Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby garethace » Tue Dec 05, 2006 3:58 am

I believe myself, that in Sam Stephenson we had a person who represented the old authority figure of the Architect in the twentieth century. That person employed a formula of architecture, which exactly matched the spirit of the twentieth century - the lone professional broadcasting to a crowd of passive recipients. Is it any wonder, that Sam Stephenson's buildings should aim to change the skyline in Dublin? At the end of his career, Sam Stephenson was running into a lot of flak. The twentieth century was drawing to a close, and underneath his feet the organisation and structure of the information environment was changing also. This was the difficult transformation that Sam Stephenson was trying to make towards the end of his life. The world was moving away from the model of 'point to many', to a society based on 'many to many' voices. As we are finding out with breaking news everyday about Bebo, and My Space and You Tube - the many to many organisation of voices does have its problems too.

The distinction between an ‘autographic’ and an ‘allographic’ work of art was first suggested by philosopher Nelson Goodman in a book called ‘Languages of Art’. In an autographic work copying is forgery, as he says, even the most exact duplication of the work does not thereby count as genuine. In an allographic work, the distinction between original and forgery is not significant. Allographic art forms are those produced with some kind of plan, script or score. Such as theatre or music performance. The image of architecture in the twentieth century has been built around the notion of autographic art. You did not have to work with the script according to the existing urban streetscape, or existing skyline of a city. Glossy architectural magazines are employed to help propagate the myth of the romantic author. Architects like Rem Koolhaas are in demand all over the globe to contribute their talent, to this city or that project. But is architecture really an autographic art form?

When Kevin Roche was a student in 1940s UCD, there were three books in the architectural library. James Horan, past head of architecture in DIT Bolton Street, commented on how few magazines there were in his days as a student. Luis Fernandez Galiano, himself an edition of a publication admits, architects were better before we had all these magazines. Architects in magazines are portrayed like rock stars or movie icons. A dozen names can dominate the debate. The information environment of the twentieth century consisted of a professional speaker broadcasting to passive recipients. Instead of architecture being viewed as an allographic art form - we saw the production of STAR-chitects in the twentieth century. These individuals made artistic brush strokes that were copyright material and therefore extremely valuable. The present day world economy is organised around the manipulation of bits rather than atoms. It is hard to know if Star-chitects are real people anymore, or just arrangements of bits floating around in the ether.

In order to explain the information context of the twentieth century, one must journey further back, to earlier technologies such as telegraph and newspapers. Napoleon Bonaparte was instrumental in building the first telegraph system. Napoleon allowed the telegraph systems to broadcast National Lottery results simultaneously all over France. But Napoleon mainly used the network to organise his military campaigns. In the nineteenth century, by combining the telegraph and the mechanical printing press, it was possible to reach a much wider audience. The mechanical printing press required centralised investment in a transmission facility. Capitalists saw a great opportunity to make money from the production of information. The same model was adapted in the twentieth century to other forms of media such as radio, television and music. By the twentieth century, the cost of becoming a public speaker was enormous. What you see is the industrial manufacture and distribution of information products. We are talking about recording studios, the movie industry, massive broadcasting facilities and technological infrastructure. Sam Stephenson in the old documentary talked about the responsibility of using large sums of a clients money. In a way, Sam Stephenson does remind me of the managing director of a large broadcasting facility, using his building and the skyline as his medium.

Then came a major change in technology and infrastructure of information production. In the 1970's and 80's computing cycles were cheap enough to make the interface between man and machine much friendlier than previously thought possible. Computers began to look to like personal stereo players or TV screens. People began to use computers creatively to manipulate their words, images and sounds. The second stage of the information economy has a radically de-centralised structure based around the Internet. There is no central transmission facility. There are no large mechanical printing presses, no large signalling masts, and no passive recipients of centrally produced information. No fixed monopoly over distribution channels. Using digital technology, the cost of fixation and transmission of information has been reduced. The individual can become a ‘broadcasting facility’, and many individuals have become that. This is the information context of many to many people, and I think the end of Sam Stephenson's life overlapped with this emerging new cultural environment.

The rule book for architects today still presumes a slow and deliberate approach to the release of information, like in the old economy. The presumption is based on the old-fashioned idea of a bundle of drawings. An architect would produce an original ‘negative’, which was copyright material. The original copyright material made its way to the blueprint shop, where it was copied and finally distributed using a delivery service. The belief in individual authorship is very misleading in today’s environment. What is happening with the building industry today, is data is dispersed out over the Internet. The ‘Forward key’ and the ‘Reply key’ in the email application are used to grow a gigantic network. The tendrils of the project seem to extend miles into cyberspace. The digital blueprint is a patchwork of different fragments sewn together. With any large scale distributed peer reviewing process, it is difficult to see individuals ‘making decisions‘. Tom Peters, said the following in his 1982 book, ‘In Search of Excellence‘.

“Most of the institutions that we spend time with are ensnared in massive reports that have been massaged by various staffs and sometimes, quite literally, hundreds of staffers. All the life is pressed out of the ideas; only an iota of personal accountability remains. Big companies seem to foster huge laboratory operations that produce papers and patents by the ton, but rarely new products. These companies are besieged by vast interlocking sets of committees and task forces that drive out creativity and block action. Work is governed by an absence of realism, spawned by staffs of people who haven’t made or sold, tried, tasted, or sometimes even seen the product, but instead, have learned about it from reading dry reports produced by other staffers.”

Tom Peters quote reminds me of the problems experienced in current day online projects such as wikipedia. There are certainly dangers with the distribution of workloads over the network. One of the best books on project management ever written, was first published in the 1960s by Frederick Brooks called ‘The Mythical Man Month’. Brooks suggests that adding more people to a project can make it progress even slower. Brooks Law states that the communication overhead between the individual members of the design team rises exponentially. Whereas the rise in work done is only linear. Brooks, in his 2001 Turing Price lecture delivered at the Siggraph Conference said that Architects are needed now more than ever. In order to define the components of the project which have conceptual integrity. Furthermore, to define a system of collaboration which maintains clean interfaces between those components.

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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby GregF » Tue Dec 05, 2006 1:13 pm

I saw this programme last night on RTE1 about Sam Stephenson. After his main body of work was inflicted on Dublin city and the damage had been done, Sam professed his love of the classical by stating that he went to bed with a book on Palladio and woke up with Luytens. Pity he hadn't discoverd the like before most of the damage was done.
Overall I had the impression that he was somewhat of a little Hitler.

Gas to see the impoverished 80's again.... the annual Corpo's Dublin Street Carnival to lift the spirits.
Mullets, moustaches, goggle glasses and box jackets all the go too!
(It was made in 1988 the year of the Dublin Millenium.)
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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby garethace » Tue Dec 05, 2006 1:45 pm

It is interesting to note, in the documentary how Frank McDonald and Ms. Farrell from Grafton Architects speak a lot about the urban context. But none of them manage to express the cultural and information context of the times. Because Sam Stephenson, in how we understand the man, is as much a creation of the media as he is of architecture. The media needed a singular individual to become the STAR-chitect or the enfant terrible, depending on how you look at it. It isn't fair to say Sam Stephenson did not respect the existing urban environment, when he dovetailed perfectly with the existing cultural context. In many ways, the public as their voice grew stronger felt the urge to take a dig at modern architecture, and created Sam Stephenson as a straw man to knock down.

It is hard to blame Sam Stephenson for being the way he was at that time. If Sam had worked in any other creative industry at the time, such as advertising, TV or Radio, journalism or movie making - Sam would have been a role model. But architecture was never suited this 'point to many' approach. In the end, the architecture of Stephenson would look inappropriate, but the twentieth century was a time and a place which produced many figures like him. I think it is important to understand, the Sam was only applying an approach towards creative production, which was very common in the twentieth century in all of the other creative industries. I hate to use the word 'creative' as it means basically nothing, but I only use it to convey a simple point.

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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby GregF » Tue Dec 05, 2006 1:49 pm

I understand yer point Brian.........but Sam was part of the Fianna Fail/Charlie Haughey clicque at the time too ....that same bunch of bandits that lolled in the loot of the land and got their way no matter what!
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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby garethace » Tue Dec 05, 2006 2:08 pm

Alvin Toffler in his book Revolutionary Wealth, speaks about Europe itself going in the opposite direction to the trend in the 21st century. Europe is trying to move back towards a large, centralised industrial society and government. These centres such as Brussels are gigantic production and broadcasting facilities of information for the superstate of Europe. Toffler reckons that Europe should now embrace what he calls 'The Third Wave'. Toffler used to act as a consultant for industry in America and elsewhere. Toffler said, that many industrialists in America were sorry for building such large production facilites. They realise today that large facililties are dinosaurs of a long gone past. It is important to note, that Stephenson learned his architectural formula in the United States and imported it back here to Ireland. At just the time, when American industrialists began to realise, that big was no longer the way to go. Remember in the 1980s the Japan was looking to pass out America as a superpower. Japan with its lean and mean Nissan system of production on much smaller property lots, with much tighter inventory control and better quality management.

I think it is fair to say, that both Haughey and Stephenson believed in an economy built around information production. Look at the buildings they created. The Financial Services centre, the Central Bank and the Wood Quay Civic Offices. They were large centralised bureaus for the industrial scale production and transmission of information. They were strong statements in the heart of the city, that this country was going to turn around and embrace a new future based around its own knowledge capital. It is like pure Keynesian-ism for the industrial information economy and the city of Dublin. Haughey and Stephenson believed in the older model of industrial scale information production. In large measure this kind of organisation of information production is irrelevant today. The notion of de-centralisation would have appeared very silly to Stephenson or Haughey. But they could not have foreseen that production would become so dispersed. The whole concept of 'De-Centralisation' could not even happen, without the Internet and cheap individual Intel processors. Most people assumed after the telegraph, the printing press, the radio and television that digital media technology would be more of the same. Requiring massive investment of company or state capital in one large central facility. No one imagined anything like the radically dispersed capital structure of today's information economy. In stark contrast to centralised radio, television and newspaper media technology, no one organisation or government owns the entire infrastructure, or any major component of it. Although we have companies like Google emerging, who can lay claim to a large chunk of search engine technology. They have expanded in size accordingly. Their premises in Barrow Street will employ 1,500 people. Ronald Coase's paper from the 1930s, The Nature of the Firm does throw some interesting light on why large firms might be necessary.

Dublin City Council office in Wood Quay, is for all intents and purposes a large broadcasting facility. It is a dinosaur of a bygone age, as much as the Berlin Wall is now. But the need to broadcast on this massive scale was important in the twentieth century cultural environment. Everyone had nuclear missiles and big media canons pointed at one another. I know it sounds very 007, licensed to kill, but that was how people saw their world. Remember James Bond was licensed to kill, so he could steal valuable information from other countries. It was before Google, before Napster and Netscape and Microsoft. The search engine and this sharing idea of 'many to many', which put James Bond out of business. In order to build strong statements in the twentieth century, it made perfect sense to cut through the red tape. You did need to disregard the urban context, because you were trying to scale up to the scale of CNN and that of large media moguls. In order to ensure that government and its voice remained a strong and powerful one, in the emerging media environment. You really needed to create significant markers on the landscape. The financial services centre, the central bank and Wood Quay offices do provide that. So one could argue that Sam Stephenson did read the brief and responded to that brief appropriately. We like to congratulate ourselves today for fighting the good fight. For respecting the urban context, for saving archaeology and the Georgian streetscape. But we can sound very smug behind our laptop screens working in our nice service industry jobs. Lets not forget, it was people like Haughey and Stephenson who managed to swing the country around in this direction. They were responding to the economic and information context as much as the urban context. Their buildings are a reflection of the great intentions they had for Ireland as a developing nation.


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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby McTavish » Wed Dec 06, 2006 6:08 pm

It is interesting, that it is those architects, like Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, (alias Le-Corbusier), Ludwig Mis van der Rohe and even I think our own M Scott Architect of Busarras fame (all of whom it seems did not undertake conventional architectural studies) that seem to have influenced most the arcitectural profession...... It calls into question the comment that the word "creative means nothing",..... Surly it has been those "creatives" who all too often have brought clarity/plucked the dust specks out of our eyes and opened our minds and most effected the much needed change that the world sometimes needs.....Though maybe you are implying in a sublte way that there are many who call themselves architect but not that many are architects (in the tradtional sense of "Master- Buider" translated as archi-teck-ton in Greek).....
Sam Stevenson said
"that Dublin has been decaying for 150 years. it is the architects responsibility to make statements about his time and his buildings should not be afarid to reflect the age we live in".
Le-Corbusier said
"The architect by his arrangement of form realizes an order which is a pure creation of his spirit: he effects our senses provokes emotions, creates relationships awakening profound echos. he gives us the measure of an order, which we feel to be in accordance with that of our world: he determines the various movements of our hearts and of our understanding, it is then that we experience the sense of beauty".
One has the touch of someone who might use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, the other has the touch of someone who could make a silk purse out of a pigs ear.......and they both used the title architect.....
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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby garethace » Wed Dec 06, 2006 7:02 pm

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Ireland thinks it needs good design, when it needs more innovation.

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I am thoroughly sick of this blizzard of magazines, newspapers, Expos, radio chat shows and TV programmes claiming to tell us about 'design'. As an Army General once said, it is all tactics and no strategy. I would not like to describe Sam Stephenson as the complete designer, by any manner or means. I think that is apparent enough in the results of his buildings. One of the speakers in the documentary said, about Wood Quay offices, Sam became 'interested' in some of the spaces inside the building. But when it came to the exterior of the building, he lost interest. People like to over-simplify Sam Stephenson, by making him into a straw man who they can knock down easily. They see Sam as a weak designer, not as a good innovator. This is a similar problem I found myself, when working inside the architectural community. They harbour a severe predjudice against innovation, anything a little bit different or out of step. Often a good innovator is under used or under valued, relative to people who are simply good designers.

Innovation is a much larger term, it encompasses much more than design ever will. There are only a couple of really good design solutions available to an architect. Some designers are better at employing those few solutions than others. Le Corbusier or Mies van der Rohe could work with almost nothing and make it seem wonderful. If you look at Sam Stephenson, not as a designer, but as an innovator, you can better see the boundaries he was pushing. Sam fitted into a much grander picture, which included the politicians etc mentioned above. Politics is one very crucial outlet for people who wish to innovate. Industry is another. In the twentieth century we witnessed the birth of 'creative' industries. I am talking about the music industry, the movie industry, the magazine and publishing industry, the advertising industry and so on. Architecture was part of that broad spectrum of 'creative' industries. These industries were creative more in the sense they innovated. Changing how you deliver a service or product. Inventing new services or products, new ways of presenting them etc. Not exactly 'grand design', but making positive steps forward.

That is what our Irish politicians were trying to do. Sam Stephenson was able to listen 'deeply' to them and their ideas. He wrapped together a whole lot of beliefs and aspirations of many other innovators (politicians and others) and translated them into some architectural form. Today we appear to have lost that confidence in ourselves and our own ideas. It is not a rewarding experience to walk around some projects today, which avoid more questions than they ask. It was said that Pavaroti would avoid performing 'difficult' operas and would stick to easier challenges. The same could be argued about alot of 'sensitive' architecture in production here in Ireland now. Some of our 'best design' goes to great lengths to avoid insulting anyone. The Architect Louis Kahn said: "A good question is much better than the best answer."

There is this idea today for building knowledge communities, which is still based upon the older industrial scale production of information. This model is effectively obsolete. But it still finds its way into many recent urban schemes I have seen in Ireland. How to deal with the new information economy, that is a tough challenge which I have seen designers duck time and time again. The mistakes of Sam Stephenson are still being repeated consciously by our designers. The architects try to offer us vast knowledge warehouses and industrial halls, which were relevant only in the early 20th century. You need good innovation to get beyond that, much more than you need a good designer. But we don't seem to have those people any longer. In the past, you had real masters, immortals like Frank Lloyd Wright, who could design and innovate. Google video has a documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright's Johnson Wax building here:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=674703632307619919&q=Frank+Lloyd+Wright+Johnson

America has become a world leader in the service industry, because it invested in great innovator/designers such Wright. It is interesting the way in which research is combined with administration in this mini urban environment. The Johnson Wax administration building was built in the middle of the American depression, right when capitalism itself had imploded. America is leading the world in many different industries still. Much of that advantage owed to their strategy of innovation as well as design, in the early twentieth century. The Johnson building is a better model for Ireland today, than much of rubbish I have seen presented by our Irish Architects. Our economy now depends upon firms and how they work. Kevin Roche also presented many good examples of workplaces in his recent lecture given here at Dublin. I would like to refer you again to that paper by Ronald Coase, The Nature of the Firm.

The city of Dublin has become a kind of container for famous named architect's work. Today in Ireland, we feel very proud that we can afford to hire in design services from abroad. We boast about having Calatrava or Kevin Roche design us a bridge or urban landmark. But we have not innovated in the way we design workplaces and environments for people to do their work in. Sam hadn't got the artistic genius to complete the design as well as a Rem Koolhaas or a Steven Holl. He is probably not in that league. But in terms of the larger picture, I think Sam, it is fair to say, asked a lot of the right questions about Ireland.

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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby burge_eye » Thu Dec 07, 2006 3:27 pm

you have a phenomenal amount of time on your hands
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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby garethace » Thu Dec 07, 2006 4:18 pm

Apologises for the writing fellows. It is once in a very blue moon, I sit down to write anything of value these days. But I think it is worth looking at the main figures in architecture now and again. In order to try and understand how the world and its inhabitants view themselves and their planet. To speculate on how times are changing, what opportunities or obstacles may lie ahead. Otherwise, the world passes your whole generation by and leaves you there in some dusty old historical chronicle. I have put together some of my observations on Glenn Murcutt here:

http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=5568

I find it fascinating that in such a short space of time here in Ireland, we have gone from the architecture of Sam Stephenson, to almost the other end of the spectrum, where Glenn Murcutt is invited here to Ireland to become a visting professor. That is a real culture shock for myself and many others. Back in the 1990s, when Murcutt's projects first appeared in architectural publications I became interested in the man. But back then I was possibly one of a dozen or so Irish people who had even heard of Murcutt. It is like rock bands, when they become popular, I guess everyone wishes to jump on the bandwagon. Many people who have no appreciation of sustainability or where it all came from. Sam Stephenson is part of a different tradition, so I have tried to trace where Sam was coming from. In order to directly compare these two giant identities in Irish Architecture.

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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby SeamusOG » Thu Dec 07, 2006 5:13 pm

burge_eye wrote:you have a phenomenal amount of time on your hands

And I for one am glad that he does (if indeed he does). Some very interesting thoughts, Brian, as usual. Keep it coming!:)
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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby garethace » Thu Dec 07, 2006 6:27 pm

All forms of feedback are always welcome to me.

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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby garethace » Sat Dec 09, 2006 12:51 am

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Another putrid Design program on RTE tonight, so I changed the channel. Frank was on radio yesterday evening getting
stuck into the 'respect the urban context' debate again. Whats left to be said eh? What is left to be done? These people
seem to know everything there is to know. Just hang out in the Archiseek de-contamination chamber for a while, I guess.
And try to forget about mainstream media. I think it relates to burge_eye's point above. We don't have time to think about
these things in todays world, so other people are paid to do all our thinking for us.



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Sam Stephenson new radio broadcast on RTE

Postby trace » Sat Dec 09, 2006 2:32 pm

Vincent Browne devoted his entire radio programme to Sam last Thursday evening. Contributors were Merritt Bucholz, Frank McDonald, Shane O'Toole, Tony Reddy and Hugh Wallace. You can listen to it via http://www.rte.ie/radio1/tonightwithvincentbrowne/
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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby garethace » Sat Dec 09, 2006 3:16 pm

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Excellent!

I am struggling to keep up with this new internet radio technology stuff. Maybe the boundaries between traditional media and new media are blurring. If in fact the new media was ever new at all. I still like to think it is anyhow. I highly recommend this discussion between Greg Lynn, Eisenmann and a lot more folks here:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3301990902361015465&q=peter+eisenman+architect

It is an old video now. Sort of end of mellenium discussion etc. But it is really interesting to watch the clash between new and old crowd in that google video. Some great sound bytes and quotes in it too, like Eisenman says, Architecture is an older man's game, which it no doubt is. A bit of healthy friction I reckon is good. That is what bothers me most about the Vincent Browne panel - it is all the established old guard, with no spanners thrown into the works. Okay, Merritt is the token 'young guy' in that group. But it would have been more interesting if Vicent Browne had thrown in a vocal newbee or two, just to rattle the old cage a bit.

Thanks again.

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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby garethace » Sat Dec 09, 2006 3:25 pm

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Finished listening to Vincent Browne's panel discussion. Thanks.

I must have a look on Burlington Road for what Frank McDonald describes as his favourite Sam Stephenson building. Tony Reddy referred to Gibney and Stephenson as 'children', when at age 30 and 29 they won the competition to build the ESB headquarters. Peter Eisenman would say, Architecture is an older man's game. So I guess, in architectural terms, SS and AG, were children. At least in the radio panel discussion, Frank McDonald managed to illuminate the 'cultural context' in 1960s Ireland. Which guys of my tender age of 30 years could not appreciate.

The attitude to Georgian squares and streets at the time of the 60s was different to now. There is a general point contained in there about cities all over the world. Much discussion continues today about the Lower Manhattan area, and how architects there might rejuvenate the area. Following 9/11 there was reaction from architects, that the same 'real estate hack' formula was being employed on the ground zero site. If you search 'Peter Eisenmann Architect' at google video, you will come across two interesting panel discussions on the Manhattan Area project.

I guess the Hume Street events as described in the radio programme, reminds me too of the French Concorde debacle. It wasn't until the Concorde was finally being scrapped, the French public suddenly became teary-eyed, nationalistic and nostalgic for the achievements of French aviation technology! It was not until much of Georgian Dublin had been destroyed, that Dubliners came to its defense. The name of Walter Gropius came up in the interview, in the context of the ESB headquarters. For those of you interested in who Walter Gropius was, there is a good google video here:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7388709094938953180&q=popefucker+%2B+architect

In the radio programme, they described Sam Stephenson as having an 'emerging young practice' in 1960s Ireland. Only the more mature professionals like Tony Reddy can recall this now. I can only remember Sam in his older years, as described through the eyes of others. Sam was used as a scapegoat for the destruction of the Georgian city. I had forgotten about the 1970s plans for the Temple Bar area too. As Frank McDonald points out, the Central Bank would have fitted well into those original plans for Temple Bar. It was only later that more sensitive urban plans for Temple Bar came about in the 80s and early 90s. There was a movement called post modernism and it created much debate about cities and what cities are. Another debate I am too young to remember!

Bucholtz's comments about the Central Bank being too short are quite interesting I think. When you consider the way that new building, with its double skin glass facade, in front of Dublin Castle entrance, opposite the Olympia Theatre looks too short. It is almost a joke or a disgrace, I don't know which. Any one got any pics? The Central bank was not strictly economical at the height it was built, relative to the size of its base and the innovative technique of construction used. But that new glass building beside Dublin Castle is a far worse equation I think. If you wish to talk in terms of floor area, site value and economic return. Lets not forget the battle that raged over De Blacam and Meagher's timber apartment building in Temple Bar. The height issue in Temple Bar or Dublin in general has not been successfully resolved. That is an issue for my generation to seriously look into.

Which brings me to my final point on the radio panel discussion. On Frank McDonald's comment: "Wood Quay planning office is a joy to use today". There is something I wish to highlight as a minor problem facing young architects today. I wanted to see the urban area plan for the Drumcondra area in Wood Quay last Saturday. I had even organised to meet with a young Italian architect I know, whose opinion on urban design I greatly respect. While we were inside the door of the offices on Saturday morning, looking at the drawings on display and having a conversation. We were approached by security and asked to leave.

I am well used to this treatment all my life here in Ireland. It has never bothered much me before now. I simply grew accustomed to it as a way of life. However, it is increasingly becoming a pain in the ass. When you consider Irish society is trying to move towards integration of people and ideas in 2006. I did feel quite embarassed by this treatment in front of a free thinking and freedom loving Italian young architect. As if I knew, deep inside of me that our little country can manage better. I know that five young architectural students in Bolton Street are doing Central Libraries as their design thesis. Perhaps in the future, a central library could be used to display urban area plans?

It seems a great shame given the expense that goes into them, they never get a proper audience. I understand the points being raised in the radio programme. About Dublin City Council wanting to 'protect' itself from its citizens in the past. But has that attitude really changed today? I don't really care if I am denied access to a public display in Wood Quay on a Saturday morning. Even if the urban plan was prepared using tax payers money, and will never be viewed or examined by the public. But millions of euro of tax payers money are spent building and maintaining these facilities. All over Dublin city and the rest of the country. And yet, after all that, there is not one place accessible on a Saturday morning to a couple of 'children-aged', 30 year old, would be architectural enthuasiasts to meet up. Even if they possessed the enthuasiasm to do so.

Things haven't really changed that much. Maybe they are getting far worse. Before we start congratulating ourselves, we should think about that.


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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby garethace » Mon Dec 11, 2006 12:55 am

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Just re-reading some of this thread again, I should mention a line that our urbanism lecturer used to describe cities: No matter how hard you try and destroy them, you never quite manage to kill a city. I guess there is something inherent in the city organisation or manifestation that is just beyond the reach of mere human beings to destroy. What this Sam Stephenson thread has highlighted for me, more than anything, is that theme. That cities are resilient, and hard to stamp out. Even look at New Orleans, and the plans to re-build something washed away in a flood. So even natural disasters, even caused by global climate change as a result of the living style of modern man, cannot completely wipe a city off the map. It is worth bearing in mind too, the city of Chicago where the steel skyscraper was effectively born after the great fire. And in NYC at ground zero again, we see this continual theme of the city being re-built and re-born.

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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby garethace » Wed Dec 13, 2006 12:49 am

Any thoughts on this project?

MDRDV New Orleans project and others:

http://www.mvrdv.nl/_v2/projects/319_newerorleans/index.html

Flash Player required.

Brian O' Hanlon.
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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby garethace » Fri Dec 22, 2006 12:48 pm

Sam and CJ built a city for producing information.

Many people today, work with information to produce a virtual city.

http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=5688

Brian O' Hanlon.
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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby green_jesus » Fri Dec 31, 2010 8:44 pm

Does anybody know where I can get a copy of this documentary?
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Re: Sam Stephenson Old 1980s Documentary on RTE

Postby teak » Fri Dec 31, 2010 10:20 pm

First stop, RTE archives.

Then, Bolton Street School of Architecture.
(Not UCD first, as Sam studied in Bolton Street -
he'd have been their 'golden boy' in the 1980s.)

There was also a Late, Late Show on him in the 1980s with contributions
from ex-fellow students, colleagues, arts people of his era and so on.
SS spoke a lot about his work and life on that programme.

also:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/s ... clnk&gl=ie
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