Verb: Featured Discussion


Let's negate or shroud those which don't follow the accepted process.

If you want a discussion where everyone can participate without obliqueness, your definitions of "Public" and "Discourse" must be given. Otherwise 90% of the initial discussion will be a dance around or an "oblique" effort to define these words. Or is that the ...course?

note to myself: seduction and obliqueness

Jul 19, 07 12:16 pm

that's not true. no one is editing you here...i just thought that your position could be articulated and commented on instead of it being just a constant string of one liners which no reacts to directly, but which ever you prefer is fine by me.

Jul 19, 07 12:19 pm

Thank you.

Jul 19, 07 12:26 pm

John, how exactly have a called for a reduction of architectural discourse?

Jul 19, 07 12:42 pm

well you were arguing the opposition point weren't you? why do we need it etcetera? so the question then is why don't we need a discourse too?

Jul 19, 07 12:46 pm

OK, (pause)

What is Public Discourse?

Jul 19, 07 12:50 pm

perhaps this isn't the best place to go but this is stuck in my mind as an example. remember when the frank lloyd wright documentary was on pbs everyone was discussing his work...there was an extreme spike in architecture interest at that time--there was a happening there. people were actively considering architecture. getting interested...but i believe no one actually took advantage of that properly to turn that interest into a dialogue or unfold it into an active public discourse.

i do think you are right there to question what is the definition...but i think that is hard to unpack without drawing out all of the intersections. i think the major idea would be to get people involved...what does that mean? i'm hoping we can define that here. or at the very least those opportunities where engagement can be nurtured.

Jul 19, 07 1:00 pm

i guess what i'm saying is that i can imagine a space where architects and nonarchitects can discuss architecture with some understanding. i guess that sometimes happens at lectures and town meetings etcetera, but i think there can be other venues too.

perhaps conversation is a better term?*

* i just moved this because i don't want get in the way of jafidler's comment

Jul 19, 07 1:09 pm
won and done williams

i keep coming back to the grosse pointe central library because i think it was a very innovative way to engage publc discourse that happened on multiple levels, i.e. archinect (internet), public library board meeting, local newspaper (national newspaper?), dinner table, etc. ultimately though the decisions that were made were not made by the public; they were made by the library board, but it was a decision informed by a public discourse. this i believe is the key: to bring the decisionmakers (and not just the "architects" or a vague "general public") to the table. if anything that challenge goes well beyond internet forums (though these forums do participate in the process). we can only do so much from the comfort of our computer screens.

Jul 19, 07 1:19 pm

at least platitude acknowledges the other views, the problem is that platitude also inevitably causes revolt or disdain or distrust. because it makes discussion impossible.
this whole thing (and i'm agreeing jafidler here) makes me think of a story told to me when i first was approaching ABC No Rio the punk artists group about aiding them in renovating their space with AFHny. They were like "i thought architects were just the tools and puppets of developers and the government" and i said back "most are, but we're here to fight against that". by being erudite and looking at the public as something to be quieted we end up the puppets of our masters, the people that pay the bills. i find opening a discourse to be inherently about challenging the existing conventions, expectations, wisdom.

Jul 19, 07 1:36 pm

John, look at my questions again, none of which were "why do we need it?" What I asked was: "Where does the imperative for public discourse come from?" and "Is the public asking for it?" You gave a vague, subjective answer. That you interpreted my questions as "opposing" tells me, at least, to not really trust your judgment, and is indeed indicative of "perhaps architects are hypercritical."

What I'm actually advocating is for you to take a much more objective view of what it is you're promoting as "public discourse".

Expanded client base aside, the desire seems to be one where, if the public is more aware of architecture and the makings of good design, then the built environment would subsequently be somehow better. Is that right? And if so, is the premise for more "public discourse" then nothing more than a vague assumption?

You ask what my methodology is, and I don't see that there's any real clear methodolgy to what your doing either.

Jul 19, 07 1:43 pm

Lauf, snipes about client base etc. just come off sounding cynical sometimes, not that there's no place for cynicism in public discourse, but should vague allegations of hypocrisy really be the start of the conversation?

Sure, let's talk about client base - everyone could use more work, why would a profit motive undermine any definition of discourse? These things aren't mutually exclusive, after all, right?

Jul 19, 07 1:51 pm

"i find opening a discourse to be inherently about challenging the existing conventions, expectations, wisdom."

I like it when those that say that are challenged by what they don't expect.

Jul 19, 07 1:53 pm

... and looking back at all those old archinect pages from the archives, it seems that the methodolgy of this site has always been pretty clear: connecting up different people and aspects of this discipline (ar-connect, get it?).

If the question is about which works better, a magazine (boogazine?) format or an online forum, at connecting different viewpoints, I think the answer is clear: I for one read archinect a few times a day, I don't think I've ever read a even a full article in Verb (maybe some of the monographs, yeah, I've read a lot of stuff in those). Despite some of the case-in-point objections to noise versus signal in a more open format, there seems to be a lot more relevant material here.

Jul 19, 07 1:58 pm

All the town meetings I've been to, there has been alot of talk and all of it danced around the definition of one or two words. Does this make discussion impossible?

Let's have an architectural town hall meeting (with lemonade) and discuss words. This meeting will be governed by the AIA Department of Fixed and Unalterable Definitions. Requisite AIA forms must be filled out and handed to AIA authorities before entering meeting, please. AIA dictionaries will be made available at a very large fee.

Jul 19, 07 1:58 pm

765, I never said that expanding client base is a bad thing. I'm all for expanding architecture's client base. (Again, I'm misinterpreted.)

Do you perhaps see actively expanding architecture's client base as a bad thing?

Jul 19, 07 1:59 pm

actually i usually enjoy it when i'm challenged as well, it keeps the discussion real and the process less pedantic.
i feel i've often learned as much as others have learned from me. the problem is like that of a good lawyer questioning "never ask a question for which you already can't expect the answer".
although, i can understand you're potential issues with that type of challenge stephen.

Jul 19, 07 1:59 pm

Do we get continuing education credits?

Jul 19, 07 1:59 pm

and stephen, i know where your comments are coming from re: public discussion. and that is part of where i feel that we need to take more responsibility over our role in society, not in terms of liability but in explanation and use....and how one finds ways of determining if something works or doesn't.

Jul 19, 07 2:04 pm

I'm sorry, the AIA just cancelled the WORD Town Hall Meeting. No reason was given, only an AIA RIF form .

Jul 19, 07 2:13 pm

futureboy, can you explain where the imperative , as in "we need to take more responisiblity over our role in society," come from? And who exactly is this "we"?

Jul 19, 07 2:14 pm

It's called AIA authority, note previous post.

Jul 19, 07 2:29 pm

those architects that seek to build within the public space.

Jul 19, 07 2:39 pm
won and done williams

let's turn this around. if not the public, architect pandi, who should be making decisions about public building? city councils that meet behind closed doors? the private sector? i'm really not sure what you are arguing in favor of, though it's clear what you're arguing against.

Jul 19, 07 2:42 pm

That's a poor answer.

Jul 19, 07 2:44 pm

jafidler, if it's so clear what I'm arguing against, then tell us all what it is.

At base, I'm asking questions in the hope of more clarity? I see lots of assumed imperitives, and, like the public, I'm simply asking.

Jul 19, 07 2:49 pm
won and done williams

don't mean that to be hostile. it seems that for some reason, you do not favor a public discourse when it comes to public building projects. i'm trying to understand where you're coming from. to me having public input seems to be a no brainer; they are the ultimate end users. what more is there to explain? i feel like you are trying to make something simple more complicated than it need be.

maybe i'm just being simple.

Jul 19, 07 2:53 pm

More public imperatives can be argued for or against "architectural decision making" in a public forum. This will ultimately explain the outcome. Explanations to the contrary can seem so. Can we seek assumed imperitive clarity by all factions?

Jul 19, 07 3:04 pm

"Public discourse when it comes to public building projects" is not exactly what my questions were addressing. What I was questioning is the notion that somehow "public discourse" is lacking (or even non-existant) and thus requires a "call to arms" rhetoric. Basically, are thing really that bad? And if they are, then at least explain what that bad situation is.

I'm assuming that public discourse when it comes to public building projects is not something that never happens. In fact, I've been on the public side of a public discourse when it came to a public building project--a park building planned for a site that would have ruined the only nice part of the park left; because of my public outspokenness the building never happened. Yes, I'll all for public discourse when it comes to public building projects.

"never ask a question for which you already can't expect the answer".

Jul 19, 07 3:33 pm

With the right fiscal backing, we may yet achieve complete public discourse from the public side. This is by no means beyond contrary explanations.

Jul 19, 07 3:37 pm

your right stephen, i might have misinterpreted your remark. but i don't think there is a motive to having this discussion as you maybe suggesting and what is this issue of trust? am i shooting slings and arrows your direction? if i am then i will affirm to you that i am not.

also, i think the precision with which you quantify your position isn't that far off from my reversal? this is a legitimate process for engagement to reverse the argument--you did it why can't i? i'm just trying to learn and see what people think? your proposition seems to hold an indictment and i think my premise is a innocuous position. now as for the other things you raised here (the questions of who are the "we" and assumed imperatives etcetera)--i think the issue is about raising awareness and promoting the arts--getting people involved in this stuff. is this achieved through an active engagement? a conversation that leads to a public discussion or discourse? I think in the age of the starchitect and LEEDS standards and "design like you give a damn" and "why design matters" we need to actively discuss what all this means. and this undeniably, in my mind, this should be conducted in a style that produces an active public understanding--for lack of better terminology. here i side with habermas that we learn from who we are best from our basic relations with others. isn't that where architects should begin?

i don't think there are any ulterior motives here. is that what you are suggesting? or am i not seeing something? i think the situation as it stands with the issues i raised above is pretty bleak. i always laugh at that scene in the girls of kumare at that line i focused on in the stills on the ubuweb feature, where the girls say who would you like to kill first your boss or an architect. i think that captures the situation perfectly. who would you rather kill?

Jul 19, 07 3:38 pm

John, did you ever think of hiring a publicist?

Jul 19, 07 3:52 pm

no, i'd probably kill them, or want to...but seriously what do you mean?

Jul 19, 07 4:05 pm

I guess this isn't a good time to bring up "architects as hypercritical" again then is it?

Jul 19, 07 4:12 pm

John, what do you think "the public" learns about? It learns about things that are publicized. If you want a message to get out to the public, then hire a publicist.

The hypercritcal remake was because it seemed like you were being hypercritcal of publicists.

Jul 19, 07 4:15 pm

The first response above was to your "no, i'd probably kill them" before you editted that response to "no, i'd probably kill them, or want to...but seriously what do you mean?"

Jul 19, 07 4:17 pm

that's a good point stephen, but to go back to the earlier post....architect's need to get better at maintaining their end of the discussion as well. right now we're like the guest at the party who only wants to talk about themselves....

Jul 19, 07 4:18 pm
won and done williams

you know, i tend to agree with you, architect pandi. in terms of a "general discourse on architecture" i don't know why the public would really care, and i don't believe it's our responsibility as architects to make them care. hell, i'm not sure i care about a general discourse on architecture.

but when confronted with specific architectural concerns, like the demolition of the library or in your case insensitive addition to a park, i've been pleasantly surprised by the public's knowledge and involvement. i think an architect has to be half-politician to know when the public desires intervention and when we're just being hypercritical.

Jul 19, 07 4:52 pm

but they do care. they may just care about different things than a lot of architects would like. every time there is an article in the newspaper about something happening in the built environment, public or private - and ours is a wretched newspaper as construction/architecture reporting goes - it kicks up a flood of letters to the paper. since the paper's not in the business of responding to letters to the editor, the dialogue stops there.

ours being a gannett paper, i've never been able to interest anyone in a print-media forum for talking about built environment (< sorry, tired old catch all phrase) in a public-friendly way that lets people respond and get response - both from a 'moderator'/critic and from other people.

the reason i know that a lot of people would like to take it further? when i've seen letters to the editor that intrigue me, i've contacted the writers and found that i get involved - sometimes ensnared - in dialogue with them, back and forth, until they feel they've had their say, that i've understood it.

it's like listening to a client, only less directly tied to any particular project and more about what we do in general.

Jul 20, 07 6:52 am

steven...i agree compeletely.

for whatever reason i woke up thinking about this a bit and had the thought that as architects we are very nuance obsessed. this tendency allows us to often overlook the obvert questioning of something because all we want to see is the nuance. in a way, are we as a profession drowning in the nuance? how do we make the nuance relevant? even in a dialogue, architects tend to get caught up in these types of nuances of the problem without dealing with the obvert questions related to the problem itself. i think when you can make the nuanced answers relevant to the problem and acknowledge the obvert question asked, you suddenly have an audience.

could this be why currently the discussion tends to be against (new development) or for (preservation of a historic building) as a form of public dialogue. to be for new development typically places one in the role of the corporation or the bureaucracy and against the people.... there is already a pre-existing typology of dialogue for those types of discussion, which really had it's birth in the late 60s, early 70s. have we been able to move beyond this?

Jul 20, 07 11:55 am

please replace obvert with overt in all instances in prevous paragraph.

Jul 20, 07 1:50 pm
won and done williams

i think the whole historical preservation v. new development discussion is a little more complicated these days than it was in sixties. more and more modern buildings are reaching obsolescence; modern construction did not lend itself to buildings lasting hundreds of years. now we have all these buildings from the twentieth century that either have to be demoed or preserved. throw in the environmental costs of new construction, and you have a real quandary - what do we do with old buildings? it's a huge issue that i don't think we've really had to deal with as a society until recently.

in detroit, we have websites like this to discuss these issues in a public forum. i like that there are many different viewpoints expressed here and some good debate about architecture and the city, but after a while it all begins to seem impotent. i think this is why in my earlier posts i was advocating for greater community action in tandem with the public debate facilitated by the internet.

Jul 20, 07 4:58 pm
chatter of clouds

its been a long dance around public discourse and getting the public to participate but is this dance itself fruitful? i'm sure that, in a fairly democratic context, this (public discourse) happens...and where whwen forced, the public can take to the streets to denounce another walmart or welcome it..whatever. however, this is still posited on the level of exterior politics, of negotiations, public-education and probably requires a personable/personal approach...all this is in essence rather opposed to the naturally hermetic disciplinarily self-referential and critical if not occasionely acrimonious + suspicious stance of some architects' critical-methodical minds...

how can the difficulty and perhaps acrimony of the internal architectural discourse be not just maintained but also conductive to the open public engagement, is this possible without some measure of hypocricy? how can the internal hermetic discourse which can reach conclusions far too solipsisic for the layperson's (libeskind, eisenman) concerns be externalized and reconceptualized within a non-architects' language. in fact...not just non-architects...there are architects who deliberately criticize others work through an insiduous usage of layperson's language (how many architects in the last century criticized zaha hadid's designs on paper..not realistic, too sharp, etc etc). we as architects actually can speak the layperson's language very well...and this can be just as counterproductive as productive

Jul 20, 07 6:03 pm
Sir Arthur Braagadocio

so what has any of this discussion to do with the initial interview?

i read all this on my phone and my eyes are fine, mind you in the last couple hours, hence my bewilderment at this lack of Verb discussion.

this is the standard debate on the public and architecture with a capital "A"...yawn.

let me simplify it for you, we are the only profession that believes acting at the fringe of our industry is our true calling, hence our 5% involvment in construction in America...

orhan thanks for the zaha qoute, quite possibly the most pathetic explanation for anything i've ever read, and to think they gave her a pritzer, i'm thinking...she was born in baghdad and she's a woman and the US is at war with Iraq (or terrorists, or whatever), oh yeah the six buildings she did, were mainly jagged crap...

on Verb (where can I get copies in NYC?):

What is a professional magazine? (Architectural Record and Metropolis or ENR (engineering news record) and Detail). i'd argue ENR the true pulse of the american construction industry.

What is an academic magazine? (that's too easy)

what did the architecture book section look like at bookstore's 50 years ago?

this discussion on media, public, etc...done, re-hashed and re-hashed, boogzine as meaning and bubble gum, etc... who gives a flying fuck!

this is what interests me between the lines and what archinect has brought forth so carefully lately (thank John Jourdan)

architecture of space:

think newton physics. cartesian grid. timeless forms. classical architecture.

- the monograph - if you hope to have your career in a monograph one day, you're a classical architect.
- Frank O. Gehry is a theory genius - "architecture is frozen music"

architecture of time:

think relativity. no grid, just relationships. form becoming. eisenman claimed the end a while back, but i have yet to see a replacement.

- the magazine, blog, etc... - i can't directly qoute Verb, but their inentions of making something that displays an architecture of becoming (thought developing in a project), although frozen in time moments, they are not quite like monographs right? in a year Verb could publish something that destroys their conditioning issue (just using the word here).

- an architecture of time so far i think has found its expression in non-solid media (anything less than a monograph). virtual reality is not an architecture of time, it's fake architecture of space, but a project like Archinect and what I understand about Verb, is more along this line...

my question is, so how do we make buildings the way we make blogspots/disuccsion forums? (or should just admit the classical really is timeless?)

Jul 20, 07 11:36 pm
vado retro

well one way we could find out meta is to design a building online through a discussion forum.

Jul 21, 07 12:36 am

"our 5% involvement in construction in america..."
"I'd argue ENR the true pulse of the american construction industry."

architecture is NOT construction. construction is one of the techniques used in the pursuit of architecture.

while the percentage of all buildings and potential areas of practice that could be undertaken by architects, - but are not - is high, is this so different historically? how much of Elizabethan London was produced by "architects"? how much of imperial Rome was designed by "architects"? the construction industry is not the architecture industry. the more interesting question to me would be "how much of the work produced by those who are registered, named or call themselves architects is really of an architectural nature, as opposed to mere housing, buildings, structures or constructions?"

Jul 21, 07 3:17 am

Now I suggested that long ago --- prove a new method by a contest , but sadly there are no guts, even that building in that particular fasion ,could be just that prove , the prove architecture can move, move further than inventing long sentenses about dead architects and why today's designers has to bow.

Jul 21, 07 8:54 am
Sir Arthur Braagadocio

"how much of the work produced by those who are registered, named or call themselves architects is really of an architectural nature, as opposed to mere housing, buildings, structures or constructions?"

i'm going to have to ask what is architecture then?

the 5% number isn't mine, it's what people i was assuming they meant within the construction industry which encompasses architecture. so architects don't rebuild Iraq (Army Corps of Engineers and Haliburton do), architects don't do suburban housing (they did and sold the plans), architects don't do nuclear power plants, mass transit (most the times), and that leaves buildings, but obviously not all buildings. (pre-fab steel buildings).

VADO! let's do it, any suggestions on how?

Jul 21, 07 1:25 pm

start with ظَرْف مَكَان أو زَمَان، حَال and add a pinch of 副詞, braze over open flame. then mix with επίρρημα until it cools. add lots of przysłówek. serve with side of zarf

It's always a good time for too many cooks in the kitchen.

Jul 21, 07 4:21 pm
Sir Arthur Braagadocio

stephen you need a good publisicist, it's sham i don't see your name on billboards yet....

i choose 3dMax as software for this architecture, does anyone want to give us a context?

(i'm a busy busy man, making money money, but give some suggestions and we'll turn this into something)

Jul 21, 07 5:00 pm

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