China: Adventures in Architecture

GSAPP alumnus

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    By Eduardo
    Apr 13, '07 9:18 PM EST

    Alejandro Zaera Polo's, dean of The Berlage institute, closing words after 3 days of lectures at GSAPP

    "I dont care about Utopia, I just care about the market"

    Very encouraging. Maybe they should teach a "market" class at Berlage


    • Priceless... even on "the market"

      Apr 14, 07 3:02 am
      Arnaud M.

      I wish more people were like that.

      Apr 14, 07 8:44 am
      Francisco David Boira

      Nice! I like the comment. : )

      Apr 14, 07 8:52 am
      Josh Emig

      Unfortunately, I didn't see the lecture, so this is a bit out of context, but how sheltered and naive has the academic architecture world become that "I don't care about Utopia, I just care about the market" comes off as an astute, even profound, statement. Or was he being ironic? Interestingly, it would have been more ironic if he was not trying be ironic.

      Apr 14, 07 9:48 am

      well ok, I have to confess I was kind of pissed at him. He's 3 days were just BORING. Seriuosly no innovation (come on, FOA was not Foster and Partners or SOM). And personally there is something weird happening to that office. He has the right to chose either to be innovative or just to sell out, but even sell outs have eye catching presentations, even gimmicky schemes, their shit was just unbelievably dull. Come on they are on the GSD list and he's the head of Berlage, they surely can grab talented people to do their stuff. Then there was the attitude issue. Using countless diagrams to "prove" their stuff was "right" came off as him being ashemed of their work. That and the phrase he repeated the most "yeah, yeah, we didnt have enough time for this project" or " yeah, yeah, this was a quick render/animation" or "yeah yeah, we are not going to go through that, is not worth it (certain slides)". So, come on, if ur going to give 3 days of lectures, and show material that you dont consider worthy. either ur a buffoon, or u totally lack respect for ur audience.

      Apr 14, 07 10:33 am

      Going back to he's entitlement to opt for selling out and going to Dubai, he is entitled as anyone, but please, donbt try to come of as being (as we say in s.america) "the discoverer of warm water". If ur message is that we should go "market" then dont come and talk about tesellations, phylogenesis, FOA's ARK, and all the B.S. Just say, dude, in order to be succesfull, bend down.

      He also said, "there are somethings that cannot be tampered with, that u cannot change, its like having a car with the steering wheel in the middle" Funny that he said that cause there's a car with the steering wheel in the middle, and it is (or was for some time) the "best sports car in the world". So my point is not that he should be super avant garde everytime. But at least, if ur going to be involved in academia, and if ur shameless enough to present ur work at a lecture at an architecture school (specially one concerned with academia not practice) drop the sell-out attitude.

      One of the best lectures of the semester was by BIG I personally dont like much of their stuff, but at least Ingels finds opportunities to engage the market in an innovative way drawing opportunity out of tight situations.

      Anyway, since am not that good at writing, am posting a link to an old article that sort of fits the topic

      Apr 14, 07 10:33 am

      market. ..wo! not bad ... how many poeple actually have heard it from its real voice?

      Apr 14, 07 12:22 pm
      cj w.

      hmm.. do you have the full interview? would be glad to know what he talked about.. thanks!

      Apr 15, 07 6:48 am
      vado retro

      i was readin something about otto wagner and to paraphrase him, he stated(which many architects have before and after him) that architects must address the issues of their time on both technological and cultural grounds. the paradox-22 for the contemporary practiononer is that the issue of our time is nostalgia.

      Apr 15, 07 7:12 am

      The issue of our time is not nostalgia.

      The issues are fear and finance.

      Apr 15, 07 8:22 am

      i totally agree with fear and finance

      Apr 15, 07 3:36 pm

      was farshid there? :)

      Apr 15, 07 7:31 pm

      There's been a discussion around this topic (post-critical architecture) - on archinect before and the issue is still worth processing. The Utopia vs. Market -pairing seems odd in A Z-P's statement: if it would be that simple. He seems to be saying just that he chooses realism instead of contrived academicisms - but wants to say it in a provocative manner. hence "market". but I can't help being a bit sceptical about the hijacking of the market, or the reality of building production, by these proponents of "post-critical" architecture. The word they don't want to use about themselves is opportunists - not actually dealing with the questions of space-production that could cloud the onward march of construction. - When tied to the ongoing CCTV-debate, this is the prominent discussion (of merit) going on at the moment.

      China has already raised some issues; and I'm sure the United Arab Emirates and other oil-rich but morally medieval societies will soon enough give rise to more complex questions than just "how tall, how many and for how much."

      Apr 16, 07 5:09 am

      watch out for Baku, Azerbaijan, and Helsinki, his tone wasnt provocative. He was just totally defensive in the wake of being rightly attacked by the students. He said what he said out of desperation, out of knowing he had nothing to say about his projects "mmm, lets skip this slide its not worth it"

      Apr 16, 07 11:17 am

      ONUR Farsid spends most of the time at London, Alejandro is the one in charge of the travelling and the lectures, etc., Farsid preffers to stay at London to take charge of the office AND the family...

      Apr 27, 07 1:29 pm

      by the way i dont think thats a new attitude of alejandro (about the market, and about being dull at lectures), or even something they hided before, but i remember couple of years ago, in their website they had 3 e.mails one was if u want a job,, second literally said "if u want to say hi", and the 3rd one said something like: "if u have millions to spend, contact us at:"

      i think most of the times he had been quite dissapointed with the whole architectural process, he had always complaint about the way contractors execute, about the time clients gives to them, etc.
      the only project i think he's fully satisfied is yokohama, actually in the PODCAST of scalae where they interview him (sorry only in spanish) he talks about all of this, about how he gets fustrated about all the agents involved in the realization or not (accurate or not) of any architectural project in the world today (investors, authorities, politicians, critics, general public, old regulations etc)....

      i dunno i think this is not a new attitude of FOA i think they had been always like this, is just people wasnt really paying atention to their attitude but only to yokohama...and after a couple of years post-yokohama with the project already assimilated, ppl is expecting maybe something from them, that they never had... who knows, im just kind of thinking out loud here....

      Apr 27, 07 1:39 pm

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About this Blog

After 6 years working at a commercial firm in London and setting up my own practice with collegues from the AA to deliver a comission for a tower we won in India, I am embarking on a new adventure as studio leader for a local firm in China, trying to reconnect with the experimental mind set I used to have during my days at GSAPP

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