Knowlton School of Architecture (Marc Syp)



Aug '05 - Jan '11

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    Long overdue update

    By mpsyp
    Sep 16, '06 6:42 PM EST

    It is now September of 2006 and it's hard to believe that year 1 is already over. It has been fantastic. It has surpassed my expectations, actually. I'm going to reflect a bit and post some pictures, since I was grossly delinquent during the school year, and in the next posts I'll talk about our trip to Europe and focus on some exciting things coming up this next year.

    It is my sincerest hope to stay on top of this blog, no kidding. I have a tendency to be long-winded, which deters me from taking the time to update, but that's going to change, even if it means I force myself to tersify.

    Anyway, let me talk about last year. Where do I start... I didn't even make it through fall quarter! Here are some quick examples of early projects.

    The first exercise was called "Spots and Dots." We were given the first and last frame, and we were asked to use four frames to develop a transition between these two. My final iteration of these project uses the filmic sensibility that I developed before coming back to school for architecture...


    One of the other early projects involved the manipulation of a wall surface. We were given the dimensions of a wall with a particular thickness. We were asked to fold, cut, or manipulate the wall to provide a ramp and a space.

    I "pimped my model" with a graffiti sequence that functioned as an allegory questioning the tropes of authorship and authority. The first "graffiti" is a replica of the cave painting from Lasceaux. The second is a quote from Towards a New Architecture, one of Corb's chapter titles: "Pure Creation of the Mind", which extols the virtue of the Parthenon and classical forms, a beauty and achievement never to be replicated. And the third piece of graffiti is a Doric column.


    The forms of the wall are meant to resemble a historical site in the midst of reconstruction or preservation, like a fallen obelisk amidst an excavation. This is meant to call into question the significance of the historical moment. I was thinking specifically of the idea of reconstructing the site of a ruin, the strange impulse to maintain a historical ruin in a particular moment in its otherwise entropic history, a point which corresponds to the moment at which political or cultural entities agree on the general significance of a particular work of architecture.

    The graffiti questions the idea of authenticity and authorship. The cave painting is regarded as historical because of its age, its cultural siginificance. The Doric column is, on the other hand, a mere representation, an effacement of the archeological site. Meanwhile, Corb is the author of the quote. If Corb, who has a history of painting graffiti, were the author of thte quote, could he not have also been the perpetrator of the Doric column painting? If so, would it be erased from the historical site or would it be preserved out of reverence? What if the Doric column was painted by an archeological intern? Would the site be cleaned and the intern be fired? This was the narrative I developed in my final proposal, which became a heated discussion among the critics...

    The only real building we did first quarter was a house for a bilbliophile. I showed some of my early drawings in a previous post, so I'll just post the pics from my final model here.


    The final project was another open-ended project. We were asked to make a "container." That was more or less the extent of our project brief.

    I chose to make a shoe that explored and inverted the idea of connection to the ground. There was a riff on the architectural "footprint," as well as a commentary on natural vs. manmade. It is an exemplar of circular logic, an embodiment of the contradiction of connection to the earth and protection from the elements.


    How can man connect to the earth while creating something that, in its act, fundamentally alters that connection. This is symbolized, in the shoe, by the footprint it leaves. The footprint is the sole of a foot, emerging from the soil. Its materiality of earth and dirt suggests the power of a natural land formation, while its idealized, synthetic shape reflects its man-made etiology.


    These are the themes that developed in the final review. Ashley Shafer sat in on our review but unfortunately she had to leave just before my turn. We had a sculptor on our review, which was a refreshing change and offered us an alternative viewpoint.

    I should note that our first quarter was taught be a recent graduate of the OSU grad program. Not everyone was happy with this, because they felt like they weren't getting the guidance they needed. I didn't mind, I was content to develop these wacky arguments and shoot myself in the foot when necessary. I don't think they will be repeating the experiment this year, as a lot of things are developing and Shafer seems to be listening to our commentary on our experiences.

    More on all this later. Next up: Winter 05 and Spring 06.


    • dedubs

      I'm currently getting taught by a graduate assistant in my 2nd year studio as well.. I have the same qualms as your colleagues though. I don't feel like I'm getting much of an education, especially when I have an ex-Syracuse legend teaching the class right next to mine.

      It's interesting to see the projects OSU has compared to Kent. There is a big conceptual leap from Kent to OSU it seems.. which has both its advantages and disadvantages. May I ask if you visited Kent in your pre-college search, and if so, what attracted or didn't attract you?

      Sep 16, 06 9:02 pm

      i love that shoe and the idea behind it.

      Sep 16, 06 10:31 pm
      vado retro

      back in the day i had a studio to design a performing arts centa. i took on the idea of the ruin and then designing a building from that. it was quite a refreshing way to approach a project. your bibliophile house seems a bit diagrammitic. the comparison of a lascaux cave painting with a kilroy was here just aint the same. love the shoe. why are there so many architecture schools in ohio???

      Sep 17, 06 10:54 am

      Danny> In our case, we were being taught by a graduate, not a student. She was very bright and did a good job of bringing in other, more experienced outside voices on a consistent basis to promote discussion and evaluation. I thought it worked out fine.

      In your case, they may be leaving you hanging a bit more. I hate to say it, but that's a bit to be expected as a 2nd year undergrad. If you are a 2nd year grad student, that is completely unacceptable.

      I didn't look at Kent, actually. I looked at other programs, which were more practical. Like U Cincinnati, for instance. In the end, I took the advice of every architect that I know: You only have one chance to be in school. You will learn the nuts and bolts of architecture in the field anyway, there is too much to cover in three years. Take this opportunity to immerse yourself in the theory and understanding of architecture. It will be a basis for your creativity for years to come.

      Vado> You're right about the biblio house. It is a diagram waiting to be developed. This was a 2-week project and I was just learning about the diagram, really, so it's not surprising.

      I'm not sure I was clear about the Lascaux vs. Kilroy, as you put it. I don't mean to compare the Lascaux to the Kilroy, quite the opposite. Lascaux is something quite different. This was meant to stand in for the "authentic effacement," the origin of an art that has practical, academic, and cultural significance. The Kilroy was supposed to be the painting of the Doric column, which in and of itself is not an original act. The Corbusier quote was supposed to mediate these two very different states.

      I should elaborate the "architectural promenade" of the piece, as it were. One would ascend the ramp, turn left into a cave-like corridor, passing the Lascaux on the right. At the end of the corridor one emerges from the wall/cave and is confronted by Le Corbusier. Around the corner is the Painting of the Doric column.

      Of course, one experiences the column best from a distance, so it functions as a promise of something, or a comment on something... this comment is meant to be revealed by the movement through the piece.

      Sep 17, 06 12:21 pm

      Arch schools in Ohio> I don't know all of them... OSU, UC, Miami? I should point out that the Knowlton School of Architecture (KSA) is the same as The Ohio State University (OSU). You probably already knew that, but I realize that it can be confusing. I just like using the specific name of the architecture school because The Ohio State University is such a huge school and has so many other associations, not the least of which is their #1 ranked football team. (I have season tickets, btw.)

      Sep 17, 06 12:22 pm
      vado retro

      well my undergrad alma mater the indiana university lost to a divsion 2 school yesterday. gawd. also, as you prolly know theres a great deal of surviving graffiti from ancient rome.

      Sep 17, 06 12:42 pm

      Ouch. Oh well. Re: graffiti through the ages... I saw a great short film at a festival that was a documentary on a particular community's attempt to eradicate graffiti in their town. There were these musical and poetic sequences, following a person on a bicycle through the town as they passed the sites of "graffiti removal".

      The slapdash stripes of paint, nearly matched to the original surface but not quite, began to look like effacement in itself, an effacement with a kind of artfulness of an early abstract expressionist, like Frank Stella paintings. I really love that tension in graffiti, the battle between art and culture. I even love that loving graffiti for that reason is so cliche. Ha!
      Sep 17, 06 12:59 pm

      Bust out the Frank Stella reference. That's right, use your resources.

      Sep 17, 06 3:28 pm

      hey man, when your memory only lasts 15 minutes, you gotta use it while you got it... good to see you on the 'nect.

      Sep 17, 06 3:57 pm

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