Harvard University - GSD (Quilian)



Sep '06 - Dec '09

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    the semester is finally over

    Quilian Riano
    Jan 18, '07 3:37 PM EST

    As you may know the GSD has an interesting and pain-enlonging system by which you come back after the holidays to take exams, write papers, finish some projects, etc...

    I just finished my first semester yesterday and now I am a free man for another week and a half. I finished up by writing a couple of papers and finishing a CAD CAM project. The first paper was on my continuing research into Cuban Modernism in the years right before and after the revolution. As time passes I get more fascinated by the Cuban case as it very clearly shows how politics, economics, and national identity can, or at least attempt to, become built form.
    A quick visual of Cuba's change from the pre-revolutionary modernism (modified to include Che's face later during the appropriation of government buildings by the revolutionary government), to early revolutionary expressionism, and finally to the prefab structuralist architecture that's now spread throughout the island.

    The second paper was on the architectural postmodernist ideas of autonomy as theorized and practiced by Rossi and Eisenman and populism as theorized and practiced by Venturi, Scott-Brown and Koolhaas. I wanted to look at the political and social views imbedded in both architectural concepts and the different ways each architect built them into form. I came out of the paper specially interested by the Rossi-Tafuri-Rowe-Eisenman theoretical connection in light of their very different political views.

    I now can take a step back and try to figure out what I actually learned this first semester. I particularly enjoyed the theory classes. The thorough study of particular architectural practices in BTC and the realization that each is really working out a few simple issues throughout their career has given me a structure to understand the design work I do and the issues that I, even without knowing, keep going back to in each project. I think that this will begin to allow me to focus on exploring and advancing the few issues that I seem naturally attracted to anyway.

    In the situating the modern class I enjoyed looking at 'modernist' works outside of the canon that rejected the notion of international styles and universalist design principles. We mostly looked at work that sought to find the essence of a place be it using the environment, culture, or politics of a place.

    As for now I am looking forward to getting to know my wife again, watching movies, some rest, and maybe getting back to the gym.


    • Helsinki

      Have you read Goldhagen's "Kahn's situated modernism"? the book seems to deal with exactly the issues you mentioned - obviously only regarding to kahn and a small collection of his works. It's also a quite concise history of the different currents that were "in the air" and could be seen as having an effect on Kahn's changing approach to architecture. Also, it defuses the nonsense mystic mumbling of the later Kahn in favor of anchoring him in a specific time and place- something I appreciated a lot.

      Jan 19, 07 5:26 am  · 

      though this entry is way old, i am new to this site.
      your first image reminded me of this:
      originally mussolini's face was plastered on the side.

      Jun 5, 07 9:54 pm  · 

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