A day of strange architectural gazing through the lens of my cheap camera and keen eyes.
Four short reviews of architecture related events I participated in Sci Arc. Back to back and intertwined. more
Architecture Education Summit 2007
My physical world is rather small. When I want to eat, I go to Bob's Market, when I want to be entertained I laugh at myself, and when I want to be immersed in the world of architectural site visit, I go to Sci Arc where I grew up, 'and so it goes' (everybody's favorite word du jour since Vonnegut died last week).
You have got to give that school a lot of credit for always managing to buzz with activity and never ceasing to teach me a thing or two whenever I drop by.
So, I go there to free join the 400$ a pop 'Architecture Education Summit 2007' to observe and learn from the various activities as advertised at the arc-epicenter.com.
My goal is to benefit from these summit offerings as described here;
The goal of this year's symposium is to discuss current curriculum as well as the future direction of design programs. It is our collective hope to expose participants to the importance of becoming globally adaptive and educating them on the multiple approaches to accomplish this.
Excellent promise in italics.
I check into a presentation and participate in a discussion panel meeting.
To be honest, I was rather expecting a charged main space event with a fresh manifesto or two passed around. Students in their Maoist hats and a panel of socio-politically determined minds discussing how the 21st century architecture school might pan out, and discuss what will be the impact of that to the world architecture.
I was hoping that the participating academians would issue a joint declaration like older generations used to do.
Well, perhaps my expectation was too poetic. This is little corporate here.
Instead of main space, the panel discussion was fitted into a windowless room with bunch of electrical panels with acoustical tiles on the ceiling, a different reality.
There were 15-20 count faculty members from various schools of this country, east coast, west coast, Cooper Union etc., led by one of the great veterans of personality based teachers around, Coy Howard of Sci Arc.
When I entered the room, they were discussing personality based architectural ed vs. curriculum based architectural ed.
After that, the discussion quickly branched to principle based ed, Bauhaus, the importance of teaching the quality of the object, oratorical power, multi paradigm schools, personality based faculty hiring vs. position based faculty hiring. I wanted to insert favorite son based hiring issue but the combative Union lady in front of me changed the subject too fast.
I did tried to bring in a question about why working class people are not able to study architecture but that got shot down with a no tears rebuttal from, guess who, the Union Lady herself. She is a strong proponent of curriculum based architectural education with references to John Hejduk, the people's poet.
"Well, architects don't make any money and it is only natural that people with no immediate money problems shall study architecture", she said in a nutshell. Whoa, Union Ivy.
I took that with grain of salt and, as usual, this deep subject and cultural issue quickly got over-written.
Another interesting subject opened up and a question raised;
Is making architecture, problem solving?
Yes and no, said the participants.
In an opportune moment I asked the question of guarded nature of architectural schools to other disciplines (extra-architecturals as in extra-territorials) which was much more eloquently asked by Geoff Manaugh to Mark Wigley in a recent interview in his BLDGBLOG.
At this point, I realized how fast the subjects were exchanging hands and minds and start to think how fast is the future is approaching and inserted a long-winded question that basically asked,
"what are the future plans, ladies and gentlemen?"
Dis-interested silence broke out, lights got dimmer, and Coy Howard said, "that is enough for today."
Random short takes from the 'Summit 2007';
* Almost non-existing student participation in this important event, which has directly to do what they are getting with their daddy's money, was disappointing to say the least. Absolutely less interested students who were instead chasing super glue to finish their final projects. (Bad timing for the summit?)
* I observe the lack of guest participants from other disciplines, and, how conservative the architectural teaching trade is, towards outsiders.
* A lot of important issues (some I mentioned above) thrown out there by high quality teaching industry people, yet the 'Summit' remains to be a close circuit meeting by the usual suspects devoid of controversy and inspiration for action.
I walk in to Peter Eisenman exhibition in Sci Arc Gallery, and in my mind, I am immediately reminded of how passé his half baked installations became and how much fun it was to watch him talk about his Cannaregio Town Square in Venice (1978), which was great storytelling act about how his quadrant organization was developed by little cube eaten by larger cube and so on.
I took some snapshots nevertheless, combining badly glued surfaces from, in addition to Venice project, Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus Ohio and City of Culture in Spain.
Exhibition is called "Eisenman Grounded", no pun intented.
Cannaregio Town Square
View of the installation from the catwalk
My table is not your table.
I don't have much more to say about the Board of Directors Conference Table design competition fund raising shindig, but I'll explain what happened in the below picture when Eric Moss was selecting the perhaps winning design with his brilliant statement of,
"I don't get it and I don't like it, but that is why I want to see this table built".
Eric Moss turned towards a Board of Trustees + conference table jury member and behind her is another jury member and commenter who said the money could be better spent for scholarships, to whom I said "great point" and had to leave the floor to catch the summit downstairs.
Winning design (Mr. Moss' favorite) by Heather Flood and Ramiro Diaz-Granados, link, second place was awarded to Wes Jones, and third place to Josh Taron (sorry no pics made available to national media for the runner uppers.)
'Adventures in Kazakhstan'
And a couple words of wisdom on EOM and Zaha Hadid's exhibition of 'Adventures in Kazakhstan', a pair of huge mixed use projects to be considered for capital of this Turkic country with a lot of oil money and in need of powerfull symbol of progress and wealth.
I had a chance to see the architects' presentation boards in the Sci Arc Library. Following statements say a lot about these projects, and they come from the architects themselves;
" By virtue of its enormous scale and prominent location, the project will become the constructed symbol of this newly affluent Central Asian nation. "
Diagramatic drawings showing EOM's innovative seismic absorption system
A plan of '5 in 1 towers' at parking level
Boullée like space, resultant of seismic spring construction
Mixed used towers
Zaha Hadid says;
"Architectural Concept and Site Strategy:
The design of the proposal comes from the idea of using a Voronoi pattern to organize the program plan on the site. The Voronoi’s subdivisions, or cells, like biological cells within a tissue, are independent, yet act together in a larger system. We tested several Voronoi patterns on the site in order to derive a subdivision that fulfilled the requirements for the program, floor plate area, floor plate depth and distance between buildings.
Entrance lobby and sales offices
Both projects are fine examples of that generic dreamy proposal genre, usually pitched to developing nations, who in search of progressive imagery for their political leaders and hopes of attracting western investments, call the PR's of willing architectural talent pool.
Most of the time these pitches declare the unfavorable contexts dead and could easly be adopted to a third party developers with minor changes.
It is a small world in Almaty.
Related Archinect features;
Martha Schwartz : Landscapes of Awareness
Transversing Michael Rotondi
Design in the World : An Interview with Detlef Mertins
Redefining Education in the 21st Century
Ben Nicholson 's Faith Based Initiative