AAI Scribblings

Postby garethace » Mon Sep 22, 2003 12:48 pm

No I am not, but I mean, archiseek wasn't even in the history of this computer! I can still post as Aoife c, even though I logged out of her account to make the previous post as garethace. You tell me Paul?


Edit: Okay that worked as garethace, but Aoife C was still up on the logged in user part.

This is a college machine yeah, so maybe she is here! But this is more of an IT establishment.
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Postby what? » Mon Sep 22, 2003 1:03 pm

no james, of course i wouldnt be suggesting that.....
what i would suggest though is that you read (or remember) what was written in earlier parts of this discussion before you reply in such a typically immature manner, in a veign attempt to flesh out your foundless arguments.

we have already said that theory is merely an appendage to building and tangible design.

we have already said that because of the nature of our profession this is the only way some of our more youthful and intelligent minds on architecture can find an outlet for their ideas.

we have already said that building material and the like are not everyones cup of tea and if you dont find it worthwhile simply dont read it.

it is not publications like building material that are being exclusive it is people like you. people who try to discredit the name of a magazine siply because they dont understand it. do you see a big sign on the cover of building material saying dont read the daily sport (or whatever you read) because it is too low brow?

in reference to garethace and aoife c's posts(very similar!) i would agree that there is a definite danger in experiencing solely through reading. but the point is again inclusivity. designing, with thinking, with reading, with theory, with building(when possible), with learning.
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Postby garethace » Mon Sep 22, 2003 1:13 pm

Well, the problem with me, was building a building, of any sort, not to mention working on a project the size of a Grove Island, seem the equivalent of going to Mars for me. I me, I was the resident 'IT geek' or CAD software trainer for some of that project. I was pretty much as disgusted as some of the people who work for NASA, with the general daily misuse of technology and so forth. But at the end of the day, when you land a man on the moon, or build a building, for a brief moment you are reminded of a higher purpose. Other than the daily struggle with IT, information, data coordination, personnel training and staffing etc, etc, etc. Which is 90% of what people in Architects offices do, most of the time.

James wants us all to remember than 10% of the Architects job, which is by far the best 10% of all - that of changing peoples' lives, of realising things on the ground. And how a scheme that existed as a computer file on a hard drive somewhere for 10 years perhaps, finally becomes a reality. And futhermore, as SW101 has pointed out, a reality that will be around long after you and I have kicked the bucket. We are just on borrowed time.

Brian O' Hanlon.

This kind of nice representation is all well and good and communicates to the client your intentions etc, etc, etc. But somehow, when you finally experience the real thing with lots of people living there. . . you feel less in the driving seat, less like God almighty and just a another part of the whole game that is life, Architecture, the environment, poetry or whatever.

I tend to criticise Architectural technicians a lot, since they generally hate Architects, especially young Architects. Architectural technicians can be very dominant over young Architects too, in practice, causing a lot of internal HR problems. But I mean, Architectural Technicians do usually consider the idea that what they might draw, will actually be built. That is a crucial idea, that Mies van der Rohe tried to instill in his students. Mies was an Uber-Technician himself - a brick layer by craft, and his buildings displayed craft aswell. Even his imatators in Baggot Street here in Dublin. But perhaps, Architects tend to forget that what they imagine, is going to be built. Perhaps that is what James wants to point out.
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Postby garethace » Mon Sep 22, 2003 3:15 pm

Then you have the whole thing with Property Economists and Architects. . . Discussed here where Architects love building stuff, but refuse to do preliminary investigation into the value ROI aspects of a proposed idea that a client may have to extend their premises or house or whatever[/url]

I mean, when put to it, would you tell a client to feck off, and stop bothering me with silly ways to spend all of your millions? (Celtic Tiger, Bertie Bowls, Large government jobs... Luas?)

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Postby what? » Mon Sep 22, 2003 3:51 pm

perhaps that was what james was trying to say, perhaps not.
but the point he did make in order to start this thread was basically that building material is rubish because he cannot understand it.

the point i am trying to make is that intellectual discussion in architecture is of great importance. if built works were the only reference for study by architecture students the world would be a very different (and less developed) place.

of course architecture is primarily about a real physicality, but the quality of that physicality is also of importance. architecture of quality can only come from understanding and a body of knowlege about our trade/art (however you look at it). if the architecture students of dublin were to only refer to the buildings of this city in thier quest to understand the built environment we would all be in a sorry state.

journals and books allow students and those trying to learn to expand their horizons past what is arround them. the fact that all books arent "architecture for dummies" is not a negative thing.
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Postby garethace » Mon Sep 22, 2003 4:18 pm

Doesn't that speak a lot though, for the cultivation of investigative curiosity? Of expanding of awareness of other cultures, cuisine, art...? Of planning your holidays around perhaps a day or two spent walking the streets of a foreign city, or building? I have spoken to many people from China, America and other larger countries than Ireland. They are used to thinking in terms of 2 hour plane flights, and so forth. Of greater distances. Here we are on this little Island of ours and imagine ourselves, a small population of 5 million, which is only a spike on a graph in an American/Chinesse political survey pole - to be oh! so important. I mean, you can see how many chat shows, radio shows etc, and newspapers on Sunday morning devote so much attention to exploring this bs called 'Irish-ness', or identity or lack of it.

How much of our own creative energy is expended upon serving this constant hunger, for another book or newspaper article about Ireland, Irish-ness or Dublin-ness? Keeping this thing alive, is quite a growth industry these days. Our image of ourselves is based largely around TV chat shows etc, etc. I mean, the recent competition from TV3, did expose a lot of the one-side-ed-ness of Irish media. That book called 'Fatherland' was written by a man working in the BBC, imagining what would have happened if Germany had won WWII. How many BBC people would put on the NAZI stuff, and become good little NAZIs? Are we just good little 'Irish-ness', a la RTE?

End of rant.

Have you seen this thread? Scroll right down to the end, where someone is talking about Shane O' Toole's article for the English times. I think it deals with a similar issue to what we are talking about.

Shane's article.

Paul Clerkin's thread here

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Postby James » Mon Sep 22, 2003 8:19 pm

Now Then Young What!!

You may need to do a little back reading on this thread yourself laddie, my original proposition was that the writing referred to made obscure and complicated something which could have been made shorter, easier to undertand and generally more comprehensible.

I added to that the suggestion that such writing really is of very little worth relative to thepractise of architecture and would stand pretty much over that. Most of what's to be found written not just in BM but in the majority of pseudish 'conceptual' writing on architecture is utterly forgetable and a bad waste of trees!.

Garet / Aoife is quite right - you want to be a good architect - then go and do it ,you can mess around with writing concept and theory al you want - it is'nt real until its built. Does that sound harsh??. Yes it is, such is life.

I don't buy the argument for a second that not having a project dropped into your lap either by the boss or some benevolent entity is an excuse for not doign 'real' architecture irrespective of what your design predilictions are.

As a graduate I found it hard to get decent jobs built so despite the 10 hour day did every competition that I could - that gave me a pretty good edge and a level of design ability and experience that no amount of architectural writing (and I exclude AR, RIBAJ, many decent well written books from this - they're essentially clear and 'factual' as opposed to the 'Tracings' / 'Building Materials' nonsense), could provide. I never won a compo -still hav'nt - but I've come pretty close, have developed my own somewhat crankey set of architectural values and am not afraid of work as a consequence.

I've a load of unbuilt work much of which I adored doing but its enabled me to develop as an architect in a fairly rational way.

Writing about architecture is probably great for the writer - we all love the sounds of our own voices (look at the length of my post), but its of little help or worth when it comes to designing your own work. You can't 'be' Rem, or Wim, or Mies, or even emulate (dodgey concept that ) them by just reading or writing about them - Its all about work.

I love to read - and actually one of my pet projects right now is designing my own library - Architectural books are great so long as they are well illustrated, and the theorising is kept down to a minimum. But the kind of nonsense I was referring to in 'BM is'nt just of little worth -its atrociously bad writing - complexity for the sake of complexity isa waste of your time and effort and mine.

Toodleoo
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Postby garethace » Tue Sep 23, 2003 12:40 pm

Once more, I cannot find much fault with what James has said - except that I would reinforce my theory that BM writing is trying to force Architecture into a region beyond that of merely building buildings, into a zone that is covered well by many different experts on planning, urban design and geography. As useful and interesting those areas are to the Architect, I hark back once more to the humble Architectural technician, who seems very strongly tied to the notion, that what (s)he draws is to be built.

I compare the early experiences of young Architects with grandiose visionary 5th year thesis projects in college etc, to the maiden voyages of those great nineteenth century ocean liners, crossing the Atlantic ocean. The captain of that ship, has to know all sorts of skills, everything from how the liner's engines work, to how the seas currents, winds and temperatures behave. Yet, the captains sometimes decide to 'turn the engines on full blast' on the maiden voyage, as oposed to gradually wearing them in. They may choose to ignore warnings of ice bergs, in order to cross the Atlantic in record time, and make headlines in the NYTs.

They may have forsaken a lot of the normal safety nets, in the conviction that their vessel is clearly an engineering wonder, and un-sinkable. But sometimes, these majestic pieces of ocean going machinery do end up in bits, as a result of the captain's arrogance and over-confidence on that maiden voyage. That is my biggest problem with the BM writers, as a lot of them do manage to preach that stuff to young students in our Architectural schools. In an effort to prove themselves as skillful captains of sophisticated mental machinery, tearing across the Atlantic ocean of Architectural understanding on the vessel's maiden voyage. A lot of those same captains have gone down with their vessels.

Gurgle. . . deep murky cold depth of the big seas. . .

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Postby what? » Tue Sep 23, 2003 1:11 pm

good day what? what?

that the writing referred to made obscure and complicated something which could have been made shorter, easier to undertand and generally more comprehensible.


you cannot use crayolas to draw on pinhead.
somethings cannot be explained with everday speech this is why we have language in the first place, because humans felt the need to comunicate in a more complex and exact manner than grunting at each other. some ideas take complex language and long explanations to make themseles clear (as paradoxical as that may sound).to generalise is to lose clarity , despite what you may think this is true.

no one ever said that BR and the like were easy to understand. this is because they are dealing with comlex issues at the periphery of architectural discourse. YES THE PERIPHERY, not the mainstream shock horror.

once again i re-iterate my my opinion that theory is of great importance to architecture. possibly not to every single architect directly, but like it or not even the most self proclaimed run of the mill architect would not design the way he does if it had not been for the theorists and discussions that had gone before him.

james you may be of the opinion that writing is of little or no importance to architects, i would strongly disagree. you may call me a poncey "pseudo-architect" i may be of the opinion that you are a philistine. i cannot see either of us budging from these stances and we must agree to disagree. but i will continue to stand up for architectural theory and thought when it is being bashed. simply for the reason that if anybody influenceable should be reading this thread they might be steered down the path of mediocrity and apathy. knowledge is power and ignorance is dangerous.

i would rather this country produce more O'Donnell Tuomeys than Anthony Reddys.
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Postby garethace » Tue Sep 23, 2003 2:01 pm

A lot of the AAI and BM stuff is just badly written. There is no excuse or getting around that fact. But Architects haven't got the time to compose really beautifully crafted sentences with equal clarity and weigh. They haven't time to carefully balance points raised in various paragraphs. Like Mies looking at a drawing for hours, to realise the clearest expression of what he wanted to build. A good writer will agonsise and work hard for years to finally wrench out of his/her very being what they wish to say. It is not very easy, and Ireland happens to be one of the few places in this country where writers and artists are actually tolerated. Ireland isn't a bad country for these people.

But to be true to that, one has to become a writer and accept that in ten years time, you will not have built everything you would have liked to. You will have instead, created a useful body of thoughts in the form of ones writing. That is a serious decision, which some young Architects should make perhaps. Instead of trying to pretend to be writers and Architects in equal measure.

That is why the BM writers should aspire to a high quality of writing. Then it is up to us, as the readers to try to interpret what has been written. I think that a lot of the BM writing is written by people who imagine writing is easy - and doesn't demand much time or effort. Similar to the way some people imagine that designing a piece of Architecture is easy - you just lash something out on your sheet of paper, and hey Presto! I believe James has tried to emphasise that as Architects our primary purpose is to perfect the craft of drawings and visualising - not that of writing. Unfortunately, you do see Architects trying in vain to master so many different arts - it is crazy!

I know a lot of web designers who are architects, a lot of photographers and artists who are architects. So I guess, one should expect to find a lot of writers who are architects too! Be very careful about this what? You are in danger of becoming like a crazy person, who encourages young Architects to be as good at the craft of writing as they are at the craft of building. So in ten or twenty years time, young Architects simply look back upon all the excellent essays they wrote, as oposed to all the really good Architecture they built, or nearly built.

It is lovely to talk about Architecture, because you never have to actually build anything to confirm your theories - they are end-products in themselves. And does to a large degree act as an immoveable obstacle, to actually achieveing one's primary goal - that of building good Architecture. I also believe that some branches of the profession of Architecture - the opposite end of the spectrum to the BM writers - are over zealous in their attempts to build bad or even indifferent Architecture. And perhaps that is because, the BM writer types are too busy reading/writing and not helping as much to go and design/build.

There is a similar debate going on in Ireland at the moment, about the amount of talent now ending up in professions like journalism and TV/Radio, instead of going into Politics. Listening to the interview of Dunphy and the Irish Times editor (gave up politics) last Friday evening. Architecture needs the talent, there obviously is, out there in the world of Building Material, to actually design and build.

i would rather this country produce more O'Donnell Tuomeys than Anthony Reddys.


Well this sounds interesting, because what you are actually dealing with here, is not theoretical or conceptual ways of forming an Architectural practice. But as much at looking at different viable economical role models for making a practice work. That could be quite an intriguing debate. Since it appears that both can work, both can actually build a lot of stuff, it is a question of which one should be allowed to work, and therefore to build with greatest frequency.


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Postby what? » Tue Sep 23, 2003 4:23 pm

i would fully agree that our role is primarily visual and not literary. i think that my stance is being misunderstood as one that venerates so called "paper architects" over those who build fine architecture. but some of the architects who worked primarily in theory, writing and unbuilt designs are now at the forefront of contemporary architecture. taste aside, people like zaha hadid, stephen holl, daniel libeskind or un studio are the Mies' and Corbs of our time. these architects had the courage and belief in their ideas not to dilute them just so they could be built quickly. now they are recognised as valid and insightful architects and people are banging down their doors.
again this not a discussion on whether libeskind is a good architect or not.

now im not suggesting that we should all hold back from building just because no client will build exactly as we think is right. i am just arguing that theory and new ideas (not just in built form) are the cornerstone (yes i see the irony) of development in any field. to be dismissive of new and possibly complex thoughts completely in favour of pure pragmatism is extremely short-sighted.

whether the architect is a particularily good writer or not is of secondary importance. what is primary is the dissemination of new ideas in order for our profession to develop and grow.

in reference to the o'donnell tuomey/anthony reddy comment, what i meant was i would rather see practices becoming interested in theoretical (which are often pragmatic) concerns than churning out mindlessly bland profitable buildings. to say this is not a theoretical way to look at an office is very wrong, and i firmly believe that these two offices differ because one is interested in more than obvious pedestrian aspects of architecture, and the other is not.(take a guess which is which)

i implore people (who feel that way inclined) to embrace theory and the hidden richness of our profession. it is rewarding and worthwhile both to architects and most importantly those who will experience the results.
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Postby garethace » Tue Sep 23, 2003 4:50 pm

but some of the architects who worked primarily in theory, writing and unbuilt designs are now at the forefront of contemporary architecture.
Quite the case I agree with you on that.

people like zaha hadid, stephen holl, daniel libeskind or un studio are the Mies' and Corbs of our time.
But who is the Louis Kahn or James Stirling of today? Where have all the cowboys gone?

again this not a discussion on whether libeskind is a good architect or not.
I am starting to warm a bit more now to his Ground Zero entry, although I haven’t seen any other entries, and the graphics I have on his entry are quiet sketchy at best. But I think I have some idea what he is doing – the bit I do like is the circular pathways linking the scheme to the rest of the city blocks, over a busy motorway etc, etc. I would love to see that one built. But again, how long does in take, in timescale terms to realize a Daniel Libeskind project? I mean, isn’t Architecture one of the few cases where guys can go on improving well past their thirties and forties?

I mean, on James point there about producing lots and lots of unbuilt designs – I am reminded about Frank Llyod Wright designing thousands of ‘children of the imagination’ as he called them. While only struggling with fights with many of his clients, the Morris’s I think, and a fellow called Jonson, to actually build the 120 or so masterly houses he did build, right up until he was 91 years of age in the 1950s! I mean, it is very interesting to notice how he started building in the 1890s for a totally different world and client, than he built for in the 1920s in LA, or later on for Usonia in the 1940s and so forth.

There was someone who was impossible to work with, because his own son and RM Schindler got next to no thanks. He was a brilliant draughtsman and interested in the actual building technology for his houses. One of his favourite materials ended up being concrete, or 'the gutter rat', 'an architectural outcast' as he called it! Yet despite having great talent working for him, and having all the goods necessary to be a good Architect himself – he still had to work exceptionally hard to leave us with that great repetitoire of buildings which find their way into hundreds of coffee table books even today.

But when I read this:

now im not suggesting that we should all hold back from building just because no client will build exactly as we think is right. i am just arguing that theory and new ideas (not just in built form) are the cornerstone (yes i see the irony) of development in any field. to be dismissive of new and possibly complex thoughts completely in favour of pure pragmatism is extremely short-sighted.


I am also reminded of Frank Llyod Wright and all of his essays about the elimination of walls, of the roof becoming a canopy, of space flowing, or wall being flexible, the beauty of the horizontal and space as an object. I mean Frank Llyod Wright did a most awful amount of bullshitting too, in his time, and struggled to come out of very lean periods, where jobs where hard to find. Yet he managed to come out now and again and build really revolutionary pieces of Architecture, which could be seen indeed, as physical manisfestations of his own theories, R&D or whatever you wish to call it. He was into climatic Architecture and ecological design before the terms were ever even invented.

So I suppose in those terms, one can look back over the decades of Architectural design and realised works by O'Donnell and Tuomey, Bolles Wilson, or any other well known significant Architects, and in contrast to Anthony Reidy perhaps - there is that extra strand of thought about Architecture, continuing on through their repetitoire. That is to say, Anthony Reidy 1970, isn't hugely dissimilar to Anthony Reidy 2003! :-) Poor ould Tony is taking quite a bashing here!

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Postby what? » Tue Sep 23, 2003 5:18 pm

ill take it from your words that you largely agree with my last post at least,garethace (am i right?).

but i must contest what i understand as a reference to
the elimination of walls, of the roof becoming a canopy, of space flowing, or wall being flexible, the beauty of the horizontal and space as an object
as being "bullshit". if you have read any of these essays and can understand them in their time and context then you will realise they were as revolutionary as any BM article or deconstructivism or phenomenology concept today. in these essays he tried to explain, to those who were interested, the very essence of his vision. these were his commandments on which he based his many fine buildings.

if it was not your intention to call these ideas bullshit then i apologise and think we are in agreement on the fundamentals of this argument.
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Postby garethace » Tue Sep 23, 2003 5:30 pm

if it was not your intention to call these ideas bullshit then i apologise and think we are in agreement on the fundamentals of this argument.


I was actually aware of the ambiguity of my meaning in using the term bullshit. By bs, I actually mean, writing, complex involved writing, that needs to be read in context of his efforts to free space in his Architecture. It wasn't bullshit at all to him, or to many others that read and were influenced by him and his buildings. I have never gotten my hands on a copy of that famous essay, but I have read several extracts in Helmer Stenros's book Time, Motion and Architecture.

I have traced these concepts all the ways from my earliest reading of Francis D.K. Ching's book, and the verbal interviews/lectures given by Steven Holl and Bernard Tschumi, back to the documentaries and books about Mies van der Rohe, or opinions about the Schroder house, and have only recently discovered through a couple of different useful sourses about Frank Llyod Wright, how he was indeed one of the very pioneers of this spatial perception.

Indeed Le Corbusier, spoke about finding the paintings in Cubism, 4-dimensional and redefining how we see space as an object. How Le Corbusier said himself, that he observed four dimensional phenomena in all three arts he expressed himself in - painting, sculpture and architecture.

This principal reason for my interest in his writing however, is because this definition of space as an object, as oposed to contained in a box, with holes punched in it - is crucial to my development of the use of computer 3D modelling as a tool to design architecture. I had to re-define my concept of actual space in reality, in order to use an artificial computer program to help me deal with space inside and space outside.

Of course my perception of space, was very weak, and it has been a difficult struggle to expand my awareness. I have used literature and real experiences of buildings by O'Donnell and Tuomey and others, to help expand my natural awareness.

My theories were just fine, on paper, until I attempted to use them in reality. I found that another important consideration in Architecture is that of the movement of the participant. That is the very last chapter in Ching's book, and I found it the hardest of all to grasp, as you need to get off your bum (moreso than the others) to explore that chapter properly. I felt Wright talks about this too, in how the houses were flexible. I.e. When kids moved out etc. Like one family was still discovering new spaces in the house for years afterwards. Having changed the house many times, and putting their deck chairs at different places on the terraces etc, etc.
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Postby garethace » Wed Sep 24, 2003 7:52 pm

Building opportunites for young people. By Shane O' Toole.

I had nearly forgotten about this one, but it is quite pertinent to this discussion, since Bucholtz is such a great builder of buildings, and we can all go and visit/enjoy his work here in Ireland. Also soon to be completed Kildare CoCo.

In the United States many younger qualified Architects are turning to things like Computer Visualisation to earn more money, since the hope of building that much for oneself is quite rare indeed. Doing CG Visualisation apparently brings the young Architects in the US, closer to clients, developers and 'other guys in the trade'. I think the discussion is similar to what we are talking about here, except in Ireland we jumped towards words to VIZ-ualise stuff. While in the USA, they turned towards technology.

Personally, I would aspire to a combination of words and Technology - tempered with a mild blend of competition-doing, as James has rightly suggested. :-)

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Postby what? » Thu Sep 25, 2003 10:44 am

i think that this article displays the rift i would see between those architects who really care about their designs and those who are content to just build whatever the client wants.
and there is nothing wrong with either the world needs both types.

call it idealists versus pragmatists.

i would applaud bulchoz mcevoy and heneghan peng for their dedication to their profession and their designs. they primarily worked on competitions rather than chasing clients. far from wanting to live in a "safe" world of paper architecture as soon as they got the chance to build some of their designs they showed dedicateion in uprooting themselves and following the oportunities at any cost. now, i wouldnt say im alone in considering heneghan peng as the most promising exponents of architecture in this country for some years.

both of these examples of good irish offices along with O'Donnel Tuomey,Grafton Architects, Mc Coulough Mulvin, De Blacam Meagher etc etc. are all contributers to building material and by that very fact, display their interest in theory.

i would also like to say that i completely agree with the issue of competitions as being vital to an architects development. they are the only way in which the vast majority of us can do the kind of work we did in college(and keep ourselves sharp). i think they also display an undeniable interest in architecture as theory aswell as pure construction
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Postby garethace » Thu Sep 25, 2003 1:11 pm

Still think you are showing a little bit too much disregard for meaningful inputs of clients in the design process. I mean, a lot of good architects, took it on board themselves to develop a really good productive relationship with clients. Competitions exclude you from all of that. I know that competitions are good for young Architects, trying to build something. But having won a decent competition, would it not be nice to do a job, where you got to know the client a bit better? I mean, a really good client? Suppose for instance Paul Clerkin, had loads of money made from designing web sites in a couple of years time, and wanted to build a nice new office/practice for himself? What kind of architects generally snap up clients like that? Is it the McCullough Mulvins, or the O'Donnell and Tuomeys - or is it the Anthony Reidys. Do good clients find themselves working with unsuitable - business-oriented Architects, and make the mistake of not employing the services of O'Donnell and Tuomey sometimes? I suspect the answer is yes - you cannot get O'Donnell and Tuomey treatment from certain types of practices out there.

I worked for a very business-like firm, where a lot of young 40 something Architects in their prime, felt their skills were being wasted. However commitments to family, mortage etc, meant they were stuck where they were. Now and again, a good client would pass through with a nice job/design problem. Or we might even do a competition - WOW! But ultimately, the process felt very fractured - you never felt you got into the groove of thinking laterally enough, before it was back to the old same-o business-like work again.

Sad.

I think individual young Architects like Bucholtz McEvoy are a bit like this account of warfare: Vietnam War, Guerrilla tactics: use your weaknesses against the enemy. The enemy is larger but also slower. You are small but more mobile. You rob, steal and capture what you can, so the enemy provides you with equipment. The Americans finished up supplying the enemy with tools to destroy them. You are growing stronger as the Americans grew weaker.

(Enemy of the State starring Gene Hackman and Will Smith)

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Postby what? » Thu Sep 25, 2003 1:24 pm

good point on interaction with clients, but i would still say competitions are the way to go, they are often run by clients who are more open and interested in design rather than bang for their buck.
this http://www.ribajournal.com/story.asp?storyType=7§ioncode=3&storyCode=1021062 might be an interesting link for you garethace
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Postby garethace » Thu Sep 25, 2003 4:03 pm

The part about Governments as the largest procurers of built projects in Great Britian was the part I zoned in on, as much as doing nice jobs for nice clients.

This Smart Growth debate here is probably important too, since it is very difficult for an Architect to define what is a client, at a Master Planning scale. Plus the fact, that those projects drag on for generations, not like the normal neat, Architect/Client relationship often assumed for small houses, or buildings. In fact, some of the dismal master planning around our cities may be a direct result of Architect's inability to define problems this large, or to comprehend 'the client' on this large stage, which plays on for generations.

More People, Less Land Spark New Planning Direction

Building for Our Commonwealth (Editorial)

Committed Foundations: Smart Growth's Ace in the Hole


A lot of the recent U2 competition controversy, I think distracted people from the timescale in which the whole DDDA thing happened in. I have a very plush document, done by McInery Construction and Murray O'Laoire, which dates back to the eighties or nineties! To look at that brochure, you would think it was practically ready for building in the early 1990s. I was in the DDDA building one day, back in 1997, and was chatting to a security person there, who produced the document. He said, I found this lying around, it is the last one for sure!

Brian O' Hanlon.

P.S. I worked on a Belfast Master Plan with MOLA in 1999, and the due limited edition glossy publication was made. But like most of the DDDA stuff is to be found at http://www.stw.ie/ nowadays, I think that Belfast scheme might be the same. So you can see how the Architect, isn't always remaining at the end of larger, ambitious schemes even. The client, contractor, developer, Architect, consultants can all 'just come and go'.

I am particularly interested in how Information Technology can deal with this issue.

You mention competitions - say take the Bibliotheque de Paris won by the unknown Perrault fellow. I have seen schemes by Richard Meier, Bernard Tschumi, Mario Botta, James Stirling... a lot of bit names. And all of those Architects do talk about their entries for those competitions with enormous affection. As if those projects, were important for them as Architects. I know that Meier was annoyed at being eliminated from the last 3 I think, in the Paris Bibliotheque competition, and perhaps with some reason too.
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Postby garethace » Thu Sep 25, 2003 6:52 pm

Want to scare your client? Some very modern interpretations of competitions here What?

Swanky Computer generated stuff

I remember I got the kansai competitions and yokohama competitions as study sheets in Bolton Street! I imagine this guy does realise alot more though.

Andre Duany

Never heard of him in Bolton Street though. Just not cool enough? :-) But I suspect, a lot of recent BM Materials is attempting to deal with problems defined at this 'u-mungous' scale. Ballymun is interesting, maybe. Docklands yeah, a bit.

Brian O' Hanlon.
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Postby what? » Fri Sep 26, 2003 11:27 am

i have to admit to having quite the fetish for hyper-complex graphics such as reiser + umemoto and foreign office (http://www.f-o-a.net) stuff. but not to taint my argument, this is purely a visual preference.
some of the writings on these firms are amongst the most confusing and complex (wanky?) in architecture today. it does take lots of re-reading to understand properly but i personally feel that spending this time is worthwhile to understand the ideas involved. not to try and recreate them in anyway, but just to be aware of these strands emerging in architecture and to keep your mind at a level where it might be able to innovate rather than simply produce.

it keeps you on your toes!
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Postby garethace » Fri Sep 26, 2003 2:01 pm

The whole Archinect thing though, was a nice idea for exchange of ideas - but seems to have developed into a Sci-Arc versus Columbia turf war these days. Oh well!

GL Form and all of that, I would rather learn about Architecture at ground level

Brian O' Hanlon.

P.S. I am still turning over this statement in my head, and am just wondering if the people representing the use of computeristation and Architecture are really putting forward as bad an image as this one very intelligent poster at Archiseek seems to have gotten stuck with:

In one of your earlier posts you mentioned possiblity of thinking computers but perhaps we should be reminded that this is not the case yet- computers and they're programs are created by us, written and informed by humanity. Every project developed in this way is coloured by someone elses preconceived notions. So my objection to complete computer design is that intrinsicaly it must breed homogeneity.


I mean, cast your mind back to Post Modernism, and all the other -isms in Architecture. And how the parrots of these '-isms' always managed to spoil the original good the movement or thinking had to offer. You have made an intelligent point several times, about not swallowing things whole, about following up on strands happening around you, but not imitating them. Isn't it really the slavish imitators who have arisen as 'spokes-people' for computers in Architecture. Isn't it this people who have spoilt it as a movement for all of us?

I am very much reminded of a student in Bolton Street who decided to do his research topic about 'writing algorithms to design architecture'. I mean that is the kind of opportunities that more conservative tutors standing upon some high moral ground love, to prove how useless computerisation actually is to the profession. Based purely on a very amateur and limited discussion of computers and architecture.

Your opinions on this would be valued.
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Postby what? » Fri Sep 26, 2003 4:42 pm

im not sure i would be completely confident making a comment on the exerpt above since i dont know what context it was written in. however, my instinct would be to agree with it as a wide sweeping comment. computers should never (and i dont think ever will) be, expected to wholly take on any task of design or intelligent creation.

as far as i understand it, this so-called intelligent technology which is being developed is only "intelligent" in the sense that it can learn to do things it is taught. you can only teach someone something in the real sense of the word if the desired result is pre-defined. architecture,art etc do not have pre-defined goals (otherwise whats the point in having architects or artists). the design process is a fabulously complex and subtle process, which is trully out of the scope of any artificial intelligence.

there seems to be two types of architects who rely heavily on computers to realise their work: on the one hand you have firms such as FOA and Reiser+Umemoto who use the computer as a tool to bring their complex ideas past the stage of the conceptual into a more tangible, buildable reality. on the other you have the greg lynns and to a lesser extent asyptotes of theis world who are chasing the computer down a rabbit hole. (however we may see some useful benefits from this research in the future so i wont be dismissive of it)

i see nothing wrong with using computers as a tool, to whatever extent, to realise architecture. however a problem arises when someone suggests that a computer could take the driving seat in the creation of a work of architecture. as your exerpt suggests in its extreme case this would lead to (some sort) of homogenaity (although not complete as the combinations of permatations which could decide the finished product are infinite).

sorry, this is getting a bit drawn out.
im all for computers being used as a realisation tool once the architect remains aware and intelligent enough to be clear in his goals and not "loose the plot" so to speak
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Postby garethace » Fri Sep 26, 2003 5:41 pm

Interesting reply, but I would like to refer to Tom Mayne's lecture here in Dublin back in 1995, when he complained about having been 'bunched in with the Coop Himmelblau's' by the same guys who write the glossy, expensive Dummies guides to De-Constructivism. The same ones that became so dog-earred, torn and grotty looking in many a college library around this globe. He also complained about he offering to give journalists/writers a guided tour of the Crawford house, they would all refuse point blank and just thank him for the permission to write about his architecture. As he said, 'I have no idea what they are writing about'.

I have always been interested in models, be it cardboard, wood, CG whatever. And find it difficult now, being 'lumped in' with so many other (possibly very talented) GL Form Architects. Even though, GL Form, is far from the way that I personally discovered the computer.

Whenever I indicate I am interested in computers and Architecture, everyone automatically assumes they can confront me directly on the same theoretical ground as people like Greg Lynn. Peoples' knee gerk reaction is simply to pigeon hole me into the same place as Asymitote. When I say I like Frank Gehry, they jump to the conclusion - curvy, computer generated form. I discovered Gehry after a long period of looking at Kahn, and noticed that Gehry isn't afraid to be ambitious with openings to natural light - same as Kahn. Nothing to do with Gehry and computerisation.

Can one appreciate an architect who works with computers, just for the Architecture and leave the process out of it? No, not in this instance. Computerisation is just like an order Architectural Critics intellectual construct - like Decon, Po-Mo, Ec-Co . . . sounds like rolly toys doesn't it? Architectural critics love creating glossy concepts, for the decade and then dragging all that through the muck. Tutors in colleges behave very similarly, since they spend so much time reading AR. Here is my best recollection of getting into computers,

In summer 1998, I told my auntie, I said Auntie, I cannot use a computer. She said, Brian, that's silly, can't you even use Windows? To which I replied, (aged 23) 'What's Windows?' Having already done 6 six years of third level, by then.


Anyhow, I am more interested in the Architecture of Frank Gehry from a perceptual point of view, even though, I know loads about CATIA and his process etc. I have made some observations of an early Holl building, which explains my respect for Architectural perception. Have you seen the updated Steven Holl web site btw, check it out if not. You will not be disappointed by the new content, but the great watercolours seem to be gone now.

Brian O' Hanlon.
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Postby James » Sat Sep 27, 2003 12:51 am

What! has made a couple of very interesting points here that are worth discussing.

Regarding Computers - my own view is that as a tool leading to a built end they are hugely useful, particularly if you think about the simplification that CAD drawing processes allow for in terms of copying, editing, layering etc.

A lot is written however about the visualisation by computer of unbuilt architecture - I think its a mistake to get too hung up on this as its more of a presentational 'mode' (and actually quite a limited one) - for example - All our drawing is done on computer. We insist on conceptuals being done in 3d hand drawn sketch form though, and often will draw perspectives freehand as clients seem to feel more familiarity and comfort with a hand drawn perspective.

CAD perspectives (I feel) do a bad selling job - often they're so 'realistic' in the virtual sense, that their impact and cleverness falls flat and can even seem facile to the lay person. In contrast I have always made a point of drawing a view perspective in front of a client for presentations - sometimes upside down when facing them across a table.

The impact of this is enormous - the client feels that because the person across the table - the 'architect' can do so easily something that they feel would be impossible for them, their confidence in the architects ability is enormously increased. We have quite literally 'clinched' some big jobs on the basis of that one simple act.

Whats other point - that art or architecture cannot be 'predifined' is something that I have more difficulty with. For most of the last thousand years or so thats exactly what both were - the results of largely predefined processes in which the skill lay in very subtle shades of accentuation: For example, look at the number of 'Davids', Pieta's, Pallazo Farnese's or Palladian Villas - huge numbers of each were produced by a variety of artists and architects some good, a few dreadful and may 'workmanlike' (I quite value workmanlike so don't slag it off). All were more or less identical in terms of critical elements, broad appearance and layout yet the end result from these predetermined forms were quite different from one another.

You read a lot on this forum about architects building 'boxes' - pretty much a predetermined form, however some of these boxes are extroardinary, some are execrable.

In many ways predetermination is a virtue.I t takes the hard and sometimes pointless (re-inventing the wheel) work out of conceptualisation and focusses effort upon the real business of detailing, spatial juxtaposition and the always ephemeral 'quality' .

For example - I'm convinced it would be possible and perhaps interesting to make great architecture out of such a predetermined form as the semi detached, tile pitched house - of course it would take an enormous amount of effort - that was really the great strength of Grainne Hassetts Coill Dubh Credit Union - taking teh 70's bungalow, turning it on its head and making it into a recognisably desirable architectural model.

I like this approach - it assumes that nothing is absolutely worthless - I would be a big critic of Tom Power but that has been one of his strengths - looking for the magical in the ordinary.

Its interesting to look at things in this way - I feel that we take the need to be 'different' and modern as too much of an imperative in architecture .There are other perhaps more significant and important things.
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