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FRESH MEAT vol. III Fall 2010

Inside: Brett Steele Ben nicholson Ron Witte Import/export

THE BLACK BOX

Paper Mates


STAIRS:

BUILD CHARACTER


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Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

TABLE OF CONTENTS

a BLACK BOX 5

EDITORIAL

12-13

THE GOLDEN CLEAVER AWARDS

14

SENIOR ADVICE

16-21

STEELE NERVES: STUDIO THERAPY

22-29

ACHIEVE NEW HARMONY

30-35

LET’S GET FIGURAL

36-39

SOCIETY PAGES:

BRETT STEELE

BEN NICHOLSON

RON WITTE

IMPORT/EXPORT

INTERNATIONAL STUDEN ROUNDTABLE

40-45

PAPER MATES

52-53

…COMING SOON


ELEVATORS ARE A PRIVILEGE Fall 2010 a Black Box Editorial Board Alysen Hiller Jayne Kelley Jonathan Mac Gillis (emeritus) Jared Macken Matt Vander Ploeg Julia Sedlock Contributing Butchers Jamie Barron, Mark Berlinrut, John Clark, Jason Colturi, Erin Connolly, Simon Cygielski, Dolly Davis, Meghan Funk, Jacob Gay, Dorit Hershtig, Kevin Meyer, Cole Monaghan, Candace Mountain, Maya Nash, Ivan Ostapenko, Cyrus Penarroyo, Katie Rathbone, Brady Schneider, Takayuki Shinomoto, Lauren Turner, Trudy Watt Special Thanks To Kristin Carey, Dana Cuff, Lauren Van Damme, Judith De Jong, Julie Flohr, Ken Itle, Wes Jones, Jürgen Mayer H., Ben Nicholson, Ryan Palider, Jesse Reiser, Mark Rowntree, Bob Somol, Brett Steele, Nader Tehrani, Nanako Umemoto, Ron Witte, The Unspookables Website www.freshmeatjournal.org Contact freshmeatjournal@gmail.com

NOT A RIGHT

Fresh Meat is the autonomous student publication of the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture. Founded in Fall 2008 by graduate architecture students, the publication and its associated events are vehicles for encouraging multiple strands of dialogue throughout the school –among students, between students and faculty, and between the school and outside voices. We curate conversations to tell a story about the role of architecture in today’s world. We make them available for you to do with as you please: to think on, to talk about, to design with. Feel free to take these conversations and run, mis-read and butcher. After all, they are only ideas…


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Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

What makes them architects, and recognizable as such, is usually easiest to demonstrate anecdotally, beginning with that oft-repeated story of the architect who, when asked for a pencil that could be used to tighten the tourniquet on the limb of a person bleeding to death in the street, carefully enquired “Will a 2B do?” The point of such stories is that they unconsciously reveal not only the fundamental value-system on which architects operate, but the narrowness of that system, and the unspoken—or unspeakable—assumptions on which it rests. The more revealing of these stories tend to originate from that crucial attitude-forming situation, the design crit in the architectural school studio. -Reyner Banham “A Black Box: The Secret Profession of Architecture” 294 Originally appeared in New Statesman and Society, 12 October 1990, pp. 22-25

This third issue of Fresh Meat celebrates the perversions of architectural culture and the source of their most fervent cultivation (as well as our perpetual base of operations): the architecture school. Our particular brand of infatuated investigation adopts Reyner Banham’s “Black Box” as a premise and Hugh Hefner’s gentlemen’s magazine as a method in order to validate the socializing process of the studio as an important means of disciplinary engagement and development. Banham asserts that architecture’s “tribal” value system is defined by thinking through drawing, a mode of production that manifests in an obsession with our drawing equipment (see “Papermates,” p40). Yet while Banham sees the black box as a way for architects to cloister themselves in a potentially irrelevant discipline, Fresh Meat’s black box is less a source of alienation and criticality than of a playfully suggestive mystique and an ability to reveal by concealing.

Enter Hef. Hefner’s Playboy shaped a reader that would inhabit a specific counterculture, one who would push against social mores without giving up on the good things in life. His ideal sophisticate is analogous to the audience we wish to form, a refined, classy student body who still knows how to have a good time with their architecture. The three interview subjects who appear in this issue help us tap into such desires: Brett Steele frowns on the tacky and sordid exhibitionism of studio culture, pushing instead for discretion in students’ working relationships; Ben Nicholson turns the tables on us with a lesson on the true meaning of the term “fresh meat”; and Ron Witte explains the complex beauty of the architectural figure. As for UIC’s own likes and dislikes, fantasies and formal habits…when we crack the lid of the black box, you’ll catch a glimpse of the things we all lust after: our Papermate of the month, for instance, or maybe just a special someone who knows how to use their shape.

fresh meat


Tools of approval.

SUBVERSIVE BUREAUCRATS. To find out more visit: departmentofurbanspeculation.com

Departmentof Urban Speculation


ESCALATORS:

ARE A LIFESTYLE


UIC School of Architecture

Fall 2010 Lecture Series

www.arch.uic.edu/ events/lectures.php


FALL 2010

recurring

ARCHITECTURE 9/22 FOR CHANGE 9/24 SUMMIT

november

o c t o b e r

2 N D F R I D AY S GALLERY NIGHT

september

CHICAGO EVENTS

PILSEN S. Halsted & 18th St.

Galleries are FREE

6-10pm

UIC Performing Arts Theater, 1040 W. Harrison St. $35 Students, $75 General, $45 Friday Tours

ht t p :/ / arc hitec t urefo rc hange.aa .u ic.edu /

CALDER AND CONTEMPORARY ART II: SCULPTING WITH AIR 10/16, 3pm

M C A , 2 2 0 E . C h i c a g o Ave. , $ 6 S t u d e n t s, $ 1 0 G e n e ra l, w w w. m c a c h i c a g o. o rg

S O F A CHICAGO

11/5 - 11/7

NAVY PIER 17th Annual SOFA Chicago Opening Night 11/4 Navy Pier (Festival Hall), 600 E. Grand Ave. www.sofaexpo.com/chicago/2010/index.htm


A sneak preview of conference polemics over cocktails.

Thursday October 21, 5–6pm

PAPER TRAILERS

Through recent attempts to extend its territory, the positions of an architectural discipline have too often experienced devaluation. In an effort to “flip” this expanded field, the conference seeks the deferred disciplinary returns on marketing strategies and single-issue themes of the past fifteen years. Organized through ten opportunities for ideological re-investment, the conference aims to launch a discipline that can trade-up rather than sell-out or declare bankruptcy. Bring your design ideas.

R FIELD Sarah Dunn (UIC)|Martin Felsen (IIT), Elijah Huge (Wesleyan), Karen J Lewis (OSU), Jeremy Voorhees (Temple) Agent: John McMorrough (UMich)

Emergency devices, ambulance chasing, epic failures, and big form promise new opportunities to start over.

Friday October 22, 4–5:30pm

CATASTROPHE

Richard R Gnat (KSU), Amanda R Lawrence (Northeastern), Juan Manuel Rois (UIC), David Salomon (Syracuse) Agent: Penelope Dean (UIC)

Stolen symmetry, Latin influences, anxious swerves, and corrupted precedents transmit the passage of architectural ideas.

Friday October 22, 2–3:30pm

INFLUENCE

Danielle Briscoe (UT Austin), Matt Burgermaster (NJIT), Grant Gibson (UIC), Steven Y Mankouche (UMich) Agent: Julie Flohr (UIC)

Eroded surfaces, layered enclosures, steam bending, and seam stressing push the boundary of architectural envelopes.

Friday October 22, 2–3:30pm

DETAIL

Eva Franch (Rice), Thomas Forget (UNC), Jordan Geiger (SUNY-Buffalo), Hazem Ziada (SPSU) Agent: Jon Yoder (Syracuse)

Satellite farming, sensorial media, experimental time, and monster maps look at architecture with eyes wide shut.

Friday October 22, 10–11:30am

REPRODUCTION

Michael Meredith (MOS), Jason Payne (UCLA), William T Willoughby (LA Tech), Peter Zellner (SCI-Arc) Agent: Paul Preissner (UIC)

Parkour, play, sub-pop, and a parallel post-modernism vie for the attention of an expanded architectural audience.

AUDIENCE

Friday October 22, 10–11:30am


Thursday October 21, 6pm

NEIL DENARI

Keynote Lecture

2010 ACSA West Central Fall Conference

Student registration rate available after October 8

TO REGISTER

Conference Chair Penelope Dean, Assistant Professor, UIC

Conference Venue

OCTOBER 21–23, 2010

Conference Dates

Robert Somol, UIC School of Architecture

in conversation with

Monica Ponce de Leon, UMich TCAUP Michael Speaks, UKY College of Design Sarah Whiting, Rice School of Architecture

Three recently appointed Deans discuss surprising practices in design education and give how-to advice on counter-intuition and design intelligence.

Saturday October 23, 4–5:30pm

FIELD ROTATIONS

Plenary Panel

Friday October 22, 6pm

JEFFREY KIPNIS

Keynote Lecture

FLIP YO Kory Michael Bieg (CCA), Santiago R Perez (UH), Jonas Runberger (KTH), Rhett Russo (NJIT) Agent: Heather Roberge, UCLA

Repurposed variables, bred materials, adaptive systems, and fantastic offspring engineer architectural values.

Saturday October 23, 2–3:30pm

VERSIONS

Michael Chen (Pratt)|Jason Lee (Pratt), Daniela Fabricius (Princeton), Jesse Le Cavalier (ETH Zürich), Neyran Turan (Rice) Agent: Alexander Eisenschmidt (UIC)

Megaforms, Hilberseimer, Walmart, and illicit protocols instigate new metropolitan forms, programs, and fictions.

Saturday October 23, 2–3:30pm

METROPOLIS

Heide Y Beebe|Doug Skidmore (Beebe Skidmore Architects), McLain Clutter (UMich), Edward Mitchell (Yale), Thomas Moran (UMich) Agent: Alex Lehnerer (UIC)

Radical railbanking, productive obstacles, collective interventions, and shaky deals offer new freedoms from old constraints.

Saturday October 23, 10–11:30am

NEGOTIATION

Paul Andersen (!ndie Architecture), Helene Furjan (UPenn), Nataly Gattegno|Jason Kelly Johnson (CCA), Ulrika Karlsson (KTH)|Marcelyn Gow (KTH|SCI-Arc) Agent: Sean Lally (UIC)

Rose-tinted worlds, live models, synthetic environments, and resources to burn redirect architecture’s relationship with energy.

Saturday October 23, 10–11:30am

ENERGY

Sarah Deyong (Texas A&M), Keith Krumwiede (Yale), Clare Lyster (UIC), Kiel Moe (Northeastern) Agent: Dawn Finley (Rice)

Active surfaces, atypical plans, global networks, and urban acupuncture organize architectural facts.

Friday October 22, 4–5:30pm

SYSTEM


SOCIETY PAGES Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

The

GOLDEN CLEAVERS THE AFTERPARTY

(awards party)

Pulled Pork Cookoff Ryan Palider Lauren Van Damme Kristin Carey Judith De Young

Best Couple

Bob + Penelope Paul + Alex Grant, Andy, Sean

Most Witty

Bob Somol Alexander Eisenschmidt Paul Preissner

Someone spread a gorgeous blanket out on the ground, but no one chose to sit on it.

Best Accessory

Jimenez’s blue boots Paul’s glasses Dan’s bike Alexander’s socks

Best Import

Alex Lehnerer Alexander Eisenschmidt Juan Rois Xavier Vendrell

Best Hair

Paul Preissner Jimenez Lai Juan Rois Bob McAnulty


SOCIETY PAGES Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

The Golden Cleaver Award for “Best Import” went to the affable instructor from Argentina.

A sobering view through the eyes of the party’s most intoxicated member.

The band’s 2D instruments were a big hit with the audience.

The elderly party-goers were widely considered the best dressed.


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Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

SENIOR ADVICE Seeking advice about the transition from academic life to the professional environment, we asked three veteran faculty/practitioners about making the most of this economy, working without pay, and starting their own practice. See www.freshmeatjournal.org for full interviews. Paul Preissner Assistant Professor

Dan Wheeler, FAIA Associate Professor

You don’t need an identity now. You need a project that’s really detailed and on an important topic.

I think our education foregrounds building or physicality of structures and really what we need to be is better readers of a condition.

Peter Eisenman is 76—we never listen to a 76 year old man for anything, they’re just old. But in architecture, we think that they finally know what they’re talking about.

I don’t care if it’s a cow, or if it’s a racehorse, you’re still going to learn how that kind of meat is processed.

It’s going to take about five years of you really having to figure out how to work independently, and how to self-critique, self-edit, self-direct … And there’s going to be really bad projects, so you should do that independently regardless of where you work.

I also took Harry Weese out to breakfast. At the time, because of his health and so forth, you could only really get him to focus in the morning. So we went up to Ciel Bleu, which was at the top of the Mayfair Regent and looked out over Lakeshore Drive, and I said, “Harry, what can you tell me?” He said, “Pick your partners well.”

… find who you think is going to give you the best connections, pedigree, education, and awareness of doing the projects that you want to do and then figure out a way to go work for them… I’ve got a lot of debt because of decisions I made, but I like what I do, so for me it was worth it.

Just accept the fact that you are scared to death. If you’re not fearful of what you’re doing and the decisions you’re making you’re not operating as an architect. Any school needs to maintain a healthy debate, and some friction.

Geoff Goldberg Clinical Associate Professor Every five years you should reconsider your interests and your investigations…Anything that sets that agenda forward for you is a positive thing; anything that makes you think that you’ve got the answers and you’re done is a negative. The current situation is not permanent. You don’t want to get into a situation where you have too much responsibility too soon, but you don’t want to be sweeping the floor. [As for the] the twenty percent you can control, you should be hunting for a mentor, and thinking about how to strategically assemble your luck. If you only count on the client, you may [be economically] successful… Other times, people can be critically [successful] and be out of touch with the need of their client. What you want to learn is a skillful way to negotiate between those different extremes… As for leaving school now, try all the lifelines you have. If you can afford to do unpaid for work, find the best firm you can, that meets your criteria and go for it…Go for it. Go spend six months of your life, work in soand-so’s office. It’ll do you well.


MOVING WALKWAYS:

1/2 THE EFFORT TWICE THE PRODUCTION


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Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

STEELE NERVES: STUDIO THERAPY BRETT STEELE (interview)


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Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

“I’ve always been somewhat fascinated with this strange studio world... [these] shanty towns for architecture students worldwide. They are awful, just awful.”


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Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

Brett Steele believes that architecture is a robust discipline in need of a little cultural pick-me-up. If, according to Steele, the cumulative effect of shanty-town studio culture, viral software proliferation, and the building-boom of the previous 20 years has produced a generic architectural monoculture, then Steele’s ambition as Director of the Architectural Association, AA Publications, and AA Public Programmes is to promote an alternative environment of global production for a subversive new paradigm of difference. With Chicago’s iconic, and idiosyncratic Marina City as the backdrop, Fresh Meat interviewed Steele over OJ and coffee to find out how student work can rattle the contents of the black box, and in the process, promote the next Koolhaas of our generation.

BS: So, what are you guys interested to talk about today?

FM: For this issue we are focusing on the way that architectural culture manifests and develops in the academic setting... So, studio culture is the context for our conversation today? I have great photographs of studio cultures from around the world that I collect because the AA is not studio-based. When I studied there you didn’t work at studio—you came in twice a week for something that we called weekly therapy sessions where they would tutor us. We would show them our work, then come back the following week. I’ve always been somewhat fascinated with this strange studio world, so I collect these photographs. I have fantastic ones of all kinds of shanty towns for architecture students worldwide. They are awful, just awful. I think we should all just ban them, or have a developer clear them out. You know, just get a few comfortable chairs and some sofas. We’ve all got laptops and iPads, after all. Do you think that studio culture affects the work?

Absolutely. It affects it horribly. You are cave dwellers. I make a comparison between people in these worlds and people crawling through the rubbish piles in the Philippines.

last night. I think it’s relevant because one of the reasons I’m very happy here at UIC is that I can pay in-state tuition, while pirating education from all of the other schools in the world. I watch lectures online from the AA, Harvard etc. So then the question that comes up is, why would I go to the AA?

Yes, if you go up on the mezzanine at SCI-ARC and take a photograph, it’s like favelas. I think you should design your studio first—that should be the first school project.

Do you know Neil Gershenfeld’s article from a year or two ago called “Is MIT obsolete?” If not look it up because he writes exactly this point. MIT has invested heavily in this kind of digital dissemination and all the lectures there are put online. There are amazing stories that you can read about kids in Jakarta getting an engineering degree from the lectures online.

Like cardboard favelas? The most impressive ones I’ve seen were at SCI-ARC a few years ago.

You have a nice selection of people you’ve done interviews with. Who was interesting in conversation? We have a few favorites. Stan Allen was great. He’s good to talk to.

He was our very first interview. We were very excited and nervous, but it turned out well. You should never get nervous with these guys. I’d like to ask you about the way you spoke of piracy in your lecture

I think the question is the difference between being at MIT and being the TV viewer at home watching it. There is undoubtedly knowledge being transferred but there is no way that it competes with what happens when you are sitting there in school. I’m a total disbeliever in online education at a certain level. Not that you don’t learn something that way, but what you learn is so degraded when you compare it to four people sitting around a table working and talking in person.


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Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

To me that is the irony of online digital life. Rather than the WIRED advertisements where people are sitting on the beach with their iPads to learn architecture or make the future, the opposite has happened. People are driven to places like ours in London, or other settings that are educational or professional, where you can sit with four or five smart people and actually push things way faster. It’s a really strange paradox. You say you get excited when students create or participate in what you call “counterculture.” What role can an institution play in that, if any?

It’s pretty easy, really; you just withdraw the school’s requirements from the student and say “see you at the end of the year.” Our students begin a project in October, and in June they present that project to a panel of tutors who vote to pass or fail. I happen to teach in a school that doesn’t have a fixed curriculum. The AA abandoned it 40 years ago out of a belief that it ruins people’s understanding of what architecture is because it assumes that we can tell you how you ought to unfold your ideas over the course of a three or four-year program. We do the opposite, students come into the school and they have to

interview with the studio they want and get accepted. If they don’t get accepted, they try a different studio. The flip side of this arrangement is that the people we hire to teach have to attract pupils, and if they don’t, they leave. The school’s job, or rather the director’s job, is to ensure that there is a breadth of choices, ideas, and agendas so the student side and the teacher side can pick. Once we’ve done that job early in October, I step back and everything just plays itself out for the year. I think it is an incredibly important model for what a school should be doing. Was there another school this system was pirated from?

We’ve taken more from certain types of art schools in Europe than any architecture schools. Architecture schools in the 20th century have been organized through, to an almost obsessive degree, diagrams for how architecture ought to operate. For example, Gropius did the circle that has architecture in the middle—the insane, absolutely insane, belief that architecture is at the center of the universe. Only Gropius, only a modernist, would ever do that. Of course, it failed and he was thrown out of school by his students. The weird thing is that schools do this over and

over again. Mies at IIT is another extreme example; he wrote a curriculum chiseled into stone assuming that there was one way for all of us to learn. Our generation seems to suffer from a condition of “anything goes” or maybe just a feeling that there’s nothing to push against or set up an argument against. If you allow that somebody like Koolhaas, or a movement like Postmodernism, benefited from having something to push against, is there an opportunity for there to be a Koolhaas figure for our generation?

If the premise of the question is that “anything goes” in this generation— you really have to prove that to me. The world in which architecture projects become more and more generic, more and more professional, more and more corporate, schools are becoming more and more alike. Your assumption that anything goes is untrue. If you compare the generation of the 1960s and 1970s to practices now, the striking thing is how similar contemporary practices are to one another. Back then, there were radical differences between Superstudio in Milan, Libeskind in London, Koolhaas in Manhattan, and Wolf Prix in Vienna.


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Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

“I happen to think, personally, that we’re about to go through a fantastic moment like the 1960s where things will fracture apart. But that’s something we’re going to have to fight for.” These were strange characters working in their own little world. I don’t find that kind of dynamic in the generation of young people today who are working across very similar software platforms, in the same world cities, having come from the same schools that generate brilliant young talent. That kind of difference just isn’t there, and I think that’s one of your generation’s projects—to regrow that kind of difference. That’s not something we can legislate. So would you say that what we do now is as homogenous as modernism at its height, if not more so?

I think what we’re living through now is the equivalent of 1950s midcentury modernism, a kind of Miesian modernism in similarity. I happen to think, personally, that we’re about to go through a fantastic moment like the 1960s where things will fracture apart. But that’s something we’re going to have to fight for. I don’t think that’s the case now, and you can’t show me the evidence that the world is made of that different stuff. I get portfolios from Beijing, Chicago, and Mexico City and if I took their names off them you could not distinguish the difference. I can’t. Students from China will have hired an agency, for example, that finetunes their applications to different ar-

chitecture schools because they know the difference between applying to the AA, the GSD, or UIC. I think that what you look for in a school is ways which you can bring in personalities to keep them strange and unique and one-off, and that’s hard, really hard.

One of the debates we’re having about the work being done around the campus at AA is the degree to which you actually create studios as little withdrawn silos that don’t sit out in these sort of shanty-town studio cultures where everyone sees everyone and everything together at the same time. In fact, I’ve had years in studio where every presentation is in the same color purple, and the same Labrador dog gets photoshopped in. We used to keep track of these weird little ‘computer viruses’ that make their way into every student project. The purple project here, I remember in the late 1990s, was entirely the result of the color palette that came up in Maya at the time. But it’s not entirely software. For me, when I write about the current state of electronic studio and digital culture that we think of as software culture, the most interesting question is how could it have swept across architecture as quickly as it did? That’s only possible if a series of things are in place so that once the tool arrives it burns like wildfire

across schools and studios as it did in the mid-90s. Do you think scripting has broken that?

Some people would argue that, the idea that as you become more and more expert in that software and move away from the graphic interface towards the hardcore users who would never bother with drawing things because it’s too slow. But scripting doesn’t escape the problem, which is the point of those technologies, to discipline and control how we do things—that’s what apparatuses do. I don’t want to sound too negative, nor do I want to get in a state where we blame the state of architectural or other cultures for one thing. The arrival of software is a pretty major and dramatic shift in the way architects and other designers think about space in their projects. But, back to Koolhaas, you think there will emerge a figure of that nature from our generation? They’re all over the place, don’t you think?

The question comes from considering the figures that you mention in your lecture—Corb, Mies, and Rem —what seems to make Koolhaas


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Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

Valerie Bennett/Architectural Association

unique is that his project is like Teflon, you can’t make anything stick, if you can’t push off how do you advance a project? I know, but what is the lesson in that? Because I would say there is a conversation going on in Rem’s mind and the mind of earlier architects like Mies or a few others that might be closer to home, but it’s just that—it’s dialogue. It’s an awareness. What’s stunning is how little an awareness there is among architects today of, for example, the modernist legacy of architecture; let alone film, art, criticism. All you did at the AA in the 1970s was sit around and look at other projects. First of all, there’s nothing to do. The 1970s were hell; it wasn’t like these guys went out and were making buildings. Rem spent five years collecting postcards. Think about the book that became Delirious

New York. It wasn’t like he was sitting around doing competitions all year. He was learning about the world, and with that, forming the view that obviously unfolds in the early 1980s to make OMA as we know it now. Think of it, he graduates from the AA and moves to New York in 1972 with the city falling apart and the federal government saying we’ve got to close New York down. He’s got no job, no school, Madelon [Vriesendorp] is painting strange pictures of skyscrapers sleeping together and that’s it! That’s how you get a Koolhaas of this generation—you get people with the willingness to do unpredictable things by finding some far corner of the world to work there, live there and learn from. That’s a lot different than the young architects today spending all their time teaching and doing competitions.

It is so dramatically different. In 2004 I had a studio where 17 of 22 students had jobs in China by March after graduating from thesis. The first project of those was finished and built that year, a little communist party headquarters, and by the following September all but three were so burnt out they had moved back to Europe. The obsession with production is part of this incredible wave of building since the mid90s—the largest wave of building in history—and it really suffocated a generation of architects. You can say it’s been great for architects but it has been a disaster for architectural culture. (continued on page 46)


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Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

ACHEIVE NEW HARMONY BEN NICHOLSON

(interview)


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Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

“Just shoot the fucking pig and eat it. What is the big deal? If you want to know what it’s like, just do it. That’s what happens in the countryside—there’s no discussion. You’re hungry; you shoot a pig and eat it. And that’s the norm.”


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Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

In life and work, Ben Nicholson obsessively seeks harmony. From his classroom at the School of the Art Institute (where he is Associate Professor of Architecture, Interior Architecture and Designed Objects) to his studio in New Harmony, Indiana, Nicholson’s quest for himself, and his students, is defined by meditative reflection on personal objectives, values, and motivations. But it is not simply a gentleman’s life – it also requires hands-on, gritty experience. As Nicholson says, if you want to know fresh meat, “just shoot the fucking pig and eat it.” Nicholson’s version of harmony balances the audacity of the playboy with the coolness of the expert, creating a ripe middleground in which oppositions intermix to produce a rich cornucopia of life experience and inspiration. Here, Nicholson talks to Fresh Meat about why hypocrisy is exhausting, rural life is sophisticated, and crisis is encouraged. FM: One thing we are interested in is your experiences with the process of architectural education, both as a student and also as an educator, and with regard to the unique institutions that you have been involved with. Based on these experiences, what would be your general advice to students in terms of establishing their place in a school, and also taking what a school has to offer and moving forward from there? BN: Ok, so you’re thinking about how students can empower themselves and actually take charge of their education. Wow. Well, in my own education I was really only interested in finding wonderful people to study with, that was my single focus and it developed pretty quickly. After my experiences at the AA I went off to Cooper Union in order to study with John Hedjuk—that was the only reason I went. At the AA, the students always chose who they would study with. The way that the education worked in Britain, and still does, is that you spend a lot of time in the studio and you don’t have the kind of American mass-bombing of tons of courses. So, my own education was always about being empowered, that’s what the curriculum was. We had to decide what we were going to do, and

who we would study with, and what lectures we would see. If you wanted to go, and audit a course because it just looks interesting, then you could do so. That was a very different pedagogical culture than what you have in the United States. I still think that’s a very good idea and I think that the notion of taking a course and auditing a course is a very good way of empowering yourself. In all my courses I welcome it.

The other side of the equation, of course, is to encourage your fellow students through a journal, such as Fresh Meat, to ask questions of themselves and develop a culture of inquiry. Like a democratic state or any organization, the only thing everybody fears is that the workers revolt and actually demand things. Whether it’s a country or a school, that’s one fear of any administration. The good administrations keep tabs to make sure there’s a real parity between the student’s desire and the faculty‘s desires. I think you have to be aware of your political power as well and not be afraid to speak for what it is that you want out of your education, and that takes guts, and it’s not in the culture now. There’s no question. When we were being educated in the 1970s, that was the 1970s

and there was a lot of activism. Now, there isn’t any activism, except for the desire to have activism.

Something else that is not in the culture is the idea that learning and productivity occurs in cycles. In your lecture you talked about moments in a career where there isn’t forward progress, or where you experience a lull. Within the educational process, how does this relate to an idea about the culmination of mastery versus the ebb and flow of expertise? How do you convey this difference to students, and how can students use that understanding? I think it’s important to not try to do everything all at once, and to understand that you can have a decade doing something, and then you can have another decade doing something else. Just because you do something in one decade doesn’t mean you’ll be doing that for the rest of your life. One way to impart this to students is to spend a lot of time with them. In the States, in a three year Masters course, my favorite project is to do a theory course or a meditative drawing course in their first year to get to know them and really touch on things that are not


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directly about architecture, and then to meet those students again in their third year. In Europe you do fourth and fifth year with the same teacher. That’s going to make a noticeable difference, right? Because that means when you look at each other in the eye there’s nowhere to hide. When you work together six semesters in a row and there are things that a student hasn’t gotten and is not getting from a teacher, it is impossible to ignore. It’s a real moment of reckoning. In the American system you can’t do that, it’s so fast. It’s like a potluck, and I hate potluck. For the educator the ripest experiences of teaching are those whereby you can get a good relationship with a student and follow their interests and work with them on things and do TA work. That’s what’s satisfying. It’s very unsatisfying as a teacher to have a buffet pedagogy be-

cause you can’t get anything going and it’s not much fun. In my drawing class, which is something I enjoy a lot— we’re not doing figure drawings—I tell my students that I’m preparing them for a rich life if they find themselves in a maximum security prison, where you’ve got absolutely nothing but screaming white light and a lump of food each day. If the course is successful, they’ll be able to handle that well because the mental constructs they’ll be given in the course will serve them well. Obviously, this is pretty unrealistic. But the kind of education that I like to give is a place of solace in a troubled world. So my drawing class is one thing, but the other I give now is called “Issues in Contemporary Architecture.” There is no curriculum at all; we just determine what’s going on in Chicago that week, and as homework go and visit

those lectures. In the classroom we unpack what happened. So, in that class, the project is to accept what you find around you—irrespective of what it is—come to it, and reflect on it. That’s the kind of work I like to do. What has really shocked me in Chicago is that students never get to see anything because they’re so darn busy. We used to have the proverbial readings on contemporary issues in architecture, but nobody actually engaged the city. So I thought, ok, we’re not going to dumb it down, we’re going to deal with the situation and bring some joy into the immediacy of what it is to engage in the cultural and intellectual life of the city. So, when you ask, “How do I, as an educator, prepare people?” It would be by teaching them to accept the situation in which they find themselves, and to make the absolute best of it, to relax into its rhythm, to enjoy it, and to be inquisitive. Everybody has the right


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“What I’m interested in is comprehending the dynamic between urban life and the life in the hinterland.”

to be inquisitive. At the moment, you can ask as many questions as you like. I think the present curriculum suppresses that.

You’re talking about engaging Chicago as a condition presented. We’re curious about the role of Chicago for you. It seems that Chicago acts as a foil for you. The sort of traditions of Chicago and its rigid conception of architecture are very

different from how you approach architecture. How do you respond to the specificities of Chicago and its particular urban conditions? You know, it’s very interesting to go to all the lectures and all the exhibitions in a semester in Chicago. You realize it’s got a take on things, and it’s not necessarily what you thought it was. Bob’s presence in town is a huge asset. He is a very tough interrogator;

he asks the really tough questions. To have someone who is willing to ask those questions in public raises the bar considerably.

In this part of my career, I’m actually much more interested in finding out what other people are doing, particularly those who just got out of school, to see where their minds are at. And anything that I can do to promote that, or help it, or be inquisitive about it is


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really important. It’s tough to get traction in a city—it’s really tough. You have to be brutal, and not too pushy, but pushy enough, and persistent. I think that generous souls are always going to make room. Stanley Tigerman is the apogee of such a person. He loves to be with young people, he is so, so helpful. He might eat them after five years, but usually it was for a good reason, because they had given up, or wussed out, or said something that was not strong enough. And then you are toast, just toast. I think that the key is for the older generation to be as encouraging as possible for any wisp of newness going on and to make sure there is room for it.

I’m not sure I answered your question about Chicago. Having gone down to New Harmony, things are a lot more complicated because I have to drive 300 miles down Halsted (by the way that’s Illinois Route 1). If you go down Halsted for 280 miles and take a left for six miles, that’s where I live. So basically I move the steering wheel twice. I drive in [to Chicago] on Sunday night, which is not much fun, because that lovely moment of Sunday quiet in the domestic household doesn’t exist anymore. Tears, you know. And then I leave Wednesday at 4 o’clock. It’s not great, but it is what it is. So my relationship to Chicago is one of more as an observer than as an ongoing participant. I’m just not here long enough.

If you had the luxury not to teach, would you want to be in New Harmony all the time, immersing yourself in that? I make no secret of wanting to establish a branch of this school or any other school down in New Harmony. I believe there’s a real hunger for that

type of experience in architectural education and any other kind of education; a huge hunger.

A hunger to leave the city or a hunger for an enclave? I think a hunger for leaving the city, that there could be an option other than urban life as a pedagogical experience. Also, I think there is a hunger for witnessing and taking part in pretty head-on projects. For example, you call this journal Fresh Meat. On Saturday I picked up a quarter of a beef, i.e. a cow, and now we have part of that in our freezer. So, fresh meat, you’ve got to know where it comes from.

I’m doing a guest professorship at the University of Michigan and one of the projects is for an abattoir. We are making two, three-day journeys to New Harmony. Last time we went to buy a pig for 100 bucks. Next time, one of the students is going to shoot the pig with a .22 and then take the whole pig apart that day, and then we’ll eat it at night. Now that’s fresh meat. And that’s the type of experience that stops the bullshit about, is it green?, is it sustainable?, are we doing the right thing, is it ok to take life? all these questions that go round and round in your head. Just shoot the fucking pig and eat it. What’s the big deal? If you want to know what it’s like, just do it. That’s what happens in the countryside—there’s no discussion. You’re hungry; you shoot a pig and eat it. And that’s the norm.

We were talking earlier about your interest in reducing down as a way of getting to an essence. It seems that there are two reasons to get to the essence of something. One’s about finding a kernel of truth and the other is about expediency in cutting through the bullshit. Is your interest in New Harmony and its

rawness about getting to a truth or cutting through the bullshit? Well, the United States has had a long and interesting history with artists and writers leaving the city and going to the countryside. It happens every decade, and we know who they are. There’s a checklist of people. I’m not fleeing from the city at all, not at all. What I’m interested in is comprehending the dynamic between urban life and the life in the hinterland. And that’s what’s missing. No one’s got a handle on this at all. It’s really disrespectful of the countryside. It’s incredibly rude, just rude.

When I went down to New Harmony the agenda was to acknowledge red state culture and acknowledge blue state culture and try to make something of it, and to find a place of mutual respect and interpenetration between the two. That’s really what I’m interested in. New Harmony is not a little Midwestern town, it’s just not. I mean it’s 900 people, but it has an urban culture in miniature, so it’s a test case. It has Meier’s master work, and Johnson’s work, and then Kiesler’s work that never got built but that nevertheless it’s in the mindset. Those are three heavy-hitting buildings, right there. You know, you don’t have to go much further for modernism. We have a fully operational summer theatre for three theatrical productions. There is a movie house with 35 mm projectors, as well as data projectors. There is the first public library in Indiana, and it’s still there with its own archive. I mean, this is a pretty sophisticated place. And there is an enormous division within the town between the newcomer yuppies and the townspeople who have been there forever, a big division. In any way possible it is good to remove thorns of distrust, and that means re-


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specting people for whom they are, not what you would like them to be. But I think for students to witness that and see how it can be done is good. New Harmony is a laboratory for asking these questions and finding a way to advance.

My feeling is that once both parties respect each other’s ways of life and are willing to participate in it in some form, then you start to evolve the problem. A friend of mine pointed out that harmony only works if you have people singing different tunes, different notes. If everyone is singing the same thing, you don’t get harmony. What I advocate is a deep respect other people’s ways of thinking, and make room for [them] to flourish even though [they’re] not your own. When it’s done at its best you respect the student’s way of life and what their interests are and help them define that.

It’s all about respect for other people’s points of view. If there’s anything out of this interview that I’d like to leave with you it would be to respect other people’s ways of thinking, and make room for it to flourish even though it’s not your own. Getting back to Chicago for a moment, we wanted to talk about some of these exhibitions that were up in the city last year, like the Cecil Balmond at the Graham Foundation ,and the Buckminster Fuller at the MCA, because in their own way they each touch on this idea of reduction and essence that we brought up earlier. I am definitely a Bucky Fuller fan and I had the good fortune, as a student, to listen to him give a lecture; you know the proverbial three-hour lecture [at] the Royal College of Science in London. Didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, but what I did have a

clue about was the passion and the rapt attendance of the people, who did understand what was going on, and the smiles on their faces. What really means a lot to me with Fuller is the poly-mathic attitude he has toward life at the very big, the very small, working with all sorts of scales with great flexibility, that’s just wonderful.

with Balmond’s work (and I put this in print or certainly in public statement) is that it can look kitsch because it’s unrelenting: it’s just there and it’s there and it’s there. And I don’t feel the richness of metaphor in his work. I just don’t feel it.

that’s his life. I don’t. You know I had that huge big burst of interest in it and now I just have a little bit of interaction. But he lives this. He really loves it and he’s good at it. He understands algebra, I don’t understand algebra. In my opinion, Balmond’s difficulty is actually not having that largesse that Bucky Fuller has. And so it gets into being a very, very tight focus. I would like to know more where he buys his socks, the goofy stuff. I mean we hear that he plays Spanish guitar in his evenings, and he’s a very debonair personality, but with Bucky Fuller I never had any problem with that, I got a sense that he was out there doing stuff, having fun and so on.

in metaphor.” It’s not exactly that you know it’s a rubber duck and therefore it must mean a duck. But it’s like a frying pan patina around the concept that gives you a sense that a lot of bacon has been in this frying pan. You don’t need to see it, but you do need to acknowledge it. And I find that Balmond is so deliberate, and so careful, and so thoughtful that his work really is at its best when someone else does that. That’s why his relationship with Rem Koolhaas has been so rich because that’s what Rem does. And he’s good at it, he’s really, really good at it. He gets the metaphor and the theatrical. Balmond slips right into it. He just enters into the personality and the architectural mindset of the person, which is why he’s done such great work. But when he’s doing it by himself, it gets

In terms of the Balmond exhibition, well, he practices geometry every day,

So with Balmond and his notion of the essence…I think the trouble I have

What I have learned by my journeys into number and numerology is that difficult concepts are at their happiest when they are what I call “clothed


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kitsch. But he’s a master; he is a master. And some may think they’re unfair remarks, but in essence we can see what works and what doesn’t work. The IIT student campus center, if you look at that structure, it’s pretty damn funny: the column that hangs and the way that the whole structure counterbalances upon itself. I mean, that’s masterful. Now, that’s Balmond reading Rem’s thoughts. Balmond wouldn’t do that by himself. He’s not that kind of person. It’s like people who do Islamic geometries without really acknowledging the richness of Islamic culture. There are lots of moments when the outsider is able to see better into the culture because of their sense of distance.

get their three-week crisis—crisis of belief, crisis of where I am in the beginning, middle, or end. We all have it, and therefore we should have it built into the curriculum.

I think in this period of our collective lives we have to come to terms with the notion of hypocrisy. We live this sense of hypocrisy all day long and it’s exhausting. It just cripples you. We say these things and the culture doesn’t allow us to actually practice them. As a student it must be really, really tough to know how to negotiate through this.

order to accomplish that goal. They think, “I’m going to be the leader of the Art Institute,” or something, and therefore they say, “ok, I’m going to spend three years working at a crappy job in the boonies, I’m going to work my way through there, and then I’m going to get to there…” Now I imagine there are some people, probably a lot of people, who actually do that. They work out how they’re going to succeed. And this is totally alien to me, I don’t know how to do it. I wish I did, but I have no ability to do that. At all. None. That’s not on my menu. I would like to, but it’s not been that way. So if you are interested in getting your career cranked up, and you want to be running your own firm in 10 years, you need to get that portfolio fixed right now, because you’ve got to jump

If you’re saying, “allow yourself crisis, allow yourself pauses,” then are you advocating that we slow down? Should we give ourselves a year after school? Should I work at Starbuck’s for a while? I have always had trouble formulating this idea, which is that, for some people, they get up in the morning and they see a goal in their life that they try to accomplish. They do everything in their career correctly in

“He just looked at me and said, “I’m exhausted.” And you could just tell that there was a deep crisis in there because he’d been working so hard, had no time to think about anything, at all, and it was really taxing for him.”

Actually, this is something else I wanted to say earlier about how a student can negotiate their education in a way that actually makes sense: if you need to take a break, do so. And also, allow room for a sense of collapse, whereby you can say, “this doesn’t make sense, I’m having a crisis.” And [for] every student I always make room for crisis in the semester. You know, they

out of that box running. It’s a way of life, you know. That’s where you have a choice. You’ve got a choice there as to how you’re going to do it.

There are so many ways of going through life, and they’re all good. They really are. They’re all good. Ben van Berkel and I, we’re both called Ben, and that always makes a difference, both have the same name and we’ve known each other a long time, never closely, but at the end of his lecture last year, he just looked at me and said, “I’m exhausted.” And you could just tell that there was a deep crisis in there because he’d been working so hard, had no time to think about anything, at all, and it was really taxing for him. Really tough. And I felt for him, actually. It was like one of those moments where you can see the guy was right on the edge of bursting into tears, because he had to do what you’re doing which is like…[thumps the table several times].

But, you know, the academic life is a very beautiful life. It’s really gorgeous. And it’s designed in order to ask these questions. And that’s what the time is there for. In essence, I think that things like the slow food movement, things like gardening, all of those things, they’re all happening right now because people are exhausted. Totally. It’s like the whole country is absolutely exhausted. And when things like Bikram Yoga happen, where even relaxation is aggressive and killer, energetic and killer, I mean, it’s just insane. But don’t think that I have the perfect life—it’s actually pretty complicated. continued on page 47


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LET’S GET FIGURAL RON WITTE

(interview)


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“Full Disclosure: we are completely aware that we’ve relied too much on the fillet.”


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Ron Witte is a no-nonsense big thinker, and a self-proclaimed generalist, who manages to fuse the ambition and coherence of utopian visions with a proactive attitude toward architecture’s ability to manifest in the world. Witte’s perspective sheds light on the black box from both inside and out, and suggests how the discriminating student might convert obsessions into disciplinary production. Speaking with Fresh Meat from multiple vantage points—as partner of WW Architecture, Associate Professor at Rice, and UIC’s Spring 2010 Greenwald Visiting Critic—Witte explains here how the figure and geometry help architecture get down to this generalist business, whether he has a fetish for ambiguity, and why the minor always needs the major. We would like to talk about the issue of the figure, specifically in terms of the emergence of the figure and how your work might recuperate aspects of the Postmodern project. I don’t see the figure as a particularly Postmodern phenomenon. The discursive overlays applied to the figure beginning a half-century ago were steroids of sorts, producing bizarre and often catastrophic figural mutations. But it was the overlays— not the figure—that were the problem. Architects have trafficked in figures for millennia. Good figures, bad figures, speculative figures, conservative figures, technical figures, aesthetic figures, abstract figures, representational figures. What’s odd today is how insistently architects remain divided among Form People and Function People. Those are tired, debilitating, and tedious camps. We’re working with figures that disregard this divide, figures that synthetically entangle program, technology, and form. The beauty of the figure lies in the gravity produced by its agility, not its weight. It is fleet enough (starting out as nothing more than weightlessly thin black lines on a sheet of paper) to hold all of architecture’s ambitions in its grip. The

contemporary figure is a nimble, and literal, embodiment of architecture’s generalist potential.

Well, there’s the figure as an element of geometry and as a means of communication. So we’re interested in both your use of abstract geometry, and how it allows you to do other things, and if you see a difference between readability and communication. We are working now to develop techniques through which a figure’s own legibility gives way to the legibilities that figure produces outside itself. The edge of a volume produces a relationship between that volume and what is beyond its edges or around its limits. The notion of profile is important, but rather than that profile producing a line around a building as an object, we are interested in that profile producing a relationship between that partial object and another partial object. Put another way, we’re interested in half-profiles, not complete profiles. Half profiles readily attach/detach themselves to/from other half-profiles. Our concerns lie in producing active systems of relations that operate as a kind of orchestrated Pachinko. Don’t get me

wrong: I like objects. A lot. A donut is a terrific object because it is both a thing and a means to other things [becasue you can see through it]. And it tastes good. How does this specific geometry advance your interests? Why curve corners and have them double back on themselves?

Full Disclosure: we are completely aware that we’ve relied too much on the fillet. Nonetheless, it’s a technique that has allowed us to assert relationships more directly than we could with corners. The fillet is a didactic means of proclaiming both weak and strong status. That didacticism is useful to us because it lets us see what we’re doing, like when cardiologists put dye into your blood to be able to see what’s happening. Half-profiles that join with other half-profiles (creating wholes from remote parts), recessive relationships (objects that yield their own status), and recursive relationships (systems that double back onto themselves)—these are all architectural problems that we can only gain knowledge about by being able to articulate and witness them. The fillet has been useful in doing that.


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There are also very real consequences of fillets in plan as they make their way around the edges of objects (they are no longer finite) and the capacity of geometry to “jump” from object to object. Think of the effects of tangential alignments, for example. All which is to say that even overplayed, the fillet remains a curiously effective architectural technique. It is probably obvious that there is a tendency in our work to use the fillet in plan and not in section. The planfillet controls a far greater bandwidth of architectural relationships whereas the section-fillet rarely, if ever, escapes narcissistic, and benign, pronouncements of itself. In short, the plan-fillet has lots of possibilities; the section fillet has very few and those that it has are heavily dependent on the semantics and narratives that bogged down the 1980s.

What does this mean in an urban condition? What do you accomplish with that experience, in terms of the building and its relationship to its context that you don’t get with an edge condition? The brief for the Toronto Waterfront competition called for a giant edge, a seven kilometer long promenade along the lakeshore that runs eastwest to the south of downtown. In our view, the project’s primary potential lay perpendicular to the shore (northsouth), not parallel to it (east-west). Our proposal established a network of connections that oscillate between the water and the city. We designed a system of loops and lilies—circulation tethers and programmatic catalysts. These loops and lilies were predominantly north-south in orientation. Nonetheless, when aggregated they formed a quasi-continuous embarca-

dero, a promenade that was continually agitated to amplify city/water integration. In other words, the project’s organization might be characterized as 75% north-south and 25% eastwest. The capacity of the organizational system to jump, ricochet, and echo in both directions dominated our efforts. This is where techniques such as partial-profiles, tangential alignments, and recursive doublings were useful. How do you control that when you are working?

Geometry. Geometry’s reputation is at an all-time low. One of my aims is to reclaim a geometric role that was waylaid beginning in the late-80s/ early-90s. This half-decade stretch defines the apex of digital binging, followed by two decades of geometry being run through the computational


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digestive tract. The result is a co-opted geometric discourse, stripped of its previously extraordinary synthetic capacity. This co-opted discourse is relentlessly tautological: computational sophistication is used to produce geometry that is used to produce computational sophistication that is used to produce geometry. As long as geometry operates in the service of itself, it will remain ineffective, listless…heavy. It will never form larger (particularly public) relationships because it will never exceed the intense pull of disciplinary conceit. The beauty of geometry is that it has no reason for being until it encounters program, technology, and form. In its weightless state, it is capable of forging any manner of relations. In its heavy state, it is just ponderous. In your lecture you mention geometry being an evacuated condition. Is this what you are referring to?

Yes, that’s exactly right. But I’d like to underscore that I am using evacuated in an entirely positive way. The fact that it’s evacuated is what produces its potential. Geometry plays a meta-role as it moves across program, technology, and form, as well as across scales including objects, rooms, buildings, cities, and regions. As generalists, that’s very useful to us. I’d be hard pressed to find a better meta-technique, which is why it is interesting, even urgent, that we reclaim geometry for more ambitious ends today. I’m curious about the scalability issue. Does geometry have the same implications at different scales as you move from the building to an urban scale? What happens when you move from plan to section? What does that move start to do for you at an architectural scale, rather than the city scale? Geometries delineate zones and of course the scale or type of one makes

a difference—rooms, programmatic entities, institutions, urban agglomerations, regional organizations, etc. But geometry is particularly adept at jumping scales, at denying the autonomy of, say, room relative to building, or building relative to city. We focused specifically on pan-scalar organization in the Schiphol Airport project, infusing the site, the buildings, the circulation system, the rooms, and the landscaping with a geometric regulating system that paid no heed to the usual dichotomies of big/small, inside/outside, public/private, etc.

Following up on the kind of aggregation that you were talking about, how do you see your work with the figure as an aggregated component in comparison to other aggregated projects that we see today, both the Japanese architects that use discrete volumes in field conditions like SANAA or Fujimoto, and also in terms of the work Winy Maas where


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“Your [generation is] hell-bent on being critical of the fact that you have no critical turf. It’s very funny. As in ha-ha. It will be your downfall.” there’s some sort of organizing offsets and geometry that regulate the whole thing? These are interesting examples of jiggled figures—by which I mean volumes (generally boxes) that are held in place by a kind of shaken sensibility. At least in terms of the projects that your question brings to mind, I see these architects as producing a super-functionalism that is first arrayed in space, second jostled, and third overridden with a new primary legibility (circles of certainty, piles of informality, etc). I’d say our work has many affinities with the work of SANAA and MVRDV. At the same time, I’d say that our work differs in terms of where we are trying to locate coherency, and the degree to which we’d like to wear our inter-

minor to the major. This is a complex subject, predicated on a simple idea: architects assemble things. Architects have expended lots of energy arguing against this fact over the last halfcentury, their only conclusion being a self-fulfilling prophecy: “see, we told you so…the world is falling apart.” We can assemble more coherently or less coherently but we’re always assembling. We are obliged today to engage issues of urbanization, movement of capital, technological systems, etc. that are happening at such a scale that for us to think of them as only being manageable at the scale of the minor, or accumulations of the minor, is a missed opportunity. There is a terrific potential for these aggregations to produce models or paradigms that exceed simple aggregations of the minor.

“These are tragic, acquiescent, and lazy positions for an architect to take. Architecture is alive and well; why not do something with it?” est in coherency on our sleeves. The functionalisms, jostlings, and overlays are entirely entangled in our work, a form/function relationship that is like a cat chasing its tail. We’re very interested in a contemporary definition of coherence. One of the things that we’ve been speculating about is the relationship of the

These are the kinds of coherencies that interest us. We can’t simply pile things up and imagine that they will produce something. For me that’s a little too close to an architecture of the everyday. Everyday-ism splits into two schools of thought: there is the “aw shucks, it just happened that wayand isn’t that great?” school and then there is a more morally motivated school

that operates under the premise that the only good architect is a benign (read: dead) architect. These are tragic, acquiescent, and lazy positions for an architect to take. Architecture is alive and well; why not do something with it? To return to your list of other prospectors in accumulation—I prefer that term to aggregation—I like these architects and their work. I’d say that SANAA, MVRDV, and many of us are producing work that is meeting the prospect of a new coherency head-on.

The first yellow and black image you showed for the Schiphol Airport project has a supergraphic quality that is a kind of total. There is still that same quality in the later slides, but you have the shadow that complicates it by bringing in more information, suggesting relationships that are more about the accumulation of different layers. You’re spot on. The yellow and black image is visible in plan from a satellite somewhere, and in the second set of images it is brought into relief as a totality that is hard to name as a totality but is nonetheless a totality. I like totalities. The compelling turn lies in (continued on page 47)


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IMPORT/EXPORT

Juliana Esposito Argentina Yaskira Camacho De La Rosa Domincan Republic

Lluís Victori Spain Berend Strijland Holland

Malavika Rao India

Takayuki Shinomoto Japan

In the quest to retrofit the black box as our own, Fresh Meat sat down with some of the best resources available for advice: our international compatriots. Sure, at this point we’re all UIC students of architecture and in this together, but how we got here and what we bring to the table varies wildly. Here, we talk candidly about academic backgrounds, pedagogical approaches, craftsmanship tendencies, and the pragmatic nature of the second personal pronoun “you.”


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FM: So, hopefully we Americans are going to initiate the conversation. Feel free to say whatever’s on your mind. If you have an opinion on something, please speak up. And feel free to ask each other questions. Fair enough? (to Yaskira): Before you arrived, did you have any expectations of studio culture, or project timing? Yaskira: Well, I kind of imagined the studio to be the same. But [in the Dominican Republic] we work on models by hand. We do really

Taka: Computer?! In Japan we have to draw by hand—for the license. Malavika: There [in India], I think the dependence, if I can call it that, on the laser cutters and things is much lesser. You’re trained to do it by your hands, and the more you’re oriented to do it by your hand, the attention to detail that you do is greater. FM: Did you study architecture in undergrad? Everybody: Mmhmm.

“I was kinda impressed with people jumping from one discipline to another. There’s people from Biology, I think, who do architecture now. But it makes you question: can you really learn in two years all the things I learned? Can you be at the same level?” – Yaskira

ground in physics, and then doing architecture for graduate school. I think you bring a different way of thinking. Yaskira: I was kind of impressed with people jumping from one discipline to another. There’s people from Biology, I think, who do architecture now. But it makes you question: can you really learn in two years all the things I learned? Can you be at the same level? Juliana: Yeah, that is my concern. Is it that easy? FM: Well, they’re technically at the same level here because everybody, even architects, comes from different backgrounds. And it’s freeing to be able to go into a new discipline as a graduate student. I originally came into the MArch program, figured out that I didn’t want to be a designer, and now I’m in the theory program. But it’s not easy...

detailed models in basswood, and it takes forever, but looks really good. But here it’s so simple. The students have all the machines and stuff that can do 3D models.

Berend: Is it possible here to go to architecture grad school without doing undergrad?

Juliana: You’re such an American! You jump from one thing to another!

All: Yeah.

FM: Yeah, yeah. I know.

FM: I heard people at Michigan call laser cutting “lazy cutting.” I like that (laughter).

Juliana: And this is so crazy! It’s really crazy. In the graduate program, you have a combination of professional two years, three years professional experience. Students have an undergraduate in architecture, but then for others that undergraduate can be different. So that’s what bothered me the most. The way of approaching the discipline is very different.

Juliana: You do! You are! You have! (All laugh.)

Taka: I’m from Japan, and we don’t have a lot of laser cutters. And most of the students don’t use Rhino and Maya. Basically we use AutoCad or Vectorworks. We just paint it, and put it in foam core, and cut it. Mainly the students draw the white SANAA-like drawing the best they can. So [it’s a] very different culture we have. FM: What do you think of drawing? There, is it all on the computer?

FM: I think there are certain schools that look for people with different backgrounds to come into their graduate program. I think there’s something to say for having a back-

Juliana: The other thing with this kind of marriage between disciplines is that your degree is not professional. FM: Yeah, our undergraduate degrees are not professional. Is there a requirement for professional practice at all? Like in the US, you have to work for three years and take the exams. Juliana: No. Most of my friends had their studios [and] offices already a year after we graduated.


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FM: And in Holland they changed your exam specifications? Berend: Like two months ago, they changed it. You have to work two years in an office before you can get registered. You have exams here? Everybody: Nine! Taka: It is a system of torture? Yaskira: In the DR, you have to work for one year to apply for a license. You need a signed letter from your studio. I was wondering, why don’t the schools require an internship before you end the school year, so you have an idea what you’re going to confront outside? FM: Well, in some schools they do. I think it depends on the school and the curriculum. We’re curious about student to faculty relationships. Do you see a difference? In Japan, do you have a different relationship with the teacher or is it very much the same? Taka: Basically, we have to show respect to the older people. We have three different ways to speak. When I talk to the older people, I have to choose another way, more formal. Berend: We have the same thing in Holland. In English you have “you,” but in Dutch there are three options. And one is more polite than the other. So when you’re talking to a famous professor, you have to use the right one. So I think it’s very nice that you only have the one word. It’s pragmatic. Juliana: Yeah, it’s different [in Argentina]. What I realize, is that there we’re educated to discuss a lot. All

the time. And to challenge our professors. All the time. To have a very strong opinion, to be very critical. And the professor wants that, to be very critical, because you get out of the school and you’re alone. And here, it’s like more…babysitting. Berend: Yeah, it’s very high schoollike. You have to do this and this, and this and this, and we’ve got to list every little step. In Holland, it’s like you can do whatever you want, but you have to show it at the end. Malavika: Here, it’s true, I was expecting the school to be much tougher because it’s a master’s level course. And the student to teacher relationship was more personal because they responded to what

FM: I think here it’s important for the professors to attach their identity to the studio. And it’s not about… Berend: …cultivating people. But isn’t it that always? Doesn’t the professor always put his stamp on the project? Juliana: But here it’s very strong. Malavika: But I think you can take that two ways. I think this standardization is very good in architecture because everybody’s learning certain methods, which we didn’t. And I can honestly say I would have liked to do this, then I would know the expectations. But yeah, at some point, you need to do your own work and question what you’ve learned.

“Architecture is (also) about detailing. I think this is great because Mies came to Chicago and said architecture is about detailing, and here we are in Chicago and so far away from that.” – Berend you give them. Here, I think it’s the reverse, to an extent, because you have to take on what they give you, and they start telling you what their idea of working is. There, it’s definitely what you give that’s important. You know you’ve put your all in. FM: We’re in the same studio, and I think it has been very prescribed. At each step, everybody has been looking the same until recently. Juliana: Yeah, but I see that all over the school. All your huge models, wallpaper everywhere, white models everywhere, dumb volumes. I didn’t see students challenge the positions.

Juliana: Yeah, and we can do that because we understand and can put it in a context. But someone with only three years? I don’t know. I don’t know how they form a critical position as an architect, as a professional. I don’t think they can learn that in this system in general, not just here. You follow orders for three years, and then you go out and continue following orders. Lluís: Yeah but here, they do teach to think about the project, but the thinking is about the project, not architecture. Our goal is to be an architect, but we never see the global concept of architecture, which, for me, is pretty weird.


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FM: You want some sort of realization? Lluís: Just to be more precise about something else than shapes or forms, which is great but it’s not enough. This is my criticism here. The thing is that the goal has to be something physical, to make something, that people outside of this school can use. This is just thinking, it’s not useful. There are different

now we are getting more technical. You maybe cannot have it all.

good at making the picture [boards and perspective views -ed] and...

FM (to all): What would you say students from your undergrad do better than those at UIC?

Berend: Software, they are great with software.

Taka: UIC students…their care in the model is...very poor (laughter). Japanese students are crazy about making the model, so very precise, very

“I think that students here are more relaxed. Sometimes I want to say no, I can’t do that—it’s against my values, its ridiculous, and so on. But if you allow yourself to try it, after a while you think, hmm, maybe it’s not so bad. This attitude does open you up to trying interesting things.” – Juliana ways to research but here we only get one way. I think that if this had been my first school, ooh, I would not want to be in architecture. Berend: Architecture is also about detailing. I think this is great because Mies came to Chicago and said architecture is about detailing, and here we are in Chicago and so far away from that.

articulate, so for me to work here in this environment, is good (laughter). My craft is not good enough in Japan, but here compared to other students...not so bad (laughter). Berend: But it’s also the way that models are built here, not just the craft. People put furniture in and big scale lizards! Even furniture where I am from is just not done.

Juliana: In a way I don’t agree with you. I came here looking for this kind of freedom. My criticism of the Masters in three years is that it isn’t enough time—you can’t teach people to think in that time, to think with more freedom. I came here because of the strong theoretical/critical studios. I don’t need to know more structures.

FM: I never would have thought furniture would be so criminal. Did you see the undergrad students who just finished their interior urbanism studio?

Yaskira: This is all dependent on the instructor that you have for studio. Like last semester we had a studio that was all about form and

FM: What are UIC students better at than those from your undergrad?

Juliana: Yes, we saw the fish swimming and... Berend: Absolutely crazy.

Taka: I think UIC students are very

Juliana: I think that students here are more relaxed. Sometimes I want to say no, I can’t do that—it’s against my values, it’s ridiculous, and so on. But if you allow yourself to try it, after a while you think, hmm, maybe it’s not so bad. This attitude does open you up to trying interesting things. Taka: Yeah, and in terms of color, they prefer to use very vivid color. And in the model they like to use the patterns like we had last semester and they use a lot of patterned papers like wallpapers. In Japan only white, just white. I like the vivid stuff, that’s why I like here... (repeating into microphone) I like here!


PAPER MATES Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

PAPER MATES

Sakura Pigma Micron, .25mm, $1.89, dickblick.com, Image: Flickr user Horia Varlan.


PAPER MATES Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

Various Sharpie Permanent Markers, $0.71–$1.49, amazon.com, Image: Flickr user utnapistim


This Month’s Centerfold

by Trudy Watt


Birthday:

Born 1960-something in Japan. Most ladies lie about their age, but I’m a proud and avowed cougar.

Personal Style:

I’m chic in silky black for the day-to-day, but love slipping into a nice crimson for some red, hot revisions.

Motto:

Expression is everything.

Papermate Flair Felt Tip Marker Pen, $18.26/dozen, amazon.com, Image: Flickr users erix!, Henna Bee


PAPER MATES Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

Pilot Precise V5 Liquid Ink Rollerball, .5mm, Extra Fine, $0.92, officedepot.com, Image: Flickr users ahisget, JMRosenfeld


PAPER MATES Fresh Meat vol.III Fall 2010

Pentel Sign Pen, $1.92, pentelstore.com Image: Flickr users Shine 2010 - 2010 World Cup good news, onlinehero


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CHICAGO EVENTS FALL 2010

STEELE THERAPY (continued from page 21) So doing architecture is bad for architects? I think that’s right if the only thing driving our understanding of architecture is the meeting of deadlines —it’s the death of the culture. It’s not the death of the profession. You go to a city like Shanghai today, and watch these young guys with panic in their faces trying to deliver projects consistent with a deadline because if they’re delivered late clients will kill them—

then unfold in the world of architecture or design or whatever you want to do.

Last night you said that architecture is ultimately manifested in print, and has very close ties to the production of artifacts. Since we are trying to work within that paradigm of architectural production, do you have any advice for us in our early stages as a publication? I would say the first thing is to hire a graphic designer. Every architect thinks they’re an art director, I mean, to the point of being a cliché. These people spend years arguing over a Serif font. Imagine that. Find graphic designers that are your age

“Nothing kills architecture. Somol has a view that everything will kill architecture. The great thing about architecture is that we have been there, we’ve done it, and none of it killed us.”

RECURRING EVENTS Artists of Eastbank Open Studio Walk Every 3rd Friday, 6-10pm 1200 W. 35th St.

http://artistsoftheeastbank.com/default.aspx

Zhou B. Art Center Open House Every 3rd Friday, 7-10pm 1029 W. 35th St. http://www.zbcenter.org/

Pop-Up Art Loop

Every 1st Thursday, 5-8pm See website for map.

www.popupartloop.com/events_detail.php?id=34

I mean, kill them. The panic in these 30-year-olds’ eyes is unbelievable. We will set up a workshop in July, pick a nice place and bring in 60 kids for a ten-day workshop, and when other offices hear word that there is a workshop with people who might be available they’ll come by and leave cards on the boards and send text messages to people. Essentially they try and steal my students out of there for the simple reason that they want to meet a deadline. I mean, it is unbelievable. You can call that a great thing for architects, but you can’t defend it as a great thing for the knowledge of what we think of as architecture. It really is more courageous to say no, to pick an alternative model and find something else to do for two or three or five or ten years and gain experience that will

and it will become instantly more interesting. Make it part of your discussion. The graphic design of these sorts of things is a huge part of architecture. There is a reason why Bruce Mau and Rem Koolhaas do the things they do, or why Denise Scott Brown completely throws out the first edition of Learning From Las Vegas, which was designed by Muriel Cooper (who ran the greatest graphic design program in the world at MIT). To this day Denise Scott Brown hates that book because it became the designer’s book. So five years later, in 1977, she takes it back and completely redesigns it. The small paperback is her version because she says it’s true to the original project, being so accessible. Her problem with Cooper’s


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version is that it was too collectible, too “Bauhausy”.

I’m curious about graphic designers in the Midwest. There must be some. Mix it up a bit. Maybe change the name up or have one issue per name.

The next challenge for [Fresh Meat] would be to avoid being a record for tourists like me—then you are doing the work of the school. As students, you should go out and find three or four characters outside of the school. Do you know Joseph Guigly? He’s a brilliant guy, an artist who spent his entire life obsessed with the labels and captions of objects in museums, and that is what he produces. He produces little fliers at art shows for exhibitions in galleries and museums, but they are his art projects. When you go to a Guigly show this stuff will be laying around the gallery and people will take it, not realizing it’s part of the show. So go down the street and find the Joe Guiglys.

ACHEIVING NEW HARMONY

ONGOING EVENTS

(continued from page 29)

Mid-Century: “Good Design” in Europe and America, 1850–1950

And it costs, big time. Usually [it] costs other people.

I don’t have any answers for you. I can only suggest that you remain open to follow a way of life that seems right to you. No two people have the same whorls, spirals, and loops: we need to extend that independence of body to the way we think about things. The fact that we’ve all got totally different thumbprints is just fabulous. It’s really great. Interviewed and edited by: Meghan Funk, Katie Rathbone, Julia Sedlock

Interviewed by: Lauren Turner, Jake Gay, Dorit Hershtig, Jon Clark. Edited by: Jake Gay

smartmuseum.uchicago.edu/exhibitions/gooddesign/

Imagine Everywhere: 4th Annual Faculty Exhibition Thru 9/18 A + D Gallery, Columbia College 619 S. Wabash Ave. Free

www2.colum.edu/adgallery/calendar-11.html

Louis Sullivan’s Idea - Exhibit

Thru 11/28

Chicago Cultural Center Chicago Rooms

78 E. Washington Blvd. Free

Looking after Louis Sullivan: Photographs, Drawings, and Fragments

Any parting remarks?

Nothing kills architecture. Somol has a view that everything will kill architecture. The great thing about architecture is that we have been there, we’ve done it and none of it killed us. We are in a field that has been around for two thousand years, not engineering, not graphic design, we’re the ones who write a book 2,000 years ago and have seen it all happen: highways, cars, roads, the internet —thank you, people!

Thru 9/05 Smart Museum of Art University of Chicago 5550 S. Greenwood Ave. Free

LET’S GET FIGURAL (continued from page 35) the 2-D figure becoming a 2.5D figure made of a bike-path alongside a building that is, in turn, embedded in a landscape that holds a par-course, which circles around a vast field of tiny sound attenuators, etc. The black and yellow diagram is thrown into partial legibility, only allowing you to incompletely extricate one part of the diagram from the next. This doesn’t abandon the black and yellow diagram, but rather turns it into a series

Thru 12/12 Art Institute Chicago 111 S. Michigan Ave. $12 Students, $18 General

www.artic.edu/aic/collections/exhibitions/ LouisSullivan/index


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MONTHLY EVENTS

of entangled hybrid diagrams; yellow and black are both accumulations of composite systems, ultimately superseding the exclusive/binary nature of the base diagram with a compound organizational figure.

It seems as though it’s a layering of transparency of the black and yellow, as opposed to establishing a stark difference between the two. Do you like the ambiguity of it?

AUGUST New works by Gabriel Villa 8/20 - 9/03 Co-Prosperity Sphere 3219-21 S. Morgan St. http://coprosperity.org

public service announcement Q. A.

additional comments? improve.

The ambiguity is what keeps it from being oppressive, from being singular. Sure, I like totalities, but I’ve also tried to mine the lessons of the last half-century and those have pointed me toward a composite (rather than singular) definition of totality. The ambiguity is of course calculated, staged. Schiphol’s multiples come from its compression of several significant vantage points in the project. I’ll try to sketch out what I mean with an historical example. Haussmann’s Paris plan centered on ground-based perspectives down boulevards toward monuments that appear frontally, perpendicular to the ground plane. Burnham’s Chicago Plan (as rendered by Jules Guerin) constructed a 30-degree urbanism, in which the ground plane and any constructions on its surface cohere most readily from a bird’s eye point of view. By the middle of the twentieth century, the urban view had rotated to its maximum (zenith) location, at which point the city became a managerial construct, a bureaucratic organization of spaces dominated by the administration of space (whether horizontal or vertical). These three phases can be characterized as, respectively, perspectival/pictorial, isometric/organizational, and the flat/bureaucratic. With Schiphol, we wanted to stage all three of these phases at the same time. Ambiguity

isn’t really the right term for the result. “choral” would be better, for example, by which I mean, the systems act collectively, to compound ends that are nonetheless total. So, you wouldn’t necessarily preface one of these approaches over the other.

No, I think that is the beauty of the moment. We no longer need to, we no longer can, and no longer should preface one over the other. We can now behave equally effectively across the pictorial, the organizational, and the bureaucratic. Rather than only programmatic or bureaucratic, it seems that third step might also produce a utopian view that you can gain from the perspective of a satellite. What do you think about the proliferation of utopian projects as a response to the crisis of not being able to build anything? I see that it’s not really in the forefront of your work, but perhaps speaking as an educator?

Well, it’s present in my work more than you might think; I did my undergraduate thesis on Ledoux’s Saltworks. Still, we can’t simply oscillate across history in a way that obliges our relationship to progress to be pendular. If we’re not careful about the term, we go from utopia-is-good in the 18th century to utopia-is-less-good in the 19th century, good in the 1920s, bad in the 1960s, and then good again. Pendular history prevents progress. What I’m interested in is the three-week utopia: how does a projection outward register on more immediate timelines? Not 100 years. Certainly not 1000 years. Maybe 10 years, maybe 30 years, or perhaps even 50 years: periods that are measurable generationally rather than universally. Prospecting in futures is intrinsic to what we do, and


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hubris comes in lots of flavors. While I’d say we’re operating with a form of utopianism, I’d also say our utopianism is, and ought to be, constantly itching to get off the paper, to be built or otherwise instrumentalized.

Where do students go from here? In terms of the idea of post-criticality and this tendency to be defining yourself in reaction to something else, it no longer feels as relevant to be reactive against the critical. So what are we reacting against? In general in terms of this climate of crisis that we are dealing with, how do students work within the projective project? Your generation is incredibly fortunate in that sense. You can move forward much more readily in saying,

“We think ‘X’ can be good.” You can be productive and judgmental. But your way of framing that question points to a bit of a hiccup for you. You have been born into a projective state by default, and so here you are—take advantage of it. But then you say “our crisis is that we have no crisis.” You’re hell-bent on being critical of the fact that you have no critical turf. It’s very funny. As in ha-ha. It will be your downfall [Laughter]. All of us—your generation as well as mine—would be much better served by suggesting possibilities. There’s nothing wrong with questions, but answers are better. We’re collectively made nervous by suggesting answers because answers require judgment. Discrimination, bias, hierarchy…these fellas have been hanging out on the

SEPTEMBER Group Show: Street Anatomy curated by Vanessa Ruiz 9/03-11/19 Museum of Surgical Science 1524 N. Lake Shore Dr. $6 Students, $10 General www.imss.org/upcoming.htm

Stephanie Syjuco & Dexter Sinister: The Plastic Arts

Opening Reception: Wednesday 9/08, 5-8pm. Show runs through 10/23. Gallery 400 College of Architecture and the Arts (UIC)

400 S. Peoria St. (MC 034) Free

www.uic.edu/aa/college/gallery400

Forget Me NOT

Opening Reception: Friday 9/10, 5-8pm. Show runs through 12/30. The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art

756 N. Milwaukee Ave. Free

public service announcement things faculty has heard enough of: “Bob said...” “if I had more time...” “I like...”


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(SEPTEMBER continued) Group Show: Thad Kellstadt, Corinne Halbert, Carmen Price curated by Edra Soto 9/24 -10/30 Ebersmoore Gallery 213 N. Morgan St. Free

www.ebersmoore.com/index.html

Data Mining

Opening Reception: Thursday, 09/30, 5-8pm. Show runs through 11/06

A + D Gallery, Columbia College Chicago

619 S. Wabash Ave. Free

OCTOBER Pocket Guide to Hell Walking Tour: Hobohemia

Walking tour, location TBD in the Loop. Free (donations accepted) Search ‘Pocket Guide to Hell Tours’ or ‘Ben Reitman’ on facebook.

Luc Tuymans (Belgian painter)

Show opens 10/2, runs through 01/09 MCA - 220 E. Chicago Students $7, Free Tuesdays

Seeing Ghosts in Things— Encounters with Surrealist Objects Thursday, 10/14, 6-7pm Art Institute Chicago Fullerton Hall Free

public service announcement Q. greatest annoyance at reviews? A. having to leave the building to get a decent cup of coffee.

dark side for decades. We’ll stay adrift until they get better play.

What are the implications of this in terms of architectural education? There’s an upward-sliding scale of discrimination in teaching. First year students need tools for developing ideas, for figuring out how ideas set up spatial opportunities, and for articulating how those opportunities become architecture. In short, early-year education has a methodological emphasis. As a student progresses across several years, the teaching emphasis migrates from discrimination among methodologies to discrimination among ideas. For many years there’s been a model of teaching in which if you say, “I’m going to do ‘X’, as long as you do ‘X’ well,” you’re doing your job (think of thesis programs in particular, but this is true across curricula). I think that has to be challenged right now. As teachers and architects, we should be saying, “Why are you doing X?” “What will be the benefit of doing X?” This is hard to do, from either a student’s, a teacher’s, or an architect’s perspective. But it is also very exciting. It raises the ante for the discipline. It is when/where generalist tools become generalist outputs. It is when/where progress happens You brought up thesis here, we have to do the research seminar and studio instead of thesis. It seems like in the research model you get to avoid the questions that you’re talking about, in terms of the value of what somebody’s doing because you insert yourself into somebody else’s project that already has a degree of validity attached. Do you have any thoughts on that?

I’m pro thesis. Part of the problem with thesis is that it’s often understood to begin by declaring “I’ve cleared every-

thing out of the room; now I’m going to construct architecture.” The research studio obviously starts with a filled room, and you work within that room. It’s a mistake to understand thesis as starting with a clean slate. Arguably, at any given moment there are probably no more than five or eight threads of interesting work. Which one of those do you want to go after? These topics constitute research concentrations that are ready to go. Much like a research studio, they already have a matured or maturing body of work that is ripe for consumption, analysis, and evolution. The difference between a research-studio model and an independent thesis model lies only in deciding who will be the curator/janitor of the room—the instructor or the student? In an ideal world, it is far better for students to be capable of taking care of their own topics. Of course, education happens in an imperfect world. Another problem with thesis has to do with headiness—a thesis is somehow supposed to reshape the world. I’d say yes and no. Thesis should fall into the three-week utopia. It should contribute to the discipline, but it is what it is and no more. I don’t like year-long theses, for example, because they invariably overstay their welcome. What do you want to invest a certain amount of time in, wholeheartedly, obsessively? Give it a semester, and then move on. You brought up the word obsession, which has been an undercurrent in recent lectures and interviews we’ve done. Ben Nicholson draws these labyrinths over and over again—that’s just what he’s obsessed with right now. And Jürgen Mayer H. collects envelope patterns. So, how would you describe your obsession? Ooh.


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Because you have one! Or we think that you have one. Well, it’s peculiar, because I’m often preachy about architecture being a generalist undertaking, and I think there are other hot-button issues that I am obsessed about that have to do with the way we should be greedy about our interest in the whole spectrum of architectural states, whether it’s building a building or thinking about its form or thinking about its organization or thinking about what sort of historical lineage it fits into—that’s a kind of obsession. I’ve never been asked that before! Or as a way to really literalize it, do you collect anything?

No. You know I think it’s in part that since my interests are generalist, my obsession has to be somehow con-

strued as a generalist obsession, and collecting something and generalism seem exclusive to me. I don’t mean to dodge the bullet because I don’t think any of us can entertain the discipline without being obsessive about what we’re doing. I’m as obsessive as anybody else, but I’m trying to figure out exactly how I would characterize my obsession. Well you can think about it and get back to us.

Maybe that was just too close to the bone…. Interviewed by: Jayne Kelley, Jon Clark, Jon Mac Gillis, Julia Sedlock Edited by: Jayne Kelley, Contributions from Ron Witte

NOVEMBER Opening Reception: Steve Reinke: The Tiny Ventriloquist Opening Reception: Wenesday 11/03, 5pm Show runs through 12/18 Gallery 400 College of Architecture and the Arts (UIC) 400 S. Peoria St. (MC 034) Free www.uic.edu/aa/college/gallery400

Michael Rea

11/05 - 12/10 Ebersmoore Gallery 213 N. Morgan St Free

Scott Burton, Public Art, Performance Art, and the 1970s Thurday 11/18, 6-7pm Art Institute Chicago 111 S. Michigan Ave. Free www.artic.edu

public service announcement Q.

project all students should know about?

A.

Newton’s Cenotaph Ferrohaus Zuerich, Justus Dahinden Miller House, José Oubrerie Lever House, Gordon Bunshaft Kunsthal, OMA Parkhouse/Carstadt, NL Architects


Coming soon to freshmeatjournal.org

Complete interviews with: Reiser + Umemoto J端rgen Mayer H. Nader Tehrani


I think your duties as students are to be speculators, to be critics, to challenge what you perceive to be architecture. You are meant to undermine the status quo. – Nader Tehrani

Fresh meat

If we decide that we aren’t sure it can be constructed later, we try to ignore that…which means we must really push our innovation factor, and our knowledge. – Jürgen Mayer H.

We have never abandoned the physical model or hand drawing, which is maybe somewhat different from a lot of the practices around us. – Jesse Reiser

Good behavior is something for dogs. – Nader Tehrani

…now we have a certain confidence to be naïve in the beginning when we design… – Jürgen Mayer H.

At some level, we stayed relevant by the number of competitions we entered into and failed in. – Jesse Reiser

Fresh meat I don’t like situations where people are forced wto have fun. It doesn’t work out. – Nader Tehrani


:edisnI eleetS tterB noslohcin neB ettiW noR tropxe/tropmI

EHT KCALB XOB

setaM repaP


Fresh Meat Issue 3