Archinect

Harvard GSD M.Arch.I (Lian)

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

  • 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 am...live blogging Rosalind Williams' keynote lecture for this weekend's Landscape Infrastructure conference.

    The conference, organized by GSD Landscape professor Pierre Bélanger, is subtitled "Systems & Strategies for Contemporary Urbanization" and the official description reads:

    A two-day symposium exploring the future of infrastructure and urbanization beyond the dogma of civil engineering and transportation planning. Presentations and panel discussions focus on the growing agency of ecology to propose responsive strategies that address the predominant challenges facing urban economies today including climate dynamics, carbon and nitrogen accumulation, population mobilities, and resource economies.

    6:33: All right, we're in half Piper and there are no less than two and a half rows saved for VIPs. It's crowded and students are hanging off the balconies.

    6:40: (Right on GSD time!) Charles Waldheim kicks things off. Pierre Bélanger started his work on infrastructure while at the University of Toronto and CW is glad that we've been able to nab (OK, so he doesn't use the word "nab") him for the GSD.

    Infrastructure is a central topic and one that is nested with the interests of landscape urbanism; it also has been important in the foundation of Landscape Architecture as a discipline as well as in the development of the Landscape Architecture department and program at the GSD.

    6:45: Pierre Bélanger. Infrastructure is "the glue of urbanization." We're going to talk about it "beyond the dogma of civil engineering and urban planning." Civil engineering spends trillions of dollars of federal funding in the United States.

    It's important to understand the supremacy of civil engineering and of (technocratic) thought in this area. Civil engineers and construction managers are the true master builders of the 20th century. We don't have a problem of a lack of technology, but we do have a problem of reciprocity between technology and ecology.

    Central to the position of landscape practice is the notion of multiple scales. Paul Edwards, media theorist and communications historian, who says that:

    PB refers to the founding of Harvard's Landscape Architecture program in 1900 and to MIT's short-lived program from 1900 to 1909, which recruited women (at a time when Harvard's program did not).

    Mention of Sigfried Giedion and (western Canadian...woot woot) Christopher Tunnard:

    6:56: I sneeze.

    6:57: Introducing Rosalind Williams with this quote from her:

    7:00: "Yet for all the physical proximity to the fields of engineering, technology, and science, [Williams] has retained a humanistic position..." Her lecture comes at an important time of convergence of design and technological disciplines.

    Recap of Williams' books. Notes on the Underground talks about those underground spaces that have everything that modern civil engineers should love: facade-less buildings, pipes, fluids, etc. Retooling: a Historian confronts Technological Change is a history of MIT's role in the technology of this century and the last.

    7:05: Rosalind Williams. She'll be talking mostly about Robert Louis Stevenson, but is starting with a few comments on infrastructure.

    Infrastructure, like technology, turns out to be a recent term and promiscuous term. These words are taking on new meanings in the the face of the changes these words are supposed to describe, as Raymond Williams observes in Culture and Society.

    We love railroads! They are visible as infrastructure. As Alfred D. Chandler writes in The Visible Hand, the railroad is the pioneer of modern business administration.

    Chandler's student, Thomas Hughes, in Networks of Power, studied electricity as a system in a similar way.

    And then Paul Edwards talks about infrastructure as "cyber infrastructure."

    7:17: On to Robert Louis Stevenson. He lived a short life during the "second industrial revolution."

    The Stevenson family was in the lighthouse business. There is a fundamental tension between the engineers' desire to build lighthouses and the highlander people's suspicion of them. At first glance, what could be wrong with a lighthouse, as it saves lives by preventing wrecks? But for highlanders, who retrieved goods from shipwrecks, the wrecks provided a source of income. For them, this infrastructure was unwanted.

    In his writing, RLS compares writing to the beacon that lighthouses are supposed to provide. It's meant to provide peace, love, and hope, but can also be experienced as an invasion.

    7:28: RLS publishes his first book, called An Inland Voyage, in 1878. It's about two boys paddling a "canoe" (more like a kayak) along the Seine. They are using the infrastructure of these waterways for an unintended purpose.

    7:31: RLS met a woman (Fanny) and they became lovers; after receiving a letter from her he went to go see her in San Fransisco from the UK. The voyage took three weeks and he kept a "sordid" diary of his experience that "out Zola-ed Zola." He took an immigrant ship across the Atlantic: "for ten days we were in one small iron country on the deep."

    He didn't like the railway either, and almost died on the cross-country trip. He couldn't sit down or sleep, and could hardly get off at stations to buy food. He could also hear what the other people were talking about, and noted that they were talking about all the opportunity they hoped to find. Yet he noticed that, coming the other way, were more train cars carrying Asians coming east; they, too, were crossing the continent in hopes of finding a more prosperous future.

    He lived with Fanny, and it was a very cold place, so when a publisher offered that he could live on a yacht in the South Seas and publish a book by writing letters from it, he agreed!

    So we have seen RLS' use of infrastructure in terms of "agency of the user" (on his canoe), in terms of "the tragedy of mobility" (in being crowded on the ship and train), and now we will see "infrastructure as conquest."

    RLS lived in Hawaii and saw the destruction of the Polynesians at the hands of the "vile" white western Europeans, and increasingly sided with the Polynesians.

    7:42: RLS decided to stay and live in Samoa. There was regular post service there, and he could write his books from there and send them in. He did great writing there, RW recommends one called The Ebb Tide.

    A series of Samoan wars from 1892-3. A chieftan was imprisoned by the Germans, and the other chieftans went with them. RLS supported them during the imprisonment, and when the chieftan was allowed to go into exile, they decided to show their gratitude to him by building a road to his house. They called him by a name that could be translated as the "Storyteller," or perhaps "Chief Information Officer."

    At first, RLS didn't want to accept the gift, but then he decided to accept it because of the lesson it taught. He said that the only way that Samoa would be saved would be for them to inhabit it, to pick its crops and sell them. If they don't occupy their own land, then westerners would come and do it for them. That is, he promotes infrastructure that supports inhabitation, not mobility.

    Lessons of the road:

    Today is the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Red Line from Park Street to Harvard Square. A brochure from that day, one hundred years ago, reads: "to save time is to lengthen life."

    Fifty years ago, construction began on Exit 17 of the Mass Pike, on the land where RW's grandparents lived.

    Much of the conversation tomorrow is about engineers and designers working together. Interdisciplinarity is difficult, but necessary. RW shows the current mission statement of MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering:

    The last sentence tells us that although they seek interdisciplinary collaborations, they will not "use their slots" to hire these people for their own departments. That is, there are limits to how far departments are willing to go in terms of interdisciplinarity.

    The question of power: who is paying for projects? Who is in charge?

    The lack of public support for infrastructure spending today. "It's not unlike the broken windows syndrome, not locally but nationally."

    7:57: Pierre Bélanger introduces the respondents who will fill out the panel: Rania Ghosn and Hashim Sarkis. [It is very stuffy and crowded in here, and when I can't breathe, I can't type, so my comments will be brief from here on. People are trying to get out but it's so crowded on the stairs that even this is difficult.]

    Hashim Sarkis comments on Jack Kerouac and Kevin Lynch, two other "road characters."

    Rania Ghosn comments.

    Rosalind Williams: It's hard for students when you tell them not to use the word "technology" unless they say what they mean by that word. Because students are so used to it (as their go-to word).

    etc.

    Thanks for reading!

    Lian

    P.S. You can watch the event at the GSD's YouTube Channel.


  • 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 flâneur

    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...


  • Live Blog: Preston Scott Cohen speaks with Nicolai Ouroussoff about his new Herta and Paul Amir Building, at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

    Hi Archinect! We're in "full Piper" with a full house for the GSD's first public event of 2012, called "Museum as Genealogy"--and it's all Scott. [Added note as of Jan 29]: For many of us as GSD architecture students, this kind of event is anticipated as a moment when some of the most important...


  • final work...finally!

    Oh hello there, Archinect! Finals were a blur and vacation was the best, and here we are back in the trays yet again. Oh, I have so many things to tell you. But first, my project from last semester! A twelve lane highway runs under the entire site. I was building on air-rights over this highway...


  • one week left!

    Hi Archinect! We have one week left before our final review and the plan is to finish my model today. Actually, the plan was to finish it yesterday, but this morning I realized that this was unrealistic. If I can finish the model today, then I'll have six days for drawings, which is still tight...


  • Finals...

    Hi Archinect! This is just a quick update as we head into our last few weeks before studio finals. Things are going well and I'm just buckling down to focus on representation techniques and the specifics of my design, so that things don't become a complete shit-show in December. I'm gonna hold...


  • Live Blog: Wang Shu, Geometry and Narrative of Natural Form

    Hi Archinect! It's Open House day at the GSD, so we're in "full Piper" (using the entire auditorium) for a lecture by Wang Shu from Amateur Architecture Studio. The video is now viewable at the GSD website and the GSD's YouTube channel. 4:05 pm: A long and laudatory introduction from Scott. He's...



  • Midterm work: systems, not forms.

    Hi Archinect! We had our midterm last Wednesday and I am finally rousing myself out of my post-review sloth and pleasure-chasing (and yes, it was glorious) in order to post some images. I've already posted photos of our site. And you may have seen the video of my critics' public lecture at the...


  • Live Blog: Stan Allen and Preston Scott Cohen

    Hi Archinect! Stan Allen, Dean of Princeton University School of Architecture and Principal of SAA/Stan Allen Architect, is going at it tonight with Preston Scott Cohen, Chair of Architecture at Harvard GSD and Principal at Preston Scott Cohen Inc. The video is also posted at the GSD's YouTube...


  • Live Blog: The Core of Architecture’s Discourse Now: A New Generation of Scholar Critics Speak Out

    Hi Archinect! William S. Saunders, Timothy Hyde, George P. Dodds, David Gissen, Simon Sadler, and Meredith TenHoor are in the house tonight in front of the golden curtain. The topic is theory and writing. [Update: you can now view the full video at the GSD's YouTube channel.] 6:40: William...


  • Kinesthesia - M.Arch.I first year project

    Hi Archinect! The kids did good. Here is the final project from a group of students in the first-year M.Arch.I. Materials and Construction course. They were working with fabric hinges and a geometry that allows for their full-scale mockup to be transformed and configured in a multitude of ways...



  • Happy Birthday, GSD! And you too, Harvard.

    [Harvard's Birthday Cake. Graphic from The Harvard Crimson.] Hi Archinect! Well, this year the GSD turns 75 years old, and Harvard turns 375. Big parties all around, pecha kucha lectures from alumni and faculty, and lots of alumni in town for the weekend of events. Yo-Yo Ma performed in the yard...


  • Live Blog: Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi / Evolutionary Infrastructure

    Hello Archinect! My current studio critics, Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, are lecturing in front of the gold curtain tonight. You can also watch the whole thing on the GSD's YouTube channel. 6:36: Scott Cohen is making introductions. Lots of awards, great projects, Ivy League educations and...


  • On Making and Learning Architecture: a conversation with Danielle Etzler (video)

    Hi Archinect! My first semester studio critic and assistant professor of architecture, Danielle Etzler, has been building buildings for fifteen years, teaching architecture for a few, and thinking throughout about connections between these. Over the summer, I sat down with her to talk about the...



  • Live Blog: Why Latin America, Why now?

    Hi Archinect! Okay, I've been sick all week, and I've missed so very many things.  (Note: if you're ever told that it's OK to get a flu shot while you have a cold without a fever, don't believe it! Flu shots are powerful.) On Monday, Asia GSD invited Erwin Lui, a senior designer at Toyota...


  • The Bridge Towers at the I-95/George Washington Bridge in NYC (Site Visit)

    Hello Archinect! Last week our studio (led by Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi) went to NYC to visit our site, which is the area around the "Bridge Towers" that are built directly over the I-95 highway in northern Manhattan. [This image from Weiss/Manfredi. All other images are mine.] Our site...


  • Flatland: an installation at Gund Hall by Casey Hughes with Hiroshi Jacobs

    Hi Archinect! Like most schools of architecture, the GSD has a tradition of students installing projects in and around the building. Some of these last longer than others, and some are better thought-out and executed than others. Some are not installations at all, but just crumbling pieces of...


  • Weiss/Manfredi studio at the BMW Guggenheim Lab

    Hi Archinect, Just a quick note to say that my studio, led by Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, will be running a workshop on "Evolutionary Infrastructure: An Unfinished Utopia" at the BMW Guggenheim Lab this Friday, September 23, from 3 to 5 pm. If you're in New York and have a moment to stop...


  • Live Blog: Janette Sadik-Khan, Comissioner of NYC Department of Trasportation

    Hi Archinect,Janette Sadik-Khan, the New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner, is speaking in Piper as part of the 'Roadmap to Sustainable Infrastructures & Green Cities Conference.' [Photo from Esquire.com] 6:38: It's a pretty full house in Piper tonight. Sadik-Khan is as...


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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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