20 September 2017

The Agency of Mapping: Speculation, Critique, and Invention 2

  1. One especially important aspect for Arnheim's concept is that the concept is generative.  Corner often discusses mapping in generative terms.  For example, he claims that mapping is an "enabling enterprise that both reveals and realizes hidden potential."  What similarities do Arnheim's concept and Corner's mapping share?  What differentiates them?
  2. More people in the world interact with Google Maps more regularly than any other map.  Corner argues that maps "possess great force in terms of how people see and act."  How do you think Google Maps has forced people to see and act?  Positively?  Negatively?  At all?
  3. Corner looks to Harvey and agrees that "projecting new urban and regional futures must derive less from a utopia of form and more from a utopia of process - how things work, interact and inter-relate in space and time."  I believe that the map feature on Snapchat begins to achieve this in a fascinating way.  Am I right or am I crazy?
  4. I think corner tries to place mapping somewhere between free-form subjectivity and and raw factual objectivity.  Is he successful?  Can there be a balance or does the presence of one begin to implicate or diminish the other?
  5. Corner paints a grim picture of what I might call "red tape culture."  He claims there are plenty of answers to the question of what to do to address the issues of today and very few answers to the question of how to do it.  Do you think that Corner's mapping stands to be the operational factor that address the how

19 September 2017

The Agency of Mapping: Speculation, Critique, and Invention

1) James Corner states; "mapping is particularly instrumental in the construing and constructing of lived space. In this active sense, the function of mapping is less to mirror reality than to engender the re-shaping of the worlds in which people live", how do we see beyond the reality and whats factual to see the abstract? [213].  

2) If tracing is apart of mapping, what separates the two from one another? [214]. 

3) Mapping is suppose to lead you in the correct direction, but there are many options, points of view, and directions in which one can take. Does this make mapping abstract, if not what does? [217]. 

4) What steps need to be taken to distinguish reality and representation? [222]. 

5) How do you know when there's to much context into a map it becomes confusing?  

15 September 2017

Exercise 01_Diagramming a Film


  1. Felber
  2. Winder
  3. Dedrick
  4. Noelck
  5. Monty
The Royal Tenenbaums

  1. Georgeson
  2. Every
  3. Lee
The Grand Budapest Hotel

  1. Dickson
  2. Lorenz
  3. Liebenow
  4. Laluzerne
  5. Lin
  6. Santos
  7. Wosewick

13 September 2017

What is not abstraction?

1. Susane K. Langer separates presentational abstraction from generalized abstraction, asserting “In scientific thinking, concepts are abstracted from concretely described facts by a sequence of widening generalization...”  Is Picasso's bull series not a sequence of widening generalizations, not merely “derived from some single instance under proper conditions of imaginative readiness.”? [161-162]

2.  “Samuel Johnson Defined the outcome of an abstraction as ‘a smaller quantity containing the virtue or power of a greater.’” At what point does that occur in Picasso’s bull, is that precisely why he drifted away from the ‘cow’ and brought back the shoulders?

3. If abstractions are often culturally based, is it an ideal window into another cultures perspectives? Is the art of previous societies a view into their abstractions or is it the stylistic means of representation [see geometric period].

4. If you choose to paint what you see without your glasses on, is the representation abstract or is it in fact “syncretistic perception.” [168]

"What Abstraction Is"

1) What does Arnheim mean when he writes, "...in order to produce a sensible abstraction, a concept should be generative"? (174)
2) How does "container concepts" work in abstraction?
3) How does "types" work in abstraction?
4) How does static and dynamic concepts help us recognize patterns and movement? Refer to figure 51 on page 180.
5) If, "in human thinking, every concept is tentative, subject to modification by growth" then how do we generalize/categorize?

12 September 2017

Discussion Leaders

Week 02: Wosewick, Lee
Week 03: Lorenz, Noelck
Week 05:
Week 06: Dickson, Wosewick
Week 07: LaLuzerne, Lin
Week 09: LaLuzerne, Noelck
Week 10: Felber, Lorenz
Week 11: Lin
Week 13: Winder, Liebenow
Week 14: Every, Dedrick
Week 15: Liebenow

12 December 2016



“Lost in contemporary usage of the term, however, is the tension held in the original phrase between two seemingly incompatible conditions occurring simultaneously: “The normal and the fouled up. If something is normal every day, and ordered then how can it also be disordered, jumbled, and otherwise out of kilter?”


1)      We are all familiar with the quote that “Form Follows Function” however Lewis imposes the idea of SNAFU into this logic and questions if we can change that to “Function fucks with form” Here “function is not reducible to form, and form is not the inevitable conclusion of programmatic dictates. Instead, a self-critical, imaginative, recombnative conception of function opens up a new territory for formal and spatial exploration.” What are the roadblocks we face as architects to experiment with this change in Logic?


2)      Generic programs-stores, bars, apartments, office buildings, theatres – provide a rich ground for examination for these “dumb programs” possess recognizable architectural conditions. Because of how embedded Architecture is into economic and social systems we are tied to convention, discipline, and standards. How can we stop taking program and convention for granted and get out of the repetition?
3)      Friedrich Nietzche stated “What is familiar is what we are used to; and what we are used to is most difficult to “know”-that is, to see as a problem; that is, to see as strange, as distant, as ‘outside us. Lewis continues by stating that “critical architecture challenges the familiar, is there a point where something is done consistently due to its programmatic success or is this due to complacency and laziness.


4)      “Surrationalism is the self-conscious examination of the rational.” Architecture is an inherently surrationalist activity due to the manifestation of the self-conscious into a rational object. How the image is made material is through a highly ritualized act of the documentation process do agree that our current process is reduced to routine or is it an affective translation?
5)      In the reading Lewis discussed the works of Keaton and his unorthodox yet logical solutions to ordinary problems in film. In his films Lewis plays with the balance between the expected and the illogical by taking the situation normal of going from one threshold to another and maintaining the act of closing the threshold behind you while fucking it up by changing the door into a fence. In order for this act to be believable the proper code or etiquette of shutting the door on the way out is maintained. How can this technique translate into Architecture and subvert the standard we have today?

6)      With Architecture being a Surrationalist activity due to the translation between the self-conscious examination and the rational or built form how can Hybrid Drawings help to bridge the gap more effectively then our traditional process.

11 December 2016

Experimental Architecture

  1. In the reading Radical Reconstruction, Woods references that destruction has ushered in the need for a “radically reconstructed architecture”. He makes the case that “Now there is no choice but to invent something new, a new that neither mimics what has been lost nor forgets the losing….” In what ways can historical context and information be considered, without it becoming a reproduction or pandering?
  2. Woods states, “The architect must become, more than ever before, a creature of the present, fusing all that is remembered and all that is dreamt within it, as though existence itself were hanging in the balance” In what ways can we as architects convey the present state of society and its needs while still designing in a way that has longevity and avoids becoming dated?
  3. One of Woods’ twenty tactics of a new practice is “Make second-order designs,” which argues that previous architects followed an established set of criteria and guidelines, and that the architect now must be reconstructing what the rules are, and to “design the architecture of architecture.” Is it beneficial to architects to have certain set guidelines in place as references, or is it ultimately a constricting aspect that is often shoehorned in and limits design?
  4. Woods’ tactic, “Challenge old ideas of shaping space” makes the case that the new ways of living in will remain in a “paradoxical state of destruction and construction.” This creates the opportunity for us to challenge conventional ideas and redefine space. What are some examples of spaces or concepts in architecture that are commonly accepted, and where can reevaluating what these are take us?
  5. In Woods’ tactic “Build architecture as though it had never been drawn” Woods argues that the meaning if experimental architecture is to “set in motion events that result in unpredictable forms of building and living”. How can design be clear in the sense of having consistency and purpose within the design, while also still allowing for the unpredictability that Woods is referencing?

05 December 2016

Week 14 - Presenting your Work

1. In her reading, Representation As Articulation Between Theory and Practice, Agrest describes the production of Architecture through three registers: drawing, writing, and building. While these three registers seem to be very different from one another, do any of these seem to hold more importance over the other two? In what combinations can these registers come together to produce a successful representation. Do you see any other means of representation that may build upon these three registers? (film, theater, etc.)

2. Agrest states, "...representation is one of the first areas in which ideological changes manifest themselves." She goes on to describe, "...the understanding of the world was based on establishing similarities between things, images, and words." What role do analogies play in our work as designers?

3. On page 168, Agrest claims a clear separation between design and construction, in the middle being the place of articulation between theory and practice where critical thought and new theories are developed. Do you feel the production of Architecture falls evenly within this separation as a process from one side to the other or is one side more heavily weighted over the other? (Design vs. Construction)

4. "Given the nature and the characteristics of the contemporary city, and urban culture, the mode of its representation needs to be rethought." What different means of representation might be necessary when considering the scale of a city versus representing a static building?

5. In what ways might the computer be holding us back primarily as, "...a tool in the production of architecture..." and how might we be able to utilize these new technologies to their full capacity to represent our architectural designs?

Week 14 - Presenting your work

1.  In the reading The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint Tufte argues primarily about how PP in terms of data collection and a way to share information that needs to be analyzed.  He explains that PP "reduces the analytical quality of serious presentations of evidence" and talks a lot about how PP "is not a contemplative analytical method".  His focus on this begins to imply that Tufte doesn't believe that PP is used for anything other than ways of sharing data and analysis.  Can you think of any other ways that PP is used that wouldn't require the exchange of information and analysis? And can PP successfully support it?

2.  Tufte seems to have a negative connotation on the use of PP.  He goes on and on about how PP causes more troubles to the presenters  and the audience.  For example he says that "PP slides are very low resolution compared to paper" and that "audiences endure a relentless sequentiality, one damn slide after another".  Do you think there are ways we can go beyond the standard PP format and use it in a new way that creates an 'experience' rather than just a fact providing presentation?

3.  Tufte talks a lot about the presentations put together by NASA for various events.  He talks about how other forms of presentations would work better than PP, but is there an unconventional way that NASA could have used PP to share the engineering reports and data?

4.  How do we as students push the boundaries of the standard programs that are supplied and use them in a new invented and unconventional way to share data?

5.  Tufte argues that the standard default PP presentations are composed of "incompetent designs for data graphics and tables, and a smirky commercialism that turns information into a sales pitch and presenters into marketeers".  But we as architects and architecture students are often pitching or selling our designs- in essence marketing our ideas.  So does that mean that PP is a successful tool to us in that regard?

28 November 2016

Week 13- avoiding digital pitfalls

1.   Picon says, “It is not that the computer in itself has changed architecture; it is that, because both nature and society have changed, architecture is confronted with new challenges.” What kinds of challenges may Allen be referring to when he says this? Clients? Form? Scale and proportion?

2. Are we as designers/ architects forming a boundary by involving our practice with computer technology and the virtual realm? Or is our practice dependent on evolution an investigation using different production methodologies?

3. Picon says computer-generated forms can’t reach the same status of architectural form that is derived from after research and development. What does that say towards parametric design aided by computers? Or the Data Forms we worked on recently? Do these examples pertain to the conversation?

4. Allen starts his second hypothesis by saying that architecture is amongst the disciplines that utilizes computes for their compatibility with the physical and virtual world. He continues by saying that computers get even more interesting when you use them to produce things other than images; referring to milling, fabrication, and plotting. And although this has been great and aiding with production of models, prints, and manufacturing, it seems that we are stopping short of what is capable. Is there more that we can use/do with the technology at hand?

5.  According to Allen, we are now in an era in which new architects are taught solely on the digital platform and first generation digitally trained architects have evolved their skills into a phase that he says is more mature and less complex. He says that as designers they’ve found new potentials between the digital and analog and at the same time they’re realistic with the outcomes and limitations of the computers. What does this say in regards to the future of learning and practice of architecture?

22 November 2016

Fall 2016 - Ex. 04: Personal Research Topics

Your final exercise of the semester is a personal research topic. This topic may be related to your current/past studios, Master's project topic or other topic that you would like to graphically research for this course. Your topic may be directly related, tangentially related or reciprocal to architecture(al) thought. You may critique conventions, processes or projects. You may also decide to explore phenomena that are not directly related to architecture, in that, it is not a building, drawing or other.

By 9:00 AM on November 29, you must submit a 500-word abstract of your research topic via d2L Dropbox. Within your abstract you must clearly state the topic as a thesis of inquiry, your methodology for research and your expected out comes. Keep in mind, this topic must be formatted to fit the final document per the syllabus.

To view examples of previous research topics view the blog archive for April 2013.HERE

Please post any questions as comments to this post so that the entire class may benefit.

The format of exercise four and your final document shall be the same as the previous exercises, 8.5x11 Landscape format.

Exercise four will be included in your final document along with exercises 01-03. Your final document is due at noon on December 20. You will upload a SINGLE pdf file to the dropbox on d2L. Your file size may not exceed 20 MB. I will not open/review any document larger than that, and I will not review multiple files. If you do not meet these requirements your assignment will be considered late.

21 November 2016

Week 11 - Research Methodologies

1.  In "How to Do a Thesis: Practice Models as Instigators for Academic Theses", do you agree with Sergio's distaste for how a thesis is approached?  Are students limited by the way architecture is taught?

2.  Sergio describes some of Diller and Scofidio's work as simply {{{{}}Theses}}.  Can Theses stand on its own as a mode of operation?

3.  When reading through this paper, did any method of architectural practice stand out to you?  If so, why?

4.  In the introduction to Practice vs. Project", Stan Allen says this about theory, "Detached from the operational site of technique, theory stakes a claim on a world of concepts uncontaminated by real world contingencies".  Does this mean that when working in the "real world", theory falls apart? What is theory's value to architectural practice?

5.  Stan Allen, "Architecture, I want to say right from the beginning, is a material, and not a discursive practice".  Why is he so adamant that architecture is not a discursive practice? Do you agree?

07 November 2016

Week 10 - Collage - Discussion Leader - Nicholas A. Teresi

1.       In the reading of Collage and Architecture, by Jennifer A. E. Shields; collage is defined as “a work of art consists of the assembly of various fragments of materials, combined in such a way that the composition has a new meaning, not inherent in any of the individual fragments.” In comparison to Architecture, “Steven Holl illuminates the nature of our perception of the built environment, saying:

                A city is never seen as a totality, but as an aggregate of experiences, animated

by use, by overlapping perspectives, changing light, sounds, and smells.

Similarly, a single work of architecture is rarely experienced in its totality

(except in graphic or model form) but as a series of partial views and synthesized

experiences. Questions of meaning and understanding lie between the

generating ideas, forms, and the nature and quality of perception.” (Page 3)


Would you agree with Holl’s comparison? Is architecture itself a form of a collage?


2.       In relation to the first question. If you agree with Holl’s statement, would you say that Architecture is a form of a collage because of the collection of experiences, perspectives, and sensory instances or more because of the wide assortment of different materials put together to build a building or “collage.”


3.       What source or sources do you find to be the most successful collage making technique(s)? Digital? Drawing? Painting? Photomontage? A combination of several?


4.       In the reading, Collage Making, by Nicholson; it states that “pictures are snipped without care for their actual context. Now they are readied for action. Pages are severed from publications just because, and all these acts are done to readjust the pictorial world to suit the viewer a little better.” What do you think this means? Are collages made without care and thought? If so, doesn’t that contradict with Jennifer Shields point of view? Is this a matter of one’s personal perspective?


5.       I very much liked the analogy of “the great collagist Dr. Frankenstein.” Do you think that analogy was appropriate? Is Frankenstein a collage; a collage of human body parts? He wasn’t exactly different objects welded together to build a man, but rather just body parts from different people to build one new man; is that enough to say it’s like a collage?

06 November 2016

Week 10 Collage - Syntactic Thinking

1.  Based on the reading of Eidetic Operations and New Landscapes, by living in our present landscape, is one hindered from seeing the true value?

2.  Corner goes on to talk about how landscape design has become "institutionalized and taken for granted." What forms of representation can we create to show more "engaging landscapes?" [162]

3.  With these new forms, do you think it can hurt or improve the explanation of your project, since it's not the "traditional format?"

4.  In the collage making reading, do you think collage making with different sorts of materials and methods serve a purpose for an architect's client?

5.  In your own opinion, how do we distinguish between art and architecture?