Change the Narrative

Rewriting the Fundamentals of Architecture

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    "No Splash" for Architecture

    Kayla Castro
    May 3, '21 3:13 AM EST

    A Bigger Splash, David Hockney, 1967

    For the majority of my time studying architecture, I believed architecture was a pristine, stylized David Hockney painting. Architecture curriculum is firm in its Eurocentric “ideals.” It revolves specifically around a select few architecture and design figures. This version of architecture is deeply 2-dimensional, as is David Hockey’s representation of Los Angeles. To reduce architecture to a select few or to reduce Los Angeles to a Beverly Hills home is ignorant. 

    NAAB curriculum has remained mostly unchanged. I am essentially receiving the same education as my predecessors, and their predecessors, and so on. However, there is a continuous pattern that rewrites the narrative of history in favor of these few Eurocentric men. NAAB curriculum carves out figures that do not support the same narrative. 

    A Ramiro Gomez Architecture

    No Splash, Ramiro Gomez, 2014

    Ramiro Gomez points out the hypocrisy of David Hockney’s work. Los Angeles is perceived as a high-end city with celebrities and palm trees and dreams. Though Los Angeles contains these attributes, there is also much more to how the city functions. There are struggling neighborhoods, constant gentrification, and a growing hub for people experiencing homelessness. 

    David Hockney was not wrong in his depiction, but he does not tell the full story. Architecture curriculum is not inaccurate to include figures like Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Adolf Loos, but it fails to mention the other half of that exact story: Eileen Gray, Marion Mahony Griffin, and Josephine Baker. The former three figures are presented as gods who designed every corner of every structure and drew every inch of every drawing. In reality, we know this cannot be true. There are hundreds of people who contribute to a building’s erection, from concept to construction. 

    Architecture's Hypocrisy

    Ramiro Gomez was not deceived by David Hockney’s representation of Los Angeles, just as I refuse to be deceived by NAAB curriculum. If we peel back a few layers and expand our view to encompass the full truth of history, we find architects, designers, and artists who are excluded from the narrative. When we uncover the full truth of art and architecture, we find hypocrisy.

    Paul Revere Williams was one of the first black men in the United States to become a licensed architect, and he was the first black member of the AIA. He is famous for his structures all over Los Angeles, specifically working with celebrities in designing celebrity homes. In many cases, he would design the building but would be unable to enter the building due to segregation. In one instance, he designed a celebrity home with a CC&R stating that the home could not be sold to a person who was not Caucasian. This is only one example of our current Architecture's hypocrisy. 

    No Splash for Architecture

    The future of Architecture includes a full history and a rejection of edited and inaccurate history. We must all make a conscious effort to recognize the true history of our field. To create a more inclusive field, we must take a deeper dive into the narrative and recognize there is No Splash for architecture.


    • unwabarosemary

      this is a very good article about architecture in history

      May 3, 21 6:22 am  · 
      3  · 

      Kayla, I love that you reflect on Ramiro Gomez's work which raises questions between classism and art/architecture. Pools themselves were designed as a recreational activity in America but were then privatized due to the "white flight" that emerged after the Civil Rights movement, as people were not in favor of swimming in integrated waters. It's something I've poured myself into for my senior thesis, and I so agree that the true history (the uncomfortable, the unjust, and the mistakes), which was, for the most part, an agenda divided by class and race, is what needs to be studied to develop greater inclusivity. Thanks for sharing!

      May 3, 21 6:27 pm  · 
      4  · 

      Hock's Pool Service

      May 6, 21 9:23 pm  · 
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      May 12, 21 6:24 pm  · 
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This blog will explore a rewriting of the fundamentals of architecture.

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