Robert McCarter is one of the top ten educators in the nation. He is a man of passion, dedicating his life in researching master architects. This lecture was quite similar to our Arch 201 project - choosing 3 master architects and fusing their designs with your own style. Before he lectured the class, he was in our studio giving a critique and sharing knowledge. I instantly knew that his speeches were inspirational (Longhi and Palagi were just staring in awe). He emphasized that architects have the duty to make internal experiences. People only spend little time admiring the exterior before going inside to experience the space. However, I believe exterior is just as important as the interior because it is the exterior that tempts people to go in the building structure. Detailed buildings such as Brion's Tomb (by Carlo Scarpa) takes forever to get every single detail of the exterior facade.
Out of the several architects he wrote about, he chose Louis Kahn. He was not one of my three architects, so it was interesting to hear about him. Graduating in 1928, he designed at least 2000 houses for the government - wooden penny houses in Pennsylvania. I like how his drawings progressed from regular pencils to carpenter's pencil. With carpenter's pencil, you can make series of line weights as well as gradients. Some of his drawing styles originated from Alvar Aalto, a man of mystery.
One project in particular that I liked was the Salk Institute. If I recall, this was a science facility with multiple offices. His concept of geometry and monolithic structures were greatly put to use in this project. While he was designing the building, he came across a problem of designing the central garden. No matter how he designed the garden, it never seemed to match well with its surrounding. However, after coming across Barragan's (Mexican architect) works of his garden, he asked for his assistance. To Kahn's reply, Barragan suggested just putting concrete with a small narrow passage of waterway in the middle. It was a perfect design decision. What is significant about this water way is that on the Equinox (September 21), the sunshine reflects the water at a perfect angle. McCarter could only describe this scenery as "beyond extraordinary." Louis Kahn greatly respects the source of light. When he was being interviewed by Yale University, although the room was getting dark, he didn't do anything but kept conversing. After the room became dark, he finally turns on the artificial light. When asked why, he just replied "I have to honor the light." (or something like that and he got in).
(Author: Akira Ishikawa)
Guest speakers visiting from different places coming together and lecturing about their projects, groups, and firms at the University of Hawaii Manoa: School of Architecture.