Posts tagged with "Princeton":

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What is Low-resolution architecture?

44 Low-resolution houses was an exhibition of 44 models of houses by 44 architects. It was organized by Michael Meredith and was on display at the Princeton School of Architecture’s North Gallery from September 11-November 9, 2018. Seemingly simple, the show is organized by a strong conceptual framework that puts these houses into dialogue with one another. In the show, “Low-resolution” (Low-res) is posited a way of seeing objects that are not slick surfaces or gridded plans, but rather aggregated, quotidian, and loosely composed. The exhibition is divided into three parts: “first, houses that vaguely resemble houses, using familiar elements like pitched roofs, etc.; second, houses that appear to be constructed, in that one can see the construction, joints, and materials (there is a sort of cheap, unfinished quality to the work); and third, houses that are composed of basic geometric primitives-squares, circles, triangles-arranged in a non-compositional or abstract manner.” In category 1, Montreal practice Atelier Barda’s Maison Gauthiera house that vaguely resembles a house— incorporates narratives of European stables, the gabled roof, arched gateway, vestibule, cathedral ceiling, deep light canyons, and morphological and formal characteristics of Ellsworth Kelly. All of these references were implemented to achieve desired effects while not immediately recognizable as such. Abstracted figural forms escape the cliche of the sign while still holding symbolic meaning, which is a theme of the low-res. In category 2, Ann Arbor firm T+E+A+M’s A Range Life, constructed so that one can see the construction, joints, and materials, creates a feedback loop between the physical and the digital, including printed graphics on the side of the house, but also with similarly weird material approximations such as fake stone bulkheads and foam rocks. The simulations constitute a construction logic that defies the high-tech detailing and material specificity of previous generations such as phenomenologists or the digital avant-garde, as well as big service firms. In category 3, the low-resolution organization (non-compositional or abstract) group, Columbus, OH–based Outpost Office describes their Upstate House as part of a body of work about "openness," or formal and organizational strategy that generates "open systems embedded with multiplicity and/or formal ambiguity." This ambiguity and plurality could provoke new and unexpected social forms.

In this exhibition, these loose, cool compositions are displayed in a highly choreographed, rigorously designed exhibition by New York-based Studio Lin. All-white, 100-pound Bristol paper models at ¼”=1’0” scale with simple AutoCAD hatch patterns showing materials gives each house an equal footing to be compared with others. his is the paradox evident in all of Meredith’s work, where a “Low-res,” nonchalant attitude is hidden deep beneath a refined, clean aesthetic. It is likely what allows him and his practice MOS to have such a distinctive hegemony over young practices today. The problem with this approach for the exhibition is that in architecture, hardcore formalism and the way it strips away material and site sort of undermines the theoretical rigor and novelty of the exhibitions’ content, which relies on more than just massing and abstracted material representations. While this could be read as “Low-res” exhibition design, where only part of the information is available and we get the point, just not in great detail, this would be generous in its reading. IMHO, the conceptual framework of “Low-resseems to be more productive than Meredith’s previous attempt to understand this generation, “indifference.” In Log 39, he wrote an essay “Indifference, Again,” claiming that today's practitioners operate in a condition similar to those in the McCarthy era, and he cited a 1977 Artforum article. This questionable reading of today's political context and the citation of an Artforum article of that vintage left the critical judgment of "indifference" stillborn. However, the shift to the “Low-res” makes more sense in today's neoliberal, late-capitalist world where cultural production is strained by commodification and strained labor. For a group of designers who avoid conflict, “Low-res offers a way to discuss the work that can begin to categorize, understand, and create dialog between the works, rather than simply let the designers off the hook, or veer into nihilistic multivalence like indifference.

Low-res” offer a formal project that becomes extremely productive in part because of the flexibility that arises from the independence of building parts, such as walls and a roof that can be tuned to the needs of program and site, rather than a strict parti of a continuous surface, which can inhibit the finer details of plan and section. The “Low-res” architectural project shares characteristics with certain practices and efforts in both art and product design. Under a broader umbrella of "low"—in the sense of  a "low" production, not necessarily a "low" culture—we can see common threads about how to expose the process of construction or production in the avoidance of what the artist Hito Steyerl describes as "high-end economies of film production were (and still are) firmly anchored in systems of national culture, capitalist studio production, the cult of mostly male genius, and the original version, and thus are often conservative in their very structure."

We can also see this in contemporary art today in the attitude of COMP USA Live, "The original live desktop theater internet television show." The producers created a custom software that allows for a completely anarchic and disorganized aesthetic. Filmed in front of a live studio audience, the show takes place inside of a Windows 2000 desktop. While the technology behind the show is advanced, and the artists are skilled, the show comes off as something more “low-resolution,” as members of the cast are/appear unprepared. They fight with each other, and the low production value is expressed in every sense, from costumes to props and the stage itself. For Meredith, the three categories of “Low-res” point to a similar condition in architecture, one that rejects the futures where virtuosic technology is the answer—the techno-dystopias we see unfolding before us, such as gender-recognition technology—and points to attitudes that make their own ideas about how the world should be: a compositional, material, and organizational “Low-res,” where columns and parts are left articulated in construction, much like the video effects and software glitches (a result of a looseness about color-selection tolerances within the green-screen technology) are left on display in COMP USA Live.

https://vimeo.com/289594891

44 Low-resolution houses showcases some of the best designers in the world, but in the wrong hands, low-resolution seems to have the potential to devolve—or be co-opted—into a techno-dystopian uber-shabby-chic aesthetic, like in District 9, one where the sheddings of capitalism—cheap materials and trash—are recast into aesthetic objects infused with a realism and an almost survivalist fashionability. Given enough space, this kind of formal looseness starts to absorb other loose-nesses in the world, bordering on the ad-hoc or informal. For example, at the 2016 Venice Biennale, curator Alejandro Aravena, a Chilean Aristocrat born of the Post-Pinochet neoliberal order, seemed to suggest that the whole world learns from the practices of the developing world, and build cities out of trash that is disposed of by the machinations of global materialism. The Low-resolution (Low-res) project is not complete, but this show in Princeton’s gallery was a successful attempt to define a set of characteristics and conditions that define contemporary practice for these architects. And this is not easy these days. The remaining question is what causes one to be “Low-res?” How can an entire set of practices be working in this way? It could be that the aesthetics of virtuosity—perfect Grasshopper models—have been absorbed into institutions so deeply that all that is left is some new rethinking of parts as a way to slow down attention but at the same time speed up production, reducing the time spent on generating form and spending more of it looking at material and construction details. Comparing this to Aravena’s Biennale (the aesthetic project of collecting pieces, as well as the social one of helping others), we can see some similarities. Both had dramatic, hi-fidelity exhibition design. While Aravena's Biennale was first a social project that directly attempted to offer solutions to problems, Low-resolution is not. Rather, it grows from conditions underlying the context in which it is produced. Most notably, both are post-digital, Aravena's seeking low-tech solutions that might fill in where the promise of the digital utopia has fallen short, while Meredith's assessment of today's elite design practices arises from a similar condition, probably one where our experience of the digital is less about tools such as Grasshopper, and more about digital space and the feedback loop between online culture, identity politics, and the cut-paste culture of the internet, where anyone can easily piece together an online persona with some clicks of a mouse. Overall, 44 Low-resolution Houses is an important show that could serve as the start of understanding more about how we make architecture today.

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Live: Postmodern Procedures at Princeton

Postmodern Procedures is a two-day conference at Princeton School of Architecture that offers an alternate history of Postmodernism. The goal is to find something that is less about signs and symbols or historic references, and more about longer-form processes that produced the visual syntax of some of the most interesting projects in architectural history. Follow along as AN will be posting updates all day on Saturday, December 5. 9:25 James Wines gets day 2 started off with a series of stories about 1970's New York and a group of architects and artists who lived near each other on Greene St. in Soho, many of which worked in between architecture and art. He calls this Arch-Art, drawing upon the interdisciplinary contributions made by his firm SITE, as well as artists like Beuys and Henry Moore. There was a comment about rejecting "Plop Art" or "The Turd in the Plaza," favoring a process, such as in his Ghost Parking Lot, a public art project where SITE paved over a parking lot full of cars. Wines calls big box stores the ultimate found object that everyone recognizes. Wines used the BEST Stores to put art where you would least expect it. "It was a transformation," he said, explaining that the stores were a process of making the usual shopping center into something new and fantastic, through process. As for the Indeterminate Facade, the first BEST store, "There was alot of 'not getting it," he said, "Saying that this store was about destruction was like saying that a Giocometti sculpture was about starving people." "Not getting it" became his theme as he showed how many of his ideas became Pomo tropes, such as "tilting" and "falling apart." Some other highlights of his career were shown, including the process behind Shake Shack and the bookstore at MAK Vienna, both of which pushed the limits of building codes, legal contingencies, and historic landmark rules. 10:15 Amale Andraos of WORKac is giving a presentation of their work, with clear echoes of many of the issues that Wines introduced. Slicing, peeling, and the relationship of interior and exterior become organizing principles. "Collage Garage" is a facade for a parking structure in Miami. A four-foot wide ant farm for people includes circulation functions as well as environmental features like ventilation and water collection. The thickness produces a new way of inhabiting a facade, through a process of pushing the limits of the thin slice of space. 10:31 Mark Lee of Johnston Marklee remarks that he saw Wines speak at Sci-Arc 25 years ago when he was young and impressionable. "Seeing him speak again today made me feel young and impressionable," Lee said. Collage and layering are just a couple of the processes that Lee sees as valuable takeaways from Wines' work. Lee showing examples from photography and film to illustrate his concept of "loose fit," including John Baldessari's experiments with throwing balls in the air to approximate geometries. Their Vault House is a beach house that uses this concept to arrange a series of vault-like sections into a long passage of ill-fitting vaults. this process creates a long series of overlapping forms in a complex whole. 10:44 Panel starting off with Lavin asking Wines about living in Soho in the early days with artists like Bob Smithson and Alice Aycock. There were complex relationships between art and architecture, and the lines were not always clear. Wines speaks of it in a very pragmatic way, saying that on Greene St., artists were simply trying to see what they could get away with. Andraos makes the connection that this is probably how SITE shifted the boundaries of what could be considered architecture. "If it looks normal, you have something that is really avant-garde," said Wines. 11:48 And we're back with Diana Agrest, architect and urbanist. She is tracing the procedures that lead to retention and transference of ideas, both in her own work, and in the academic world, especially at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, where a group of non-commercial young architects were trying to find themselves and figure out how to engage with the city and their own practices. 12:27 Erin Besler takes the podium to discuss her intellectual project that deals with problems of construction and participation, a term that she is suspicous of. In her practice, Besler and Sons, she and her husband Ian Besler work with the conventional tools and resources of the everyday architect. At the Chicago Architecture Biennial, they looked at BIM as an open platform of participation that the public can engage with by sketching a wall that is produced by software in 3D. Studfindr.org is a kinkily-named platform that displays the creations of Biennial-visitors. Parallel to the open BIM project, a physical constructed light steel-framed wall system interrogates the space within the pedantic construction we might find in a big box store. Each step of the process is reflected upon. The unusual construction produced a set of operational follies along the way, The end project is a hand-scale sight gag—a set of off-kilter details that act visually much like Wine's Best Stores, but at a small scale. Lavin asks, "Who and What is communicating?" She says that in the original Postmodernism, there was architecture communicating with broader audiences, while today, it seems like the work is attempting to communicate with a smaller cadre of people. Agrest says that the work of Venturi and Scott Brown among others was looking for more direct communication, while Besler and Sons' project is communicating both inside and outside and outside of the profession. 2:09 Andrew Holmes explaining how he made a drawing of The Pompidou Center in 1972 while at Piano Rogers Architects. The competition-winning, 36-foot long drawing was made entirely by hand with multiple mediums. Rapidographs, blueprint machines, and a host of other now-arcane drawing techniques came together for the intensive representation. This live blogger is fascinated, but utterly lost in the process of this drawing. Is that ok? Ok, now talking about the relationship of line weights and the finished project. A .8 Rapidograph produces a thicker piece of metal, for instance, while a thinner one is nearly invisible in the final table. During high school, Jimenez Lai got a co-op placement at an animation studio. This was nearly 20 years ago. This is where he developed his relationship to ink, which is the topic of the pairing of Lai and Holmes. This is a thinkpiece about ink. From more recent copies of Noguchi and Tschumi, to living in a gallery in London, Lai is always pushing the boundaries of drawing in social contexts. There are not only physical boundaries in the galleries, but also limits on the audiences and spectators that might enter the space. I remember that London project in 2012 where Lai asked the gallery to buy him a robe. I was there, man. "Yes, I do do sloppy work," he said, referencing Norman Kelley (NK) and Speedism. On one end of the spectrum is NK's immaculate craft of incorrect compositions, while Speedism's fast and dirty accelerationist collages thrive on sloppiness as a political stance within internet culture. Holmes is promiscuous and boring to watch draw, while Lai is "very committal," and more fun to watch draw, as his practice of spectacular public drawing. Holmes says that his drawings are love objects for him, that have supported him throughout his life. 3:10 Wondering what it means to liveblog an event if no one is watching. Will people read it later? Is it still a live blog? Wonder what James Wines is thinking right now. 3:45 Chad Floyd up next. He is going to mix it up with some urbanism. Talking about the components of making a design process work for multiple parties. Floyd worked with Charles Moore to facilitate public TV programming that included a general population in the design process. They even built a storefront office that gave them a presence in Dayton for meetings. As ideas would come in, they would write down ideas on large papers on the wall. They also had a TV Show that broadcast the plans, while accepting calls from the public. Concepts, zoning plans and models were on TV throughout the communities where they were developed. Roanoke Design 79, Riverdesign Springfield, and were the most robust program. "This is not avant-garde architecture. It is bringing back a city that has been down, and doing it in a real way that people appreciate," Floyd said. This is one of the babies that was thrown out with the bathwater of Postmodernism. The engaged process of including local agencies and publics is a lost art. There are examples of firms doing it today, most notably FAT and the AOC in London. 4:16 Andrew Kovacs takes the stage to talk about making architecture from architecture. First, there is a two-part process, which I will reductively describe as collecting and editing. An analysis of Jencks's charts led into Kovacs's own analysis of internet searches and file management. The searching an browsing is compared to persistence hunting, a technique of outlasting your opponent. It leads him to libraries and trashcans and dollar stores. By scanning books and objects in the same scanner, it levels them all out, and allows the Photoshop arrangements to become the narratives (or lack thereof) that animate the work. Appropriating objects becomes a way of animating space. Although it is very Postmodern, "the dogs don't know the difference." Michael Meredith sits facing the screen to scroll through his website. "This is a little wierd for me too." The talk is called "Indifference as a Posture." The talk scrolled slowly through the website while describing the connections he sees through Pop and minimalism that make his practice. 4:58 Final discussion has Denise Scott Brown talking about participation and her experiments with including inner city people in the process.
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On View> Princeton Art Museum presents “Edvard Munch: Symbolism in Print”

Edvard Munch: Symbolism in Print Princeton University Art Museum McCormick Hall, Princeton, NJ Through June 8 Edvard Munch is best known for his 1893 painting The Scream. Like the majority of his work, this piece deals with psychological themes that were mainstays of late nineteenth century symbolist art, which greatly influenced German Expressionism. The symbols that Munch used contain universal meanings, but also meanings specific to his life. It is frequently forgotten that Edvard Munch was also one of the most skilled printmakers of his era. Edvard Munch: Symbolism in Print: Masterworks from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, showcases twenty six of Munch’s most poignant prints drawn from MOMA’s collection of lithographs and illustrated books. Munch used printmaking to refine complicated imagery and symbols that continue to speak to bedrock human concerns. Edvard Munch’s works echo his personal philosophy. He “[did] not believe in the art which is not the compulsive result of Man’s urge to open his heart.”
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Grow-Life: A Metabolist Science Fair, or, Cross-Contamination

After an earthquake and tsunami devastated the Sendai region of Japan on March 11, 2011, a lengthy recovery and rebuilding is underway. This is the basis for Nanako Umemoto and Jesse Reiser's "SUPERJURY," a collaboration between Princeton University, Tokyo University, Osaka Sangyo University, California College of the Arts, Tsinghua University, and Nagoya Institute of Technology. It explores large-scale reconstruction solutions which mediate between occasionally conflicting political interests of infrastructure construction, economic redevelopment, and memorialization of the site. Serving as inspiration was the utopian planning of Japanese Metabolism that addressed the destruction of WWII Japan, a situation similar to the devastation of the Sendai region. All parties convened at Princeton's School of Architecture on Tuesday, May 15 for a "science fair" of their research findings and proposals. The political, social, and cultural "cross-contamination" that is fostered by this type of collaboration breeds new ideas and addresses the specific issue more sensitively. But it also offeres a new model for an architecture studio. Rather than a unilateral critique by a jury of experts, this format permitted an open dialogue between students and faculty, which not only incorporated a group of diverse viewpoints, but also a local cultural sensitivity which is often missing in global projects where the site is thousands of miles away from the designer. For instance, people in Sendai are more interested in creating a memorial for the nearly 15,000 dead or missing. This cultural sensitivity could be easily overlooked by a simple studio project, but the network of schools offers multiple viewpoints, and thus new understandings. The studio prompts the question, what is large-scale? Is it top-down planning from nothing? Or is a system of smaller-scale objects that grow out into a networked system? Some proposals were large-scale infrastructural projects, others were memorials, and others mediated between the two by exploring how time could change the site. It could start as memorial, but transition, or grow, into a more utopian project of infrastructure. This is a rethinking of the original concept of Metabolism, one which proposed utopian visions based on single-family units that were then replicated and repeated. Unfortunately, the Metabolist approach still ended in top-down plans, simply focused on the small-scale as a departure point to Corbusian masterplanning. The SUPERJURY studios looked to return to Metabolism's roots, and proposed ground-up plans which could grow organically over time with all the social, political, and cultural thinking that Metabolism's rhetoric possessed, but that the work lacked. The explorations mainly focused on future energy systems, future water systems, and developmental expansion in the large-scale infrastructural landscape. Natural ecological systems, as well as past utopian projects such as Kenzo Tange's Tokyo Bay Project and Arata Isozaki's Sky City were examined as precedent. Newer developments in China and the Middle East were examined, too. All in all, the timely nature of this innovative and important studio was on ample display. Hopefully in the future, more institutions can foster this kind of networked, international collaboration.
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Princeton Zeroes in on Zaero-Polo as Next Dean (Updated)

It is now confirmed that the next dean at Princeton University School of Architecture will be Alejandro Zaera-Polo. The last lap of the race to take Stan Allen’s position as dean had narrowed down to three with odds on one of the several female contenders including Sylvia Lavin and Keller Easterling. But when the London-based, Spanish-born architect was called in London on March 18 and asked to fly to Princeton, where he is currently a visiting lecturer, the die seemed cast. And now Dean Allen confirms. Reached for comment, Dean Allen wrote in an email, “I'm delighted by this selection; Alejandro embodies exactly the mix of sophisticated design expertise and intellectual acumen that architects need today. It also perfectly equips him to lead a School like Princeton that has a long history of both design innovation and critical inquiry.” Zarea-Polo is best known for his work with his former wife and co-founder, Farshid Moussavi, at Foreign Office Architects particularly for the award-winning Yokohama International Cruise Terminal in Japan and a design and media building for Ravensbourne which was shortlisted for a 2011 RIBA Award. FOA was “demerged” in 2009 and in 2011, he founded Alejandro Zaera Pola Architecture, at the same time that Farshid Moussavi established Farshid Moussavi Architecture (FMA). The 49-year-old architect has also taught and studied widely. After taking a degree at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura in Madrid, he also studied with distinctions at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. He worked in Rotterdam for OMA before opening FOA in 2003. He was dean of the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam and the first recipient of the Norman R. Foster Visiting Professorship at Yale in 2009.