working title museum

for an architecture of irreality

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1998.10.30 11:36
Re: Demo-Design
The world's largest building implosion to date occurred 30 October 1994 at the Sears complex in the Northeast section of Philadelphia, a site which is incidentally mere blocks from the origin point of Quondam - A Virtual Museum of Architecture.

Quondam ( will soon feature video clips of the implosion as well as photo images of the current post-implosion development of the site.

1998.12.24 14:11
Re: archi-tech
I now feel a need to add my own CAD-architect(ure) experiences, especially since my CAD history (since spring 1983) is almost as old as CAD's active role in architecture itself. I cannot write a whole history at this time, but I will offer one (origin) story. My first CAD training and work was with Intergraph's CAD system, which was initially used (and perhaps even developed) to draw/design the first space shuttle. What Intergraph did in and around 1983 was to search for a CAD market that could buy/use their quickly growing obsolete PDP11s and mammouth 2 screen workstations. They subsequently targeted architects, and actually did it with some success. No question, Intergraph's 2d and 3d CAD software at that time was a very superior CAD software (but not at all cheap). Within a couple years, AutoCAD was already very familiar to enginneers, especially the type of engineers architects use as consultants, hence AutoCAD gained its lead in the architectural market primarily due to most architects (reasonably) wanting to work with a CAD system that was already compatable with its consultants. To this I must add that AutoCAD also had a gigantic advantage because its software operated within DOS and thus was runnable on the early versions of the now ubiquitous personal computers. AutoCAD was not a feasible 3d software package until the very late eighties/very early nineties, however.

1999.03.06 09:00
epic architectural past
General apathy, it seems then, is a much more favorable alternative when compared to death and war, however, in metabolic terms, perhaps the late 1970s and early 1980s were far more creative (on a local and global scale) than we today give that (slice of) time credit for.

1999.05.17 12:14
Re: Piranesi
As far as his interpretation of Piranesi's Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio, Tafuri is just plain wrong. No one should agree with what Tafuri says about the Campo Marzio unless they like to be misguided and mistaken. I feel very strongly about this because I have proof positive that what Tafuri says about the Campo Marzio has already led various (and even prominent) architects astray. I believe it is wrong to perpetuate incorrectness. My "disagreement" with Tafuri stems only from my desire and quest to see things correctly.
What's even worse in the Tafuri/Campo Marzio case is that practically the whole rest of Sphere and the Labyrinth is based on what he says in the beginning. Since what he says in the beginning is wrong, it seems logical that what follows is likely to be wrong as well.
I know for certain that at this point no one else alive today (or perhaps even ever) has studied Piranesi's Campo Marzio as much as I have, with the exception of Piranesi himself.
[Note: The above was written three days after making the discovery of the Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio existing in two separate printed states.]

1999.06.14 12:26
interview 2.6
I suppose what is most evident in my manipulative cad work is that virtually anything can be rendered graphically, and my personal inclination is to explore manipulations whose potentials are overlooked only because of traditional design (training and) conditioning. I also like (and therefore practice) the notion that it is easier to design by breaking "rules" than it is to design by following "rules".

1999.07.27 11:34
interface, Truman Show, etc.
It is now confirmed that the main reason I occasionally write to you is because I then look forward to your response. Nonetheless, I found your response this time somewhat provocative, but mostly disturbing. The cautionary advise to not go crazy, the psychological advise, the worry about too much belief as a trap, the tone down the volume of ego--it took me a while to figure out where all that was coming from. Some I can connect and some I can't. For what it's worth, I take my work seriously as projects, however projects executed to the full extent of homo ludens, as human being (seriously) playing.
I'm trying to think of a simple way to explain my work in order to help you understand where I see myself coming from. What makes this difficult is that there can be no blanket statements to cover what I do because I've developed (through lots of practice) a versatility of dexterity that enables me to easily jump from one way of doing something to another way of doing something (else)--a kind of multi megabyte random access dexterity. I learned how to 'play' this way right after I first learned CAD, essentially I could begin playing because the computer supplemented my dexterity of hand and mind tremendously. So much of what I had to take seriously, like precision drafting, was now being done for me. This left a brand new (large) gap in the area of what things I could do myself. Rather than lament the computer taking away my skill, I consciously decided to celebrate my new freedom, and I did that first by going to the furthest extreme from precision, to the scribble, the slapdash, the accident. That was in the early 1980s, and I'm happy to say that my celebration (through art) then has generated a large and growing legacy as well as a (unique?) work ethic. For example, part of being good at being metabolic is knowing precisely where to break the rules (i.e., within the confines of the rules themselves)--legal loopholes are very metabolic.
I find it intriguing that within the context of my work you focus on belief. To me that means I am then well within the rather narrow territory where belief is indeed the central issue--there are not many people that inhabit that territory freely or easily, mostly because other people will go so far as to kill you if your beliefs are threatening to their beliefs. For some sad reason, beliefs often come with battles.
Of course, I believe in what I do and say/write, and in so doing I have seen many of my former beliefs abandoned. The world I see now is very different from the world I saw more or less the first 35 years of my life, and I'm glad for it. People often say that life is too short, but it is probably more true that most of us are here for what is actually a long time. I am now at the point of creating my life--Truman producing his own Truman Show? Or is Quondam my virtual "Glass House"?

1999.10.05 13:12
who's on first?
The following exerpt comes from Johan Huizinga's Homo Ludens - a study of the play element in culture:
"The player who transpasses against the rules or ignores them is a "spoil-sport". The spoil-sport is not the same as the false player, the cheat; for the latter pretends to be playing the game and, on the face of it, still acknowledges the magic circle. It is curious to note how much more lenient society is to the cheat than to the spoil-sport. This is because the spoil-sport shatters the play-world itself. By withdrawing from the game he reveals the relativity and fragility of the play-world in which he had temporarily shut himself with others. He robs play of its illusion -- a pregnant word which means literally "in-play" (from inlusio, illudere or inludere). Therefore he must be cast out, for he threatens the existence of the play-community. . . . In the world of high seriousness, too, the cheat and the hypocrite have always had an easier time of it than the spoil-sport, here called apostates, heretics, innovators, prophets, conscientious objectors, etc. It sometimes happens, however, that the spoil-sports in their turn make a new community with rules of its own. The outlaw, the revolutionary, the cabbalist or member of a secret society, indeed heretics of all kinds are of a highly associative if not sociable disposition, and a certain element of play is prominent in all their doings."

2000,01.01 08:30
sobering thought
In the Christian world, yesterday was the feast of St. Sylvester, the first pope to have an official, palatial residence in Rome. He was pope during the initial years of Constantine's role in Rome.
Today, 1 January, is the feast of Christ's circumcision.

2000.02.03 11:43
an answer to "Now what?"
Hugh Pearman states and asks:
Such being the case, we can conclude that Decon has run out of steam as a manifesto-led movement, and we must look to its successor. Ideas, anyone?
Steve Lauf replies:
Is Decon the only thing to have run out of steam? Has the now pervasive and generally accepted way of looking at and being critical of architecture also run out of steam? For example, does moving from seeing Decon as reactionary to now (maybe) seeing the New Austerity as the latest reaction really convey a sense of meaning beyond the oscillations of fashion and trend? Has each new "critical" building become nothing more than the latest "creation" of the now global fashion show? Likewise, has the element of shock become ingrained within the (elite) architectural profession, the same way shock has become "stock-in-trade" in a good deal of high fashion? [I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the architecture that receives attention and the industry surrounding it being akin to the fashion industry, but I do think there is something wrong about not recognizing the phenomenon as such.]
Here's how I now look critically at architecture (and urban design) both currently and historically:
What architecture is extreme?
What architecture is fertile?
What architecture is pregnant?
What architecture is assimilating?
What architecture is metabolic?
What architecture is osmotic?
What architecture is electromagnetic?
What architecture manifests the highest frequencies?
What I've found so far is that some architectures fall straight into some of the categories above while some architectures are categorical hybrids. Here are some examples:
the Pyramids, Stonehenge, St. Peter's (Vatican), Bilbao(?)--extreme, extreme architectures.
the Pantheon, Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, entry sequence of Schinkel's Altes Museum, Kimbell Art Gallery -- examples of the best osmotic architecture there is.
Classical Greek and Roman Architecture--pure architecture of fertility.
the Hindu Templ --the ultimate transcendence from an architecture of fertility to an architecture of pregnancy, whereas the Gothic Cathedral is an architecture of pregnancy, albeit virginal.
all of 20th century Berlin--the metabolic (create and destroy and create and destroy and ...)
To understand architecture of assimilation, look at the Renaissance, but also look to early 20th century Purism to understand assimilation in the extreme, i.e., purge.
Today's architectures are by and large assimilating and/or metabolic (contextual and/or 'deconstructivist'?).
You're very lucky if you ever see pure examples of electromagnetic or frequency architectures today because they are almost entirely architectures of the far off future.
There are many more examples to offer, but that's all for now.
In general, I see all architectures as reenactionary (as opposed to reactionary).
Architecture reenacts human imagination, and human imagination reenacts the way the human body is and operates. The human body and the design thereof is THE enactment. The human imagination then reenacts corporal morphology and physiology, and architecture then reenacts our reenacting imaginations.



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