Thursday, October 30, 2008

These are a series of questions...

Nothing more (perhaps?) and certainly nothing less:

What is the difference between poetry and prose? How thick is the boundary between what we exert to know and what we dare to risk? Can we quantify the amount of chance or humility mustered in either situation? Is there a difference between feeling and thinking? Is our brain or our heart the most resilient? The most agile? The most vulnerable?

When do we draw the line between what is imagined and what is real? When does reality end, imagination begin? Do I know what you imagine? Can you see it? Can you hear it? Can you touch it? Can I? Do you ever really feel what I dream? Is it just a story? When you tell me your tales, do you hope I inhabit them? Do I act them out as script or live them in all of their peculiar, unexpected circumstances?

Is abstraction a shield? An impenetrable, esoteric cloud that, in its radiant, hovering mist, shelters and ensures that any other is never really, truly able to understand? Do we protect ourselves, in a very conscious and active practice, by giving up what we, and only we, can understand? In the active donation of what we hold to be most sacred, intimate, secret are we subconsciously offering only the fringes of a rope (to never be grasped?) that might allow another (if deemed worthy) the ability to climb inside the Rapunzel’s tower of our soul? What warrants or permits this entry? How much do we value those that are able to scale these heights? Do we want anyone to join us? Are we obligated to host a gathering?

Are there things that are always legible to everyone? Do we endeavour to keep things illegible in order to protect a certain mystique? Does this mystique legitimize what we do? Does every object, word, maintain a degree of meaning inaccessible to anyone but the one who has created it? Does meaning exist anywhere in the absence of context? How do we nurture, cultivate, share meaning?

Is what we claim as our expertise the product of a beautiful, fragile, infinitely momentous train of creativity? Or do we tell ourselves stories (maybe fiction) about how much (through tested inquiry) we know better about the everyday? Are our senses heightened, refined more than the next person? Or have those of others merely dulled? Is it in awe, in touch, in sight, in feeling, in empathy, in advocacy, the way in which we hope to connect with others? Are we priests or politicians? Are we in the practice or serving or providing a service? To whom?

When I write, am I acting? Am I giving? Is the word any more or less material than the stone? Is time or mass the measure through which I am able to distinguish between what I produce and what I ingest? Where do I place myself in the cycle of give and take? Where do we place ourselves?

Comment as you see fit.

Cast Shadows

"Capitalism has transformed the face of the earth at an accelerating pace these past 200 years. It cannot possibly continue on that trajectory for another 200 years. Someone, somewhere, has to think about what kind of social system should replace it." ~ David Harvey


There is a city where religion is capital. This city has been in many stages of construction and has never seen completion. Its first step was to show the world what it could be. Through architectural imagery, the city expressed all the amenities that capital could afford. As a result, the city’s water parts floated; fire as lanterns lit the night sky; air took the path of contrived, pressured, capture and release; and deep excavation solidified a new earth scape, a new vertical horizon.

It began with the inhabitation of an aerial rendering and the city. The speed of conception and inscription manifested a lack and a partial state of completion in both realms. The more the city built, the more occupants moved into its lofted dwellings, its penthouses. The more these penthouses sold, the more projects had to be built anew. No occupant wanted to live under anyone else. Therefore, the priority was to build from the top down. Constructing the penthouses to reflect the rendering first, meant that it could be sold as soon as it was rendered. Selling the top penthouse meant construction of the entire project was financed. This principle allowed many buildings to be sold before they where even close to completion.

Initially, the aerial rendering showed what the entire city, once complete, would be. Eventually it could no longer keep up with the pace of development, the rendering began to focus on portions and soon, only on individual parts. Ultimately, it led to renderings of buildings as 'siteless' or 'contextless' due to the unsure nature of where they were going to be built. Even when a site was chosen, renderings could not accurately portray the environment around the proposed site.

No occupant in the city would care to tell you about the city's streets; whether they where black or green or had any trees or shrubs. They only perceived the streets from their penthouses and referred to what the aerial rendering showed. They trusted that if represented in the rendering, it must surely exist under their feet.

Occupants found difficulty crossing the city's streets, in part, because lanes were constantly added as the traffic remained. The renderings showed that additional lanes in the streets would supply the buildings with faster services as well as allow quicker developmental progress. Nevertheless, most daily circulation for the occupants was vertical. Spent in elevators equipped with telecommunicate media and hyper-speed, decreasing time leading up to the top. The occupants that could not afford being disconnected from their businesses had little need for noticing anything immediately around them.

In the world around the city, there would be an abundance of ads promoting belief in the city. One would behold the pinnacle of the tallest rendered building and below it would read, "Now Your Visa Card Can Help You Cast Bigger Shadows."

Someday a new city will be discovered below, and above, there will lay the ruins of a city never built.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

a little lebbeus

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A great shadow

Today while I was walking to work I stumbled across an add at the far side of a bus stop enclosure. It had a picture of the pinnacle of the Disney Center and had a quote "Now your credit card can help cast big shadows." What a twisted irony this Visa add takes as our country is falling under the dark shadow of living beyond our means. Gehry represented exactly this spirit of a jubilant display of fancy and a perverted attraction (either perverted attraction or decided indifference) to wastefulness. I hear people all the time trying to affirm their architectural identity by lauding or condemning Gehry. The question is not whether you like Gehry but do you appreciate the fact that he gave expression to his time. A time which I assure you is behind us. That question yields to our question: what is the expression of today? We cannot continue to design tomorrows buildings from the values of yesterday.
I believe we are being called to re-infuse the romance back into the judicious, the frugal, the decidedly unwasteful. It is being asked of us to re investigate the notion of need and to relearn how much we can do without!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

portrait of a brain on degree project

The social, political and financial networks in which architecture is embedded have grown increasingly complex in every imaginable context, and will most likely continue to do so. Within these layered, and therefore progressively less transparent, networks, the building becomes an unstable pawn, a social tool, a status symbol, a mover of capital and risk. It bumps up against and infiltrates a myriad of exteriors. Rarely is a work of architecture purely introspective and self-contained; why then should we allow, as is often the case, a single work to feign self-absorption?

Instead of merely attempting to restore its solidity and wholeness, we can benefit from the condition of architecture as a set of plural and decentralized processes by allowing them to grow and make use of their full potential. How can an architectural process make nebulousness positive by taking on a more active role in the creation and manipulation of the systems that surround it, thereby inverting their power structures? How can it take greater control over the form of its own condition? The provision of housing infrastructure could create job skills, a construction cooperative, savings groups, a new economy. An analytical embrace of surplus and unused potential energy can lead to the reevaluation of intellectual waste within the processes we use to sharpen the navigation tools we carry: poetic, literary, technical and ethical.

This understanding of the physically constructed as only one component of the discipline implies a reconceptualization of the porous walls that signify where our work as architects and providers of dwelling begins and ends. There is a new design process to be found, and a new design, not the ether but of the ether.

and a little extra...

Scaffolding of process has the potential to design its own demise within the artificial confines of a single project, but take on a generative life of its own within the larger and intangible web of layered networks in which architecture is embedded and by which it travels. How do we responsibly make it grow? What do our poetic tools tell us to uncover from the surplus? What can we make?

Sunday, October 19, 2008


What are we ultimately battling through architecture? That same grim ghost that we battle in every relationship, in every academic feud, in every story, in our quietest moments: isolation. What myriad forms and beauties what precious creations our Sisyphean battle against loneliness has birthed. That mercurial enemy that we find in that same room we lock ourselves into seeking refuge. We find the reality of a life led alone nauseating, vapid: the unwitnessed is no better than the untrue. What good is my triumph without the accolades of those who care? And so we, one, run to be two and begin fighting loneliness now with justification because the other has not met, not seen, not appreciated, not heard, not cared, not freed us from what we are and what we will always be, alone.
Look at us. 3, now four (hello beni-ben-ben, we all look forward to hearing from you) enchanted by the possibility of a blog where we might glean a glimpse of being met, being heard, being seen and witnessing others. We shall all be disappointed. Sisyphus has by now realized his fate is no mystery. Have you ever thrusted your fallice in the warm embrace of your lovers punani and been struck by the thought "this is good...this is great....why don't I just stay." But the moment you stop moving and establish yourself as met loneliness creeps from behind the stomach and has soon saturated the body. That grim ghost that keeps the pendulum of life in perpetual motion swinging from boredom to want.
So, what is it that I want from architecture? It is a plethora of those moments of reflection where I can bear witness to the friction of well lubricated movement. Where I can see all of those who are goaded by the grim gadfly of going it alone. I can sit and watch the birds sing their songs of longing. Here the crickets fight the silent abyss of the night sky by the friction of wing on wing. See the shopkeeper sweep the stoop outside his store, the beggar bear his final plea, the lovers taste the fleeting freedom. But most of all I want a space that will be hospitable to me when I cease struggling to find friction and welcome silence into my gut.
I aspire to an architecture that might make me more honest in understanding that the only reason I crave expansion is because I am compressed. The only way I recognize life is through movement and the only way I will ultimately be satisfied is if I turn around to meet my fate.


the weight of a story

hold a transcription, a proposal, translation.

a story, a sentence, a secret, a space.

the weight is quite different.

the lightness has changed.

in relative gravity, is burden the same?

a house is a book, a cavernous story.

a house is a book, a vessel, a journey.

a house is a book, a weight and a memory.

a house is a book i cannot carry with me.

The occupants are on the lowest level of the order; they receive what has been given, yet bear all the weight of every construct above. Argued as built upon love by blind architects in a commercial era, seems only to add the obese weight of a few to many. This empty second world, dominated by the consequential cold luxury of its architecture, expresses the void of its occupants. The second world sees capital forever expanding, globalizing and creating an environment of trophies for the few.

This world is in search of a crisis to base its revolution and reform. Cracks have appeared in the foundation of its base. Fractures will follow. A transformation in society and in politics and in economy through architecture is its future.

The interest lies in the design of a podium for a new society that could inform itself through its environment. Rather then each authority building a podium around its self or its ideology, the podium is ever changing due to its many builders. Government is thought of as a database in the wake of intercommunication of its occupants. Initially the fractures open opportunities for insurgent architecture. Creating a setting for the collapse of its walls. The will to change the condition of existence is its start. The result is brutal architectural honesty.

half-truths and the proposition of a proposal

on the eve, or perhaps the cusp (crux, crisis?), of the day before the day before, we attempt to match words, with an object (or drawing or accumulation of things), with thoughts spanning from the seconds ahead of us to the expanse of the memory of our lives and the history beyond our existence, there might be a pause. In the realm of the idea, the space of a concept, the proposal questions a world beyond architecture. Essences and honesty sought in this initial line of questioning may or may not lead to anything more than more questions. Perhaps this is a podium, a book, a swahili rap song or scaffolding, waiting for a manifesto. Perhaps this is a long conversation to l.a. or a short blog entry awaiting its first response.