I attended the "press conference" launch of Volume yesternight at Columbia - a collaborative effort between ARCHIS, AMO and CLAB (Columbia Lab for Architectural Broadcasting.) You can find a description of it at www.archis.org
As usual, the auditorium was packed and the line into the auditorium extended to Fayerweather's stair core (The adjacent connecting building to Avery.) There were no answers at the press conference; only more questions. What is Volume? I have no idea except vague descriptions during the Q&A - that it is to become some sort of experimental effort to go "beyond" architecture, "an amoeba" and a "sushi box" of sorts. The protagonists - Rem Koolhaas (AMO), Ole Bouman (Archis) and Wigley (GSAPP) couldn't (or rather wouldn't in my opinion) describe what Volume is to be except that it will be a commercial venture into (quoted off the web) "Magazine, Object, Space, Event, Debate, Webcast, Consultancy, Talkshow, Travel, Surprises." I left the conference feeling vague about the whole thing. All this hype was about something yet I couldn't place a finger on it. It was definitely a publicity stint and this sort of thing can only happen in an architecture school - overhyping about nothing. Not to say it was nothing, in fact there was something. They gave the impression that Volume was yet to be defined, yet to be determined, open ended.
Wigley appealed to us to be "members" not "subscribers". While everything else was vague, the commercial mechanics was very clear (which only popped up during the Q&A) - it will cost us $99 per year for 6 issues and the first issue will be launched two weeks from now. I'm pretty sure that there was more to what was revealed or claimed. I felt that the most pertinent questions were cleverly averted: "How can we become members and not merely subscribers?", "Who are the stakeholders and who owns Volume." Other questions that were slightly tangential to the conference were questions of the dying profession. (Rem showed a chart of earnings comparing other professions like scriptwriters, actors etc..." concluding that even starchitects like Gehry and Foster earn peanuts). Volume's slogan "Architecture must go beyond itself.” only reinforced the fact that Architecture must reinvent itself.
While most of the students who attended seem really excited about what Volume will be, I'm partially skeptical about this whole event (with commercial overtones) not because I doubt what it claims it to be (I've decided to give myself a chance to see what Volume is capable of and also because its stated intentions are noble and had lots of potential) but because I feel that there was a slight over-hype about the press conference and the students there where only pawns to support this new-something. Maybe I'm just overly ideallistic about this whole issue - I'll wait for the first publication of Volume before deciding to subscribe.