The final day of Surface Conversations was concluded with panels featuring distinguished architectural academics and practitioners. Participants for the first panel included:
RA: Robert Aish, associated researcher, Autodesk; co-founder of Smart Geometry Group
PE: Peter Eisenman, FAIA; designed UC’s Aronoff Center (DAAP)
RG: Ray Gastil, Chair in Design Innovation at Penn State Landscape Architecture; former city planning director in Manhattan and Seattle
AL: Andrea P. Leers, FAIA, principal and co-founder of LEERS Weinzapfel Associates; designed UC’s University Pavilion
KM: Karen M’Closkey, faculty at UPenn, co-founder of PEG Office of Landscape + Architecture; author of upcoming book on landscapes of Hargreaves Associates
Brief introduction by Eisenman
Eisenman declares that he “doesn’t do” surface and elevation – he’s more concerned with plan. Surface is a narrative, but plan is something that you don’t directly see. Elevation versus plan also comes down to an issue of economics – people will pay for space, but they won’t always pay for surface. When Eisenman and Graves worked on projects together, Eisenman drew the plans, and Graves drew the elevations. Eisenman asks if Graves is in the audience yet, and Graves calls out from the back of the room and jokes about how bad the acoustics are in the auditorium Eisenman designed.
Reflections/Forecasts: Panel One
(questions from moderators are paraphrased; answers are not a complete summary, but rather a sampling of some key ideas and discussions)
What are you reading/thinking right now?
PE: Composition, non-composition by Jacques Lucan – ideas of architecture in the last 5-10 years. Rereading Poe’s three mysteries with his students. The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq – review in Art Forum. Believes architecture is in a strange period with computation – neopositive and kitsch. Eisenman continues to dismiss the work of a handful of contemporary architects, calling them problematic and lightweight.
RA: Discusses means of technology an representation to design plans and elevations versus the whole building. Non-rational computing. Currently reading Landform Building by Stan Allen – against a single surface.
AL: Rereading 1984. Relationship between ground and building is more interesting than surface of either.
KM: Reading Eleven Authors in Search of a Building (on Eisenmann's Aronoff Center).
Discuss radical thoughts or trends within or outside architecture.
RA: Seven Languages in Seven Weeks – highlights strengths and weaknesses of seven programming languages and engages reader in learning a language quickly. Versatile in representing ideas.
RG: Amidst technology, students in design studio still control the program and density in building and landscape.
AL: Seeing an increase in community and social justice learning experiences in recent graduates, within and outside architecture.
KM: Systems theory; investigating radical form and its justification or lack thereof.
RA: In addition to critique of project, there’s now an additional critique of program.
KM: Tools as exploration; algorithm logic can’t reference itself.
PE: Worries about systems, perceived view of technology. Self organizing systems bring back issues of vitalism. Start with third dimension and work down toward the ground.
Why being optimistic is a moral obligation.
AL: We practice a specific way of creating – not self expression. It’s hard to do architecture if you’re pessimistic. We must practice sustainability by design – not a series of fixes and devices. We must work on the source of consumption. The comfort zone is 5-10 degrees greater in Europe than it is in the US - address issue in design and culture.
RG: We face a dilemma of homogenization. Some standard best practices are worth spreading. Interesting projects engaging the public realm are emerging.
PE: Some areas and projects are microenvironmental and involve local groups with little idea of global concerns.
Eisenman’s contribution to the globalization discussion sets off a heated discussion between Eisenman and Thom Mayne (who, waiting for his turn on the second panel, raised questions from the audience). Mayne calls Eisenman an out of touch old man, and Eisenman accuses Mayne of not understanding a lot of communities who don’t participate in globalization in the same way as large cities like New York and Los Angeles. They conclude the panel with unresolved differences - agreeing to disagree, all in good nature.
This blog will provide a recap of events - lectures, gallery openings, major reviews, etc. - at the University of Cincinnati's School of Architecture and Interior Design. Most entries are written by graduate assistants at SAID; other authors will be noted by post.