The founders of Columbus, Ohio-based studio Outpost Office conduct a lot of site visits. Not just for their own emerging architectural practice, established in 2014 in Ukraine, but as a way to have fun, educate themselves, and their peers. Ashley Bigham and Erik Herrmann are both assistant professors of The Ohio State University’s Knowlton School of Architecture. In their free time—which is few and far-between as academic practitioners—they host a clever podcast called Site Visit where they invite guests to give them tours of random architecture. The best example of how interesting and unpretentious this design podcast is lies in the fact that their first episode ever was recorded in Michigan’s #1 home improvement store. The first eight-episode season was released last year and attracted nearly 4,000 subscribers. Now in its second season, Site Visit is expanding with more episodes and more diverse points of view. AN spoke with Bigham and Herrmann about the inspiration behind the podcast, how to get good audio of a building, and why they feel they could tour the same space over and over again and still learn something new each time. AN: First, the name. What inspired you to call the show Site Visit? Erik Herrmann: We wanted the name to be simple and direct. No one has very much time these days, so we get right to the point. And for architects, it’s also a bit of a wink, which also clues you into the tone. Site visits are the things we do as architects when we leave the confines of the office and get out “into the world.” Site Visits are thrilling, but also a bit intimidating for young architects. You have to improvise, negotiate, and perform in all kinds of fascinating ways. You are often wearing a lot of hats...literally and metaphorically. Every site visit is different, so no one is exactly in their comfort zone. We wanted to produce something that was authentic to the medium of podcasts and wasn’t like a lecture, review, or interview which are the typical formats we get architectural knowledge from. These formats are usually about someone directly demonstrating their expertise. We wanted to cultivate a conversation amongst friends with buildings at the center. In your roster of episodes, you visit a theater, a military academy, an architecture school, and downtown Denver, among other places. How do all these “architectures” connect? EH: There are a lot of great podcasts on architecture, but they often tend to be academic and borrow a lot from the traditional formats we discussed earlier. Within that space, we saw an opportunity to try something a little different. There's a particular genre of podcasts we were attracted to that are essentially serialized conversations amongst friends that center around a shared experience. The podcasts Doughboys, which reviews chain restaurants, and The Flophouse, which reviews films, are two examples. We then started talking a lot about things we genuinely liked to talk to each other about, which to be honest was buildings. But we’re also academics, so we can’t help but talk about buildings in terms of, to borrow Stan Allen’s terms, not only practice but also project. We wanted to find an approachable, straightforward format that allowed our guest’s project or more overarching theory of architecture to organically emerge while the conversation focuses on a specific building. So our initial intention was simply to invite someone who could help unpack a building for us and it worked! Through their choice of that site and their personal description of it, we’ve started to better understand how people see the world around them. Do you have specific criteria for the sites you visit? EK: Our guest always chooses the location. Our only rule is that it’s not a space they themselves designed. Our preference, though, is that it’s a public building. Any highlights from Season 1? Ashley Bigham: Episode 1 with Ellie Abrons remains one of the favorites. We went to Menard’s, which is a midwest chain of home improvement stores, and it was a great way to kick off the podcast. In the beginning, we were worried that our guests would only choose signature buildings by famous architects. Menard’s is great because it is a very complex piece of architecture. It’s basically a fun palace. It’s a densely filled commercial space that has an impact on all people, particularly children. So many people in the Midwest love it and tell us they went there all the time as a kid. Anyone who has ever been into a big box store can relate to what we were talking about in this episode without even visiting that specific one. The episode also offers some insight into Ellie’s approach to architecture. What can listeners expect with Season 2? AB: Our first interview is with Anya Sirota of Akoaki in Detroit. She’s also a professor at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture. She took us to Airtime in Ann Arbor, which is an indoor trampoline park. Season 2 will also include our first live episode which we’re very excited about. We’ll be recording an episode live during the fall conference for the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture at Stanford. EH: We are highlighting a couple of other people located in the Midwest as well for Season 2, an architect and museum curator specifically. We want to expand the conversation to include a lot of new voices. I noticed you had previously visited an inflatable bouncing park in Season 1 and a trampoline park in Season 2. How were you able to approach Season 2 premiere episode with a fresh perspective? AB: We could honestly visit the same site every single episode because each of our guests would see it differently, and therefore we would too. What’s been the biggest challenge in producing a podcast on architecture? EH: With every episode, we’ve found it challenging to describe the architecture and the experience. I think that’s the hardest thing to do clearly with the audio format. We try to curb that by offering visuals on our Site Visit Instagram or the website, but when we’re recording it’s a constant challenge trying to remember to experience the space through your words, and not primarily through your eyes. We also got a very interesting comment once from a friend of ours who is a lawyer. She asked whether we would ever bring on a guest who is visually impaired. People who are blind or are differently-abled might experience space differently than we do. It’d be fascinating. Do you think you’ll venture into a third season? AB: I think so. When we started the podcast, we knew we wouldn’t have a lot of time to devote to it, but we’ve really grown to enjoy the conversations. We’re actually visiting with episode six guest Whitney Moon later this fall. She’s teaching a course on podcasts and architectural media at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and we’re going to drop in and see what the students are up to. The show has a life long after the microphone is turned off.
Posts tagged with "Ohio State University":
Rejection; we're all familiar with having our ideas turned down. Now, from August 23 through October 4 at the Banvard Gallery at The Ohio State University's Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture, curators Team B Architecture & Design have reached out to architects and designers for Rejected, a show that will give rejected work its due. That includes interiors, streetscapes from Denise Scott Brown, cabins, and mediations on what failure and rejected schemes mean in the grand scheme of academia, when traditionally, winning proposals are the ones that are preserved for future generations to study. What's lost when we let winners write the narrative? Rejected, in the same vein as Stanley Tigerman’s 1976 counter-show to 100 Years of Architecture in Chicago, seeks to widen the narrative about what has "worth" in the field. The text that follows was written by the Architect's Newspaper's Executive Editor Matt Shaw for the show, and examines those who voluntarily wrap themselves in the mantle of rejection and what that entails. Rejected can be found at 275 West Woodruff Avenue, Columbus, Ohio, 43210. Graphic design for the show was done by Garrett Corcoran. I like the topic of "rejection." According to urbandictionary.com, a "reject" is "Someone who gets rejected from a group of friends or basiclly [sic] life. For example, someone might say, "Go away you fuckin [sic] reject, you have no friends, we all hate you." This seems like a great starting point for a show.[i] [Redacted][ii] Rejection seems like an important topic in today's world. A quick search on 2knowmyself.com, generates a series of user-submitted questions, such as "Does rejection mean you are ugly".[iii] A deep reflection on love and self-identity, this seemingly juvenile query seems to be at the heart of your show. What does it mean to be rejected, and to be a reject? Within our hyper-capitalist neoliberal society, technology has played an increased role in how we see ourselves. According to South Korean philosopher Byung-Chul Han in his book Psychopolitics (Verso, 2018), smartphones and social media are commodified to the point where they have tapped into our psyches to exploit us. They accomplish this by creating a system where we exploit ourselves by constantly monitoring our own behavior, checking for likes and affirmation in the virtual sphere. It is like Foucault's panopticon, except even more abstract and sinister, as each of us is our own guard. Rather than a biopolitics—the organization and exploitation of bodies in an industrial world—Han calls this neoliberal technological exploitation psychopolitics, or the exploitation of the psyche. “Instead of forbidding and depriving it works through pleasing and fulfilling. Instead of making people compliant, it seeks to make them dependent.”[iv] If neoliberalism wants us to seek affirmation, then seeking and celebrating rejection must be a healthy alternative. Team B is kind of like the incels of the architecture world. What is an incel? It is an involuntary celibate, a person who cannot have sex, despite wanting to. It is a state of constant and nihilistic rejection, which is referred to as “inceldom.” In dark corners of the internet, the incels have created an online subculture. At its worst, these incels become radicalized and turn to violence, including mass shootings. [Redacted][v] In the 2014 Isla Vista shootings, gunman Eliot Rodger left a manifesto, which has been regarded as an incel hagiography, and referenced by other mass shooters since. In My Twisted World The Story of Elliot Rodger by Rodger, he says:
Humanity… All of my suffering on this world has been at the hands of humanity, particularly women. It has made me realize just how brutal and twisted humanity is as a species. All I ever wanted was to fit in and live a happy life amongst humanity, but I was cast out and rejected, forced to endure an existence of loneliness and insignificance, all because the females of the human species were incapable of seeing the value in me...My life didn’t start out dark and twisted. I started out as a happy and blissful child, living my life to the fullest in a world I thought was good and pure.[vi]Rather than a violent band of murderous incels, Team B is more aligned with the original incels, a benevolent and supportive sexless bunch. [Redacted][vii] Ironically, for Rodger, the incel community also did not start out as a twisted, sick group of internet creeps who threaten violence against people who are sexually active, which they call "Chads and Stacys." [Redacted][viii] The incel group was founded in 1993 by a Canadian student named Alana. "Alana's Involuntary Celibacy Project" was a sincere community for "anybody of any gender who was lonely, had never had sex or who hadn't had a relationship in a long time." Alana eventually abandoned the project and handed it off to another user, but the group slowly devolved into the radicalized, misogynistic group we know today. Rejection at its best becomes a rallying cry for a group or an ideology. Denise Scott Brown, in the Rejected show, describes how the rejection of three Venturi Scott Brown & Associates' projects was a systematic disavowal of the postmodern architecture style.
We feel that renovation of Franklin Court and the planned renovation of the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art exemplify a rejection not only of design but of a whole style. The renovations of these two landmark designs demonstrates a dismissal of the fun and playful spirit of postmodernism in favor of the minimalistic look of contemporary design.[ix]Philip Johnson also used rejection as a positive as he needled the Architectural League of New York, which eventually led to the International Style show at MoMA. According to Robert A.M. Stern,
In 1931 he co-curated (with [Alfred E.] Barr and Julian Levy) the independent show Rejected Architects, which created a public furor and paved the way for the International Style exhibit. It featured work by young architects that didn’t meet the requirements of the conservative Architectural League. The show was staged in a rented storefront and Johnson hired a sandwich-board man to parade in front of the League’s offices with the message “See Really Modern Architecture Rejected by the League.” The League was outraged and tried to have the man arrested, but the attendant front-page publicity insured the show’s success and brought modern architecture to the public’s attention for the first time in the United States.[x]In the Rejected show, there is no stylistic agenda, because architecture today has no singular, dominant ideology. Rather, the exhibition is a performative rejection of the culture of neoliberal psychopolitical acceptance. While some more conventional commercially successful architects actively rejected the invitation to be in the Rejected show, many of the participants proudly flaunt being rejected by the arbiters of institutional taste and the decision-makers of the capitalist development community. Who has the power to accept being a reject? For many of the participants in the show, the academic backdrop allows rejection to be taken as a positive, a wink-and-nod, that it is ok to fail. Outside of the capitalist modes of production, it is a much-needed respite and represents a strong bond between practitioners, if not stylistically, then in a way of operating within a certain lane of the current context. Instead of an architectural act of violence, what we have here is a group therapy session for the happy-go-lucky rejects who take pride in their status as architectural incels. [i] Urban Dictionary. “Reject”. Urbandictonary.com. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=reject (accessed August 5, 2019). [ii] This sentence was rejected for being insulting to the curators. [iii] 2knowmyself. “Does rejection mean you are ugly”. 2knowmyself.com. <https://www.2knowmyself.com/does_rejection_mean_you_are_ugly (accessed August 5, 2019). [iv] Byung-Chul Han. Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power. Brooklyn, NY : Verso, 2017 [v] This sentence was rejected for being too offensive in general. [vi] Elliot Rodger. My Twisted World The Story of Elliot Rodger. <https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1173808-elliot-rodger-manifesto.html> (accessed August 5, 2019). [vii] This sentence was rejected for being too offensive in general. [viii] ibid. [ix] Denise Scott Brown, email message to John Stoughton. July 1, 2019. [x] Robert A.M. Stern. “Philip Cortelyou Johnson (1906-2005).” The Architect’s Newspaper. <https://archpaper.com/2005/02/philip-courtelyou-johnson> (accessed August 5, 2019).
Professor Todd Gannon has been appointed the section head of architecture at Ohio State University’s Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture. Gannon received both his undergraduate and graduate architecture degrees at the Knowlton School before going on to UCLA for his Ph.D. His academic studies focused on the history and theory of contemporary architecture in the late 20th century. “I am thrilled to return to Columbus and to rejoin the Knowlton School as architecture section head. Ohio State is one of the premier public universities in the country and the Knowlton School has long played a leading role in advancing both the discipline and the practice of architecture worldwide,” said Gannon in a statement. Last year, the Knowlton School of Architecture's MArch program ranked #25 in the U.S. according to Design Intelligence. US News & World Report ranked Ohio State as #16 in Top Public Schools this year. The previous section head, Professor Robert S. Livesey, served for four years before his retirement. Livesey has been a professor of architecture at the Knowlton School since 1983 and, since then, has held various leadership roles and received many teaching awards. He will help transition Gannon into his new role. “I look forward to building on the formidable achievements of my predecessor, Professor Robert Livesey,” Gannon continued, “and to working with Knowlton School students, faculty and staff to develop innovative, equitable, and sustainable strategies to meet architecture’s twin responsibilities to organize the built environment and to advance the public imagination.” Gannon was most recently at SCI-Arc where he taught history, theory, and design studio. He has several published works including The Light Construction Reader and Pendulum Plane/Oyler Wu Collaborative as well as two forthcoming books on architecture critic and historian Reyner Banham and unbuilt architecture in Southern California. At Knowlton, Gannon juried the graduate architecture Exit Review Prize and lectured at the 2014 Baumer Lecture Series.
A campus chiller’s prime directive is to pump torrents of cool water, not to look good. But thanks to an inventive skin of dichroic glass fins and high-sheen concrete panels from Ross Barney Architects, the Ohio State University’s south campus central chiller does both. When the project was first announced in 2010, Carol Ross Barney told AN, “Rather than just showing the pipes, we wanted to represent energy itself.” The 95,750-square-foot chiller plant is sprinkled with glazed openings that reveal some of its interior equipment. Because no moving parts are visible, a sense of motion plays out instead on the building’s iridescent glass fins. The recently completed project will pursue LEED certification.
|Brought to you with support from:|
A fellow at the Knowlton School of Architecture expounds on the work of Le Ricolais with a new plugin for Rhino.For Justin Diles, Ohio State University’s KSA LeFevre fellowship was a fateful progression of past experiences and ongoing professional work. While studying under Cecil Balmond at the University of Pennsylvania, Diles encountered hand-built models that Robert Le Ricolais constructed with his students in the 1960s. “Le Ricolais built models with his students for 20 years,” said Diles, “and one that I found he had built out of tubular steel and loaded to failure. It produced a really beautiful deformation pattern.” Two years later, Diles was teaching at the University of Applied Arts Vienna in the master class studio of Greg Lynn. While in Austria, he met Clemens Preisinger, a developer who, with support from Klaus Bollinger’s firm Bollinger Grohman Engineers, wrote a new plugin for Rhino called Karamba. The plugin is an architect-friendly, finite, element analysis method that delivers fast, intuitive graphic information, along with the requisite numbers. The plugin would figure heavily in Diles’ fellowship work. When he arrived in Ohio, Diles’s work progressed along two parallel tracks: The first was developing a computational design component with a formal vocabulary of the structural deformation Le Ricolais’ model. The second was developing a material capable of realizing the design. In Karamba, Diles augmented a tectonic simile from le Ricolais’s latticed models as surfaces for fabrication with composites. “That was an ah-ha moment for me,” said Diles. “I began taking a single assembly and ran it through multiple iterations of buckling deformations.” Diles layered multiple deformations into patterns that produced a puzzle of nesting components. Black and white coloring helped him track the layers and lent a graphic, architectural appeal. After the design was finalized, Diles made a series of molds from lightweight Styrofoam. “It was interesting because it’s usually a junk material and, in a way, has a very bad reputation as a material,” he said. “But it’s recyclable and can hold a tremendous amount of weight and is easily worked on a CNC mill.” A 3-axis mill generated components of a mold, which were taped together and sealed with Plaster of Paris to prevent resins of the composite from bonding to the foam. “We used a lot of tricks from Bill Kreysler’s fabrication shop,” said Diles. The final mold was sealed with Duratec StyroSheild. Diles and his team coated the mold with layers of different materials, not knowing exactly how the final components would safely release from the cast. An outermost layer of marine-grade gel coat was applied to the mold and roughly sanded so a chopped E-glass fiberglass reinforcement could be affixed to it with resin. Since fiberglass is a lightweight material, about three layers were built up to realize the final 11 1/2- by 6-foot form. Convex white sections and hollow black pieces were friction-fitted, sans glue, with maximum gap spaces of only 1/32-inch.