Semester is back in full swing now. I decided to take a class on Reyner Banham with one of my favorite critics/lecturers, and that's proving to be a lot of fun. Banham is so refreshing to read, especially for me, since I have a science background and Banham favors innovative technology. Architecture should really be something larger than itself, aware of the developments in the world around it. I'm tired of the profession making architecture more esoteric and less enjoyable to laymen. My year is reading Walter Benjamin in our contemporary theory core class, and I just love that guy! I'm sure that says something clichÃƒÂ© about me... I have Marxist leanings or whatnot, but I'm not embarrassed about that.
The current 2nd year controversy is about a voluntary summer trip to Rome. It's a class about Rome and its history but mostly about drawing. I really want to go. The instructors have limited the class size to 30 and 36 people have applied. Now they want us to write one page about why we want to participate in the class so they have some idea of who to pick, or more precisely, who to exclude. It's so ridiculous: "Dear Professor, I really like to draw and I think Rome is so beautiful! Please let me come with you!" I mean, we have to pay a lot of money to go, upwards of 4 grand to cover everything. The real controversy is this: our class is bigger than all the rest, but not much of the curriculum has been modified to fit our needs. The school's policies discriminate against our class--a class that they allowed to be the size it is (however inadvertently) and subsequently haven't provided for. They have 10 more tuitions, they should have one more trip to Rome! Two trips of 20 at different times of the summer instead of one trip of 30. Capiche?
Ah, that felt good.
Our studio this year is an urban design studio. This is a bit of a yawn at first since I've done a lot of planning work professionally, but I'm trying to keep my mind receptive. I'll let you know how it goes. Our site is Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which I've learned is one of the deadliest places in the city, toxicity wise. I wouldn't want to live there. Maybe in 500 years or so. My dream for New York is that it would become like San Francisco, clean and fresh, with natural coastline for all to enjoy and even to fish and swim in. Then I would live in New York forever. But as it stands now, I don't think I could be kept away from someplace more verdant, no matter how much I appreciate my hometown. As an aside, I don't really know for sure how clean the SF bay actually is. But the Marin headlands can't be beat.