Re: [design] Let's Talk Design/Art/.Architecture re: the archive question

[email protected] wrote:

Like after the 1989 Earthquake I suggested Santa Cruz, California
needed a Fuller Dome and a Pyramid or perhaps a Tetrahedron. What we
got was the standard sort of faux 1890s look with a few kind of
interesting modernist touches mainly on things like Parking Garages.
If I get real energetic I could take some pictures and post them.

Steve, it would be great if you took photographs
and shared your ideas and thinking with others on
list, so too for Alexandra. The point you make about
high-rise buildings has a parallel to the current list
issues and it is not separated from divisions in how
architecture is considered in the .edus and .orgs.

For instance, you mention the california earthquake
and what has happened in SF is a lot of retrofitting
of buildings with bracing to withstand the structural
forces. A lot of giant 'X's would be welded into the
existing framework of buildings. So, there is a giant
catastrophic event like an earthquake and people then
reconfigure to make changes to designs to make sure it
does not happen again, and there's a lot of knowledge
in this realm. It is very similar with the 9/11 event
in architecture, except the outcome has been totally
opposite, and there is a split I would contend between
views that are beyond creative difference and into the
realm of ethics and morality of the legal definition of
being an architect and similar to doctors, do no harm
clause which is not the reality of today's buildings,
if taken ecologically, economically, socially, and
safety-wise. Creative differences put it into an easy
artistic context which escapes this dimension, which
is a trade-off between the imaginary and actuality.

For instance, some giant skyscrapers collapsed on 9/11
which were imagined to stand until the materials wore
out. They failed. In the example cited above with an
earthquake, there were changes in the thinking of the
design and construction of buildings and I think there
are special tests for such states and requirements to
get a license. There has been adaptation and change.
With the WTC this is not the case, and another taller
building is going up where the last one fell, without
substantial review in the core issues (the earthquake
itself and ideas of building) - and 'the design' is,
instead of an open consideration, locked into a dogma
about what building in a city means, in the .US 2004.
That means that a skyscraper is the default form when
it is just one type of many that could be possible for
such a site and actively transform the ideas and also
the related (economic/social/political/cultural) issues
that connect with the decisions of how to address, or
to ignore the building context. It is as if the context
never changed with 9/11, and the earthquakes remain...

Now, if that could be considered a situation, consider
that the different views may be reflected in a forum of
people who have different perspectives on what it means
to the profession and to its response to such a tragedy.
Especially if it is a decision, a choice to make, and
reasoning is necessary to address conflicting vantages.
It is still architecture, just of a different stripe.
That is why to make one definition of what it is is in
the eye of the beholder and reasoner. If such views are
online and clashing, it may seem like a flame war or a
conflict of competing personalities. I doubt you will
find a place like this forum in which the ideas shared
are shared in another context as openly about the same
issues: schools balked critics balked magazines balked
newspapers balked organizations balked and architects
balked. That is, there is nearly zero change in basic
ideology of the context for building (and building big)
with relation to (philosophical or historical) forces
that drive this predetermined path. It is important to
the field to be discussing it in the open, considering
the issues and options. So, there is a context in which
such serious issues are relevant and real to the basic
questioning of architecture. It is not just the image
or the status or celebrity but the content and the soul
of the field, if it serves people today or some other
nostalgic view, which is a historical clash when there
is a shift in priorities and new imaginations emerge.

Very similar to the negative techniques used in current
academic and other environments, the list issues reflect
the same confining of ideas to a narrow view which has
a direct impact in being able to ask and follow-up on
ideas related to the 9/11 context, in which a billion
dollar building built-as-usual is a political statement
in relation to things like the energy needed to make it
work, and the war in Iraq. where is the line drawn in an
assessment of the cost of a building or its design, as
with other fields. If it includes wars currently waged,
if it involves constitutional issues which prevent the
open discussion of these ideas, submitting them to other
lesser views such as architectural aesthetics, that is,
which forces a predisposed view and value upon choices
so that the choice does not exist, nor the reality but
the image of architecture, the icon, the presentation
and not the building or conceptualization takes all of
the issues and determines value according to a formal,
formalistic, and formulaic response to any questions--
if this questioning is not free, architecture ideas,
dreams, imaginations, imagine that schools calling it
education are more like ideological training centers
than an open-ended questioning of architecture, less
architectural R&D which is equated with architectural
aesthetics as with Cambridge's recent news stories.

You will fail if you bring this up within the context
of the field, as there is no other architecture than
that which extends from the modernist ideology in one
form or another, unless you can find a way to make it
make money or have a niche to dream and do it yourself.
Design-L is part of this niche, and there are a lot of
'regular' and 'normal' places to get at world's tallest
buildings and accolades for how things are today. But
if you're interested in the field this is a place that
has another point of view that is hard to come by, and
while a lot of pretense surrounds current architecture
and architects, much of it is hollow when reviewed by
others outside of its confined view of what culture is.
It supports a certain economic worldview, certain social
assumptions, and certain political relationships which
relate to the imagery that is judged in and of itself,
as if it exists outside of any context but its own.
Much praise, in Praise of Architecture, is given to
what amounts to ideologically violent and destructive
policies and views which are played out in the design
of buildings and cities and what is valued. Reference
Israel and Palestine, as cities and with buildings,
the role of the work A Civilian Occupation, this is
one drop in the bucket of what is to be dealt with
today, and even that is censored in the institutions.

It's no great accomplishment to build the wrong ideas.
It is still a failure, as the WTC is aiming to become.
It is driven by ideologies which reflect a split in
this list, too, potentially. That the architecture is
above it all, a genius, and a creative prophet who will
magically transform the field by sheer will and desire
to transcend the material world by conjuring up unique,
special, esoteric forms (to the naive) which somehow
uncannily are totally material when it suits, and also
completely immaterial in their metaphysical essence to
give spiritual truth to the power of the material realm.
As a scientist I wonder if you get the irony about this.
Else compare it to pharmco designer drugs, yet buildings.

Some defend this yet there is little 'truth' to it that
can stand on its own. The way it is defended is through
authority and power structures, whether an internet list
or academic department. It is a structural issue in the
field itself, which if or rather when it is addressed,
will result in a transformation of the field and values.
That is, while myriad WTC and 9/11 issues are not being
dealt with today with any substantial inquiry and effort,
on the scales required, they will be once things change.
It is not a powergrab by a small group, but by everyone
who loses with the current approach, tons of talent is
wasted through brute-force architecture which is rather
inelegant when compared to the unengaged issues today.

Design-L is like a building under construction, or a
concept of a different kind of architecture and a way
of relating ideas not bound up in the strictures and
structures which otherwise prevail all over the place.
If you prefer those views, they are readily available,
as are designer drugs. Though you also sign-away part
of the autonomy of decision-making, to reinforce the
system which is failing the ideas of architecture, in
which architecture is subservient to the cult of the
architect, which has a lot of parallels elsewhere.
And to question the architects glorification is to
question divinity itself, pure unadulterated truth.
Architecture is an act of faith, not knowledge, today.j
Belief in the supreme architecture is sermonized by
those building the WTC, praising their own architect
as world's greatest, when it has no relation to the
issues in the field beyond that of image-architects.

This is not to deny the partial worth of a lot of
other things, but the WTC and 9/11 are a different
order of magnitude and all that is involved in it
is irrelevant in the prevailing model. There are no
lessons-learned in the conceptual sense that goes
beyond one materiality (say the beams) and into the
energy-use of buildings, the use of skyscrapers as
a building type of clogged-up cities choked of light
and air (also energy, health, pollution, etc. issues)
when something historical (outside modern ideologies)
like a square would be arguably more effective and
open up new ideas of the city. None of it needs to
occur if one believes in the benign goodness and
omnipotence of celebrity architects and schools
which support this view, and do not allow other
views or values to compete with this illusionism.

There are endless streams of the architectural view
described. And it is not all bad at all. Except it
is in a position of power in which it is not a fair
judge of 'architecture' issues, instead it is one
view of architecture which has become solidified,
has transformed from questions to only answering
of pre-existing views, where it exists more as a
machine which is automated and develops in such a
way that it is predictable, even with disasters.
It is unlikely most even on this list would agree
it is this simple or that this is accurate enough,
though they are free to challenge the view here,
to argue other perspectives and to debate it or
converse or exchange ideas. It doesn't happen in
schools as easily. Facts can be disregarded and
science has largely not permeated architecture
in the realm of thinking (beyond soft science).
Anything goes. Except a shared reality and the
historical responsibility to engage the issues
which are unique to the built environment. This
seems to be a lost dream of the field, that it
is about more than architects and materials and
that ideas and content is of value (Rem Koolhaas,
and countless other architects before and after).

As for whatever architecture you are thinking
about, please share it. That's why it is worth
the effort to have a free forum where traditional
views do not limit the ideas to one perspective,
where multiple truths can co-exist and challenge
thinking, not seek just to conform to a worldview
that is currently in vogue to those who like the
advertising and want to buy-into simple fiction.
architecture shouldn't be limited by architects,
and vice versa. except that is what is happening.
and it is shaped in minds and communications and
sharing of ideas and imagining how things might
be transformed through research, design, building.
a symbolic coffee pot, 1776' skyscraper, nor watch
are going to change the built environment in any-
way correlated to earthquakes and earthquake design.
there's no problem: just take the Architecture pill.

what do you think should be done about the design
of cities in lieu of 9/11 and the collapse of the
WTC -- what would you do if you had to make these
types of decisions to change a city- what might be
an improvement to how cities work related to other
issues (shopping, traffic congestion, zoning) to
change the nature of cities through built form,
a high-rise or low-rise, what might be an option
to prevent or adapt to new circumstances? If it is
a tall-building what new features may allow a new
adaptation, such as escape chutes. What is a city
going to be like in 200 years when the structures
life-spans start to deteriorate? How will they be
brought down- are they titanics in waiting? what
intrigues you the most about high-rises, what is
of greatest concern, how would you change them
to make them more habitable. These things have
been discussed on list before, prior to and after
9/11, and it also relates to the later conflicts.
...Architects can do no harm, as the saying goes.


brian thomas carroll: research-design-development
architecture, education, electromagnetism

Re: [design] Let's Talk Design/Art/.Architecture re: the archive question, steve . kudlak
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