Harvard GSD M.Arch.I (Lian)

Lectures and exhibitions, life in the trays, happenings around the GSD and beyond.

  • 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 isolated subjects; we exist mostly outside ourselves. Tokyo is a city of "foam," in Peter Sloterdijk's terms; an aggregation of cells...

    4:48: Mimi Hoang: The result is curiously that of a commune or enclave. ...Or can it sneak itself more insiduously into the urban form?

    JT: The intent was that around its contexts, the buildings change in height in relation to its surroundings. The housing around it acts as a buffer between the inside--the public space you stumble upon--and the outside.

    Emmanuel Petit: I think you haven't done Foam City, but Collage City...but a very formally interesting one at that.

    JT: The idea wasn't just to replicate Sloterdijk's idea of a city...movement at the scale of the site and building, and the way you interact with individual spaces is how it ties together.

    Michael Bell: Could you return to your use of the word immanence?

    JT: ...that there's not a single perfect outcome....

    MB: It's still a kind of collage city in that it's producing forms of difference, through the idea that there's a transmissability across that. I feel like you're extruding towards a kind of Deleuzian immanence, but...Deleuze's ideas are pretty difficult for architecture.

    Diana Balmori: I'm bothered by two things. First, it's not clear where you can't get through, in cars or whatever. And two, the qualities of the spaces--one grand space and a whole series of small ones, which you've illustrated well in the photographs...they're very homogeneous in size. They're different in form but very homogeneous in size. But also, what Mimi brought up in how this is so separated.

    Maurice Cox: I'm intrigued about [where the car goes]...if that's how you understand the dense condition of this area... I actually think the uniformity of the spaces you've made are critical to hold this together as a form. It doesn't disaggregate and become a series of bar buildings--it acts like a mat. I'd be wary of a wider range of sizes in the spaces.

    Before you showed the video, I thought this would be solid. In the video we see the transparency, and I'm wondering why you modeled it as such a solid.

    JT: To me, the the transparency is in the video, because that's what happens at the scale of the alleyway. The models were to show the strategy of solids and voids--the punctures.

    Toshiko Mori: It's a little unfortunate that it appears as an enclave, in the representation. But there are points where it intersects with other parts of the city; it appears that way better in [the figure-ground plan].

    MC: Is there any room here for appropriation of public space? Like clotheslines? Or is it all outdoor space publicly accessible?

    JT: Clotheslines would have been nice; I didn't have time for that.

    MB: I'm not going to get into solar gains.

    JT: I lived there last year; all the panes are single pane even though it does get slightly cold.

    MB: Sejima has said she's not going to be able to do the kind of stuff she does anymore, that codes in Japan are going to catch up to her.

    That othering between the outside and inside--you obviously want to break that down. It's a beautiful project and a pleasure to listen to your presentaiton. But it would be another thing to go into moisture and thermal...

    JT: I think also with the transparency of this layer.

    TM: Do you have--?

    JT: No..

    TM: Well, describe it. It's so beautiful.

    JT: Toshiko is referring to a scene from Tokyo Story--they're sitting in their living room and someone walks by on the street. It's totally open, just with louvers. And the person on the street interjects themself into the conversation.

    Jennifer Bonner: I want to commend you; you've done something that looks really simple, but it's not. There's no repetition of spaces.

    EP: There's a strange schizophrenia. On one hand you appear like an Enlightenment philosopher, saying that "there might not be a veil..." But then there was the confusion--talk of the death of god and the consolidation of our knowledge. The glass isn't used as a transparency device but it reflects; it makes the view slightly opaque and complicated. I don't understand how these two aspects come together?

    JT: The absoluteness of the courtyard in the center is only achieved in the context of something that is different from it in its surroundings. If this were New York I would not do this kind of courtyard.

    MB: When you describe it as coming from Tokyo, I can feel something of that; but on the other hand, I feel like you're pulling it out of Tokyo. ...I don't know if you've studied with Sanford Kwinter while you're here, but he's been trying to teach students to give up on transcendence and work on immanence. This is...very convincing in terms of Japan, and frankly Sanford was always pointing towards Buddhism. I think there are two theses here, and they're both very impressive, but I think that you slip into saying that "it's Tokyo" to avoid some questions.

    TM: His project is mostly in shadow; you can see through it, because there's no reflection. ...It's more spatial.

    TM: This does look like a bar building, but there are also typological inventions in a very subtle, detailed manner--which is also another book to be produced. So there is a lot of work resulting from your precise analysis.

    MB: It's intellectually ambitious and materially and in every other way, wonderful.

    End. Applause.

    Thanks for reading!


  • 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, "King Country Courthouse - Seattle, Washington"

    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, [Note: 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...

  • 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...

  • Thesis: unaccomplished performances (video)

    Hi Archinect! I’m in thesis this semester in the M.Arch.I program, and am being advised by my studio critic from first (!) semester, Danielle Etzler, as well as K. Michael Hays. We kicked off the semester with a pin-up in the first week of September, and a desk crit this past Monday. The...

    unaccomplished performance - time lapse

    unaccomplished performance - charcoal dawn

  • Live Blog - George Lakoff, "The Brain's Politics"

    Hi Archinect! I'm at MIT for George Lakoff's talk,"The Brain's Politics: How Campaigns Are Framed and Why." The talk's blurb says: Everything we learn, know and understand is physical — a matter of brain circuitry. This basic fact has deep implications for how politics is understood, how...

  • Live Blog - Jürgen Mayer H., "pre.text / vor.wand"

    Hi Archinect! It looks like a cat sat on my keyboard, but "pre.text / vor.wand" is the title of Jürgen Mayer H.'s lecture tonight in Piper. This has been the first week of classes. (I'm in my thesis semester and second last semester of my M.Arch.I.--more on thesis soon.) 6:36pm: Scott Cohen...

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About this Blog

Lectures and exhibitions, life in the trays, happenings around Cambridge...and once in a while, some studio and course work. Please note that all live blogs are abridged and approximate. If you want to see exactly what happened, in most cases a video of the event is posted online by the event's hosts. If you have concerns about how you are quoted, please contact me via Archinect's email.

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  • Lian Chikako Chang

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