreneurship within architectural education and practice...â€?
Nathan Richardson Assistant Professor Nathan Richardson teaches design, real estate, and entrepreneurship at the Oklahoma State University School of Architecture and holds a joint appointment at the School of Entrepreneurship as a Riata Faculty Fellow. Prior to joining OSU in the fall of 2009, Nathan received his Master of Design Studies with Distinction from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. In 2003, Nathan received his Bachelor of Architecture, Magna cum Laude, from Oklahoma State University. Nathan is a licensed architect in Massachusetts and Oklahoma.
A variation of this paper was first published and presented as “Architecture is Entrepreneurship and (Why) it Matters” at the 2011 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Fall Conference, Local Identities Global Challenges, co-chairs Ihklas Sabouni and Jorge Vanegas in Houston, 2011. © 2011 ACSA. Reproduced with permission. 1. Robert Gutman argues a related point in an essay included in the following work: Dana Cuff and John Wriedt eds., Architecture from the Outside in: Selected essays by Robert Gutman, “Architecture: The Entrepreneurial Profession,” (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010), 32-42. 2. H.H. Stevenson and J.C. Jarillo, “A Paradigm for Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurial Management,” Strategic Management Journal, no. 11 (1990): 17-27. Quoted in, see note 10. 3. H.H. Stevenson and David E. Gumpert. “The heart of entrepreneurship,” Harvard Business Review 63, no. 2 (March 1985): 8594. Retrieved from EBSCO host (accessed September 6, 2011). 4. Andrew Saint, The Image of the Architect (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983), 6. Of additional relevance is Saint’s vignette on entrepreneurship and the profession in the chapter, “The Architect as Entrepreneur.” 5. Spiro Kostof, ed., The Architect: Chapters in the History of the Profession (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), v. 6. World Economic Forum, “Global Risks 2011, Sixth Edition: An initiative of the Risk Response Network,” Figure 1. http://riskreport. weforum.org/. 7. U.S. National Intelligence Council, Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World, 2008, p. 1. http://www.dni.gov/nic/NIC_2025_project. html (accessed September 6, 2011).
9. H.H. Stevenson and J.C. Jarillo, “A Paradigm for Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurial Management,” Strategic Management Journal, no. 11 (1990): 17-27. 10. Adapted from: Vesa P. Taatila, “Learning Entrepreneurship in Higher Education,” Education + Training, 52 (1), 48-61. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/61 801661?accountid=4117, and Heiko Haase & Arndt Lautenschläger, “The ‘Teachability Dilemma’ of Entrepreneurship,” International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 7 (2), 145-162. Retrieved from http://dx.doi. org/10.1007/s11365-010-0150-3 (accessed September 6, 2011). 11. Adapted from Bruce R. Barringer and R. Duane Ireland, Entrepreneurship: Successfully Launching New Ventures 3rd Edition (Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2010). 12. This author, for example, established a course in real estate development within the Oklahoma State University School of Architecture and as a Riata Faculty Fellow in the OSU School of Entrepreneurship established a new course in Architecture & Entrepreneurship, co-taught by both schools. Other academic institutions have established similar initiatives more commonly with business and real estate centers of knowledge. 13. See Kennedy & Violich, MATx Research, http://www.kvarch.net/. 14. Portable Light, http://portablelight.org/ (accessed September 6, 2011). 15. Portable Light and KVA MATx, http://archive. portablelight.org/kva_matx.html (accessed September 6, 2011). 16. Public Architecture, “About,” http://www. publicarchitecture.org/about.htm (accessed September 6, 2011). 17. Public Architecture, “the 1%,” http://www. publicarchitecture.org/The_1.htm.
8. Ibid. Emphasis added. 128
EVOLUTION OR REVOLUTION? Sacred Hybridization in Mel Lastman Square
by Michelangelo Sabatino
radition is a challenge to innovation. It consists of successive inserts. I am a conservative and a traditionalist – that is to say, I move between conflicts, compromises, hybridization, transformation. Alvaro Siza, On My Work, 1983
Contemporary architects fall into two different camps of action and thought. On the one hand, evolutionary architects like Alvaro Siza assert that good design does not necessarily involve reinventing the wheel and should be based on the gradual transformation and refinement of both modernist and traditional modes of designing. On the other hand, revolutionary architects such as Peter Eisenman tend to make the case that good design can only be the result of a complete rethink of what comes before. The design ethos underlying the award-winning ‘Sukkanoe’ of Arquipelago (Gregory Marinic and Nicholas Herrera) and Ambrose&Sabatino (Michelangelo Sabatino and Serge Ambrose) lends support to the evolutionary approach to contemporary architecture. In light of the role played by the iconic birch-bark canoe in shaping a cultural history of Canada’s inhabitants and keeping in mind the guidelines for building sukkahs, the design of the Sukkanoe is based on a strategy of hybridization. By flipping the canoe upside down, the hull becomes an inhabitable space that enables the ‘Sukkanoe’ to serve as a dwelling-vessel for a communal act of celebration.
Launched by Toronto-based Kehilla Residential Programme (KRP), an organization that “champions affordable housing in the Greater Toronto area and implements housing initiatives for the Jewish Community,” Sukkahville 2012 is part of an increasing number of initiatives that explore low-impact and low-budget “sustainable” housing. Although the Sukkahville 2012 competition shares affinities with activist architects whose work is predicated upon “designing like they give a damn,” they also asked designers to reinterpret a rather unconventional type that combines ritual and religion along with basic shelter. In fact, a sukkah is a temporary freestanding dwelling that is used during the weeklong Jewish celebration of Sukkot and is intended to symbolize solidarity and survival in the wilderness. The selection process for the Sukkahville 2012 competition was overseen by a jury that included prominent Canadian architects, critics and planners. The five finalist selected by the jury were provided a modest budget of $3,600 to realize their sukkahs as part of a temporary village (September 30th – October 3rd) for Toronto’s Mel Lastman Square. Although
the schemes of the five finalists (from the US and Canada) varied significantly, all of them share a common interest in the romance of organicism in keeping with the theme of nature and wilderness that is so intrinsic to the symbolism of the sukkah. While Marinic and Sabatino hybridized the birchbark Canadian canoe, Craig Deebanks’s ‘Embryonic Canopy’ playfully employed balloons to create a hut that blurred the distinction between roof and wall. ‘Harvest Wave’ by the team of Andrew McGregor, Robert Miller, Raymond Bourraine and Teresa Cacho employed wood to evoke blades of autumnal grass moving with the wind whereas Ion Popian’s Woven Sukkah interwove bulbous fruit-like elements to create a hybrid space. Finally, Christina Zeibak and Daphne Dow’s ‘Hegemonikon’ combined orthogonal geometry with curved elements. As a whole, this small yet provocative village of sukkahs (Sukkaville) in the middle of a monumentally dull Mel Lastman Square, is a testament to the creative potential that frugal and ingenious buildings have to serve as catalysts for thinking big.
Associate Professor, Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, University of Houston, Houston, TX USA Michelangelo Sabatino (Ph.D.) was trained as an architect and architectural historian in Italy, Canada and the US. After completing a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Universityâ€™s Department of the History of Art and Architecture and teaching at Yale Universityâ€™s School of Architecture he was appointed at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture where he now serves as Associate Professor and Director of the History, Theory and Criticism Program. His sole-authored book entitled Pride in Modesty: Modernist Architecture and the Vernacular Tradition in Italy (2010) has won four national awards including the 2012 Alice Davis Hitchcock Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians. www.michelangelosabatino.com
by Meg Jackso
‘Identity’ in a Trans-Disciplinary Profession
If we try to conceptualize and expose the practice of designing as a mode of inquiry rather than as a professional competency or a particular domain of expertise, the focus of attention will be more on designing rather than on the designers or design.â€? 1 Emergent design practices have the potential to claim new territory by operating between previously discrete disciplines. Meanwhile, emergent technologies are redefining methods of making and as a result continue to shift our identifiers. As a result, design educators must evaluate how to teach designers within the context of these fluid territories. In the future, designers who operate in the interstitial will form their identity by the nature of their spatial inquiries.
TERRITORY AND IDENTITY Identity Territory and Identit
In many design disciplines, design research, practice, and experimentation share interdisciplinary tice objectives. Design processes often rely on the ambiguities between architecture and disciplines such as graphics, performance, landscape, and object design while, at the same time, engaging less aligned disciplines, e.g., technology, biology, ecology, geography, anthropology, sociology, fashion, music, dance, and the arts.
These innovative design processes have repositioned the way that we conceive, perceive,
and d eexperience our built environment. Emerging disciplines offer the potential to claim new gd territory by operating at the intersection of previously discrete knowledge bases. Therefore, theory, praxis, and practice are experiencing a collective crisis of identity. Spatial environments are informed by not only our perception of space, but also through their social engagement, performance, and graphic integration. These processes re-imagine the design, construction, and fabrication of spatial and temporal interventions, as well as the corporeal and theoretical
conditions of architectural environments and performance events. While organizations, professional affiliations, academic programs, and licensure strictly define fields of research by discipline, contemporary design processes often challenge disciplinary orthodoxy by creatively blurring the boundaries between disciplines. Historically, architects have often looked both to the traditions of their discipline and to other fields when imagining the potentials of their practice. Industrial design operates at the intersection of business and engineering. Fashion design and architecture often share spatial and fabrication processes. While this essay is not a critique of the individual disciplines, the idea of distinct fields of practice seems polarizing and territorial rather than collaborative. There are many individuals and groups like Stanford’s D School, Bruce Mau, the Institute with No Boundaries, and IDEO who are interdisciplinary. However, in general, design practices and design educational curricula are going through an identity transformation. Based on interdisciplinary methods of research, teaching, learning, and making, experimental work blurs the boundaries of traditionally autonomous fields.
Design Identity Crisis Do contemporary designers identify themselves as specialists or generalists? With the advent of multi-, inter-, trans- and crossdisciplinary processes also comes a crisis of design identity. There is, of course, a long history of architects working in multiple mediums at multiple scales -- Mies van Der Rohe designed both skyscrapers and chairs. However, it seems to be common today to not identify with a specialty. There is also a trend towards architectural individuality and uniqueness. Problematically and conversely, it also seems necessary for in-
dividuals, practices and academic programs to define the fluid territories in which they produce. The field of spatial design, for instance, presumes only that a designer is operating at the scale of the human body – whether designing furniture, an interior, fashion, an event, a residence or even an urban park. This emergent field of practice privileges the performance of the body and its relationship to space. Spatial design projects are affected by scale in relation to the performance of a body but not limited by the boundaries of traditional disciplines. Designers working at the intersection of physical space and digitally produced environments are increasingly exploring the design of interfaces by establishing event-based environments. Diller and Scofidio’s project, Blur, envisioned a new type of architectural spectacle. The Living, an architecture firm in NYC, operates at the intersection of both biology and design to create interactive, responsive architecture. Responsive architecture as an emergent field of practice has the potential to impact the future of how we experience the built environment. These designers are defining tomorrow’s precedents by creatively operating and constructing works within new spatial territories. These projects not only challenge our definitions of space but also defy the traditional boundaries of the discipline, thus redefining space, architecture, and event. The practice of spatial design both defines and expands the complexities of identity within the discipline. However, should the response to these increasingly diverse spatial investigations be to expand the definition of the discipline or constrain it? And, how does one educate designers capable of this type of open-ended exploration? The quest for professional identity is not necessarily a new debate within the design community. Architectural theoreticians throughout history 138
have consistently redefined the guidelines for design and have attempted to rationalize the design process. The difference, as Rafael Moneo discusses in his article “The Thing Called Architecture,” is that architecture that is unrelated to previous common theoretical explanations, “introduces us to an architecture that is more direct, more spontaneous, and more connected to daily life.” 2 He continues by stating that, Without the earlier desire for a universal architectural language, individuality prevails in the architecture of today. As a consequence, architecture is either tempted by the ambition of becoming a work of art, or it falls directly into anarchy. Both positions are apparent today. Today, architects constantly enter some kind of personal domain. It is no longer possible, therefore, to speak about schools or about styles; instead, one speaks only about individuals.3 Designers working in the interstitial that is, by strict definitions, neither art nor architecture, are operating in a fluid state of “between-ness”.4 Lack of specific identity allows designers to develop and debate their personal trajectory. The elusiveness of collective identity in this shifting field is both terrifying and terrific.
Ways of Making Mitigate How will an understanding of materials and fabrication techniques in the age of mechanical production have an impact on conventional design methodologies and the designer’s role in production? How do the discovery of new materials and the adaptation of further technological innovations transform our intellectual and pedagogical discussions? Emerging technologies are one of the reasons that designers are able to move fluidly between disciplines. Methods of making are not disciplinary specific, but tools applicable to ev-
ery field. This is particularly true of emerging parametric design methodologies and digital fabrication. These tools are not only borrowed from other established fields of practice but they are common to multiple disciplines including architecture, interior design, interior architecture, fashion design, graphic design, the fine arts, and industrial design. Cross-disciplinary work which reveals contemporary developments in design education and practice relative to the exploration of emerging materials and technologies offers an alternative perspective on space, materiality, and tectonics. Therefore, there is a cross-collaboration as designers, artists, builders and fabricators influence each other by sharing the same language. Innovations in methods of making have always been propelled by the desire to make things. Therefore, no discussion of architecture as a trans-disciplinary profession would be complete without including a consideration of the technology increasingly present in the design process – enlarging the territory of the discipline with new methods of making and of the representation of previously difficult geometries and forms. It can be argued that the first wave of digital technology, while on the one hand expanding the realm of architecture, also reduced the roles of designers by displacing the design process. However, it seems as if now the identity of the designer has shifted. Architecture and material practice should be intrinsically linked. Operating solely within the virtual realm, computer representation weakens that link. Digital technologies used for virtual simulation assist in design exploration, but also, simultaneously, allow for the designer to disengage with the more tactile and critical parts of the design process. However, the developments in digital production technology have resurrected the role of the architect as master-builder. Designers work in collaboration with their material – a skill that has been lost to the digital age.
The computer creates a distance between the designer and the material, whereas methods of making put the designer in a haptic relationship with material.
Architect, Neri Oxman explores this type of digital craft, materiality and spatial design which operates at the intersection between biology, fashion and architecture. Her group researches “how digital design and fabrication technologies mediate between matter and environment to radically transform the design and construction of objects, buildings, and systems.”7
Digital fabrication processes have re-introduced an inquiry of workmanship to the discourse of design. In The Nature and Art of Workmanship, David Pye defines craftsmanship as “simply workmanship using any kind of technique or ap- As an introduction to material research in Imparatus, in which the quality of the result is not material/Ultramaterial, Toshiko Mori stresses pre-determined, the need to but depends on challenge the “...no discussion of architecture the judgment, passive mode dexterity and of material use. as a trans-disciplinary profession care which the maker exercises would be complete without including Two distinct but as he works. The related talents essential idea is of architects – a consideration of the technology that the quality of the power of increasingly present in the design the result is conobservation, tinually at risk and the creative process – enlarging the territory of during the prouse of imaginacess of making.” the discipline with new methods of tion – enable us 5 Pye defines to identify techmaking and of the representation of workmanship nological as the physical innovations and previously diﬃ cult geometries and manipulation apply them to of the material design activity. forms.” and defines deBy understandsign as the idea ing materials’ linked to the material. He argues that design and basic properties, pushing their limits for greater workmanship have been separated and there has performance and at the same time being aware 6 been a decrease in interest in workmanship. of their aesthetic values and psychological The discussion, built on the subtleties between effects,an essential design role can be regained design, craftsmanship, workmanship, quality, and expanded.8 and production, is interesting and still relevant One should assume that an architectural idea to a discussion of architecture craft today. Howshould not be an abstract thought but a mateever, Pye is not anticipating digital fabrication rial consequence – a material effect. The protechniques that are increasingly prevalent in duction of that material effect is the essence of contemporary academia and praxis. One can architecture. Therefore, design is understood argue that the digital processes that are a consenot a representation of ideas but the physical quence of these technologies could establish a consequence of them.9 new role for the designer that intersects design The application of digital technologies and fabwith workmanship. rication methods continuously impacts architec140
tural practice. Innovative material research will lead to new design possibilities in architecture and will also allow a more direct interaction between design and production. The resulting building components and methods of building construction have the potential to reinvent architecture and the role of the architect.
in the Twenty-First Century, Michael Press and Rachel Cooper write: “the increasingly teambased approach to product development has led to a broadening of roles: individuals are no longer seen as specialists with narrowly defined responsibilities, but as generalists with a particular area of expertise.”11
In order to reclaim the role of architect as builder, Do we need to be more aware of the fact that to once again create a marriage between design we are educating students who will be creating and matter, between process and production, their own jobs? In what ways do we educate between investigation and realization, architects students who may be working in a job or in a must reestablish relationships with the techniques field that is not yet defined of medium. In both pracor even anticipated? tice and academia, digital As design practitioners and technologies have rein- “...hybrid of both critical educators, do we mainvigorated the practice of tain disciplinary boundmaking physical models, thinker and conscious aries that offer depth and which have largely been expertise yet can also remaker is most ideal...” made nearly extinct in sult in creative isolation academia and in practice for designers who do not by computer ‘modeling’engage in the innovation -imagery that never moves beyond two-dimenthat results from borrowing and translating from sional representations. While this process is other disciplines? In addition, in today’s fluid less hand-produced, the emotional connection job environment, expertise might also cause proto ‘creation’ remains. The discipline is seeing a fessional immobility resulting in less flexibility. reinvestment in making. On the other hand, should we develop curricula with a flexible knowledge base that encourages Design Education students to engage multiple disciplines? Does this produce only homogeneous generalists What is essential knowledge for contemporary without depth of knowledge and also produce design education? Do we teach design specificity a lack of diversity that results in an inability to or teach design logic and its application within produce? a larger context? In the recent past, architecture education has hyper-focused on the role of the designer. The These frequently posed questions affect fun- industry’s division of labor reflects increasing damental principles of design and emerging specialization. For instance, the architect is offields of practice. Opponents to interdisciplinary ten reduced to the specialty of designer in the education argue the importance of disciplinary legal content of architecture design contracts. expertise to avoid “generic” designers. Other In practice and in academia, this narrowing of opponents, perhaps influenced by job market responsibility is often reflected by categorizing security, are concerned with protecting their architects and educational programs as techniown territory and disciplinary autonomy. cal, artistic, or theoretical. In The Design Experience: the Role of Designers
The education of a designer must focus on applied and theoretical methods of making as well as aid in developing an emotional intelligence for design. To create a balance, design curricula must teach students discipline-specific skills, methods of making, techniques of critical thinking, and ways of seeing prior to introducing interdisciplinary projects. It is important to engage with the traditional and emerging ways of making and material expression in a foundation curriculum. The intellectual ability to transfer a complex, even abstract, idea into a design statement or concept is obligatory. These are specific skills that can be translated across multiple disciplines.
In the past, architecture looked to the opposite; it seemed to long for an identity, for buildings that possessed their own autonomy and independence. But the model that offers us today suggests the opposite: a world interconnected, discontinuous, and diverse, multiple and fragmented.11
The hybrid of both critical thinker and conscious maker is most ideal; designers need to be exposed to real scales and actual construction materials and techniques. The current shift towards digital fabrication techniques has revived the roles of craftsperson and maker. Architect students need to be intimately connected to materiality and gravity and the sensorial physical phenomena of the discipline. Speculative research and material investigation allows for the exploration of conceptual, theoretical, philosophical, performative, aesthetic and technical issues.
There is a difference in understanding how things contaminate and infect each other and believing that contamination or infectiousness somehow has the power to erode the individuality of the body that is concerned. Just because I have a million different organisms infecting my body does not mean that I do not have an identity. 12
However, as with any emergent method, operating outside of the established disciplinary boundaries incurs greater risk but potentially a greater reward: while there is an increased likelihood of failure, the success will be more significant, memorable, and more dynamic.
Reflection Emergent fields of practice in spatial and object design blur the boundaries between disciplines. Contemporary designers are operating without the traditional segregation of discrete fields of expertise and investigating the built environment in a manner non-specific to their discipline. Moneo, asserts,
My interest, as an educator, is how one approaches design education within this fluid territory of design. In the introduction of her book Architecture at the Edge of Everything Else, Marrikka Trotter, reflecting on the relationship between interdisciplinary versus non-disciplinary, observes,
The risk of interdisciplinary exchange is further education. However, the consequence of the broadening of the disciplinary boundaries to consider a larger field of spatial experiments will be the need to develop new vocabularies for understanding and interpreting these modes of practice. 13 Introducing Zaha Hadidâ€™s studio at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Gerald Bast says, â€œArchitecture is taught as an integrative discipline with a clearly international orientation, combining artistic, technical and organizational aspects with a social background and a humanities approach.â€?14 This fluid and layered approach to architecture design research and investigation is critical to the innovation of the discipline. However, one could also argue that design research must be considered carefully in order to not widen the gap between academia and practice. p act ce. 142
The discipline’s transformative identity should be seen as a catalyst for innovation and a mechanism for evolution and it should also allow for a reconnection to the essence of the discipline. Designers should engage in interdisciplinary research and further develop new spatial relationships to explore alternative intersections with architecture. Design research; like that being done by Neri Oxman, The Living and others, with the creative appropriation of advances made in non design disciplines, will continue to re-define the role of the designer. Technology will and should continue to be a guiding and dynamic force. The study of material investigation connects us to fundamental issues of humanity.15 There is a reciprocal relationship between material and man. The intuitive urge to design – to consider, imagine and create -- is instinctual. Design, whether considered a noun or a verb, is a process – the act of making. Distinct traditions, methodologies and vocabularies bound the specific
disciplines of the design profession, however the performance of making based on rigorous intellectual inquiry can transcend these boundaries. Architecture, as an idea, a building, or an emotion, creates something that was not there before. Architecture, as an act of making, is the process of expressing something that was not previously expressed. As a discipline, it is unpredictable and continuously evolving. Since the potential of architecture relies on the discourse of so many other disciplines: architecture must regularly question its identity. What is architecture? What is art? What is technology? What is education? What is the practice? However, this self-evaluation should be seen as an opportunity and not as a weakness. This on-going identity crisis allows for the expansion of the discipline in ways other disciplines do not.
References 1. Ken Friedman and Erik Stolterman, Design Things (Cambridge, The MIT Press, 2011) pg. 1 2. Rafael Moneo, “The Thing Called Architecture”, Anything, ed., Cynthia C. Davidson (New York, The Anyone Corp., 2001) pg. 120 – 123 3. Ibid. pg. 120-123 4. Neil Spiller, “Architectural Guilt”, Interdisciplinary Architecture, ed., Nicoletta Trasi (Great Britain, Wiley-Academy, 2001) pg. 29 5. David Pye, The Nature and Art of Workmanship (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1968) pg. 20 6. Ibid. pg. 17 7. Neri Oxman, www.materialecology.com; http://web.media.mit.edu/~neri/site/about/about.html 8. Toshiko Mori, Immaterial/Ultramaterial (Boston, Harvard Design School, 2002) pg. xvi 9. Attributed to Jeffery Kipnis in Anything Discussion 3, Anything, ed., Cynthia C. Davidson (New York, The Anyone Corp., 2001) pg. 129 10. Michael Press and Rachel Cooper, The Design Experience: the Role of Designers in the Twenty-First Century (Gower Pub Co., 2003) 11. Rafael Moneo, “The Thing Called Architecture”, Anything, ed., Cynthia C. Davidson (New York, The Anyone Corp., 2001) pg. 120 – 123
12. Esther Choi and Marrikka Trotter, Architecture at the Edge of Everything Else (Cambridge, The MIT Press, 2008) pg. xv 13. Ibid. pg. xv 14. Attributed to Gerald Bast, Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher, Total Fluidity (Austria, Springer-Verlag, 2011) pg. 4 15. Toshiko Mori, Immaterial/Ultramaterial (Boston, Harvard Design School, 2002) pg. xvii
Image Credits Title image_Photo by author, Generative string construction diagram, Project Austin, 2012, Meg Jackson and Michael Gonzales
Lecturer, Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA. Meg Jackson holds a Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University GSAPP and a Bachelor of Arts degree in History of Art and Architecture from Middlebury College. Meg Jackson is the research coordinator of the Advanced Spatial Design (ASD) Research Group, a new research initiative at the University of Houston. The goal of the ASD is to participate in design-research and teaching activities that bridge the disciplines of interior architecture, furniture design, digital fabrication, and emerging technologies. Meg is also a founder and co-editor of the International Journal of Interior Architecture and Spatial Design (ii). ii is a peer review scholarly journal that acts as a source of stewardship for advanced interior environmental research, teaching, design, emerging technologies, and digital fabrication.
Fall issue of FORWARD - The design journal of the AIANAC.