29 October 2015

1.  The author quotes, "When a machine runs efficiently...one need focus only on its imputs and outputs and not on its internal complexity. Thus, paradoxically, the more science and technology succeed, the more opaque and obscure they become," and argues that, "this has been the case with notation in architecture."  Does this mean that there is a sort of spectrum of notational forms?  Is it that, at one end, the internal function becomes completely transparant, and the transformation from initial input to final output becomes part of the notation?  And at the opposite end, the internal logic becomes arbitrary and we only reconize the "distict character" of the input and output?  What does this mean for the application of the notation?  Which level of notation is most applicable in the architectural represenation?

2.  "Paradoxically, the dry, dispassionate form of notation, which makes no attempt to approach reality through resemblance, is better able to anticipate the experience of the real...in the passage from drawing to building, the real and the virtual wil always be present in some unpredictable mixture."  A musical score is a type of notation that, when performed, can produce emotional effects.  If an architectural notation is produced by the designer as a means of anticipating the experience of the real, how then is it performed in way that can create an emotional effect on the viewer?  Does a notation need to be presented or performed in way that creates or simulates the experiential complexity of the realized building?  Can it be?  How?

3.  The author suggests for diagram architecture that, "what is lost in depth is gained in immediacy. Diagram architecture looks for effects on the surface, but by layering surface on surface a new kind of depth effect is created.  A diagram architecture does not justify itself on the basis of embedded content, but by its ability to multiply effects and scenarios."  Do you agree with Allen in this sense?  Can we argue that diagram architecture strikes a successful balance of the autographic and allographic natures of architecutral representation?  Is the diagram in itself the autographic?  Is it's clarity and directness autographic?  Is the diagrams ability to layer and multiply effects and scenarios allographic?

4.  The author references the, "inevitablity of architecture, as a social system, behaving to some degree like language, and on the other hand, the impossibility of architecture ever approaching the transparency of discursive language."  His conclustion is that as designers we must abandon the idea of a "perfect fit between object and its representation".  How does this relate back to architectural represenation as a diagram? As a notation?  How transparent must the architect be with his/her public?  Is the notation then a reasonable way to communitcate architecture?

28 October 2015


1) In Stan Allen’s “Diagrams vs. Notation,” he writes about the difference between diagrams and notation. “All notations are diagrammatic, but not all diagrams are notational. …Notations belong to time, diagrams to space and organization.” Does a successful diagram then include both, the notation and the diagram( the time, space and organization)? Is Andy Warhol’s Dance Diagram a notation?

2) Stan Allen writes about diagrams as “architecture’s best means to engage the complexity of the real,” but he stresses that the process of graphic conversion is “fundamental.” Allen later writes about “Diagram Architecture.”  From my understanding of his descriptions of “Diagram Architecture,” he does not like diagrams that are used as shortcuts to skip conventional design processes in order to have a finished design. We are encouraged to produce many diagrams to explain our studio projects. Will this repetition of producing  diagram after diagram make us better architects or will it just turn us into “diagram architects”?

3) Allen writes that the contemporary city is no longer legible in the way it used to be and that an urban site is no longer simply geographic, “The local, physical difference of cities, from the first world to the third world, is being progressively erased with the exchange of information, knowledge, and technique.” Do you think that we, as architects, should reflect these global exchanges or should we emphasize the uniqueness of each and every place and culture? How can representation help us with this dilemma?

4) Allen writes that  “Notations always describe a work that is yet to be realized.” It seems that notations and storyboards are similar in leaving room for interpretation and development. Do you think that story boards could play a role in notation making?

5) In his two closing paragraphs, Allen suggests that there are “crisis” of representation in the contemporary city. Do you think that there are always crisis in representation? Don't we all try to find new ways to represent our work and therefore there will never be a perfect way to represent architectural work?

21 October 2015

week 08: the form of data


1.       In this reading, it is shown that parallelism is effected when the object being analyzed is repeated multiple times.  How does one know how many repetitions is necessary?

 2.       How important is it for the objects to be within eyespan at the same moment?  What determines when the objects should be separated from view?

 3.       What are some examples of parallelism used in architecture?

 4.       What are ways to avoid unparallelisms?

 5.       How can unparallelisms be used to our advantage?


1. Do you think it is important to have text accompanying a sparkine? Do you personally find more or less text to be compelling?

2. How long would you imagine it takes a sparkline to become legible without text? For example, we all recognize the sparkline fora heartbeat, would you say that is legible without text? Or should numerical values accompany it to make it legible?

3. In the reading at the bottom of page 49 there is an excerpt from Galileo's discovery of Saturn's shape that integrates images into the text. Would you find readings more interesting/ would your comprehension of material be increased if small sparklines were integrated into educational texts or articles? Do you think that "non-visual" learners would also benefit from the inclusion of sparklines?

4. On page 51 of the reading, financial data from a group of 10 mutual funds is formatted on the page in 2 ways: 1- as a table of nouns and numbers, and 2-as a series of sparklines. Personally, the sparklines are easier to understand, and I could consider making a decision about mutual funds with less doubt than I would from the table above. Why do you think this way of representing data (sparklines) has not become common practice? 

5. Which element of  sparkline design do you think is the most important. (Elements found on pages 60-63) Aspect Ratio, Dequantification, Production Methods, Unintentional Optical Clutter, Resolution of sparklines, Resolution of Layouts of Multiple Sparklines.

15 October 2015


  1.  “Each cell is an invitation to pause but the sequential structure urges the eye forward. The conflicting impulses to move on and linger are resolved through a narrative”.  This is really similar to how people experience and move through different types of architecture.  The “spatial narrative” is what determines how people will move through a space or where they will pause within a building.  Can we discuss examples of spaces that do this and how a storyboard might convey these spaces or the ways in which we move through them?
  2. When comparing storyboards to film he discusses the “imaginative appeal of each individual image” in the storyboard which is restricted by size and stasis.  Does each image become more powerful/critical because one image must convey activity over a period of time? How does a storyboard successfully compress time even more than film is typically forced to do? Does the imaginative aspect of a person’s interpretation of a series of images weaken or strengthen the use of storyboard in presenting architectural projects?
  3. In looking at a bunch of images of storyboards online, I began to notice how each frame is typically the same size and shape not really denoting a type of hierarchy.  In architectural storyboards how can storyboards begin to show hierarchy?  Of a space? Of an experience?
  4. Davids talks a bit about frames and how the “relationship of one framed image to another can be a story in itself”.  What is the relationship of the frames, the images and the narrative?  What can the relationship be from image to image or frame to frame and how do these small relationships create an overall narrative?
  5. With a storyboard there is no real narrative connected to the images as there is in comics, the narrative needs to be invented by the viewer.  How could this help an architectural project presented with a storyboard or how could it hurt it?  Let’s assume the designer isn’t there to present or provide their personal narrative.

Understanding Comics | Discussion Questions | Bob Allsop

1.               The author discusses how the more simplified the image, specifically the face, becomes the more universal it becomes, the more people it describes. He later implies that the fascination with cartoons, especially in children, is that we can see ourselves in them. Why then do the most successful cartoons seem to be more midrange, leaning toward realistic, in their visual style? In theory, wouldn’t the simple two dots and two lines face be the most relatable to the greatest number of individuals?

2.               On pages 32-33, the author says, “We humans are a self-centered race… We see ourselves in everything.” Is it as simple as we see ourselves in everything or do we subconsciously or consciously design this way?

3.               On pages 42-43 the author discusses “lines to BE” and “lines to SEE”. This immediately brought to mind the use of entourage in architectural drawings and renderings, specifically silhouettes vs realistic figures. Discuss your own thoughts and feelings toward the use of one form vs the other and what each might mean for your representation.

4.               At one point in the reading the illustration of the author is drawn much more realistically and he asks “Would you have listened to me if I looked like this?” He then follows with, “I doubt it! You would have been far too aware of the messenger to fully receive the message.” I felt that had a realistic style been used up to that point and throughout the reading that it may have been a bit distracting from the content but that the message would still have gotten through. What are your thoughts on how the author chose to represent himself and how that may or may not have affected your ability to receive the message?

5.               On page 40 the author begins to discuss the ability for things to move between the realm of concept and sense, from the conceptual to the sensual world. Discuss your thoughts on this and give real world examples of things crossing over from one world to another.