SPRING 2013 +
POETICS OF BUILDING
POETICS OF BUILDING
GUEST EDITOR COLEMAN COKER
MANAGING EDITOR PAMELA PETERS
The Disruption of the Ordinary Dean’s Introduction FREDERICK R. STEINER
Spring Poem IAN MCHARG
Why Poetics…? Editor’s Introduction COLEMAN COKER
Know-how with No Why; No More ANGELO BUCCI
10 10 THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE 310 INNER CAMPUS DRIVE B7500 AUSTIN, TX 78712-1009 512.471.1922 512.471.0716F P.PETERS@UTEXAS.EDU SOA.UTEXAS.EDU TO OUR READERS WE WELCOME ANY IDEAS, QUESTIONS, OR COMMENTS. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH EDITOR PAMELA PETERS.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 2
STEVEN APFELBAUM AND ELIZABETH ROGERS TILLER
Tears of Armadillos DAVID BUEGE
More Is Effort-less Or the Question of Poetic Pragmatism in Architecture DEREK DELLEKAMP AND YAOCI PARDO
Pinocchio: Making a Thing Seven Models and Some Reflections on Their Making CATHERINE SEAVITT AND GUY NORDENSON
Appearance and Action in the Poetics of Landscape JASON SOWELL
Poetics, Dwelling, Imagination, Politics Why Poetics in an Age of Formal Invention? CLIVE DILNOT
Poetics of Building/Poetic Expression LORI RYKER
Poetics in Architecture BARBARA HOIDN
The Usefulness of the Useless The Poetic Dimension of Architecture JUHANI PALLASMAA
Stephanie Bower [B.Arch. ‘81] Alumni Profile AMY MAVERICK CROSSETTE
Greg Guernsey [MSCRP ‘83] Alumni Profile AMY MAVERICK CROSSETTE
Michael H. Hsu [B.Arch. ‘93] Alumni Profile AMY MAVERICK CROSSETTE
Sam Kumar [M.S. Eng. ‘92] Philanthropy: Investing in Education
Gifts to the School of Architecture JANUARY 1, 2012 – DECEMBER 31, 2012
Philanthropy You Are a Friend of Architecture SOA.UTEXAS.EDU/FOA
Advisory Council Members FY 2012-2013
Texas (1954) Poem JOHN HEJDUK
THE DISRUPTION OF THE ORDINARY
BY FREDERICK R. STEINER Poetry connects us to the rhythms of our surroundings. The best architecture does that, too. Poets find words to express their environmental readings. Poetry springs from watching the flow of clouds, from listening to the first chirps of the birds in the morning, from smelling creosote after a desert rainstorm, from touching fresh snow. The best designs and plans also flow from reading landscapes—from understanding the opportunities and the constraints of nature and from responding accordingly. As poetry connects, it also disrupts. The poet challenges our comfort zones. Good architecture can do that, too. Architecture can inspire us to view the world in fresh ways. Great poetry and great architecture both connect and challenge. At first glance, planning would seem to emphasize connection over disruption. Certainly, good plans seek to maintain the health and safety of communities and regions. Great plans, however, challenge the status quo. Such plans seek to ameliorate inequities, unsightly developments, and environmental
deterioration. Great plans establish constraints for designers but also contain flexibility to encourage creativity. The best architects and other designers learn how to work with the constraints of nature and plans. As Charles Eames observed, “Design depends largely on constraints.” Poetry does as well, as it is constrained by language and grammar. Ruth Carter Stevenson Chair Coleman Coker, who edited this Platform, thinks a lot about the “poetics of building,” which is reflected in his own work. For instance, in a ranch retreat for avid birders forty-five minutes south of Dallas, Coker designed the structure’s main roofs to float above the rooms with a two-foot band of clerestory that extends inside the house to flood it with light, thereby allowing not only more natural light, but also a view of the tree tops. He has invited fellow poetic thinkers and makers to share their observations in this issue of Platform. We hope their ideas will stimulate us to explore ways to make more meaningful connections while disrupting the ordinary.
Images Front cover: Design details for a bench sketched on the UTSOA shop chalkboard by Molly Purnell, David Schneider, and Tristan Walker. The seating area they designed was part of a project in Coleman Coker’s advanced design studio in the fall of 2012. Eleven students designed and constructed observation platforms for a sensitive wildlife/tidal creek area that was part of the South Texas Botanical Garden and Nature Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. This page, top: Frederick R. Steiner, Dean, The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. Photo by Marsha Miller. This page, bottom: Dining Porch and Guest Bedroom Wing, Texas Twister Residence, Rey Rosa Ranch, Texas, buildingstudio architects. Photo by Timothy Hursley. Opposite page, top left: Apartment building, La Condesa area, Mexico City, Mexico; designed by Dellekamp Arquitectos. Opposite page, bottom left: Native bee at cupplant; courtesy Applied Ecological Services; photo by Elizabeth Tiller. Opposite page, bottom right: “Kailey Jumping,” photo by Kevin Marek.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 3
In ancient time, in a ferny world with spores, vegetative reproduction, arose sex male and female organs. The explosion of the flower and fruited seeds. Firelike grasses engulfed the earth inducing fleet herbivores and their predators presaging grain and man. Each year we celebrate their gifts, deciduous green leaves, and flowers Spring.
From Some Songs to the Stars, A Collection of Poems, by Ian McHarg. Knossus Project, with Chelsea Green Publishers, 2001.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 4
EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION BY COLEMAN COKER
It seems fitting to open our spring issue on the “Poetics of Building” with the poem, Spring, by the master poet/ landscape architect Ian McHarg. He had that rare gift of being able to wonder at the world, revel in its connectedness, unearth its beauty, and express that awe powerfully through his work and poetry. Poetics traditionally has been advanced through thinking about a work’s materiality, its contextuality, and temporality. Phenomenological thinkers including Bachelard, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Norberg-Schulz, who wrote of poetics’ potential, were influential in design schools well into the 1990s. However, their influence waned soon after, to be replaced by post-modernist theory which, in turn, soon diminished, too. In academic circles today, a poetics of building is rarely used as a conduit for advancing design. And for good reason. Those earlier phenomenological thinkers just mentioned, along with others, were reduced through uninspired interpretation and reshaped into naïve romanticism. In the end, little was grounded in critical thinking. So, why an issue now on the poetics of our built environment? Is poiesis still a worthwhile area through which to explore design today? The question put to our contributors was this: does a study of poetics still lend meaning and magnitude to built work in today’s multivalent culture? Re-injecting a critical means through which to approach poetics—reframing it for today’s crucial questions—might perhaps be a way to re-enliven the conversation. So, to materiality, contextuality, and temporality, what can be called geoality could be added (“geo” from the ancient Greek for earth, and “ality,” meaning having the properties of). Geoality might be a way to re-invigorate a poetics of building’s full potential in this age of the anthropocene. Through the sort of thinking that geoality would engender, we could better begin to reflect on how we are on the earth—of the earth, as builders. For us to see ourselves more clearly in this light—to be in accord with the earth—would be a means of expression essential for our time and reconnect building to its greater foundation, “earth.” This approach is much deeper than a commitment to sustainability or even environmentalism. It’s more a re-enchantment—an openness to the wonder and mystery— a renewed astonishment of the earth and how what we build might be more wedded inextricably to this earth. Seeing our connection this way—through poetic making—lets the earth unfold on its own. It’s also the kind of building that lets the earth remain as it is. So, along with materiality, contextuality, and temporality, geoality might reveal our deep connection
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 5
to earth. Poetic building of this kind would let us slow down; it would allow us to listen, to refocus on the greater whole, instead of thinking of ourselves exclusively, concerned only with our own needs. Through safeguarding and response, poetic building would remind us that everything we do and everything we are is of the earth. Understanding this with our hearts, we might begin to glimpse the interconnectedness of this world we build in. We might better learn to regard ourselves as earthlings—as small parts of that greater world. Responding to our bond this way—through poetic building based on a foundation of geoality—would require that we build with a commitment to the future. It would provoke us to put an emphasis on the greater whole by opening our eyes and hearts to see the world for all that it is. Poetic building this way would insist that we rely on our own senses and our first-hand experiences. It would require us to re-learn how to be in the world. If we committed to this with conviction, it would affect our very being. The thirteen contributors to this issue were invited because they represent a broad spectrum of the design community. There are pieces by architects and landscape architects, of course. But, there are also essays by an ecologist, structural engineer, art historian, cultural linguist, comparative literature specialist, and ornithologist. Each responded to the question of the relevance of poetics in today’s design culture in his or her own way. Each response is significant in encouraging a more generalist approach to design’s poiesis. Each senses that poetics is not readily reduced to mere explanation. Yet, while eluding description, they know it when they encounter it. Likewise, we are moved by an experiences with works deemed poetic. We take those experiences with us into the world, in ways that expand our relationships with that world. Thus, the poetic brings to light that which is visible but otherwise unseen. Ian McHarg expresses just these sympathies in his introductory poem. It’s likewise appropriate to close our issue with another poet/designer, the architect John Hejduk. Hejduk has a unique relationship with our school in that he taught here in the early 1950s. He was part of a small, but influential, group of designers and teachers lovingly dubbed “The Texas Rangers.” His poem on the back cover expresses the feelings of one who knows this place intimately. And though written in 1954, it still captures the sense of this place where we teach today. These works by McHarg and Hejduk articulate a deep respect and affection—both for the nature-made as well as that which is crafted by the human hand.
Biography Coleman Coker is the Ruth Carter Stevenson Regents Chair in the Art of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. He is the director of the Poetics of Building at the school and principal of buildingstudio. Coker was awarded the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome and is a Loeb Fellow in Advanced Environmental Studies at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He holds a master of fine arts degree from the Memphis College of Art and received an honorary doctor of fine arts from there. The Architectural League of New York recognized him in 1991 in their “Emerging Voices” series. With forty years of experience in design offices and over thirty years as principal of his own firms, Coker founded buildingstudio in 1999 after a thirteen-year partnership with Samuel Mockbee as Mockbee/Coker Architects. He currently lives in Austin with his four cats—Luther, Luna, Monkey, and Mel Chin.
NATURE’S POETRY BY STEVEN APFELBAUM AND ELIZABETH ROGERS TILLER
Biographies Steven I. Apfelbaum is the founder of Applied Ecological Services, Inc., an environmental consulting and ecological restoration firm. He is co-author of the Restoring Ecological Health to Your Land series for restoration ecology. He is also the author of the award-winning book, Nature’s Second Chance, which recounts the 30-year story of how he and his family restored a dairy farm to prairie, forest, trout stream and wetlands near Juda, Wisconsin. He is a lecturer in landscape architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design. Elizabeth Rogers Tiller is an ecologist and ornithologist who works as a communications associate with Applied Ecological Services. Dr. Tiller has over 20 years experience working in the environmental field, including federal, private, and tribal employment. In her free time, she pursues ecological interests that include birdwatching, botanizing, mammal tracking, gardening, and just prowling around with her Springer looking for natural wonders.
Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language. “Marshland Elegy” by Aldo Leopold in A Sand County Almanac
We humans relate to the land on a personal level. Starting with the backyards of our childhoods, we expand outward to our neighborhoods, our towns, our counties, our states, our countries, and sometimes beyond. Asked to conjure up an image of a peaceful, lovely place, the answers would be as varied as the people asked and their life experiences. We tend to love what we know. For ecologists, that personal relationship extends to ecosystems—plants, animals, soils, bedrock, weather, seasonal changes, and more. It is a bit of a professional handicap perhaps, but a restoration ecologist really can’t look at a parcel of human-inhabited land without seeking ways to use ecological restoration principles in order to bring it to its full potential. This affinity for the land and respect for its potential comprise common ground for restoration ecologists and landscape architects. In their professions, they share the goal of creating landscapes that are aesthetically pleasing. They both know that the public’s eye falls first on appearance, each viewer synthesizing his or her own poetry of the landscape. In addition, both know that designed landscapes need to be practical—low in maintenance costs, while still providing practical functions such as stormwater management and noise abatement. Looking a little deeper, they also likely agree on the need to incorporate sustainability into their designs addressing issues such as carbon sequestration, temperature moderation, soil development, groundwater infiltration, and wildlife habitat. In many ways, these are the values Leopold spoke of in the opening quotation as “values as yet uncaptured by language.” Being pretty is not only valuable in and of itself; it is the main doorway to deeper appreciation and understanding of all the associated values. More than 40 years ago, in his book, Design With Nature, landscape architect Ian McHarg made the case that design and planning should respond to the regional environment. Others had trod that ground in their own ways before him. Some 170 years ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson urged the American artist and architect to consider “the climate, the soil, the length
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 6
of the day, the wants of the people, the habit and form of the government” in creating their works. Frank Lloyd Wright was elegantly sparse in his words: “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” The precedent has been well set. What is left is interpretation. Nature as defined by a restoration ecologist, however, does not always form a one-to-one match with other definitions. Much landscape design, for example, has been dominated by the use of non-native plant species, employed to create an aesthetically pleasing, but more formal and controlled perception of nature. They pass the test of being “pretty,” but what about all the values “as yet uncaptured by language?” When used in landscape designs, alien plant species that evolved in another region, or even on another continent, lack the intricate, life-sustaining connections of their native ecosystems. This can include a lack of natural controls that allows their populations to expand to the detriment of native species, should they spread to unmanaged areas. In other cases, an alien species becomes overabundant simply because a human-altered landscape provides an ideal habitat. These alien invasive species (as regulatory agencies call them) can crowd out native species and exacerbate issues of ecological integrity that were only dimly recognized when McHarg penned his text. Clearly, when it comes to creating natural and sustainable landscape designs, more is needed than just a search for visual aesthetics with nature broadly defined. A thoughtful understanding of nature’s poetry, not unlike interpretation of written poetry, requires a sort of reading between the lines. This means looking at ecological functions, interactions, and services to find the deeper meanings in each design or ecosystem. Again, ecologists and landscape architects can find common ground here, expressed popularly in the landscape world with the rubric “form follows function.” To address these deeper design principles, a restoration ecologist typically starts from a foundation of ecosystem health, often described in terms of stability and resiliency. A healthy ecosystem is composed of a diversity of species performing overlapping, interrelated functions. It is harder for a perturbation (such as drought or windstorm) to upset the ecological balance of such a system. Likewise, such an ecosystem recovers from disturbances more quickly, returning to a healthy, functioning, and balanced state.
Ecologists know that landscapes designed following the principles of restoration ecology demand reduced outside maintenance effort and provide increased functions such as production of foliage and flowers (primary productivity), soil development, thermal regulation, water and nutrient retention (poetically termed “stinginess”), and innumerable interactions between the many types of organisms and with their habitats. The continual ebb and flow of these natural processes speak to the poetry of nature. A poem is more than mere words on paper; it has a rhythm, verbal movement—even a physical shape. Similarly, a healthily designed natural ecosystem includes sounds, smells, textures, and colors combined with a flow of energy that sets it apart from static isolated plantings of shrubbery or rectangles of mowed turf lawn. Health is a dynamic state, with ecosystems changing throughout the seasons and years. These things are not always obvious to the humans who visit and use designed, restored landscapes. The majority of them don’t know what the local natural ecosystems, the reference ecosystems, even look like. Based solely on their experiences, they may not have the capacity to look more deeply, past just a pretty flower, to ecosystem functions and services; in short, to look through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.
Education and experience are needed to help naive or uninitiated observers appreciate nature in the untamed and sometimes slightly unruly forms that characterize a landscape designed following the principles of ecological restoration. Visitors need a little extra information and encouragement if they are to hear the poetry of nature constructed of interactions, functions, forms, and changes. They need to know the reasons behind what simply appears as a “messier” landscape. In short, to accomplish its purpose, the poetry of nature needs readers as well as poets. By forming a creative partnership, restoration ecologists and landscape architects together can design landscapes, founded on principles of ecological health, that gently introduce visitors to the natural world. The restored ecological landscape itself will have a poetic voice, making new friends and lovers of nature. When all is said and done, Mother Nature is the original poet. To close as we opened, we can do no better than once again quote the ecologists’ bard, Aldo Leopold, drawing from wisdom shared over 70 years ago: “...it occurred to me that whereas I write a poem by dint of mighty cerebration, the yellow-leg walks a better one just by lifting his foot.”
Image Cupplant (Silphium perfoliatum); courtesy Applied Ecological Services; photo by Elizabeth Tiller.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 7
KNOW-HOW WITH NO WHY; NO MORE BY ANGELO BUCCI
Biography Angelo Bucci is founding principal of SPBR Arquitetos in São Paulo, Brazil. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of São Paulo, where he now teaches. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard GSD, MIT, and the IUAV in Venice. Bucci taught at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture as the Margaret McDermott Visiting Professor in 2010. His firm has won numerous design awards in Latin America and around the world. Bucci received the Latin American Holcim Awards Silver in 2008 and an honorary fellowship in the American Institute of Architects in 2011.
A FLASH OF TIME I would like to refer to architecture in that very specific time: right now. Meaning, architecture as action. Or better, as suggested by Rafael Iglesia, architecture as a verb. At that moment, when both thinking and action are joined, space and time seem to be flattened, and the whole world seems to be condensed into one point where precedents and knowledge converge.
The know-how is the expression of this hegemony in construction, while all those branches of knowledge that we disregard imprint the lack of why.
What follows addresses that flash of time and aims to delineate our current world.
The problem is that the integrity of action in architecture is based on dualities: body and soul, lyric and music, physical and mind, form and function, theory and practice, thoughts and action. Duality can be expressed in countless ways. The hegemony of one makes our actions incomplete. The lack of proportion and balance deforms the designing process and tends to cancel the effect of a live, or innovative, action. Therefore, no matter how much or for how long we produce, nothing changes.
ABOUT PROPORTION AND BALANCE
THE ROLE OF THE POETIC APPROACH
Which world has been condensed in that time?
According to well-known Brazilian geographer Milton Santos, actions operate on space in three different fields— normative [or formal], technical, and symbolic. Then comes the question: have these three fields been properly balanced? The answer is clear: not at all. Technical issues have been hegemonic over normative and, in particular, over symbolic issues, which are barely considered or completely disregarded. In addition, actions must evoke a broad range of knowledge to be designed—imagined or conceived. Thus, a similar question can be posed: has this range been properly considered? Again, the answer is clearly negative—especially when we consider that knowledge comes from two major sources, categorized into human sciences and natural sciences. The first unfolds through history, theory, aesthetics, ethics, and art; the second, through physics, material knowledge, structures, engineering, technic, and construction. Without doubt, the second has been largely hegemonic over the first in current architectural actions. When there is any kind of opposition to the technical field and technical knowledge, or even any small part of them, we need to evoke that knowledge to engender our actions as we need that field to operate in space. The point here is to highlight the problems that result from the imbalance between knowledge groups and within the three fields through which actions occur. The point is not to renounce what we have achieved, but to be aware of those branches of knowledge we have been trained to disregard. That is why we often believe that “know-how with no why” appears to be the principal direction leading our design process; we feel that “lots of resources and lack of meaning” are guiding our actions in the space. Our experience of this feeling is proof of the predominant forces; we realize the world that condensed in a flash of time is a technoscientific-hegemonic world.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 8
The poetic approach assumes a remarkable role. It is a tool which works in all three fields: normative, technical, and symbolic. It fills the void, and it brings to light knowledge silenced by the hegemonic power. The poetic approach recovers our integrity. At the same time, in an unbalanced scenario, it is important to balance the poetic with the pragmatic in the design process. Let us go back to that flash of time when one engenders actions during the design process. It is a process because it is a succession of choices. What guides us in the process? Ethical standards, aesthetics, and beauty; essentially, the answer that seems to summarize all elements is the poetic approach. How does one ensure a live and innovative approach to the process? Again, we are led to the same answer: the poetic approach. It is by working on the limitation of language that we can achieve new configurations and bring about possibilities previously unknown. I mean innovation, not novelty. Even more, the poetic approach allows us to arrange things in meaningful relationships. It is clear that each piece or each fragment existing in the world is part of an aesthetic whole. The poetic approach and aesthetics as a science are are not substitutes for the continuous and endless reconstruction process of the whole.
Images — A Dug-into-theAir Swimming Pool in São Paulo by Angelo Bucci Clouds, drizzle, rain, snow, or hail: in all its physical states, water is related to sky. However, if we are requested to think about a [swimming] pool, our imagination automatically starts to dig into the ground. Seas, lakes, and ponds perhaps show why we react in that direction: mainstream, a pool as a piece of a lake. It makes sense, the image which corresponds to the word, water that rests smoothly on the ground. Water defines the surface. But if I mention a specific pool, a water tank or a water tower, we first think about an elevated volume of water, a pool detached from the ground level. In this case, hydrostatic pressure is a requirement to fill pipes, to supply water. Water level holds a potential possibility.
POETIC APPROACH: ITS STRUCTURE ON THE DESIGN PROCESS In a poetic arrangement there is a clear structure that guides the process. Actually, it structures our own thinking and plays a crucial role as a guide for the successive choices demanded by the design process. This arrangement includes aesthetic criteria. It is, at the same time, defined enough to clearly guide us and open enough to not constrain or anticipate the result. It is both reliable and intangible. It is the most powerful way to incorporate all fragments, or elements that come up during the process, into a stable relationship. It is the only possible way to link unconnected elements which come from specific demands and approaches encountered during the design process. Disregarding this structure produces losses that cannot be replaced by any other approach. A WORD AS THE KEY As noted, we know, through clear evidence, that the world condensed in that flash of time is the techno-scientifichegemonic world, which is superimposed over any other knowledge or field. Thus, there are questions: How might we
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 9
better balance the knowledge evoked by the design process? How might we recover the integrity of our activity and link the two main groups of knowledge: human sciences and natural sciences? The answer to both questions holds no secrets. It was coined a long time ago in one single word. A composed word, created to show exactly how those two main groups of knowledge must be linked: words and numbers, poetry and physics, art and technic, theory and practice, thinking and action, human sciences and natural sciences. The duality in which our integrity rests is the same duality when combined to compose this word; a key with no substitute. A word that must be honored; otherwise, according to Renato Rizzi, we would be renouncing the title of our everyday activity. Short and clear, the answer is fully condensed in one single word which guides us with know-how and know-why toward an action full of poetic meanings. This key word is so obvious that sometimes it is hard to see: Archi[with]tecture.
While walking on the ground, the question would sound completely nonsensical: where is the surface? In the specific sense of the word, surface has no layers or thickness. If one walks in a city like São Paulo, actually the ground level no longer corresponds to the surface. There are some pieces of the ground that have not been touched by the sunlight for decades because buildings have permanently shaded them. In this specific site, the neighborhood height was defined by law: 6m high. No side setbacks are required. Buildings shade the site at the side borders. An east neighbor building shades it for the entire morning until noon, at which time the west neighbor building shades it for the whole afternoon. I mean, if I have to build a pool exposed to the sunlight, it is crucial to define the surface: it is pretty flat six meters above the ground. The assumption here is to swim in a water tower and to enjoy it as a design possibility. One more “state” to the water related to the São Paulo sky.
TEARS OF ARMADILLOS BY DAVID BUEGE
Biography David Buege is a professor and Fay Jones Chair in Architecture at the University of Arkansas, where he previously served as director of the architecture program. He has been director of the architecture program at Philadelphia University, and has taught at Mississippi State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology and was interim director at Auburn University School of Architecture Rural Studio. Buege has worked in the offices of Eisenman Architects and Bartos & Rhodes Architects in New York. He received a B.S. degree in Environmental Design from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, studied for one year at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, and received his M.Arch degree from Princeton University.
So. In the darkest days of post-modernism, a time of the ersatz in architecture and too many buildings in styles of the most cloying sort, the search for meaning and the mining of architecture’s history for significance, signification, and broader popular appeal provoked polemic and debate in architectural circles on both sides of the Hudson River; east from island Manhattan to Adriatic Venice and west from Jersey to the new Los Angeles. The taxonomy of the time identified architects as monochrome, polychrome (referred to with irony as grays) or metallic; cerebral, visceral, or spectacular, respectively. There were undertones of morality, accusations of elitism directed toward some, and a populism that appears in retrospect, if it didn’t then, to be a bit patronizing and pointless. Most agreed that the project of modernism had run its course, exhausted by the weight of functionalism, capitalism, or dogma. Theory was ascendant and various forms of applied phenomenology emergent. Clarity and simplicity gave way to complexities and contradictions. Memory, in the collective sense, and meaning, we were assured, would make it all worthwhile. A few moments of irony and good intentions were upon us. Architects and historians felt the need to offer apologia of various sorts, for the mute modern forms of architecture’s recent history and in the spirit of more and more and more. The Beaux-Arts tradition was offered up and more than a few architects took the bait. Validity was conferred for nearly anything that could be imagined and snuck past skeptical clients or the watchfulness of value engineers. Cleverness too often seemed sufficient. Rhetorical. Tragic. Failing, increasingly dreary American cities lead some to the solace and escape of the Invisible Cities and mythopoetics of Italo Calvino, others to the aggressive, sweet domesticity of wood lattice and slightly-off pastel colors. Tall buildings traded their flattops for pompadours, or millinery forms that borrowed explicitly from more compelling originals. How many slick, regrettable Chrysler Building simulacra did we really need to serve the desire of so many clients for icons and brand identity? A little kitsch goes a long way. This new wave of historicism and high concept figuration could be, at its very best, compelling and, at times, exhilarating. Architecture received good press and an increasing number of people seemed to care. The discipline of architecture was opened up to embrace the world. Architects, like geographers, believed that anything in the larger world might be drawn into theirs for consideration. Architecture, like the universe, was expanding. Shopping, anyone?
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 10
Comparisons of architecture with other arts, objects, disciplines, or discourses can be problematic. Sculptureas-simile for architecture is a commonplace, but may not flatter, and the archaic, nebulous metaphor of architecture as frozen music now sounds hollow. So, with reference to these, what might be said for poetics and architecture, for a poetics of building? Is a poetic aspect necessary, possible, or desirable? Poetics may be entirely a subjective thing, something one discovers only if one is so inclined, a matter of perceptions passed through the filter of ideology. Cities are not poetic, but certainly the city is a source for great poetry and much that is poetic. Buildings per se are not poetic, with the possible rare exception of some that are small and singular (a couple Zumthor chapels might be acknowledged as exceptions to the rule). Poetics is different than, perhaps mutually exclusive of, rhetoric and meaning. If architecture is understood as possessing poetics, are we therefore referring to what might be described as a poetics of medium (the metaphysics divested by the physics of a building in the experience of architecture), of technique (tectonics and the exemplary detail), or of situation (the rhetoric of place and the idea of the genius loci)? Must the situation be real, or actual, or might the self-sufficiency of paper architecture provide liberation of a sort and the possibility of an alternative poetics, still inherently architectural? In nine-square studies and the design of seven paper-architecture houses, some from his time in Texas, “a seven-year search into generating principles of form and space,” John Hejduk may have proven this plausible. Nevertheless, it may be difficult for some to conceive of a poetics of architecture in the absence of such fundamental phenomena as texture and light. The plasticity of form and space might create the conditions and set the table, but architecture’s poetic heart is to be found in what is necessary and prosaic, in elements and other things as inevitable as shelter, in architecture that doesn’t try too hard to impress, nor too earnestly to please. Sacred and poetic are similar notions, arguably synonymous, found most profoundly as in the altar and the oculus, candles, the chalice, and a simple drape of cloth in the Monastery of Sainte Marie de La Tourette. Neither too little nor too much, economical in the better sense, with “the nothing that is not there,” as Wallace Stevens wrote, “and the nothing that is.”
At Princeton in the late 1970s, after a brief introduction for what had been a highly anticipated lecture, Hejduk, master of the 8H pencil, chronicler of catch-and-release Texas armadillos and self-described continuator, silently approached the dais. After acerbically acknowledging the introduction, he opened a folio and proceeded with the reading of poems of his own making. After about an hour of poetry, of words but no illustrations, Hejduk gathered his pages of poems, closed the folio and tucked it up under his arm. He left the hall without remark. There are tears of armadillos and Kunderaâ€™s two tears of kitsch, and there are some things that are better left unspoken. Each tells us something about architecture in our time, or perhaps as it was in the time just before ours, as we appear to have moved on. Is there a poetics in the digital and the threedimensionally printed?
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 11
If Charles Jencks is correct that the demolition of the towers of Pruitt-Igoe marked the end of modernism in architecture, was it for their functional deficiencies and the usual sorts of architectural hubris, or for the reality that architecture is incapable of providing the progressive social fix the architecture of those towers were intended to provide? Was it a failure of utility, or the absence of something cerebral, visceral or spectacular? Are any of these things necessary? Could poetics have saved Pruitt-Igoe?
Image Detail of Convent Sainte Marie de La Tourette, near Lyon, France, by Le Corbusier, architect. Photo by David Buege.
MORE IS EFFORT-LESS
OR THE QUESTION OF POETIC PRAGMATISM IN ARCHITECTURE BY DEREK DELLEKAMP AND YAOCÍ PARDO
Biographies Derek Dellekamp studied architecture at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, where he obtained his B.Arch. and established his office, Dellekamp Arquitectos. He has taught at Universidad Iberoamericana and Universidad de Anahuac in Mexico City, as well as Rice University School of Architecture and The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture in the United States. Leading design publications worldwide have recognized Dellekamp Arquitectos for their innovative work. Dellekamp has been recognized in the Architectural League of New York Emerging Voices and has participated twice at the Venice Biennial Exhibition. Yaocí Pardo is an author, editor, and translator. She is a Ph.D. candidate in comparative literature at The University of Western Ontario. Her areas of specialization include Western philosophy and post-structuralist theory in the visual arts and literature. She has conducted research on the relationship of memory and space, as well as on medical and legal practices in the Elizabethan stage, discursive practices in new writing technologies, and allegorical uses of architectural space. Pardo teaches critical theory and English literature at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City.
Image Sanctuary Circle, Ruta Peregrino, Jalisco, Mexico; designed by Dellekamp Arquitectos. Photo by Iwan Baan.
I admire the poets. What they express with a couple of words, requires us a ton of brick. João Batista Vilanova Artigas
At first glance, buildings and poems seem to be quite different. Indeed, their matter and ends are different, but this would be construing words and bricks on a surface level. In truth, poetry and architecture follow very similar processes in the way they craft meaning.1 Put simply, architects as well as poets have filiations with canons of composition and create under subject-matter constrictions. Furthermore, the polysemy of the poetic word is not unlike the multi-layered tensions of a building in the cityscape; both are held by their inherent nuances and contradictions, and resist reduction to mere concept. Yet what poetry and architecture most have in common is that they both create an inner space to relate to otherness.2 They craft spaces of experience, and in this, buildings and poetry literally stand for meaningful constructs—they resort to a common ground for ideas. The apothegm of Vilanova Artigas expresses a certain sense of the effortless.3 The effortless compounds constraints with economy of action; it is a well deployed emplacement of energy defined by what is affordable. Curiously enough, fording and affordable share the same root (Skeat 145). Fording is to take a natural passage, a shallow place where water can be crossed; in a sense, it means bridging easily. Bridge-building surely owes its art to the scarcity of such causeways, but the art probably began by imitating the “ease of the ford” or, at least, by not going contrary to it. Affording, therefore, implies having the natural affluence necessary to bridge a situation. The connection between fording, affording, and bridging is just one example of how we make sense. Making sense is the arch between one’s experience and the concrete re-presentation of this experience in light of different needs and will forces. Understanding the practicalities of past circumstances makes the past relational to actual problems. But in order to see new possibilities in former conditions, there must be a re-collection of the past in order to present it with a variation. In this, the bridge-builder blends both the poetic and the pragmatic by performing or re-enacting4 an overpass “experience of ease” through a construct. The common-ground of this construct is experience, and when the connections between the source of experience and the resources of representation make sense, we are talking about meaningful ideas.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 12
We would like to put forth this sense of the effortless as a primary ground for architecture. To us, the “arch-builder” emulates the ease of the poet when aware of the balance between the pragmatic and the poetic, not as an “either/or” exclusion, but as an integral “and/or” complex that minds the dynamic equation between “a couple of words” and “a ton of brick.” The crux of architectural design, in our view, entails affording poetry and pragmatism together in what we call Poetic Pragmatism. We define Poetic Pragmatism as a vehicle to think through the concrete problems of architecture by producing a certain disposition to approach architectural design. In what follows, we shall succinctly develop the idea of pragmatism and poetics in relation to architecture and describe the three points in question: 1. More is effort-less: research more 2. Think inter-temporally: learn inter-locally 3. Make sense: re-make belief Pragmatists eschew methods.5 Unlike modernists, they recognize a transforming universe and the consequent obsolescence of grand narrative systems based on universal laws. The ordering principle of pragmatism is a logic of relations that moves away from foundational logic. Methods, to the contrary, are not relational; rather than generating a disposition to, they produce a pre-disposition that replaces negotiation and inquiry for habitual standards of representation which subtly discipline and establish systems of conceptual re-production.6 While the rationalist approach of modernism isolates and defines its object out of context, pragmatism is concerned with the relationship between organism, environment, and representation as nodes of complexity.
However, what makes pragmatism most open to the poetic is its understanding of time. The pragmatist regard for a meaningful re-enactment of possibility oriented towards relations and developmental change results in a recuperation of poiesis.8 History is constantly brought forth to an unfolding present.9 The conversational approach of pragmatism is intended for connectedness and improvement of relations.10 MORE IS EFFORT-LESS: RESEARCH MORE From the standpoint of Poetic Pragmatism, keeping a balance between the effortless and the affordable is a priority in making sense. If the demands of a project in the long run are not affordable, more research is necessary.11 Research elicits both experimentation and thorough understanding of vernacular experience12 to adequately integrate otherness.13 THINK INTER-TEMPORALLY: LEARN INTER-LOCALLY The concern of Poetic Pragmatism for the unique circumstances of specific environments centers its attention on place rather than space. In this regard, inter-temporal thinking is a way of avoiding grand historical narratives; research on the use and disuse of resources takes into account local environmental and historical specificities. Learning interlocally is an interdisciplinary will to borrow and adapt from different local experiences, focusing on the relational aspects of craftsmanship and style. “One fits all” is no longer a sensible approach to architectural design. MAKE SENSE: RE-MAKE BELIEF Making sense is not make-belief, but a way of re-designing societal beliefs at large. Habits are the vital aspect of our sense of dwelling—where mores and beliefs take place. In order to change environmentally unaffordable behavior, it is necessary to inquire first into the beliefs people live by and the way they are connected to notions of space and function. Designing to make sense negotiates affordable transitions to other forms of dwelling. What Poetic Pragmatism permits is de-habituating the architect in the way he inhabits architectural thinking. The first problem of architectural design today is to make sense at the very moment it sets out to design a problem. As a balancer of forces, the architect genuinely takes an attitudefree approach towards the question “What’s your problem?,” purposefully addressing the specificities of that question to the relationship between program and user, place and project, sources and resources, patron and architect. Rather than seeking a solution, the architect interplays with the arrays of life-scenarios problematized by design. Poetic Pragmatism becomes a thoroughfare to all these forces when thinking space.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 13
NOTES 1. “Meaning” here is understood as “significant experience” and cannot be reduced to the concepts of “communication,” “message,” or “symbol.” 2. Cfr. Norberg-Schulz (1980, 10): “[…] when man is capable of dwelling the world becomes an ‘inside.’ In general, nature forms an extended comprehensive totality, a ‘place’ which according to local circumstances has a particular identity.” 3. In the epigraph by Vilanova Artigas, the poetic is apparently at odds with the pragmatic because of the either/or juxtaposition of lightness and heaviness, the parsimony of “a couple” versus “a ton,” but as we shall see, the poetic is pragmatic precisely because of its craft to emulate the effortless, and the pragmatic is poetic because it too follows a line of parsimony. 4. The primary sense of the Greek term poiein “to make, create, compose” derived from the Proto-Indo-European *kwei, “to pile up, build, heap, make”; from this stance, building is always poetic. The term pragmatic, on the other hand, derives from the Greek prassein, “to-act, do, perform.” (Gómez de Silva 550, 557) 5. Richard Rorty (1999, xxi) calls this “methodolatry.” 6. Michel Foucault (1995) abounds in the rational “thought habits” of modern discursive practices underlying methodologies to denounce a rationalist set of normative principles leading to unquestioned categories of knowledge. Timothy Reiss (1982) uses the term “conceptualizing practices” to characterize the dominant discourse of modernity as rationalism. Concepts are embedded in “proper uses of grammar” and impose meaning on the basis of regularity; they enforce a movement from the particular to the abstract that conceives the world as set, ordered and external to the observer. This ultimately leads to a subject-object split that creates, amongst many, two distinct discursive habits: 1. Alienation of subjective experience by objectifying the modern self in relation to “otherness;” and 2. Causation—for every effect a cause—a holdover of rationalist thinking that generates closed systems. 7. Cfr. Rorty’s use of organism, environment, and words (1979). 8. The poietic power of metaphor resides, according to Paul Ricoeur (1977, 43), in the ability to re-create or re-produce the Real as Act: “[…] To present men ‘as acting’ and all things ‘as in act’—such could well be the ontological function of metaphorical discourse, in which every dormant potentiality of existence appears as blossoming forth, every latent capacity for action, as actualized.” 9. In responding to developmental change, pragmatism is concerned with understanding phenomena in their unique circumstances. Gregory Bateson (1979) points out with regards to cybernetics that when time is introduced as a variable, the configuration of the system allows for feedback loops, hence, adaptation, resilience, and self-correction. Random elements within the system produce emergent variables that were not part of the original relationship between successive parts. The new emerges from stochastic recursion, and the system transforms itself. In contrast, rationalism posits a dialectic temporality at odds with complexity that does not address the breach between rhetoric and reality. 10. Rorty envisions this as a conversation lead by curiosity and open-mindedness (1999, xxi). 11. Cfr. Robert Venturi (1966, 44): “Industry promotes expensive industrial and electronic research but not architectural experiments, and the Federal government diverts subsidies toward […] national security rather than toward the forces for the direct enhancement of life.” 12. Cfr. In Tradition and the Individual Talent, T.S. Eliot (1919) defined historical legacy as “a matter of much wider significance” that implied understanding the actual presence of the past. Tradition transcends the successes handed down from one generation to another; in other words, it is something that “cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour.” 13. Otherness is not only understood as the specificities of place and environment, but also as de vicissitudes of temporal development.
Bibliography Bateson, Gregory. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. New York: Chandler, 1972. Bateson, Gregory. Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity. New York: Bantam Books, 1979. Heidegger, Martin. On the Way to Language. Peter D. Hertz (trans.). San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1972. Eliot, T.S. (1919). “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” Perspecta, Vol. 19, 1982: pp. 36-42. Web. 20 Dec. 2012. Foucault, Michel. Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Alan Sheridan (trans.). New York: Vintage, 1995. Gómez de Silva, Guido. Breve diccionario etimológico de la lengua española. México D.F.: COLMEX, FCE, 1989. Norberg-Schulz, Christian. Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture. London: Academy Editions, 1980. Ricoeur, Paul. The Rule of Metaphor: Multidisciplinary Studies of the Creation of Meaning in Language. Robert Czerny (trans.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977. Reiss Timothy. The Discourse of Modernity. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982. Rorty, Richard. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1979. Rorty, Richard. Philosophy and Social Hope. New York: Penguin, 1999. Skeat, Walter. The Concise Dictionary of English Etymology. Chatham, Kent: Wordsworth Editions, 1993. Venturi, Robert. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1966. West, Cornel. The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Genealogy of Pragmatism. Madison: Univeristy of Wisconsin Press 1989.
PINOCCHIO: MAKING A THING
SEVEN MODELS AND SOME REFLECTIONS ON THEIR MAKING BY CATHERINE SEAVITT AND GUY NORDENSON
Biographies Catherine Seavitt is an associate professor of landscape architecture at the City College of New York’s Spitzer School of Architecture. She is principal of Catherine Seavitt Studio, an interdisciplinary practice integrating landscape and public infrastructure. Her research focuses on design adaptation to sea level rise in urban coastal environments, as well as rethinking landscape restoration practices given the dynamics of climate change. Guy Nordenson is a structural engineer and professor of structural engineering and architecture at Princeton University. Nordenson was the structural engineer for the Museum of Modern Art expansion in New York, the Jubilee Church in Rome, the Simmons Residence Hall at MIT in Massachusetts, the Santa Fe Opera House, and over 100 other projects. Current projects include the expansion of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth and the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
One World Trade Center Tower I, New York, New York, 2003 Guy Nordenson and Associates with Skidmore Owings and Merrill) Model, 2003
C’era una volta un pezzo di legno... Once upon a time, there was a piece of wood… Carlo Collodi Le avventure di Pinocchio, 1883
Carlo Collodi wrote The Adventures of Pinocchio in 1883, the story of a poor Italian woodworker named Geppeto who creates a wooden puppet, but dreams of having a little boy. Making a scale model is a process of both creating a simulacrum of an imagined real thing (a building, a bridge, a tower) and making the thing itself, at a precise scale. Materials of the imagined reality are abstracted and replaced by other materials in the real simulacrum. But it is the structural properties of these model materials—their response to hot or cold connections, to various adhesives, to machining, sawing, and sanding—that determine the physical reality of the model. The structural performance of the thing imagined is abstractly calculated, but can the miniature model of that thing stand up by itself? Gravity takes on a new reality in the real model. Forces and resistance must be adjusted by scaling laws for correct representation. Similarly to Gepetto’s experience, the thing imagined (a real boy) takes on its own reality (a wooden puppet). So, what’s real in the world of the model? Is the physical model the manifestation of Baudrillard’s hyperreal? Perhaps we’ll leave that discussion to others. What we’ve learned is that sometimes the model takes flight, and becomes a thing in itself.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 14
CS: The model emphasizes the continuity of the structure through the tower’s entire height, with the disappearance of the occupy-able volume at the mid-point. When discussing the construction of the model, we chose to represent the thickness of each floorplate as a solid sheet of transparent Plexiglas, allowing the opacity of the drilled holes to read as columns when viewed in elevation. GN: I designed the first version of the World Trade Center Tower 1 (then Freedom Tower) with David Childs. It was a half building/half open antenna structure 2000 feet tall, torqued and tapered up from the parallelogram geometry of the block. This design was developed from May to December of 2003, independent of Daniel Liebeskind’s own proposal,but was eventually merged with that one by then New York Governor George Pataki to make the published Freedom Tower version. That design was abandoned two years later in favor of a new design by David Childs, now built. The model at the MoMA specifically represents the floor/floor dimension, interior and exterior columns, cable and twin mast upper structure, and the top tensegrity and antennae assembly.
Two Austrian Cultural Forum, New York, New York, 1993–2004 Raimund Abraham, with Structural Engineering by Guy Nordenson (Ove Arup & Partners) Model, 1993
CS: This very large scale model required an extremely high level of precision, an ethical skill drilled into my head by Raimund Abraham. I built this model in 1993 while still a student at Cooper Union, when Raimund offered me a summer job. He had just won the competition for the Austrian Cultural Institute (now the Austrian Cultural Forum). The intricacy and compression of the public spaces of the building are exposed in this model. Built at Raimund’s studio on Bond Street, with just a table saw and belt sander in the studio’s shop, I had to work within a margin of error of about 1/32” or less, or face the scrutiny of Raimund’s six-inch ruler. Luckily, wood proves to be much more forgiving than metal. We used drywall spackle as a filler, then sanded it smooth, which added a cloudy white patina to the basswood. The model was then painted with a light gray wash. Guy and I first met while working on this project. GN: The model was the first essay of the basic organization of the structure—concrete walls on the north, east and west and bare steel diagonal braces on the south face. The diagonals play off the figure at the lower façade. They are bare steel since they serve only to stiffen the building, which can carry the wind with only the three concrete walls. All this is clear in the model as well, as the intricate interlocking of the spaces revealed in the section. The model was the star of a small show on the building held at the MoMA and now, 20 years later, it lives at the MAK in Vienna. We can look forward to taking our sons to visit it there someday.
Three Seven Stems Broadcast Tower, Bayonne Pier, Bayonne, New Jersey, 2002–2005 Guy Nordenson and Associates with Henry N. Cobb, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Model, 2005
CS: Developed as a replacement for the broadcast antenna that was destroyed with the World Trade Center towers, I first saw this project, “Seven Stems,” when I met with my former boss Harry Cobb at Pei Cobb Freed, shortly after returning from a year and a half on a Fulbright fellowship in Brazil. Guy and Harry collaborated on the design of this tower, first sited on Wall Street next to the New York Stock Exchange. Guy’s suggestion to relocate it on the North Bayonne pier on the Jersey side of the New York Harbor was a step toward the re-envisioning of the Upper Harbor, which later led to our Palisade Bay proposal. The democratic idea of the open-work, dynamic vertical stems is studied in several future designs. The model is made of wood. GN: This project first appeared as a contribution to the September 2002 issue of the New York Times Magazine, organized by the late Herbert Muschamp to stir the dull debate on the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site. Herbert proposed building a broadcast tower on top of the New York Stock Exchange, which he expected would in time become extinct (now ten years later this has nearly come true). He asked me to propose something, and I asked Harry Cobb if he would work with me on the design. In early 2004, we developed the project for a site at the tip of the North Bayonne Pier for the Port Authority and Fisher Brothers as an alternative site for the TV broadcast antennae for New York City. The design was tested at varying scales as both a physical model and a digital computational fluid dynamic model. “Pinocchio,” continued on page 16.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 15
Models One Model by Studio Associates; source: Guy Nordenson and Associates/Collection of the MoMA; photo by Jack Pottle. Two Model by Catherine Seavitt; source: Atelier Raimund Abraham; photo by Liselott Van der Hejden. Three Model by E. Landry Smith; source: Guy Nordenson and Associates; photo by E. Landry Smith.
“Pinocchio,” continued from page 15.
Five Mississippi River Delta, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, 2010 Guy Nordenson and Associates / Catherine Seavitt Studio Model, 2010
Models Four Model by Catherine Seavitt with Stephen Cassell, John Hunter, Marianne Koch, Neda Mostafavi, Scott Shell, Michael Tantala, Yasmin Vobis, and Chris Yorke; source: Guy Nordenson and Associates; photo by Daniele Resini. Five Model by Catherine Seavitt with Stephen Cassell, Christine Chang, John Hunter, Marianne Koch, Neda Mostafavi, Scott Shell, Michael Tantala, Yasmin Vobis, Natalie Yates, and Chris Yorke; source: Guy Nordenson and Associates; photo by Daniele Resini.
Four New York / New Jersey Upper Harbor, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, 2010 Guy Nordenson and Associates / Catherine Seavitt Studio Model, 2010
CS: The didactic aspect of this model was to reveal the land as a continuous surface, a vessel containing fluid water. This continuous topographic / bathymetric base is grounded below the floating, crystalline volume of the water extracted and hovering above the ground. Rapid Ice Melt sea level rise (4’) and the projected surge inundation of a Category 2 hurricane (16’) are added, as dark and light transparent green Plexiglas layers, to the mean sea level, in clear Plexiglas, emphasizing the horizontal reach of floodwaters. The stacked Plexiglas contours are bolted together mechanically with threaded rods and nuts, without the use of any adhesive or solvent, and then suspended by cables from the ceiling. GN: It is common when drawing civil engineering works to use different vertical and horizontal scales for clarity, as the dimension in the vertical is often an order of magnitude smaller that in plan. This approach was adopted in this and the companion Mississippi delta model in order to dramatize the beauty of the topography / bathymetry and emphasize their continuity for our thinking in this project of climate adaptation. The representation of the zone of the water as a topographic solid with the liquid volume removed also drove home the dynamic interplay of the “forms” of water and land that has inspired our work on climate adaptation.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 16
CS: As in the model of Palisade Bay (our term for the New York / New Jersey Upper Harbor), the volume of the water is extracted from the continuous terrain below. But here the tapestry-like merging of water and land in this incredibly delicate wetland at the Mississippi River delta is represented in an inlaid, jig-saw plate, along with projected areas of sediment gain via new tributary conduits for floodwaters. This lace-like tapestry of land and water is contrasted with the depths of the Gulf of Mexico beyond the continental shelf. The deeply carved channel of the Mississippi River is represented by transparent rods whose lengths are equivalent to the sounding depths of the river. GN: The Mississippi model represents the proposal by LSU Professor Robert Twilley to change the flood management regime for the Atchafalaya/ Mississippi river system at the Old River flood control structure. With this plan, the Congressionally-mandated division of waters and sediments (now 30% Atchafalaya, 70% Mississippi) would shift in major flood events to bring more sediment through five diversions to rebuild the delta’s wetlands. This model represents these diversions in the solid volumetric representation of water. The vertical scale is the same as in the New York / New Jersey Upper Bay model, but the horizontal scale is much greater.
Six Patent Office Building Courtyard Enclosure, Washington, D.C., 2004 Guy Nordenson and Associates with Henry N. Cobb, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Model, 2004
Seven Gondola Tower for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, St Louis, Missouri, 2011 Guy Nordenson and Associates Model, 2011
CS: This model reveals the structural forces of the moment, or bending, deformations of the elements spanning across the top of the courtyard enclosure. Diagonal supports, reaching upward like a multi-stemmed tree, intersect the spanning beams and locally disrupt the pattern of forces.
CS: The dimensions of this model, an extraction of the support tower of a suspended cable car system traversing the Mississippi River at St. Louis, were determined by the constraints of the maximum dimensions of carry-on airline baggage—the model was to travel to St. Louis. Ideas from both Seven Stems and the WTC Tower One reappear here. The model of the tower is made entirely of silver rod and plate stock— silver is a very pleasant and soft material to saw, sand, and file. All parts are handmade composites, including the cable track at the top of the tower. We had to work within the zero-tolerance precision required by metals. Everything had to be dimensionally exact.
GN: The Smithsonian Institute held a competition for a roof to cover this courtyard. The design was a collaboration with Henry Cobb and was to be independent of the landmark buildings enclosing the courtyard. The two quad-column ‘trees’ are placed where two large trees had been located before, creating a balance in the otherwise asymmetrical space. Each quad is stabilized by four vertical tension rods. The roof is a two-way grid of pipes bent to follow the moment diagram under its self-weight; thus a system of post-tensioned cables running in the pipes in both directions would exactly balance this dead load and support the horizontal roof plane.
GN: The gondola is planned to link the park at the base of the St. Louis Arch park to new parks and public spaces on the east side of the Mississippi River, as part of an extensive restoration and expansion of the park by the National Parks Service and the cities of St. Louis and East St. Louis. The design of the towers, adapted from Seven Stems, also reduces wind drag with an open structure. The form of the structure transforms from narrow in the current direction at the base to narrow in the perpendicular direction in between the cables. The structural system is a Vierendeel truss.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 17
Models Six Model by Studio Associates; source: Guy Nordenson and Associates; photo by Jock Pottle. Seven Model by Catherine Seavitt, Yasmin Vobis, and Nino Krgovic; source: Guy Nordenson and Associates; photo by Jock Pottle.
APPEARANCE AND ACTION IN THE POETICS OF LANDSCAPE BY JASON SOWELL
Biography Jason Sowell is an associate professor in landscape architecture at The University of Texas at Austin. He teaches graduate level landscape architecture design studios and courses in landscape architecture technology. With a background in architecture and landscape architecture, Sowell’s research focuses on relationships between technology, landscape, and the city.
Citation of “poetics” by the landscape architecture discipline— if not allied design fields—often conflates the term’s adjective (poetic) and noun (poetics) forms, such that the landscape’s surfaces, experiences, or material details are described as simply artistic or creative artifacts.2 The discipline’s superficial use of the term interprets poetics according to a surface reading of form or effect rather than the underlying agency embedded within poetics as a process tied to making, creating, or producing. Appropriating this latter conceptual framework, this essay defines poetics as the creative principles or techniques that inform the landscape’s construction.3 Using this definition, the essay briefly traces the application of poetics with respect to symbolic allusions in late Italian Renaissance gardens and eighteenth-century English landscapes; and with respect to the open-ended relationships advanced by contemporary landscape theory. Noting this shift from representation to process in the design of landscapes, the essay advocates that poetics be understood according to appearance (what a landscape is) and action (what a landscape does). Poetics, taken from literary criticism, is specifically defined as the branch of knowledge that studies the techniques of poetry; and more broadly defined as the “creative principles informing any literary, social, or cultural construction.”4 Aristotle’s Poetics, the oldest known treatise on the subject, defined poetry and its classifications, analyzed plot structure with regard to poem quality, and discussed a poem’s components with regard to their number and contribution toward the poem’s intent.5 As one of Aristotle’s productive sciences, Poetics evolved from his contention that poiesis was the means of production for human artifacts conceived through téchne, or art.6 This tie to production provides a general understanding of poetics as a set of creative principles for making.7 Building on this, poetics is defined here as those techniques that direct the landscape’s design and construction, noting that the art of creating landscapes must be understood in relation to their social, technical, and biophysical context. The mid to late Italian Renaissance garden provides an example of poetics as a literary technique being adapted as a method for constructing place and experience. As landscape historian David Coffin notes in Gardens and Gardening in Papal Rome, garden design at that time was unable to turn to physical precedents as models that could inform garden making.8 Looking to embed Antiquity’s ideals into their physical landscapes, garden designers emulated aesthetic and literary theory in order to structure the garden as humanity’s attempt to possess an external world.9 Epic and pastoral poetry, in particular, provided descriptions for discovering the real world through specific themes, or topoi, which included pleasure and nostalgia, pastoral life, and the dangers and temptations of nature.10 Art historian Elisabeth MacDougall, in her seminal essay on garden iconography and literary theory, Ars hortulorum: Sixteenth Century Garden Iconography and Literary Theory in Italy, noted that the imprint of these themes in Italian gardens paralleled a correspond-
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 18
ing shift in the garden as an object to be viewed, to a garden as a set of spaces and volumes to be experienced through movement. To structure this movement, grove, grotto, and iconography were organized as an itinerary, as each type of element alluded to a literary narrative and conveyed a representational or symbolic meaning.11 The techniques adopted from poetics as a literary framework facilitated the reading of the Italian garden as a place distilled from an idealized cultural past and its present day context. Iconography in the form of statuary and inscriptions translated myths and epics into various allusions to humanity’s role in nature and art, the patron’s social status or activities, the site’s geographical position, and other philosophical themes. Numerous sixteenth century Roman villas exemplified these thematic techniques.12 The Villa d’Este’s lower cross axis (marked by fish pools) and its second cross axis (Alley of One Hundred Fountains) referred to nature and art, respectively; the upper cross axis referenced the Cardinal Hippolito d’Este of Ferrara’s patronage of the arts.13 Villa Carpi’s nymphaeum, including the statue of Hercules holding the apples from Hesperides, evoked pastoral life and the idyllic world of the Golden Age.14 In a manner similar to the Villas d’Este and Carpi, the Villa Lante’s terraces, fountains, and overall site organization connoted nature’s transformation through agriculture and horticulture and identified the site with Mount Parnassus.15 The garden’s enrichment with symbolic meaning derived from literary forms reached an apex with Vicino Orsini’s Sacro Bosco at Bomarzo. Here, statues and inscriptions reference various texts as well as specific events in Orsini’s life.16 The English gardens and landscapes of the early to mideighteenth century built upon the Italian Renaissance garden’s use of poetics as techniques for making landscapes. Leading garden practitioners and theorists of that time, including Alexander Pope and Horace Walpole, among others, aligned garden design with the “sister arts” of painting and poetry.17 Places for prospect and peregrination, iconography, and inscription alluded to pictorial and literary precedents as a means of directing how the garden was to be both read and experienced. In this manner, the garden’s design structured statuary and ornament against vegetation, light, and shade in a manner that referenced the “poetic garden of revelation and surprise,” if not gardens modeled on antiquity, Claudian landscape paintings, and the present day political context.18 The garden at Stowe epitomized these poetic techniques, in particular the grotto and temples tied to the Elysian Fields. The grotto, not unlike those found in the aforementioned Italian gardens, alluded to Egeria the water nymph and Muse. The Temple of Ancient Virtue, derived from the Temple of Vesta at Villa d’Este, was emblematic of English Augustanism. The Temple of the British Worthies, in like manner, referenced Whig opposition to the prior Stuart rule. Collectively, the temples, with the addition of the now demolished “ruin” known as the Temple of Modern Virtue, contrasted ancient ideals with British power and political discord and corruption at that time.19
The design of the Italian Renaissance and eighteenthcentury English gardens imparted meaning through techniques derived from literary and pictorial art forms. These techniques or principles informed the garden’s construction, such that the experiences of these gardens were determined in part by the very symbolic representations each landscape’s narrative referenced. These techniques call in to question the accessibility of the garden’s meaning if the visitor lacked the education to read the allusions, followed an unscripted itinerary that broke from the intended narrative, or simply imparted their own interpretation as they saw fit.20 In critique of the above questions, Thomas Whately’s Observations on Modern Gardening, published in 1770, distinguished between “emblematic,” or symbolic, landscape character; and “expressive,” or more abstract, landscape character that led to garden allusions or experiences evoking a range of interpretations. Whatley’s advocacy for a more open-ended reading of the landscape prefigured contemporary landscape theory’s advancement of a poetics that are inclusive of dynamic cultural and biophysical processes, rather than merely representations or symbols of ideas or images. In his essay “Ecology and Landscape as Agents of Creativity,” landscape architect James Corner emphasizes the need for poetics or techniques that construct meaningful relationships between diverse users, programs, and places. He further argues that these techniques should cultivate multiple readings and experiences, such that the design enables rather than restricts social interaction, engagement with physical phenomena, and ecological performance. Building on abstraction as a more open-ended process, Corner’s position reflects distinct differences between contemporary landscapes and the historical examples noted
above. Today’s designer is no longer a landscape’s single author; with complex sites (including former landfills and superfund sites, among others), programs, maintenance needs, and protracted implementation with respect to funding and construction, landscape architects facilitate and orchestrate multiple constituents over the life of a project. Given that the needs of individuals and communities change over time; and biophysical processes remain in flux across the site, contemporary landscapes must reflect the various viewpoints embedded in their making and management. Toward this end, the underlying organization of the landscape must provide a robust structure (relationships between landform, hydrology, vegetation, and program) that is able to adapt as the project’s implementation unfolds, yet not be so rigid that it restricts any meaning that the user might impart. Poetics in landscape architecture has shifted from a historically literal translation of poetry as a garden to a more open-ended, contemporary set of techniques that guide the landscape’s development at each stage in the design process. In each case, poetics determine what the landscape is (appearance) and what it does (action). The historical examples link appearance with action such that the representational or symbolic meanings directly inform movement, interpretation, and experience. In essence, the landscape as a narrative became the overriding program through which the garden was engaged. The contemporary landscape, however, links appearance with action such that the dialectic between the two terms establishes landscape as a support for multiple users, programs, and experiences, rather than simply being the program in and of itself. Understood in this manner, poetics as a process of making sets the stage for appearance to evolve from the very actions tied to its construction. “Sowell,” continued on page 20.
Image Hundred Fountain Allée, Villa d’Este, Tivoli, Italy.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 19
“Sowell,” continued from page 19.
NOTES 1. I am deeply indebted to my colleagues for their assistance on this topic. Dr. Steven Moore discussed the essay when it was in its very early stages and provided critical feedback to the basic structure and thesis. Dr. Mirka Beneš, always a positive force of criticism, lent advice on content, organization, and source materials. Dr. Allan Shearer—whose current research and seminars (which reference Thomas Whately’s work on gardens and Shakespeare) have focused on defining a theoretical framework for landscape architecture’s concerns with performance—provided, as always, valuable insight into how I could discuss representation/symbolism and process/performance as “appearance” and “action,” respectively. 2. Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 20 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989. Accessed via http://www.oed.com/. See poetic, adj. 3. Ibid. See 1b. poetics, n. and poiesis, n. To note, I use the broad definition of construction to reference the putting together of ideas and/or materials. 4. Oxford English Dictionary, poetics, n. 1b. 5. Aristotle. Poetics. Accessed via http://www.gutenberg.org/ files/1974/1974-h/1974-h.htm. 6. For a discussion of Aristotle’s general philosophical framework, see http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle/. For a useful guide to understanding Poetics, see also http://www.english.hawaii.edu/ criticalink/aristotle/index.html. 7. “Technology as a scientific capacity to produce,” http://www. creatingtechnology.org/eng/techne.htm. 8. David Coffin. Gardens and Gardening in Papal Rome (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1991). Examples of gardens from antiquity had simply not survived intact. Unlike architecture, which could reference (if not physically experience) remnants of buildings in various stages of completeness, garden design had only written descriptions of landscapes for use as models or precedents. 9. Terry Comito, The Idea of the Garden in the Renaissance (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1978). 10. Elisabeth MacDougall, “Ars hortulorum: Sixteenth Century Garden Iconography and Literary Theory in Italy,” in The Italian Garden, ed. David Coffin (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 1972). 11. Ibid. Each of the elements (grove, grotto, statue) imitated various literary themes and were intended to evoke different moods (fear, isolation, pleasure, etc). MacDougall further notes that given limited accounts and descriptions of these garden, not all of a garden’s allusions or intended readings can be discerned. 12. Given the essay’s brevity, and the extensiveness of poetic allusion contained within Italian gardens of this time period, only a few examples will be briefly noted. For further reading, Coffin’s and MacDougall’s work on this topic is both seminal and comprehensive. Both describe in great detail several Roman villas and their iconographic content. Equally important, both discuss this technique for designing and detailing gardens with respect to larger cultural practices in literary theory, art, and aesthetics prevalent at that time. 13. Coffin, 87-91. 14. MacDougall, 55. 15. Coffin, 93-95.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 20
16. Coffin, 103-125. 17. John Dixon Hunt. “Emblem and Expressionism in the Eighteenth-Century Landscape Garden,” Eighteenth-Century Studies, 4, no. 3 (spring 1971): 294-317. Hunt references annotations made by Walpole to William Mason’s Satirical Poems: The quote is as follows: “Poetry, Painting, and Gardening, or the Science of Landscape, will forever by men of taste be deemed Three Sisters, or the Three New Graces who dress and adorn nature.” 18. Marion Harney. “Pope and Prior Park: a study in landscape and literature,” Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscape: An International Quarterly 27, no. 3 (2007): 183-196. Harney’s essay discusses Pope’s general garden theories, specifically his insistence that the garden be derived from site and place (genius loci); and create “poetic landscapes based on antiquity and allusion.” In addition, Harney traces the development of Prior Park with respect to Pope’s garden ideals, precedents he referenced, and the design’s organization of path, planting, and iconography. Her essay proves useful for articulating how poetics provided a set of techniques for garden making in the English landscape during the eighteenth century. 19. Hunt 299-301. See also Stephen Bending’s “Re-reading the Eighteenth-Century English Landscape Garden,” in Huntington Library Quarterly, 55, no. 3 (summer 1992): 379-399. 20. For further reading on these questions see Robert Neal’s “Adorning nature: emblematic sculpture in the early eighteenthcentury garden,” Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes: An International Quarterly, 29, no. 1-2 (2009): 44-56; and Stephen Bending’s “Re-reading the Eighteenth-Century English Landscape Garden,” in Huntington Library Quarterly, 55, no. 3 (summer 1992): 379-399. Both essays probe the matter of how eighteenth century landscape gardens were read or misread. Referencing Thomas Whately’s terms for “emblematic” and “expressive” inferences within the garden, the essays examine the time period’s garden theories and the use of literary techniques in the making of the garden; if not the degree to which one had to understand the allusions in order to have meaningful experiences in the gardens. See also John Dixon Hunt’s essay “Emblem and Expressionism in the Eighteenth-Century Landscape Garden,” given how Neal and Bending each discuss Hunt’s conclusions in their respective essays. 21. Thomas Whately. Observations on Modern Gardening, fourth edition (London: T. Payne and Son, 1777). Accessed from John Adams Library via: http://ia700307.us.archive.org/18/items/ observationsonmo00what/observationsonmo00what.pdf. See page 165 of pdf (150-151 of original text). Discussions with Dr. Allan Shearer provided an introduction to Whately’s emblematic and expressive terms. See endnote 20 for additional reading on this topic. 22. James Corner. “Ecology and Landscape as Agents of Creativity,” in Ecological Design and Planning, eds. George F. Thompson and Frederick R. Steiner (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1993). Corner’s early essay helped set the stage for an understanding of landscape predicated on process, adaptation, and agency. For additional reading on this topic, see Corner’s edited collection, Recovering Landscape (1999); Julia Czerniak’s and George Hargreaves’ edited collection, Large Parks (2007); and Charles Waldheim’s edited collection, The Landscape Urbanism Reader (2006).
POETICS, DWELLING, IMAGINATION, POLITICS WHY POETICS IN AN AGE OF FORMAL INVENTION? BY CLIVE DILNOT
PART I In an age in which architecture is apparently more configuratively emancipated, or at least is permitted a greater degree of formal play, than at any time in the recent past, why should it bother with the weight and the difficulty of poetics? Seemingly (if not in truth) unhampered by necessity, architecture today appears to have achieved an enviable condition of weightlessness and artless freedom, one that belies the necessity of anything that might tie down the formal imagination. Yet outside of Italo Calvino—who famously placed lightness as the first of the virtues for our millennium1—others have been less sure. As the title of his most well-known work suggests, the other great European literary expert on lightness, the Czech author Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being) sees lightness not as a virtue, but a threat. For him, lightness is not a freeing, but its opposite, “a terrifying burden not to be borne another instant.” In his novels, Kundera’s central characters constantly discover that that which holds out the promise of levitating us above the weight of the world (acts subtracted of all relations) turns out to be a hell. Once our acts have lost all reference, then the true horror is not the heaviness of the deed, but “the unbearable absence of weight” in everything we do.2 Moreover, if we look no further than at the contrasting fates of Daniel Libeskind in Berlin (1989—the Jewish Museum) and Daniel Libeskind in New York (the Freedom Tower), we can see that this notion of a lightness of emancipated formal play is somewhat illusory. Where it matters—in 98% of building—the rubric of economics (or what comes to the same thing, convention) holds. Formal invention is sanctioned in almost exact proportion to the social, economic, and political inconsequentially of the project.3 Today, it often announces nothing other more than “Culture” in the high sense—all opera houses are sensational in aspect, all new museums dramatic in their exterior (the latter precisely in order to mask the paucity of contents within). Meanwhile, the median quality of the built world, as with the physical environment in general, shrivels in line with the more general destitution of the public domain. But in any case, what is vaunted and presented as dramatic formal invention is often nothing other than a mixture of the projection of the ego-without-judgment (encouraged by those who see spectacle as a source of additional rents— why else would an architect of Renzo Piano’s intelligence and sensitivity connect himself to the banality of the Shard for example?)4 and what technical software now permits. Once, however, it runs against the latter’s limits, imagination has nowhere to go: lacking a deeper ethic, and without the succor of building to draw upon, it retreats rapidly into acceptable sensation.5 Outside of architecture, however, a public is growing as tired of gesture without substance as it is with instrumental maximization of floor plans dressed up as the “spirit of the age.” The Bund remains the most genuinely modern moment in Shanghai. The rest convinces noone; we merely agree to make use of what we are provided
with and grow immune to the oscillation between the scenography and instrumentalism (as the experience when, directed to the bathrooms in such buildings, one is suddenly propelled outside the fantasy of the restaurant, and one encounters in the back corridor the unscripted utilitarianism of the toilets, the latter, one concludes, slightly less hardfaced than the former). All this suggests, not an excess of invention, but its lack. And it points, as well, both to underlying fragility in the contemporary bubble of architecture, and a visible cleavage in building and making—first, between the vaunted “creativity” of representational software and the realities of the act of building; second, between architecture conceived as the “free exercise” of art and poetry or poetics conceived as “the very name of man’s doing.” We can trace here the inimical effects of a division of labor that might once have held significance (the struggle to create an autonomous profession and discipline),6 but which now tends to condemns architecture to a caricature of its origins.7 This history, in which autonomy was paid for by marginality, passes through into what now-is. On one side, poetics is traduced by economics (which mocks it for not being able to supply the same mathematical ratios that the latter can now offer to manage everything but the economy itself), while on the other, formal invention traverses (and trumps) the contexts of building. But although architecture sails beyond the contexts of building, because it cannot, in the same moment, identify with any of them—or with any of the other prosaic contents that might ground its act other than in whim or force—it is nonetheless emptied of all content.8 It loses its ontological bearings, and with it, cultural resonance beyond the superficial attempt to awe. In this respect, the pretense that algorithmic or formal invention acting alone can generate material relations that possess more than formal significance cannot not survive the parallel with the fine arts. Just as today we sense that in art the ultimate truth of the work that is given to us is really nothing other than an insistent, child-like, demonstration of the ability of “the free subjectivity of the artistic principle” to operate independent of, and in the absence of, content, so the same condition (which involves the absolute valorization of the artist per se) spreads to building. In this state, architecture comes close to what Agamben tells us that art already is: “a self-annihilating nothing.”9 That “the concrete space of the work disappears” is, in Agamben’s view, a consequence not of formalism per se (which would merely be the symptom), but of the inability of art (or architecture) to “measure itself to the essential origin of the work.”10 This essential origin of work is not (as Victor Hugo recognized) in art, or even in architecture, considered as a discipline,11 but in the wider understanding of the poetic as the realm or name of man’s doing as a whole. According to Agamben, the term poetic or poetry refers here, as in its Greek usage, first, to the act of producing in general—producing as bringing into being the presencing of
“Dilnot,” continued on page 22.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 21
Biography Clive Dilnot is professor of design studies, School of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons The New School for Design. His areas of interest include fine art, history of art, and social philosophy. He has taught at Harvard University and in the United Kingdom. Dilnot has served as professor of design studies and director of design initiatives at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, and directed graduate studies in design in Hong Kong. He has written extensively on the history and theory of art, design, and architecture. His most recent work has been on design ethics.
Notes, 1–3 1. Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium. New York, Vintage, 1996. 2. Cf. Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The two quotations are taken respectively from his novels The Joke and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. On page 137 of his The Art of the Novel (New York, Harper: 1986) Kundera quotes himself: “Raskolinkov experienced his act of murder as a tragedy and staggered under the weight of the deed. Jacob was amazed to find that his deed was light, easy to bear, light as air. And he wondered whether there was not more horror in this lightness than in all the hysterical emotions of the Russian hero” (from The Farewell Party). 3. From the other side: in relation to a project’s ascribed symbolic value. As this value reduces, so the need for formal expression of symbolism recedes. This was the case with the replacement for the towers of the World Trade Center. In 2001, it seemed important to mark these symbolically as well in restoring their presence. As each year has passed, so it has became easier to slough off symbolism (poetics) and return to business. Today, we are almost back to where we began.
“Dilnot,” continued from page 21.
Notes, 4–7 4. The Shard is banal. It’s almost null as a technical achievement, while its grotesque scale in a London incapable since 1945 of planning well for high-rise buildings, simply conforms Heidegger’s prediction of the 1930s that our culture would go increasingly towards the “nullity” of the gigantic (but emptied gestures)—see the final paragraphs of the essay “Age of the World Picture” in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays (New York, Harper, 1976). 5. Architecture today is very largely an art of mass entertainment—its formal devices are as calculated for acceptable effects as laugh-lines in a television comedy. It is difficult to think of a recent building that is configuratively shocking in manner genuinely challenging intellect or sensibility. 6. The fateful pedagogical—but more than pedagogical—split, which is registered everywhere between 1760 and 1840 is that which fragments, as a disaster for both, civil engineering and architecture. It is part of that wider intellectual division of labor on which modernity is built, between technics, aesthetics, and ethics—that division which calls design into being (as the healing moment), but denies it the capacity to act (since its denies design a cognitive space and continues to privilege the (deformed) specialist moment. We are now at the point where we are objectively discovering the absolute limits of these concepts—of Kantian aesthetics, of “technology” (which as concept can now longer grasp where what we call technology is now going), and of ethics reduced to social norms, without material or substantive weight. In the next decades, the re-construction of these fundamental moments, and their reintegration, will reshape the intellectual landscape in ways equivalent to the onset of the modern university. 7. As that which is defined by the fact that it is not civil engineering nor urban design or intervention, nor again the investigation of what dwelling can be, what is it that this residual and merely negatively defined practice might lay claim to, what might it be?
things,12 and second, as Heidegger had earlier insisted, also and simultaneously as the act of (qualitatively) measuring and gauging our existence. The poetic (as poiesis) is therefore the realm where we think producing in terms of being (as presencing and becoming) and produce that which contains within it the space where we can reflect upon being/ becoming. In its first instance then, poiesis is production into presence, the act of causing something (in the case of building, a possibility) to pass from nonbeing to being, from concealment (invisible potentiality) into the propositional fullness of the work.13 The essential character of the work undertaken here is not praxis thought as will,14 but poiesis understood as a process or mode of unveiling:15 the work unveils what is possible, and it does so through the complex inventive configurative negotiation with the circumstances that bear upon it.16 That poiesis is located here (and not in the mere immediate expression of an act, as in praxis or will) means that this act of unveiling that produces the work situates the work in a very particular dimension of being, what Agamben calls the space of our “authentic temporal dimension,” the space or “dimension in which the very structure of man’s being-in-the-world and his relation with truth and history are at stake. By opening to man [this] dimension, the work of art also opens for him the space of his belonging to the world, only within which can he take the original measure of his dwelling on earth and find again his present truth in the unstoppable flow of linear time.”17 It is because the work (potentially) opens this authentic temporal dimension, that poiesis or the poetic can also be that which gives the measure to dwelling18 and, specifically, building. In Heidegger’s most lapidary summary: “this does not mean, though, that the poetic is merely an ornament and added bonus to dwelling. Nor does the poetic character of dwelling mean merely that that the poetic turns up in some way or other in all dwelling. Rather, the phrase ‘poetically man dwells’ says: poetry first causes dwelling to be dwelling. Poetry is what really lets us dwell. But through what do we attain to a dwelling place? Through building. Poetic creation, which lets us dwell, is a kind of building.’19 PART II So tainted is it by association with anti-modernism, and by what we might call the “theology” of dwelling,20 that it is almost impossible today to use the word “dwelling.” Yet the notion of actively (operatively, transitively)21 “building a world for man’s dwelling on earth” captures the ontological dimension of poiesis not as nostalgia, but as the pre-figurative and the propositional, i.e., as the discovery of what might be possible.22 In an age where we are told that, in respect of anything other than the extrapolation of what politically, economically, or technologically is, that qualitative transformation of the world is impossible, it is necessary to insist on how radical as well as necessary this proposition is. Of course, we permit action-as-will, especially in the form of the drive (to which we are almost pathologically addicted).23
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 22
But will is always within the logic of what is already dominant,24 even if it is the will to realize what is most extreme.25 What is forbidden then is not will, but, in effect, any conception (and any practice) of the fundamental reconfiguration (the qualitative transformation)26 of what-is—particularly, but by no means only, in the economic and political sphere.27 Yet, if poetics is the act of measuring and gauging existence in terms of what we bring into being—if it is in some ways nothing more or less than the insistence of so doing—we are by definition speaking of the qualitatively possible; the possible that, for reasons just noted, is other to how we now are (the possible that today we require in order to stave off destitution, to induce at least the possibility of a hospitable world).28 In this respect, the loss of poiesis, or loss of the experience of “production into ethical presence,” is serious, above all in respect to the public realm. Let me give an instance. There is a bridge in Miami on Northwest 27th Avenue. At its opening in 1939, after its expansion in 1938-39 as part of the New Deal, H. A. Wortham, regional director of the Public Works Administration, dedicated the newly inaugurated bridge “to the construction of good for mankind.” An artist comments, in relation to a contemporary exhibit that utilizes some surviving fragments of the bridge, “this simple phrasing […] served to convert an act of labor (i.e., construction) and a product of labor (i.e., a bridge) into philosophical and moral precepts. The structure itself now stands as a monument to that moment in time when good design and public works were equated with the general welfare of a people, a society, and a nation itself.”29 Although the phasing is trite (i.e., it sounds embarrassing, to our ears, particularly in an architectural context), it nonetheless conveys a respect for and an interest in the public domain that is today sorely lacking.30 Thus, though easy to mock, disavowal of what is at best implied here misses the point that it is precisely in the attempt to make this kind of extraordinary translation (of matter into ethics through space and technics) that architecture lives as other than superficiality.31 What purely formal possibility represses— and often viciously—is production as the revealing into presence of something which we can think of as the revealing into actuality of possibility, a revealing which, because it is revealing directly of our potential status on earth, cannot be untied from ontological, political, and ethical reflection of who and how we are and might be.32 Because, architecture tends, almost endemically, to be constantly reductive of discovery to formal invention, a counter that places discovery back into the ontological dimension is useful. In The Art of the Novel, Milan Kundera insists that the work of the novel is to protect against the “forgetting of being,” not, however, by remembering or recalling this-or-that moment of existent being, but by discovering new forms or ways of being and acting: “the sole raison d’être of a novel is to discover what only the novel can discover. A novel that does
not discover a hitherto unknown segment of existence is immoral. Knowledge is the novel’s only morality.”33 Kundera adds, later in the same book: “A novel examines not reality, but existence. And existence is not what has occurred; existence is the realm of human possibilities, everything that man can become, everything that he’s capable of. Novelists draw up the map of existence by discovering this or that human possibility.”34 The realm subsumed by the activity we still call “architecture” is not that of the novel. Nonetheless, Kundera’s Occam’s Razor of an ethic applies. Architecture on this reading is—or should be—the discovery of hitherto unknown or unforeseen possibilities for conditions of dwelling. Poetics enters this process (via design)35 as an agency of transformation. PART III A second instance might show this. In 1940, in Mexico City, Barragán, then 38, is then little more than a builder of houses and apartment blocks that are eminently forgettable even by the standards of the time. (If they are photographed today it is only by association with his name). Disgusted by this implication in creating what are, in his view, conditions inimical to the real conditions of dwelling, he retires, renouncing architecture. Our current interest in him stems from how he then proceeded to act. A range of possibilities was open to Barragán at that moment: the complete renunciation of building; a return to Mexican traditionalism; a focus perhaps on art, or even religious contemplation. All, in different ways, were close to his interests. But Barragán does none of these. Instead he builds, but no longer houses or apartment blocks; he builds gardens—which he periodically sells off for building lots. The word “builds” applies because these are substantial projects; walls, staircases, often of significant size and mass, figure prominently. As is well known, this not insubstantial focus on the “garden” turns, circa 1948, into the project of El Pedregal, the master planning of 800 acres of lava rock to the (then) south of Mexico City as a site for a mode of dwelling in which buildings and landscape would exist in reciprocal relationship to one another. Across the 1950s and 1960s, Barragán is involved in a number of such projects. Out of them come many of the most distinctive moments36 of Barragán’s oeuvre. Amongst them are almost no buildings in the conventional sense. Thus, for example, at San Cristobal, the house-stable complex created to the north of the city, the house is inconsequential and the stable buildings count for almost nothing, instead, in remarkable inversion, the focus of the project are the walls and fountain of the stable yard. What is Barragán doing in these moments? He is not “doing architecture” in any of the usual senses of the word. To be sure, he deploys architectonic sensibilities and capabilities; but his project cannot be reduced to Architecture in any conventional sense. The renunciation of 1940 was deep. It is broken only exceptionally (his own house, the conversion he
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 23
makes for a convent, one or two houses for friends, the late Gilardi house). What he has instead created—with an ontological or existential poetics as the driver—is something quite different, something close to an “expanded field” of practice. If we go back to Barragán in 1940, his situation is roughly as if, for him at that moment, architecture has become that which is without affirmative content; it is instead a negation, defined as that which is not-dwelling and not-building. What his practice after 1940 explores is, first, what is possible in terms of building once one has renounced Architecture (in this sense); second, what is otherwise possible in terms of building by thinking affirmatively—but critically—in terms of “dwelling” and “building.” What Barragán proposes is that it is possible, in practice, to think past the diremption or the non-identity of dwelling and building, “on condition, of course, that a number of parameters be abandoned, a number of novelties introduced.”37 The parameters abandoned are those pertaining to the limitations of architecture as a practice, as it was developing for Barragán in Mexico City in the 1940s; the “novelty” introduced is a wholesale reconceptualization of building practice considered now for dwelling and taking the form, at its largest extent, of something like a conception of “gardens-with-walls-as-site-of-dwelling,” and later “gardens-with-walls-as-art.”38 It is true that what Barragán builds between 1948 and his death does not in itself instantiate a new generalized practice of building. As with the failure of El Pedregal, one could, in a sense, say that Barragán’s entire project was a failure. The case is easily made that the entire oeuvre amounts to a few isolated indicative and over-precious gestures (the “Red Wall” at Los Clubes would be an obvious instance). The charge here would be romanticism—that Bauman produced nothing more than a series of formal fragments that are not even architecture, items without social interest or social meaning. There is truth in such a critique, but it would also miss the point, and in two ways. First, for all the expansion of architecture and landscape design as disciplines across the last decades, the expanded practice to which Barragán is effectively working and pointing (“gardens-with-wallsas-site-of-dwelling”/”gardens-with-walls-as-art”) remains massively undeveloped. No-one has taken up the project Barragán outlines, in quite as radical a way. In many ways, its possibilities, as a practice radically outside the limits of what is (still) thought as “architecture” (the discrete object, as monument), remain un-realized. Second, although, in Barragán, in individual moments, the poetic gesture seems to take on the social form that Adorno identifies with works of art—that they point to a practice (the redeemed life) from which, as works of art, they must refrain—in actuality, because as things and events, they are also indisputably in the world as functioning entities they enter and engage directly with the values of the world. Seen
“Dilnot,” continued on page 24.
Notes, 8–15 8. Form makes a virtue of whim, but when gestures become merely aleatory then the ultimate arbiter is always force—or in architecture interest, which means private interest, the weight of money. 9. Giorgio Agamben, The Man Without Content, trans. Georgia Albert, (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1999) p. 56. 10. The argument continues: “Artistic subjectivity without content is the pure force of negation that everywhere and at all times affirms only itself as absolute freedom that mirrors itself in pure selfconsciousness. And, just as every content goes under in it, so that the concrete space of the work disappears in it, the space in which […] man’s dwelling on earth used to take its diametrical measurement.” 11. Architecture has sustained itself as an institution by creating itself as a discipline—complete with historical litany, but does it thereby gain the ability to grasp itself as other than a discipline? The evidence would suggest it does not. 12. Agamben, ibid. p. 68. 13. In the critical mode it is “propositional” fullness, because the work does not claim absolute status. It is the plenitude of a configuration (“This?”) not the fiat of an absolute (“This!”). The obscenity of works like the Shard is their pretense to an absolute condition, their lack of any critical question. But it is because they do not constitute themselves as questions that they lack true form. See on this vital point some observations in Roland Barthes, On Racine (New York, Hill & Wang, 1964). 14. It is not Howard Roark. 15. Agamben, ibid, p.69.
“Dilnot,” continued from page 23.
Notes, 16–19 16. The art historian Michael Baxandall offers a provoking reflection on circumstances and originality in art (and by extension architecture): “The painter registers his individuality […] by his particular perception of the circumstances he must address. Indeed, if one is to think of a painter ‘expressing himself,’ it is most of all here, in the analysis of his environment which, schematically speaking, precedes the process of painting itself, that one can most securely locate an individuality. There is often a curious impersonality about the actual working out of a solution in the medium. The painter’s medium of forms and colors and distances, visually perceived and pictorially deployed, is almost as impersonal as the structural properties of steel. But the painter’s formulation of a Brief is a very personal affair indeed. […] the elements of Picasso’s problem were […] freely selected by Picasso out of an array, and arranged by Picasso into a problem constituting the immediate Brief. However, if Picasso is to be thought of as formulating his own Brief, he did so as a social being in cultural circumstances.” Michael Baxandall, Patterns of Intention (New Haven, Yale UP, 1985) p. 46-47. 17. Ibid. p. 101. 18. The crucial reminder here is that when Heidegger uses the world “dwelling” which he takes explicitly from the poet Hölderlin, he does not mean dwelling in the sense of literal sense, but ‘the basic character of human existence’ (as finite, as beyond the finite, as a staying on earth, as a negotiation with the conditions of so doing). See “”… Poetically Man Dwells …” in Marin Heidegger, Poetry, Language Thought (New York, Harper, 1976) p. 215. 19. Martin Heidegger, “Poetically Man Dwells,” in Albert Hofstader, trans., Poetry, Language, Thought (New York, Harper, 1972) p. 215. One should also consider, from the same volume, the essays “What Are Poets For?,” as well as the more famous (in architecture) “Building Dwelling Thinking.”
on one level, they self-consciously post their unreality (as any other work of high art or architecture), but on another, as materialized—realized—and working presences in the world (massive in their substantiality), they are already realizations of what they point to; already actual, already measures in actuality of the possibility of dwelling. The entire possibility of architecture as a pre-figurative art lies here. That the work satisfies the material requirements of its actualization, but in the same moment launches itself—and thus reflection upon it—beyond the limitations of (deficient) existence that it nonetheless speaks to. The work is the simulacrum of that which is not yet, but in the paradoxical form of that which exists in the here and now. These works are then negotiations with the possibility of existence. They offer an appearing (and not simply the appearance) of genuine otherness—which explains their power to compel us to become interested in them. One proof of this is that they do not survive translation. Attempts to build in the mode of Barragán (Legoretta) are a failure; their content evaporates. The core of Barragán’s projects (which work in fact, as something akin to the idea of “texts” that Barthes used to speak about so lovingly in the 1970s) do not lie within the formal devices that he deploys, but in what lies behind the construing of that event; the felt weight of that act—however lightly worn these might be in any instance (thus the exhilaration of the Gilardi house).39 Formalism, by contrast, places everything in the form itself. Like its twin, instrumentalism, it leaves nothing over (no excess) within which can appear a genuine otherness. There can be no reflection on dwelling in formalism, because in its lightness nothing other can be encapsulated. This is why formalism inspires repetition, but is incapable (beyond the moment when it becomes fashionable and appears to stand for “now” and for a “liberation from what was”) of genuinely moving subjects, or of orienting action. Barragán, by contrast, sees the poetic as agency of the recovery of a deeper poiesis, a deeper means of making, that which Agamben grasped as (to repeat) the opening of the “dimension in which the very structure of man’s being-in-the-world and his relation with truth and history are at stake.” This is the space of our belonging to the world, the only space in which we “take the original measure of [our] dwelling on earth and find again [our] present truth in the unstoppable flow of linear time.”40 Hegel said that philosophy was its own time conceived as thought. Architecture—in the expanded field— is our time conceived in relation to the artificial through which we exist.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 24
PART IV – BERLIN CODA There is more, much more, that should be said about renunciation and affirmation and the critical worked into the affirmation of building. However, given a limit of words, I shall bring in a contrasting example. To the southwest of Daniel Liebskind’s Jewish museum in Berlin, in the streets around the Bayerischer Platz in Schöneberg, once the hub of an intensive Berlin Jewish neighborhood (both Einstein and Hannah Arendt lived there at times), there is a project which, at first glance, appears to be a piece street-art. Done in the slightly naïve style of a child’s first reader and fixed on lampposts, perhaps three meters off the ground, are a series (80 in total) of printed metal images. These images are largely of mundane objects—a loaf of bread, a string of pearls, an ashtray, a letterbox, an Alsatian Dog, a striped shirt. Occasionally, they are signs or marks (the outline of child’s hopscotch-game in chalk, the Olympic rings, the letters “DB”). Despite (or because) of their often literalness, they are equivocal and enigmatic. Their meaning becomes clear only when one reads what is on the reverse—extracts from laws, rules and regulations, often petty, but ultimately of the utmost consequence, that were applied to the daily life of the Jewish population of Berlin from 1933 to 1942. Thus one reads for example, on the reverse of the sign “Bread”: “Jews may only buy bread between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., 1942”; or, under the hopscotch sign, the edict banning Jewish and German children playing together). These ordinances were persecutory and humiliating. They were often petty, always ultimately with threat. Their real intent was the erasure, in the minds of other Germans, of the Berlin Jews as fitting members of the German community. After 1941, they can only be seen as the preparation for murder. What one is encountering is, therefore, a Holocaust memorial, but it is unlike any of the others in the city.41 It is in no wise “architectural,” but “Places of Remembrance” nonetheless contains lessons for building. Created in 1993 by the artist and art historians Renata Stih and Freidrick Schnock, the memorial is not primarily concerned with lamentation or death,42 but with the conditions—meaning the politics—of what it took to be able to finally declare the Jews of Berlin (and elsewhere) non-persons. Interspersed amongst the trees and apartment blocks of the re-built neighborhood, the memorial achieves precisely what the artists themselves claim of their work: “Together, the words and images force passers-by to remember the almost-forgotten history of this neighborhood. The decrees set by the National Socialists systematically forced Jews out of daily life and gradually robbed them of their basic rights. Isolation and discrimination paved the way for deportations and mass murder. By walking through the streets, the observer can relate to the way in which these regulations eroded basic human rights. Instinctively, questions about the past and about present events evolve.”43
The genius of “Places of Remembrance” is multiple. First, on the most immediate and visceral level, is the manner in which the printed images initially incite engaged puzzlement and then, once one learns their reference, make real (if by no means always simply literally) both the material substance of the regulations and the wider narrative(s)—both National Socialist and that of the artists—at work here.44 (It is to the record of “Places of Remembrance,” that of all the memorials to the Holocaust, this is one of the few that take up the weight of privation suffered by the Jewish population of Berlin on their way towards extermination).45 The notquite literalness of the images works to take us straight to the material implications of the regulations—which is when we feel their vindictiveness and cruelty most sharply.46 Second, of equal import, instead of, as with a traditional memorial, withdrawing or subtracting the memorial to a discrete place (where lamentation is permitted to take place in an quasi-sacred setting outside of the everyday and outside of this history—our history, the history of now and the history to come for us), “Places of Remembrance,” on the contrary, deliberately—even profanely—inverts this notion, distributing its uncomfortable reminders of the mechanisms of persecution around the streets of present-day Schöneberg—the work therefore cuts across time. It does not either seek to cut out a sacred time or to try to make what was of its time into an eternal moment (which is what every reading of the Holocaust almost cannot help but want to achieve). Against the “externalization” of Holocaust tragedy, its understanding—i.e., its understanding for then and for us—is dependent on the opposite, on insisting that it occurred only, and even merely, as a political sequence. Third is the astonishing economy of what we are presented with, combined with what we can only call its all-but-utilitarian, almost anonymous, manner of presence. It should be noted that in Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium, lightness, or the desire for lightness, is not separated from the weight of privation and “constricted life.” On the contrary, Calvino sees the desire for the one in dialectical relationship with the other.47 In “Places of Remembrance,” this is played out in the physical condition of the memorial, which is at once infinitely smaller (in architectonic or structural volume) and infinitely greater (in terms of the geographic area of Berlin covered) than Liebskind’s or Eisenmann’s memorials. Indeed, the contrast between the excess yet held-in (economically restrained) conditions of the latter two versus the open, if not potentially all-but-infinite, condition of the Schöneberg memorial is marked. Against the “weightlessness” of the latter, the (formal) gestures of Libeskind and the monumentality of Eisenman look over-wrought; inert, full of the opacity of the world as-is, but strangely empty in content, as if they had in fact nothing to say concerning the truth of the Holocaust—as indeed they do not, since they propose nothing concerning it, other than that we recall it, an abstraction, in their presence.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 25
In both cases, re-appropriated through acceptable avantgarde techniques, architectural monumentality proves unable to do little more than mark a space. More to the point perhaps, history is an afterthought in the one (Liebskind’s museum was clearly never conceived to show anything but itself) and is buried underground in the other (for why should history disturb immaculate gesture?)—by contrast, the resonance of “Places of Remembrance” is to what is outside of itself thought as art, but to what is internal to it, thought as history. Finally, there is the question of praxis, the action that arises. The concluding sentences of Adorno’s essay, “The Meaning of Working through the Past,” run as follows. “The past will have been worked through only when the causes of what happened then have been eliminated. Only because the causes continue to exist does the captivating spell of the past remain to this day unbroken.”48 But for this to begin to occur, the past has to be confronted in way that allows cause to become visible—and this depends, crucially,49 on the manner of the way in which the past is made present, whether it is left as “reproach” or as that which can be—and for the state of the victims, must be—comprehended. And if we can do the latter, might we not then find our way back to forms of acting that are less reactive to the nihilisms of the present? If we do this—if we can make an event that can take on the conditions of historical murder—do we not thereby construct that which is capable of (re)constituting this past itself? And is that perhaps, as Zizek has recently claimed, “the most succinct definition of what an authentic act is: in our ordinary activity, we effectively just follow the […] coordinates of our identity, while an act proper is the paradox of an actual move which (retroactively) changes the very virtual “transcendental” coordinates of its agents being.”50 Acts of this type not only create—posit—actual new realities, they also retroactively change the very conditions under which we act. They are, in a deep sense, acts that give us essential degrees of freedom. The work of Poetics—the weight of poetics, always borne lightly, if it is to succeed—is the work of concept and choreography. It is not eclipsed by formal relations, nor can it be read off from them. Poetics is a gesture, ultimately of measure (Heidegger-Barragán)—meaning a measure of existence, and in our time addressed to the urgent conditions of our history, which means also, addressed to our future (Zizek-Berlin)—both of which are, for us, subjects crucial for architecture. Architecture, if it is to be more than irrelevance, is not made by evading history; our current (non) history oppresses because we have not taken its measure; neither assessed the cause of its weight, nor its possibility.
“Dilnot,” continued on page 26.
20. Anyone who has tried to teach, in a seminar with architects, Heidegger’s essay “Building Dwelling Thinking” will know the relief that comes over students when they reach final pages with its brief paean to [Heidegger’s own] “Black Forest hut” and thereby feel relieved that they can dismiss all that has gone before as mere anti-modernism. It is a case not helped by those who take up Heidegger and blindly reproduce, quasi-theologically (as Californian— or for that matter Texan—Buddhism), what Adorno rightly called “the Jargon of Authenticity.” (Although one should add that it is also necessary to realize the difficulty of creating a language capable of thinking outside technological-thinking). Many years ago, I attempted an analysis of “Building Dwelling Thinking” that tried to extract what was radical and in a way, impassable about this essay, inconclusive and unfinished as it perhaps necessarily is (the force of its concluding sentences are still not understood—as they were not by Heidegger himself). See “Heidegger’s Essay, ‘Building Dwelling Thinking,’“ Harvard Architectural Review, # 8, 1992, pp. 160-187. 21. The concept of the transitive is one that we need to recover for any activity involving making. “Why” can be seen in this passage taken from Roland Barthes essay, “Myth Today”: “If Myth is depoliticized speech, there is at least one type of speech which is the opposite of myth, that which remains political. […] If I am a woodcutter, and I am led to name the tree I am felling, whatever the force of my sentence, ‘I speak the tree.’ I do not speak about it. This means my language is operational, transitively linked to its object, between the tree and myself; there is nothing but my labor, that is to say, an action. This is a political language: it represents nature for me only in so far as I am going to transform it, it is language thanks to which ‘I act the subject’; the tree is not an image for me, it is simply the meaning of my action. But if I am not a woodcutter, I can no longer ‘speak the tree,’ I can only speak about it, on it. […] I no longer have anything more than an intransitive relationship with the tree; the tree is no longer the meaning of reality as a human action; it is an image at one’s disposal. Compared to the real language of the woodcutter, the language I create is a secondorder language; […] this language is not mythical, but it is the locus where myth settles.” Mythologies, trans. Annette Lavers, (London, Jonathan Cape, 1972) p. 145-146.
“Dilnot,” continued from page 25.
Notes, 22–50 22. “Dwelling” should never be read as what has been. It is not a temporal concept, not a state to which we aspire, but rather an axiomatic. Just as equality is not a state to be desired, but should first be a precept of immediate of political and economic and social action (and only from this can it then be realized, or worked toward politically and economically); so “dwelling” is the axiomatic condition of building now. It has NO necessary reference to what-was: its reference is to what can be realized now from within practice. 23. Freud biologically naturalized the drive for us, and in a way that accommodates the mercantile (too) easily to social Darwinism. We are still in thrall to this conception, despite the elegant but little known work of the Scottish psychoanalyst William Fairbairn in the 1930s that reversed Freud’s theorem. For Fairbairn, the drive that could only make use of others for its aims was essentially pathological. The mature drive was for him object- or relational-seeking; the drive was the drive to realize relations not domination. On Fairbairn, see W.R.D Fairbairn, Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality (London, Routledge, 1952); From Instinct to Self (London, Aronson, 1994); John D. Sutherland, Fairbairn’s Journey into the Interior (London, Free Association Books: 1989); J.S. Grostein and D.B. Rinsley, Fairbairn and the Origins of Object Relations (London, Free Association Books, 1994). 24. Will finds expression in the immediacy of an act, which can be immediate because it pushes to extreme what is already latent. Will is not (re)-configuration, but the intensification of an opening thought without internal regard for consequence. In economics, the drive for profit discounts defers or externalizes, at every moment, “cost.” In technology, the immediate logic of technical possibility as increased power, over-runs consideration of second- or third-order consequences. In politics, will is the pure drive, irrespective of implication (as the Holocaust, which by late 1944 had severe consequences on Germany’s ability to wage war). Reconfiguration, by contrast, is the re-negotiation of the relation of incommensurable requirements and demands. It issues in that which is qualitatively other.
25. As for example, the camps were an extreme possibility developed out of existing modes of domination and the ideological, organizational, and technological possibilities of modern Europe. On this see Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust (Cambridge, Polity, 1989). 26. Reconfiguration is always qualitative transformation because re-configuration implies the re-structuring of the negotiation of incommensurabilities involved in the situation and therefore the re-mediation of relations. 27. The same applies, in truth, to culture. Given that culture is now a key agent of the economy (and of the polity), it too comes under the ordinance that it may “develop,” but not change in any radical way. Sweep away the froth of the last decades, and it is difficult to point to any radical cultural development across the last 40 years; the decisive shifts belong to the last century, since then we have been in repetition. 28. I write this in a week when Lord Nicholas Stern, the author of a key British government-commissioned review on climate change published in 2006 admitted that he had got it wrong, meaning that he had “underestimated” the risks of rising temperatures and should have been more “blunt” about the threat posed to the economy by the climatic and social consequences. Nicholas Stern, “I Got in Wrong,’ The Guardian, January 26, 2013. Late last year, a U.S. National Security report looking forward to likely threats in 2030 came to similar conclusion. 29. See the web site of the Wolfsonian Institute, Miami, Florida, under “Current Exhibits” (January 2013). 30. I reminded here of Gui Bonsiepe’s scathing critique of the current neglect of the pubic domain: “As the third design virtue in the future, I would like to see maintained the Concern for the Public Domain, and this all the more so when registering the almost delirious onslaught on everything public that seems to be a generalized credo of the dominant economic paradigm. One does well to recall that the socially devastating effects of unrestricted private interests have to be counterbalanced by public interests in any society that claims to be called democratic and that deserves that label. The tendency towards Third-
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 26
Worldization even of richer economies, with a programmatic binary system of a small group of haves and a majority of excluded have-nots, is a phenomenon that casts shadows on the future and raises some doubts about the reason in the brains of the people that find utter wisdom and desirability in such a delacerating scheme of social organization.” “The Virtues of Design,” in Gui Bonsiepe: Interface—An Approach to Design (Maastricht, Jan Van Eyck Akadamie, 1999). 31. What, after all, is the point of an architecture that cannot act in this way? Why would—why should—anyone take it seriously? Why would anyone devote a professional life to it? Perhaps this is why architects so often give the impression of chasing a visage—when they are not roundly congratulating themselves. 32. This is thinking possibility not technologically or economically—as power—but as ethics: the possible being what it is that human beings are. Agamben has again some useful thoughts on this is his early text, The Coming Community (Minneapolis, Univ. of Minnesota Press: 1993). 33. Kundera, ibid. p. 5-6. 34. Ibid. p. 42. 35. Via design in terms of as the generic capability or set of capabilities drawn upon. 36. To be sure, from the perspective of those who like itemizing, they can be safely classified—a water trough and a wall, some towers, the interior of a convent. This may satisfy architectural historians. But it does not get at the peculiar condition of what Barragán actually builds between 1940 and 1970, which are constructions that lie between the classifications we like to make as to what is “art” or “architecture” or “landscape.” Barragán’s practice, one must insist, cannot be wholly assimilated to any of these categories. 37. The phrase comes from the French philosopher Alain Badiou who recently argued for the necessity of affirmation in philosophy. Criticizing the assumption that philosophical reflection should naturally take the form of the “critical” in the usual sense of the term, he responds that, on the contrary, the point of thought faced with a non-relation or with a paradoxical situation is to think it by thinking beyond it, i.e. beyond the
non-relation that governs that situation: “Why is it affirmation [to think in this way]? Because if you intervene with respect to a paradoxical situation, or if you intervene with regard to a relation that is not a relation, you will have to propose a new framework for thought, and you will have to affirm that it is possible to think this paradoxical situation, on condition, of course, that a number of parameters be abandoned, a number of novelties introduced.” Philosophy in the Present (Cambridge, Polity, 2009) p. 81. 38. Readers of art criticism from the 1970s/1980s might rightly sense here an echo of one the determining essays of the early “post-modern” years, Rosalind Krauss’s seminal “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” originally drafted 1978, and re-published both in Hal Foster’s important anthology, The Anti-Aesthetic (Seattle, Bay Press, 1986), and in Rosalind E. Krauss, The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge, MIT Press, 1985), p. 276-290. 39. This is the real meaning of Calvino’s assertion of lightness as a virtue, that it is the “sudden agile leap of the poet-philosopher who raises himself above the weight of the world, showing [...] that what many consider to be the vitality of the times—noisy, aggressive, revving, and roaring—belongs to the realm of death, like a cemetery for rusty old cars.” ibid, p. 12. 40. Ibid. p. 101. 41. It is not entirely unknown, but it appears (as far as I know) in no English-language guidebooks. One suspects few visitors. 42. From 1933 to 1942, when the deportations occurred. Only one of the eighty signs refers to events after 1942: a regulation of early 1945 demanding that all evidence of anti-Jewish activities be destroyed. 43. Taken from the artists website, c. 2009, http://www.stih-schnock.de/ remembrance.html. 44. A line in Calvino is pertinent here: “I would say that the moment that an object appears in a narrative that it is charged with a special force and becomes like a pole of a magnetic field, a knot in the network of invisible relationships. The symbolism of the object may be more or less explicit, but it is always there. We might even say that in a narrative any object is always magical.” Calvino, ibid, p. 33.
45. The Holocaust, we could say, suffers from an excess of death, meaning that it so focuses on the killings that it erases not only how the process came to be, but the fact that German Jews (then Austrian, Czech, Polish) suffered massively in the privations, humiliations, and violence after 1933, and again in the forced labor camps—about which, note, so little today is said—perhaps because so many of those were run by and for the then (and now) leading German industrial companies. It is as if the fact of work reduces the crime—when of course it intensifies it. 46. In one of the last lectures he gave before his untimely death (on the occasion of the opening of a “House of Literature” in Stuttgart in 2001), W. G. Sebald noted that only in literature, “can there be an attempt at restitution over and above the mere recital of facts, and over and above scholarship.” In its literalness, Memorial in Berlin-Schöneburg would seem to refute Sebald, but in fact, its brilliance lies in staying as close as possible to the “recitation of facts.” And yet, through their emblematization, and though their enactment as a strange kind of poetic project (if a sort of poetry at degree zero), it creates a space in which a restitutive understanding can emerge—not as reconciliation, but as that which both makes suffering concrete in specific senses—in itself a significant act—and then seeks to end the abstraction of the event itself, reminding us of what we wish to forget; i.e., that suffering at mass scale is always the product of an entire series of previous steps and decisions-made, the interruption of any one of which might have had considerable impact on whether the final project was realized. 47. Calvino, ibid. p. 27. 48. Theodor Adorno, Critical Models: Interventions And Catchwords (New York, Columbia University Press, 2005), p. 103. 49. The real tragedy of our times is not that suffering is, but that suffering is insufficient to effect transformation. This does not of course mean there is insufficient suffering, quantitatively, but that we lack the mechanisms of connection—the bridges— between suffering, cause, and its elimination through transformation. 50. Slavoj Zizek, In Defense of Lost Causes (London, Verso, 2008), p. 315.
POETICS OF BUILDING/POETIC EXPRESSION BY LORI RYKER
Biography Lori Ryker is the founder and executive director of Artemis Institute. After a decade of teaching at universities, she left the traditional academic environment to focus on her belief in immersion education and first hand experience, founding Artemis Institute in 2003 and launching Remote Studio under its umbrella in 2006. She is also principal of studioryker. Dr. Ryker was educated at Texas A&M University and Harvard GSD. She has written several books; Mockbee Coker: Thought and Process, Off the Grid, and Off the Grid Homes, and published her writing in national architectural journals. She lectures regularly on the topics of architectural design, sustainable design, her design work, and education.
Without beauty, what would become of being? — Plotinus Poetry is expressed through the variety of art. But what is poetics? To be certain, poetics is no simple cultural consideration, but lies in the deep arena of metaphysics; how we are to be in the world. Poetic expression means to aspire to create poetry, the expression occurring in beauty. Beauty is not manifest in the thing. Rather the poetic expression we make and experience is engendered in beauty. According to the French philosopher Jacques Maritain, beauty occurs through “a particular mirroring of a transcendental or an infinite” arriving from the source of poetry.1 Therefore, when we aspire to create “poetic” building, we aspire to manifest the experience of beauty, embodying the spiritual universal through a particular poetic material expression. Engaging poetic expression is a challenge for creators living in a society that is more and more dominated by the profane. This difficulty is recognizable in the practice of architecture. While architects are educated to be keenly aware of their sensual experiences they seldom are provided the understanding of the necessary relationship of spirituality to their creative work. The consequence of this missing understanding is a loss for finding the way to poetic expression, poetic building, and the experience of beauty. When considering building as no more than the simplistic act of making a design a reality, we overlook the power and value of making. We lose the link between creative idea and expression that also carries the link between aesthetics and transcendence. The consequence of designing from within a practice that does not consider the spiritual along side of the sensual is that we neither create poetic expression nor experience beauty.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 27
Building is where the poetic expression of architecture is recognized and experienced. From understanding the aspirations of poetry, embodying the spiritual universal through a particular poetic material expression, we can understand that the practice of building is more than a knowledge of details, budgets, collaboration, scheduling, and materiality. Poetic building may come about within these parameters, but its essence lies in the transcendental relationship between material and spirit, our understanding and consideration of this relationship, and ultimately recognized through the experience of beauty. The materials from which
poetic expression is built requires a deep knowledge of how these things exist in the world and how they are changed from one form (as it exists) to another form (what we make.) To gain this knowledge, and to create poetic expression, poetic building, we must be in the world, we must live beyond the profane and in a poetic state experiencing the world andengaging our poetic intuition, both sensually and spiritually. Deeply knowing our world as it exists and the significance of its transformation relative to the aspiration of poetic building requires a life-long pursuit of the crafting of buildings.
Image “Alyssa at the Snake River,” Photo by Kailey Peters.
Note 1. Maritain, Jacques. Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry (New York: Pantheon Books, 1953), p. 173.
POETICS IN ARCHITECTURE BY BARBARA HOIDN
Biography Barbara Hoidn is an adjunct associate professor and Fellow at the O´Neil Ford Chair at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. She studied architecture and city planning at the University of Karlsruhe in Germany. In 2001,with Wilfried Wang, she founded the office, Hoidn Wang Partners, in Berlin. She has taught at the ETH Zürich, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, where she was a Loeb Fellow. She has lectured at universities in Europe, the United States, Canada, and Brazil.
Each true work of art is formed by such strong inherent forces, that it can only express itself in one single form. Adolf Loos1
A poem is life transformed into language, earnest and light at the same time. A masterly poem is undoubtedly a work of art, intangible space created by reason and imagination. Architecture is all about life and the ability to perceive it. Architecture is life transformed into tangible space and atmosphere. While the life of a remarkable person at the end of his or her days results in intellectual timelessness and omnipresence, good architecture survives physically, transforming into a corporeal testimony of humanity—sublime, quintessential, and universal, recognized as a piece of art, either a relic or continuously in use. Poetic qualities of a building sometimes almost unintentionally accumulate over time through simultaneously accessible layers of time and meaning, through traces of constant perhaps varying use—a synonym of vitality. Mindful of the durability of architecture, architects contemplate issues of functionality, monumentality and historical validity, when formulating meaning and language of their works—objects either understood as fleeting moments or as the sober foundation of something lasting.
A house has to please everyone. In contrast, a piece of art has not to please anyone. A work of art is the private business of the artist. The house is not. A work of art enters the world without a demand for it. A house is the response to a demand. The piece of art is not responsible to anyone, the house is to everyone. The piece of art is a rebellion against comfort and a comfortable position. The house has to provide comfort. The work of art is revolutionary; the house is conservative. The work of art opens to mankind new ways and is looking towards the future. The house is part of the present. […] Does it follow that the house has nothing in common with art and is architecture not to be included in the arts? Only a very small part of architecture belongs to art—the tomb and the monument. Everything else that fulfils a function is to be excluded from the domain of art. Only if we resolve and overcome the misunderstanding that art is something that could serve a purpose—only if we overcome the misleading term “applied art” in the vocabulary of all languages—only then we will have found the true architecture of our presence […] Architecture creates atmospheres. The task of the architect is to shape these atmospheres precisely. A room has to be cozy, the house livable. The court of justice has to look imposing. […] The bank has to say: here your money is safe and sound with honest people. The architect can only evoke these atmospheres if he refers to familiar buildings and symbols that evoke those feelings. In Chinese culture, the color of mourning is white; in Western culture it is black. It would be impossible for our building artists to evoke pleasure through the color black. Our culture is derived from the superior insights of the classic period, and the heritage of previous generations has to be carried on (…)2 There is an architecture that returns to those origins—to the organic architecture of the Greeks and Romans, to the foundational. This architecture is the one that recalls archaic experience and makes it present–taking and expanding it to our time. It is the architecture of light, water, earth, wind, and fire, crafted with solid materials from nature. The epic themes are the same as they used to be—life, death, transience, vulnerability, shelter, pleasure, humanity, the human condition, and nature.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 28
Notes 1. “Adolf Loos: Architektur,” in: Der Sturm, 15 December 1910. From: Adolf Opel (ed.) Adolf Loos, Trotzdem, 1900-1930. Innsbruck, 1931, p. 90-104. 2. Ibid.
The earnest and poetical works presented by colleagues during the LATITUDES conferences3 prove the contemporary force of this approach.
Philosophy, art history, and the material language of demonstrably essential architecture can be taught at schools of architecture.
There are limits, however, for such an elementary, often self-referential architectural language to address the scales, economics, and complexity of the current urban condition.
Yet, to master, refresh, and even expand the vocabulary of a rich material language and its grammar and metaphors—to keep it alive, so to speak—takes a lifetime. Constant individual training and experience in the art of making is necessary in order to continuously sustain and grow those common grounds that may eventually transform into universal values. To write and build a poem, though, takes even more mastery:
Yet, more recently one can observe in cities a subversive strategy made visible through temporary or miniature scale projects—programmatically poetical—that in sum read like a subtext to an overly pragmatic complex reality—sketches of contemporary life, nuances not yet expressed. Architects these days are definitely testing and conquering new stylistic grounds—grounds that Adolf Loos once had categorically banned from architecture—purposeless spaces and inhabitable sculptures crossing the borderline to art; projects that enter airily and intentionally the realm of monuments. In fact they are meant to serve as “mortal” monuments or rebellious manifestos, just like Loos´ oversized Doric column scheme for the 1922 Chicago Tribune Tower did but on a much more gentle scale. The definition of a work of art itself is currently in debate, as are the boundaries of physical spatiality in architecture. A lot of current art/architecture installations and projects are questionable, or superficially “applied art,” or elitist in a sense sapient Loos would not have approved. On the other hand, many are experimental works of social art, a new category even Adolf Loos would have approved of since they are as forceful, analytical, and future-oriented as he requested relevant architecture to be.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 29
3. The LATITUDES symposiums (sponsored and organized by the Center for American Architecture and Design, the O’Neil Ford Chair, and the events committee at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture) explore the question of whether—already, stillemerging, or never-to-be—there is an “American” Modern architecture, an architecture that transcends the North/Central/South America divide, and that is in some way distinguishable from European, Asian, and other models. Prominent and upcoming practitioners from the Americas present their recent work at the LATITUDES conferences in roughly these terms, focusing on the development and execution of a single significant project in their oeuvre. 4. Op. cit.
Since there exist tasteful and not tasteful buildings, people believe that the first are built by artists, and the latter are not. But to build a tasteful building is not an accomplishment per se, as it is not an accomplishment to have the common sense to refrain from putting a knife in one’s mouth when eating or to brush teeth in the morning. That would be like confusing culture and art.4 At present, the assessment of the practical importance of culture in all its facets and its relevance for the livability and economy of cities has returned to the urban debate—at least; replacing the functional and pragmatic debate of the past decades. The arts have ultimately outgrown limiting museum walls and returned as a positive challenge to the urban environments—as claimed already by the Situationists of the 1960s around Guy Debord asking for fun and opportunities for subjective intervention. The limiting definitions of Modern itself are under scrutiny.
Images Opposite page: Viewing platform along the road to Gualleco, near Talca, Chile. Self-constructed final project by architecture student Paula Atala, University of Talca, Chile. This page: Panorama spot used for wine-tasting events and receptions in the vineyards above Talca, Chile. Self-constructed final project by architecture student Gonzalo Muñoz, University of Talca, Chile.
THE USEFULNESS OF THE USELESS THE POETIC DIMENSION OF ARCHITECTURE BY JUHANI PALLASMAA
Biography Juhani Pallasmaa is a Finnish architect and former professor of architecture at the Helsinki University of Technology. He is former Director of the Museum of Finnish Architecture (1978-1983). Pallasmaa is principal of Arkkitehtitoimisto Juhani Pallasmaa KY in Helsinki. He has been the Ruth & Norman Moore Visiting Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, as well as Plym Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Champaign, Illinois. Along with numerous articles on cultural philosophy, environmental psychology, and theories of architecture and the arts, he is author of several books including The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and Perception, The Thinking Hand (Architectural Design Primer), and The Architecture of Image: Existential Space in Cinema. His exhibitions of Finnish architecture, planning, and visual arts have been displayed in more than thirty countries.
It is a common understanding today that the poetic dimension in architecture is a fairly recent aesthetic idea, a result of a deliberate “poeticization” or “beautification” of the fundamentally utilitarian essence of construction. The poetic dimension is usually also related with a deliberate artistic and philosophical approach to architecture. However, the very origin of architecture arises from ritual and myth, that is, from a cultural and mental aspiration as much as purely utilitarian objectives. Thus, the poetic dimension is part of the very essence of building— ”poetically man dwells,” as Martin Heidegger argues echoing the poet Hölderlin. Since the first construction of the “primitive” hut, the essential task of architecture has been the mental mediation between man and cosmos, microcosm and macrocosm, practicality and belief, past, present, and future, the material and the spiritual. Rudolf Wittkower points out the strength of the tradition of regarding architecture as a metaphysical mediation since antiquity and the revitalization of that aspiration in the Renaissance era: “The belief in the correspondence of microcosm and macrocosm, in the harmonic structure of the universe, in the comprehension of God through the symbols of center, circle, and sphere—all these closely related ideas, which have their roots in antiquity and belonged to the undisputed tenets of medieval philosophy and theology, acquired new life in the Renaissance.”1 Through association with the musical ideas of harmony, architecture aspired to be regarded of same value as the quadrivium of the “mathematical arts” of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music, instead of being seen as a craft, as painting and sculpture were.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 30
Instead of providing mere physical shelter, or enabling mundane purposes, architecture was seen as a mediation and measure through which mortals could relate themselves to the divinities, and their vulnerable selves to the immensity of the world. Besides, the task of architecture has always been to concretize human institutions and hierarchies. Buildings are a form of mediation in terms of space, time, essences, and meanings, and they provide crucial frames and horizons of our perception and understanding. As Gaston Bachelard suggests: “Our house is our corner of the world.[…] It is our first universe, a real cosmos in every sense of the word.[…] It is an instrument with which to confront the cosmos.”2 The poetic content of architecture is not necessarily based on any conscious or conceptualized ideas, as the intentionality and language of architecture is primarily existential, pre-reflective, and embodied. Colin St John Wilson describes the essence of this wordless language forcefully: “It is as if I am manipulated by some subliminal code, not to be translated into words, which acts directly on the nervous system and imagination, at the same time stirring intimations of meaning with vivid spatial experience as though they were one thing. It is my belief that the code acts so directly and vividly upon us because it is strangely familiar; it is in fact the first language we ever learned, long before words, and which is now recalled to us through art, which alone holds the key to revive it.”3 The poetic essence of architecture is also necessarily engaged with the crucial but ephemeral notion of beauty. Beauty is not an autonomous quality as it arises from other concerns and aspirations. The poet Joseph Brodsky, for one, rejects the idea that beauty could be a direct aim in the arts. “Beauty can’t be targeted, it is always a by-product of other, often very ordinary pursuits,” he points out.4 At the same
time, he regards beauty as a primary force of evolution. “The purpose of evolution, believe it or not, is beauty,” he argues with poetic assurance.5 It is evident that our quasi-rational and surreally materialist consumer culture today is the first period in history that has totally stripped buildings of these complex mental layers and meanings that constitute the poetic realm of architecture, and the metaphysical and existential ground of building. This is the absurd triumph of the obsessive aspiration for “reason” and “usefulness.” The study of proportion, for instance, has been a central quality of the architect’s craft in the attempt to unite the worlds of man and cosmos as a harmonious continuum. Today, there is hardly a single school of architecture in the world that teaches Pythagorean harmonics, regardless of the fact that the Pythagorean unification of the harmonic principles of music and architecture is the oldest line of western scientific thinking. Today, we can only lament that architecture has abandoned its original ontological task of bringing man and his world into harmony. When we speak of the poetics of architecture, we are not dealing with any momentary refinement of our art form; we are engaged in its deep historical essence. Counter arguments to my view will certainly abound. “We are living in a world based on scientific views, and the yearning for a metaphysical, symbolic, and metaphoric dimension of buildings is sheer nostalgia, or shallow spiritualism. The phenomenon of architecture can, and should be turned into fully rational and scientific operations,” this opposing view would undoubtedly argue. “However, the shortcomings of this relentless ’rational’ view of the world and the human mental reality are tragically evident in the ever strengthening signs of alienation and distancing from a harmonious and mentally sustainable
relationship with the world of our own making. What is desperately needed today in our settings and acts of life is human meaning and motives beyond mere technical utility. As the psychologist Edward Edinger states: “Modern man’s most urgent need is to discover the reality and value of the inner subjective world, to discover the symbolic life.[…] The symbolic life in some form is a prerequisite for psychic health.”6 Our existence is not only a physical and biological reality, as it is fundamentally a mental reality, and we exist as sensing, feeling, and understanding beings. The notion of the poetics of building can be understood simply as the human and mental sense of our acts of building. This is the quality that enables us to experience our humanity through our own constructions, and which has the capacity to sensitize and dignify our experience of being. We do not live in dissociated material and spiritual worlds, as these realms interpenetrate fully. The ways we articulate space are inseparable from our cultural articulation of other aspects of our lives. As Edward T. Hall, the anthropologist, remarks, “we transform physical space imperceptibly into cosmological space.”7 The spaces we build change us, not only in terms of moods and feelings; recent neurological studies have revealed that the spaces we occupy actually change our brains. The essential contents of profound works of art and architecture are not in the work itself, not to speak of a selfexpression of the artist or architect. Artistic works are about the world and our own existence in that world. “We come to see not the work of art, but the world according to the work,” as Maurice Merleau-Ponty argues.8 This altered and sensitized way of encountering the world is the poetic dimension of the work as well as of our craft of architecture. It is the invisible and useless in our work that maintains our sense of humanity.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 31
Image Detail of Mercat de Santa Caterina, Barcelona, Spain, by Enric Miralles/ Benedetta Tagliabue EMBT, architects. Photo By Coleman Coker.
Notes 1. Rudolf Wittkower, Architectural Priciples in the Age of Humanism, Academy Editions, London, 1988, p. 109. 2. Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, Beacon Press, Boston, 1969, pp. 4, 46. 3. Colin St John Wilson, “Architecture: Public Good and Private Necessity,” RIBA Journal, March 1979. 4. Joseph Brodsky, Watermark, Penguin Books, London, 1992, p. 70. 5. Joseph Brodsky, “An Immodest Proposal,” On Grief and Reason, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 1997, p. 207. 6. Edward F. Edinger, Ego and Archetype: Individuation and the Religious Function of the Psyche, Penguin Books, Baltimore, 1974, pp. 107, 109, 117. 7. Edward T. Hall, Beyond Culture, Random House, New York, 1981. 8. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, as quoted in Iain McGilchrist, The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2009, p. 409.
STEPHANIE BOWER [B.Arch. ‘81] ALUMNI PROFILE
Alumna Stephanie Bower will soon be studying, drawing, and painting in one of the most architecturally provocative places on earth, thanks to the Western European Architecture Foundation. Bower was awarded this year’s coveted Gabriel Prize in late February, allowing her to hone her skills for three months this summer in France.
“Observational sketching is also important as a way to learn from what we see and to capture the experience of a place. In looking at a sketch from 20 years ago, I remember the cold stone I sat on, the sounds of the people, the sunlight on the building, and much more. No quick snap from a camera can match that.”
With the help of the Northwest Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in Italy (NIAUSI), Bower will also lead a sketching workshop in the Italian town of Civita de Bagnoregio in July and blog about her experiences in France and Italy.
Bower has been involved in several memorable projects. She was a staff architect with Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer for the renovation of The Rainbow Room complex atop Rockefeller Center. More recently, she worked with Olson Kundig Architects on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center in Seattle. During the concept design phase of the visitors’ center, Bower worked on site for a few days every week for over a year and generated over 120 pencil sketches.
Sketching and painting have been a passion of Bower’s since high school when she realized that two of her very dissimilar interests—art and math—could be united. It was in the School of Architecture that she added drawing to her repertoire and began to realize that her skills were coveted. “Professors had always said that we would spend the first three years after graduation drawing bathroom details, so I was puzzled when firms considered me for design positions right out of school,” said Bower. “One interviewer told me it was because I could draw—that he could see that I could think 3-dimensionally.” Shortly after graduating from UT, Bower moved to New York City for graduate school, and she became a licensed architect. She began getting calls from firms asking whether she could do sketches for their projects. At the same time, she realized that what she truly wanted to do was to teach. So Bower decided to become a full-time, free-lance illustrator and spent the next decade teaching drawing at Parsons The New School for Design in Manhattan while working with leading designers in numerous firms.
Images Above: Stephanie Bower, Taj Mahal, Agra, India. Below: Interior, St. James Cathedral, Seattle, Washington. Drawing by Stephanie Bower. To see more of Bower’s work, visit stephaniebower.com and seattle. urbansketchers.org and her blog, “Drawing Perspectives,” at stephaniebower.blogspot.com.
“Hand drawing is an amazing tool. You can pull out pencil and draw an idea anywhere. It doesn’t quite work to haul out your computer and open Revit. The idea is likely gone by the time your computer boots up,” said Bower.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 32
Another passion of Bower’s is traveling, and one of her sketches from a trip to India was honored last November with Best Travel Sketch at the Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition. That sketch was included in an exhibit at the Dallas Center for Architecture featuring all the KRob winners. “From what I’ve observed, many students today have less patience and are more interested in product than process. Learning to draw takes perseverance, a willingness to be comfortable with drawings you don’t like at first, pushing yourself to draw and draw again in order to improve. It also takes time to allow this hand-eye coordination to develop.” Although the field of architectural illustration has radically changed with computer-generated imagery, Bower believes that hand drawing is still a critical skill, particularly in the design process. “Sketches are great for conveying concepts, as they leave wiggle room for viewers to project themselves into the design, whereas digital images can feel like the building is already designed and built.” Bower currently works in Seattle teaching in the design department at Cornish College of the Arts. —Amy Maverick Crossette
GREG GUERNSEY [MSCRP ‘83] ALUMNI PROFILE
There will always be naysayers in Austin who lament the city’s rapid growth these past few decades and bemoan about how Austin has lost its weirdness or its unique character. On the flipside of those pessimists you’ll find Greg Guernsey, director of the City of Austin’s Planning & Development Review Department. Guernsey’s office acts as a type of mediator between conflicting interests, such as city council members, developers, businesses, neighborhood associations, property owners, state legislatures, school districts, and public utilities. It’s a daily juggling act for Guernsey and the 300+ employees in his portfolio, but it’s a job he still considers “fun,” and he’s sanguine about the city’s growth. “I’m very optimistic about Austin’s future,” said Guernsey. “We recently adopted “Imagine Austin,” the City of Austin’s first comprehensive plan in 30 years. On March 21, the council announced that a lead consultant had been chosen to re-write the city’s code, which will help implement “Imagine Austin” and will emphasize growth where we want it and a more planned infrastructure in certain areas of the city. And, finally, with the coming of single member districts, more voices will be heard, creating a more balanced overview from our citizens.” Guernsey, a second-generation planner, confesses that he “did everything he could” as an undergraduate at Michigan State to avoid going into planning. As a second-generation planner. Guernsey spent his childhood watching his father come home night after night from long meetings. On the day I spoke with Guernsey, he had been at a council meeting the night before until almost midnight. “I received my undergraduate degree in planning from Michigan State in 1981. Michigan was in a terrible recession, and the unemployment rate was immense. Two of my roommates were in business, and they looked at job listings from dozens of papers every single day, including the Houston Chronicle and the Dallas Morning News. I found listings for planners in Texas. I had never seen a job listing for a planner. I applied to The University of Texas at Austin and was accepted into the School of Architecture.” With a background in science, Guernsey was attracted to water resources and environmental planning. As a research assistant for Professor Kent Butler, Guernsey tackled concerns of the Edward’s Aquifer. His passion was the coastal area, and immediately following graduation, he got his dream job as a planner in Galveston.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 33
“I was a planner, and I did just about everything including reports, presentations, zoning laws, oil and gas administration, and talking to the press. Three months into the job, Hurricane Alicia hit Galveston. It devastated the island. After the hurricane, the west end of the island didn’t have utilities restored for four months. The building process was in utter chaos. We all took pay cuts because the budget was so bad.” After two years in Galveston, Guernsey returned to Austin and began working as a Planner II for the City of Austin in 1985. Guernsey worked as a site planner for five years and managed to keep his job during a burgeoning savings and loan crisis and several layoffs. According to Guernsey, in 1987 the city issued a total of only 50 permits. The city was struggling with utility infrastructure at the time, and budgets were dismal. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Guernsey became part of a new development assistance center at the city and worked on tasks such as line development code, street codes, zoning ordinances, watershed regulations, and subdivision plans. One of his crowning accomplishments was putting together a single set of documents that included all the above. The new compilation, which still exists today, created conformity of the information that had not existed. One of issues the city faces is that Texas does not have a mandated comprehensive plan. And, unlike Portland, Austin does not have growth boundaries, although development towards the west is minimized due to the expense of putting in utilities, maintaining those utilities, and serving the area. However, bigger challenges are the immense growth rate and the fact that Austin citizens are uniquely interested, and involved, in the city’s future. “Our growth rate is due to a number of things, including the music scene, which is tied to the film industry, which is tied to gaming, which is tied to the university, which is tied to high tech firms, which is tied to the capitol,” said Guernsey. “Also, we, as a city, place a high emphasis on being green and clean. We have clean industries, water protection zones, tight zoning regulations, and we’ve invested in the Balcones Canyonland Preserve and preserved much of our Hill Country. Basically, it’s beautiful here, and we have a highly educated population that wants to keep it that way. Because of that, communication with our citizens is crucial. The process is just as important, if not more important, than the product.” —Amy Maverick Crossette
Images Top: Greg Guernsey. Bottom: Cover, Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan.
MICHAEL H. HSU [B.Arch. ‘93] ALUMNI PROFILE
Michael Hsu is a first-generation immigrant of Chinese parents. His father, a merchant marine and ship captain, traveled the world in the 1960s, and during the Cold War era of the early 1970s, brought his family to the United States from Taiwan, when Michael was three. At that time, the political climate in the Far East was volatile and career opportunities were limited. Growing up, the expectation was that Hsu would go into a professional field such as law, engineering, or medicine. Hsu enrolled in the College of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin; however, it didn’t take long for him to realize that the culture in engineering was too rigid for him. Leaving his engineering scholarship behind, he enrolled in the School of Architecture. Some might say this change in plans was a piece of destiny. As the grandson of an architect in Taipei and a mother who was a painter, Hsu had grown up drawing and designing buildings. He longed for a career in an artistic or creative field. When Hsu received his bachelor’s degree from the School of Architecture in 1993, the City of Austin was in the depths of recession, and there were ample experienced architects to fill the city’s needs. So Hsu did whatever he could to make ends meet, including physical work such as painting houses. “After a short stint in Dallas, I returned to Austin and worked at Dick Clark’s office for 11 years,” said Hsu. “I started as an intern and, by the time I left, I was helping to run his office.” Images Above, top: Michael Hsu. Above: W Penthouse, residences in downtown Austin, Texas. Photo by Casey Woods. Top right: Sway, a modern Thai restaurant, Austin, Texas. Photo by Ryan Farnau. Below: 1000 South Lamar, mixeduse development, Austin, Texas. Rendering by Michael Hsu Architects.
During the first years of his struggling young business, Hsu said his firm took on many commercial adaptive re-use projects. At the time, the Austin restaurant scene was emerging, and Hsu made a name for himself by designing many popular Austin establishments including Uchi, Uchiko, La Condesa, Haddington’s, Bess, and Fino. “The challenge with restaurants isn’t so much understanding the project type, but understanding the relationship between the design and the people who are going to be participating in it. There’s almost a liturgical aspect to it. We get excited about going out to eat, and we look forward to gathering with friends,” said Hsu.
That basic philosophy—understanding a design and how it can connect and effect clients—is the impetus behind every project of the Hsu Office of Architecture, whether it’s a house, restaurant, mixed-use project, or neighborhood. From converting a car garage into a pizza joint to designing the Lamar Union (a half-million-square-foot project on Lamar Blvd.), Hsu focuses on creating compelling environments that draw people together. Through the years, the projects have grown from affecting the city on a small-scale basis to a large, neighborhood scale. “There is an organic nature about Austin’s growth at the block scale that is very exciting. It’s where those smaller projects can make a difference to a neighborhood.” said Hsu. “Architects have become more engaged in how planning is handled, including working with developers on solutions for conflicting issues. We are becoming a more dense, more livable city, decreasing the amount of travel required for people to do everyday things like grocery shopping or eating out.” “We still have a very suburban sense of space even in the closest-in neighborhoods with regard to density, connectivity, privacy, property, and land use. The changes the city is undergoing will push us to reconsider long-held beliefs of property and space and what makes for a more livable and connected community.” One of Hsu’s current projects is a freight warehouse that his firm converted into art studios on Springdale Road. Hsu admits that it’s not an “architectural tour de force”; however, more important, it helps fill one of Austin’s biggest deficiencies, which is offering art studios in town that are to code, but still affordable. There is one other design philosophy that has crept into Hsu’s thinking these past several years. As the father of a 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son, he has become acutely aware of organizational design that focuses on life spans, rather than current situations. “You can’t design a project focusing on 4-year-old who will be 14, and then 64, some day. We design for a lifespan and for future needs without creating a generic condition that has no specificity. “Our office is about creating the Austin we would like to see, one small building, remodel, or block at a time.” —Amy Maverick Crossette
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 34
SAM KUMAR [M.S. Eng. ‘92] PHILANTHROPY: INVESTING IN EDUCATION
As the president and project director of Austin-based firm Journeyman Construction, Sam Kumar has supported numerous endeavors on campus. He is a member of the School of Architecture’s Advisory Council and became a founding member of the Goldsmith Society in 2010. UTSOA’s assistant director for alumni and constituent relations, Lisa DeLosso, recently had the opportunity to learn more about Kumar and discovered that his passion for philanthropy is rooted in a love of education and appreciation for the built environment. UTSOA: When do you first remember being interested in construction? Sam Kumar (SK): I grew up around construction as a kid in India, where my grandfather was in the development and construction business. I remember hearing about my grandfather’s humble beginnings and being inspired by it. It was said that when he was a mason, he would always end his day one masonry course taller and with better quality than everyone else. I was very young—probably in elementary school—wanting to be just like my grandpa. UTSOA: Tell us more about how your student experience at UT helped prepare you for your career. SK: I did my master’s studies in the Construction Engineering Project Management Department (CEPM) at the College of Engineering’s Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering. I chose UT Austin because the CEPM program was third ranked in the country at the time, and it had the lowest fees. I enjoyed all of the classes and the professors I had. My degree gave me a very strong footing in the basics of construction and project management. My professor, who excelled in their professions, offered me excellent management and effective communication skills. To this day, I am grateful to my instructors for sculpting me during those years. UTSOA: What is the most important lesson you can share with recent graduates and young professionals? SK: I have learned that whatever you do, you have to do it with passion and a sense of pride. When you lose that, you have lost everything, and you are better off doing something else. Work hard with focus, and you will succeed. UTSOA: How has your field changed during your career? SK: Management productivity has increased a lot. Mobile phones, email, and texting has allowed greater communication. Although I do not enjoy it as much as a telephone call or in person conversation, I spend about half my day on the computer directing or responding to emails. It has been a remarkable journey to see how downtown Austin has transformed from a blighted downtown in the
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 35
very early 1990s to the vibrant downtown it has become and the growth it has brought to our entire region. UTSOA: Which of your projects make you the most proud? SK: I have enjoyed all my projects—there is always a lesson to be learned from each of them. The building that makes us most proud would be the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH). I enjoyed building it with passionate architects and a team that really cared. Currently, our own development, Silverado Crossing, a 300unit apartment project, is under construction in Buda, Texas. We just moved residents into two of the buildings, and the compliments we’ve received from residents about our product and our team makes me very proud.
Image Top: Sam Kumar.
UTSOA: What buildings—nationally or internationally—inspire you the most? SK: Nationally—the White House, the U.S. Capitol, and Empire State Building London—Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace Paris—the Louvre Pyramid and Sacré Cœur Basilica India—Taj Mahal and Vidhana Soudha (Bangalore) UTSOA: What causes do you support? SK: Primarily education. At the School of Architecture, we established the Journeyman Construction Faculty Excellence Fund to assist Dean Fritz Steiner to hire additional faculty during summer sessions or on an as needed basis. And, we joined the Goldsmith Society. We also set up the Tucker Hudson Kumar Endowed Presidential Fellowship in Construction Engineering and Project Management to benefit graduate students at The University of Texas at Austin. At Associated Builders and Contractors, we established an apprenticeship training fund to support education for construction apprentices. In India, we recently completed a small high school classroom building with an outdoor stage in honor of my mother. UTSOA: What would you like to accomplish with your philanthropy at the School of Architecture? SK: We want the School of Architecture to create the best of the best architects who, in turn, would create buildings with passion. I love architecture and construction, and this is our way of giving back to the field that created us.
Bottom: Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. Built by Journeyman Construction; designed by LZT Architects, Inc.
Are you inspired? Endowments at UTSOA are a sound investment in a better future. With an endowed gift, you provide permanent support for our school. Your gift is invested—never spent—and every year a distribution is made to your chosen area. Endowment types include scholarships, travel scholarships, graduate fellowships, program excellence funds, professorships, and faculty chairs. Endowment funding levels begin at $25,000 and can be pledged over five years or created with a bequest. For more information, contact the development office at email@example.com or 512.471.6114.
GIFTS TO THE SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE JANUARY 1, 2012 – DECEMBER 31, 2012 THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS SUPPORTERS
ENDOWMENTS AND SPECIAL SCHOLARSHIPS Adam Conrad Grote Memorial Fund Beth and Daniel Grote James Lee The Meservey Family Lynne and Fred McCall Virginia Wagner Diana Wengler
Francisco “Paco” Arumí-Noé Memorial Fellowship In Sustainable Design Roseanne [MArch ‘92] and Eric Kaysen Mason Miller [BA ‘06, BArch ‘06] Marcia Roberts [MArch ‘80]
John S. Chase Endowed Presidential Scholarship Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Kathleen and Paul Anderson Rebecca and Truman Arnold [BA ‘42] Tom Arnold Judy and Kenneth Bacon Nancy Bailey Susan Bailey [MBA ‘83] John Belle Janis and Levi Benton Mary [BA ‘51] and Kenneth Bentsen Leslie Blanton [BA ‘76] Stephen Bolton Franz Brotzen Peter Brown and Anne Bohnn Barbara [BSALD ‘70] and Robert Collie [BA ’68, JD ‘72] Linnet Deily [BA ‘67] Richard Everett The Ex-Students’ Association Kelly Frels [JD ‘70] Ann Friedman Karen and Larry George [BBA ‘73] Barbara Goot [BBA ‘78] Laura [MA ‘71] and Robert Higley [BA ’69, MBA ‘72] Houston Community College Foundation Howard Frazier Barker Elliott, Inc. Ralph Hull [BBA ’69, JD ‘72] Lake/Flato Architects, Inc. Lisa and Steven Levy Kathy [BA ’72, MPAff ‘76] and Jeffrey Love [JD ‘76] Mimi McDugald [BA ‘44] Walter Mischer, Jr. [BBA ‘74] Ralph O’Connor Patrick Oxford [BBA ’66, LLB ‘67] Beverly Robinson [BBA ‘75] Arthur Schechter [BA ’62, LLB ‘64] Stephen Slack Robert Smith, III Jessica Sommer [BJ ‘93] Jeanne and Gerald Spedale Frederick Steiner Howard Tellepsen, Jr. University of Houston Law Foundation Donna and Tony Vallone Donna [BBA ‘76] and Paul Vita [BBA ‘76] Barron Wallace [BA ‘86] Walter P. Moore and Associates, Inc. Clarissa Waxton
Frederick Steiner Endowed Excellence Fund in Landscape Architecture Frederick Steiner
Joy & Morin Scott/Sally & John Byram Graduate Fellowship Anonymous
Hal Box Endowed Scholarship in Architecture Julie Hooper
Kent S. Butler Memorial Excellence Fund in Community & Regional Planning Tracy Atkins [BSArchE ’87, MSCRP ‘08] Bruce Butler [BA ‘75] James Camp Steven Craddock [MSCRP ‘86] Craig Cregar [MSCRP ‘77] Cheryl Foster [BA ’93, MSCRP ‘99] Gateway Planning Group, Inc. Joseph Gorney [MSCRP ‘00] Julie Hooper Sandra and Charles Kincaid
Architecture Class of ‘78 Scholarship Honoring Billy A. Lawrence, Jr. Anonymous Architecture Class of ‘78 Scholarship Honoring Mark A. Oppelt Anonymous Architecture Class of ‘78 Scholarship Honoring Preston C. Krueger, Jr. Anonymous Architype Review Travel Prize in Honor of Lawrence W. Speck Architype Review Blake Alexander Traveling Student Fellowship in Architecture Patti Hansen [MSCRP ‘80] Robert Klodginski [BArch ‘08] Morgan Price [BArch ‘72] Nancy Sparrow Brandon Shaw Memorial Endowed Scholarship The Boeing Company William Larsen [BSChE ‘72] Brewster Shaw, III Kathy and Colonel Brewster Shaw Cogburn Family Foundation Architecture and Urbanism Prize Betsy [BA ‘68] and Mike [BBA ‘66] Cogburn
Interested in supporting UTSOA? Please visit our website (soa.utexas. edu/support/) or contact our development office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512.471.6114.
Emily Summers Excellence Fund for the History of Interior Design Emily Summers
HDR Architecture Endowed Scholarship HDR Architecture, Inc. Hugo Leipziger-Pearce Endowed Graduate Fellowship in Planning Estate of Martha Leipziger-Pearce Jean and Bill Booziotis Endowed Graduate Fellowship in Architectural History Jean and Bill [BArch ‘57] Booziotis
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 36
Elizabeth McLamb [MSCRP ‘04] Mark Mintz [BA ‘91] Kevin Moore [MArch ‘09] Christy Moore [BA ’88, MA ‘90] Scott Polikov [BBA ’86, JD ’89, MSCRP ‘02] Judy Ramsey [BA ’71, MSCRP ‘76] Amelia Sondgeroth [BA ’70, MA ’75, MSCRP ‘88] Lawrence W. Speck Endowed Graduate Fellowship in Architecture American Institute of Architects, Columbus Chapter Lawrence W. Speck/PageSoutherlandPage Graduate Fellowship in Architecture The Page Southerland Page Foundation Matt Casey Memorial Fund American Institute of Architects, Austin Chapter Evan Beattie [BArch ’04] Jeffrey Boldrick [BA ’98, MBA ‘04] Damian Cunningham [BA ‘99] Alan Davis John Kolvoord [BSGeoSci ‘05] Jeffrey Markey [BA ‘92] Douglas Martin Caroline Mermis Chris Moberger Sandra Moberger Larry Stagg Thomas Walsh [BA ‘96] Mary Woldstad [BA ‘75] Mike and Maxine K. Mebane Endowed Traveling Scholarship in Architecture Joseph Clark [MArch ‘10] Paul C. Ragsdale Excellence Fund for Historic Preservation The Ragsdale Foundation Potter Rose Graduate Fellowship Deedie and Rusty Rose [BES ‘63] Potter Rose Professorship in Urban Planning Deedie and Rusty Rose [BES ‘63] School of Architecture Advisory Council Annual Fund Frank Aldridge, III Richard Archer, III [BArch ‘79] Bobbie Barker David Barrow [BBA ‘53, BArch ‘55] Ken Bentley Susan Benz [BArch ‘84] William Lyle Burgin [BArch ‘81] Dick Clark [BArch ‘69, BBA ‘69] Kent Collins [BArch ‘81] Tommy Cowan [BArch ’68, MArch ‘70] Hobson Crow, III [BA ‘76, MArch ‘80] Gary Cunningham [BArch ‘76] Biby Dykema [BArch ‘79] Larry Good [BArch ‘72] John Grable [BArch ‘76] Charles Gromatzky Jay Hailey, Jr. [LLB ‘68] Ford Hubbard, III [BA ‘82]
Diana Keller Reed Kroloff [MArch ‘86] Graham Luhn [BArch ‘60] John Nyfeler [BArch ‘58] Charles Phillips [BA ‘70, BArch ‘74, MArch ‘75] Elizabeth Chu Richter [BArch ‘74] Rollie Roessner, Jr. [BArch ‘76] Dan Shipley [BArch ‘79] Jerry Sutton Michael Wheeler [BBA ‘74] Gordon White School of Architecture Advisory Council Endowed Excellence Fund Frank Aldridge, III Richard Archer, III [BArch ‘79] Bobbie Barker David Barrow [BBA ‘53, BArch ‘55] Ken Bentley Susan Benz [BArch ‘84] William Lyle Burgin [BArch ‘81] Dick Clark [BArch ‘69, BBA ‘69] Kent Collins [BArch ‘81] Tommy Cowan [BArch ’68, MArch ‘70] Hobson Crow, III [BA ‘76, MArch ‘80] Gary Cunningham [BArch ‘76] Biby Dykema [BArch ‘79] Larry Good [BArch ‘72] John Grable [BArch ‘76] Charles Gromatzky Jay Hailey, Jr. [LLB ‘68] Ford Hubbard, III [BA ‘82] Diana Keller John Nyfeler [BArch ‘58] Charles Phillips [BA ‘70, BArch ‘74, MArch ‘75] Elizabeth Chu Richter [BArch ‘74] Rollie Roessner, Jr. [BArch ‘76] Dan Shipley [BArch ‘79] Jerry Sutton Michael Wheeler [BBA ‘74] Gordon White Sixth River Architects Endowed Scholarship Sixth River Architects Inc. Snøhetta Endowed Scholarship in Architecture Established by Craig Dykers and Elaine Molinar Snøhetta Architecture Design Planning, PC Texas Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects Endowed Graduate Fellowship Texas Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture’s Advisory Council Women’s Endowed Scholarship Bobbie Barker Susan Benz [BArch ‘84] Diane Cheatham Diana Keller Jana McCann [BArch ‘80] Elizabeth Chu Richter [BArch ‘74] Lloyd Scott Yvette Atkinson Memorial Scholarship in Architecture Simon Atkinson
GIFTS FROM SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE FACULTY Dean Almy [MArch ‘89] Simon Atkinson Sinclair Black [BArch ‘62] Richard Cleary Larry Doll Sarah Gamble [MArch ‘05] Michael Garrison Michael Holleran Steven Moore Adam Pyrek [BArch ‘91] Bjørn Sletto Lawrence Speck Frederick Steiner Nichole Wiedemann PROGRAMS Architectural History Tom Hinson [BAArt ’70, BSArchStds ‘70] Katherine Livingston [BArch ‘75] Architecture Christine de Witte [BSArchE ’05, MArch ‘08] Ryan Anderson [MArch ‘09] Sinclair Black [BArch ‘62] Thomas Lawnsby Todd Mattocks [MArch ‘12] Kevin Moore [MArch ‘09] Susan and James Raymond Ida Scott Janet Sisolak [BSID ‘81] James Susman [MArch ‘79] Center for American Architecture and Design Kevin Moore [MArch ‘09] Center for Sustainable Development Austin Parks Foundation William Meredith Cynthia Valadez Community and Regional Planning Susan Appleyard [MSCRP ‘94] Karen Beard [BA ’93, MSCRP ‘96] Jennifer Bennett-Reumuth [BA ’06, MSCRP ‘08] Central Texas American Planning Association Eugene Peters [MSCRP ‘82] Texas Chapter American Planning Association Historic Preservation Athenaeum of Philadelphia Michael Holleran Christopher Kopech [BSPsy ‘05] Emily Little [BA ’73, MArch ‘79] Texas Architectural Foundation Interior Design The Read & Pate Foundation, Inc. Landscape Architecture Jennifer Morgenstern [MArch ‘94] Michael Pecen [MLA ‘07] Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, Inc. School of Architecture – Unrestricted Ryan Anderson [MArch ‘09] Jack Backus [MArch ‘97] Shawn Balon [MSUD ‘11] Beal Real Estate Services Henry Carranco [BArch ‘75]
Rachel Carson [MArch ‘07] Richard Cleary Sean Coney [MArch ‘86] Pauline Conger David Cooperstein [MArch ‘98] Cherlyn Corbett [BSALD ‘86] Bang Dang [BArch ‘98] Leah Dean [BA ’89, MArch ‘95] Cathryn [BJ ‘73] and Leon Dorsey [BArch ‘74] Caleb Duncan [BSArchE ‘97, BArch ‘98] Winston Evans [BArch ‘68] Pamela Everhart [BBA ‘79] Lauren Ford [MArch ‘99] Terry Forrester [BArch ‘59] Jason Hercules [MSCRP ‘06] David Hincher [MArch ‘05] Robert Jackson [BArch ‘70] Mark Jennings [MSE ‘84] Susanna Kartye [BA ’96, MArch ‘02] Ellen King [BA ‘39] Lauren Lee [BSID ‘03] Laura Lewi Paula Lewis [BArch ‘99] William Massingill [BArch ‘84] Ravishankar Mathur [MSE ’06, Phd ‘12] Matthew Moore [MSCRP ‘93] Vilmar Morgan [BArch ‘08] Amber Murray [MSSW ‘11] Paul Rash, Jr. [BArch ‘55] Richard Robinson, Jr. [BArch ‘64] Julie Stankus Jessica Sun [BSArchStds ‘08] Laurie Tyler [BSID ‘82] Harrisson Velasco Zhe Wang [MArch ‘01] Norman Weiner [MArch ‘96] Brett Wolfe [BArch ‘07] Janet Wright [MSSW ‘71] Anthony Yoder [MArch ‘05] Sustainable Design Jennifer Morgenstern [MArch ‘94] PLANNED GIFTS Jean Booziotis Raymond Landy [BArch ‘70] OTHER GIFTS Advanced Design Studio: Housing Homeless Families Overland Partners, Inc. Beyond LEED Symposium American Institute of Architects AREA Real Estate, LLC L.M. Scofield Company Lake/Flato Architects, Inc. Texas Society of Architects Zachry Construction Corporation 2012 Public Interest Design (PID) Program – Holly Gardens Mobile Shed Project Eastside Lumber & Decking, LLC School of Architecture Advisory Council Reception McCall Design Group The University Co-op Materials Resource Center Weyerhaeuser Company Gifts continued on page 38.
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 37
Opposite page: Drawing details, North-Evans Chateau, Austin, Texas. Students in 2010 and 2011 historic preservation studios documented the building. For their work, UTSOA was honored with the 2012 Charles E. Peterson Prize, a prestigious national award offered by the Historic American Buildings Survey of the National Park Service, The Athenaeum of Philadelphia, and The American Institute of Architects. Top: Study in Italy participants, Adalberto Libera, Palazzo dei Congressi, EUR district, Rome, Italy. Below: Two projects that received 2012 School of Architecture Design Excellence Awards. Model: Design VI project detail, “Austin Rowing Center,” by Katharina Stoll; instructor: Ed Richardson. Drawing: Advanced Design/Urban Design project detail, “The Badel Block,” by Samantha Schwarze and Lauren Vogl; instructor: Dean Almy.
GIFTS TO THE SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE cont’d JANUARY 1, 2012 – DECEMBER 31, 2012 THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS SUPPORTERS
FRIENDS OF ARCHITECTURE Corporate Gold ($5,000 +) Herman Dyal [BArch ‘75] Dean’s Circle ($1,000 +) Kenneth Owen [BArch ‘60] Brent Redus [BArch ‘85] Partner ($500 - 999) Elizabeth Chen [MArch ‘02] Cooke Skidmore Consulting Corporation Guy Hagstette [BArch ‘79] Marianne Jones [BSID ‘81] Anne Kniffen [BArch ‘79] Carole Schlessinger [MSCRP ‘80] Louis Skidmore, Jr.
Notes Degrees from The University of Texas at Austin are indicated. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this list. If your name was omitted, misspelled, or incorrectly listed, please accept our apologies and notify us, so we may correct the error (email@example.com).
Patron ($200 - 499) W. Randall Ackerman Gordon Atkinson [BArch ‘75] Martha Bennett [BArch ‘75] Kent Broyhill [BArch ‘53] Tamara Chambless [BArch ‘79] Elizabeth Chen [MArch ‘02] Weldon Cunningham [BArch ‘75] Jeanne and Eric Dagradi [MArch ‘86] Robert Dickson [MArch ‘96] Charles Eggert, Jr. [BArch ’82, BSArchE ‘82] Winston Evans [BArch ‘68] Lauren Ford [MArch ‘99] Jennifer Foster [BSID ‘95] and Kevin Smith Gary Furman [BArch ‘86] Gordon Gilmore [BArch ‘73] Nonya Grenader [BArch ‘76] Frederick Harrison [BA ’71, MArch ‘78] and Laura James [BA ’74, MSCRP ‘77] Eileen Hicks Morris Hoover [BSArchStds ’74, BArch ‘77] Paul Labrant [BSID ‘94] George Lee [BSID ‘98] Kevin Lorenz [MArch ‘84] Kimberly McKittrick [MArch ‘89] Jennifer McPhail [BSID ‘98] Richard Meyer [BArch ’70, JD ‘74] David Negrete [BArch ‘77] Leeanne Pacatte [BA ’80, MSCRP ‘93] Rene Quinlan [BArch ‘88] Janet Sisolak [BSID ‘81] Bjørn Sletto Philip Southwick [MArch ‘04] David Stanford [BSArchE ’79, BArch ‘79] Pat Sweeney [BArch ‘57] Arthur Tatum [BArch ‘84] Lily and Jay Teng Diana Tracey [BArch ‘75] Walter Vackar [BArch ‘65] James Wash, Jr. [BArch ‘52] Mary Watt Deborah Wilkowski Ann Yoklavich [MSArchSt ‘87]
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 38
Associate ($50 - 199) Lauren Alexander [BSArchE ’00, BArch ‘00] Robert Ayers [BArch ‘66] Jack Backus [MArch ‘97] Patricia Bahr Brian Bedrosian [MArch ‘09] Edward Bennett [BArch ‘61] Kathleen and Gerald Bergmann Hilary Bertsch [MArch ‘95] Peter Boes [MArch ‘93] Rhonda Bonn Farzad Boroumand [BArch ‘87] Gayle Borst [MArch ‘83] Joseph Boyle [MArch ‘11] Nona and Ernest Breig [BArch ‘66] James Brown [BArch ‘68] Alix Bulleit [BSID ‘11] Elizabeth Campbell [MSCRP ‘11] Margaret Campbell [MArch ‘02] Thomas Campbell [BArch ‘59] Henry Carranco [BArch ‘75] Scott Cavaness [BArch ‘80] David Cochran [MSCRP ‘71] Andrew Coelho [MArch ‘95] Mary Cohagan [BAArt ’70, BSID ‘82] John Corder, II [BArch ‘95] Herman Coronado, Jr. [BArch ‘78] Hilary Crady [BSID ‘83] Thomas Daly [BArch ‘65] Carl Daniel, Jr. [BArch ‘67] Patrick Davis, Jr. [BArch ‘74] Robert Donaldson [BArch ‘95] L. Bronson Dorsey, Jr. [BArch ‘74] Katie Droughton [BArch ‘09] Frank Dunckel [BArch ‘78] Adam Dyer [BA ’10, BsArchStds ‘10] John Everin [MArch ‘95] James Ferguson [BArch ‘58] Terese Ferguson [BArch ‘80] Larry Fielder [BArch ‘70] Ron Foster [BArch ‘70] Mary French [MSCRP ‘90] Michael Fries [MArch ‘84] Egan Gleason [BArch ‘55] Diana Gonzalez [BArch ‘81] Ramiro Gonzalez [MSCRP ‘11] Craig Graber [MArch ‘94] Michael Gray [BArch ‘94] Kenneth Grossman [MArch ‘07] Craig Grund [MArch ‘82] John Haba [MArch ‘94] Leslie Hamilton Charles Harker, Jr. [MArch ‘71] Noel Hernandez [MArch ‘00] William Hoffman, III [BArch ‘78] Erin Holdenried [MArch ‘09] Leland Horstmann [BArch ‘80] Nathan Howe [MArch ‘02] Jackson and McElhaney Architects, Inc. Joseph Jacobs, Jr. [BArch ‘87] Joshua Kenin [MArch ‘01] Jong Kim [MSUD ‘08] Joseph King [MSCRP ‘69] Shreya Krishnan [BArch ’11, BA ‘11] David Kunz [BArch ‘60] Poyy Kwan [BArch ‘73]
John LeBlanc [BAArt ’92, MArch ‘96] Katherine Livingston [BArch ‘75] Marina Love [BArch ‘89] Val Mahan Ronald Marabito [BArch ‘61] Sunshine Mathon [MArch ‘07] Lisa Mayer [BSID ‘83] Kyle McAdams [BArch ‘86] Jean and Roy McCarroll [BArch ‘62] Tami McCarter Scott McCrary, Jr. [BArch ‘71] Scarlett McKenzie [BArch ‘01] Nathan Meade [MArch ‘07] Julien Meyrat [MArch ‘02] James Michael [BArch ‘67] Christopher Minor [MArch ‘09] Charles Moore, Jr. [BArch ‘84] Jasmin Moore [MSCRP ‘07] Kevin Moore [MArch ‘09] James Moses [MArch ‘93] Kendall Mower, Jr. [BArch ‘56] Gregory Musquez, Jr. [BArch ‘69] Charles Nelson [BArch ‘78] Vicki Nelson [BArch ‘79] John Nesby [BArch ‘77] Jim Nix [BArch ‘71] Royce Layton Nutter [BArch ‘78] Jim Phillips [BArch ‘73] Adam Pyrek [BArch ‘91] Ronald Ramsay [MArch ‘92] Charles Randall [BArch ‘54] Vineeth Ravinder [MSArchSt ‘00] Albert Raymond, III [BArch ‘83] Lesli and Carter Reich [BArch ‘78] Louis Renaud [BArch ‘85] David Robbins [BArch ‘01] David Rodriguez Rosanna Ross [BSALD ’73, MArch ‘81] Chay Runnels [BA ’96, MSArchSt ‘00] Carroll Salls [MArch ‘86] James Shackelford [BArch ‘80] Louise Smart [MSCRP ‘70] Christy Smidt [MSCRP ‘96] Paula Sodders Jerry Sparks [BArch ‘67] Shelley St. Clair [BSID ‘87] Sharon Steiner [BArch ‘05] Jerry Stewart [BArch ‘64] Tracy Stone [MArch ‘85] StudioFORMA Architects, PC Cheryl Taylor [BSArchStds ‘82] Drexel Turner [MSCRP ‘73] Jane Verma [BArch ‘90] Andrew Vernooy [MArch ’78, MSE ‘90] Cynthia Walston [BArch ‘82] Keith Walters Floyd Watson, Jr. [MSCRP ‘79] Joseph Watson [MA ‘87] Rick Weatherl [BArch ‘76] Michael Webber [BSAsE ’95, BA ‘95] William Wells [BArch ‘71] Cara White [BA ’87, MSCRP ‘90] Ross Wienert [MArch ‘09] Samuel Windham [BArch ‘01] Jeffrey Wood [BA ’03, MSCRP ‘05] JoeAnn Wright
OTHER UNRESTRICTED GIFTS Robert Arburn [BArch ‘56] Melissa Brand-Vokey [BArch ‘88] Stephen Bright [MArch ‘88] Brian Burnett [BArch ‘08] Vernon Castle, Jr. [BSArchStds ‘68] Cheryl Cioffari [MSCRP ‘06] Meredith Contello [BSALD ’03, BArch ‘06] Ning Deng [MLA ‘06] Barton Drake [BArch ‘84] Elaine Fitch [BArch ‘85] Moira Fitzgerald [MArch ‘91] James Flajnik [BArch ‘73] Nancy Foster [MArch ‘88] David Franks [MArch ‘88] Sarah Gamble [MArch ‘05] Frank Gomillion [BArch ‘92] Jorge Gonzalez [BArch ‘90] Sarah Hafley [MArch ‘11] Arlene Hanna [BSID ‘79] Robert Heil [MSCRP ‘93] Ingeborg Hendley [MArch ’04, MSHP ‘08] Nicholas Hernandez [MSCRP ‘10] Karen Hicks [MSHP ‘10] Margaret Howard [MSCRP ‘02] Ralph Jones [BArch ‘72] Maria Kiernan Courtney Knapik [BArch ‘94] Stephen Kubenka [BA ’72, MArch ‘75] I-Wen Liu [MSCRP ‘86] Eric Lowe [BArch ‘94] Adam Martin [BArch ‘09] Aurora McClain [MArch ‘10] Albert McCoubrey, III [BSArchStds ’70, BArch ‘70] Phillip Mead [MArch ‘91] Don Meyers [BArch ‘53] Christopher Minor [MArch ‘09] Eugene Peters [MSCRP ‘82] Emily Potts [MArch ‘09] Christeen Pusch [MSCRP ‘10] Gerald Schulz [BArch ‘79] Ashok Shetty Raymond Studer, Jr. [BArch ‘57] Les Swanson [BArch ‘52] Robert Tobias [BArch ‘85] Brett Wolfe [BArch ‘07] Travis Young [MArch ‘94] George Zapalac [BA ’70, MSCRP ‘74] Robert Wyatt
YOU ARE A FRIEND OF ARCHITECTURE Friends of Architecture (FOA) is an annual giving program in the School of Architecture with a mission to increase knowledge and awareness of superior architecture, planning, and design and to advance quality education for future generations. We are pleased to announce that all gifts to the school now qualify individuals, companies, and organizations to become part of FOA. With this recent restructuring, all our donors will receive invitations to join us on our special FOA tours, subscriptions to our eNews, and recognition in Platform magazine—without being bound to a specific membership category. The aim is to welcome all our generous supporters—such as current students, faculty, alumni, patrons, practitioners, and aficionados—who believe in the significance of the built environment and are looking to take part in shaping its future by supporting excellence in the School of Architecture. CELEBRATING GOOD DESIGN FOA provides enriching educational and involvement opportunities that offer our members a better understanding and appreciation of architecture, planning, and design. We connect our members to the School of Architecture through publications, lectures, and exhibitions and open the doors to significant architecture and design throughout the world with our exclusively curated tours. THE GOLDSMITH SOCIETY—SUPPORTING DESIGN THAT CHANGES THE WORLD Established during the School of Architecture centennial in 2010, the Goldsmith Society is a special group of major donors who provide flexible, annual funding for student and faculty excellence. Gifts from Goldsmith Society donors have an immediate and direct impact on the School of Architecture, allowing the dean to seize opportunities and invest strategically in important projects that shape the school’s evolving teaching and research agenda. Goldsmith Society donors include individuals, families, firms, corporations, and foundations. Donors pledge $25,000 in unrestricted funds over five years ($5,000/year).
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 39
Images Opposite page: “Pienza,” watercolor by Greg Montgomery, fall 2012 Study in Italy Program.
GOLDSMITH SOCIETY MEMBERS Lexa M. Acker Phillip Arnold, L.M. Scofield Company Tim and Lisa Blonkvist Suzanne Deal Booth and David G. Booth Jean and Bill Booziotis Diane and Hal Brierley Leslie Dickinson Cedar Chuck and Diane Cheatham Reenie and Kent Collins Curtis & Windham Architects Willard Hanzlik J. David Harrison Richard Jennings Journeyman Construction, Inc. Michael L. Klein Ray Landy Helen Thompson and Charles Lohrmann Kevin J. Lorenz, AIA Lucas/Eilers Design Associates, LLP Lucifer Lighting Company The Eugene McDermott Foundation Dana Edwards Nearburg Howard Rachofsky Shannon and Gay Ratliff Deedie and Rusty Rose Lloyd Scott Lawrence W. Speck Lenore M. Sullivan and Barry W. Henry John Greene Taylor Coke Anne and Jarvis Wilcox
This page, top: Friends of Architecture participants on the October 2012 Tour to Philadelphia relax on one of the rooftop yards of the Rag Flats. Photo by Fritz Steiner. This page bottom: Students in the Study in Italy Program stop for a break at the Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy. Pictured center front: Smilja Milovanovic-Bertram, associate professor and Study in Italy director.
Want to learn more about Friends of Architecture or the Goldsmith Society? Please visit our website (soa.utexas. edu/support/) or contact Luke Dunlap at luked@austin. utexas.edu or 512.471.6114.
UTSOA Advisory Council FY 2012-2013
310 Inner Campus Drive B7500 Austin, Texas 78712-1009
Chair Bill C. Booziotis, FAIA, LEED AP Vice-Chair Frank M. Aldridge, III Past Chair Bobbie J. Barker Executive Committee Susan Benz, AIA Diane Cheatham Kent Collins Diana W. Keller Michael J. McCall, AIA John V. Nyfeler, FAIA, LEED AP Dan S. Shipley, FAIA Michael I. Wheeler Members Lexa M. Acker, AIA Emeritus Richard M. Archer, III, FAIA, LEED AP Phillip J. Arnold, Hon. ASLA, LEED AP John Avila, Jr. David B. Barrow, Jr., AIA Marvin E. Beck, AIA Emeritus Ken Bentley Myron G. Blalock, III Timothy Blonkvist, FAIA, LEED AP William Lyle Burgin Dick Clark, III, FAIA Tommy N. Cowan, FAIA H. Hobson Crow, III, AIA Gary M. Cunningham, FAIA William Curtis Bibiana Bright Dykema, AIA Darrell A. Fitzgerald, FAIA, LEED AP Robert Lawrence Good, FAIA, AICP, LEED AP John Grable, FAIA Charles E. Gromatzky, AIA, USGBC, ULI R. Jay Hailey, Jr. J. David Harrison Christopher C. Hill, AIA Ford Hubbard, III Ellen King (In Memoriam) Reed A. Kroloff, AIA Sam Kumar David C. Lake, FAIA Sandra Drews Lucas, ASID, TBAE, TAID Graham B. Luhn, FAIA Patricia R. Mast Gilbert L. Mathews, Hon. AIA Dana Edwards Nearburg Donald Pender, AIA, REFP, LEED AP BD+C Judith R. Pesek, IIDA, LEED AP Charles A. Phillips, AIA, AIC-PA Boone Powell, FAIA Leilah Powell Howard E. Rachofsky Gay Ratliff Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA Roland Roessner, Jr. Deedie Rose Lloyd Scott William Shepherd, AIA Lenore M. Sullivan Emily Summers Jerry S. Sutton, AIA Helen L. Thompson David H. Watkins, FAIA Gordon L. White, MD Coke Anne M. Wilcox Kathy Zarsky, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP BD+C
+ SPRING 2013 + POETICS OF BUILDING 40
He designed a church where his own coffin couldn’t fit through the door Water color prevailed I have known you for five years and I still think you are a chicken shit My Thesis is a crematorium and my Father is the undertaker The master of Lockhart is ninety-six today The Blue Norther froze the sand upon the sills The Lampasas jail waited for the bus The corrugated metal baked as the shadow grew Guadalupe Boogie Woogie was painted under a fluorescent The Great Dane upstairs pushes the marble over the floor with his snout I am a member of the FBI and I live upstairs you live downstairs He crushed the beer can with the stump of his arm Mountain lions are within the City Limits and tarantulas are on the screen When the locusts flew into town they slept upon the asphalt pick-up trucks popped them Bull dogs wept when crickets fell Armadillos sniffled when gloves released the four-year-olds cried The beetles went for the eyes It’s a radar zone
you got to keep your mind on the speedometer Shake your sheets the scorpions are no good if you’re allergic He counted the tongue and groove wood ceiling slats and found it odd […] in 1954 Give a little clap to Jesus Paul Cret designed this building My God! you’re sitting in his chair and he likes Tigers Milk It’s not exactly Todi or Leonardo but it will have to do She really loves me but that damn Town Planner is in the way The rocking chairs of Waco are half way in between When you come enter her in Texarkana I am taking a freighter out of Galveston should be in Yugoslavia in about five weeks
John Hejduk Austin
From Such Places as Memory Poems 1953-1996, John Hejduk MIT Press, 1998.
Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage Paid Austin, Texas Permit No. 391
Platform magazine features thought-provoking articles of topical interest in the disciplines of architecture, architectural history, communi...
Published on Apr 24, 2013
Platform magazine features thought-provoking articles of topical interest in the disciplines of architecture, architectural history, communi...