11 March 2015

week 7: the form of data

How can we apply sparklines to the processes of design?

“Wordlike sparklines should often be embedded in text and tables, which provide a helpful context for interpreting otherwise free-floating sparklines”, for designers would one want a free-floating sparkline?

“Sparklines effectively display and narrate binary data”, what are some binary data of architecture that we could apply sparklines to?

Professor Alex Kandel, Univeristy of Notre Dame, constructed a 3-D scatter-plot where all 3-D points lie on the surface of a hyperbolic paraboloid. What are your thoughts of the visual representation of the data?

How can sparklines and parallelism be combined together?

How did Christopher Wilmarth achieve parallelism in “The True Story of Gift of the Bridge”?

Catrich’s The Origin of the Serif and Repton’s architectural before/after were similarly compared, what are other examples of how this can be applied to architecture?

03 March 2015

Week 6 - Narrative Armature

1. How has the format of Understanding Comics contribute or hinder your understanding of the content? How does it differ from Storyboards with its textual presentation?

2. What is the relationship between icon and idea? What are the limits of ideation imposed by iconography?

3. In the McCloud reading he says, "The vehicle becomes an extension of our body. It absorbs our sense of identity. We become the car." Where is this phenomenon possible in architecture? Are we able to expand our identity into the entirety of a building? When?

4. McCloud claims that the efficacy of comics comes from the ability of the reader to project themselves into the characters presented. Do human forms in architectural drawings possess the same projective qualities? In what ways can that effect be heightened?

5. McCloud closes by calling comics "sequential art." Davids begins the conclusion by calling storyboards sequential narratives. What is the distinction between these concepts?

6. Is the relationship between the subject and time within a storyboard always linear? At what point is it to our advantage to depart from linear narrative?

7. Davids says, "the structure of the storyboard does not preclude alternatives [to a linear reading]: vertical or diagonal readings, skipping or revisiting frames." The narrative between frames remains fluid and undefined. What are the limits of that narrative? Or, what are the conceptual boundaries of the storyboard?

8. How is this narrative fluidity best applied to architectural (conceptual or realized) space?

9. Is our "increasingly symbol-oriented culture" (McCloud) inevitable through the function of mass communication? How would comics and storyboarding be changed in a less symbol saturated environment? Would they be as effective, or even possible?

10. Davids says, "The frame establishes the boundaries between inside and outside: what is inside anticipates the outside. The frame itself can be the subject." What is the relationship between subject, frame, and narrative? Or, how does the frame become pivotal in the reading of the narrative?


23 February 2015

Week 5 Index Questions


1. In what design capacity do shifters exist? What are some examples?
     -In reference to PP 216, Paragraph 3, Last Sent.

2. In what manner would someone without language gain a sense of history? Krauss claims if we can't develop language we do not gain self-identity or awareness of history?

3.  If this is true can it be claimed that there is no culture without language? How can something be passed on without language to explain why something's necessary?

4. In what instance can an index function as both an index and an object?

5. In what ways does a painting convey index that a photograph doesn't?

6. Brownian Motion is defined as the erratic random motion of particles. How is Deborah Hay's monologue, devoid of physical motion, Brownian motion?

7. Could a false index be created in such a way that it doesn't allude to the true object of a causation?

8. What is the genesis of an index? Can an index be traced back to the initial generation of the idea?

9. Can you internalize a narrative in a drawing?
      - In reference to PP 218, Paragraph 2, Last Sent.

10.In response to Kelly and Pozzi's paintings, where one is derived directly from the condition of the wall and the other is produced from an internal logic, how are the differences apparent despite similar appearance? (In reference to the images on pp. 214)

14 February 2015

Exercise 01_Film Analysis

Rushmore : Lawler, Reynolds, Rudy

The Royal Tenenbaums : Thomson, Beck, Schueller, A.Rowe

The Grnd Budapest Hotel : Due, Torbica, Guertin, Pignotti, Schiller, Begay, Rowe

10 February 2015

Week 03 - The Agency of Mapping

Kollath Questions:

What has prevented mapping from replacing tracing as the main form of cartographic expression?

James Corner describes mapping as a cunning technique used to expose new possibilities and to reveal that which had previously remained unseen. How might we begin to perfect such a technique? How can we speed up advancement of this technique? How might we reorganize information that is already available to us in order to shed light on the unknown?

Corner states that maps have agency because of their double-sidedness. What are the two sides and what is their relationship?

Corner writes: “Such fantastic play across the world’s various surfaces is characterized not only by a fertile heterogeneity but also by conceptual elements coming loose from their traditional moorings.  The boundaries between different foundational realities have become so blurred, in fact, that it is practically impossible in a cyber-world to distinguish between what is information and what is concrete, what is fact and what is fiction, what is space and what is time.” (226) Is there a contradiction between this “blurring” and “fertile heterogeneity”? Why or why not?

Corner states, “The application of judgment, subjectively constituted, is precisely what makes a map more a project than a ‘mere’ empirical description.” (223) Does this application of a subjective judgment and apparent lack of empirical value make maps less useful or more difficult to read? 

Duncan Questions:

James Corner describes several different types of representing world maps such as Bucky Fuller’s Dymaxion World Maps and Torres-Garcia’s Inverted Map of South America.  Architects and Cartographers often simply orient their maps or plans with North as up.  Do you think there could be something gained by orienting drawings in different directions to better understand relationships of site and/or programs?  Has this been something you’ve tried in your design work?

Do certain sites lend themselves to different mapping operations than others?  Is it easier or more useful to map a specific site using the drift method versus the layering or game board methods?  Would it be a useful or possible to map a site using each operation Corner lists?

Corner writes about the four instances or operations of mapping:  drift, layering, game-board, and rhizome, but in his conclusion eludes that there may be more than just these four operations.  Can you think of a fifth type of mapping that could be useful not yet explored by Corner?

The Highline in New York City, a project led by James Corner Field Operations, is a good example of the mapping of the city and surrounding programs directly playing a role into the design and experience of the project.  After the success of the project do you think mapping is becoming more popular for architects to use as a design strategy? 

On page 239 Corner gives two examples of the layering operation of mapping.  First, he mentions Koolhaas and Tschumi’s strategy of using layers to indicate future programs on the site.  In contrast Eisenmann uses layers to create new formal arrangements.  Koolhaas is well known for his designs being driven by programmatic relationships.  Eisenman is more concerned with form in his work.  How can other architects use this mapping technique to strengthen their design philosophies?  

03 February 2015

Week 2: Abstract v. Mimetic "What Abstraction is Not" (Arnheim)

1) (Arnheim p.154) "Instead of relying on sensory experiences, abstract thinking was supposed to take place in words. It was believed, for example, that a creature deprived of speech would not abstract." Do you believe this to be true; that abstraction is only limited to words? Explain. 

2) (Arnheim p.155) "It is equally misleading to call concrete that which is physical and abstract that which is mental." Once something become physical, is it no longer abstract? Does this reflect in a way to architecture and design? 

02 February 2015

Spring 2015 Discussion Leaders

week 02: torbica, lawler week 03: kollath, duncan week 05: thomson, due week 06: schiller, reynolds week 07: begay week 10: rudy, beck week 11: lawler week 12: beck, a. rowe week 13: week 14: z. rowe week 15: schueller, guertin

06 May 2014

Experimental Architecture

"Program can easily become reified, unexamined square-footage designation that is shoved into form--an act euphemistically called 'programming the building.'"  How often do we find ourselves becoming subjected to doing this in projects?  Why do we do it?  Our forms are becoming vessels for these abstract ideas (food, bathe, sleep, entertain) and concepts, but why don't we let our abstract ideas and concepts rule instead of become subjugated to "classical" functions?  A room to bathe should mirror that action, something to entertain should...but they don't.  All are boxes, why? "Function fucks with form." - SNAFU - 05


Is the very practice of architecture actually making the world of architecture anything but?  On SNAFU's commentary on convention, 06 + 07, it states that the very standards and practices we are employing to create are almost defining the work for us and our concepts of creativity are being driven by social norms and codes, and standards.  Is this bad, noticeable, or just an exaggeration?


On SNAFU's explanation of bomb shelters (07), the over abundance and proliferation of the idea of bomb shelters made them normal to domestic life, thereby making nuclear threats domesticated as well.  Are we taking absurd ideas such as this and almost domesticating them through architecture and over exposure?  Ex: radical architecture of Zaha Hadid, structural expression, poor housing construction?  How detrimental is this to real life, or not at all?


"A critical architecture challenges the familiar." - SNAFU - 07  How come not very many projects are doing this anymore?  The radicality of Sagrada Familia appears to have worn off, but 100 years ago, it was completely outrageous.  Are projects pushing the notions of familiarity and what is acceptable, or are projects nowadays becoming standardized strip malls along yet another stretch of highway?

23 April 2014

Presenting your work

1. During the Renaissance, the understanding of the world was based on things, images, and words. In what ways is this still true today, and in what ways have we let go of understanding by analogy?
2. In reference to buildings and designs that convey an abstract, "non-representational" formal system, have ties to the classical language been lost? How to we hold firm learning from what has been done, but still continue to further the art?
3. Students are taught powerpoint in school at a very young age. Should there be a different standard for presentation of work? Should there be a standard at all? What might this look like?
4. How can you see the presentation of architectural design changing in the future? What must we hold onto, and what can we let go of?

22 April 2014

Week 14

On page 159, Tufte claims that PowerPoint data slides can "create the impression that data graphics are for propaganda and advertising and not for reasoning about information". What ways can we can we eliminate this propaganda and advertising?

Does it seem like PowerPoint should be used as one of the first and last steps in the teaching process, assuming its very condensed and simplified? By using it first, you get vital and important information quickly, perhaps in Week 1 of a 14 week course. Next you actually learn the material in weeks 2-13 (through other learning methods). Last you review, using PP in week 14. Or would this turn into The Gettysburg example?

Agrest discusses how corporations can now create their own virtual cities, ones where workers don't have to commute or travel to a set office destination. With the ever-changing environment, are you ok with this? Will this open up the door for future 'architects of the virtual world'.

A paragraph later, Agrest puts forth the statement that the city has finally produced another city, which is its own representation. Could urban sprawl have anything to do with the city's core being a facade, molded by its visitors?

Presenting Your Work

1. What does Agrest say is “one of the most important operations that articulates theory and practice?”

2. Agrest says architecture is produced by drawing, writing, and building. Are there other options or does everything fit into one of these categories?

3. Agrest talks about how architecture has related to other practices such as painting and photography (pg 167). What other practices influence your designs and how you represent them?

4. Does Agrest's argument that the cultural reading of the city is a “complex and constantly changing phenomenon of shifting relationships, always incomplete and imperfect, and subject to one major force: chance” apply to Milwaukee?

5. Agrest says that two situations have resulted from computers: a resurgence of perspective and the reunification of representation and the process of construction. Do you agree?

6. Tufte says the PowerPoint reflects the company that built it. (Conway’s Law, pg 161) Does this idea apply to other companies, specifically architecture firms and the designs they create?

7. The slide about the Challenger damage (pg 164) is a good example of presenting information to receive a particular response. How can this be done when presenting a final studio project?

8. Tufte says that “the quantity of detail is an issue completely separate from the difficulty of reading.” What examples of this have you experienced in studio projects?

9. Tufte claims there are no coherent software for serious presentations (pg 183). Is this true? What software do you use for studio presentations?

10. Tufte says that a single piece of paper can say a lot more than many PowerPoint slides. What says the most for a studio project? (rendering, diagram, written description, etc.)

16 April 2014

A. D. P. F.

Avoiding Digital Pitfalls –Jesse Duchon

Antoine Picon

1)      When are some appropriate situations or program types that might better aid in the architecture and  design of a project when merging science and architecture? Is it ever beneficial to restrain one’s self from the combination of science and architecture?

2)      “To live in culture is synonymous with a specific education of the senses.”- Michael Baxandal

Is the use of science and digital media a temporary architectural fad or the future norm of the industry?  

3)      “Design makes the actualization of intention possible.” What are technologies limits in the architectural world? What will the limits be on architects in the future? If any. 
4) How will we make worlds/ Architecture in the future? Ten, Twenty, fifty years ahead? Do we     risk   losing design solutions in the virtual realm? Are we still creating the best choice possible?
What will we envision in the future using science and technology?

Stan Allen

1) Is there a benefit to creating abstract architecture, away from the computer screen? Can we lose   constraints to create pure, ideological architecture free of rules?

2) What else do we lose besides integrity of process by limiting ourselves to only the digital realm?

3) Can you think of ways we might be able to better utilize computer aided design without sacrificing process of creativity in the future?

4) What is digital fabrications role in today’s architecture? What will it be in the future? What are the core differences between digital fabrication and more rudimentary notions of material?

15 April 2014

Avoiding Digital Pitfalls

Allen (page72)  “we will be infinitely unhappy because we will have lost the very place of freedom, which is expanse.” (Going on to say) “The field of freedom shrinks with speed.  And freedom needs a field.  When there is no more field, our lives will be like a terminal, a machine with doors that open and close.”

How have computers shut down your creative process?
Has the introduction of a computer stalled your momentum?
Are there experiences when the computer has invigorated a project?

Allen (page72) Allen talks about the hidden speed of computers and how that speed is not as measurable as other modernist machines such as the aircraft, the telegraph or the automobile.  The work is expressed through the affect of its motion. 

When working by hand, the ability to see and hold your progress allows for direct understanding and allowable measurement.  Does slaving away in AutoCAD seem monotonous because there is a lack of immediate accomplishment?

“What is living, present, conscious, here, is only so because there’s an infinity of little deaths, little accidents, little breaks, little cuts…” It is through these interruptions that the field is reconstituted.

This quote reminds me of the happy accidents that can happen when working away.  The sterile environment of the computer does not allow for as my slips or cuts that allow the blood of the accident to provide insight.

Allen (page80) Digital fabrication pushes the boundary of materiality and material possibility

How often have you used to the tools available in the RP lab for gathering a greater understanding of a project?
Do you use the tools in the RP lab primarily for representing work?

Allen (page85) Preston Scott Cohen or Greg Lynn, who later became identified with innovative computer based design work, were engaged in explorations of formal complexity and descriptive geometry before they had access to the computer.  This prior research gave them strong conceptual bases on which to theorize new digital design techniques from with architecture’s definition of itself as a discipline.

How important is it to use computers for specific purposes and than detach when the job is done?

I find that getting on the computer for a specific purpose is the most productive use of my time.  It’s when I start slipping into doing other things on the computer without a clear intent, that I get lost.


Avoiding Digital Pitfalls - Allen /// Picon + Ponte


-Question 01

pg. 72 – Allen Quotes Paul Virilio’s Pure War:

“There again it’s the same illusory ideology that when the world is reduced to nothing and we have everything at hand, we’ll be infinitely happy.  I believe it’s just the opposite—and this has already been proven—that we’ll be infinitely unhappy because we will have lost the very place of freedom, which is expanse.”

I very much believe that we are loosing our place of freedom in architecture.  The profession is largely digitized and the world is at our fingertips with the click of a mouse. We can zoom to street views, obtain photographs, and place our creations within our contexts without even leaving our offices.  We should be, within our own rights, infinitely happy…we have it all!

Yet, if 15 students are asked to design a building in a studio, how many of them immediately turn on the computer and start messing around in digital space?  How many of them will return to the site more than the required preliminary site visit?  Will they turn to their sketchbooks and jot down notes and ideas whenever they pop into their heads, or will their wait until they are back at their computer to make the changes instead of consider them in the heat of the moment?

I think there is an intrinsic loss of thought when a computer is the primary means to design.  The ability to formulate and construct ideas on a piece of paper creates some of the most elaborate and well thought out designs, I believe.  Frank Lloyd Wright always designed by hand, granted the technology wasn’t there yet, but even so.  How would his designs have changed as a result?

I want to ask that if students were to design similar buildings through two studios, one working solely in 3d space, and the other exclusively through hand drafting and model building, which would create the more architecturally superior creations?  Why would this be so, and how could one out-design the other as far as schematic design and design development?  Which group of students would be infinitely happier?


-Question 02

pg. 75 – Allen Quotes Brian Eno:

“I ask myself, What is pissing me off about this thing?  What’s pissing me off is that it uses so little of the body.  You’re just sitting there, and it’s quite boring.  You’ve got this stupid little mouse that requires one hand, and your eyes.  That’s it.”

Is it safe to say that one is more involved with a design if it is hand drafted?  To go off of Eno’s quote, we tend to move around more and do more elaborate actions and things when we hand-draft as opposed to sitting in once place for an extended amount of time.  Could we go so far as to say that this active engagement with the drawing(s) and the tools can produce better designs, or does it merely seem coincidental?  Why or why not?


-Question 03

pg. 81 – Allen speaks on Giambattista Nolli:

The power of the Nolli map and the figure/ground diagram comes from its stark contrasting abilities.  Allen mentions how the maps and diagrams are absent of actual urbanism and life-like qualities such as “block structure, height, typology, land ownership, infrastructure, program, etc.”  How detrimental is this absence of life in the diagram and how does it hinder our understanding of the formation of true urbanism compared to a total simplicity of the Nolli map?


-Question 04

pg. 86 – Allen speaks on computers as a cult in the 80’s and 90’s:

Allen explains the fascination of architects and computers in the 80’s and 90’s as a cult.  It had rituals, members, leaders, and everything that a cult could have.  It was something to be skeptical of, but also very exciting.  As architecture has grown to accept and love computers, the cult-ship treatment of it has gone down and the “old way” of doing things has become more cultish.  But within the field of computers, are programs becoming the new cults as they start to define how structures are designed and built?  SketchUp buildings differ greatly from Revit buildings, structures based in 3dMax versus those in AutoCAD, and even down to Rhino versus programs like VectorWorks, MicroStation, and ArchiCAD.  Do the limitations of programs actually shape and define how architecture looks so much as to limit and persuade a designer into a digital pitfall?  If so, is it a fatal blow to the profession or a means of clarity?  Does this provide clients with a notion of “you get what you pay for,” or false expectations of so-called “industry standards” of design?


Picon + Ponte///

-Question 01

On borrowing:

Just as 19th century architecture was bettered by the borrowing of ideas from science and technology--ergo shaping how we think about architecture in our current age through structure and open expressions.  Instead of borrowing from sciences like the medical field, how could architecture be redefined through other areas of study?  ie: dentistry, space travel / colonization, classic opera, digitized media, acid rain, over-population, vinyl record re-popularity, etc...

Picon + Ponte///

-Question 02

On virtual reality:

As the reading states, virtual reality is a reality--a potential one.  Going off of this notion, if VR is technically a reality, could we see a shift in design that completely envelopes designers within a 3D world to be free to roam around and design whatever?  Similar to VR glasses and immersive sensory worlds, will the profession stay with the, now conservative, style of a keyboard and mouse?  Or will the profession shift to a more "futuristic" approach to design through something completely intangible?  Could neurological design, where impulses and instincts control a computer in a "Matrix-like" world, enter into the profession or even be possible?

Picon + Ponte///

-Question 03

On structure and architecture:

Knowing that structure comes from the realm of biology and the skeletal system within our bodies, does the idea that we are creating structurally expressive buildings upset us?  If we were to have children that were "structurally expressive" and not have any skin on their bodies would that upset us?  Then why are we designing buildings that follow this same notion and what is our fascination with wanting to rip our own skin off...of buildings?  Compared to the architecture of old where ornamentation was crucial to the design, why are we now compelled to forfeit this "aesthetic" in favor of an architecture that is so rebellious of skin and in favor of savage nakedness?