Princeton University (Matthew)

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    02 - Serendipity

    By Matthew
    Oct 31, '09 11:32 PM EST

    Since my last entry:

    1) The New England leaves have: changed colors from summer green to Princeton orange to autumnal brown.
    2) I have completed my mid-terms, phew!
    3) Jeffrey Kipnis and I have had three near run-ins at the school's entry.
    4) Two evenings have been interrupted by undergraduate choral groups (in the neighboring McCosh archway).
    5) I have spent $76.25 at Frist Campus center, primarily on coffee at Witherspoon's Cafe.
    6. Jacques Ranciere spoke on three separate evenings about the construction of modernity. (Council of Humanities event)
    7. I have seen Liz Diller five times, heard her speak three times, and watched her drink water two times.
    8. Drank 0 bottles of New Jersey Beer. Drank 12 bottles of Brooklyn Lager, partly to quench my thirst for my old stomping grounds.

    A recent conversation with a non-architect friend engendered the following description of my experience at Princeton thus far: I love the macro, and, at times, find myself frustrated with the micro. (Inquire for details)

    Item number two of the preceding list was not so much a mid-term, as a collection of projects that led up to a "mid-point" review. Stan Allen laid out the first half of the semester as a series of one/two week assignments that focused on a particular element of architecture. Yesterday was our final review of this series, and it focused on the idea of a canopy (survey/platform/screen/canopy). The first year studio injected a bit of twist into the latter assignment when we decided, on our own volition, to switch projects midway through the assignment. Stan seemed to relish our willingness to challenge beliefs in authorship, and, rightly, questioned why we would add complexity to our already hectic studio schedule. I might add, as a brief addendum, that I truly love my first year class. We are a motley crew of weird, inspiring, and talented individuals. It is this last characteristic - individuality - that most impresses me. I'm looking forward to watching everyone pursue their own careers over the next few decades (I know, I know, I think ahead).

    Update! Surprisingly, I've been named as an editor of Pidgin Magazine, the journal of the School of Architecture. I hope everyone on Archinect checks out this publication, a consistently interesting collection of essays, images, thoughts, and experiments - a mostly unpolished survey of the things that happen in this interesting place. My previous work in journalism and editing will certainly come into play here. The role of media in architecture is a subject that interests me dearly. I often find myself despondent at the shear volume of material produced about architecture. How many more publications, journals, books, and catalogs can the discipline sustain? At what point are we saying more than doing? A curator at the Rotterdam NAI once told me, in very simple terms, it's not what you say, it's what you do! I think, and especially at Princeton, a school known for its intellectual (sometimes overly so) prowess, that a confidence in real, unadulterated WORK is a real asset. I'd love to have a discussion about the role of journalism in architecture, especially since I'll be having a say in how Pidgin evolves over the next three years.

    My favorite class this semester has been "Critical Intersections of Architecture and Science." I think I'm most attracted to the degree at which at which the course material bends the limits of the discipline's boundaries. In what architecture class could a Bruno Latour book about laboratories or a seminal murder mystery by Edgar Allen Poe be considered viable topics of discussion. Bottom line is: I'm incredibly stimulated by the topic and the range of people in our class (including PhD's from oustide the department).

    Come to our Open House on Monday the 9th, I'll give you a tour!

    Until then, I'm going to enjoy my week off for fall break (re: sleeping, visit my wonderful girlfriend, and reading)

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