Re: def: AutoCAD Architecture
I personally find it hard to blame (or praise) CAD for any or even some of the architecture out there today. Any instrument, no matter how good or bad, is still almost totally reliant on the person that uses it. CAD, in and of itself, significantly increases humanity's dexterity, but it does not independantly produce any architecture or aesthetic. That is not to say, however, that certain CAD operations are not capable of inspiring (or dictating?) an architecture or aesthetic.
Re: AutoSTONE/forma urbis
...thanks for bringing the Forma Urbis Romae to the attention of this
list. I have been aware of the fragments for a few years now, and I have done reasonable research into Piranesi's use of the ancient large plan as he was drawing/etching the Ichnographiam Campi Martii. I further offer some more info on the Forma Urbis:
Samuel Ball Platner, The Topography and Monuments of Ancient Rome (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1904) pp. 2-5.
The Capitoline Plan (Forma Urbis Romae). -- North of the Sacra via and a short distance east of the forum of Augustus, the emperor Vespasian erected a structure called in the middle ages templum sacrae Urbis, which seems to have been used as a repository for municipal records and archives, particularly the results of the census and survey of the city, which were made by that emperor in the years 73-75. The north wall of this temple was covered with marble blocks, on which was engraved a map or plan of the whole city. This plan may have been copied in part from an earlier one made by Agrippa, but was probably based on Vespasian=92s new data.
The temple was burned in the fire of Commodus in 191 and restored by Severus, and to its north wall was again affixed a similar plan, either entirely new or containing fragments of the earlier one. The temple itself was incorporated with the temple of Romulus, the son of Maxentius, and made over into the church of SS Cosma e Damiano between the years 526 and 530. During the years 1559-1565, a large number of fragments of this plan were found at the foot of the wall of the temple, and came into the possession of the Farnese family. In 1742 [Piranesi first came to Rome in 1740 as a draftsmen to the Venitian ambassador to the court of Pope Benedict XIV] they were transfered to the Capitoline Museum, where they were fastened to the walls of the main stairway. Soon after the discovery of these fragments, drawings were made of 92 of the principle pieces [Piranesi includes many of his own drawings of the fragments within some of the plates of his archeological publications], and as many of the pieces themselves were lost in the transfer to the Capitoline Museum, restorations made from these drawings were put up in their place. These restorations are marked with a star.
In 1867, a few more fragments were found on the same spot. In 1882, a piece containing a plan of the vicus Tuscus was found in the Forum; in 1884 another fragment, also in the Forum; and in 1888 more than one hundred and eighty pieces, mostly small and insignificant, were found behind the palazzo Farnese which may have belonged to those discovered in the sixteenth century, but they do not appear on any of the drawings made at that time. In 1891 about 25 fragments were discovered at the foot of the wall of the temple; and the recent excavations in the Forum (1899-1901) have brought to light about 400 more pieces, mostly very small.
The wall on which the plan was fastened is still standing, and measures 22 meters in length and 15 in height, so that the surface covered by the plan was something more than 300 square meters. The blocks of marble varied from .7 to 1.18 meters in length, and from 1.7 to 2.25 meters in width, their thickness also being unequal. The scale on which the map is drawn varies even within the limits of the same structure, but seems to have been in general 1 to 250. If this scale had been employed throughout, the whole city could not have been represented on this wall, but some of the parts were considerable compressed. The plan was not set up with the north at the top, as is now the custom, but at the bottom. It seems probably that most of the plan was placed so that the southeast was at the top. This arrangement was not carried out with perfect consistency, and a variation of as much as 45 degrees must be allowed in some of the fragments. Names of public buildings are given, but not always those of streets and squares. The details of buildings are not accurately given, nor is the proper proportion always preserved. Not withstanding these defects, the plan served its purpose well, and its fragments have been of great assistence in identifying existing ruins.
...the most modern building of the 20th century--Le Corbusier's unbuilt Palais des Congrès à Strasbourg, 1964.
I am well aware that so far this declaration is not much more than one man's opinion, and therefore, before I outline my reasons for picking this building, I am interested in what building others on this list would pick as the most modern building of the 20th century.
From my perspective, no matter how you define it, 'modern' has without question been a major attribute of this century. Perhaps naming those buildings that are most 'modern' will also help to define 'modern'.
Re: interview 1
My architectural background:
I read Banistar Fletcher's The History of Architecture on the Comparative Method everyday during my freshman and sophomore high school study hall. I read Robert Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture for the first time my senior year in high school. I read Geoffrey Scott's The Architecture of Humanism - A Study in the History of Taste the summer before I began architecture school at Temple University in 1975.
research as design-talk?
The notions of research vs. method and a theory/practice dichotomy sounds very similar to a thread that transpired here sometime within the last six months:
The debate was whether "the tools we use determines the way we think" OR "the way we think determines the way we use tools."
I espoused the latter, and I am struck by the similarity of the latter to what G. said: "What you think determines what you do and how you do it. In short, ideas really do matter." The point I wish to make now is that I have lately come to believe that BOTH of the above approaches are intertwined and perhaps even co-dependent, hence signifying a duality instead of a dichotomy.
As to design-talk, maybe there will always be two sides to ever story, or, more exactly, two opposite sides of roughly equal measure and a third slim marginal side that is circular and perpendicular to both of the others.
$1 million drafting table
Here's my idea for the drafting table I'd most like to have. Bear in mind that I've been working and drawing on a screen for over fifteen years, but I still have my original drafting table in the basement complete with its original parallel rule.
Instead of a regular tabletop with adjustable tilt, the entire "drawing" surface (36"x48") would be an interactive (flat) screen/monitor also with adjustable tilt. The interface on the screen could be similar to what we're used to now except the keyboard would be a (moveable) element within the interface screen (like a window), and instead of a mouse/cursor those controls would be within something attached to the hands (both of them) like gloves. For one thing, the hand(s) using such a table/screen would be even more intimate with the drawing than it is when presently using a pencil or pen. Moreover, aren't two hands better than one?
Whether it's admitted or not, we already know that most of the people living a hundred years from will look back at the technology of our time and immediately think "how primitive."
It is worth noting that anabolism, the creative half of metabolism is purely creative, while catabolism, the destructive half of metabolism is not purely destructive, for it also contains tiny bits of creative operation.
the arch, the trope, and the reenactment
Is Saarinen's Gateway Arch in St. Louis a trope or is it a reenactment? That is, is the Gateway Arch (actually the arch in St. Louis has a rather profound formal name which I cannot remember) a "turn" of manifest destiny into symbolic form, or is it a long standing architectural tradition enacted yet once again?
The assimilation of trope into recent architectural (theory) writing and criticism is an example of trope itself, is it not? And it often seems (to me at least) that "troping" (excuse my verbing) within current architectural parlance and design is treated somewhat as a whole new "Concept" in and of itself. Perhaps I'm here being overly simplistic, but recent architectural tropes and the pronouncements of such often appear to be elaborate justifications for what is otherwise plainly arbitrary in terms of ultimate design form. Personally, arbitrariness in design is not something I shun, but even I cannot escape the fact that 'arbitrariness' and 'design' are fundamentally anathema. [God forbid an architect actually says he did something purely arbitrary.] Nonetheless, informed decisions apropos design in no way lead to single conclusions; there are so many options, especially in our time, that ultimate design choices manifest a high degree of "post-objective subjectivity" (to perhaps coin phrase).
Here are my recent thoughts regarding symbolic arches and trope vs. reenactment:
I first 'found' the notion of reenactment within ancient Rome's Triumphal Way, which is itself an oft reenacted reenactment of something Romulus did after his victory over the Sabine men. The funeral of Princess Diana is the most recent reenactment of Romulus' parade. (Yes, because of the "turn" of Paganism into Christianity the Triumphal Way "troped" into elaborate, albeit highly meaningful funeral processions, however, it remains that still only heroes, and finally heroines as well, get the Triumphal Way treatment.)
With the Triumphal Way then came first the Triumphal Gate and then several Triumphal Arches. The Triumphal Gate was the gate within Rome's wall (and sacred boundary) through which the victor's entered the city after first assembling within the Campus Martius. Over time, special victories sometimes added a Triumphal Arch somewhere along the route of the Triumphal Way (e.g., the Arch of Titus, the Arch of Constantine, etc.). One could say that each of these subsequent arches, although rendering the victory newly being celebrated, nonetheless is a reenactment of the Triumphal Gate, but I'm now of a mind that, while indeed reenactments, the arches re-enact something more obvious:
Could it be that Triumphal Arches plainly reenact the structural arch itself?
Moreover, could it be that Triumphal Arches reenact the structural triumph of the Roman arch?
Was the arch an obvious form to use as symbolic of triumph because of its gateway /passage /breaking-through implications (the triumphal arch as trope)?
Or was there some clever designer back then that thought the arch was 'the' perfect manifestation of triumph because the arch itself is a structural triumph (the triumphal arch as reenactment)?
Does the Arch in St. Louis trope Manifest Destiny or does it reenact a triumph over gravity?
"being the information"
The following is just 'chronosomatic' conjecture on my part: the human/corporal operation of absorption occurs at its most intense within the intestine(s). The duodenum is the largest and uppermost portion of the intestinal track, and thus it is the duodenum that will last appear within The Timepiece of Humanity's 'plane of the present'. The 'presence' of the duodenum is there now, and will end c.2197; chornosomatically, c.2197 is when humanity will have achieved a nexus of 'absorption'. In theory, the biggest 'chunks' to be absorbed are still to come "down the pike." Following the nexus of absorption will come several centuries where humanity will actively manipulate (metabolize) what it has absorbed. "being the information" may not actually happen until the 'plane of the present' transcends the diaphragm and then begins to engage the heart in conjunction with the lungs -- a chronosomatic transcendence (c.3090) from the profane (below the diaphram) to the sacred (above the diaphram).
Our diaphragm plays three roles: aiding defecation (profane), aiding respiration/breathing (sacred), and partruition/giving birth (a new being). Although Eliade never makes the connection himself, his entire explanation of transcendence from the profane to the sacred does nothing more than describe the role(s) of the human body's diaphragm.
You wrote, "In the end, I never got past Tafuri; regardless of how he tries to recapture the value in the implicit recognition of the futility in the archtectural project, this might be a personal salve for me as I try, but if I am establishing and sustaining agency, they abandonment of the archtectural project is my only recourse."
Since I have never been taught Tafuri, and only read some of his texts (but not entire books), what is it that you "never got past"? Is it a kind of disenchantment?
I ask because I have found that Tafuri is more or less completely flawed in his interpretations of Piranesi's Campo Marzio (in The Sphere and The Labyrinth). Moreover, I've just recently become award of Tafuri's stance regarding historical criticism versus operative criticism, and it seems to me that with regard to Piranesi's Campo Marzio, Tafuri is just as guilty of utilizing operative criticism as opposed to historical criticism (which I understand Tafuri recognizes as a "better" mode of criticism/theorizing).
I am not necessarily someone that is anti-Tafuri, in fact, it was Tafuri's texts regarding the Campo Marzio that were for a long time the only texts I could readily find on the Campo Marzio as it might relate to architecture, but as I further researched Piranesi's Campo Marzio plan, and other texts (e.g., Fasolo's 1956 text, which too is full of literal mistakes, and which seems to have also informed Tafuri), I began to see where Tafuri makes many mistaken interpretations as well. Moreover, if Tafuri is wrong about the Campo Marzio, of which his interpretations form the foundation for his Sphere and Labyrinth text/argument, is it possible that a great deal of the argument may be flawed?
Basically, I'm asking if you might be interested in (privately) discussing Tafuri via email, especially with regard to the Campo Marzio.