17 October 2016


1. In some of the larger examples of Sparklines, (i.e. “Bumps chart” that is a tally of women’s collegiate rowing contests at the University of Cambridge, England pg.56) are there ways to minimize the text further without losing comprehension of the Sparkline data? At what point do Sparklines begin to speak for themselves? Are smaller graphics embedded into the text more successful?


2. “Just as Sparklines are like words, so then distributions of Sparklines on a page are like sentences and paragraphs. The graphical idea here is make it word like and typographic…” pg.63

Would the adoption of Sparklines into architectural language be simple? Are there situations that Architects could face where Sparklines would not be beneficial to use? If so, what are they?


3. Tufte lays out a series of guidelines on how to design and produce Sparklines including: The Aspect Ratio, Dequantification, Production Methods, Unintentional Optical Clutter, Resolution of Sparklines, and Resolution of Layouts of Multiple Sparklines pg.60-63

Are there other factors that you can think of that would allow Sparklines to become an easier to adapt method of communication? What are they? Why do we not see data laid out in this format more frequently?


4. Tufte used examples of how Sparklines can communicate data within cartography, brain research, molecular biology, 16thc. engravings, sports statistics and economic/financial data. In what specific applications should Architects use Sparklines? (i.e. Client information sharing? Site Analysis?....)


5. “Why go to a special place to construct a data graphic? To lay out a report? Segregating information by its mode of production, convenient and profitable for software houses, too often becomes a corrupting metaphor for evidence presentations.” pg. 61

As aspiring Architects, we have access to many software programs that allow us to explore enormous amounts of data. Even with some overlap in capabilities, there are still, in many ways, separations of word, number, image and graph. How do we mitigate this moving forward?

16 October 2016


1.)    Referring to the two examples he provides at the beginning of the reading Tuft claims “comparisons are more effective when information is adjacent in space rather that stacked in time.” (pg. 81) Describe the differences between Dega’s Cheval a l arret “adjacent” comparison and Humphrey Repton’s Observations on the Theory and Practice and Landscape Gardening “stacked” comparison.
In your opinion, which is a more effective comparison? Why or Why not?

2.)    Tufte describes Peter Apian’s Cosmographicus liber as being “utterly flat and without dynamics, treating the sun, earth and moon as fixed cardboard cutouts rather than as three-dimensional objects moving in space” (pg. 86) Also claiming that “if the earth were represented as a cube it could cast the shadows shown in the scenes above” (pg. 86)
In your opinion, would this change make the diagram a more effective tool at proving the earth is indeed round? Why or Why not?

3.)    Tufte describes Robert Winter’s CD Companion: Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 9 as asynchronized parallelism between the silent visual explanation on the screen combined with the sound of the music” (pg. 88)
What are some other examples that use technology to create similar synchronized parallelism (not exclusively between the visual and musical)?

4.)    When describing the cyclogram of Cosmonaut Georgi Grechko (pg. 92-95), Tufte fails to tell us the benefits the cosmonauts may have gained from these parallel methods of representing time.
What, if any, do you think these benefits could have been? Why bother if it was filled with “witless ploys that did not help much” (pg. 93)

5.)    Tufte describes “faulty parallelisms” citing Humphrey Repton’s Designs for the Pavillion at Brighton where Tufte claims that Repton shows “substantial embellishments quite beyond the scope of architectural work.” (pg. 102)
As architects we may on occasion contribute to these faulty parallelisms through our representations. What are the benefits/drawbacks to this in the professional environment?

09 October 2016

Comics and Storyboards

How can architects use comics to express their ideas? Where should these comics fall on the photo-realistic to abstract chart?

Should architects be cartooning their buildings, making projects more understandable through different cultures? Is that already happening with the current state of architecture? Is highly formed based architecture, like Frank Gehry achieving some sort of cartoonized architecture that’s more relatable across different societies?

Sometimes architects get away with creating renders from angles that would never be seen by the average person. Should architects be allowed to use these perspectives to tell the narrative of their projects?

Should we as architects be actively telling the stories of our designs and buildings, or should we be keeping the narrative completely open, allowing the reader to invent the narrative?

What do you find to be the most important part of a storyboard? The passage of time, entourage, the use of media (photography vs hand drawn), perspective?

The Narrative Armature

1. McCloud lightly talked about the difference between symbol and icon. Based upon the discussion from last week and today, what are some ways symbol and icon are different and similar?

2. How do you use iconic abstraction in everyday life? How does it help/not help?

3. By using this comic book way of writing, do you feel you understand the concepts McCloud is describing better than if it was written in paragraph format? Were you able to relate to the drawings? Please explain why this way of writing may or may not have helped to enforce the ideas.

4. Have you ever created a storyboard of any form? If so, what are some techniques you used to get your point across and why? (Did you use perspectives, montage, pictures, graphics)

5. What are some ways we (students) can use storyboards to help us in our projects? Do you think you might use storyboards as a part of the current project after this discussion? If so, why?

03 October 2016

Notes on the Index

Hey class, below are some questions for us to discuss during class on Tuesday.

1. In Krauss' writing the reader is first introduced to the concept of the 'shifter'.  In order to understand the term index, one must first understand the concept of shifter and how it relates to the index. How would you define the term shifter?

2.  In your own words how would you describe 'index' as portrayed in Krauss's writings?

3.  How do you think indexical signs relate to what we have learned about abstraction?  Is there any correlation between the two?

4.  Krauss explains various forms of art that entertain the concept of the index.  How do you think the notion of index applies to us as architects?

5.  We have talked a lot in previous classes about how abstraction and mapping can be beneficial to us as architects.  Do you think indexical signs provide any benefit in our everyday work as students or architects?

6. Krauss describes various example of an index, footprints in the sand, a shadow, multiple works of art. Can you think of any additional examples of an index?

7.  How would you differentiate the three terms: symbol, icon and index, which Krauss writes about in reference to photographs and paintings?  Is there a definite difference between the three?

8.  Krauss talks in great depth about paintings by Kelly and Pozzi.  Krauss states on page 216 the difference between the two styles of painting.  What makes Kelly's paintings shifters and Pozzi's paintings operations of the index?

9. In part 1 Krauss writes about the 'mirror stage'.  How does this relate to the concept of the shifter?

10.  Does the index relate at all to the process of mapping?  And if so how?

19 September 2016

Mappings and Recovering Landscape

Hello all, here are the questions I have formulated and would like to discuss on the two readings assigned

Corner praises the landschaft as more complete while condemning the landskip as only picturesque and having no relationship to those who move through it, but is there a place in the world for the landskip?

How do the concepts of the eidetic, Mitchell’s five families of image (161), and imaging relate to each other?

Corner repeatedly references the milieu and how mapping as an exercise can find order in it, but to what end should milieu influence the making of a map?

Corner asserts that “Extracts are the things that are then observed within a given milieu and drawn onto the graphic field. We call them extracts because they are always selected, isolated and pulled out from their original seamlessness with other things; they are effectively ‘deterritorialized’”(230).   

Corner repeatedly uses deterritorialized and similar terms in the negative connotation. But is there greater value in separating objects from the milieu to gain clarity or should clarity come from the milieu always in context?

How does Buckminster Fuller’s map and subsequent rearrangements of that map of the world help us better understand the geography of the world?

In what instances are Corner’s four mapping techniques unsuited?

In his conclusion Corner suggests new ways of mapping would be a “means of emancipation and enablement, liberating pheonmena and potential from the encasements of convention and habit”. Are Corner’s mapping techniques at this point already?

How could they go further as tools to democratize?

How do we as architects or designers begin to incorporate any of Corner’s four mapping techniques into a legible site plan?

Many of the maps Corner creates and uses as examples are abstract (in a different way than we’re used to) and would be difficult to explain to the general public Corner so wishes to empower with these better maps. Where then, does the responsibility lie in educating these very people in how to read these differently abstract maps?

15 September 2016

Exercise 01 Films

1. DeVares
2. Huberty
3. Teresi
4. Robb
5. Menolascino
6. Leeder
7. Nash

The Royal Tenenbaums
1. Amin
2. Barac
3. Bogenschuetz
4. Krueger
5. Valdivia
6. Rohlinger

The Grand Budapest Hotel
1. Zupancic
2. Boughton
3. Crates
4. Dudley
5. Servantez
6. Newton
7. Davenport

12 September 2016

Week 2: What abstraction is and is not

 1. Can an object be concrete and abstract in nature?

 2. "Abstract objects of thought, such as numbers, laws, or perfectly straight lines are real parts of nature." (156) How does the sense of nature play a role in something to be abstract?

3. Laporte stated "that abstractions are drawn from perceptual material by means of imitative gestures." How does our own gestures shape our own abstractions?

4. Bergson claimed that "in order to generalize one must first abstract, but in order to abstract usefully one must already know how to generalize." (160) How do you determine that you are generalizing something in the sense that it is intended to be perceived as?

Week 2 : Concrete or Abstrahere

1. What is "Abstraction"? What makes an object qualify as abstract?

2. Rene Pellet defines abstraction as an "organization of the mind that passes beyond the concrete and has freed itself from it" (154), providing the conflict that abstraction in its purest state does not hold any bounds to reality. However, can it be argued that abstraction only exists from the concrete, not pure imagination? 
  • "The abstract objects of thought, such as numbers, law, or perfectly straight lines, are real parts of nature..." (156)
3. Henry Bergson stated that "In order to generalize one must first abstract, but in order to abstract use-fully one must already know how to generalize" (160). Can abstraction only be achieved through the association of objects by individual cases? (i.e a table being a flat surface to place items upon) Or does human perception/ creative thinking produce the same generalization/use of objects? 
  • Induction : The process of discovering principles by the observation and combination of particular instances (162)
4. Arnheim advocates that "dynamic concepts do not require an actual physical continuity of the phenomena for which they stand..." (184). Do you agree or disagree? Explain your reasoning. In order for the human mind to grasp a concept or abstraction, do we need rational or built evidence? 

5. The generalization vs abstraction argument seems to have roots buried within understanding and protecting what we consider as the truth (reality). Thus, abstraction exists as an outlet to a new realm of understanding the unattainable or unbuilt reality. If we as humans did not generalize objects or figurative concepts, then would abstract thought be nonexistent?

By : Jafar Amin

Fall 2016 Discussion Leaders

Week 02      Amin, Dudley
Week 03      Huberty, Newton
Week 05      Crates
Week 06      Boughton, Nash
Week 07      Menolascino, Leeder
Week 09      De Vares, Valdivia
Week 10      Teresi, Zupancic
Week 11      Davenport, Robb
Week 13      Rohlinger, Servantez
Week 14      Crates, Bogenschuetz
Week 15      Krueger, Barac

10 December 2015

Kinghi Thao

1) Regarding reconstruction, Woods says that you must build upon the existing past in order to link the past to the future. Can or does this thinking apply to all buildings not just reconstruction? Are new buildings free of the past?

2) While architects speak of designing spaces to satisfy human needs, are the social norms associated with spaces shaping our human needs to abide to the designed spaces?

3) Is there a way as architects, to fight designing for “program”? Must a space need a functionary label in order for it to have meaning and the need to be inhabited?

4) Part of Wood’s reconstruction process for war torn countries heavily focuses on building upon the past. But even he says that this process takes place during a period of uncertainty for the city (Sarajevo).

“Something entirely new is struggling to emerge.” –Woods pg. 27

Does this make his reconstruction process just a transition phase, one in which will be subject to change as the city develops its new identity?

5) Should architects design with the intent to last forever? To be able to survive and transform through wars, social problems, and nature? Is it even possible?

09 December 2015


1 Why does SNAFU stand for what it does now?

2 From the tactics section I was wondering about our own creative opportunities and methods that operate within the gaps and slips of conventional thought and the patterns of everyday. How do we push it in our projects? ... What pushes us?

3 What’s more important - Form or function? Is it mostly just based on societal needs at the time?

4 Is it true that the standards and practices we are using to make architecture are defining the work for us and our concepts driven by social pushes and codes, and standards?

5 Since a bomb shelter could be a digestible aspect of everyday life what are other functions or conventions that are being pushed in the world, or could be? Is it helpful to life – the radical architecture or hindering?

6 What role does speculative architecture play in the future of architecture?


03 December 2015

Presenting your work

    representation as articulation between theory and practice

    1. “Representation as part of the production of architecture is one of the most important operations that articulates theory and practice” Is Representation needed to create “good architecture”?

    2. Architecture and other practices – Architecture can encompass a variety of different practices, making “representation a crucial field in the understanding of architecture as the mediated character of representation itself” Do you think this process has been lost in the discipline today? Where is the line between the representation being natural/superficial?

    3. “Representation has become a part of the process of production of architecture and that the development of the techniques of drawing and design have an impact as important, if not more, as building techniques themselves” Is this the case for architecture in both academia and professional practice? Should the process of representation be just as important in practice as it is in theory?

    4. “two paradoxical situations have resulted form the use of the computer in architecture: one is that of the resurgence of perspective, facilitated by computer programs; the other, and more important, is the reunification of the process of representation in the production of design and the process of construction” Agrest mentions that design and fabrication are linked together. Why is the linkage lost between academia and practice today? Will there be a day where the linkage follows through professional practice?

    5. As mentioned in the course, Revit, the software most common in practice, can manipulate the design process, inevitably hurting architecture. Do you believe it is due to the limitations of the computer? The transition between technology? Or merely, the quality of work produced?

    the cognitive style of powerpoint

    6. What is the most effective software or tools to translate and present architecture today? What other software should be taught, instead of PP?

    7. With technology on the rise, Do you think architecture is more effectively presented digitally rather than a physical pin-up presentation? What do you prefer, and why?

    8. Will PP always be the most common used software in other practices due to the convenience of the software?