On the Ground
January 14, 2016
Contributors: ELAINA BERKOWITZ, JACQUELINE HALL, NICOLAS KEMPER, NATALINA LOPEZ, AMRA SARIC, EDWARD WANG
EQUALITY IN DESIGN congratulates YSOA on a stellar improvement in the representation of women on juries from midterms to finals this past semester. Overall, women made up 45% of the invited critics at finals, up from 26% at midterms. Although advanced studios have room for improvement — 37% from 19% — EiD is extremely excited to share that the second year critics (Abruzzo, Finio, de Bretteville, Sanders, and Kelly) rule the school by bringing 60% women critics to final reviews. Keep up the good work!
12/17/15: “We remember best not the buildings of the heroic figures of architecture but rather their heroic figures of speech,” argued ANTHONY VIDLER at the wrap up for PETER EISENMAN’s studio on diptychs, a conversation full of the latter, such as PRESTON SCOTT COHEN’s assertion that the diptych is “the collapsing of the bay,” before going on to note “You’ve never done a facade before.” EISENMAN replied “If I am in a late style, I’m trying to move from plan to elevation. I don’t have a vertical surface. I cannot do a facade.”
He also cannot do a dog kennel: “Most studios do dog kennels and spend all their time researching dogs: dogs in, dogs out, big dogs, sick dogs — I can’t teach dog kennels. I give problematics.” “I love the dog kennel,” said VIDLER, “It’s the 4th typology.” Finally, BRETT STEELE made a point we would all do well to remember: “Learning to dislike things is the hardest thing to do… The more you can get it on the table, the dislike, the better more generative power you can have,” noting that whereas Mies was pretty easy to loathe, today Bjarke is too damn likable. Differences, STEELE concluded, are a construction, not a given.
12/18/15: We’ve all heard it before but we’ll gladly hear it again — “Failures are far better than successes,” reflects MARION WEISS during the closing remarks of ELIA ZENGHELIS’ final studio review. Good words to keep in mind for a new year.
1/12/16: Just after Thanksgiving ISAAC SOUTHARD (M.Arch II 2016) received an inquiry from a friend asking if he would be willing to spend two weeks over winter break working on a competition at Tod and Billie Tsien Architects. Upon arrival at their office in late December, he immediately received the project details (alas, the client requested privacy so he is unable to share them with you), their goals, and the design. They explained what was expected of him: an eighth-scale basswood model built entirely by hand. The process was what he enjoyed most: building pieces of the model, reviewing them with Tod and Billie, rebuilding, all the while learning more about the thing they were making as it was being made. The act of making was just as important as the idea and the end itself.
NOTES FROM THE UNDERGRADS
01/05/16: NATALINA LOPEZ (B.A. ‘16) offers travel advice: visit Jersey (the one in Europe) for both its war relic bunkers and its knowledgeable, friendly locals. The largest Channel Island has plenty of the former strewn across its 9 by 5 miles that have survived six decades of coastal abuse. The island also features severe winter storms with winds up to 30 mph — a summer visit is better. Ms. Lopez thanks the Harvey Geiger Winter Travel Fellowship for the experience that has supported her research of the repurposed bunkers and their cultural role on the Channel Islands, and returns to California chilled but inspired.
01/11/16: AMRA SARIC (B.A. ‘17) traveled to Spain with the Harvey Geiger Winter Travel Fellowship on a quest to uncover the secrets of spolium, the repurposing of architectural fragments for new construction. Looking at Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia as ideological spolium, and the Mosque of Cordoba as material spolium, she expanded upon adopting adapted concepts for design, and adapting adopted programs over time. Her project investigated the century-long construction of Sagrada Familia, and the multifarious site of the Mosque of Cordoba, from its underground remnants of a Roman and Visigothic temple to the Gothic cathedral planted in the Mosque’s center. Did they call it ‘adaptive reuse’ in the 7th century as well?
GROUNDING THE CRITICS
Spring 2016 begins with resolutions, ultimatums, and directives. We compare this spring’s lineup to some of the critics’ past teaching endeavors. ZAHA HADID and PATRICK SCHUMACHER move to the city because “remaining provincial is not an option.” It looks like students will be co-tending an urban terrarium of dense correlations and associations, eventually producing “rich, navigable diversity.” HADID has experience in the field; her Fall 2014 studio at the Institute of Architecture, Vienna, explored extensions to the London design museum using transformative biological organizations.
KERSTEN GEERS and CAITLIN TAYLOR are traveling in the opposite direction to look for a new commons in the countryside. The 19th iteration of “Architecture without Content” will lay siege to our antiquated notions of the American village — according to them “the stakes are high, but the weapons of choice are relatively simple. It is purely a matter of precision.” The previous 17 campaigns have battled with big boxes, difficult doubles, and Palladio at our kindred acronyms: EPFL, GSD, GSAPP. We can’t find 18.
“Property demands commitment,” wrote HANS KOLLHOFF and KYLE DUGDALE who contend that the European skyscraper is not simply an extrusion of the site propelled by property values, but rather a vertical extension of the earth. They will test the limits of Berlin’s Alexanderplatz through the design of twelve towered urban blocks. KOLLHOFF previously led studios at ETH Zurich that imagined hotels for a square in Trieste and Campo dei Fiori and is currently working on the revival of Schinkel’s Bauakademie in Berlin.
WOLF PRIX has intrigued us with a brief of many parts: an information building for a future society of overlapping innovations, somehow thematically involved with water, becoming a vessel that serves as a structure for knowledge. We want to find out more after Thursday’s lecture, “The Himmelb(l)au Project” to be delivered by PRIX, hopefully with our own liquid-filled vessels in hand.
GREGG LYNN and NATHAN HUME return with the instant gratification of a robotic fulfillment center that encompasses education, research, and recreation. LYNN spent last summer with students at the IoA looking at “Machine Vision” — how the way robots see can be turned into an urban and formal language. He is also currently editing Log 36: ROBOLOG.
We will be glad to see PIER VITTORIO AURELI in Rudolph Hall again. With EMILY ABRUZZO, he will radically conceptualize the house as an apparatus that links gender, ownership, form, construction, and subjectivity against the backdrop of 100,000 impending new houses in San Francisco. Concurrently, AURELI is teaching a year-long undergraduate diploma studio at the AA entitled “The Nomos of the Earth”, borrowing from German jurist Carl Schmitt to rethink the idea of territory as a site for architectural intervention.
FRANK GEHRY and TRATTIE DAVIES take the stage once again — they will be challenging students with an orchestral concert hall in Munich. Working with NIKOLAUS PONT, the managing director of the Bavarian Radio Symphony, and ARA GUZELIMIAN, the dean of the Julliard School, they will consider the relationship between design, creative expression, and experience. Last year, we saw GEHRY’s name in the spotlight many times with a major exhibition of his work opening at LACMA and the publication of a biography by Paul Goldberger (read our review on the back page!) — we didn’t mind at all, the more the “gehrier.”
Finally, SAM JACOB and SEAN GRIFFITHS, formerly of Fashion Architecture Taste, are back at Yale with a vexing new riddle — how to trim the fat: use the minimum number of lines to create the maximum number of things? They want a new place of exchange, made through the examination of opposites, for either London or New Haven. It doesn’t quite make sense yet but that might just be us. Here are the final words from their brief which will definitely be understood by all:
Prepare to be challenged and confused.
Prepare to work very hard.
Prepare to be sometimes happy and sometimes sad.
You will learn a lot and it will be fun.