working title museum

volume and congestion

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1998.11.15 21:33
first virtual house of the 20th century
The next complete chapter of Learning from Lauf, (vague) S. will be titled "the first virtual house of the 20th century" -- here's the outline:
virtual anything, included the virtual house, is a hot topic of architecture in the very late 20th century. eisenman and any/all other recent virtual experimenting architects have thus far failed to recognize their true 20th century patriarch on this count.
1972 - Venturi and Rauch - Franklin Court: the ghost frame of Benjamin Franklin's long gone original home -- it's a pure wireframe, it's still "not there," it's the quintessential virtual house.
November 15, 1998 - anyone that isn't convinced that Venturi and Rauch's Franklin Count is the foremost virtual home of this century (if not of all architectural history) need only be reminded that Ben Franklin (whose "house" we are discussing here) became famous for writing Experiments and Observationson Electricity (1751), and, moreover, don't they teach in gradeschool that Ben Franklin actually DISCOVERED ELECTRICITY!
Lao-Tzu say: if the shoe fits, the foot is forgotten.
Lauf, (vague) S.

1999.01.14 10:50
Re: Speculations on transit & urban scale
RE writes:
Mass transit in America is and will continue to be moribund until the ample space which makes mass transit unfeasible is eaten away by the burdgeoning population, and also until the extreme self-centeredness/individuality (and disregard for community, large and small) endemic in this country becomes reduced.
Steve Lauf replies:
I'm not so sure that extreme self-centeredness/individuality is actually part of the problem elaborated upon here. I am an extremely self-centered/individual person and those qualities manifest themselves in my working at home (over 10 years), sometimes not going out of the house for days at a time, and yet I "transit" myself globally via the internet as well as regard my local community very highly (I'm living in the same house for 40 years and still choose to stay in the community despite it borderline depressed condition). True self-centeredness may indeed be exactly what is needed to counteract transit AND sprawl problems.
In the early days of working at home, I developed slight agoraphobia, e.g., once in the car on a crowded Philadelphia expressway in the middle of the afternoon I was completely astounded at the sheer volume of automobiles on the road. I asked myself, "Where are all these people going?" I told RE this story. A few years later RE and Robert Venturi were driving on a crowded Los Angeles freeway and Venturi asked the same exact question. So, where exactly are all these people going? I shutter think that a high percentage are merely going shopping!

Hugh Pearman in two recent posts wrote:
"Architectural operating systems (as opposed to surface styling) are predominantly Gothic or Classical."
"What I called the 'architectural operating system' as a deliberate computer analogy--might clarify rather than confuse, for me if nobody else."
I suggest a wholly other batch of "architectural operating systems" that derive from the morphology and physiology of our own bodies, the machines that we are instead of the machines that computers are.
Some architectures are extreme.
Some architectures are fertile.
Some architectures are pregnant.
Some architectures are assimilating.
Some architectures are metabolic.
Some architectures are osmotic.
Some architectures are electro-magnetic.
Some architectures are total frequency.
Figuring out what buildings/architects fit in which category(s) may well be the ultimate architectural parlor game. (Hint: Classical is high fertility and Gothic is early pregnancy.)
Hugh also made reference to the notion of architects having "to have his or her 'personal myth' to believe in and guide them." For what its worth, I have "discovered" my own myth, and its called The Timepiece of Humanity or the theory of chronosomatics.

1999.05.21 11:24
May 21st - the Agonalia
Agonalia - a festival in honor of Janus celebrated in Rome on the 9th of January and the 21st of May.
Janus is my favorite Roman god.
Janus - an old Italian deity. He was represented with a face on the front and another on the back of his head. The month of January was sacred to him, as were all other beginnings. The myth makes him a king of Latium or Etruria, where he hospitably received Saturn when expelled by Jupiter from Crete. He had a small temple in the Forum, with two doors opposite to each other, which in time of war stood open and in time of peace were shut; the temple was trice closed on this account. With reference to his temple, the deity was called Janus Geminus or Janus Quirinus.
In its over 800 year history, Rome was at peace only three times?
I like Janus because he can see in front of him and he can see behind him--into the future and into the past? Also, I like to wonder whether Janus was "two faced" or was he schizophrenic?
Within his large plan of the Campo Marzio, Piranesi applies the label "Circus Agonalis sive Alexandri" to the original Circus of Domitian which is today Rome's Piazza Navona. Albeit obscure information, Piranesi was indeed correct in his designation because the emperor Alexander Severus rebuilt the Circus of Domitian and renamed it in honor of Janus. It is fun to imagine all the big goings-on over 1700 years ago today within what is now the Piazza Navona.
Another monument in honor of Janus that still stands in Rome today is the Arch of Janus Quadrifrons, which is in the Forum Boarium. It is one of those unique four-way arches, and, according to Banister Fletcher, is "of poor design." What is most interesting about this arch, however, is that it was constructed under Constantine the Great AFTER he sanctioned Christianity. I believe this signifies two important facts. First, the aristocratic and pagan population of Rome still had tremendous influence and power. Second, whoever designed this arch was extremely clever in that Janus, precisely because of his "two faced" nature, was the perfect god to reflect Constantine's own political position--exactly because of his sanctioning of Christianity, Constantine himself is Rome's ultimate Janus-like emperor. [Personally, I can't help but believe that it was Constantine's mother Helena [or mother-in-law Eutropia] that thought all this poignant symbolism through.] And, in an almost too good to be true sense, the Arch of Janus may well have predicted (looked towards) European architecture's next 1200 years: Banister Fletcher notes "it has a simple cross-vault with embedded brick box-ribs at the groins, affording a further instance of the progressive character of Roman construction techniques: such ribs are possibly the prototypes of Gothic rib vaults." [Fletcher is being a little two faced himself here--first the Arch of Janus is not good design, and then the arch is progressive construction!] Could it really be that the first ribbed cross-vaults ever were built in late antiquity? Do these vaults, built by ancient Rome's first Christian emperor, unwittingly and uncannily prophesies a whole new future era of Western architecture? [And is it possible that Helena, besides being the first master architect of Christianity, is also the world's proto-Gothic architect?]

1999.06.21 21:24
Re: Response: to lauf-s (i/ii)
As to my faulting Tafuri, remember that I only do this relative to Piranesi's Campo Marzio plan, and I fully outlined Tafuri's mistakes on the Campo Marzio within a set of web pages (which I don't know if you have read or not). What Tafuri writes about the Campo Marzio are not mistakes because of my own interpretation of the Campo Marzio, but they are mistakes because of what Piranesi actually delineated and labeled in his plan. Tafuri clearly misrepresents what Piranesi did, and all you have to do is look at Piranesi's plan to see where and how Tafuri is wrong there. Scott, have you looked at Piranesi's plan to verify whether what I say about Tafuri on the Campo Marzio is true? Generally, when it comes to Piranesi's Campo Marzio, modern architects seem to avoid looking at the primary source. [And just for a moment imagine what it will be like when it is broadly recognized that what I come to say about Piranesi's Campo Marzio is correct and proof that Tafuri is here wrong. Judging by your reaction thus far, not only will there be war, but revolution as well. Perhaps you are angry at the prospect of your own architectural education losing some of its (costly) value.]

1999.08.10 10:58
ae fragments/vitruvius
The importance/power of water remains vital with regard to electricity and urban design, specifically the power of hydro-electricity, and thus there is one more thing to "learn from Las Vegas" vis--vis Hoover Dam. The history of both Las Vegas and Hoover Dam are inseparable, albeit, Las Vegas is there because of Hoover Dam--a new and electric (powered) oasis in the Nevada desert.
Like the multitudinous fountains of the Villa d'Este garden near Rome--a Cardinal's Renaissance retreat brought to life subsequent to the reinstatement of a long destroyed ancient Roman aqueduct--the multitudinous flashing (splashing) signs of the Las Vegas strip and the old part of town are indeed water fountains reenacted as spent electricity (water power energy!).
Las Vegas is nothing less than an enormous hyrdo-electric reenactment of an oasis (complete with caravans, watering holes, and even a pyramid), and thus it is not at all unusual that the whole notion of reenactment is now Las Vegas' predominant theme.

1999.1.06 09:32
Just over a year ago I learned that Colin Rowe had a copy of Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius hanging over his desk. I believe it was given to him at some recognition ceremony vis--vis Collage City (which is another book that Rowe co-authored and well worth reading albeit also full of those triple negatives).
Eisenman (in Autonomy and Ideology) chides Rowe for looking too closely at Nolli's Map of Rome and not looking at Piranesi's Campo Marzio close enough (as if Eisenman really practiced what he here preaches). Ironically, within the Eisenman piece the illustrations and captions of the Ichnographia and Nolli's Map of Rome are inverted! It never ceases to amaze me how the Ichnographia Campus Martius literally confuses (even smart) people.

2000.01.09 12:37
a virtual museum of [disinformation] architecture
in respose to the notion of a virtual museum of (unscientific fiction) architecture, Rick wrote:
Sounds great Steve; Sounds fun; Sounds like playing "Byzantine -- The Betrayal" with the graphics of "Riven"; or, is it "Riven" using the historical-farcical plot of "Byzantine"? Either way, it would seem to fulfill the virtual appetite of this jogging crazed generation.
Steve gratefully requests and then adds:
Thanks for the encouragement and also for proving some further inspiration. For my sake, and perhaps for some others on the list, could you briefly explain the "Byzantine -- The Betrayal" and "Riven" references. I've not read either, nor do I even know them for sure. Only Riven sounds vaguely familiar. [the following written just prior to posting: believe it or not, at first I did not know Rick was here referencing video games. I've never played a video game in my life, and I honestly thought Rick was making literary references. As it thus stands, I continually feel that the architecture of video games, even the latest, lack substantially in true architectural imagination. Maybe I'm just showing my age, but I think video games would be a lot more fun and architecturally stimulating if they started emulating the architecture of Krypton as protrayed in 1960s Superman comics -- personally I haven't seen such comics since the sixties, but I still remember how the buildings of Krypton mesmerized me as a child. Not that I want Quondam to now become 1960s Krypton, but rather, I want to take the 'new dexterity' manipulation of architectural digital data down a trail not yet blazed.]
In any case, here are some of the 'building plots' and 'character architects' I'm currently mulling around in my head with regard to the "new and improved" Quondam:
the exhibit schizophrenia + architectures will morph into anOTHER exhibit entitled either hypochondria + architectures or kleptomania + architectures (and no that second title does not imply an exhibit on the architectural career of Philip Johnson).
architects featured generally throughout the museum will include: John Phillipsonian and his partner/wife Whitney Davidoff (of Hybridsburg, Texarkana), Eon Krie[ge]r (architect of the war against time), La Corbusienne (the Alpine 'Suzie Chapstik' of exposed skin architectures), St. Helmut (infamous heretic architect martyr of the cutting-edge [sword of] antiquity, lately proclaimed by the Vatican as a dubious 'real' fraud), Lois Ikonotsky (of Upper Reaches, the Caulklands), Franc-Le-Luc-Adroit (global net-setting architect of 'die schlampigen neue Reichen'), Scott Ventura (pet [house] architect, who btw is inseparable from his brown-nosed hound Dee-leash), Jasper Sterling St. James Goldsmyth VI (most recently lauded for his just completed Good-Looking Sachlichkeit Gesamtkunstwerk Museum on post-shell-shocked Helgoland), and (the 'queen' of all narrative architectures), Rita Novel. . . plus many, many more, like Meandra Refrigidhaar (as the architectural critics love to say, "She be syncin'!").
Additionally, Quondam will keep its finger on the pulse of the exponentially and geometrically expanding urban environments of both Older and Newer Infringement Complexopolises.



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