Harvard University - GSD (Quilian)



Sep '06 - Dec '09

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    Quilian Riano
    Mar 1, '09 6:56 PM EST

    Another week another lecture worthy of viewing and re-viewing. This time is a conversation on patterns. The panel featured a few of the designers in the current exhibit.

    This panel is in part interesting because of the palpable anxiety voiced most clearly by Scott Cohen towards the end. He seems to think that patterns may be effective as facades and on fields, but are they architecture? The unease may come from the realization that patterning will eventually lead to a loss of design control (over the short run).

    Interestingly, the conversation began by appropriating patterns for architecture using Christopher Alexander. However, he was quickly dropped.

    I was disappointed by his exclusion for the rest of the conversation. After all, Alexander sees patterns in the built environment as a process that puts people in the middle of the process. He says that A Pattern Language is "a first step in the society-wide process by which people will gradually become conscious of their own pattern languages, and work to improve them."* Perhaps the work by Stoss and gnuform comes closer to this social ideals but they were never fully discussed. Perhaps it does not matter as these designers are not consciously trying to work on Alexander's project. But it seems to me that it is a missed opportunity as patterns can add input to designs allowing it to deal with larger concerns.

    Regardless, I find this conversation very much related to the work I've been studying for my thesis. I think The idea of the pattern can be a very helpful way to study and act upon my context. The idea of pattern seems to match well with the work I have already began doing, allowing for the specificity and flexibility that this project demands. Frame as Pattern?


    • So sad, that Cohen took it that way. In my experience, those who look at patterns as literal patterns, like on fabric or in a decorative sense, will wind up feeling that way about them. But those who see patterns as more of a structure are speaking the language of Alexander, and find more potential in them. Sounds like you are the latter, and some of your professors are the former, which makes for a great challenge in getting them to buy what you're trying to sell with your thesis. Good luck!

      Mar 2, 09 1:56 pm  · 

      Thanks rationalist.

      Mar 4, 09 1:00 pm  · 

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