Lian (Harvard GSD M.Arch.I)

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

  • 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. Vogt has collaborated with notable architecture firms, including Herzog & de Meuron on the Tate Gallery of Modern Art and the Laban Dance Center in London, as well as the Allianz Arena, Munich; he worked with Gautschi Storrer on Zürich's Masoala Rain Forest Hall. [...]

    6:37: Landscape Chair Charles Waldheim calls things to order. "Over the course of the last decade or so, he and his colleagues have embarked on the production of an extraordinary array of public squares and spaces..." His work embodies a tangency between a tradition of landscape that draws on perception the senses, as well as an urbane sensibility. His projects have been at a range of scales. The first piece of his that CW saw was at the Tate Modern, "at the same moment fragile and materially availability, relatively tiny in the face of all that architecture," but it had the forbearance to stand up in that demanding context.

    He's a practitioner, teaches at ETH Zürich, and a scholar. He has two books, Distance and Engagement, and Miniature and Panorama, which have the same trim size but different orientations, covering much the same years.

    6:43: GV: "I decided I have to be a bit open minded so my students can criticize me tomorrow, so I go a bit to the edge."

    "Landscape architecture today talks too much about design, and not enough about the conditions that define our daily work." So he'll talk about London vs. continental Europe, and what is different in those contexts.

    In European cities, a process of urbanization, especially in Switzerland. In London, it spread out some centuries ago. We can still find fortifications, but they've spread out past them for a long time. So questions of inside and outside aren't as much in play. Londoners have an "erotic relationship to grass and landscape." For Europeans, it's different--it's a piazza.

    GV cites Henri Lefebre's The Urban Fabric.

    Though London and Switzerland are very different, they're both very democratic--among the most democratic countries--so you really have to talk with people when you work there.

    Why is this? Slides showing industrialization, regional specializations in Europe before 1914, European national statistics, centralities and land use.

    What is the different between city and landscape? Especially at the GSD, everyone is talking about Mumbai and Sao Paolo, but nobody is talking about the abandoned landscape. There are abandoned alpine landscapes in Switzerland that are important for Swiss identity.

    6:52: "We constantly have research, not at the ETH but in our three offices." Description of work for the Venice Bienalle. They reproduced this smallest building type, which is a place where water used to be given out.

    They invited students to propose projects for the kiosks. As they couldn't sell things at the kiosks, they made it an exchange of meanings; they interviewed people and in return gave (? water? knowledge? I'm having trouble following, with Vogt's accent and soft voice.)

    They also had collaborations with Olafur Eliasson, and other artists, often younger and less famous ones. Artists have a completely different approach than architects; and they like to have different disciplines working with them: architects, landscape architects, biologists, geologists, etc.

    Vogt asked an artist (Eliasson, I think he's talking about) who approached him to collaborate on an exhibition why he wanted to collaborate with him, as he's not an artist but a landscape architect. The artist said that museums are really brutal to deal with, and as a landscape architect he's used to dealing with architects.

    Chek out Vogt and Eliasson's The mediated motion. "Peter Zumthor didn't like it at all, I have to say" when they changed the height of the floor, sloping it from one end to the other, destabilizing the feeling of the walls.

    7:09: Now he's showing Rectory Farm. It's the biggest park in west London over the next 20 years; instead of starting with design in terms of what it looks like, they started with what it means and what can be done there.

    Parliament in London. The budget was 19 million pounds, established by the government before they knew what program they wanted for the space. They had come to that amount by calculating how much time commuters would save based on improved traffic flows. At first, GV thought they wouldn't be able to design anything there, but they got interested in the geology of the place--all the layers of older eras pressed up close under the top layers of soil.

    The proposed design involves a slight hill and an enormous table, like the table for parliament but for the people.

    7:25: Novartis campus in Basel. Inspired by local geology. Perception tricks; it feels like you're going up or down when you're not. "Instant landscape," by buying large trees and planting them.

    7:30: For the Novartis Learning Center in Risch, they worked with a photographer who documented the existing park (I think to help them and others see it anew).

    Archinect, it's a bit hard for me to hear, so I'm sorry that my account tonight is sparse and probably often incorrect; the video should be posted online soon. A closing comment, though: it was interesting how Mr. Vogt seems to draw distinctions between "design" vs. "landscape," as well as "landscape" vs. "parks." Not sure what's up with that.

    GV closes his lecture with comments about how he likes the way the GSD is set up, like at ETH, where there are multiple disciplines together. So we have to learn together and learn to talk to each other.

    7:35: End. Charles Waldheim takes the first question, and comments on the tension between wanting to collaborate with other disciplines and maintaining the disciplinary identity of landscape. He comments that at the GSD, it's "in our DNA" to consider the disciplinary identity and roles of each of our disciplines; and that the landscape department may be a bit insular right now, in the face of disciplines that are larger (heh) and more capitalized.

    I ask about Vogt's distinction between design and landscape, and landscape and park (which seem subtle to me), and the more expected contrasts between landscape, art, and architecture. In his answer, two things Vogt touched on are (I think) the fact that theoretical discussions of this kind tend not to take place as much in European schools; and that the answers to these questions aren't simple today. Landscape architects work in urban contexts; real estate developers use the words "park" and "landscape" interchangeably (selling their projects in terms of allowing people to live "in" or in proximity to "the landscape").

    Thanks for reading!


  • 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...

  • Economic Considerations Regarding the Future of the Architecture Profession

    Hi Archinect, Here's the excellent slide deck from a presentation by Kermit Baker, Chief Economist at the American Institute of Architects, in a "collateral discussion" (whatever that is) held on March 4, 2012 (as posted online at The main theme, as I see it: baby boomers holding on to...

  • ContemPLAY: Adventures in full-scale digital fabrication (interview with Sophie Wilkin from McGill)

    Hi Archinect! M.Arch. students from my alma mater, McGill School of Architecture, have designed and built a steel and wood pavilion that they’re calling ContemPLAY, and I recently sat down with team member Sophie Wilkin (via text chat) to find out more. Here’s an edited version of our...

  • A Single Surface, Multiple Players: Design and Construction of the Stair for the BSA Space

    Hi Archinect! It's been a while--I've been enjoying summer! But I did find time to chat with Eric Höweler (Höweler + Yoon Architecture), Patrick McCafferty (Arup Boston), Jason Smith (Commodore Builders), and Tom Couturier (Couturier Iron Craft) about their collaboration on the stair...

    Patrick McCafferty: “Arup’s in-house finite element software was used to analyze the dynamic response of the stair in order to fine-tune the structural design and detailing requirements.” This video, courtesy Arup Boston, shows the stress contours as load is applied to the stair.

  • Live Blog: Marikka Trotter and K. Michael Hays

    Hi Archinect! I’m at the very beautiful Cambridge Public Library (by William Rawn Associates) for a conversation between Marikka Trotter (co-editor with Esther Choi of Architecture at the Edge of Everything Else) and K. Michael Hays, who was co-author together with Trotter of...

  • Live Blog: Scott Cohen and Nader Tehrani, "my house is better than your house"

    Hi Archinect! This one is for the lols. The GSD's Scott Cohen and Nader Tehrani, Head of the Department of Architecture at MIT, are having a friendly lunchtime debate--as illustrated by the hot air rising from each house in the poster. 12:10: Scott opens things, describing his close and collegial...

  • Live Blog: Margaret Livingstone, "What Art can tell us about the Brain"

    Hi Archinect! I'm at MIT today for Margaret Livingstone's lecture on visual perception. She'll be talking about how works of visual art can inform us about how we see. (Her excellent book with many visual games and informative optical illusions is called Vision and Art: the biology of seeing.)...

  • note to incoming GSD and Career Discovery students about housing

    Hello, Sorry to abuse my blog in this way, but this is just to reach out to incoming GSD (and MIT) students, as well as GSD Career Discovery summer students, who are looking for apartments. We have a Facebook group with almost 300 members called 'Harvard GSD Housing' where you can post ads...

  • video: Marc Simmons, you talk pretty

    Hi Archinect! I wasn't able to live blog last night's lecture by Marc Simmons from Front, but it's just as well, as he talks so articulately that it's better to watch the video yourself, at the GSD's YouTube channel. It was a great presentation of Front's façade consultation and...

  • Live Blog: One Harvard: Lectures that Last

    Hi Archinect! I'm at the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square for the Harvard Graduate Council's 'One Harvard: Lectures that Last.' Top professors from each of Harvard's twelve schools have been rounded up to to give a talk:     Roland Baron | Harvard School of Dental Medicine...

  • maps

    Hi Archinect! By now, you've probably seen Google's April 1 release of its 8-bit map for NES. But have you seen this real-time animated map of wind in the United States? And this Metro Distortion Map that shows the travel time to stations in Washington DC? And Mapnificent, which shows what places...

    Google Maps 8-bit for NES

  • Live Blog: George Baird

    Hi Archinect! George Baird is giving a lunchtime lecture today, hosted by the student groups CanadaGSD and LandGSD. Baird is the former Dean (2004-2009) of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, and is a partner in the Toronto-based architecture and urban design firm...

  • Wide Open: Young designers discuss their professional horizons and architecture’s future

    [Photo by Julie Chen for ArchitectureBoston] Hi Archinect! ArchitectureBoston, a quarterly publication of the Boston Society of Architects, is undergoing a change in leadership. The founding editor, Elizabeth Padjen, is stepping down after fourteen years of service and Renée Loth, a Boston...

  • Live Blog: Rosalind Williams, "Infrastructure of Lived Experience"

    Hi Archinect! 6:25: I have springtime allergies here and would rather be at home...but here I blogging Rosalind Williams' keynote lecture for this weekend's Landscape Infrastructure conference. The conference, organized by GSD Landscape professor Pierre Bélanger, is subtitled...

  • Apeira: architectural speculation

    Hi Archinect! Just to mention that my former roommate, recent GSD M.Arch.II grad (and thesis prize winner) Etien Santiago, has launched a new print and online journal called 'Apeira.' The first issue includes: The Whole of Apeira / Etien Santiago Fêlure in Humans and Machines / Lea Anglais...

  • Comment: GPS-based social networking, or the death of the flaneur

    Although I'm actually pretty keen on the potentials of pervasive computing, the current hype about GPS-based social networking apps makes me uneasy. The idea is that your mobile device will be able to tell you when somebody in your vicinity has or shares certain interests (or other...

  • Live Blog: Rem Koolhaas

    Hi Archinect! Koolhaas in the haas. Omagawd! [Photo from Chauhaus--our cafeteria--courtesy of Paul Cattaneo.] Koolhaas just introduced the study-abroad Rotterdam studio he's teaching in the fall, and now...he's giving a talk called "Current Preoccupations," with Q+A led by Sanford Kwinter and K...

  • Live Blog: "Ethics of the Urban: the City and the Spaces of the Political"

    Hi Archinect, I'm sitting on the floor in a very stuffy, very tiny room for the last session of this weekend's conference, "Ethics of the Urban: the City and the Spaces of the Political." Gerald Frug and Richard Sennett are speaking, moderated by Neil Brenner. 4:45: Gerald Frug: "Richard Sennett...

  • Live Blog: Saskia Sassen, "Immigrants and Citizens in the Global City"

    Hi Archinect! The sultry r&b is playing, and Saskia Sassen is in front of the gold curtain this Friday night for the keynote lecture of the conference, "Ethics of the Urban: the City and the Spaces of the Political." This is the third in a series of conferences organized by Dean Mostafavi...

  • Live Blog: Samuel Klein, "Future of Civic Participation: Lessons from the cult of Wikipedians"

    Hi Archinect, I'm at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government tonight for a talk with Samuel Klein, Trustee at Wikipedia. It's a small crowd, but we'll see how it goes. 6:43: How ironic, we're starting with some technical difficulties. 6:44: SK is asking who has started a Wikipedia entry that...

  • Live Blog: Richard Sennett, "The Architecture of Cooperation"

    Hi Archinect! I'm a bit under the weather today, but this is one not to miss. Richard Sennett, the GSD's Senior Loeb Fellow for 2012 (and faculty member at New York University and the London School of Economics) is talking about the "Architecture of Cooperation": “The theme of the lecture...

  • Live Blog: “Design Technologies as Agents of Change,” with Bock, Seletsky, Oxman, Rocker, and Bechthold.

    Hi Archinect! Tonight's event is called “Design Technologies as Agents of Change,” with Thomas Bock (TU Munich), Paul Seletsky (ArcSphere New York), Rivka Oxman (Technion Haifa), and Ingeborg Rocker (GSD). Moderated by Martin Bechthold (GSD). Three Germans tonight! 6:32: It's still a...

  • Live Blog: Philip Glass

    Hi Archinect, We're back in full Piper, eagerly awaiting Philip Glass. I'm not sure what will happen. Our website says that "Mr. Glass will speak on the theme of collaboration and the creative process and, through brief performances, share selections from his oeuvre." [Photo by Fernando Aceves...

  • Live Blog: Tom Stocky (from Facebook) at MIT Media Lab

    Hi Archinect! I'm at the Media Lab for a talk with Tom Stocky, Director of Product Management at Facebook. His presentation is called "Design, Hack, Ship: How we build products at Facebook," and it was billed as offering "a glimpse into what happened behind the scenes of the initial News Feed...

  • Live Blog: Patrik Schumacher

    Hi Archinect! Patrik Schumacher, partner at Zaha Hadid Architects and founding director at the AA Design Research Lab, is in Piper tonight for a lecture on "Parametric Order: 21st century architectural order." [You can see the video online at the GSD's YouTube Channel.] 6:36pm: PSC takes the...

  • Live Blog: Diana Balmori and Joel Sanders on Landscape and Architecture

    Hi Archinect! [Left to right: Charles Waldheim, Diana Balmori, Joel Sanders, Mohsen Mostafavi, Ben Prosky (facing away), and Chris Reed in Piper Auditorium before the lecture.] Balmori and Sanders are in Piper tonight, talking about their book Groundwork: Between Landscape and Architecture. I...

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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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