Quondam's Fifteenth Anniversary




Stirling interpretations

I have decided on a document centering on James Stirling's three masterful interpretations: the Stirling/Le Corbusier Olivetti projects, the Düsseldorf / Altes Museum connection, and the Cologne promenade architecturale. This will be a very full document featuring four virtual buildings (Düsseldorf, Cologne, Stirling Olivetti, Le Corbusier Olivetti). Schinkel's Altes Museum and the Le Corbusier architectural promenade buildings will be featured but not documented.

The secondary point of the document is to exhibit a largely undisclosed circle of design influence and intentions between Schinkel, Le Corbusier, and Stirling. I have already well thought out the specific connections between Stirling and Le Corbusier and Stirling and Schinkel, but I will also be introducing a possible Le Corbusier/Schinkel connection in the "architectural promenade" of the Altes Museum. Although this circle of three architects is important, the main point will be to demonstrate the methodology of Stirling's art of architectural interpretation.

The three discussions of the three Stirling projects bring up Stirling's submission to Roma Interrotta and [I] will be using that "design" as an example of another Virtual Museum of Architecture and as yet another example of Stirling's fine art of interpretation and reinterpretation.

The document will end with a discussion of how the circulation sequence of the Altes Museum is very similar to the Le Corbusian architectural promenade formula, therefore suggesting the possibility that Le Corbusier may have found inspiration at the Altes Museum. I also have to mention how Boullée inspired the Altes Museum and this then brings up the French/German crossover--cross fertilization.

The notion of cross fertilization makes me now question whether I should intentionally discuss Stirling's interpretations as part of an architectural chart. If nothing else, I could actually generate a genealogical / chronological chart showing how all the buildings throughout the document are related to each other. This genealogical chart could become something of a semi-standard item for the Virtual Museum of Architecture, and even if the direct relationships between buildings is not shown, it would be very nice to see a chart of the buildings I have in chronological order and at the same scale (the drawings could be plan and elevation). There is already an example of this in the Italian Renaissance Architecture book that I have.

Concerning the three basic sets of building comparisons, I just wanted to mention some geographic comparisons, etc.:

1. Le Corbusier's Olivetti is in Milan and Stirling's Olivetti is in Milton Keyes, and both projects remained unbuilt. Further note how inspiration for the Stirling Olivetti project that did get built very likely came from the metal housing project of Le Corbusier and also from the section of the Venice Hospital.

2. The geographic connection between Düsseldorf and Berlin is no stretch at all. Stirling was merely "when in Roming it."

3. The Cologne/Strasbourg comparison is very close geographically and therefore I might be able to raise some points regarding the possible French/German roots of the architectural promenade.

I have yet to write down my basic ideas with regard to the Olivetti comparisons:
1. the long curve of the office building.
2. the low rise manufacturing building.
3. the "free-form" social programmed component.
4. Stirling's further interpretation of the glass skin - Leichester, Olivetti built, Milton Keyes, Düsseldorf, (Cologne?) - the interstitial glass bond.
5. What of the "free-form conference area under glass? Is there a precedent for this in Le Corbusier's's Olivetti or any other late Le Corbusier building or project? Is it a paradigm like the stage set at Strasbourg?


Virtual Museum co-curatorships

I first have to decide what will go on the Homepage before the position of Homepage curator can be defined. I can only begin to really think about the Homepage once I begin talking to Paladin. The first step is to get the Homepage and the name secured. I probably have to file for another fictitious name as well. I also have to figure out the Museum's tax status. [Ha!]



Aug 4, 11 6:21 pm

Congratulations Mr. Lauf. is of the most original virtual museums out there.

Aug 5, 11 4:00 pm

Congratulations, Stephen!  I think you were far more prescient than everyone 15 years ago and remain so today.

Aug 5, 11 4:43 pm



Thanks you two.

A lot has changed in fifteen years, and that's more or less the point of this thread. Yesterday, while starting to go through all my notes and letters to compile a "dossier Museum collecting" I came across the first time there was mention of a 'homepage' and then I noticed the date was exactly 15 years ago. I wouldn't have posted anything here were it not for the calendrical coincidence. At this time back then I didn't even have a computer with a browser--I was waiting on delivery of a new computer--so I wasn't even really sure what 'homepages' looked like (except for image examples in PC Computer magazine (or whatever it was called). Anyway, Quondam's (the name also didn't exist yet till sometime September/October 1996) official online anniversary is 21 November 1996, when the first person other than myself visited the website.

It's kind of ironic that all the 'research' I was doing back then to create a website was done without even using the web--I bought a book on 'homepages' and html and was busy reading computer magazines.

I'm gonna try to keep up the postings here as the calendrical coincidences occur.

Oh, and what do you suppose the difference is between Culture and Random Tangents? Could it possibly be that one is actually inferior to the other? Now that I think about it though, culture today is nothing but random tangents.



Aug 5, 11 6:19 pm



Random Tangents Culture

I suspect Network Culture grew as quickly as it did because the field was already a fertile Random Tangents Culture.


read this morning:
"...his "visible form" is based on the sensuous experience that emerges only as one moves round and through a building, that changes with ever step, and is effected by the position and intensity of the light sources. In earlier criticism, buildings had been characterized from the point of view of an observer standing motionless and looking at a façade or an interior from the position of a photographer might choose to obtain the most favorable single view. Frankl's innovation reconstructs the kinetic experience of the observer who arrives at a single image as the product of many partial images.
James Ackerman, "Forward" in Paul Frankl's Principles of Architectural History.

calendrical coincidence - culture - quick deletion - almost just as quick reconstruction - random tangents

noticed this morning (for the first time I think):
Wolf Meyer-Christian, Design for architectural museum in Berlin (1964)
Michael Wagener, Design for architectural museum in Berlin (1964)
in Heinrich Klotz, The History of Postmodernism (1984/1988).
These are student designs from Unger's seminars at the Technical University in Berlin between 1963 and 1968, "they exerted international influence when the appeared in a series of brochures (starting 1965) edited by Ungers. Both designs incorporate the Villa Calandrelli (the Villa Calender?!?), and this adjacency feature reminded my of Stirling's Science Center in Berlin (which I also see as a virtual museum of architecture).

Right around now 10 years ago I recieved OMA/AMO Rem Koolhaas, Projects for Prada Part 1 in the mail. Along with documentation of one of my favorite (random tangents) building designs--Prada Epicenter Store, San Francisco--there is note of "Content Database" and "Ubiquitous Display" and "Media Stage".

metabolic slash delivery, etc.
2001.09.21 19:02

In the recent Barbara Flanagan article in Metropolis on Venturi and Scott Brown it states:
And when Venturi envisions an electronic "facade of glittering information," the inevitable political question (what does it say and who decides?) can be a vexing one. "What the message is I don't know, and I'm not too ashamed of not knowing," Venturi says. "Content is not the architect's job."

I think Venturi here admits his most present flaw, and even goes on to make a big mistake about the future. As the architect of the first online virtual museum of architecture, I see content as very much the job of the architect.

Can it be said that precisely attacking flaws engenders paradigm shifts?

Kind-of like going into a black hole and then being in the other side.


How many "facades of glittering information" do you look at everyday? How many of those facades are designed by architects?



Aug 6, 11 11:25 am

Hm.  I like that quote from Venturi.  It does seem that the division between design disciplines was much more clearly (territorially) delineated a decade or two ago.  By whose choice?

This is what I put in my syllabus for my class this year: The role of architects in the built environment is both expanding and contracting: we are working collaboratively with many other designers who have a stake in the design process, but we are also being asked to solve problems that move beyond the physical entity of the building into cultural and social systems of use. 

Aug 7, 11 8:14 am


Lately I've been into Rorschach Ink Blot Test Architecture. Makes things a lot easier, like no more concerns over iconography, representation, indexicality, etc. It's whatever the beholder thinks it is.

...what came to my mind was the fluid associational glue that bonds icons and representation, hence the idea of Rorschach Ink Blot Test architecture. Yes, iconography is somehow always going to be there, but just maybe the associational glue could remain forever elastic as well. Or is it that the iconography remains forever elastic and the associational glue is somehow always going to be there?

What's next? Yikes Architecture!


Nov 5, 11 8:55 am

2000.09.01 12:51

John wrote:
After about 3 months of this continuing professional education I feel completed rejuvenated and proud to be an architect. There is nothing better in the whole wide world, never has been, never will be. I can't believe I get paid so handsomely for doing something I would gladly do for love. And my clients and co-workers are angels, just perfect.

and Steve adds:
Yes, it is a wonderful world we live in (and abuse, but who cares as long as one makes contributions to Museumpeace, or is it Greenpeace that you're supposed to send money to?), and my new co-workers at are truly un-believable. There's being [FOG], so talented, so created, (err, I mean creative), a leading specialist in architectural vaporware; and Rita Novel, literate to the max, a walking encyclopedia on 1980's magazines (when and where the 21st century really began); and finally, ultimately, the incomparable Dick Hertz, designer of future fashion, author of The Theory Masturbation of Fashion, Even.

Anyone here on the list read that new book entitled The Architecture of Nimiety: An Abundance of Redundance in Architectural Education, Theory and Practice?

I heard conflicting reports that it is either exactly 197 words long, or 197 pages long, or 197 chapters long. One critic hailed it as "a monument to dèjá vu all over again, absolute proof that what comes around is usually what was missed the first few times it came around."


Colin Rowe died 12 years ago today.


Nov 5, 11 9:13 am

Great Maytham in Kent of 1910 is Queen Anne, but not the Queen Anne of the 1870s. Here a great mansion of the early eifhteenth century was re-created with such a plausibility of craftsmanship that after only half a century it was hard to believe it was not two hundred and fifty years old. A somewhat smaller house, the Salutation in Sandwich of 1912, is similar and perhaps even more remarkable as an example of what is almost 'productive archaeology' on the part of a man who was not, in fact, at all archaeologically minded. Such houses are the twentieth-century equivalents of Devey's in the nineteenth century, but they often have a witty originality in the handling of traditional detail that has aptly been called 'naughty' and is peculiarly personal to Lutyens.
--Hitchcock, 1958


Robert Venturi, the most famous architectural thinker of his generation, was standing in the living room of his most famous house last week, making small talk with longtime Chestnut Hill friends, when in walked the most famous architectural thinker of the current generation, Rem Koolhaas.

In architectural terms, it was akin to the moment when Clinton met Kennedy, when Nabokov met Tolstoy, when Balanchine met Diaghilev. It was the young revolutionary meeting the old.

Koolhaas, 58, who became his profession's latest "starchitect" this spring with the opening of the new Prada boutique in New York's SoHo, was in Philadelphia to deliver a lecture. But first, the Dutch-born architect wanted to see the 1964 Chestnut Hill house that put Venturi on the map - and challenged the modernist hegemony. Venturi, 77, offered to conduct the tour of the home, now owned by the Hughes family.

It wasn't a complete clash of the generations, but it wasn't complete understanding, either. Venturi wore tweed. Koolhaas wore what looked suspiciously like Prada.

Venturi's little Chestnut Hill house, which is now considered a landmark of 20th-century architecture, seemed barely big enough to contain the lanky, 6-foot-6 Koolhaas, who strode into the house like a general and inspected the split staircase and the square, postmodern windows. Koolhaas spoke mainly with his eyebrows.

While radical in their day, those architectural features have now become so widespread that Venturi had to take pains to make sure Koolhaas knew how groundbreaking they once were.

"There are a lot of naughty things here," Venturi explained to his younger colleague as they walked outside to look at the chair rail that girds the exterior - a decorative touch that gave the modernist architectural establishment fits. "That took a lot of courage to do," added Venturi, who also challenged conventional thinking with his books, <i>Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture</i> and <i>Learning From Las Vegas</i>.

Koolhaas, who was once compared to a motionless frog waiting to snap at a fly, assimilated Venturi's account with a barely perceptible purse of the lips.

"Did you feel it needed courage?" the Dutchman asked, after a moment.

Later, Koolhaas explained that he was a great admirer of Venturi and his partner, Denise Scott Brown. "Their interests were really revolutionary," he said. "It's baffling to me that they are treated with such skepticism."
--Saffron, 2002.04.17


Yes, yes, yes to all the electronics, wall as sign, Dutch silences and possible revenge(s), but how is one to be really "naughty" these days?
--Lauf, 2002.04.18


[John Young replies (2002.04.18):]
1. Publish the architectural security measures for federal buildings, or if you have them send to me and I will do it. Currently those measures are available only to design firms which agreed to non-disclosure, even though the public would benefit from knowing how to protect themselves and their buildings as effectively as their government.

2. Publish the confidential findings of architectural security and safety weaknesses of the World Trade Center
Towers at these stages:
2.1 During design
2.2 During construction
2.3 After construction
2.4 Before the 1993 bombing.
2.5 The first year after the 1993 bombing
2.6 Just before the 2001 attack
2.7 After the 2001 attack
This information is under the control of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, consultants it hired for the various stages listed above, and its insurers, much of which is being withheld from current investigators and building safety officials evaluating WTC and other disasters though that information could be used to enhance security and safety of other high-rise and non-high-rise buildings now occupied by tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of people.

3. Publish, or send to me, confidential and classified reports on bombings and collapses of governmental and non-governmental buildings which are being withheld from the public because it is claimed the public cannot handle the information responsibly. Some portions of these reports have been published and some include recommendations that the public receive more information about threats to them and their buildings increase public awareness of threats well known to professionals. Some investigators argue that withholding of information from the public has led to a belief that threats are minimal, episodic and unpredictable when that is not true.

4. Insist that schools of design and design publications place building protection alongside aesthetic design in importance, to advocate that name and nobody designers become informed about the matter and blend it into premier design requirements, and not merely rely upon security specialists as if another contemptible nuisance like ADA, preservation, affirmative action and public participation. Recall the example of Viollet le Duc whose reputation was built first on urgently needed fortresses, then follow-up urban defenses, then historic versions of these, never forgetting that peaceful aesthetic pleasures could be wiped out before you came awake from aesthetic narcotic: "oh nothing like that will ever happen here, we're too civilized, yes, perhaps over there but not here."


Nov 5, 11 2:57 pm















Nov 5, 11 3:36 pm

What I'd like to do more of is 'fictitious historical dialogue'.

As of yesterday, reading Duboy (again) along with ongoing Montesquieu and spotty Foucault--bricolage plus letters plus Las Meninas etc. Mix that with 'fictitious historical dialogue' and you have my next book project.

It's a book about all kinds of style. The working title is über œuvred e suicidal. Piranesi hires a Quaker lawyer to fix historical inaccuracies while the Quaker lawyer hires Piranesi to design an historically accurate house. Neither knew of the other's true propensity--playful double-meaning meets good-natured honesty--yet they discover themselves to be a formidable team. You'll think you're laughing and you'll laugh about thinking.


For almost two months now, I've had one meal a day (usually lunch) sitting next to one of the last people to have lived in Ury House. I'd love to talk with her, but she has pretty bad dementia. She can talk, but not with any coherence. Once, however, she told me, "You're full of it." I said, "What?!" She said, "Goodness."

On the way out of the dining room it's now tradition to share warm greetings with SR, a Holocaust survivor, who endured two years in a Nazi concentration camp until being released by US troops. He I can converse with, but not in any real depth. Apparently, he and my mother have breakfast together, and speak to each other in German, even.


Nov 5, 11 10:13 pm

"Eventual Cities" is a chapter within Architecture Not Now. Or is "Architecture Not Now" a chapter within Eventual Cities?


In any case, ad carceres a calce revocari is a footnote in either volume.



Nov 6, 11 8:55 am

2004.03.26 16:57
Imagine how different ancient architectural history would be if there were existing records of all the 'Pagan' temples destroyed in the name of Christianity. For example, where exactly in Greece did the spiral columns within the original St. Peter's Basilica (later reenacted via the baldachin by Bernini) come from? It was Eutropia that first told Helena about these columns and their original locations.

Or what would architectural history be like if all the buildings that were ever erected on this planet were a matter of record?

Again, so much for (the rise in) metabolic thinking.

2005.08.16 11:09
I spent the summer of 1978 in Perry, Missouri (population 839) as a Historic American Building Survey (H.A.B.S.) student team member. Our team was surveying and documenting two small towns and a variety of domestic buildings that were to be demolished after our survey because the land was soon going to be under water once the Salt River Dam was complete. One of the buildings I surveyed along with Barbara Hendricks (a architecture student from Texas) was so remote that Barbara and I were dropped off in the morning and not picked up again until 4 o'clock in the afternoon. The house was named for Samuel Bell, and it was a simple 2 story farm house with a front porch, central hall, and a gable roof running from side to side. I soon discovered that we could easily get on the roof by going out one of the second story windows and onto the lower roof of the one story addition to the back of the house. I suggested we eat our lunch up on the ridge of the roof.

From the ridge of the roof a portion of the Salt River valley lay before us. The view was indeed beautiful, especially its rawness, and it was weird to think that this was all going to be under water in the near future. As a born and raised northeastern urbanite, all of rural Missouri offered me a plethora of new sensory impressions, and at this spot I found myself wondering what the "Indians" may have once thought of this place. Again, I was struck by the natural raw beauty of it all, and I said to Barbara, "I think this place is sacred." Barbara quickly retorted, "there are a lot of other places I'd call sacred before this."

About a month later, toward the end of the summer when most of the team was in the office drafting, our team historian, Travis McDonald (who is today the resident architectural historian of Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest), came into the office with exciting news -- demolition of the Samuel Bell house was put to a halt and the archeologists, who were also working in the region that summer, were to set up a dig there because it was discovered that the Samuel Bell house was built upon an Indian burial site. I immediately turned to Barbara and said, "I told you that place was sacred!"

In all honesty, I didn't experience any special "feelings" while I was at the Bell House. It just happened that the notion of sacredness entered my mind as I was giving a little thought to what I saw.

2005.10.14 13:57
Is changing history the same as making history? I'd say the work of VSBA made history by their introduction of directions of architecture theory and practice other than the (then) status quo. Changing history is different and occurs in at least two different ways. History is changed when events are recorded and taught as history but are not really reflective of what actually happened, like the 'perversion' that Venturi feels happened to his theory, and inversely, history is changed when a discovery occurs that invalidates established certainties, like the discovery of there actually being two renditions of Piranesi's Ichnograhia Campus Martius.


Nov 6, 11 1:12 pm

2004.08.19 14:43
After 1611 years Olympic Games return to Olympia [2004.08.18], on the feast of St. Helena, with the first female athletes to perform there ever.

"Otto (who is now married to the quondam daughter-in-law of Theodosius, the emperor who closed the Olympic Games in 393), notice how the bodies of the shot putters twist like a fanciful column just before they execute their throw."

"You're not telling me that that's..."

"Well, we did own the House of Nero there, and the columns are gorgeous, and Eutropia thought it would be wonderful for columns from Nero's Olympia House to then move to Nero's Garden in Rome."

"What's that Piranesi?"

"If you look closely at the Ichnographia Campus Martius, you'll see that I hinted as much."

"Oh, Giovanni Battista, you're such a precursor."

Meanwhile, Leni and at least all eight centuries of von Ows have headed for Greece to begin filling the empty seats.


Nov 6, 11 1:37 pm

"The compositional innovation manifests itself further with rich resources in the Burial Place of the Augustan family ("Bustum Caesaris Augusti") and the Gardens of Lucilian ("Horti Luciliani")."
--Vincenzo Fasolo, "The Campo Marzio of G. B. Piranesi" by Vincenzo Fasolo first appeared in Quaderni dell'Instituto di Storia dell'Architecttura, n.15 - 1956, published by the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Rome.

Fasolo's essay on Piranesi's Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio is relatively rare among Campo Marzio literature in that it presents a straightforward description and analysis of Piranesi's urban design, yet it nonetheless harbors factual errors and misinterpretations. This essay also formed the groundwork of Tafuri's later interpretation of Piranesi's large plan.


5. Above all, the nymphaeum of the Orti Liciniani, then and still known as the temple of Minerva Medica. Alberti's inclusion of the deagon among his shapes for churches is, no doubt, due to this prototype.
--Rudolf Wittkower, Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism (1962), p. 5.


"...finally, the group dominated by the Bustum Caesaris Augusti, an imposing collection of regular and irregular geometric forms one grafted on to the other according to the law of opposition. (Attention is also called, in passing, to the appearance of two phallic-shaped planimetric organisms converging on the hexagonal atrium, which foreshadow, perhaps with no other intent than a pure <i>ludus geometrico</i>, the project of Ledoux's Oikema and some of Soane's typological notions.)

But it is in the Horti Luciliani that the mechanical architecture of Piranesi reaches an extreme level of abstraction. Here, a complex of structures in semicircles and in sectors of circles obeys the rule of gemmation, as they revolve around the Atrium Minervae: an astonishing mechanism, in which Piranesi achieves the maximum refinement of his geometric instruments."
--Manfredo Tafuri, The Sphere and the Labyrinth - Avant-Gardes and Architecture from Piranesi to the 1970s (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1987), p.36.


The other discovery deals with the horti Luciliani and the horti Lucullani.

Piranesi places the fictitious horti Luciliani where the horti Lucullani ought to be, and places the horti Lucullani at a location further north. It is the horti Lucullani that Messalena murdered for.

Lucilius is the father of Roman satire. Is there anything satirical in Piranesi's plan of the garden? Perhaps the answer has something to do with a shrine to Minerva being in the center of one of the building complexes--literally "wisdom" (but also "weaving") in the center of a garden of satire. The theater and salons, now make more sense.

satire 1 a : an ancient Roman commentary in verse on some prevailing vise of folly b : a usually topical literay composition holding up human or individual vices, folly, abuses, or shortcomings to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, or other method sometimes with an intent to bring about c : LAMPOON  2 a : a branch of literature ridiculing vice or folly

censure 1 : a judgement involving condem-nation a : spiritual chastizement by an ecclesiastical agency
wit implies intellectual brilliance and quickness in perception combined with a gift for expressing ideas in an entertaining, often laughter provoking, pointed way, usually connoting the unexpected or apt turn of phrase or idea and often suggesting a certain brittle unfeelingness
satire can apply to any criticism or censure relying on exposure, often by irony and often subtle, of the ridiclous or absurd qualities of something

The notion of Piranesi being satirical himself throughout the Ichnographia is an intriguing idea.

...the various other gardens and buildings that Piranesi places on the same plateau as the horti Lucullani. Some of them, like the horti Narcissi, relate directly to the Messalena story since it is the freedman Narcissus that ultimately kills Messalena. There is also the horti Anteri--Anteros means "an avenger of slighted love," which describes both Messalena and her husband the emperor Claudius, although for different reasons.

...Tafuri could have said so much more about the horti Luciliani.

...since Piranesi came to live at the top of the Spanish Steps, he may then have placed the Horti Luciliani purposefully in the same location within the Ichnographia. If this is so, then Piranesi deliberately places himself (figuratively) within the garden of the father of Roman satire. ...find the exact location of Piranesi's home, Check its location on the Nolli map, and then find the exact location within the Ichnographia. ...not sure if the exact spot will be significant, but it will be good to know nonetheless.


2005.05.08 19:03
First off, I accidentally skipped a paragraph within the passages I sent you earlier today. The missing paragraphs comes after "...Campo Marzio leads to the same conclusion." Here's the paragraph:

The obsessive articulation and deformation of the composition no longer correspond to an ars combinatoria. The clash of the geometric "monads" is no longer regulated by any "preestablished harmony"; and, most important, it demonstrates that the only meaning this paradoxical casuistry can refer back to is pure geometry, in the absolute semantic void that characterizes it.

It seems that Tafuri saw (in the Campo Marzio) individual plans that don't signify anything either historic or symbolic or even realistically typologic, and all together the <i>Ichnographia</i> is heap of meaningless fragments, thus it's all a divorce from any symbolic/meaningful system.

I just read some of Barthes' Elements of Semiology where a sign is composed of a signifier and a signified, and, what Tafuri sees is the Campo Marzio plans (individually and as a 'whole') as signs that still have a signifier, i.e., architectural building plans, but these signs/plans lack a signified, something that gives the plans any real meaning.

In reality, Piranesi employed all kinds of signs that carry a wide variety of signifiers--sometimes it's the shape of the plan(s), sometimes it's the placement/location (rightly or wrongly) of the plan(s), often it's just the label/name attached to the plan (which signify at least some historical existence), and then there are examples of combinations of the above distinctions, e.g., the Atrium Minerva (wisdom) as centerpiece of the 'garden of satire' which is situated at a location coincident with the top of the Spanish Steps, where Piranesi moved his family and business about a years after the Campo Marzio was published.

Piranesi acquired a detailed knowledge of Bufalini's Ichnographia Urbis of 1551 via his direct involvement with Nolli's Pianta Grande di Roma of 1748. A decade later, in 1758, Piranesi began his Ichnographia Campus Martius where, in some instances, he utilized Bufalini's map/plan as source material for the redrawing of ancient Rome's urban plan. Bufalini's plan, especially in the open areas all around the built-up section of Medieval and Renaissance Rome, includes 'reconstructions' of the larger ancient edifices like the imperial baths and stadiums, and some temple complexes. There are also near countless unnamed, fragmentary plans of ancient remains; remains, moreover, that, after consulting Nolli's plan, appear to no longer exist in Piranesi's time. It is from a select group of plan fragments on the Mons Pinicus or Collis Hortulorum of the Ichnographia Urbis that Piranesi imaginatively redraws the Horti Luciliani, the Sepulchrum Neronis, a Basilica along the Via Flaminia, the Horti Pincii, and the Monumentum Comitis Herculis.

Piranesi's resultant redrawn plans suggest a methodology whereby the fragmentary plans of Bufalini were used as kernels of ancient fact that, in turn, galvanized newly interpreted redrawings of what once was. As suggested by Dixon, "as there were great gaps in the knowledge of the past, great leaps were then needed to supply the holistic vision of the past which was the aim of scholars--archaeologists and historians--like Piranesi. In the Ichnographia, Piranesi filled the gaps..." Futhermore, from a strictly design point of view, Piranesi used some the fragmentary plans of Bufalini as contiguous elements which, when mirror-copied and multiplied, manifest the beginnings of the new plans.

Besides Bufalini's plan delineations, Piranesi also makes use of Bufalini's labelings. Bufalini labels all his full plan reconstructions of ancient buildings, often labels the fragmentary plans, and even labels blank locations (indicating the spot of an ancient edifice although actual remains no longer then existed). In utilizing the labels within the area of the Mons Pinicus or Collis Hortulorum, however, Piranesi hardly remains faithful to Bulafini's data. For example, where Bufalini positions the Horti Salustiani and Domus Pincii, Piranesi places the Horti Luciliani and, in turn, places the Horti Salustiani and Domus Pincii further east; the street Bufalini labels Via Conlatina, Piranesi labels Via Flamina; where Bufalini positions the Sepulcr. Neronis, Piranesi places the Bustum Caesaris Augusti and, in turn, labels an unnamed fragment along his Via Flaminia Sepulchrum Neronis; a small round structure Bufalini labels T. Solis, Piranesi labels Aula within the Horti Luciliani and, in turn, labels a newly imagined round building further south Delubrum Solis. It is honestly difficult to discern whether Piranesi is here playfully inverting Bufalini's data or actually rectifying Bufalini's "facts" with advanced knowledge of the past. Like Bufalini, Piranesi groups the Domus Martialis, Ludus Florae and the Templum Florae together, but he positions the group further west and moves the Domus Martialis south rather than north of the Ludus Florae. And where Bufalini locates the Sepulch. Falimiae Domiciarum, Piranesi places a very small Sepulcr. Familiae Aenobarb. and a very large Sep. Cnei Domitii Calvini whose plan Piranesi bases on an unrelated fragment of the Forma urbis.


Nov 7, 11 10:25 am



Nov 8, 11 3:53 pm



Nov 8, 11 3:56 pm

Hadrian here beguiled the time in the recollections of his Odysseus-like travels, for this villa built according to his own designs, was the copy and the reflection of the most beautiful things which he had admired in the world.  The names of buildings in Athens were given to special parts of the villa.  The Lyceum, the Academy, the Prytanetim, the Poecile, even the vale of Tempe with the Peneus flowing through it, and indeed Elysium and Tartarus were all there.

One part was consecrated to the wonders of the Nile, and was called Canopus after the enchanting pleasure grounds of the Alexandrians. Here stood a copy of the famous temple of Serapis, which stood on a canal, and was approached by boat. Hadrian had transplanted Egypt itself to his villa.  Sphinxes and statues of gods carved out of black marble and red granite surrounded the god Antinous, who was represented as Osiris in shining white marble.  The temples built in Egyptian style were covered with hieroglyphics.

At a sign from the emperor these groves, valleys, and halls would become alive with the mythology of Olympus; processions of priests would make pilgrimages to Canopus, Tartarus and Elysium would become peopled with shades from Homer, swarms of bacchantes might wander through the vale of Tempe, choruses of Euripides might be heard in the Greek theatre, and in a sham fight the fleets would repeat the battle of Xerxes
-Ferdinand Gregorovius, The Emperor Hadrian, A Picture of the Greco-Roman World in his Time (1898).

It is exactly the notion of creating an environment to mimic an actual "other" place--the notion of simulacra--that relates Hadrian's villa at Tivoli to today's idea of virtual reality. Far from being a mere imitation or sham, however, the villa is firmly the prototype of "virtual place." Although now largely in ruins, Hadrian's Villa was, in fact, a veritable "museum of virtual places," and, because of the high architectural quality of its many built allusions, it coincidentally functioned as a museum of Roman architecture as well.

Re: Quite a reenactor!!!
2003.09.28 16:55

I see the possibility of Seroux's work being enhanced via HTML in that throughout the text that accompanies each engraved plate there are references from an image or set of images on one engraved plate to other images on another or even several other engraved plates--hyperlinkage could be of benefit here. Moreover, I found that aspects/details of many buildings are distributed throughout the whole set of engravings. For example, a plan of a church may be displayed with other church plans of the same era, but a column from this church is depicted on another engraving that presents a vast variety of columns all arranged in chronological order. The same disbursement goes for details of arches, walls, and domes. In redoing the work utilizing HTML, not only can the work be recreated as originally published albeit with hyperlinks, but whole new 'plates' of drawings can be composed where (for the first time) all aspects of an individual building are displayed together, and these new displays can then be further worked via hyperlinks into the historical outline Seroux already established. I'd also like to add some new text to the Histoire.

Interestingly enough, the drawings (by many top-notch French architectural apprentices that Seroux hired) on which the engravings are based are now at the Vatican Library. And, according to Vidler, the original drawings far surpass the engraved drawings, mostly because the engraved drawings are much reduced from the original size.

My favorite 'discovery' to come out of this exercise so far is learning about the Basilica of St. Stefano, Bologna, thirteenth century, a religious compound where the Court of Pilate and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem were/are specifically reenacted.


Looks like late Le Corbusier style as Composite Order--Villa Shodham meets Heidi Weber Pavilion meets Chandigarh tapestries.

"Ah, Detailotheca, the nimiety of detail museum."
"If only all architecture were so self-evident."
"I know. It never really was a house, was it?"
"True, but it's actually two museums."

Cut & Paste Museum

HQ of D.A.T.A.
Department of Architecture Theory Annexation.

Be it ever so humble...


Nov 9, 11 9:50 am


missing line from above:

"Ah, Detailotheca, the nimiety of detail museum."
"If only all architecture were so self-evident."
"I know. It never really was a house, was it?"
"True, but it's actually two museums."
"Ah yes, the Reenactment of Late Le Corbusier Style Museum as well."


Nov 9, 11 1:13 pm
job job

Congratulations on 15 years. I've enjoyed the website.

Nov 9, 11 3:33 pm

inconsistantcies and hyperboles?

Thanks for your replies. I now have a better understanding of your evolutionary theory of architectural styles, and for that I'm grateful.

I'll add a few comments, however.

1. I agree that historians will never really know what an artist was thinking, and to that end whenever I analyze historically I try to give exact textual reference and/or make it clear that what I say is my opinion/interpretation (hopefully with some basis). Nonetheless, there is that (exciting) element about historical research that is akin to being a detective finding clues and then 'fabricating' a possible or likely scenario. Moreover, it is more and more the historian's job today to search out and correct the mistakes of previous historians (a kind of Baroque activity?).

2. I'd like to be on the record for proposing that in essence the Baroque involved: a) a bifurcation of reality and illusion, b) pervasive mirroring (figuratively and literally), and 3) reality reenacting its own illusory mirror. For now I'm working on the premise that the combination of these three attributes is mostly unique to the Baroque. [I am not asserting, however, that the artists of the Baroque were actively thinking about the combination of the three attributes when creating their works. I'm simply calling out a (distinct?) pattern that (for me at least) is there.]

3. Please consider my contributions to the recent discussion as addressing the notion of emergence of style as opposed to the invention of a style. [Although, I have to again stress that there really is a lot of invention going on within the designs of Michelangelo's fortifications of Florence.]

4. I'm going to venture into some new activity at architecthetics, and that is to outline and ruminate on the beginnings of Christian Church architecture and specifically the (very possible) role that Flavia Julia Helena Augusta (the mother of Constantine, St. Helena) played within those beginnings. I'll be sporadically sending posts that are more notes than polished texts, and the intention is simply to share the information I've gathered as well as invite comments and questions.


27 October 312

On the eve of 27 October 312 Constantine saw a sign (of the Cross?) in the sky that he later attributed as a sign from the Christian God that brought about his 'miraculous' victory over Maxentius the next day at the Milvian bridge just north of Rome.

The 27 October 312 event has come down to us (because Constantine said so under oath) as the moment of his conversion to Christianity. [Please do your own reading/research on the Battle of the Milvian Bridge to get a fuller picture. I'm only calling out this date as the beginning of a Christian imperial regime specifically within the city of Rome, a regime, moreover, very much still existing within the realm of Roman Paganism.]

Constantine was at that time Augustus of the Western half of the empire, and Maxentius was the usurptive ruler of Italy and North Africa. Maxentius was both Constantine's brother-in-law and uncle because Constantine was married to his father's second wife's sister Fausta, the sister of Maxentius and the sister of Theodora, the second wife of Constantius I, the father of Constantine. [By this time Constantine had already caused of death of Maxentius' father, Maximian, who was at his death an ex-Augustus that wanted to be back in power.]

Maxentius died on 28 October 312 at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge which happened to also be the anniversary of Maxentius' own rise to power in Rome on 28 October 306.

Constantine marched triumphantly into Rome on 29 October 312, but he did not end his procession at the (Pagan) Temple of Jupiter on the Arx.

I purposely mention the intricate familial relations of Constantine because there are two matriarchs that survive throughout most of Constantine's reign, namely Helena, the mother of Constantine and first wife of Augustus Constantius I, and Eutropia, the mother-in-law of Constantine and wife of Augustus Maximian. Eutropia is especially interesting because not only is she the grandmother of Constantine's latter five children [the mother of Constantine's first born Crispus was Minervina, not Fausta], but she is also the grandmother of Constantine's five half brothers and sisters. Furthermore, it is interesting that Eutropia survived given the fact that Constantine was the cause of death for both her husband (Maximian) and her son (Maxentius).

[Contrary to all history so far, I speculate that Helena and Eutropia were secretly Christian believers well before 27 October 312, and, moreover, that Christianity was what bonded Helena and Eutropia. I'll return to this towards the end of my posts.]

The first Constantinian Christian basilica in Rome was erected at the Lateran palace, which according to sources originally belonged to Fausta, Constantine's wife. It is thus historically surmised that Fausta was indeed born in Rome when her father Maximian was Western Augustus. In any case, it would seem that the Maximian/Eutropia side of Constantine's family knew Rome very well, while Constantine and Helena themselves were new comers to Rome.

It is not hard to imagine the confusion of emotions that very likely ran through Constanitine's family after the fall of Maxentius. The very question of who was now safe had no definite answer. And it is to the issue of safety first that brings me to my 'theory' of why the Lateran became the first imperially sanctioned Christian site in Rome (as opposed to the site of an apostle's or martyr's burial which is where all subsequent Constantinian basilicas in Rome occurred). It seems reasonable that there were still factions in Rome loyal to Maxentius, let alone against Christianity, and thus the threat to Constantine's family and now also his religious beliefs was indeed extant. As historically recorded, the Lateran palace became the official residence of the then reigning Pope Silvester. The Basilica Constantiniani (which is what St. John Lateran was first called) was built on the grounds of equestrian guards quarters adjacent to the Lateran palace. I speculate that not only did Pope Silvester come to live in the Lateran palace, but that Fausta and her children by Constantine born thus far came to live there as well, plus Eutropia. Thus the imperial family was secure (and removed from the center of Rome) and the Papacy was now officially protected as well, and furthermore, the new Constantinian regime in Rome presented a united Imperial-Christian front to the rest of Rome.

Helena's first residence in Rome may well also have been the Lateran palace, but, if that is the case, she later moved to the Sessorian palace literally down the street from the Lateran, which is today the site of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.


9 November 312 or 318

In preparation for my next post regarding the Constantinian Christian basilicas of Rome I planned to collate data from The New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine (Timothy D. Barnes, 1982) which contains an excellent chronological list of "Imperial Residences and Journeys" of all the Augusti and Ceasars from Diocletian to Constantine inclusive with data from Corpus Basilicarum Christianum Romae (Krautheimer), plus refer to a chronology focusing on Helena that I compiled in 1999.

I already found one mistake from my previous post that must be corrected. The first born of Constantine and Fausta, Constantine II, was born 7 August 316, thus there were no children of Constantine other than Crispus alive in 312. Constantine II was born in Arles. (Approximately nine months earlier Constantine was at Trier, 11 January 316 (and before that at Milan 19 October 315). [I'm now asking myself if Constantine's family moved around with him. Was there any move to Rome by family members immediately 28 October 312? I believe there is at least the possibility that Eutropia and even Fausta may have wished to see Rome again after spending the previous four to five years at Trier.]

But here's what really surprised me as I began looking through a set of photocopies from the Corpus Basilicarum Christianum Romae that I made in spring 1999:

[referring the Basilica Constantiniani] Construction need not have taken many years. The huge Basilica Nova [another building] with its time-consuming vaulting system was built and completely decorated in four or five years; and we shall see that at St. Peter's construction and interior decoration were presumably completed in the course of six to eight years. The Lateran basilica, being smaller than St. Peter's, might well have been built and finished within five or six years. dates given for the consecration are numerous, varying from 315 to 324, but they are never based on any sources. The Martyrologium Romanum gives November 9 as the feast day of the basilica, "Romae dedicatio Basilicae Salvatoris". However, as pointed out by Lauer, the date occurs first in the second version of the Descriptio Ecclesiae Lateranensis, 1153-1154: "Cuius dedicatio per totum orbum quinto idus novembris...celebratur...". By that time, then, the tradition was well established, but we do not know how far back it went It is certainly older than the twelfth century, but it does not occur in the early sacramentaries and martyrologia dating from the fifth to ninth century. Is it, then, the date of a reconsecration after the rebuilding by Sergius III (904-911)? This is possible, but it is equally possible that the tradition springs from a fourth century root. We leave the question open. In any event, no year is given. However, it is curious that in the reigns of Constantine and Sylvester, November 9 falls on a Sunday -- since the Middle Ages the customary day for church consecrations -- only four times: 312, 318, 329, 335. The last two dates can be dispensed with: the period of construction [beginning from] 313 or 314 would be too long. However, 318 would be a very plausible date for the consecration of the church. Or should we stress the choice of the word dedicatio, rather than consecratio, by the sources? Dedicatio in Roman legal language is the act of handing over or ceding -- dedere -- an object, be it real estate or something else, to a deity; the act of consecratio follows, once the object has been installed or the shrine, temple or whatever, has been built. Is it possible, then, that November 9, 312, not quite two weeks after his conquest of Rome, was the day Constantine ceded to Christ the terrain on which the basilica was to be built and made the endowment for its future maintenance, in servitio luminum?

It's kind of funny to realize just how much of the above could be absolutely wrong. And at the same time it's also kind of funny that I happened to write about the Lateran basilica on November 9, 2000. To be honest, I've been thinking about writing that opening post regarding the Constantinian Christian basilicas since last Friday (November 3) because that's when my memory was struck by the notion that we just passed the Milvian Bridge battle anniversary, and at that time I was in the shower thinking about Marcus' Halloween post. Marcus' post made me rethink/remember about all the strange coincidences that I encounter throughout 1999 from the very beginnings of my St. Helena research (see 21 May 1999 or 23 September 1999 in the architecthetics archive for prime examples).

This coincidence today actually bothers me because it is just too weird, and it makes me think about a lot of stuff that I wouldn't think of otherwise. Augury can be strange and deceiving. Like Maxentius, who on 28 October 312 entered confidently into battle because it was the anniversary of his rise to power in Rome, you can turn out being completely wrong. Or, like Constantine, you can see the 'sign', act on it, and turn out to be the winner. Personally, I'm not even sure I want to be involved with any of this stuff anymore. It's getting to be just a little too "spooky."


9 November 1778

Yesterday morning I was looking through the recent Taschen publication of Piranesi's complete etchings, and therein I noticed that Piranesi died on 9 November 1778. With respect to my last post here, I'm now at least pleased that information seems to be 'participating' with my obscure architectural /theoretical researches /entertainments. At the very least I'm now mostly happy that Helena, Eutropia, Constantine and Piranesi still manage to exhibit signs of life. Architectural aesthetics and theories provide such an enormous fertile field, that is seems very true that the best way to enjoy it all is to plant seeds, supply some nurturing, and then watch some tremendous fruit bearing growth emerge.

Piranesi, as far as I can tell, was the most recent past architect/theorist to give architectural homage to Helena. Four plates in the Antichita Romane vol. III depict Helena's (ruined) mausoleum in Rome plus her sepulcher (which is now in the Vatican Museum). In vol. II of the Antichita Romane there are four plates that depict (what is today called) Santa Costanza, (originally the mausoleum of Constantina, the daughter of Constantine, and the grand daughter of Helena and Eutropia), plus Constantina's sepulcher (which is now also in the Vatican museum in the same room as Helena's sepulcher). Piranesi also offers a reconstructed plan of the original Constantinian basilica (it was quite huge) built over the catacomb where St. Agnes was buried, to which Santa Costanza was originally attached.

It was through my research of St. Agnes (on April 1, 1999 - Holy Thursday) in relation to my ongoing research of Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius that I first found out about St. Helena. (I wrote about how all this relates within Piranesi's large plan of the Campo Marzio in a paper I delivered in Brussels a year ago next Saturday.)

Anyway, since what's occupying most of the writers here at architecthetics is what guiding structure there might be for architectural aesthetics today, I suggest looking at various episodes that happened exactly here at architecthetics throughout 1999 -- at the base of a lot of it is the notion of what is trustworthy and what is not trustworthy. Here are some examples, starting with Marcus' post of whether a sculpture can be architecture; my mistrust of Paul's view of Frank Lloyd Wright; Hugh's mistrust of Duchamp's urinal (as faux ready-made); the (dubious?) nature of architectural photography; Alex's mistrust of "hero" historicism.

I like it most when I read people's true feelings versus projection of feelings that are 'supposed' to be had.

I would love to be able to confidently tell you all to trust me when it comes Helena and Piranesi, but I really can't do that without somehow or another seeing things get messy. Nevertheless, I will ask you to trust me when I say that I really enjoy architecture talk, and I therefore really enjoy architecthetics because this is one of the few places (as unreal as it is) that I get to do the talking I enjoy doing.


Nov 9, 11 3:36 pm

@job job, "enjoyed" is a very nice complement. Thanks.


"...looking for the double theater that is probably even more there."


a virtual museum of [disinformation] architecture?
2000.01.08 13:48

John Young wrote: 
Imaginary architecture, Escher, Piranesi, Heaven, Hell, visionary, virtual, has always mesmerized, inspired, perhaps terrified, for being beyond what is accompishable.

To be sure most architecture begins as imaginary and then it's all down hill from there as other brutally realistic forces have their way. Until ruins once again induce fantastic possibilities.

I especially admire Steve's fictional conference........

Steve Lauf continues:
Before going INSIDE DENSITY and while INSIDE DENSITY, the back of my mind was occupied with "what could a virtual museum of architecture be that a real museum of architecture could [or would] never be?"

Quondam presently comprises over 80 megabytes of data in the form of texts and images. As 'director' of Quondam, I'm hesitantly contemplating the (online) deletion of all the data in one keystroke. Seems drastic, but dia(meta)bolically desirable(!) -- kind of like pushing that big red button somewhere in Washington D.C., or where ever red buttons are.

Tabula Rasa is too easy, however. I prefer palimpsest, instead--erasure and then overwriting/overrighting. Of course, replacement would be necessary and necessary in quick order (...don't want those rising web stats to suddenly evaporate).

So what can a virtual museum of architecture be that a real museum of architecture can not be?

I'm at the point where the dissemination of disinformation appears the most appealing. I'm imagining a museum of architecture that curates and displays an 'un-real' history of architecture, you know, among OTHER things, all those buildings Le Corbusier designed since 27 August 1965, and likewise the dies sanquinis urbanism of lights-camera-Africa in 2056 AD which is covertly inspired by the OTTO-man architecture of pre-Christ South America, and don't forget the equinoctial architecture along the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Yes, may well soon be a 'new and improved' virtual museum of [unscientific fiction] architecture, written and delineated in palimpsest (so the faded 'truth' is nonetheless incompletely 'not there').

I'm becoming more and more convinced that a virtual museum of architecture misses its full virtuality unless it 'calendrically incarnates' other zeitgeists + [or minus] architectures.


"Is this an Ideal City or what?"
"I see two museums, an almost church and a synagogue, but where's the mosque?"


Nov 11, 11 9:26 am

I read Sanford Kwinter's "Mack 1 (and Other Mystic Visitations)" last night and early this morning. Back in mid-October 1997, instead of going to the opening of Guggenheim Bilbao, Kwinter and Reiser went to a reenactment--the fiftieth anniversary reenactment of Yeager's October 14, 1947 breaking of the sound barrier. Kwinter calls the event a "commemorative re-enaction, of perhaps the second most significant accomplishment in the history of twentieth-century space," and, because architects did not somehow latch on to this accomplishment (back in the late 1940s), late twentieth-century architectural accomplishments like Guggenheim Bilbao are not as important as they seem. Apparently, architecture missed the real Zeitgeist "boat," however, and most thankfully, a reenactment can come to the rescue.

After reading, a few things started entering my mind, like didn't John Hejduk's Silent Witnesses architecturally address this very  Zeitgeist? It's hard to grasp the impact of Silent Witnesses by just the images within The Mask of Medusa, but I still vividly remember seeing the models in person at Cooper Union (Spring Break, 1977). Hejduk definitely did not miss the boat, or the submarine, or the lunar modual.

And what was I doing 14 October, 1997?

loss of direction and energy

I have not yet been able to focus on any of my creative pursuits since Dad's death and funeral. I probably won't be able to really concentrate on anything until I get the house cleaned up. Suddenly, it feels like I have time to do anything, and it is hard for me to imagine a life free of worries and obligations. I probably just have to start on some projects, and just get things going that way. Actually, I have to get Novitski* off my back, and that might just change everything.

Ah yes, I was still just getting over my first experience of reenactment season.

Death and the Triumphal Way
1997.10.02 (sent to the Archithesetics list)

My father, Otto Lauf, died 24 September 1997. His death came after many years of battling diabetes and its complications, including the loss of both his lower legs. The Encyclopedia Ichnographica is dedicated to my father, for I was nearing completion of  the Ichnographia Redrawn web pages the night he died.

My father's funeral was the third I had "watched" in a month, after those of Mother Teresa and Princess Diana, and it was during Diana's funeral that a remarkable coincidence occurred. On the Thursday before the Princess' funeral in London, I nonchalantly browsed through The Princeton Journal Ritual, 1983, a book I had not taken from my library in a number of years. I was soon surprised and delighted with the discovery of an essay on ancient Rome's Triumphal Way, "Passage into the City: The Interpretive Function of the Roman Triumph" by Alan Plattus. No doubt this essay would greatly aid my ongoing research of Piranesi's Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio within which Piranesi demarks his own interpretation of the Roman Triumphal Way. The essay carefully explains the often re-enacted ritual and the many "passages" along its way: the initial passage through the wall and into the city; the circuitous route through the numerous memorial arches that have been dedicated over time, and through the many stadia and circuses where the throngs of Roman citizenry could observe the spectacle; the ultimate end of the march at the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill, ancient Rome's most sacred place. I finished reading the essay late Friday night.

On Saturday morning, I watched (in Philadelphia via television) Princess Diana's funeral procession on its way to Westminster Abbey. As her coffin passed various memorials, including Lutyen's Cenotaph at Whitehall, I immediately recognized the trappings of Empire. I next saw Diana's coffin pass beneath an arch, and I then realized I was "witnessing" yet another re-enactment of the Triumphal Way, ending this time at the most sacred place in London.

As always, the Triumphal Way is synonymous with heroes. My father was certainly a hero for me, and he last triumphed in 1994 when he re-learned how to walk with an artificial limb. Moreover, I find comfort in thinking that my father may have now already met not only Mother Teresa and Princess Diana, but Piranesi as well.




*Novitski was editing a book on computer generated architectural renderings and invited Quondam to contribute. I declined the invitation, and any lingering regrets disappeared once I saw the book in print.


Nov 12, 11 10:04 am

"And we become these human jukeboxes, spilling out these anecdotes."
--Six Degrees of Separation


As memory serves, I've only met her twice. Once at a bon voyage party and once at a small dinner. Both in late summer 1993 and both at the same house in Manayunk, Philadelphia. I was still standing in front of this large painting after Robert Venturi asked "Is this by someone?" "Yeah, me." She came up to me afterwards and said, "So you're the artist." Apparently she loved the painting.

She went on about it's sexuality and ambiguity, androgyny and juxtapositions, and I don't remember what else. Later, in the kitchen, I heard her pronouncing "Benjamin" in German and pronouncing "Barthes" like she just bit her tongue. I interjected, "You know Barthes said laughter is a substitute for castration." She burst out laughing, and yelled over to her husband, "Barthes said laughter is a substitute for castration!" He did not laugh, and I think I know why.

Maybe like a month later, she dominated the conversation at the small dinner. There was lots of architecture talk. She or someone she knew was collecting all the latest in architectural jargon. "So what are some of the words?" She wouldn't (or couldn't) say. And then there was talk of the Italian Rationalists. "Don't forget Sartoris." "Oh! Sartoris! You know he's still alive!?" Towards the end, her husband said he'd like to do an in-depth study of VSBA's domestic architecture. "How about the Brant House Addition?" "Wow, now there's an obscure project."

[Lavin now calls it Kissing Architecture, Quondam has been calling it Appositions.]

Anthony Vidler was moving the LA, and the host of the party and dinner was moving to NYC. She got the host to sublet Vidler's NYC apartment.

Re: Anthony Vidler on Gordon Matta-Clark
2003.06.05 14:25
I spent an October 1994 weekend in Vidler's NYC/Chelsea studio apartment (a very restrictive space), while a large painting of mine, Taken Literally, 1992 spent over two years there--a friend of mine sublet the place when Vidler first started teaching in LA. Vidler spent at least one week living with the painting himself, and I've often wondered if he got all the art and architectural references. There's even a sliced portion of a building, but I didn't know of Matta-Clark back then.

It was in Vidler's apartment that I first saw The Architectural Uncanny, and, after seeing the chapter "Losing Face," it was indeed uncanny that a painting including a depiction of Schinkel's Altes Museum and Stirling's Museum for Nordrhein-Westfalen  was hanging on Vidler's apartment wall at the same time. After reading Losing Face, it turned out the analysis was still lacking, and, ultimately at Quondam, the face was put back.

The last two chapters of The Writing of the Walls -- steps on the way to Quondam.

Most recently, it's too bad Vidler doesn't include Le Corbusier's International Planning Competition for Berlin in his analysis of Stirling's Roma Interrotta.

[Incidently, every instance of Le Corbusier's Museum for Unlimited Growth is listed within Colomina's "The Endless Museum: Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe" (Log 15) except for the last instance, which is within the International Planning Competition for Berlin.]


Nov 19, 11 1:25 pm


21 November


Nov 21, 11 9:03 am

happy anniversary quondam! keep up the amazing work.

Nov 21, 11 12:39 pm

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