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?

31 October 2016

Notations + Diagrams: Mapping the Intangible (Stan Allen)

1. Allen writes, “a drawing that tries to simulate those effects [light and shadow, reflections, atmosphere, movement, etc.] will always fall short, freezing diminishing and trivializing the experiential complexity of the realized building” (p.45). He goes on to say that the notation, “which makes no attempt to approach reality through resemblance, is better able to anticipate the experience of the real” (p.45). 

Are there any examples where drawings are successful in simulating those effects? Regardless, is it even the drawing’s job/responsibility to simulate those effects? Why do you think Allen claims notations are better suited for conveying those effects?

2. Allen cites Goodman’s discussion of notations which he distinguishes between two types of art forms: the autographic and the allographic (p.45). He says painting and sculpture are autographic art forms, while music and dance are allographic art forms.

In your own words, what are the key qualities/aspects of each type of art form?

3. He later writes, that architecture is a mixture of both types, and is neither clearly allographic nor autographic (pg. 46).

Can you think of any examples of architecture/architectural representation that is more allographic than autographic or vice versa? Are there pros and cons of leaning more towards one type? If so, why or why not?

4. He compares and contrasts Diagrams and Notations. He says “reading a diagram is more or less instantaneous; there is an immediate apprehension of the relationships between the parts, while the process of reading a notational schema is more extend, unfolding in time, like reading a text or musical score” (pg. 50).

What are some instances where someone may use the diagram over the notation or the notation over the diagram? Does it make a difference? If so, how? If not, how not?

5. Allen also discusses Diagrammatic Architecture which he defines as, “part of a new sensibility characterized by a lack of interest in critique or the production of meaning, preferring instead immediacy, simple forms, direct accommodation of program, and the pleasures of the literal” (pg. 53).

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Diagrammatic Architecture? Will adopting Diagrammatic Architecture be inevitable in the future, given we live in a world that’s increasingly becoming more diagrammatic?

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?