Lian (Harvard GSD M.Arch.I)

I graduated in 2013, but still blog here once in a while.

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    Update - GSD African American Student Union and Dean Mohsen comment on Kanye West Visit

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Nov 18, '13 10:24 PM EST

    Hi Archinect,

    Over the past few days there have been over 30,000 views of this blog's Archinect post on Kanye, and many times that number of reposts and articles about the event at other media outlets (including Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, USA Today, and Buzzfeed). It seems as if there's also been about that many critical comments online, within and outside of architecture circles. So if you're tired of the coverage, please disregard this post--I understand. 

    That said, I wanted to share this because as news has surfaced about the quiet leadership of the GSD's African American Student Union in this event, it has become clear that the media frenzy we've seen was just the gold-plated tip of a more substantive iceberg.

    Apologies for that analogy, but let's move on:

    At the GSD website a news release has been posted, including the following statement by the GSD's African American Student Union:

    The Harvard Graduate School of Design's African American Student Union wrote Kanye West a personal letter in response to a series of interviews Kanye delivered referencing his growing interest in design and his experiences with race as an artist in the United States. Very recently, we received word from Kanye West and his team stating that he would be in town for a concert on Sunday evening and that he wanted to meet with a very small core of our group's leaders with his security personnel and closest advisors in tow. Kanye led a very thoughtful conversation regarding the trajectory of design discourse and practice as well as the under-representation of minorities in design disciplines.

    Photo of Kanye West with GSD AASU. Photo credit: Kim Kardashian. Photo from ArchDaily.

    Dean Mohsen Mostafavi also commented:

    We are thrilled that Kayne West decided to visit Harvard Graduate School of Design and has taken such interest in our students, their work and design in general. I share Mr. West’s concern that minorities are underrepresented in design disciplines. We hope that Mr. West’s visit will raise awareness of design education among students of color and will inspire others to recognize the important role of designers in re-imagining and improving the spaces in which we live.

    Let's put this in context. As Architectural Record has reported, "only 1,444, or 5.3 percent" of students in US accredited architecture programs identify as black or African American. And of over 100 000 registered architects in the US, fewer than 2000 are black, as architect and GSD student Sekou Cooke pointed in a recent ArchDaily essay. As Architectural Record notes, there are proportionally fewer black architecture students than black law or medical students, so we are doing poorly even in comparison with other fields that have long been confined to an elite few. 

    Nobody is claiming that the GSD AASU's coup of successfully inviting Kanye West solves the serious problems that contribute to this imbalance. But with this gutsy, optimistic, and outward-facing action that brought some public attention to the idea that design can change the world, and to the fact that there are talented and ambitious black and African American students shaking things up at the top-ranked US architecture school*--all while galvanizing the entire student body for one unforgettable night--this group of students made me proud to be an alum of their school. 

    Thanks for reading!


    P.S. Update on the update: If you just can't get enough, FYI that GSD students, including student leaders from the GSD's AASU, have been interviewed by Vibe about meeting and coordinating with Kanye.

    *the largest "class of color" in the GSD's history, the AASU announced at the beginning of the semester! As the LoeBlog points out, the AASU together with GSD Loeb Fellow Jean Lauer was also instrumental in reaching out to African American prospective students over the past year. The result? "For the first time ever this spring, all African American students offered admission to the GSD accepted." <3


    • Well put.

      Nov 19, 13 12:19 pm  · 
      chatter of clouds

      how about sexism and misogyny?  i will copy paste:

      my little girl cousin played me a couple of his songs. over produced musical rubbish. and the lyrics bursting with bitches, motherfuckers, sucking dicks....what else? oh more bitches, some ho's. i almost felt excluded but then I heard him say faggot and I rejoiced for that.

      but I would forgive the extremes of misogyny had there been a wisp of any musical intrigue but no, just over produced washing machine music with a lot of the same old same old cliched  currency of misogynistic hip hop tumbling inside . What is Harvard trying to tell its students then? that style trumps substance? that condescending to the lowliest sensationalist denominator is to be finely awarded? That calling women bitches and ho's is alright since its a hip hop thing? since its a pop thing?

      Nov 19, 13 12:22 pm  · 

      kanye is nothing but a puppet promoting the illuminati elitiest new world order.  Everyone already knew that gsd was nothign but an expensive factory turning out corporate drones, but to see the whole school reduced to a mass of giggly groupies is really pathetci.

      and yeah, his musci sucks too.

      Nov 19, 13 1:08 pm  · 
      Donatello D'Anconia

      t a m m u z + HandsumCa$hMoneyYo,

      When is your next party? You two sound like really fun, positive people to hang out with. We can invite some professional musicians and tell them about music culture and how to produce beats; why won't popular musicians give us what we the architects want?

      I appreciate how you guys have completely disregarded the intent of the AASU in bringing Kanye to the GSD, and only focused on the negative, thereby eclipsing the positive. that's totally racist.

      p.s. HandsumCa$hMoneyYo (sweet elitist propaganda handle ;) )

      Nov 19, 13 2:12 pm  · 

      While I applaud the idea that Mohsen, the AA student Union, and Kanye are presenting that blacks are underrepresented in architecture (though Kanye didn't discuss that at all--seems like a bit of GSD spin to me), I find the kind of design that Kanye focuses on is high fashion, made for elites. Of course there is a history of hip-hop dreams of money and bling, but it's mostly built on fantasy, not reality. If the AA student union is looking for something more than a publicity stunt (well done on that) perhaps it should try a speaker that is more in tune with broader issues of AA architecture. 

      If anything Kanye has evolved more away from the soul, black community of his earlier albums and more too high fashion and elitism. Design doesn't need any more of this kind of thinking. Though I've heard Kanye begin to talk in more populist terms lately. 

      "Bought more jewelry, more Louis V, my momma couldn't get through to me" - Kanye West

      Nov 19, 13 3:23 pm  · 
      Donatello D'Anconia


      Spot on, there are so many other AA celebrities advocating for better design and specifically advocating for better architecture.  I can't believe the AASU dropped the ball on inviting them.  I'm glad you were able to point those celebrities out so the AASU can contact them.  More free tickets for the GSD!!! $$$

      "I really do believe that the world can be saved through design...'" - Elitist

      What an elitist prick, If only the populists would stop caring about the wobs, then they would get what they the population wants.

      "Lock yourself in a room doing 5 beats a day for 3 summers"

      Nov 19, 13 5:16 pm  · 

      I'm just chiming in to say that this is awesome!

      Nov 19, 13 6:28 pm  · 

      I'll say it again, cool, AND, let's slam the guy for bringing much needed attention to a profession that is doing a bang up job of attracting people of the global majority. As for elitist, yeah, I'm sure Kanye and his money gets him everything he could ever want, but in most parts of the country he still gets pulled over for being black, so that's soooooo elitist.

      Nov 19, 13 7:31 pm  · 
      chatter of clouds

      yes, awesome that someone who calls women bitches and whores -who nearly always shows women only as apparatuses for blow jobs and the like, belittled compulsively- is being lauded. 

      Nov 19, 13 11:03 pm  · 
      Donatello D'Anconia

      t a m m u z,

      dude! totally! when he got up on that desk and said "ho/bitch/blowjob/whore" everyone was clapping! I was like wtf, I hope my little girl cousin never hears this speech, she might get excited about what he said when these people were clapping for him. like seriously, people might have mistakenly talked about architecture in popular culture, glad we avoided that, then we'd have to start designing what they the people want.

      "Cause who the kids gon' listen to? Huh? I guess me if it isn't you"

      Nov 20, 13 12:00 am  · 
      MR. Obsessive

      something tells me... HandsumCa$hMoneyYo is kinda right ...,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      his music really does suck

      Nov 20, 13 11:33 am  · 
      Donatello D'Anconia

      MR. Obsessive,

      I didn't know you were going to t a m m u z and HandsumCa$hMoneyYo's sweet bumpin party too! We shouldn't invite record sales or grammy's though, I don't think they will be down to subjectivity hate like we can. And for beverages, we can have empty cups to signify the void of progressive discussion and image we bring to the architecture community and population at large!




      Nov 20, 13 11:53 am  · 

      Actually, his music doesn't suck, One Direction, Bieber, Selena Gomez and Myrus = suck.

      Nov 20, 13 12:45 pm  · 

      the intent of the aasu?  Why is it even a concern that minorities are underrepresented in architecture?  Given the amount of debt that the average student take on combined with the bleak job prospects, it should probably be a point of black pride that they aren't getting duped into that shitty system.

      If Kenya wants more to see more black architects then maybe he should start fucking some groupies and then use some of his millionz to sends the little bastards off to design school.  Instead, he so hooked ot the occult elite that he'll probably need to sacrifice a bunch of them to moloch in some sick ritual.

      Nov 20, 13 12:49 pm  · 
      Donatello D'Anconia


      Agreed! let's keep architecture the elitist white profession eva! People with different cultures are scary, would totally disrupt the status quo, again my favorite quo. maybe that can be the theme of our party, elitist status quo? t a m m u z, you down with that? The best part is, with the negativity we are vibing towards kaney's wassup to architecture, we aren't providing any possibility for architecture to be relevant to popular culture and discontinue it's own shitty system. Imagine if more people were into architecture, then we couldn't be elite anymore, and then where is the fun.

      "Just forget it, you talk it, I live it"



      Nov 20, 13 1:54 pm  · 

      Donatello, I am seriously loving the callbacks at the quasi-trolls here. Keep it up!

      Nov 20, 13 2:25 pm  · 

      You naed to work on yoer reading comprehension.  I'm not an occult elitist.  I'm not even sure that Kenye is an elitest himself but it's clear that he is a puppet of these interests.  But if you're into cutltural diversity & minimizing mondialisation, then Kenye is doing much more harm than good.  Go have a good fuck and then maybe you'll start seeing the world clearly.

      Nov 20, 13 2:58 pm  · 

      Kanye West at the Harvard Graduate School of Design is by far one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard of.  Was his wife Kim Kardashian with him to offer additional pearls of wisdom? (Yes, I see she was, she took the group photo above.)  WTF?   Are you kidding me?  Why not Chris Rock?  L'il Wayne?  Tyler Perry? Or Floyd "Money" Mayweather, my personal choice, because he has a nice crib, an entourage, a million-plus dollar Bugatti Veyron and says he likes nice things?  GSD AASU has no clue and has humiliated themselves beyond measure. 

      How about doing a serious search, finding and inviting the most prestigious, celebrated, INFLUENTIAL, award-winning, internationally-recognized, culturally-sophisticated African-American, Asian or Latin architect for Christ's sake?  What, you say? That never occurred to you? Too difficult a problem?  

      Well, just who are these GSD AASU people?  Generation X?  Generation Y?  Or, (gasp! ! !) the dreaded Generation Z?   Staring robot-like at your I-Phones, I-Pads, Twitter, Facebook and Email accounts with your heads down walking blindly into each other all day and the best you can come up with is Kanye West?  

      I'm sure the AIA Leadership is both mortified and laughing hysterically at this minority blunder, at Harvard no less, which has further reinforced the long-held stereotype that Blacks don't belong in this profession, or anywhere near it.  Not my view, after 30 years in, but according to the Rulers, the men who carve the names of the Gold Medal Winners into the granite wall in the lobby at AIA Headquarters in Washington, DC - - - but that's another story. 

      Assuming these AASU dumb-asses all graduate, only a small fraction of them will get jobs anyway, no matter who their parents are.

      Nov 20, 13 3:05 pm  · 
      Donatello D'Anconia

      Mr. Girven,

      You want to come over and watch Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai? I agree, there are so many more popular celebrities promoting architecture changing the world, AASU should have invited them, I totally agree man, they totally dropped the ball, I don't get why they invited Majora Carter either, not relevant at all to AA architecture. After looking at your profile, I'm actually surprised they didn't invite you, you have some sweet architecture man, it's totally making a splash/difference in the architecture and AA community!


      totally my bad man, I guess I got distracted thinking about the conception process for your relevant kanye-groupie-designer-babies idea, just don't mention relevant intercourse in your next post and I promise I will try harder. Does this mean I can't come to your and t a m m u z 's dope anti-AA party?Let's just make sure to not invite any globalized puppet's, they bring back strange culture from far-away lands, like fresh wobs and beats from french producers or worse covers from japanese artists. I guess I just equated no-black-architects<status quo<elitism. I think we can still make your party an elitist one man, don't give up!



      Nov 20, 13 3:44 pm  · 

      You know why AASU students didn't invite an architect? They know better; architects are boring ass, whiners. At least they invited someone who they knew wouldn't bore them like the history prof I had at college, god damned she could suck the life out of just about anything, I needed to smoke a joint just to stay awake in her class.

      Nov 20, 13 5:42 pm  · 

      I giv up.  Harvard kids just arn't very bright these days. 

      Nov 20, 13 6:04 pm  · 

      This would have been a lot better if Kanye had actually presented some specific ideas related to design, rather than generic statements about utopia. There is a case to be made regarding his design chops, but AA architects should find it disturbing that no matter how successful they become, they will be upstaged by a PR ravaged architecture industry that will overlook him or her in favor of a movie star, musician or someone who talks big talk but doesn't back it up. 

      In related news, David Adjaye leaves architecture to become a rap star, hoping to get AA GSD love.

      Perhaps this will begin a predictable "Kanye was robbed of the Pritzker" movement from the GSD from overzealous students who don't want to be bothered with their drawings and models. I feel sorry for the professors there..... life in 2013. Identity >>>>>> Reality

      Nov 20, 13 6:54 pm  · 

      As a follow-up to Mr. and Mrs. Kanye West, and after I get my haute couture Armani tuxedo out of the cleaners, I'm voting for Floyd - - - "MONNNNNNNNEEEEEEEEE"- - - -Mayweather, an obvious shoe-in for the AIA Gold Medal, after Dame Zaha Mohammed Hadid, DBE, of course, who's obviously not boring, and offers a shortlist of credentials that includes:   

      Honorary Fellowship (FAIA), American Institute of Architects, 2000
      Commander of the British Empire (CBE), 2002
      Mies van der Rohe Award, 2003
      London Architect of the Year, London Architectural Biennale, 2004
      Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, 2004
      Gold Medal for Design, International Olympic Committee, 2005
      Honorary Fellow, Columbia University, New York, 2005
      Member of the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2005
      Honorary Doctorate, Yale University, USA, 2006
      Honorary Doctorate, American University of Beirut, 2006
      Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture, 2007
      Forbes “100 Most Powerful Women”, 2007
      Honorary Degree from the Pratt Institute, New York, 2008
      Forbes “100 Most Powerful Women”, 2008
      Praemium Imperiale, The Japan Art Association, 2009
      The Sunday Times ‘100 Top UK Companies”, 2009
      The Times “50 People of the Decade”, 2009
      RIBA Stirling Prize, MAXXI Museum, 2010
      Time magazine “100 Most Influential People in the World”, 2010
      The Sunday Times “100 Top International Companies”, 2010
      Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Arts, London, 2011

      Nov 20, 13 8:42 pm  · 

      Yawn. Personally, the only architect that didn't bore me at a lecture; John Hejduk. Zaha, not even in the top 10 most interesting. 

      Nov 20, 13 8:58 pm  · 

      @Donatello D'Anconia:  Thank you for your comments, and for the invite, but I've seen "Ghost Dog" and "The Way of the Samurai" already, and feel a hankering for a little Jason Bourne or Daniel Craig tonight, i.e. "The Bourne Identity/ Ultimatum/ Supremacy/ Legacy" or "Casino Royale / Quantum of Solace/ Skyfall", with sincerest apologies to Mr. Mission Impossible.

      Nov 20, 13 9:00 pm  · 

      @b3tadine[sutures]:  Thank you for your comments.  Given that we're evaluating what GSD AASU students have put forth, are there any non-White, non-Male architects that don't bore you?  Any at all?  Or is your personal Top 10 list composed of status-quo White men exclusively, like the aforementioned Mr. Hejduk?  (reveals a certain narrowmindedness on your part, Mr. Sutures, which is unfortunately typical of the profession, which is still after 100-plus years entirely segregated at the upper echelons.)

      Nov 20, 13 10:13 pm  · 
      Donatello D'Anconia

      HandsumCa$hMoneyYo, Darkman, Mr. Girven

      Snap! I can't believe that random sampling of student-esque people on Harvard's campus didn't know the architecturally relevant question about Canada's capital. I hope all the industry professionals and architecture deans that voted the GSD number one see that video, or worse, I'd hate to be someone under those deans and professionals, that would make me the biggest elitist pawn eva!

      Yeah I'm super annoyed too that that overzealous GSD student who didn't want to be bothered with their drawings and models won the SOM fellowship, it's not fair!

      I agree, as an African-American that non-architects know, the AASU should def invite Papa' David Adjaye to inspire the AA community and pop culture enthusiasts to get excited about architecture, I mean his theories are so widely known and celebrated within the arch community already! duh move bros!

      I didn't know Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai was two movies, I'll bring by my copy to the party. which reminds me, good job everyone on keepin these comments as off topic as possible, don't mention the idea of architecting a utopia and making dope stuff! that sort of positivity would totally disrupt this profession! see you at the negative party playas!!!!

      "People talk so much shit about me at barbershops, they forget to get their hair cut"

      Nov 20, 13 10:18 pm  · 

      holy cow - the only thing i can add to this conversation is: i really would dig getting to stand up on a desk (at my alma mater no less!) and have someone pay attention. anyone. really. 


      get a grip people - he was already coming to town, he's interested in architecture, and he's got way more cultural influence anyone whining on this board will ever have. i think it's great he stopped by, even better that he spoke out, seeming very sincerely, about being an advocate for what we all profess is the most important aspect of our jobs. and you're complaining about his music?


      Nov 20, 13 10:29 pm  · 

      I'm voting for Floyd - - - "MONNNNNNNNEEEEEEEEE"- - - -Mayweather, introduced ringside by Mr. Michael Buffer, in the usual manner.  I'll see if he's interested in stopping by.

      Nov 20, 13 10:57 pm  · 

      I like Adjaye, Ando, Mark Tsurimaki, Scofidio, Liz Diller, Jeanne Gang, Huff + Gooden do nice work as well, I could go on. But, I also said, architects are boring; Zaha may do interesting work, at times, but I'd rather jamb Q-Tips in my ears than hear her speak again.

      I should also note, that I don't like certain architects because of their race or ethnicity, I like them because their work resonates with my sensibilities. So if you can direct me towards designers that are +/-6'-0" above grade, and are doing work that aligns with me, and are of the global majority, I'd probably geek out on them as well.

      Nov 20, 13 11:09 pm  · 

      Since when were architects supposed to be "entertaining"? Or what does it matter what color/race/gender they are? Whatever happened to the "content of our work" as the most important criteria? I bet Michelangelo was boring as crap. Now it seems like identity and bullshit celebrity has replaced actual achievement. 

      It's no wonder that our built world continues to decay. 

      Kanye seems to have Le Corbusier on the brain, his mind on utopia. But nobody was really listening--everyone too busy tweeting to their friends that OMG KANYE AT THE GSD. Kanye annexation of the GSD for his own brand: complete. Well done Mohsen. 

      So we should be happy someone oh so famous is celebrating architecture? I thought the GSD was a bit more critical than this. Or perhaps Dean Mohsen is too afraid to call the GSD AA or the "Women in Design" for what they are. 

      Nov 20, 13 11:17 pm  · 

      Also the argument that Kanye is famous, therefore he can speak for the architectural profession and his opinions are more true than an experts, is chillingly nihilistic.

      Nov 20, 13 11:22 pm  · 
      Donatello D'Anconia


      chill nihil after party bro? I like the limited guest list idea, only architects, talking about architecture, perpetuating the status quo (no AA, no honies), tots corbu, it sucks when others join the conversation, then we have to explain why the world decays, why don't people stay out of architecture and let the playas play? Am I right bro?

      "Doctors say I'm the illest, cause I'm suffering from realness"

      Nov 20, 13 11:37 pm  · 

      @Darkman:  Yes, chilling, to say the least, which is why I'm jesting with Mayweather, because Kanye's net worth is a paltry $100 million sans Kardashian, while Money May is at $250 million as of 2013 before the Canelo Alvarez fight. The defense rests.  Should we get Canelo?

      Nov 20, 13 11:42 pm  · 

      Good god, can we speak like normal people? I get that it's 2013 and we all speak in ADD twitter jive lingo, but I guess this is what happens when you "broaden the perspective" and get out of the "echo chamber" and get away from those elitist architects and their "archispeak."

      Yes, if "perpetuating the status quo' means saying that architects have some kind of expertise and not kneeling to the lowest common denom then so be it. Why are these students even going to the GSD if the consensus here is that everybody is an expert on architecture, Kanye most of all. No reason to study the craft. 

      I never said that AAs or "honies" (as YOU say) aren't invited to the conversation. Seems like they are already in the door. But their contribution seems to be more about "starting dialogue" then actually doing the work, which doesn't bode well for their futures as designers. 

      Hey, I can play music too! Stop trying to "perpetuating the status quo" by saying only 'good musicians' can play. 

      Nov 21, 13 12:29 am  · 

      The other question is, why would you want to go to the GSD to hear something that the rest of the media pours on your 24/6, and that you can purchase for the price of $10 on iTunes or a $50 concert ticket?

      "See, the sad thing about a guy like you is, in 50 years you're gonna start doin' some thinkin' on your own and you're going to come up with the fact that there are two certainties in life: one, don't do that, and two, you dropped 150 grand on a fuckin' education you could have got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library!"

      Nov 21, 13 12:38 am  · 

      I also like discussions about race (and gender) from one who has said:

      "Eating asian pussy all I need is sweet and sour sauce"

      Bravo GSD.

      Nov 21, 13 12:57 am  · 

      @Darkman:  You've crossed the line with your last post.  I'm gonna have to block you!

      Nov 21, 13 1:08 am  · 
      chatter of clouds

      Eric, this is a line from one of that-so-called artist's songs.

      rubbish music, rubbish lyrics and a rubbish comportement. For saying the obvious, we get called quasi-trolls. And this from a Yale graduate. rubbish graduates. 

      Nov 21, 13 1:22 am  · 

      @tammuz:  I know it's from one of his songs, but do we need to see the lyrics in writing during this discussion thread in mixed company?  Have we no sense of propriety here?  I want Canelo Alvarez next -

      Nov 21, 13 1:35 am  · 

      Nov 21, 13 2:38 am  · 

      that link i just posted above is to feminist frequency's "kanye west's monster misogyny"--i can't make you watch it, but i really hope you will.

      Nov 21, 13 3:36 am  · 

      Also, I would really appreciate an update on the Majora Carter lecture.

      Nov 21, 13 3:44 am  · 

      Perhaps architects could learn a bit from Kanye and stop killing itself with self-undermining events like this.

      "I've got an idea of how to sell more music, it's called make better music." - Kanye

      Nov 21, 13 9:31 am  · 
      vado retro

      yo, where my redlines at?

      Nov 21, 13 9:54 am  · 
      Donatello D'Anconia

      Darkman, Girven

      Sorry bors, we totally missed the discussion about Majora Carter, they've already moved on to Deanna Van Buren!

      love how we haven't commented on the white-male celebrity Jon Stewart actually criticing arhitecture by an arab female holding the most esteemed prize of our profession. Totally perpetuates the idea that architects are racist and sexist. I only wish he would have gone to Columbia so we could continue the architecturally relevant ivy league hatin'!

      The don't talk about architecture party is in full effect! I'm glad we've continued disecting Kanye's lyrics and musical tastes instead of the potential he brings as a popular celebrity interested in architecture. I'm glad the population will never know about James Leng's thesis on politics, economics and thermodynamics, or the the just completed lixil gsd, both presenting innovative ideas on society and sustainability (honie on that competition team totally just dialogued the hole time, no work ethic)! Why won't the world listen to our self-undermining-kanye-hatin-archispeakin bros!!!!

      Nov 21, 13 10:01 am  · 

      Ok, i confess. I haven't actually ever listened to any of his music so i should not have said taht it sucks.  Sorry Kanye & to anyone else offended by that.

      In fact, I hadn't really even heard of him other than the "Bush hates black people" quote until included his videos & presentation in a bunch of their analysis.  If there is going to be discussion about pop star visiting architectue school then why is nobody talking about the symbology related to both industries?  Why is Kayne doing what he is doing?  Who or what does he work for?  Where does he power come from?  And why are architects so powerless these days?  These are not irrelevent questions and yet nobody seems to see it, why?  We are supposed to be critical and question everything but we are only willing to pull back enough layers until we are comfortable.

      The cover narrative that the visit is about minority's in design doesn't even hold under scrutiny.  Is it honestly a bad thing that minorities avoid a profession with bad employment prosepects and massive education debts (not too mention the cc debt because architects need to have nice shit to represent, right?)  The truth is that the average young minority is clearly smart enough to avoid that trap and hence the low enrollment numbers.  You can laugh about the yound mother with no money living on welfare checks but guess what?  But guess what?  If you got a pile of student loans then that young mother is richer than you both in terms of love (a baby/child that adore her ) and financially too (living on welfare but debt free.  You might not understand this now but when your middle-aged, still paying-off student debts and wondering if you'll ever have a family, then maybe you realize that you are the one who's been played the fool.  Any body get fucked last night?  Or were you too busy rendering?

      And, lastly,  the spectacle of a popstar showing up to school sayig a few bland words and then blessing the student body with concert tickets is just sad.  No criticism?  No protest?  Are the Harvard kids really that mind dead and easy to win over?  It's like a sequence out of the old Simpson or South Park cartoons.  Funny, but more sad than really funny.

      Laugh at me if you want.  I think I'm gonna change my name to Kany East & from a holy union with the man that will yeild the next god child.  Prepare to bow.

      Nov 21, 13 12:13 pm  · 
      Donatello D'Anconia


      I thought you gave up, welcome back to the party bro! I like the idea of an illuminati themed party, so relevant to architecture! Almost didn't comprehend your essay again with the mention of fornication, though congrats bro, you sound like an animal in the sheets!!! How does Kanye even have groupies left?

      I'm kinda bummed you mentioned how powerless architects are these days, now we gotta start discussing real issues, like why its a big deal when architecture makes it into popular culture. You don't think architects lost their powers when they became obsessed with Michael Foucult's ideas of power in favor of engineering and construction, promoting a profession so elite even other architects can't comprehend it? Or maybe it was when architects began to think that political and social causes could make up for poor design? It's most def not the fact that architects are super negative people and don't focus on the power of dope positive production. This party doesn't sound fun anymore. Let's not let this profession enter popular culture, that would ruin what we have worked so hard to create!!!

      I like how you stick it to the man by tearing up those poor ivy leagues kids instead of architecting something dope!!!


      Nov 21, 13 12:57 pm  · 

      @Donatello D'Anconia and HandsumCa$hMoneyYo:

      re:  "love how we haven't commented on the white-male celebrity Jon Stewart actually criticing arhitecture by an arab female holding the most esteemed prize of our profession. Totally perpetuates the idea that architects are racist and sexist. I only wish he would have gone to Columbia so we could continue the architecturally relevant ivy league hatin'!"

      OK, you want to get serious?

      The members of GSD AASU really shoudn't be blamed for not understanding.  They're too young, not in the workforce yet, haven't physically experienced the racism and discrimination they will face once they apply to the top firms for internship admission.

      Here is a portion of a letter I wrote to an Asian architect I worked with at a Top 10 firm in Manhattan.  He's a 1980's alumnus of the Harvard Graduate School of Design. [Don't shoot the messenger, which is my only role here, well-taken with several grains of salt.]

      Architecture:  The Great American Deception  (February 15, 2013)

      "Architecture has always been a “rich white boy” coded “gentleman’s profession”, and will remain so well beyond our lifespans.  And there isn’t anything we can do about it, because the racism is too institutionalized - - - it comes with the profession - - - they just don’t tell you that in college so you can make the necessary career change early on.

      Architecture as a profession, in a way, is one of the greatest American deceptions of all time, because there is no equal employment and advancement opportunity for Black American men, specifically, out of all the minorities who attempt to make a career out of it, no real chance at success in the traditional manner, no private clients to support you, so what exactly is the point? 

      As glaring proof, here below is the entire list of the AIA’s Gold Medal Award Recipients.  Asians have won recognition at the highest level of the profession, and will no doubt continue to do so,  beginning with Kenzo Tange in 1966,  I.M. Pei in 1979, Tadao Ando in 1982 and Fumihiko Maki in 2011.   Why they, the “white boys” snubbed Arata Isozaki still puzzles me, as does the fact that there isn’t even one woman of any color on the list, although I hope “they” come to their senses during my lifetime and honor Zaha Hadid, out of fairness, given her huge accomplishments, although it isn’t likely because Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, DBE is an Iraqi-British architect, and her Iraqi background may not sit too well with the “high tea and crumpets” crowd that have ruled our profession since the Pyramids, Parthenon and Roman Colosseum.

      And since Blacks have no real presence in the profession, and are not recognized, supported, developed, mentored, promoted or publicized, and therefore cannot find wealthy patrons/ rich clients to support their practices, having been barred from partnership level since the beginning of time, it is obvious to me that we will never see the name of a Black architect carved into the granite wall of Gold Medal winners in the lobby of the AIA Headquarters in Washington, DC, no matter who is President of the United States.  The writing's on (or not on) the wall, as they say.

      During my review of the list below I noticed that our American “bourgeoisie” have no problem celebrating architectural works by Whites born in England, France, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Estonia, Spain, Argentina, Mexico, China, and Japan.  So Asians are acceptable (and are now the “preferred” minority) as are a few Mexicans and other Latinos (Cesar Pelli) - - - but again, not a Black to be found on the list from any country anywhere in the World, including the United States, although (partner's name withheld) does have a Black chauffeur to cart him around town like “Miss Daisy” in his black Mercedes S500 - - - (chaffeur's name withheld), one of the guys from the mail room.  (Yes, Blacks in the mail room are quite acceptable, but no promotions are allowed, of course.)

      Gold Medal Award Recipients:

      1907 Sir Aston Webb, Hon. FAIA [England]
      1909 Charles Follen McKim, FAIA
      1911 George Browne Post, FAIA
      1914 Jean Louis Pascal, Hon. FAIA [France]
      1922 Victor Laloux, Hon. FAIA [France]
      1923 Henry Bacon, FAIA
      1925 Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, Hon. FAIA [England]
      1925 *Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, FAIA
      1927 Howard Van Doren Shaw, FAIA
      1929 Milton Bennett Medary, FAIA
      1933 Ragnar Ostberg, Hon. FAIA [Sweden]
      1938 Paul Philippe Cret, FAIA [France, Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris]
      1944 Louis Henri Sullivan, FAIA
      1947 Eliel Saarinen, FAIA [Finland]
      1948 Charles Donagh Maginnis, FAIA [Londonderry, Ireland]
      1949 Frank Lloyd Wright
      1950 Sir Patrick Abercrombie, Hon. FAIA [England; son of Manchester stockbroker]
      1951 Bernard Ralph Maybeck
      1953 William Adams Delano, FAIA
      1955 William Marinus Dudok Hilversum, Hon. FAIA [Amsterdam, Netherlands]
      1956 Clarence S. Stein, FAIA
      1957 Ralph Walker, FAIA [Centennial Medal of Honor]
      1957 Louis Skidmore, FAIA
      1958 John Wellborn Root, FAIA
      1959 Walter Gropius, FAIA [Berlin, Germany, founder of the Bauhaus]
      1960 Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, FAIA [Germany; son of a master stonemason]
      1961 Le Corbusier [Charles Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, Hon. FAIA]
      1962* Eero Saarinen, FAIA [Finland, son of Eliel Saarinen]
      1963 Alvar Aalto, Hon. FAIA [Finland]
      1964 Pier Luigi Nervi, Hon. FAIA [Italy]
      1966 Kenzo Tange, Hon. FAIA [Osaka, Japan]
      1967 Wallace K. Harrison, FAIA
      1968 Marcel Breuer, FAIA [Hungary]
      1969 William Wilson Wurster, FAIA
      1970 Richard Buckminster Fuller, FAIA
      1971 Louis I. Kahn, FAIA [Estonia, taught by Paul Philippe Cret, Frenchman]
      1972 Pietro Belluschi, FAIA [Italy, Cornell]
      1977* Richard Joseph Neutra, FAIA [Vienna, Austria Hungary, from wealthy Jewish family]
      1978 Philip Cortelyou Johnson, FAIA
      1979 Ieoh Ming Pei, FAIA [China, son of prominent banker, B.Arch. M.I.T., M.Arch. Harvard]
      1981 Joseph Luis Sert, FAIA [Barcelona, Spain]
      1982 Romaldo Giurgola, FAIA [Rome, Italy, Masters from Columbia]
      1983 Nathaniel A. Owings, FAIA
      1985* William Wayne Caudill, FAIA
      1986 Arthur Erickson, Hon. FAIA
      1989 Joseph Esherick, FAIA
      1990 E. Fay Jones, FAIA
      1991 Charles W. Moore, FAIA
      1992 Benjamin Thompson, FAIA
      1993* Thomas Jefferson
      1993 Kevin Roche, FAIA
      1994 Sir Norman Foster, Hon. FAIA [England, Masters from Yale]
      1995 César Pelli, FAIA [Argentina, Dean of the School of Architecture at Yale]
      1997 Richard Meier, FAIA
      1999 Frank Gehry, FAIA
      2000 Ricardo Legorreta, Hon. FAIA [Mexico, protégé of Mexican modernist Luis Barragan]
      2001 Michael Graves, FAIA
      2002 Tadao Ando, Hon. FAIA [Osaka, Japan]
      2004* Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee, FAIA
      2005 Santiago Calatrava, FAIA [Spain]
      2006 Antoine Predock, FAIA
      2007* Edward Larrabee Barnes, FAIA
      2008 Renzo Piano, Hon. FAIA [Italy]
      2009 Glenn Marcus Murcutt, Hon. FAIA
      2010 Peter Q. Bohlin, FAIA
      2011 Fumihiko Maki, Hon. FAIA [Tokyo, Japan]
      2012 Steven Holl, FAIA
      2013 Thom Mayne, FAIA
      * Honored Posthumously
      * Even Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, who died 187 years ago in 1826 at the age of 83, was awarded a Gold Medal posthumously 167 years after his death in 1993 by the rulers of our profession.  Go figure.  New World Order.  The Illuminati.  Bilderberg Group.  Bohemian Grove.  Skull & Bones.  Jefferson’s been dead for 187 years and still gets a Medal, for Christ’s sake, but we’ve got to really think hard about that Hadid woman.  She's Iraqi and might have ties to Osama Bin Laden.

      I may take a government job again if I can ever find one.  Great money, benefits, job security, less pressure and the relaxed position of being an “Owner” who hires design professionals and general contractors to spend government money on well-meaning projects.  Did it in Washington, DC for 7 years;  wouldn’t mind doing it again.  But the big NYC firms?  I’m with [co-worker's name withheld] for now - - - had enough, for a lifetime.  Black men need not apply.  [minority women will be accepted - - - if they're pretty, or went to one of the Ivy League bastions.)

      Kindly respond with your thoughts, when you get a minute."


      Eric [and remember, I'm just the messenger.]

      Nov 21, 13 2:09 pm  · 
      Donatello D'Anconia

      Mr. Girven,

      Thanks for the party invite, err tell the party host thanks for the invite? I hope some wealthy, popular, AA celebrity doesn't start endorsing architecture and become a patron for AA architects, would totally kill the sweet party you planned! bros against change!



      Nov 21, 13 2:29 pm  · 

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About this Blog

This blog was most active from 2009-2013. Writing about my experiences and life at Harvard GSD started out as a way for me to process my experiences as an M.Arch.I student, and evolved into a record of the intellectual and cultural life of the Cambridge architecture (and to a lesser extent, design/technology) community, through live-blogs. These days, I work as a data storyteller (and blogger at in San Francisco, and still post here once in a while.

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