Posts tagged with "Yale School of Architecture":

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How mass timber can help architects rethink “basic services”

This is the fifth column of “Practice Values,” a bi-monthly series by architect and technologist Phil Bernstein. The column focuses on the evolving role of the architect at the intersection of design and construction, including subjects such as alternative delivery systems and value generation. Bernstein was formerly vice president at Autodesk and now teaches at the Yale School of Architecture. The topic this week in my practice class is “Scope of Services,” where we examine the architect’s relationship to the client’s work, to wit: What, exactly, does she have to do to deliver the project? The idea of “Basic Services” is central to explaining traditional practice, in that it’s the way we routinize our efforts through standard stages of effort (schematic design, design development, and so forth), structure decision-making, and, almost as important, create a basis for protecting our limited fees and invoicing the client. The idea of basic services or even “phases of design” has been under pressure for some time, mostly under the delaminating influence of technology. Long gone are the hand-drawn, single-line diagrams that once comprised the end product of schematics, just as transferring design intent to a builder may include BIM data or digital geometry in addition to traditional two-dimensional construction documents. The fluidity of digital data, and the purported insight that accompanies it, has blurred and expanded the system boundaries of services themselves. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the latest thinking about the use of mass timber as a fundamental building material for cities, work pioneered by my faculty colleague Alan Organschi of Gray Organschi Architecture. Alan argues persuasively that there is an opportunity to rethink the systems of carbon, energy, material production, design, and construction by the thoughtful and systematic use of engineered lumber—a renewable resource—in urban construction, where the forest is not just another source of raw material but also a place to store carbon. His thinking is not unlike Kiel Moe’s at Harvard, who posits that buildings aren’t independent objects that merely coexist with the systems that produce and sustain them, but rather are integral parts of those systems. Architects should ignore the resulting system boundaries created by constructs like, for example, the idea that our work be something called “Basic Services.” Both Organschi and Moe believe that architects must change the scale of their influence beyond the materialization of form by understanding, incorporating, and (dare I say it) controlling the flows of capital, energy, materials, and production. We need to replace our understanding of the supply chain with an overt ability to create and optimize it. This idea is immediately appealing, harkening back to the original assertions of modernism and its putative benefits for production and society, but equally daunting and intractable. This is precisely why Organschi’s claims about mass timber are so important: They represent a clear “through-line” from the means of making to the creation of form that is at the heart of the architect’s design proposition. Architects have always been part of a systems-design problem, and today’s digital tools that allow the representation, analysis, and optimization of systems fit perfectly into these new responsibilities. The digitization of design has blurred the traditional boundaries of our “systems of service,” but there are new opportunities emerging as design is informed by new technologies like systems engineering, big data analysis, and optimization, machine learning, and integrated network design. These tools will wend their way into innovative practices like Organschi’s, necessary to increase the architect’s understanding of and span of control over the supply chain. Organschi’s work thus challenges the entire idea of “Basic Services” as it currently drives practice—calling into question the roles of technology, research, professional certification, even the compensation to the architect for taking on such responsibilities. A “net zero” building means nothing if the systems that delivered it generates huge amounts of unaccounted carbon. We’ll need to reconsider and remediate all the systems boundaries of design—our internal protocols and processes and our relationship to the supply chain—to have true influence on the implications of our buildings. The efforts around mass timber described in this issue are some of the best thinking on this front so far.
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Catching up with Bob Stern on life after Yale

In an exit interview with the Yale University School of Architecture student newspaper Paprika!, former dean Robert A.M. Stern said, “Once I became the dean, I stopped going on any kind of a regular basis to live theater in New York, which I used to be quite an habitué of… I was usually so exhausted that at the end of the day I would go and sit in my one hundred dollar seat and have the most expensive snooze ever known to man… I’m looking forward to catching a few plays after June 30.” AN Senior Editor Matt Shaw caught up with Mr. Stern to talk about his life after deanship, his new office, and what else he has been up to in his newfound free time. Matt Shaw: This is my first visit to the new office. It has a similar feeling to the old one. Robert A.M. Stern: Well I don’t like too much change. The new office here on One Park Avenue is a reflection of the previous office on West 34th Street, which was a reflection of its predecessor on West 61st. Also, after being in an office for roughly 20 years, people forgot to throw things away, so the cleansing experience of coming over here—archiving things and so forth—has been great. But we kept the library. I remember that drawing. When we moved here, we just moved the drawing. The clients in Aspen have been friends of mine for a long time, and so I keep it there. I have a sentimental side, which people don’t actually know. They think I’m a man of steel and I’m really Clark Kent at heart. Well, congratulations on the move. So, what are you up to now that you are finished being dean at Yale? You must have lots of free time. Well, that’s not true. To begin with, I’m on sabbatical. I am preparing a new seminar that I will give this coming academic year. For a long time at Yale, I’ve given one seminar called “Parallel Moderns,” which says that what is commonly called “modern architecture”—in cocktail party chatter—is really only the International Style of the modern movement. However, there were many different kinds of modern architecture that ran parallel in the 20th century. I’m also working with Jake Tilove and David Fishman on my New York 2020 book, which I swore I would never do, but here I am. I was hoping to talk about what you do outside the office. What do you enjoy doing in the city? Do have more time to see shows at the theater now that you aren’t back and forth from New Haven? I had a kind of orgy of shows. The last one I saw was the one with Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, War Paint. I saw Dear Evan Hansen—I actually saw that before it opened. I knew it was going to be amazing and it was amazing. I saw Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, and the Kevin Kline thing, Present Laughter. I love musicals, as you can tell. There is a series at the City Center where they revive old shows. I saw The Golden Apple and it went in one ear and out the other. What are some of your favorite restaurants? Oh, you sound like a client who’s come in from Oshkosh. I used to love going to the Four Seasons and now… I don’t know, it’s not the same. They kind of sexed it up in a way. We’ll see what happens when it reopens in the fall. But, for me, the Four Seasons was very special. I had many lunches with Philip Johnson in the Grill Room and I kept going there afterward, once or twice a year. I still think it’s a beautiful experience to be there. What about public spaces? Where do you like to take a walk? Obviously from my books, I’m a complete enthusiast for New York. There’s no greater enclosed space in New York—or maybe the world—than the great hall of Grand Central. Central Park is another of the great rooms—and it is a room. There’s a difference between Central Park and Prospect Park. Prospect Park is not a room. You go in there and you get lost, whereas Central Park is a completely defined rectangle with walls of buildings on all four sides, so it’s a great room and I love that. I find Times Square amazing. They’re all kind of clichés because they’re so great. Everybody will say, ‘Oh, doesn’t he know some surprising place?’ No.
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How can architects adapt to the coming age of AI?

This is the fourth column of “Practice Values,” a bi-monthly series by architect and technologist Phil Bernstein. The column focuses on the evolving role of the architect at the intersection of design and construction, including subjects such as alternative delivery systems and value generation. Bernstein was formerly vice president at Autodesk and now teaches at the Yale School of Architecture. In my last column I explored the potential impacts of next-generation technology—particularly machine intelligence (also known as artificial intelligence or AI) and crowd-sourced knowledge—on the hegemony of professionalism for architects. This question was recently explored further by Daniel Susskind, one of the authors of an Oxford study published in a RIBA journal article entitled “The Way We’ll Work Tomorrow”—which suggested that modern knowledge work, like much of that performed by architects today, should be considered not so much as “by job” as “by task,” and that many of those tasks are likely to be automated in the future. Professions exist to systematize expertise and, by extension, control access to it. Computation democratizes access to that expertise by digitizing and distributing it, but does this lead to an inevitable decline for the need for professionals themselves? Like manufacturing workers in the 20th century, knowledge workers are likely to be “de-skilled” in the 21st, as routine, transactional, and analytical tasks are performed by machine-learning algorithms referencing big data sources, and the need for human abilities for those same chores is eliminated. Just as CAD rendered my once-fearsome hand-drafting skills mostly irrelevant, expert systems may do the same with today’s expertise in, say, cost estimating or construction documentation. Even though architectural design writ large is a profoundly creative act, the more prosaic components—preparing schedules, measuring and calculating, even evaluating performance characteristics like safety or zoning conformance—comprise a sizable portion of the architect’s fee. Production tasks connected to technical documentation alone (think CD phase work) can be as much as 40 percent of compensation on a project. Once this stuff gets automated, will there be much less work, and will we need far fewer architects? Perhaps—unless we find alternate strategies for demonstrating the value of our efforts. Oxford’s Susskind suggests that while the “job of an architect” may be profoundly transformed with technology, the profession should reconsider some of our critical tasks in response. If design processes will inevitably be augmented by computation, we might control our destiny by taking on the problem of creating the resulting computational platforms: engineering knowledge systems and structures, developing workflow protocols for analysis and evaluation, and designing new systems from which design itself can spring. In some sense, this is meta-design—not unlike the work we’ve seen since the advent of BIM that required technology-implementation plans, data standards, and integrated multidisciplinary information flows. Cutting-edge design firms rely heavily on scripts and so-called “generative design” techniques, and what Susskind recommends here is a logical extension of that strategy that augments (rather than replaces) the capabilities of designers. Of course, the same technologies that might appear to be threats to our autonomy as architects could, jujitsu-style, be turned into opportunities. Susskind suggests that automation offers the immediate benefit of making routine activities more efficient; perhaps repurposing those newly found hours means more time to improve design. He further recommends that our knowledge and influence could be magnified via consortia of digitally connected professionals, what he calls “communities of expertise” where the sum is far greater than the individual parts. Author and Harvard architecture professor Peter Rowe once described the design process as dependent upon heuristic reasoning, since all design challenges are complex and somewhat open-ended with ambiguous definitions and indeterminate endpoints, borrowing from sociologist Horst Rittel who characterized these as “wicked problems.” Computers themselves aren’t, at least today, particularly good at heuristics or solving wicked problems, but they are increasingly capable of attacking the “tame” ones, especially those that require the management of complex, interconnected quantitative variables like sustainable performance, construction logistics, and cost estimations. And since clients have a strong interest in seeing those things done well, why not lean into the chance to complement heuristics with some help with the tame, and leverage the resulting value as a result? That architects are so well-suited to the challenges of the wicked problem bodes well for us in the so-called "Second Machine Age," when machines don’t just do things we program them to do, but can learn how to do new things themselves. The essential value of architects as professionals who can understand and evaluate a problem and synthesize unique and insightful solutions will likely remain unchallenged by our computer counterparts in the near future, an argument supported by a 2013 study of job computerization (again, at Oxford) that suggested that “occupations that involve complex perception and manipulation tasks, creative intelligence tasks, and social intelligence tasks are unlikely to be substituted by computer capital over the next decade or two.” Rather than rely upon this vaguely comforting conclusion, our profession must embrace and attack the wicked problem of the future of architecture and computational design and control the future of our profession accordingly. We’ll face far more opportunities than threats from computation if we can.
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Remembering Fred Koetter, 1938–2017

Fred Koetter died August 21 in Boston, Massachusetts, after a long period of illness. Fred’s influence was widespread as the co-author of Collage City with Colin Rowe, as an award-winning architect and urbanist, as an educator for over six decades at Cornell and Harvard, and as the dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University from 1994 to 1998, where he spent over 20 years as a member of the faculty until his retirement in 2013. Fred’s intellectual trajectory moved from a rigorous formal approach cultivated as a graduate student at Cornell to the professional demands of turning those formal tropes into real places—sites for institutions, sensitive background buildings, and urban districts. His encyclopedic knowledge rivaled that of his mentor Rowe. Unlike Rowe’s elliptical peregrinations, Fred’s comments were more terse but equally complex and layered. His projective vision and dry sense of humor made his insights uniquely surprising and always to the point. His most common critique, “Isn’t that just great,” could mean several different things depending on vocal inflection. He could equally wield a single word or add a building to a site so deftly that you would realize only much later that the comment or the architecture had completely changed the situation in which it was cast. As he said to me during a pilgrimage to see Piero della Francesca’s frescoes in Arezzo, Italy: “Look at that guy…no expression as he pierces that other guy with a spear. You really need to know what you’re doing to pull that off.” Fred had the ability to see large forces at work and to distill them into precise, concentrated, and memorable architectural solutions. Born and raised in Montana, Fred’s vision of the city remained an apparition of promise—a dynamic ensemble of peoples, histories, and unpredictable forces, which never failed to fascinate. The office and the studio culture he nourished were similarly dynamic—rambling improvisations, Popperian dialogues, that commenced between the two of us but were gradually ceded to the students as they groped their way through complex urban problems, found their own voices, reaching a broad audience of critics, professionals, and civic leaders. As Fred memorably put it to a class late one night in the streets of Helsinki: in architecture, “you have to walk your pet goldfish even when you are underwater.” When I started teaching with him 20 years ago, his work with his partner Susie Kim was expanding into larger urban projects. The globalization of the world’s economy presaged architecture’s constructive possibilities and its destabilizing effects on historic cities, ecosystems, and cultures. The more conventional notion of “place” ceased to suffice, as he and Susie chased camels across the deserts outside Cairo, saw their City Hall outside Tianjin, China, sold off to a multinational corporation at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and were asked to fully realize cities and complexes six months from the start of a handshake contract. Koetter Kim & Associates were early pioneers in the ecological development of large sites, and remained curious about the marriage between local cultures and global aspirational changes. Sometimes on his weekly circumnavigation of the globe, after stopping by his offices in London and Boston, Fred would appear at the Yale studios looking worn. But one glimpse at the work on an eager student’s desk, and he would pump full of life, sustained by the promise of young talent, a good conversation, and the prospect of drinks and debate at the nearby Irish bar where the best ideas would be fully fleshed out. Fred and Susie demonstrated sophistication and generosity in their inclusiveness and invention. They created the operatic atmosphere of the cities they designed in their home in Brookline. As a frequent guest, I came to expect a parade of writers, architects, artists, doctors, family members, and other strays walking into the living room, or engaging me in an impromptu conversation on the way to the shower. Fred’s mind was like a city, and he encouraged and orchestrated chaos, of which he was the eye of the storm of opinions and talent. In the classroom, Fred always advocated for the most challenging student concepts, often leaving me to figure out how these could possibly be resolved. His former partner told me that Fred would come chuckling into the office the following day. Fred was a trickster. He was deliberately trying to see if I could figure out the solution more than advocating that particular path himself. He always pushed his students and colleagues toward these greater challenges, encouraging us to step beyond our imaginations’ limits. Fred gently challenged colleagues and students to think things anew. One particular criticism he made in a final review comes to mind. While the circus of critics had spent the day acrobatically twisting and turning their rhetoric, Fred made one and only one final comment on the student’s proposal for a train station complex. He related how the designs of the 19th-century English train stations, nodes in a global system that connected numerous peoples and cultures from eastern China to London, “were not designed to show where you were, but where you were going.”
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Exhibition on modern architecture in British Mandate Palestine opens at Yale

The Yale School of Architecture Gallery will host Social Construction: Modern Architecture in British Mandate Palestine, a traveling exhibition previously displayed at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The exhibition, curated by Oren Sagiv, Ada Karmi-Melamede, and Dan Price, examines a period of modern architecture that emerged during the British Mandate period in Palestine (1917-1948). This particular interpretation of the International Style established a cohesive vernacular that not only altered the architectural and urban context but also revealed the social values that helped to adapt modernism to the region. Focused on Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa, the exhibition consists primarily of archival photographs and interpretive ink drawings on mylar that were collected by Karmi-Melamede and Price and were originally featured in their book, Architecture in Palestine during the British Mandate, 1917–1948. The focus of the exhibition is on the transformative process of developing of a new state by blending the urban tissue of a foreign style with the particularities of local conditions. The show will be on view today, August 31, through November 18, 2017.
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Phil Bernstein on students using digital tools to maximize renderings and sustainability

This is the second column of “Practice Values,” a bi-monthly series by architect and technologist Phil Bernstein. The column focuses on the evolving role of the architect at the intersection of design and construction, including subjects such as alternative delivery systems and value generation. Bernstein was formerly vice president at Autodesk and now teaches at the Yale School of Architecture.

I recently sat on a midterm design jury for the Yale studio taught by the dynamic duo of Patrick Bellew of Atelier Ten and Andy Bow of Foster + Partners. It’s a rare treat for those of us who teach in the “suburbs” of the curriculum (in my case, professional practice) to visit the hip “downtown nightclub” scene of the design studios. The jury comprised far more talented designers than me, so I kept my focus and comments on issues of process and outcomes.

The brief was both thrilling and daunting: Design a museum and restaurant complex, including production facilities, for a sake company in historic Kyoto, Japan, on one of two challenging sites facing a shallow river; acknowledge the intricate urban context; solve for the production complexities of the ancient art of sake manufacturing; create a strong work of architecture. And, by the way, make your solution environmentally responsible through clear sustainable design strategies. The morning sake tasting we held before the jury began steeled both the jurors and the students for the intense day ahead.

As I watched our students present their projects, I was amazed at their energy, determination, and facility with almost every challenge of the brief. It was midterm, so many issues were not unexpectedly left unresolved, but few were ignored. Andy and Patrick had guided these 10 folks to unique, provocative, and dare I say even poetic solutions. It was hard for this architect, trained in these same jury pits in the pre-digital age, to believe the sheer skill with which these schemes were iterated, analyzed, evaluated, and presented. There was no question that the students’ development as designers was accelerated by an ability to deploy digital tools—visualization, cogent drawing and diagramming, CNC-model fabrication—in the service of their craft augmented with an array of beautiful hand sketches. All these skills were clearly mutually amplifying. I don’t think any of my final presentations in school were nearly as resolved, nor presented so beautifully.

The jury and students met after the review to discuss more general observations, when I explained that the biggest surprise of the day for me, to wit, was the generally tangential treatment that sustainability received in the solutions. There were the typical gestures to ventilation, the movement of the sun, or attempts to co-locate hot and cold functions in the sake factory, but overall the sustainability challenge received much the same treatment that might have been given if the brief had had a building code requirement—it was considered somehow adjacent to the central problems of the Design with a big “D.” I was reminded of a statement made by one of my professors, Vincent Scully, when I asked him about the importance of “solar architecture,” a design approach popular in the 1970s: “Oh, that’s just plumbing.”

Somehow the digital facility applied to solving the context, planning, massing, and compositional challenges of the brief was nowhere apparent in answering questions of sustainability. A wide array of computational analytical tools is easily available to today’s students, ranging from various Rhino-based Grasshopper scripts, through Energy Plus, to Impact Infrastructure’s AutoCASE. It may be that Patrick and Andy will press this particular part of the pedagogical agenda later in the term. If so, our students would benefit from the advice of juror Michelle Addington, Hines Professor of Sustainable Architectural Design at Yale University School of Architecture, who suggested that the tyranny of the sustainable checklist (such as LEED or BREAM) should lead to choosing a single important green strategy, and making sure that it’s accomplished well. The tools are certainly there to do so.

This seems a reasonable teaching strategy if combined with another requirement: demonstrable outcomes of that given green approach. Today’s digital design tools provide vivid answers to design questions of composition, drawing clarity, senses of three-dimensional space. Analytical algorithms that evaluate the quantitative results of a scheme are the “renderings” of sustainability, with hard and fast results. While those results may be only approximations as a design evolves, they are also a measure of sustainable success or failure. And learning to deliver those results in concert with a skillful design prepares these same students to make the demonstrable value arguments that future practice will demand. This will be a central theme of some of my subsequent columns.

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A new initiative targets fair labor practices for architects

The Architecture Lobby, Yale School of Architecture’s Equity in Design, and Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Women in Design have collectively launched a new accreditation program to promote fair labor conditions in architecture firms called JustDesign.Us. The consortium cites the “rise of massive student debt, stagnating wages, and an overabundance of skilled applicants coming out of professional schools” as the impetus for such a service. Operating from an eponymous website, the project seeks to provide a platform for architects and designers to vet the labor practices of potential employers serving as a new industry tool for more transparent employment. 
“The project aims to provide potential employees with a robust tool for gaining a sense of which firms will treat them fairly, with respect, and support their development as architects, while giving certified JustDesign firms an edge in attracting the best possible designers.”
Planning to release its inaugural list in December of this year, the organization will deploy its operation in two phases; first, solicit nominations online from employees themselves, then certify that the nominated firms comply with “best labor practices.” The initial employee nominations will survey issues such as "labor conditions pertaining to flexibility, agency, fair pay, salary transparency, employee diversity, and family-friendly policies." While the website and its associated documents are light on the specific methodologies to be employed in phase two of the process, or indeed who will be evaluating the firms, the ambition of this program is to cultivate a field that is symbiotically beneficial to workers and employers alike. JustDesign.Us is endorsed by a handful of groups, mostly academic in nature, however has not yet recruited professional organizations such as The American Institute of Architects and The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. The nomination process is not meant to be punitive and will only review positive employee questionnaires, celebrating firms that excel in fair treatment of their employees not shaming companies that underperform in this regard. Nominations for the first round of review are due by July 15.
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Final part of Greg Lynn’s exhibition on early digital design goes on view at Yale School of Architecture

Archaeology of the Digital: Complexity and Convention, at the Yale School of Architecture, is presented by the Canadian Centre for Architecture as part of a research project that began in 2013. Curated by Greg Lynn, a professor at UCLA, the exhibition hosts five themes: high fidelity 3-D, structure and cladding, data, photorealism, and topography and topology. It draws from materials that have been built, dissected, and then reassembled in the 1990s and 2000s by international firms such as Van Berkel & Bos Architectuurbureau, OCEAN North, and Office dA. The exhibition will focus on how digital methods were integrated into architectural practice and will address the challenges of preserving digital architectural archives and making them accessible. Complexity and Convention is the final phase of a three-part exhibition.

Archaeology of the Digital: Complexity and Convention Yale School of Architecture 180 York Street, New Haven, Connecticut Through May 7, 2017

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Phil Bernstein pens inaugural column on technology, value, and architects’ evolving role

This is the inaugural column “Practice Values,” a new bi-monthly series by architect and technologist Phil Bernstein. The column will focus on the evolving role of the architect at the intersection of design and construction, including subjects such as alternative delivery systems and value generation. Bernstein was formerly vice president at Autodesk and now teaches at the Yale School of Architecture.

False Binaries

This semester, I’m teaching a course called “Exploring New Value Propositions for Practice” that’s based on the premise that the changing role of architects in the building industry requires us to think critically about our value as designers in that system. After studying the structure and dynamics of practice business models, the supply chain, and other examples of innovative design enterprises, they’ll be asked to create a business plan for a “next generation” architectural practice. I’m agnostic as to what this practice does per se, as long as it operates somewhere in the constellation of things that architects can do, but there is one constraint—your proposed firm can’t be paid fixed or hourly rate fees. It has to create value (and profit) through some other strategy.

I want our students to think critically about this question of value propositions: Where do architects contribute to the making of buildings and how is the resulting value realized, and to whose benefit? Technology has begun to change those value equations. Increasing reliance on design information created as a result of the architect’s process—the “big data” of design representations, geometry that drives computer-controlled fabrication equipment, “smart building” telemetry—is but one opportunity to argue that architects are the lynchpin of the building delivery system. But we must both design the methods and protocols that demonstrate our value, and as an important result, reap the financial benefits accordingly. This, it seems to me, is a much more direct route to assuring the relevance of architects to architecture, various television marketing campaigns insisting that clients “look up” to really appreciate their architects notwithstanding.

In discussing these ideas with my architectural colleagues I’m often faced with skepticism that puts this perspective in opposition with two perceived realities of practice. First is the assertion that architecture is in essence an artistic, expressive endeavor that will be sullied by considerations of money, business, or even the implications of digital instrumentation on the design process itself. I agree with the first part of this conclusion, but—as you can imagine—I take exception to the second. That design is the core value of the profession isn’t arguable, but also isn’t the point: The more interesting question is how we best empower clients to understand that value, architects to enable it, and other members of the delivery systems of building to rally behind it. And since architects operate in a supply chain (of building purveyors and consumers) that is a complex web of exchanges of money, information, and risk (and therefore value), how does design make us more valued participants?

I recently spoke on a panel with two other architects to a large group of architecture students. When asked what I thought was a critical issue that would face them in their careers, I answered along the lines of the argument above. In response, a panelist declared to the students that architects don’t enter the profession because they’re interested in money, but rather because of their passion for design—and that he never made much money practicing but was far happier in his career than his very well-paid lawyer sister. The message here was clear: An interest in the business of architecture, or, worse, the resulting financial opportunities, is beneath our dignity as passionate designers.

Both of these assertions are false binaries at best, and potentially harmful conclusions to the profession at worst. Every architect wants clients, collaborators, even builders to realize the value of our design work. That’s wishful thinking, however, until we can position ourselves in the systems of delivery—the financial and technical protocols by which the architect’s ideas are built—and make that case. In subsequent columns I’ll explore how we might do so, and design a profession that might better satisfy our passions and, as a result, our pocketbooks.

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Yale students design for political protest as part of seminar

As part of a four-month-long seminar organized by New York architect and Assistant Dean of the Yale School of Architecture Mark Foster Gage, students investigated new forms of political activism through the design of objects.

The course synopsis began with this quote from Leonardo Da Vinci:

It had long since to come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.

By way of some background, in 2014, the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in London produced an exhibition titled Disobedient Objects, curated by Catherine Flood. Here, the constraint of urgency amplified the political power of designers' work. Examples included a mask (made from a plastic water bottle) that protects protesters from tear gas and an arrangement of poles that people can climb and avoid being removed from an area by police.

Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), Gage discussed how the October symposium he organized at Yale, titled Aesthetic Activism, explored how architecture’s critical-theory basis for socially engaged design is increasingly ineffectual, as it "merely calls for the revealing of a given social inequality or problem—not a requirement to act to remedy it." "Seeing a problem rarely actually prompts action to solve it," reads the synopsis of his class—an idea that echoes the work of philosopher Jacques Rancière, on whose work the seminar was significantly based.

After guiding students through works by philosophers such as Rancière (who explores the politicization of aesthetics), Elaine Scarry (who wrote Thinking in an Emergency), and Graham Harman and Timothy Morton (significant philosophers in the burgeoning Object Oriented Ontology movement), as well as the more household names from aesthetics including Kant, Fiedler, Burke and Hickey, Gage saw his students produce a series of increasingly politicized design projects that emerged, increasingly, in reaction to the recent election and presidency of Donald Trump.

These included:

  • A 3-D printed monument of Donald Trump (an ostentatious and vulgar creation laden with authoritarian imagery) and model depicting Rancière's "Distribution of the Sensible" philosophical framework (whereby political perceptions are altered; note Trump's back is turned); both by Robert Smith Waters.
  • A ballot box in which only one shape can be placed inside (note the shape of a heart does not fit).
  • A protective face mask that offers guidance on what do if arrested on one side and an eye-less smiley face on the other, by Casey Furman.
  • Roller-blades that can only go in perpendicular directions, by Claire Haugh.
  • A hammock to aid those who climb corporate towers as an act of protest, by Steven McNamara (see AN's coverage of the man who climbed Trump Tower in New York last year).

The Yale School of Architecture has a history of political protests dating back to the 1960’s. This year, numerous large banners of "We won't build your wall" covered the Paul Rudolph–designed structure. Previously, a large banner had read: "United Against Hate." Students also issued a statement in wake of the AIA's initial stance on Trump, saying: “Our profession been plagued by a history of racial and gender inequity. The AIA’s immediate and unquestioning pandering to the Trump administration threatens a continuation of our troubled past and demonstrates a willingness to pursue financial gain at the expense of our values.”

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Robert A.M. Stern recounts a heated confrontation between Denise Scott Brown and Paul Rudolph

In an interview with Yale School of Architecture’s Paprika! magazine, former dean Robert A.M. Stern recounts a 1969 party in which “I had to peel Denise Scott Brown away from fighting with Paul Rudolph in my apartment over the subject of the way Denise and Bob Venturi had treated Rudolph’s Crawford Manor.” Scott Brown and Venturi had “savaged” the building in Learning From Las Vegas. Stern describes architect Ulrich Franzen telling him: “Bob you better go into the library, Denise is about to kill Paul Rudolph.”

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On View> 100 Years of Architecture Education at Yale

Any fan of architecture is familiar with the rich history of the Yale School of Architecture (YSoA). If they aren't they are likely familiar with some of the projects that have resulted from the school's influential concrete halls. From Paul Rudolph's heroic brutalism to Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown's "Learning From" series—and the productive friction between the two—the school has had an impact on much of the history of 20th and 21st century century architecture. A new exhibition, “Pedagogy and Place," organized by YSoA dean Robert A.M. Stern and curator (and AN contributor) Jimmy Stamp with Alfie Koetter, presents a range of student work that tracks the history of Yale architecture, and in parallel, the history of American architecture alongside political change in the U.S. The show is located in the YSoA Gallery in Rudolph Hall and is free and open to the public. With the bush-hammered concrete walls enveloping visitors, the show unfolds as a series of eight "eras" in Yale's history, including its beginnings as the American Beaux-Arts, to the beginnings of Modernism, to the high-flying Heroics of Rudolph and company, to the radical experiments of John Johansen and Charles Moore. The material in the exhibition is all student work, labeled as such with student names and their professors credited as well. It reads like the old issues of Domus or Progressive Architecture, but with student work illustrating each period and line of thinking. Education and the academy plays a serious role in the pursuit of intellectual innovation in architecture, and Yale is one of the leaders. A related publication, “Pedagogy and Place: 100 Years of Architecture Education at Yale,” will be published in April 2016 by Yale Press. A symposium, “Learning/Doing/Thinking: Educating Architects,” will be held April 14–16 in New Haven. All of this coincides with the changing of the guard as Stern moves on and Deborah Berke, architect and founder of the New York-based design firm Deborah Berke Partners, assumes deanship July 1. Pedagogy and Place YSoA Gallery in Rudolph Hall 180 York Street Monday–Friday 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.