14 April 2015

Allen: Practice vs. Project

1- Allen does not consider architecture to be a discursive practice, it does not offer criticism or commentary. Do you agree? How can this be if oftentimes many aspects of a design serve as artifacts of the time in which they were developed?

2- In an academic setting how can we bring material practice into our inherently theoretical examination of architecture? How can we more meaningfully explore the variables presented by the realities of built work?

3- Allen states “Meaning is not something added to architecture… It happens in the interval, as the result of an encounter between architecture and its public, in the field.” With this in mind, is it possible to design prescriptive structures that affectively dictate their own use and reception?

4- In many of Allen’s examples of successful architecture designed by material process there is an abandonment of “truth to materials”. Given that there has been a resurgence of literal and “truthful” techniques in contemporary design alongside a new focus on material process, is design that considers both of these topics somewhat paradoxical? Or can it be successful?

5- Allen says that “the significant work of architecture is one that allows continual revision and re-reading, teasing out new meanings as the context changes.” How can design avoid superficiality and ambiguity while maintaining genuine openness to interpretation and change?

6- Allen talks about his writing becoming part of his practice of architecture, saying it occurs alongside drawing and building. Do you use writing in your own process of developing a project and representation? Could this help you understand and better explain your project and could it shape graphical representation?

Tofte: The Fundamental Principles of Analytical Design

1- On the topic of causality, Minard’s map of Napoleon’s forces illustrates the locations of events during the army’s march on Moscow. It conveys this information without explicitly explaining the cause of each event, but instead provides secondary data that helps the reader make potential inferences. Is this “show not tell” methodology always more affective when looking for a reader’s analysis?

2- Tufte says, “The analysis of cause and effect, initially bivariate, quickly becomes multivariate through such necessary elaborations as the conditions under which the causal relation holds, interaction effects, multiple causes, multiple effects, causal sequences, sources of bias, spurious correlation, sources of measurement error, competing variables, and whether the alleged cause is merely a proxy of a marker variable.” How do we, as design students, discern which of the variables present are most important and should be included in our analysis in order to keep them concise?

3- Tufte discusses the multidimensionality of evidence and points out the limitations of our current modes of representation in fully conveying that depth. Does technology afford us new opportunities to examine and present multivariate scenarios in the full depth?

4- How do we find means of representation that functions conventionally and efficiently, but remains accessible to readers? 

09 April 2015

Rauschenberg exhibit at UWM!

Upcoming Robert Rauschenberg exhibit at UWM Art History Gallery in Mitchell Hall.
April 22 - May 9

07 April 2015

WEEK 11: Collage - Syntactic thinking

Collage making

1. If collage is placement of fragments and then they are spliced together, what are the possible correlations between collage and architecture?

2. Nicholson states (pg18) "it is necessary for an artist to use raw materials that is directly associated with the age in which he lives." What is the future of collage when are raw material is becoming more digital base?

3. What do you think Nicholson means when he said "Collage can be assembled in a manner that reflects the sense of coexistence of urban living?" (pg21).

Recovering Landscapes

4. Corner discusses the differences between landscape(landskip) and environment(landschaft) on page 154. When in your own environment you supposedly will not appreciate it as a landscape, and while visiting a landscape you will not understand it as an environment. Could this lead to a paradox of irresponsibility towards are own environment as long as there are other landscapes to visit?

5. Do you agree with corner about representational technique and the monotony of plan, perspective, and rendering? (pg162) What are the possible limits of using other forms of representational technique?

6. There is discussion about five families of image and eidos, how do you think the families of image relate to idea formation?(pg161)

Collage and Architecture

7. Shields points out the history and benefits of collage,  If collage can be used for analysis and design what are some possibilities that can be explored through collage?

31 March 2015

Week 10 Allen: Notations and Diagrams

Jacob Beck's Questions:

1. Allen says that architectural is clearly neither allographic nor autographic. However if we considered a building solely as a freestanding designed object as it exists in the built world is architecture an autographic or allographic art? Or possibly some mix of the two?

2. Architectural graphics become notational when they include numerical and textual information along with their visual components. Is it possible to make a graphic which is notational but not overtly technical? Could we produce drawings that convey data and experience as accurately as a plan or map without using explicit annotation?

3. Allen states that "since nothing can enter architecture without having been first converted into graphic form, the actual mechanism of graphic conversion is fundamental. Is this always true? What about cases of vernacular architecture, and could impromptu construction happen without a graphic design process?

4. On page 53. Allen describes diagram architecture. In this type of design the process of conversion is minimized, there is no effort to transform material, and designs become frank and direct in their process. Does this representational method then convey experiential quality equally as well as notational methods, and as a design methodology does diagrammatic design then lead to more accessible and identifiable architecture?

5. Allen states that technique is never neutral and makes the argument that diagrammatic design leads to buildings constructed as artifacts rather than effective and interconnected spaces. He proposes a new focus on notation in architectural representation, believing it will lead to processes better suited for design in contemporary cities. Do you think his assessment is correct? Is contemporary architecture that has been designed diagrammatically (for example BIG's work) too focused on form and too introverted?

6. Allen believes that “the dream of a perfect fit between object and its representation needs to be abandoned” and says that we must accept “the impossibility of a transparent communication between architect and public”. As designers and students of architecture are you comfortable accepting this disconnect between representation and product? Are the techniques and technologies used to produce graphical representation progressing to a point where there is no longer any real gap?

Week 10 Muybridge and Movement

Movement is often attributed to being perceived uniquely by both observer and the designer. How does architecture imply movement differently/similarly to these two groups? (ie spaces, structure, dynamics, etc)

Movement can require two or more objects to interact with each other; spatially and physically. How does architecture interact with people? How does it interact with other architecture? With the surroundings?

Sometimes what is necessary to create movement is a framework and an object. (ie a dancer on stage. The stage is the frame and the dancer is the object) What situations place architecture as the framework? What situations place architecture as the object? Can it simultaneously be both?

The use of hand-cranked cameras allowed us to play short and long spans of time back at more human-appropriate speeds to view movement in new ways. (ie. a time lapse of a flower making it grow quickly, or the dropping and shattering of a glass spanning minutes) How could altering the speed which we perceive architecture allow us to see its movement differently?

Succession v. Order "Everything that came before is constantly modified by what comes later." How important is the succession of experiencing architecture? Does the order which we experience architecture always matter?

(Regarding paintings) "The observer scans the various areas of the picture in succession because neither the eye not the mind is capable of taking in everything simultaneously, but the order in which the exploration occurs does not matter" In this case, the observer must explore the entire picture before being able to fully comprehend its value. Must the observer fully explore architecture to understand it as well?

Often the object of movement has predetermined attributes. Large objects move slowly, Small move quickly. Fast objects are strong/fierce, Slow objects are weak/shy. Does architecture have similar attributes?

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?