an architecture of memory lane
Eisenhower Memorial, Washington D.C., 2012
Gateway Visitor Center and Independence Mall, Philadelphia, PA, 1996
Denver Civic Center Cultural Complex, CO, 1991-95
US Pavilion Expo '92, Seville, Spain, 1989-92
Welcome Park, Philadelphia, PA, 1982
BASCO Showroom, Philadelphia, PA, 1979
Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, Washington, D.C., 1978
Best Products Catalog Showroom, Oxford Valley, PA, 1978
Bicentennial Exhibition, Philadelphia, 1972
National Collegiate Football Hall of Fame (Competition), 1967
FDR Memorial Park Competition, Washington, D.C., 1960
Help with Thesis: Memory and Urbanism
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10 Buildings that Changed America
"When [Bishop] Athanasius sought to overcome resistance from monastic establishments, he chose a more effective strategy than accusing their most respected leaders of demonic possession. Instead he effectively co-opted the most famous of them--Anthony--by writing an admiring biography picturing Anthony as his own greatest supporter. Since Anthony had died, Athanasius had a somewhat free hand, and his biography turned Anthony into a model monk--a model, that is, of what the bishop wanted monks to be. For in his famous Life of Anthony, the sophisticated and fiercely independent teacher known from his letters disappears, and Athanasius replaces him with his own vision of an ideal monk--an illiterate and simple man. So while Anthony's letters show him to be educated in philosophy and theology, Athanasius pictures him as someone who despises educated teachers as arrogant men who are ignorant of God. And although in his letters Anthony never mentions bishops, clergy, or church rules, Athanasius pictures him instead as a humble monk who willingly subordinates himself to the clergy and "the canon of the church." Athanasius also depicts Anthony as one who hates Christian dissidents as much as he did--and who, like the bishop himself, calls them not only heretics but "forerunners of Antichrist." Far from acting as an independent spiritual mentor, Athanasius' Anthony pleads with the bishop to not allow anyone to revere him, especially after his death. As the biography ends, Athanasius pictures Anthony bequeathing all that he has--his sheepskin cloak and his outer garment--to Athanasius and the bishop's trusted ally, Bishop Serapion of Thumis, to show that Anthony regarded them as his spiritual heirs and trusted them to guard his memory."
Elaine Pagels, Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, & Politics in the Book of Revelation (2012).
Thus I'd now like to (step back) and address what might just be your real intent, that being to elevate the value of architecture within general culture. My advise to you (specifically as a writer) is to fictionalize this world where you see architectural value elevated. It could be short stories, a novel, or even a series of novels. The point being to create something that "the public" can relate to, consume, and hopefully even be inspired by--essentially putting ideas into people's mind via fiction. Also, forcing yourself to really imagine this world and how it manifests itself might just also deliver solutions to what you see as today's real problems.
Stephen Lauf, in "CONTOURS: The Divisions that Bind Us" (2012.01.19).
Why is architectural theory so hard to read?
Louis I. Kahn was not so much an architectural writier as he was an architectural speaker. The vast majority of Kahn's architectural texts are transcripts of lectures he gave. And as a lecturer, Kahn was in great demend, thus invited to give lectures all over the world.
The sense that I get is that Kahn did not prepare his lectures as something completely written out. I don't doubt that he wrote perparatory notes, but the lectures themselves were given ad libitum, 'at one's pleasure'. And it was indeed Kahn's uncanny ability to deliver architecture extemporaneously that amazed those that saw and heard him.
I've only heard Kahn speak via tape recordings. The department head of the school I went to was a student of Kahn's, and he had several cassette tape recordings of Kahn's class lectures. One night while some of us second year students were staying overnight in studio, we found the tapes out in a box. All I said was "Can you imagine if someone added something to those tapes?" [This was like 1978 and we all had tape recorders (to play music) in studio.] About an hour later, "sound engineer" Steve Devlin came over to my desk as said, "Play this." I looked at the cassette and saw it was one of the Kahn lectures, and said, "You didn't!?" "Just play it," said Steve. There was Kahn, lecturing away when suddenly there was a bang, like a gun shot, and then "voice-over actress" Sue Dixon yelling, "Oh my God! Lou's been shot!" with lots of anguished yelling et cetera in the background. The thing is, it sounded so real and that made it doubly hilarious. By the end of the night the tape was put back in the box. A year later, the tape came out its box and was listened to in a lecture class... It was like the shot heard around the whole school.
Why is architectural theory so hard to read?
I just read chapter 3 of The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture (now for the fourth time) this afternoon, and I reread the Introduction and the footnotes this morning. It is not an easy book, especially for a relative novice of architecture. If you want to discuss the book here within this thread, I'm game.
The notion of the city as archipelago is worthwhile, although not at all original to Aureli--see "Cities within the city" in Lotus International 19 (1978) by Ungers, Koolhaas et al for the origins of the notion. Aureli's finding of "archipelagos" within instances of architecture of the last 500 years is a little forced, and the 'history' that goes along with Aureli's hypothesis can make the overall analysis seem somewhat more dense than it really needs to be--a nimity of academic trappings which in the end may well prevent "what opens the potential for imagining it differently."
I have already commented (within archinect/forum) on various aspects of the this text on four occasions: 2011.02.01, 2011.01.31, 2008.12.30 and 2008.12.31.
Why is architectural theory so hard to read?
For lots of reviews of The Possibility of Absolute Architecture google search aureli “absolute architecture”. There’s even a link to an almost 2 hour video of Aureli speaking on the subject, and google/books offers a substantial preview of the book.
Lotus International 19 happens to be the first Lotus magazine I ever bought, so its contents are (still) fairly well ingrained within my memory. Looking over "Cities within the city" (again) last night reminded me of another subsequent Ungers essay--"Architecture of the Collective Memory"--also published within Lotus, this time Lotus International 24 (1979). I personally remember this essay as something I really connected with, something that I really liked the idea of, but I don't think I've (re)read the essay in many years. Of course, I reread "Architecture of the Collective Memory--The infinite catalogue of urban forms" last night, and wow, it like blew me away because what Ungers relates is exactly how I've come to see Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius, that is, as a whole city of architecture of collective memory, indeed an infinite catalogue of urban forms (e.g. 3178, 3179, 3180, 3181). Interestingly, such a view of the Ichnographia Campus Martius is what Aureli (and Eisenman) do not (want [you] to) see the Ichnographia Campus Martius as.
Being restless, I continued to read more of The Possibility of Absolute Architecture. I read the Boullče chapter and stated the Ungers/OMA chapter (five). Ten pages into chapter five you encounter material on the Havellandshaft, which is how Ungers ends "Architecture of the Collective Memory," yet Aureli nowhere mentions the "collective memory" aspect of the Havellandshaft (nor does Aureli footnote reference "Architecture of the Collective Memory--The infinite catalogue of urban forms" in Lotus International 24).
I now feel inspired to write a book entitled The Reality of Convenient Memory Architecture, theory even.
"Architecture of the Collective Memory" begins with these passages:
In his book Invisible Cities Italo Calvino invented an imaginary conversation between the Venetian traveler Marco Polo and the great emperor of a distant country. "At this point Kublai Khan interrupted him or imagined interrupting him, or Marco Polo imagined himself interrupted, with a question such as: 'You advance always with your head turned back?' or 'Is what you see always behind you?' or rather 'Does your journey take place only in the past?'"
All this so that Marco Polo could explain or imagine explaining or succeed finally in explaining to himself that what he sought was always something lying ahead, and even if it was a matter of the past it was a past that changed gradually as he advanced on his journey, because the traveler's past changes according to the route he has followed: not the immediate past, that is, to which each day that goes by adds a day, but the more remote past. Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreigness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign unpossessed places.
Thanksgiving Day 1999
In the midst of all this, we found ourselves talking about Thanksgiving Day in the USA (actually it was Thanksgiving Day, but we were in Brussels), and it quickly dawned on Eleni Gigantes that Thanksgiving Day is a huge reenactment (if not the biggest reenactment within the United States).
One of the last events of my trip to Brussels, Belgium was a Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday night, 27 November, hosted by Elia Zenghelis and Eleni Gigantes. About half of the guests were some of the participants of INSIDE DENSITY. During dinner I sat next to Mark Wigley, and across from Mark sat Hilde Heynen, and across from me sat Eleni Kostika, and next to Eleni Kostika sat Tom Avermaete. Most recently, Tom Avermaete moderated the "Elements of Architecture" event last friday in Rotterdam.
"And we become these human jukeboxes spilling out these anecdotes." --Six Degrees of Separation
Memory is the primogenitor of reenactment. Is reenactment the primogenitor of traditions?