on behalf of Olaf Design Ninja

interviews with random thoughts and assemblies of experiences

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    Interview: June 30, 2013, 10:00am - Part 1 of 3

    By Olaf Design Ninja_
    May 4, '14 8:26 PM EST

    Monmouth County, New Jersey, USA

    “The pestilence is back Mr. Olaf!” – Chris

    “Warum denn?” – Olaf

    “Wait…was that German? I thought you were Swedish…Nevermind, after I left last week I drank a lot of rum and drove around a bit and I think I solved the pattern to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House Block.  I think it has something to do with…” – Chris

    “Free Masonry!  Next you will tell me that Eero Saarinen designed a weather changing structure in St. Louis Missouri -  the Arch!  Are you some type of psychotic?” – Olaf

    “Yeah, yeah, I have the History Channel too...  I think you wanted to say paranoid schizophrenic…Who doesn’t hear voices, right?  We all know cats work for the aliens, Annunakis and what not.  Musicians hear music in their heads and religious people talk to God all the time.  People see the Holy Mother Mary in tree bark.  I see architecture, how about you?” – Chris

    “It does not work this way.  Architecture is a process and the theories are often post-rationalized abstractions.  You internet kids overthink everything.” – Olaf

    “What about your House Variant III?  The concept is still quite exciting, you split two public spaces with an outside space on the lower level and then you bridged the public spaces with the private spaces at the upper level.  How did you come up with that program?” – Chris

    “It is called House Variant III because it was the third re-design of the house evolving with each new woman my client married, three in total.  Back then it took some time to get a project published and by the time my PR person had presented the house to various architectural magazine editors we were on House Variant III and the editors did not like the actual back story, so I made up an architectural theory that academics and critics would eat up like hot cakes.” – Olaf

    “So the theory is bullshit?” – Chris

    “Conceptual explanations that follow the design process are concise explanations that can be communicated and should not be discounted merely because they were formulated after the creative process.  Why must you complicate everything?” – Olaf

    “Alright, tell me more about this client and how we arrived at House Variant III.” – Chris

    “The client Jürgen was born in a small town in Texas to German immigrant parents, his father was a shoe maker and his mother an amateur Opera singer. This woman could belt out some opera and made good pommes as well.  I met her when she was 80 years old.  Jürgen made his money first in the oil industry and then became bored so he moved to New York City in the 60’s and tried his hand at the stock market.  He had married his kindergarten sweetheart Karin, but they never had any children.” – Olaf

    “How did you meet him?” – Chris

    “Some Elk Lodge or something on Long Island… He said I sounded like his father and he just happened to be thinking about building a summer home in the Hamptons for the weekends.  According to this German-Texas oil tycoon stock broker: the ranch house type was invented in Texas and the Saltbox House was New England’s equivalent.  I had just opened my office and could not resist my first real job even though a Saltbox could not be any further from what I wanted to do as a former student of Paul Rudolph at Yale.  I took the commission.” – Olaf

    “So you sold out at the first sign of money?” – Chris

    “Chris, architecture and life are a process. I discovered the Saltbox could be very functional and modern.” – Olaf

    Olaf began to sketch blueprints (because that is totally how it works).

    “Wait, the guy thinks Texas invented the ranch house ?” – Chris

    “You don’t argue with a man who believes everything he knows is correct because fate clearly has confirmed it through his life’s successes.” – Olaf

    “That’s ridiculous, the man is living a lie.” – Chris

    “May I continue? …His kindergarten sweetheart was a sweetheart and like him came from little means.   The simple Saltbox house was quite enough for a summer home in the Hamptons.” – Olaf

    43 second pause.

    “Olaf you with me?” – Chris

    “You internet kids do lines of coke all day?  I am pausing in memory of Karin.  In my stupidity and obsession with Mies van der Rohe at the time I convinced Jürgen to build the rear deck of the Saltbox without railings.  The Saltbox sat on a nice hill with a small cliff facing the water.  One night according to Jürgen they both had one too many drinks and Karin tumbled off the deck, about 20 feet down the hill into the water and drowned.” – Olaf

    “Hold on buddy, you didn’t put a railing in on a 20 foot drop?  Surely in the 60’s railings were building code?” – Chris

    “How would I know she would go head first on a 20 foot fall?  I tested the jump myself to prove to Jürgen it was okay.  I can’t be blamed for the client’s incorrect use of the architecture.  I think Jürgen might have pushed her, I don’t know… The police called the whole thing an accident anyway.” – Olaf

    “What? That’s convenient. How does that work? You are the architect that designed a deck without a railing that killed the client’s wife and you think he might of pushed her!  How do you live with yourself?” – Chris

    “I haven’t since, and this is how I ended up here.” – Olaf

    “Cut the crap man, you did two more re-designs and practiced architecture for like another 40 years.” – Chris

    “You’re annoying.” – Olaf

    I stepped out to buy a soda from the vending machine down the hall.  Olaf didn’t look too happy, but that wasn’t my problem.  I didn’t design a deck without a railing over a cliff!  A few minutes later I returned to his room.  Olaf still appeared distraught.

    (based on the houses listed below)


    Key Bibliography/Links

    part 1 mildly based on The Ross House by Alfredo De Vido (in this Archifiction as House Variant I)

    Peter Eisenman's House II (NY Times article linked here)

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About this Blog

The following blogs are Interviews performed in the years of 13/14 with a man full of random thoughts and legendary type of architectural experiences. Olaf is his real first name. I knew his son Tom from my studies at University of Kansas and randomly ran into Tom in 2012 in NYC. We reminisced about all the great stories Tom had told me about his immigrant architect father. Given my boredom with the profession I requested an interview with this now insane man. Archifiction.

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  • Olaf Design Ninja_

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