Wednesday, April 21, 2010

THOM MAYNE was never called an asshole...

Thank you Modern Lovers. Thank you more Thom Mayne. Thank you Spike Wolfe and Matt Fineout for bringing him to Pittsburgh To lecture. This is his TED lecture from 5 years before. I am very cynical about architects and one thing that I wrote in my notes was "THOM MAYNE IS NOT AN ASSHOLE." His lecture was extrodinarily hopeful and I must say it was better than any E I could swallow. After the lecture, I sat and talked with my old boss and teacher Art Lubetz, and I recently sent him this email...

I hope the Lecture monday night was a wake up call for the students at CMU archtitecture. The field has changed and is changing rapidly. Not because it is monetarily funded to do so but since it is not, now is the time for architecture to catch up to technology and the social specturm. The public's understanding of Architecture has not "changed" drastically in the past 10 years. Things are still built with archaic standards due to convenience and affordability.We as architects rely almost on what the construction industries unions and workers inputs on the facility of implementing the building. The words brick/ply/block are over expressed jargon easily digested by anyone who goes to a Home Depot. Due to this lack of inovation, I believe this has lead to the populous disregarding the architect or "architecture" when building. "Why have an architect if you can build it your self?" Good point if I say so myself. Architecture to relate to its historical roots attempted to create awe with buildings that could not be built by the average Joe. If not for the grand scale of space of Notre Dame then the simple mathematics and engineering behind Villa Rotunda. At those times, designing and building a building occurred due to wealth and education. (Education directly related to wealth and social standing.) As we are now in 2010, we have to realize that the direct relation between wealth and education has disolved as information is mostly free and readily available with in minutes of a BING or Google search. Even beyond that, information sharing and open source programs give way to a democratic knowledge base. " It's all out there if you want to know it (or have the time.)" So this brings me to the the new and present Architecture education presented to students who are paying 40,000+ a year with some monetary aid to facilitate the aftermath. What is it we at Carnegie Mellon University are teaching our students? As campy as this statement might be, we must consider them as the future future generation of architects. Not architects for the first 5 years they leave school but for the 5+ years afterwords. As a rule of thumb to buildings completed now, architecture runs in a 3 to 5 to 7 year cycle. What has been happening is that highly creative minds have seen this lacuna of life filled it up with rapid works. This has been infiltrating the architecture offices pushing the limits. "Avant garde" is just working smarter and creating "archtiecture" that the public values as such. Morphorsis is a prime example of this.

The language of architecture has changed. It is no longer simply bricks/ply/block but actual code, similar to computer programing, computational biology, and genetics. Buildings are not "inspired" by nature as to resemble them as they did in the Art Nouvea and modern times of Gaudi, but can mimic "growth" of a living system and adapt to its forces (nature/environment/
inhabitants/commerce/etc). Scripting and BIM modeling (not just revit models) are used as tools for actions. Drawing in the traditional sense is a representation. It has become the afterthought, no longer the action. A prior design is dead and uninteresting. In other words, who cares what you think a blender or a bracelet or an office building should look like. The times of just "making up" forms is over. Actual reaction is applicable due to the technological advances. Architecture and its teaching needs to acknowledge this. Most prominent schools are already on the band wagon. Where is CMU?

I believe with integrating scripting, new media tools, and utilization of rapid prototyping CMU architecture could be on the same playing field as others from competitive schools. By having studios that encourage students to not just look at the past ( I feel that yes students should still know how to draw and how architecture was created before) but should look to 10 to 50 years beyond their current times for their creations. Students should be encourage to be apt to present knowledge and current events, not just arts and archtiecture but biological and other technology. The undergrad should be experimenting and utilizing the graduate school as well. Amazing projects come out of the intelligent workplace and yet no one is aware of the work. The Brahmans are disconnected from the Vaiysas and Sudras.

When we live in a world where most people have a connection to the world wide web in their pockets, we should have students who design with this in mind. Presentation and application should also be integral to the work produced at the school.