Lian (Harvard GSD M.Arch.I)

I graduated in 2013, but still live-blog here once in a while.

  • Live Blog - Sylvia Lavin and Eric Owen Moss

    Hi Archinect!

    I'm in Los Angeles (yeah!) for an ACSA board meeting and we thought we'd take in Sylvia Lavin and Eric Owen Moss at SCI-Arc.

    SL: ...There are all of the different things that architects make and that we recognize as architecture in some way.  And then, what are the different things that go into making an architect? So I'd like to ask you: What made you go into architecture?

    EOM: What one would answer to this is different when you're a kid, versus now. So the question is: today, is it what I thought it was back then?  When I was a kid, my mom was a project manager, and at some point I was asked to write about what I wanted to so. She took me to Neutra's house and said 'this is an architect.' I found him to be a little stuffy and pretentious... But I thought: if you make a jail, you're exposed to [everything that has to do with a jail; and if you make a hospital, you're exposed to the whole world of medicine; and if you make a house, you're exposed to residential life.] You are exposed to all these human endeavors. [So that was one reason why I wanted to become an architect.] And then there's an argument about the durability of architecture--it's stone--and I was interested in that too. [That was my other reason.]

    SL: What did your mother do for Neutra?

    EOM: She was a labor organizer, and her father was a vice president of a union. She was involved with Cesar Chavez a point they even wanted her to run for congress. [At one point] her organization built a building. [She was a client of Neutra's.]

    SL: Where were you in 1968?

    EOM: Good question. I can remember walking down Telegraph avenue, going to school, and there were armed guards. At Berkeley, most people were following along...there was a war going on in Vietnam, and the difference between this war and the war in Iraq is that there was a draft.

    SL: That's one difference.

    EOM: ...I couldn't join up with either side--that was a problem for me. I didn't think the pseudo-Marxist view explained what was going on, but I also didn't agree with it...I would argue with both the police and the protesters.

    SL: '68 is a year that people wear on their sleeves...

    EOM: I can't stand that.

    SL: And [researchers] these days are tracing passport records and finding that Bernard Tschumi was not in Paris even though be has said that he was--he wanted to have been there. [When people answer this question, their answer is much about where they wished they were, as much as where they actually may have been.]

    EOM: I was trying to answer the question as honestly and honorably as possible.

    SL: But I want the students to understand that when I ask where you were in 1968 it's not just a personal biographical question but a question about what past you want there to be today.


    SL: So you went from Berkeley to the GSD and graduated the year that Gund Hall opened...

    EOM: [Contradicts her] I think they were still building Gund Hall...

    SL: Well, let's use this as an idea about the social grouping of architecture...the open trays.

    EOM: My class at Harvard was seven people. This building changed everything--if only because you now had a big a/c bill and had to pay was a factory.

    SL: Let's call it a corporate floor. [Would that be a gentler way to describe the GSD?] What did you do when you returned to LA from the GSD?

    EOM: I worked for a little while for William Pereira who had an interesting reputation and...I started to work with SCI-Arc and set up an office. 

    SL: We were talking about different kinds of offices produce different kinds of architects. These days a lot of young people divide themselves into design and corporate offices and go straight into starting their own firms without going through a corporate firm. What do you think of that?

    EOM: I learned a lot about (the mechanics of running a firm)--do a project, add people, do a project, add people... But the difference between the corporate world then and today--there seem to be an intersection today between these worlds that wasn't there before. It's a soggy boundary, though maybe it shouldn't be that way.

    SL: This image nauseates me...partly because I've seen it so many times. But also because at the height of feminism...and this is everything good and everything that is awful about a boy's club. I feel like it's my professional duty to say this.

    EOM: I think you're attributing motives or reading something... well, that is there, I'll give you that...but the people who were there weren't thinking that. It wasn't in my head.

    SL: Well my job is precisely to have something in my head that is not in your head. I'm not playing the psychoanalyst, [trying to figure out what's in your head.] What I'm doing is reading the image against its historical background. It's not meant to be personal--

    EOM: I'm just saying as I recall whatever the hell I thought I was doing, standing on a beach--it wasn't intentional. I do think that letting things go instead of chasing back things that were formative in my life...I prefer to let things turn over. That's why I don't go back and say I was there in 1968. 

    EOM: There's a guy who's super boring, Giambattista Vico, you know him?

    SL: I've been bored by him a lot more than you have.

    EOM: Well, what I find interesting is his idea that you can go anywhere and be anything and penetrate--you don't have to be from just one time and place.

    SL: When I ask people why they became an architect, I often get two answers. One is that 'I wanted to be an artist and my mother said I had to get a job.'

    The other is an answer I got from Rem Koolhaas, who said 'it's going to sound cynical coming from me, but I became an architect because I was interested in public service.'

    EOM: For me though, it was a question of biography. I didn't answer with either of those. My answer was, instead, about the durability and the ability to touch every part of a culture.

    SL: Back to the image: what I find telling--

    EOM: I thought you said 'repulsive.' ...Don't you find it easy to find somebody to hate?

    SL: I'm really hammering this one because those of us in LA have seen these images again and again. It belongs to a typology of images about California...


    SL: We associate schools with their directors and heads. What do you [associate] Sci-Arc with?

    EOM: I'd like to look at it and say that life is personal, one architect at a time. A lot of things you talk about is external, in which each person is a composite of what comes at them. I'm interested in a more internal [point of view]. It's one architect at a time, a working out in the world of an interior life that is personal. There's an intellectual culture that would make this availing yourself of...points of view that undermine other points of view.

    SL: I don't understand how that leads to a pedagogy.

    EOM: Well I'm the guy who said that SCI-Arc doesn't have a pedagogy.

    SL: What do you mean when you said that it's internal?

    [Frederick Fisher, Robert Mangurian, Eric Owen Moss, Coy Howard, Craig Hodgetts, Thom Mayne, Frank Gehry), 1980, Ave Pildas. Image source.]

    EOM: Lets go back to your favorite...I mean, your least favorite picture. I'm not sure that any of those external qualities--the image, the tie...have to do with the insides of one's life... 

    SL: It's so funny that we're talking at such cross purposes, as if I found this odious because I don't like the haircuts. This photograph is of some of my favorite people, but--

    EOM: But you look at this and say that it's all men...but we weren't thinking about that--

    SL: Well, it is the prerogative of men to enter the world without acknowledging that they are men.

    [A smattering of applause.]

    SL: But that's not the only point I wanted to make: This is a group of individuals.

    EOM: As opposed to a group of collectives?

    SL: I think contemporary architecture suffers from the perception that its overly about the individual and inner life of the architect. That's a perception I think we have to shed.


    [Sadly, I had to leave at this point--but for a good cause, to meet up with Paul, Nicole, and Alex of Archinect fame--but I was very glad to have witnessed this exchange between Lavin and Moss.]

    Thanks for reading!


  • Graduation: final post as a Harvard GSD M.Arch.I school blogger

    Hi Archinect! We graduated! Although I'll continue to blog and live blog when I can, this is my last post as a GSD M.Arch.I student.  Graduation was hot and sweaty, with lots of waiting--but also incredibly exciting and gratifying to enjoy this final day with classmates, friends, and family...

  • New Haven/Yale School of Architecture

    Hi Archinect! I was in New Haven today, to interview Michelle Addington. I haven't been here since I was a prospective student, so it is somehow fitting to be back now that my M.Arch.I degree is done. It was also great to spend some time with Michelle, as her work is so interesting and her move...

  • Live Blog - John David Todd, "Sometimes alone. Mostly with others" (M.Arch.I thesis)

    Hi Archinect, Last session of the day. John Todd, advised by Toshiko Mori. 4:30: JT: "We live in a post-utopian world...Meaning is not created from a transcendent source but emerges from around us [through an immanence]... The idea of individual vs. collective is a false dialectic. We are not...

  • Live Blog - M.Arch.I thesis

    Hi Archinect, Just a few scenes from the GSD this afternoon, our last day as M.Arch.I students...   Thanks for looking! Lian

  • Live Blog - Ceri Edmunds, "Consolidation: The suburban shopping mall as a paradigm of public space."

    Hi Archinect,   1:10: Ceri Edmunds is presenting. "This project places the shopping mall into anatagonism with the suburban residential. This project seeks consolidation..." At the bottom level are loading docks and parking; the loading docks service the three voids. Above this are the...

  • Live Blog - Trey Kirk, "Seattle Public Library and Courthouse"

    Hi Archinect,Okay, we're only an hour behind schedule.12:00: Trey Kirk begins, describing Mies' seminal courtroom design, with a cell off of each courtroom; and a typology of courtrooms since then. In the internal programming for courtrooms, double-height courtrooms and single height judges'...

  • Live Blog - Drew Cowdrey, "Contemporary Asylum" (M.Arch.I Thesis Review)

    Hi Archinect, 10:44: Drew begins. The focus here moves from the adaptation of self to the adjustment of nature...For centuries, architects have attempted to [cure] the self through what I'll term 'environmental modification.' In contrast there is biological modification, as in the film...

  • Live Blog - Fareez Giga, "Nonsense" (M.Arch.I thesis review)

    Hi Archinect! Second day of M.Arch.I thesis reviews at the GSD. 9:30 am: Fareez Giga begins presenting "Nonsense." Advisor: P. Scott Cohen. "This all began with Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." ...Reality is a construct, a fiction. To confront the real is to...understand this...

  • Live Blog - Cathleen McGuigan, "Women and the Changing World of Architecture"

    Hi Archinect! Studio reviews are over at the GSD. I'm finishing up a few papers--my last school assignments ever--and helping some friends with thesis. I'm also excited for tonight's lecture, from the editor-in-chief at Architectural Record, Cathleen McGuigan. From the GSD website: "Cathleen...

  • Iñaki Ábalos appointed Chair of Architecture at Harvard GSD

    Hi Archinect, At long last, Jose Ignacio Ábalos Vazquez has been announced as the incoming chair of architecture at the GSD. This has been widely rumored for over a year around school, but only now has been made official and public. The announcement was low-key and almost content-free...

  • Live Blog - Preston Scott Cohen, "Successive Architecture"

    Hi Archinect, We're in full Piper tonight for a historic event, the Walter Gropius Lecture, delivered by our Chair of Architecture, Preston Scott Cohen. [I'll add a link to the video when it's posted; this blog post is just the low-budget teaser for a must-watch blockbuster film.] [Photo op with...

    [Scott's roast - Fareez Giga, James Martin, and others.]

  • Live Blog - Techniques: James Carpenter and TriPyramid, "Extending Collaboration"

    Hi Archinect, I'm in Stubbins (a small room at the GSD) for James Carpenter and Michael Mulhern, a founding partner at TriPyramid Structures. Martin Bechthold made the introductions. JC: "Michael just informed me that we've completed over 60 projects together." MM: We build widgets, at the end of...

  • Live Blog - Rahul Mehrotra, KUMBH MELA: Mapping the Ephemeral City

    Hi Archinect! Tonight's event is one that I've been (peripherally) involved in, as this project is one that we've been discussing in the context of an urban planning and design seminar that I'm taking led by Rahul Mehrotra, called "Kinetic City." (Full video available at here.) From the website...

  • PETITION: Recognize Denise Scott Brown for her work in Robert Venturi's 1991 Prize

    Hi Archinect, You might have seen that Denise Scott Brown has asked to be recognized by the Pritzker committee. As Dezeen reports, "At the time the prize was awarded, Scott Brown had been a partner at the couple's practice Venturi Scott Brown and Associates for 22 years and had co-authored with...

  • an online photobooth and gallery to share your emoji (emoticon) faces!

    Hi Archinect, I love emoji faces. I love to send them, I love to receive them, and I love to make little scenes with them. So does my boyfriend, Drew Harry. So much so that we've been working on a little side project called It's a website where you can browse people's attempts at...

  • Co-Host 'ARCHITECT Live' with Stephen Chung, AIA

    Hi Archinect, Did you see this? Until March 29, you can submit a 2-minute video audition for a chance to be a co-host of "ARCHITECT Live" at the 2013 AIA National Convention in Denver at the end of June. The AIA flies you to Denver, puts you up, and pays you $75 a day (hey, it's still...

  • Live Blog - Zaha Hadid

    Hi Archinect, You can watch the full video of this event at the GSD's YouTube Channel. 6:29: Zaha's in the house tonight. There was a huge line in the lobby--she's obviously one of the few architects who attracts such large non-architect audiences. The lecture is apparently untitled. It's already...

  • Live Blog - GSD Alternative Careers Panel

    Hi Archinect! 6:35 pm. Judy Sue Fulton and Lauren Kim, two M.Arch.I students in my class, are hosting a panel on alternative design careers. There will be short introductions and then some conversation with individual panelists around tables. Bryan Boyer: says he's a "confused" professional. "I'm...

  • Defending Your Life--and other stuff

    Hello Archinect! So...I finished my thesis but still have a few classes to wrap up this semester. I'm taking a statistics class with Michael Hooper, an independent study research project with Jay Wickersham (as a professional practice elective), and a seminar with Rahul Mehrotra on the "Kinetic...

  • Thesis FINISHED! (Drawn out: performances of mundane inhabitation)

    Hi Archinect, Well, I'm very happy to say that I presented my thesis just over a week ago, and it went well. I gave the following very short preamble: And here was what I said: There’s a termite in the southern hemisphere that lives in a colony, that builds a mound, that acts as an external...

    Drawn out: performances of mundane inhabitation

  • Thesis: Drawn out: performances of mundane inhabitation

    Hi Archinect, My thesis project has been keeping me from live blogging lately, but I wanted to share some clips of my thesis work in progress. I'm calling the project "Drawn out: performances of mundane inhabitation." It's not a design project, but an essay in the form of a video, exploring the...

    Wake up - attention and the senses

    Cooking - habits and memory

    Going outdoors - environmental stimuli

    Library - movement, activity, quiet, and immersion

  • Comment: I know that Steve Jobs wasn’t God: That’s the whole point

    Hi Archinect,A year ago, after Steve Jobs died and a public debate played out over whether or not he deserved to be mourned--"a fine designer and astute businessman, but surely no saint"--I wrote this essay. It argues that there are different ways to give back to the world, and that most of them...

  • Video - GSD Conference on Design I: Liminal Objects - Design and the Museum

    Hi Archinect, If you're in areas affected by the storm, or have loved ones who are, all the best to you. To everyone else: back to work! Storm day is over. It has been said within our school that furniture, interiors, and design thinking--and dealing with these issues in a serious intellectual...

    GSD: Liminal Objects - Introduction, Design - in - Practice

    GSD: Liminal Objects - Design and the Museum

    GSD: Liminal Objects - Round Table

  • Live Blog - Iñaki Ábalos, 'Thermodynamism and Architecture'

    Hi Archinect! I'm in Stubbins (a smaller room) tonight for a lecture by GSD Professor in Residence Iñaki Ábalos, widely rumored among students to be our next chair of Architecture. The lecture, entitled "Thermodynamics of mixed use high rise prototypes: theory and practice" will be...

  • Live Blog - Toyo Ito, "What Was Metabolism? Reflections on the Life of Kiyonori Kikutake"

    Hi Archinect, We're in full, full Piper tonight for Toyo Ito's lecture. (You can watch the full video at the GSD's YouTube Channel.) From the GSD website: The Metabolist Movement in the 1960s established the foundation from which contemporary architecture in Japan has emerged up to the present...

  • Live Blog - Aggregate and Ed Eigen

    Hi Archinect, I haven't normally attended the GSD's "PhD Talks" as I'm not a PhD student here, but today the researchers collectively known as "Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative" are having a conversation wtih Ed Eigen, about a book that I admire very much called Governing by Design...

  • Live Blog - Kengo Kuma, "After March 11th"

    Hi Archinect, Kengo Kuma in full Piper tonight! You can view the video at the GSD's YouTube channel. I came in a little late, unfortunately, but just in time to see KK show a picture of a recent project in which "nothing happens"--there was no evidence of the project in this image of a hill...

  • Live Blog - Günther Vogt, "City as Territory as Landscape"

    Hi Archinect! I'm in Piper for Zürich-based landscape architect Günther Vogt's lecture. From the GSD website: Günther Vogt will present a talk on the nature of outdoor spaces, making reference to his projects, which approach landscape in the context of the city and urbanization...

  • Thesis: is performance in architecture like the performance of a machine, or a theater?

    Hi Archinect! This post goes along with this one where I shared two videos that started my work on thesis this semester. Here, I wanted to explain a bit about what I mean by "unaccomplished performances," which is the working title for the project: I’m starting with the question: what do we...

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About this Blog

Lectures and exhibitions, news and events, now primarily from the Bay Area! Please note that all live blogs are abridged and approximate. If you want to see exactly what happened, in many cases a video of the event is posted online by the event's hosts.

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  • Lian Chikako Chang

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