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hyper/architecturism

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2000.05.16
ideas
1. While at Penn yesterday, I looked through some magazines and in AREA 00:02 there was a new wavy, bottom undulating project by MVRDV. I liked the project (I see both Le Corbusier's Olivetti project and OMA's Algiers hotel, plus it reminded me of the undulating plane question I posed to Sarah Whiting at Inside Density. Again, it seems that my own design ideas are right in sync with the latest "moderns," but I so far don't have proof that how I design is right there because there are no drawn out designs of what is in my mind or somewhere in my notes.
I seriously have to begin executing and displaying my designs. For example, I already have the mesh work Laguna study model, and the idea to reenact Bilbao along the Schuylkill River.
2. a hypermural... ...a monument to those buried in mass graves at Gakovo. ...lots of tomb/sepulcher imagery...
4. there is also the new idea of rotate-extruding building sections; I was particularly thinking of extruding the Firminy sections, but actually the sections can be from any building (like Hurva). A building composed of a number of various extruded sections could be extremely innovative.


2000.05.25
been reading, etc.
The Temple in Man... ...Leon Battista Alberti's Hyperptpmachia Poliphili...


2000.06.24
The Architecture of Being [FOG]
Architecture projects:
a. Go Go Home museum - distorted but planer shapes collaged and the planes have mesh perspectives applied; then extrude-rotate any portions of the elevation mesh, thus creating further (novel?) architectural deformities.
b. World Trade Center NY tower addition.
c. low income infill housing - Francisville site.
d. Independence Mall.
e. graffiti walls for Philadelphia parks or Philadelphia Graffiti Museum (better idea).
f. Stenton or Ryress addition, or some other obscure historic structure, or an installation at Memorial Hall. g. Altes Museum Hyper Mural.
h. pedimental sculpture designs for the PMA.
i. an Art School for Girard College.
j. Corporate offices for Ebony magazine (ebony chairs @ Girard College)
k. Buddha tooth temple - a new design.
l. parent's house in Southwest Africa. m. house for a couple encrytomology experts - very rich.
n. suburban sprawl master plan (?)
o. Casino Collagio, Las Vegas.
p. Wavelength Casino and Hotel, Atlantic City.
q. house in West Cape May.
r. Manly Beach house.
s. Beverly Hill's mansion (?) - faux-faux?
t. Temple University Architecture school. Germantowm Avenue University of Architecture

2000.08.24
the right direction (finally)
...a great title: Towards a New Product Placement, and this can very easily and literally be a catalogue of any art or anything else to sell. Yet, it can also be about predicting the nature of 21st century site analysis (or actually the lack thereof). In any case, commercialization is the key theme and motif (and pathos?). Alter captured TV commercials, billboards, bus ads, magazine ads. As much as it will be about commercialization, it is about digital manipulation. Is there something new to say about hypersurface? Is the subtitle “the future architecture of advertising”? or “the future advertising of architecture?”
I just thought/realized that every page of the book can be an advertisement, eg “this is an advertisement” as parody of the Venturi “this is a monument” (my Stanza AIA Bookstore ad idea). Tattoos as paid advertising, logo endorsement, wearing designer labels as a paying job (instead of doing essentially free advertising).


2000.09.03
Frei Otto and Free Otto Architectures
...present pictures of the 1972 Olympics site next to captured images of the rotate extruded forms...
"the free ottopology of Ottopia" ...relates to the dexterity and schizophrenia of rotated surface extrusions, at least my version of the phenomenon and data manifestation; the creation of Ottopia in general; a “history of Venturi hypersurface architecture” in Philadelphia, e.g., the forcefield of St. Francis; Scientific Institute; Franklin Court; Welcome Park; the work of Kahn: Ahavath, Richards Medical, City Hall; the best hypersurface of Philadelphia architecture, the work of Frank Furness, particularly the half castle bank facade (and this leads to Sullivan as a tangent).
...the notion of hypersurface versus a new hyperform architecture...


2000.10.02
ideas
The Architecture of Virtual Eventuality
being [an] architectur[al] Duchamp . . . living in a large 3D painting, in a hyper painting, being in a hyperzone, within an environment of many unknown factors . . . "the working title museum" . . . how people will buy their art and architecture in the future . . . Rita Novel--a book of cult fiction . . .


2000.11.09
inconsistencies and hyperboles?
1. I agree that historians will never really know what an artist was thinking, and to that end whenever I analyze historically I try to give exact textual reference and/or make it clear that what I say is my opinion/interpretation (hopefully with some basis). Nonetheless, there is that (exciting) element about historical research that is akin to being a detective finding clues and then 'fabricating' a possible or likely scenario. Moreover, it is more and more the historian's job today to search out and correct the mistakes of previous historians (a kind of Baroque activity?).
2. I'd like to be on the record for proposing that in essence the Baroque involved: a) a bifurcation of reality and illusion, b) pervasive mirroring (figuratively and literally), and 3) reality reenacting its own illusory mirror. For now I'm working on the premise that the combination of these three attributes is mostly unique to the Baroque. [I am not asserting, however, that the artists of the Baroque were actively thinking about the combination of the three attributes when creating their works. I'm simply calling out a (distinct?) pattern that (for me at least) is there.]
3. Please consider my contributions to the recent discussion as addressing the notion of emergence of style as opposed to the invention of a style. Although, I have to again stress that there really is a lot of invention going on within the designs of Michelangelo's fortifications of Florence.
4. I'm going to venture into some new activity at architecthetics, and that is to outline and ruminate on the beginnings of Christian Church architecture and specifically the role that Flavia Julia Helena Augusta (the mother of Constantine, St. Helena) played within those beginnings.

2000.12.01
context (Quondam thinking?)
Whenever I read about architecture and context I can't help but automatically recall my architectural education at Temple University, Philadelphia, 1975-81. Temple's architecture program was then in its infancy (begun 1973), and the faculty were largely either/and/or students of Louis Kahn, former employees of Louis Kahn, current or former employees of Romaldo Giurgola (Mitchell/Giurgola Architects), or employees at Venturi and Rauch Architects. Besides that 'august' lineage, what impressed my design thinking most was the issue of designing with respect to context, indeed I'd say that that notion was the touchstone of my entire formal architectural education. [I also have a strong independent streak when it comes to continually self educating myself architecturally, and my subscribing to Oppositions throughout the late 1970s through the early 1980s--I have all 26 issues except nos. 1 and 3--is just one example of that. Oppositions was never required reading at Temple U. while I was there.]
I now want to make a bold statement regarding (the evolution of?) contextualism and architecture:
What is probably the best example of Philadelphia architecture from the 1990s happens to not be in Philadelphia at all, rather it is in London, namely the Sainsbury Wing addition to the National Gallery by Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Philadelphia.
I have never been to London, but I know the Sainsbury Wing fairly well via publications, plus, and here's the beginning of my point, I almost viscerally understand all the 'contextual' design idioms and eccentricities because they are, and the building as a 'whole' is, a consummate example of (questionably labeled post-modern) Philadelphian contextual architectural design thinking. I'm not suggesting that Philadelphia has some sort of propriety when it come to designing architecture contextually in the late 20th century, rather that there is a uniqueness to Philadelphia's 'brand' of contexturalism (indeed retrospectively related to Rowe's thinking, but clearly distinct nonetheless mostly because of Giurgola and Venturi who both taught at the University of Pennsylvania at the same time that Kahn taught there). What's wonderful about the Sainsbury Wing is that as a program and site it boiled down to being almost entirely about designing in context, and, with Venturi and Scott Brown as the competition winners, they were given the opportunity to do, in a sense, a 'hyper' contextual building, i.e. dealing with both London (and even royal) contexts as well as Philadelphia's theoretical architectural 'contexts'.
I'm going to be even more bold by suggesting that the Sainsbury Wing is not so much 'post-modern' design, rather very good 'post-imperial' design. Isn't the UK still more specifically operating within a post-imperial milieu (as a childhood stamp collector of the 1960s I'm very aware of exactly how and when the British Empire ended) and isn't Philadelphia the foremost post-imperial city when it comes to the British Empire--site of the Declaration of Independence and all that? I actually think the world of architecture is extremely fortunate to have an iconic post-imperial building in a post-imperial capital transplanted there by architects from the Empire's proto post-imperial city.
[Earlier, when the discussions here centered on evolution versus invention of style, I wanted to introduce the notion of Venturi's role vis-à-vis POMO, specifically the publication of Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, which is based almost entirely on the early 1960s architectural theory course that Venturi taught at the University of Pennsylvania (in Philadelphia, founded by Benjamin Franklin). Essentially, I wanted to raise the question as to what influence the Philadelphia 'context' had on 'Post-Modern Architecture'. If you asked me, I'd say the influence was indeed seminal, and Venturi's Mother's House (Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, a 15 minute ride from where I'm presently sitting as I write this) had a great deal to do with the earliest manifestation (dare I say invention?) of what has come to be labeled Post Modern Architecture.]
I'm going to table the issue of what exactly Philadelphia contextualism is in specific terms of style, and instead ask all you that can readily visit the Sainsbury Wing to go there next time with the thought that you are going to a truly Philadelphian building because the style you'll see there is, like I said, an example of Philadelphia architecture at its best. If you don't know Philadelphia itself, and/or are not too familiar with Philadelphia's indigenous architecture, I'd suggest concurrently looking at (any book on) the architecture of Frank Furness (1839-1912), the sort of ur-architect of Philadelphia uniqueness and perhaps Venturi's strongest stylistic influence.
Like Venturi and (almost) Kahn, I am a Philadelphia native (although I'm also the only member of my immediate family born in America), and I've sort of made Philadelphia context an integral part of my life, e.g., I've been living in the same Philadelphia house for almost 43 years, all but the first 20 months of my life). As much as Philadelphia is often called the cradle of democracy, a kind of New World Athens, at base (i.e., literally infrastructurally) Philadelphia is a Roman colonial camp reenactment (and you might even put camp in quotes, a la Learning from Las Vegas via Philadelphians). Philadelphia's original plan is a Roman grid complete with a real cardo and a real decumanus, and the plan is still very much intact today. Indeed, Broad Street, the north-south axis is the longest straight street (in an urban context) in the world, an ultimate cardo, primary axis if there ever is one (and Stauffer Hall, the site of Temple University's architecture program from 1973-1980 was right on Broad Street). I don't have to tell all of you how much I look to/at Rome, but I should mention that the main reason I started redrawing and studying Piranesi's Campo Marzio (and all the subsequent ancient Roman studying being done like on St. Helena) is because I was inspired by the fact that Louis I. Kahn, throughout his mature years, had a copy of Piranesi's Campo Marzio plan hanging on the wall over his desk at his office (on Walnut St. in downtown Philadelphia, and no I'm not suggesting that Kahn was some kind of 'wall nut'). After Learning from Las Vegas, Venturi next published a group of essays under the title A View from the Campidoglio, and just a few years ago it dawned on me that when one is actually standing at the Campidoglio in Rome, the view being taken in is literally Rome's Campo Marzio. I'm going to make one final bold statement here, and that is to ask you to now trust me when I say that I continue to see what some of Philadelphia's best architects looked at.
ps
I just found out yesterday that the Rape of the Sabine Women (one of Rome's inaugural 'urban' events) occurred on 18 August. I was somewhat stunned when I read that (in Plutarch's Romulus) because 18 August is also the Roman Catholic Church feast of Saint Helena. Yes, I subsequently smiled a lot yesterday.

2000.12.12
..... language [and innuendo?]
The current discussion on architectural language reminds me of a small exhibit at Quondam online earlier this year--innuendo. In a general sense, the display deals with the 'language' and meaning of architectural planimetric forms, while specifically the display deals with the 'master key' that unlocks the longheld mysteriousness of Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius (i.e., the large plan of the Fields of Mars). And in hyper-contextual terms, the display refers to the two rapes that generated Rome: the rape of the Vestal Virgin Rhea Silvia by the god Mars, which in turn produced Romulus and Remus, and then the rape of the Sabine women, an attack planned by Romulus in order to further populate his newly founded namesake urbs. That's rape, then rape reenacted, then Eternal City! What better way to institute a 'place' then with the notion "like father, like son."


2001.01.03
in "Beyond Style"
I spent a good bit of last weekend reading throughout Precis: Beyond Style (1985), and, as luck would have it, the articles by authors other than Stern and Libeskind were the most interesting and worthwhile.
"Building Metaphors" by Arthur C. Danto contained at least this one sentence which I had to repeat: "It is rather an architectural reenactment of a Renaissance reenactment of a dreamt classical city believed to be real, and because it is a city in connotation it can and does emblemize the city it is part of." Danto is referring to McKim, Mead and White's campus of Columbia University. Of course, I do not know the whole of architectural literature, but this quotation is the earliest direct connection between architecture (design) and reenactment that I come across thus far.
"On Style as Personal Expression" by Carlos Gomez de Llarena begins with: "Style, specifically the question of personal style, is hardly discussed today in architectural criticism and even less evident in teachings about architecture." Although I can't be at all certain, I imagine that the case of "personal style" is still the same today (ie, fifteen years since de Llarena's article.) I remember a woman, a fellow classmate in my first year design studio, who had an affinity for Art Nouveau, and she actually was able to apply an 'art nouveau' sensitivity to contemporary design projects. Of course, the woman was not exhibiting a solely personal style, rather I saw her as having found an affinity with the (established) style, and thus rendered application to her own designs. Further, of course, this woman's designs were consistantly chastised by the design critics. I hence always thought there might just be something terribly wrong about nipping creativity in the bud just because of "stylistic" differences. Anyway, de Llarena's article is a thorough analysis of (architectural) personal style and its more or less self-evident yet often denied implications.
"The Rise and Transformation of Modern Style: A Polemical History" by Edward Mendelson is a study of "High Modernism" versus "Low Modernism", and, although a little dated, nonetheless offers a neat way to dissect modernism. I now wonder if the term "Hyper Modernism" has yet been coined, that is, "beyond modern" as opposed to "post/after modern". I think a case can already be made for the classification of a Hyper Baroque, which is the European style corresponding to the century between roughly 1650 and 1750, and Hyper Size is perhaps the best description of what comes after S,M,L,XL.
Interestingly, in "Madness and the Combinative" Bernard Tschumi uses the word "hypertext" (which I'm guessing may have first been used within Tschumi's The Manhatten Transcripts, which I have not read). It was actually strange for me to see 'hypertext' associated with architecture fifteen years ago. It reminded me of the days (also fifteen years ago) when I used to regularly read The Face (a UK 'popular style' magazine). There were always lots of ads for new music CDs, mostly from groups or bands I never heard of. It never failed that when I looked through an issue of The Face that was a year old, I then recognized all the bands and music being advertised. The points being, introductions virtually always have a strong tint of foreign-ness, and it takes time for information to be assimilated. One of the reasons I like history is because you can often actually find those times when "traditions" first were foreign.

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