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Full text of "Reflections : the journal of the School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign"

The Journal of the 

School of Architecture 

University of Illinois 

Urbana-Champaign 



Reflections 



The Journal of the School of Architecture 
University of Illinois at Urbana-Ghampaign 



No. 10 
Spring 1995 



Board of Editors 1994-1995 



R. Alan Forrester, 
Director, School ofArchi 



Paul J. Armstrong, 
Chairmaii and Managing Edil 



Kevin Hinders 
Anne Marshall 
Jory Johnson 



Lisa Busjahn 
Copy Editor 



Mark Witte 
Graphic Design 



Reflections is a journal dedicated to theory 
and criticism. The Board of Editors of Reflec- 
tions welcomes unsolicited contributions. 
All submissions will be reviewed by the Board 
of Editors. Authors take full responsibility 
for securing required consents and releases 
and for the authenticity of their articles. 

Address all correspondence to: 

Reflections 

The Journal of the School of Architecture/ 

Building Research Council 

University of Illinois 

at Urbana-Ghampaign 

608 E. Lorado Taft Drive 

Champaign, IL 61820 



© 1995 by 

The Board of Trustees of the 

University of Illinois 

Printed in the USA 

1SSN:07399448 



Contents 



Architecture Between Tradition and Progress 4 

Andrzej Pinno 



Invasion of the Building Snatchers 22 

A Contemporary Architectural 

A-vant Garde and Its Heritage 

Thomas L. Schumacher 



Architecture of Liberative Movement 36 

A Design Thesis 1992-1993 
Benjamin K. Nesbeitt 




What's Behind the Wall 50 

Why Progressive Public Memorials are 

Designed for Private Commemoration 

Jhennifer A. Amundson 



Learning and Labor In Architecture 66 

A Pavilion for Virginia Park 
Jefferv S. Poss 



Projections 70 

Kevin Hinders 



Cover: Master Architecture Thesis Project "Architecture of Liberative Movement" 
by Benjamin Nesbeitt. Henry Plummer, thesis critic. See page 36. 



Architecture Between 
Tradition and Progress 



Andrzej Pinno 

University of Texas 
at Arlington 



The paper discusses the present debate between modem and postmodern architecture in 
terms of a conflict inj^rained in human nature: a conflict between structure and evolution, 
traditiim and pro^i^ress. It tries to show the inevitability ami indispensability of such a 
conflict for architecture and, at the same time, its apparent flitility. It gives a brief overview 
of some ideological battles for and against progress fought since the Industrial Rcvoluti(m, 
presents examples of their interweaving through history and how, for better or worse, they 
have influenced the evolution of architecture. It sees the present architectural struggles 
blurred by the plurality of various trends, lost in esoteric philosophical and aesthetic 
concerns, and mostly directionless. It links the causes of this malaise to the impasse of the 
once progressive tradition of Enlightenmeiit and suggests that the emerging Ecological 
Revolution may, as the Industrial Revolution before, change the hierarchy of values and, in 
this way, refocus ami redress the never emling conflict between the old and the new in 
architecture. 



Modern science and technology progress with 
frightening speed. New achievements in 
biology or medicine, physics or information 
multiply ever faster, and together with global 
economy, intercontinental communication, 
or supersonic travel open new possibilities 
for man. At the same time, however, the very 
achievements of Western Civilization destroy 
traditional structures of societies. Ethics is 
helpless in the face of the alleged objectivity 
of science; families disintegrate, and the 
individual is lost in the ambiguity of moral 
precepts. Knowledge is replaced by infor- 
mation, books by TV, dignity by success. 
Examples like these abound and force us to 
ask whether progress can be stopped and 
whether tradition can be disregarded. 



In such a schizophrenic society, various fields 
of human endeavor try to define their 
character anew. Architecture, too, seeks a 
relevant role for itself and in this process 
oscillates among diverse trends. Some idolize 
high technology, others indulge in historical 
forms and popular culture, and still others 
agonize over the ambiguities of language. 
The progressive architects believe that it is 
the future, especially the technoscientific 
future, that can offer what the present is 
unable to deliver; the conservatives beUeve 
that a return to the past can give us back the 
lost values; while a third group shows 
indifference toward the outside world and 
concentrates on the internal order of 
architecture, on architecture for its own 



sake. Amonji the progressives and the 
conservatives, as Aldo van Eyck su^ests, 
the technocrats sentimentaHze about the 
future, and the antiquarians sentimentaUze 
about the past. But our attitude toward the 
future and toward the past is more than a 
question of sentiment: it is a conflict deeply 
ingrained in human character. Although we 
live in the present we plan for the future and 
remember the past. We cannot ignore either, 
and, thus, are condemned to a life between 
these two poles. Can we, however, find a 
balance between the future and the past, 
between progress and tradition? ('an we 
rationalize this situation? 

To answer this question we must turn to histopi' 
which, in spite of our present irreverence for 
its truths, can still offer us some insights and 
teach us, for example, that the battle between 
the old and the new is old itself. 

Toward the end of the 17th century a famous 
quarrel between the "Ancients" and the 
"Moderns" took place in France. Thequerelle 
des ancients et des modernes, as it was 
called, pitched against each other two types 



of thinking, two ways of looking at the world. 
The moderns believed in the logic of rational 
thinking, in the power of science: in progress. 
Their adversaries, the ancients, sought 
knowledge among the authorities of antiquity 
and history. The progressives heralded the 
rise of the Enlightenment and, thus, built the 
foundations of modern, rational civilization. 
The conservatives believed that Plato and 
Aristotle had more to offer than the assertions 
of science and, thus, defended wisdom and 
tradition against an uncritical science. Today 
this quarrel seems to be losing direction. 
Rationalism, the tradition of Enlightenment, 
and scientific thinking are under attack and 
there is nothing available to replace them. 
The so-called pluralism of ideas and opinions 
reflects the existing situation in which 
nothing is clear, univocal, or decided. 
Western Civilization, threatened by its own 
successes-the ecological crisis or the nuclear 
threat for example-tries to reevaluate its 
very foundation and wonders whether 
progress promises a paradise on earth, or 
leads to ruin; whether tradition is a panacea 
for today's ills, or an escape from the 
uncertainties of the new. 

.Inhn Ruskiu. "Rinfkin Windiiw." Oxford Museum 




Conflict between these two approaelies in 
architecture has a long history. Riiskin and 
Paxton, Sitte and Sant'EHa, Aspkmd and Le 
Gorbusier, \'an Ryek and Woods, N'enturi 
and Eisennian are some of the architects 
who have represented these opposite 
positions and whose role in this conflict is 
still being disputed. But the debate is not 
over. It will go on from generation to 
generation for, as Leszek Kolakowski says in 
Modernity cm Endless Trial: 

The detail between the ancientand the modem 
is probably everlasting and we will never get 
rid of it, as it expresses the natural tensifjn 
between structure and evolution, ami this 
tension seems to be biologically rooted; it is, 
we 7nay believe, an essential characteristic of 
life. It is obviously necessary for any society 
to experience the forces both of consei-vaticm 
and of change.' 

The hidustrial Revolution caused such a clash 
through unprecedented changes which it 
introduced in almost all domains of social and 
individual life. The speed of their succession 
was of such a magnitude that the society of 
those days could hardly comprehend their 
meaningand significance. Thenewcivilization 
suddenly faced new problems which required 
and generated new ideas and solutions. Some 
of them were Utopian, others remedial; some 
promoted revolutionary thinking, others 
introduced piecemeal reforms. Saint Simon, 
Fourier, Owen, and later, Godin-the Utopian 
socialists-belonged to the first group. Being 
great critics of their civilization, they were 
aware that the old cities, its centers, were 
unfit for the new industrial society. They were 
convinced that these cities, often of medieval 
origin, could not serve well the new society, 
and concluded that new communities should 
be established. In this spirit they introduced 



not only new solutions in architecture, but 
also suggested new ways of thinking.- Their 
social consciousness and sensitivity to social 
injustices lead them to belie\'e that the 
character of man was shaped by tlie human 
environment. (Consequently, they directed 
their attention to the relationship between 
architecture and morality. They thought that 
the depressing and unhealthy dark, narrow 
streets bred poverty and degeneration; and to 
eliminate them, an environment of sun, air 
and greenery had to be created. To achieve 
this goal they declared that the continuity of 
space must take precedence over the 
continuity of buildings; the continuity of voids 
over the continuity of solids. Thus, the existing 
urban fabric with its narrow streets was put to 
trial; the isolated buildings-objects in space- 
gained significance, and, consequently, a way 
was paved for the future Modem Movement- 
a way lasting some one hundred years. ^ Today 
we can wonder whether their true legacy lies 
in their intentions or in the consequences of 
their intentions, whether they contributed to 
the modern world through their dreams of 
creating a new and a better society, or through 
their ideas which lead to streetless and, 
unfortunately, incoherent cities. 

When the 19th century Mctorian England 
celebrated the glory of the Industrial 
Civilization- the "golden age"- it also 
witnessed a steady disintegration of its 
society. This complex situation polarized 
opinions and generated new struggles 
between the ancients and the moderns. In 
architecture these contradictory attitudes 
existed side by side and fought for domin- 
ance. On one side, John Ruskin, hostile to 
progress, and on the other, his contem- 
porary, Joseph Paxton, expressing it so well 
in the Crvstal Palace. 



Ruskin was aware of the changes which 
industrialization ushered into Western 
Civihzation, but one may wonder whether 
he was able to appreciate their true signific- 
ance. His reaction to them was simply one 
of regret. He deplored the railroad, the 
smog, the pollution; he despaired of the new 
society with its constant rush and stress; he 
hated the new hectic life style which 
prevented people from living a dignified life 
and distanced them from beauty and art. In 
other words, he preferred to ignore the 
emerging new world order and was unable, 
or unwilling, to fight its symptoms. He was 
not interested in social problems to the 
extent Owen and Fourier were but 
submerged himself in the beautiful with the 
sublime. Within these constraints he 
advocated the superiority of the Gothic 
over classical style, and glorified its 
rationality and its bond with nature. But 
the Italian Gothic advocated by him, besides 
its aesthetic qualities, had practical reasons 
too. It "included convenient floor plans and 
the ease of relating facades to internal 
structure... [it ]could unite generous window- 
openings with the much-desired sense of 
massiveness...[it] created the opportunity 
for almost continuous fenestration." The 
propagation of these functional values of 
the Gothic constituted, however, only a 
side effect of Ruskin's activity, "for the 
problem so important in the 1850s and 
1860s (was] of expressing Victorian 
aspirations in great civic buildings. "■* Thus, 
the role played by Ruskin in tracing new 
directions for architecture seems 
ambivalent. On the one side, he was slowing 
down the victory of mediocrity brought 
about by progress, modernity and their 
utilitarian concerns, on the other, he was 
ushering in new and advanced functional 
ideas; on one side, he deepened the 



appreciation of beauty, on the other, he 
seemed to slow down the growth of welfare 
and a healthy human environment. 

Paxton, on the other hand, was a practical 
man of action who based his work on different 
premises; he searched for systematic and 
comprehensive solutions to problems he 
confronted and the Crystal Palace presented 
for him a unique opportunity. Since it was 
not to be a great civic building but an 
exhibition pavilion, he was able to experiment 
with technology and select a method of 
construction best suited for this clearly 
defined objective. Perhaps this limited goal 
helped him in achieving such a forceful object. 
In a very short period of time, Paxton's office 
"turned out. . .hundreds of sheets of exquisite 
and entirely original details" and, thus, 
created "the first miracle of pre-fabrication... 
which for nearly one hundred years, was 
without sequel."'^ But the Crystal Palace, 

Joseph Paxton. Crystal Palace 






i 




^s^^ 



^^v 




Camillo Sine. Votive Church Plaza. Vicini,, 

although not the first building of iron, was 
"the first structure to attempt seriously the 
transference of metallic building from the 
purely 'utilitarian' field to that of 'architecture' 
-where the whole building was not just 
ornamented but was an aesthetic concept."" 
Here one can see the pioneering role of 
Paxton in establishing the roots of a modern, 
universal and efficient way of building which , 
at the same time, was anonymous and culture- 
blind. To what extent the Crystal Palace is an 
art of building and to what extent archi- 
tecture, is still being discussed. 

The example of these two contemporaries 
illustrates the complexity of the conflict. 
Although their intentions were clear, the 
roles they played were much more complex. 
One protected old cultural values from 
erosion and disintegration but also helped to 
articulate the architecturally functional 
needs of a new society; the other, in an 
ingenious and precursory way, lead 
architecture toward a new civihzation and. 



at the same time, contributed to the shattering 
of its old cultural meaning. Theeontriliution 
of these two men to the evolution of 
architecture will lie discussed for years to 
come. Vet it seems oinious today that what 
Colin Rowe and the brothers Krier owe, at 
least partially, to Ruskin; Foster, Piano, and 
Rogers owe to the work of Paxton. 

Similar situations developed when Camillo 
Sitte, in the^Ji de siecle Vienna, ignored the 
advances of technological society and, some 
fifteen years later, Sant'Elia revolted against 
tradition and the "old" culture which he 
considered obstacles to progress. The first 
wanted to protect the spiritual and cultural 
heritage of mankind,' the second dreamt of 
moving humanity forward to a better future. 
Sitte wrote in the introduction to his book that: 

perhaps lit] will permit us tofind the means 
of satisfying the three principal requirements 
of practical city building: to rid the modem 
system of blocks and regularly aligned 
houses; to save as much as possible of that 
which remains from ancient cities; and in 
our creation to approach more closely the 
ideal of the ancient models.'^ 

P"or Sant'Elia 

the problem posed by Futurist architecture 
(was) not... a question of finding new 
mouldings and frames for windows and 
doors, of replacing columns, pilasters and 
corbels with caiiatids, flics and frogs... We 
must invent and rebuild the Futurist city 
like an immense and tumultuous shipyard, 
agile, mobile and dynamic in every detail; 
a nd the Futurist house must be like a gigantic 
machine. The lifts must no longer be hidden 
away like tapeworms in the niches of 
stairwells; the stairwells themselves. 



rendered useless, must be abolished, and 
the lifts 7nust scale the lengths of the facades 
like sei-pents of steel and ghuss." 

P'or many years it seemed that Sitte had lost 
the battle. The Futurists, the revolutionary 
Russian architects, the heroes of the Modern 
Movement, all were eager to build a new world 
ofmechanization, efficiency, and speed. They 
considered themselves radicals, progressives 
and x'isionaries, and such was their 
contribution to contemporary architecture. 
Their rational thinking, their concern with 
function and structure and their devotion to 
honesty in formal expressions cannot be 
belittled even by the fact that, in reality, they 
often compromised their revolutionary' ideas 
for the sake of aesthetics and often, like many 
others, served the auto industry, greedy 
developers, and big business. Not surprisingly, 
however, the time has come when Sitte's 
sensitive and contextual proposals influenced 
postmodern architects and restored to a full 
respect all that Sant'Elia and the Moderns 
despised and hated: the context of the 
traditional city, the arcaded plazas, the 
ceremonial axes, the romantic squares and 
courts, and the ornate buildings that fit those 
plazas so well. Slowly, the oversimplifications 
of the Modern Movement became recognized 
and lead to a reaction-to the understanding 
that the complexity and richness of life require 
more than rationality and efficiency. But 
again, as often happens in life, some of the 
wonderful dreams of Ruskin and Sitte tinned 
into bad dreams of Walt Disney. 

The controversy between tradition and 
progress still goes on. The science-fiction of 
iVrchigram and Metabolists gave way to the 
pastiches of postmodern historicism, which 
in turn fights for dominance with Decon- 
struetion and High-Tech. The conflict takes 



a new dimension with the participation of the 
Prince of Wales in England and the in- 
\'olvement in the grand travmwc in Paris of 
President Mitterand. As the debate widens, 
the question of its deeper meaning seems to 
be gaining importance. To elucidate it further, 
let us turn to another debate: to an argument 
between utility and spirituality. 

Wliile utility is closely related to technology 
and material progress, spirituality thrives on 




tradition and feeds on art. Wliile the flrst is 
based on the secular world, the second traces 
its roots to the mystery of the sacred. Both 
are governed by different laws and bloom in 
different forms. Architecture embraces both 
thereby obtaining its complex and ambiguous 
character. Paul Ricoeur, in his essay Ihii- 
•ver.sal Civilization and National Cidtures, 
suggests that "everyone experiences the 
tension between the necessity for the free 
access to progress and, on the other hand, 
the exigency of safeguarding our heritage."'" 



10 



The necessity of prot-ress is basically served 
by the logic of scientific thinking, while the 
safeguarding of heritage is largely fulfilled by 
imagination, creativity and the arts. The 
first results in universal civilization, the 
second in unique, national cultures. Ricoeur 
says that science and technology develop 
and contribute to progress through the 
accumulation of means and tools, and through 
their constant improvement. The successes 
of a civilization stem from the continuous 
defeats of its previous shortcomings and from 
an uninterrupted replacement of old tools by 
new ones. They are improved step by step 
but, as Marshall McLuhan used to say, the 
moment they work they become obsolete. 
Thus, within this process, the old means- 
theories, inventions, or tools-cease to have 
practical value and, like the theories of 
Newton or the inventions of Edison, belong 
today to history. Nevertheless, without 
generations of great scientists and without 
their contributions to the growth of scientific 
thought, there would be no Einstein, no 
Heisenberg, no quantum theory, no 
electronic revolution and no progress. 

Culture, on the other hand, or, more 
precisely, cultures, develop in a different 
way. According to Ricoeur, "unlike a set of 
tools which accumulates, sediments, and 
becomes deposited, a cultural tradition stays 
alive only if it constantly creates itself anew. " " 
Culture, as he says, is based on "fidelity and 
creation." An artist must be faithful to the 
culture of his nation and, at the same time, in 
the name of this very culture, must constantly 
tear it down and build it again. But as 
civilization increases the efficiency of means 
and stores away layers upon layers of the old 
ones, cultures grow by creative leaps and 
bounds, in a spontaneous and intuitional 
manner and without any concern for utility, 



efficiency, or progress. Creativity cannot be 
planned and can be recognized only in 
retrospect; to know beforehand what to create 
would negate the very act of creation. An 
artist, in his lonely effort destroys old 
appearances and cliches and creates things 
which -although initially incomprehensible- 
later become an "authentic expression of 
his people." 

Thus, the struggle of an artist is of a different 
character than the effort of a scientist, 
although both share creativity and discipline. 
It is not a sediment of layers of ideas and 
in\'entions but an unceasing rebirth of 
culture. Hence, Phidia cannot be displaced 
by Michelangelo, as Michelangelo cannot be 
displaced by Rodin, and Rodin by Brancusi. 
Rembrandt's paintings are today as much 
part of a living culture as the paintings by 
Monet or Picasso; and the architecture of the 
Parthenon, Chartres, and Ronchamps. 

Can this distinction between civilization 
and culture, utility and spirituality shed 
some light on the role of architecture in 
society? Can architecture be reduced to 
art, to "art for art's sake" or, on the other 
hand, to sheer utility? 

The idea that architecture belongs at the 
same time to the world of material progress 
and to the world of spiritual values-to the 
world of techno-science and to the world of 
art, to civilization and to culture-although 
questioned by some, not only persists but 
still gives architecture its ambiguous 
character and its tendency to oscillate 
between art and engineering. Reyner 
Banham, in The Architecture of Well- 
tempered Environment called it "the 
infantile fallacy that architecture is 
necessarily divisible into function and form, 



and that the mechanical and cultural parts of 
the arts are in essential opposition."'- Yet ,the 
same Banham, a few pages later, sujigests that: 

the point of studying Las Vegas, ultinuucly, 
would be to see an example of lio-w far 
environmental technology can be driven 
beyond the confines of architectural practice 
by designers who (for worse or better) are 
not inhibited by the traditiims of arch itectimic 
culture, training and taste.'' 

Does, then, the "fallacy" stem from the 
architects' inhihitions and the traditions of 
architectural culture? Paradoxically, 
Banham seems to be confirming the 
existence of the conflict between these two 
forces by aligning himself with one of them: 
with technological progress and against 
architectural "traditions." Ten years later, 
Colin Rowe, who subscribed to the other 
side of this conflict, ridiculed in Collage 
City "...the architect as an athlete in a race 
with time and technology, beloved by 
Ilannes Mayer and Reyner Banham...."'^ 

But it is Franeoise Choay, who in The Modern 
City: Planning in the 19th (Jentury 
distinguishes two models of spatial 
organization as manifestations of two 
legitimate visions: 

One of these models, looking to the future 
and inspired by a vision of social progi-ess 
we shall call progressist. The other, nostalgic 
in outlook, is inspired by the vision of a 
cultural community and may therefore by 
called cidturalist. "' 

In this light one can approve or disapprove as 
much of the battles fought by Sant'Pvlia and 
the Modernists against tradition and its 
spiritual \alues, as of Ruskin's and Sitte's 



neglect of material progress and prosperity. 
And it is this richness and ambiguity of 
architecture that forces us to say that all of 
them were at the same time right and wrong. 

When formulating "revolutionary ideas" no 
one can judge them and no one can predict 
their long term impact on society. History 




U Cdrlmsicr. Plan Voinin. Paris 



pro\idcs us with examples of eonser\'ativc 
ideas leading to progress, and revolutionary 
ideas producing no good besides harm and 
pain. As Kolakowski says, "It is trivially true 
that very often the blessings and horrors of 
progress are inseparably tied to each other, 
as are the enjoyments and the miseries of 
traditionalism.""" This seems to be the case 
of architecture, too. Colin Rowe illustrated 
it well when comparing the project for the 
Stockholm Ghancellary by Asplund, with Le 
Corbusier's revolutionary Plan Voisin. He 
pointed out that the attention to context, to 
the fabric of the city displayed by Asplund 
represented a more subtle and penetrating 
attitude toward architecture than the 
progressive, but in reality "destructive," ideas 
of Le Corbusier. On the other hand, who 
can blame Le Corbusier for trying to relate 
architecture to the radical social, economic, 
and political changes occurring in the 



Western W'oiki at the he,i;imniij;<)t' tlie 2()tli 
century? Today one can wonder whether 
the Plan Voisin or the Ville Radieuse are 
merely layers of techno-scientific solutions 
or, like the project of Asplund, a lasting 
contribution to urban culture. The conflict 
of the old and the new goes on, but the 
present pluralistic world makes it more 
complex and our inquiry more difficult. It 
generates e\'en a trend that would like to 
deprive not only this conflict, but 
architecture as such, any meaning 
whatsoever. 




Guunar Aspluml. Stockholm Clninccllaiy 



Let us turn in this search to a group 
representing such a trend which seems to 
avoid the snares of commitment: a group 
concerned with architecture as such, and 
indifferent to its social and environmental 
implications. Its members are influenced by 
a presently fashionable linguistic theory and 
literary criticism, deconstructionism. Some 
representatives of this group, often called 
deconstructivists, claim that architecture, 
like language, is an independent of reality 
system able to express accurately only itself. 
Unfortunately, they add, architecture, like 



language, masks in this process the true 
meaning of what it expresses. Ilcnce, 
abandoning the search for meaning, the 
deconstructionists concern themselves with 
the order and structure of architecture. 
Although the question whether architecture 
can be considered a language is too broad to 
lie discussed here, it suffices to say that this 
idea limits the deconstructionists' concept 
of architecture and reduces its social role to 
mere self-referentiality. Consequently, the 
deconstructionists reject the nf)tion of 
complexity and depth of architectural 
problems, concentrate on perfecting formal 
solutions, and limit architecture to the 
technicalities of "how" to aehiexe them-to 
mere virtuosity. Indeed, their fascinating 
projects, prepared often with the aid of 
computer graphics, show an extraordinary 
exuberance of inventiveness and forms but, 
alas, a lack of content and purpose. 

In the search for suitable means of expression 
the deconstructionists reclaimed from history 
the architectural vocabulary of Russian 
Constructivism. They ignored, however, the 
fact that theirs and the constructivists" aims 
belonged to opposite worlds. While 
constructivism was a movement rooted in 
social revolution, deconstructivism in 
architecture is a style based on linguistic 
theory. WTiile one tried to change the world, 
the other decided to ignore it. ^\^^ile one 
sought solutions to satisfy the needs of a new 
society, the other lead architecture away 
from socio-political and economic reahties 
into a wonderland of language games, 
textuality and narratives. But is decon- 
struction innocent? And is it really as 
indifferent to the outside world as it claims to 
be? As the constructivists wanted to be part 
of the communist society, so the decon- 
structionists are part of the consumer society 



( represented mainly by wealthy clients, elite 
patrons, and glossy journals and magazines). 
They do not attempt to "build a new world" 
and do not intend to criticize the existing 
one. Simply, as Mark Wigley says, "they 
produce a devious architecture. ..in which 
form distorts itself in order to reveal itself 
anew."'' Thus, they go on producing new 
forms, interested in mere novelty or, to put 
it differently, in "otherness." This benign 
goal masks, however, their complicity in the 
non-ideological workings of the "free market," 
in the struggle for dominance of sleek 
publications, of media recognition, and of 



their conviction (in spite of their belief in 
pluralism) that theirs is the truth. 

There is yet another side of deconstruction 
that requires attention. Eisenman tries to 
transfer the newest developments in science 
to architecture. He uses fractal geometry, 
Bolean cubes, and DNA as inspiration for his 
forms and, in this way, situates himself at the 
cutting edge of science and progress. But is 
he? Wlien the constructivists, who were 
overwhelmed by the spate of unprecedented 
technological inventions, used airplanes and 
engines as inspiration for their forms, they 



.lukcv Chcrnikhov. Fantas 





Bernard Tschumi, Park dc la ViUcttc 



14 



searched not only for ways of expressing the 
new epoch but also for ways of bringing 
about the dreams of the new society. No 
matter how superficial their efforts were, 
how little they were concerned with the 
workings of airplanes and engines as 
inspiration for their forms, they searched 
not only for ways of expressing the new 
epoch but also for ways of bringing about the 
dreams of the new society. Their main 
objective was to move the society forward 
and to express it in new forms. For Eisenman , 
the newest achievements of science are 
sources of new forms too , but for architecture , 
which he understands "as an independent 
discourse, free of external values."" Here we 
seem to witness the irony of history. The 
Russian constructivists, in spite of their 
diverse points of view described, for example, 
by Catherine Cooke,''' were well aware of 



their historical mission, of participating in 
the making of history. The decon- 
structionists, on the other hand, seem to 
reflect, what some would call, the "twilight of 
the West." Unlike the constructivists who 
belie\'ed in science and technology and their 
power to improve the world, the decon- 
structionists witness the inertia of a techno- 
science devoid of direction and goal. They 
witness a drastic change in the meaning of 
cultural production and abandon the 
"senseless" and shapeless postmodern world 
as not worthy of their attention, reflection 
and interpretation. Consequently, they turn 
inward and concentrate on a world they 
build for themselves. In this situation the 
enthusiasm which accompanied the efforts 
of the constructivists has been replaced by 
the disenchantment, cynicism and nihilism 
of the deconstructivists. The fact that these 




Frank Gchry, Office Building, Venice, California 



two moments in history generated formally 
close and yet ideologically distinct 
approaches to architecture seems only to 
confirm the idea that architecture cannot be 
separated from the outside world. 

But what has happened in the meantime to 
the historicists? The serious concerns of 
Ruskin, Sitte, or Asplund have been replaced 
by the frivolous populist imagery, pastiches 
of historical forms and Disneyland fantasies 
of such architects as Graves, Moore, or 
Venturi. Although their architectural 
languages differ substantially from each 
other, their general attitude is the same. 
One wonders where this attitude may lead. 
And, looking at the Seven Dwarfs facade of 
the Disney headquarters in Burbank, 
California by Michael Graves, one wonders 
whether this could be the icon of the 
historicists' approach. Can we consider it a 
contribution to the conflict between 
tradition and progress or rather, as Charles 
Jencks seems to suggest, to a conflict 
between culture and kitsch? -" 



There exists another movement which, in 
contradistinction to deconstruction, and to 
a lesser extent to historicism, concerns itself 
with the present reality. It wants to solve the 
problems of contemporary society with the 
help of technology, and is considered by 
some a spearhead of teehno-scientific thought 
in architecture: the "High-Tech" of Late- 
Modernism. The movement sees the world 
with optimism, and believes that the advances 
of technology derived from the studies of 
NASA and the aerospace industry, for 
example, can make a positive impact on the 
built environment. Martin Pawley, an 
enthusiast of what he calls "technology 
transfer," gives examples of the possibilities 
offered to architecture by 

industries far removed from construction: 
solvent-welded PVC roofing derived 
originally from swimming-pool liners; 
flexible neoprene gaskets using a material 
developed originally for cable-jacketing; 
adhesive-fixed glazirig transferredfrom the 
automobile industry; superplastic 



15 




16 



Canditis. .losic. Wooch: Flue I'nivursiry. Berlin 

aluminum panels and metallic fabric 
fireproo/ing from aerospace; tensioning 
devices from trailer sidescreens; raised- 
floor systems from jetliners; photochromatic 
glazing from jet bombers.-' 

Architecture cannot lightly ignore such 
possibilities. But to be able to take full 
advantage of the ever progressing achie\'e- 
ments of technology it must pay a price: it 
must relinquish its traditional role in society 
as an agent of culture and must expedite 
society's adaptation to the world yet to come. 
Along this line of reasoning Pawley suggests 
that "unlike the 'historic' contribution of 
permanent architecture, the architecture of 
the future must be in continual transition. "-- 
Here is an unequivocal position in the conflict 
between tradition and progress: architecture 
is no more; what is left is a utilitarian 



mechanism whose \ alidity is reduced to mere 
efficiency and adaptability. From this point 
of view, Pawley seems to chastise such 
ruchitects as Norman Foster and Richard 
Rogers for compromising High-Tech and for 
abandoning the ideal of total flexibility: the 
ideal of Buckminster Fuller, Arehigram, Yona 
Friedman and the Metabolists. lie seems to 
forget, however, that already Team X 
concerned itself with flexibility, change and 
adaptability, and was defeated (for now, at 
least) by the forces of life. The Free University 
of Berhn by Candilis, Josic and Woods, an 
instrument ofadaptability and change which 
magnified these notions to almost symbolic 
proportions, is all but forgotten today. 

Yet at closer inspection High-Tech seems to 
be another case of ambiguity in the 
understanding of architecture. The question 
arises to what extent High-Tech belongs to 
the sphere of civilization and represents 
another layer of technological sediments, 
and to what extent it is part of the world of 
culture-a constant renewal of the timeless 
heritage of mankind. Is, for example, the 
Lloyds of London a "historical document" 
representing a distinct level of technological 
de\'elopment at a particular time in history 
or an object of culture which will make a 
lasting imprint on the skyline of London? 
Must architecture choose between art and 
technology, culture and civilization? And if 
so, where does the Eiffel Tower, for example, 
belong? Should we consider it a "historic 
contribution of permanent architecture," or 
an example of 19th century technique whose 
time has passed? Should we, as Pawley does, 
describe architecture as "an occult world of 
ignorance and obsolete mystery,"--^ or should 
we be less orthodox and more broad-minded? 
The problem certainly is more complex than 
Pawley would like us to believe. 



The De Menil Museum by Renzo Piano in 
Houston offers an example of architecture 
that goes beyond High-Tech. It respects 
context and local character and in scale, 
material and color relates with great subtlety 
to its residential surroundings. As far as high 
technology is concerned, it uses it sparingly. 
On the other hand, the Hongkong and 
Shanghai Bank by Foster which, one must 
admit, fits equally well into the skyline of 
Hongkong's Central Business District, is an 
exercise in the most advanced technology. 
Its technological splendor achieved at an 
exorbitant cost seems, however, to question 
its real meaning. Is it, like the Lloyds of 
London, an experiment in technology 
condemned to obsolescence and demolition, 
or a contribution to the financial culture of 
the late 2()th century? Will the bank become 
a lasting monument to human aspirations, to 
human creativity-to culture, or, in the name 
of the endless flow of inventions, is it destined 
to the dustbin of history? As the significance 
of science and technology in the present 

Rithanl Riificrs. Lloyds ii/Limdon 




society grows, so the traditional meaning of 
architecture diminishes. But this symptom 
of our times indicates a deeper problem: a 
danger that the spirit of techno-science will 
spread across the globe and create its own 
anonymous and transitory civilization 
deprived of any character, identity, and 
meaning. And such will be its architecture. 
Can our present rational, scientific and 
technological mode of thinking overcome its 
own limitations and reach beyond itself? 
Can the value judgments, excluded from the 
world of science, gain legitimacy again? 

Richard Rogers reached, perhaps, the heart of 
the matter when he said that "what has failed is 
not modem architecture but our ethical system. 
Science and technology have outstripped our 
capacity to deal with them. This we must 
redress."-^ Yet we cannot escape the vicious 
circle of intentions, compromises and results. 
In his hands, as in the hands of other High- 
Tech architects, technological efficiency has 
been transformed into its mere symbol, into 
show-pieces of corporate clients. Here lligh- 
Techjoins forces with historicism: the Lloyds 
of London by Rogers and the Hongkong and 
Shanghai Bank by Foster, like the New York 
AT&T Building by Johnson, or the Humana 
Building by Graves, are all aesthetically 
different, yet all belong to the same category. 

Can the conflict between tradition and 
progress, between material well-being and 
spiritual values, between civilization and 
cultures be declared invalid? The skeptical 
mind will always question and attack the 
Utopian one- the one that seeks a perfect 
world; the progressive mind will always revolt 
against the complacency of the conservative 
one - the one that sees in the good old days an 
image of the future. Without this conflict, to 
quote Kolakowski again. 



18 



the victory of Utopian dreams would lead us 
to a totalitarian nightmare and the utter 
downfall of civilization, whereas the 
unchallenged domination of the skeptical 
spirit would condemn us to a hopeless 
stagnation.-'^ 

Thus the conflict between these two forces 
seems to be our only hope. What constitutes 
danger is the attitude of those who declare 
indifference to "all that takes place within 
civilization," who consider architecture an 
independent of reality system, and who 
abandon the battie for a better environment. 
Those architects, although immersed in 
contemporary problems, dilute them in 
language games, whimsical aesthetics and 
novelty at any cost. They concern themselves 
with such esoteric notions as "futile 
permanence," "errant signification," or 
"indeterminate signifieds," but stop short of 
critically assessing problems of our society and 
our civilization . This attitude is understandable. 
But is it commendable? As David Harvey 
writes in The Condition of Postmodemity "In 
period of confusion and uncertainty, the turn 
toaesthetics [ofwhateverform] becomesmore 
pronounced." Later he adds: 

The experience of time and space has 
changed, the confidence in the association 
between scientific and moral judgments has 
collapsed, aesthetics has triumphed over 
ethics as a prime focus of social and 
intellectual concern, images dominate 
narratives, ephemerality andfragmentation 
take precedence over eternal truths and 
unified politics....-^ 

Although this condition may be a passing 
mode, architects who thrive on it ignore its 
temporality and act as if theirs were the final 
truths. By turning to aesthetics and ignoring 



ethics they seem to forget that to "refuse to 
acknowledge the inevitability, or even the 
reality, of evil, is also to kill or weaken the 
will that is needed to triumph over matter."-' 
It is no wonder then that those architects 
who set themselves apart from the present 
undefinable world escape into the sphere of 
aesthetics and, in essence, surrender to a 
consumer society and to its aims of publicity 
and profit. 

Perhaps for a consumer civilization - the 
logical child of Enlightenment - it does not 
matter whether the old or the new triumphs. 
Perhaps for technology only efficiency 
matters. And perhaps for language nothing 
matters at all. But for architects the problem 
still remains the same; even the most daring 
inventions of the human mind will not change 
the human spirit and the human heart. Man 
lives today surrounded by electronic codes, 
signs, images and gadgets but he also carries 
with him the weight of a biologically based 
inner nature. He may employ the most 
powerful computers in the pursuit of material 
well-being, but he will never cease searching 
for his roots, for sources of his dignity. And 
it is culture that provides him with a link to 
his past, with the understanding of who he is. 

Perhaps, as some say, there is no role for 
architecture in the contempory society; 
perhaps architecture has no future; perhaps 
it is a remnant of the past. But, if that is not 
true, why should architecture abandon its 
cultural and spiritual role in society? 
Likewise why should architecture prevent 
man from moving forward, from trying to 
improve his lot? This is the dilemma of 
architecture, its essence and its soul. The 
struggle for this soul will continue with every 
new generation of architects imtil archi- 
tecture ceases to exist. 




But it is not only architecture whose existence 
is threatened today. The world itself is 
threatened. The real danger to both comes 
now from a new source. It comes from the 
ecological crisis caused by our fragmented 
and directionless civilization. And perhaps, 
like the Industrial Revolution centuries ago, 
the Ecological Revolution today may change 
the face of the world again, for the threat is of 



r.V.s,,, I'cIIl Ciihiry Whuif. London 

global proportion and concerns everybody 
independent of place, age, and race: the poor 
and the rich, the young and the old, the 
educated and the ignorant. It may give new 
meaning to our coexistence with nature-** 
and to our mutual interdependence. If that 
happens, architects will have to be ready for 
new challenges, new tasks, and new conflicts. 



1. Leszek Kolakowski, Modernity on Endless Trial 
(Chicago and London: The University of Chicago 
Press, 1990) p. 4. 

2 . See Nicholas Riasanowski , The Teaching of Charles 
Fourier, (Berkeley: University Press, 1969) Jonathan 
Beecher and Richard Bienvenu, editors, The Uto- 
pian Vision of Charles Fourier, (Columbia: Univer- 
sity of Missouri Press, 1983) Robert Owen, A New 
View of Society and Other Writings, (London: J.M. 
Dent & Sons Ltd., 1949). 

3. Francoise Choay, TheModem City: Planning in the 
19th Century, (New York: George Braziller, 1969) 



Michael W. Brooks, Ruskin and Victorian Arch itec- 
ture. New (Brunswick and London: Rutgers Univer- 
sity Press, 1987) p. 192. 

Robert Foumeaux Jordan, Victorian Architecture, 
(City: Penguin Books, 1966) p. 130. 



7. See Carl E. Schorske, Fin de Steele Vienna: Politics 
and Culture, (New York: Random House) 1980. 

8. Camillo Sitte, The Art of Building Cities- City 
Building According to its Artistic Fundamentals, 
Hyperion reprint edition, (Westport, Connecticut: 
Hyperion Press, Inc., 1979) p. 2. 

9. Antonio Sant'Elia, Manifesto of Futurist Architec- 
ture 1914, in Umbro Appolonio, editor, Futurist 
Manifestos, (New York:The Viking Press), 169, 170. 
See also Donald Drew Egbert, Social Radicalism 
and the Arts, (New York: Alfred Knopft, 1970) 
pp. 279-280. 

10. Paul Ricoeur, History and Truth , (Evanston: North- 
ern University Press, 1965) p. 271. 



12. Rayner Banham, The Architecture of the Well-tem- 
pered Environment, (London: The Architectural 
Press, 1973) p. 265. 



20 



6. Ibid., p. 131. 



13. Ibid; p. 269. 



Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter, Collage Cit\\ (Citv. 
The MIT Press, 1978) p. 98. 



Choay, The Modem City, p. 31. 
Kolakowski,Mo(r/t'ni!t.v on Endless Trial, p. 12. 



Mark Wigley, Deconstructivist Archl 
ton: Little, Brown and Co., 1988) p. 1 



Peter Eisenman, "The End of Classical," Perspecta 
21, The Yale ArchitecturalJoumal, 1984. p. 166. 



21. Martin Pawley, Theory and Design in the Second 
Machine Age, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1990) 
p. 153. 

22. Martin Pawley, "Technology Transfer," The Archi- 
tectural Review (September 1987) p. 35. 

23. Ibid., p. 39. 

24. Richard Rogers, Directions in Current Architec- 
ture, (New York: London/St. Martin's Press, Acad- 
emy Editions, 1988) p. 10. 

25. Kolakowski.MorferMit.v im Emllcss Tried, p. 145. 



, Catherine Cooke, "Professional Diversity and its 
Origins," The Avant-Garde, Russian Architecture 
in the Twenties, Architectural Design Profile 93, 
(London: Academy Editions, 1991) pp. 9-21. 

, Charles Jencks, "Post-Modernism Between Kitsch 
and Culture," Post-Modernism on Trial, Architec- 
tural Design Profile 88, (London: Academy Edi- 
tions, 1990) p. 27. 



26. David Harvey, The Cotulition of Po.stmodeniity, 
(Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1989) p. 327, p. 328. 

27. Kolakowski, Modernity on Endless Trial, p. 28. 

28. Magdalena Abakanowicz, Arboreal Architecture, 
catalogue of the exhibition at the Marlborough Gal- 
ler\' in New York, Summer 1992. 



Invasion of the Building Snatchers 

A Contemporary Architectural Avant Garde 
and Its Heritage^ 



Thomas Schumacher 

University of Maryland 



22 



"The future is always the same; it's the past 
that changes. " -Beniaminn Plucido 

"...criticism is a device to detect false 
claims. " -Thomas McEvillev 



In Architecture schools and in magazines 
around the globe, the new architecture of 
DECONSTRUGTIVISM heralds the eclipse 
of Postmodernism. The new style is 
everywhere, from Seattle to Atlanta, London 
to Venice, Tokyo to Buenos Aires. Few 
schools of architecture (outside of 
Switzerland) have resisted. Fueled by the 
publishing industry (three DECON- 
STRUGTIVISM issues of the London-based 
Architectural Design have appeared to date) 
the new style also announces the eclipse of 
the old modernisms, from the International 
Style and the New Objectivity to the New 
Brutalism. Neo-Rationalism and virtually all 
the other movements of the last 70 years are 
also ousted. Except Futurism and 
Gonstructivism. 

Deconstructivism, or DEGON, is most 
certainly a misnomer, like the term 
'Rationalism' used to denote the Italian avant- 
garde of the 20s and 30s, and it would be 
unfair and oversimplified to lump all the 
buildings and architects of this new ortho- 



doxy of diagonal intersections, glass shards, 
and asymmetrical unbalance into the single 
category of DEGONSTRUGTIVISM. Many 
corporate and commercial firms have been 
influenced by Deconstructivist projects. 
Some have even been able to combine the 
language of Deconstructivism with that of 
Postmodernism. 

The term is already in widespread use and we 
can easily recognize the duck when it appears 
in a full-color magazine spread. I will, 
however, not employ the "D-word" here with 
a broad brush to include all buildings, 
projects, (and architects) with a similar 
quack. Rather, I am interested in discussing 
those architects who maintain that the new 
style goes ineluctably and irrevocably with 
the times. 1 will question the premise that 
Deconstructivism is more 'in step' with our 
time than any of the other architectural 
styles around. 

The new architecture is the architecture of 
angst, pain, and turmoil; Peter Eisenman, 
one of the 'movement's' most vocal 
proponents, has called it the architecture of 
the post-nuclear/post-holocaust age. This 
new architecture which seeks to replace an 
ancien regime. That ancien regime is 
Postmodernism, but the new architecture is 
not the old modernism. It is rather an 



architecture grounded in the specific 
reahties of today; it is hyper-modern. 

As such, Deconstructivisni has pulled off a 
terminology coup. Like the Red Guards 
during the Cultural Revolution, the 
Deconstructivists are 'more modern than 
thou.' Like the 'hawks,' who commanded the 
American flag during the Vietnam war, 
modernity has become the exclusive domain 
of those architects who use multiple 
diagonals, tilt-out walls, and plan-rotations. 
This coup parallels an earlier one by the 
original Modern Movement architects of the 
'20s and '30s. Like their counterparts in the 
inter-war period, Deconstructivist archi- 
tects and their apologists have usurped the 
term 'Modern.' 'Decon' is now the only 
modern game in town. Other modernist 
architects, including those who would 
subscribe to many of the original tenets of 
the Modern Movement, are retardataire . 
They are made to feel as if they aren't modem 
enough. In the thirties, architects were made 
to feel the same way by the proponents of the 
International Style. Architects like August 
Perret, Paul Cret, Gio Ponti, Peter Behrens, 
W.M. Dudok, and Eliel Saarinen were modern 
architects, too. 

Deconstructivism is avowedly not a revival 
of the modernism of the '20s in terms of 
social agenda, the organization of space for 
use, and the role of advanced technology. It 
rejects the nationalisms and regionalisms of 
the '30s. It abjures the Neo-Realism of the 
'40s, the optimism of the '50s, the social 
determinisms of the '60s, the Postmodernism 
and Neo-Rationalism of the '70s, and the 
bourgeois formalism of the early '80s. The 
new movement has brought back the human 
body, we are told (was it ever missing?), but 
this revival gives us the body 'in pain.' 



The new architecture is propelled by an 
intellectual fuel composed of an elan vital, a 
pure symbolic essence. Its legitimization is 
based on its capacity to represent today 
through pure charisma. What this may 
mean in historical, intellectual, and logical 
terms is interesting to consider. In this 
essay, I will first examine the basis of 
Deconstructivism's self-justifications. I will 
then question some of Deconstructivism's 
avowed purposes, in particular its need to 
reflect a presumed contemporary Zeitgeist 
of angst and uncertainty. I will conclude 
with what I rekon is Deconstructivism's real 
essence: a highly decorative style, less 
revolutionary than most of its proponents 
would like to admit. Most important, I will 
argue why Deconstructivism would better be 
called Neo-Futurism. 

1 . During the period Reyner Banham called 
'The First Machine Age' the German 
philosopher and economic theorist , Max Weber, 
wrote a book called The Theory of Social and 
Economic Organization.- In it he set out a 
simple set of ideas for how governments, regimes 
and socio-economic systems justify their very 
existence. Weber identified what he called 'the 
pure forms of legitimate authority.' They were 
the rational, the traditional, and the 
charismatic. Nations, peoples, and govern- 
ments consider themselves to have legitimacy, 
Weber argued, because of rational or 
traditional reasons, or via the charisma of 
their leaders or their ideologies. This is not 
difficult to illustrate, although the pure forms 
are hard to find in almost any particular 
governmental system, especially in this 
century. The 'Divine Right of Kings,' an 
extreme version of the traditional, no longer 
passes muster in most monarchies. The British 
Royal Family may retain a traditional right to 
the throne, but not to govern. 



23 



In the modern worki the pure forms of 
legitimate authority are intertwined; they 
resemhle certain chemical elements ( sodium , 
for example) which exist free in nature hut 
only in compounds or ores. Western 
democracies are widely accepted to he 
primarily rational systems, with certain 
strong traditions (like the Anglo-yVmeriean 
legal system), exuding a modicum of 
charisma. But these governments never 
possess so much charisma that it over- 
shadows the rational. 

Tradition still dominates in eoimtries like 
Saudi Arahia. Fascist Italy and Nazi Ger- 
many relied heavily on charisma and 
discarded tradition. Rationality was almost 
non-existent. In Italy under Fascism, the 
famous dictum "Mussolini is always right" 
serenely demonstrates such lack of ration- 
ality. Socialist societies have sought to 
balance the rational and the charismatic; the 
traditional has no part in the operations of 
the system. That is, in theory, at least. 

Weber's lens can be placed neatly over the 
phenomenon of architecture. Certain styles, 
periods, or movements are heavily rational, 
others are primarily traditional or 
charismatic. Renaissance protagonists 
elaborated the rational in a parade of 
treatises. They also blatantly paraded a love 
for tradition. Palladio, for example, wrote 
that because the Ancients made such beautiful 
temples we should study them in order to 
know how churches ought to be built. 



architecture needs nourishment from each: 
the ratioiud, traditional and charismatic. 
Like Vitruvius's Firmitas, Commoditas, and 
Vcnustas, (FIRMNESS, COMMODITY, and 
DFLIGIIT), "well building" requires at least 
sontcthiufi of all three. 

Out of all the influential architectural 
movements of our century. Futurism was the 
most charismatic. This helps us to under- 
stand the relation between its founder, 
F.T. Marinetti, and Benito Mussolini. 
Constructivism, while proposing a kind of 
rationalism, was also heavily charismatic. 
Neither of these movements had much 
interest in tradition . Architects closer to the 
mainstream of the Modern Movement, 
architects like Gropius, Le Corbusier, 
Mendelssohn and Oud, tended to balance 
the three pure forms of legitimate authority, 
although the traditional was dragged along, 
out of sight, way back in third place. While 
the protagonists of the Modern Movement 
tended to play up the ratioiud, which, in 
their eyes, would make their architecture 
charismatic , they also downplayed tradition 
in the polemical writings of the propaganda 
war. And for good reason. Wliat combatant 
wants his enemies to think they share even 
part of his ideology? History has taught us 
that such pamphleteering portrayed an 
incomplete, if not systematically distorted 
portrait of the architecture of the '20s and 
'3()s; the traditional was much more 
important to those architects than they 
originally admitted. 



The Greek revival of the early 19th century 
was short on the rational, but very long on 
the traditional. Viollet-le-duc tried to 
rationalize the charismatic. Without pressing 
the point too far, it might be reasonable to 
that a balanced, deep, and significant 



Postmodernism was an attempt to infuse the 
rationalism of modernism with a height- 
ened sense of tradition. This is not to say 
PoMo lacked charisma. Movements cannot 
be launched without charisma, whether it 
be proffered with the statesmanlike control 



of Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction, 
or as a call to arms like Le Corbusier's 
Towards a New Architecture. Decon- 
structivism has now pushed the pendulum in 
the other direction. It is a self-proclaimed 
anti-rational movement, at least in terms of 
architectural rationality as we have 
hitherto known it; Deconstructivism 
purports to reflect the times: chaos, 
uncertainty, unclarity, a foreboding Zeitgeist. 
It overtly rejects tradition, at least in its 
theory. A deconstructivist might well argue 
that the exclusion of the traditional and the 
rational is exactly what makes the movement 
so unique and unprecedented. We should 
not forget Futurism, however. 

Deconstructivism, like Postmodernism, was 
hatched in the academic communities of 
Europe and America, and its anti-rational 
agenda is well represented in numerous 
design studio projects and methodologies 
within academe. One of the more popular 
methods is for students to make 'conceptual' 
(albeit physical, that is, real, i.e., palpable, 
what 1 mean here is 3-D) of architectural 
ideas deriving from fantasies about, say, 
literary or filmic themes, or the LA freeway 
system. Copper, brass, wire mesh, wire 
glass, etc. , are employed to make 'conceptual' 
models. These models are not intended to be 
literal depictions of buildings; they are not 
scale models, but rather the adumbration of 
'ideas,' 'meta-models.' Figuration portrays 
abstraction. Brass in the model doesn't 
mean brass in the building, it just means 
brass in the model. (In the past, students 
used abstract models to portray real spaces 
and buildings.) Students then carefully draw 
shadow-renderings of the model. The shadow 
pattern becomes the initial parti, or 
organizational idea, for the building. 
(Assuming they cast their shadows 



accurately, students at least get a good 
descriptive geometry lesson. And these 
studios are tame).-* 

Parallel to these methodologies is the interest 
in drawing and representation as an end in 
itself, what Robin, Evans called a, "... 
consumability [that] has most often been 
achieved by redefining [drawings'] ...role as 
similar to that of early twentieth-century 
paintings, in the sense of being less concerned 
with their relation to what they represent 
than with their own constitution. And so the 
drawings themselves have become the 
repositories of effects and the focus of 
attention, while the transmutation that 
occurs between drawing and building remains 
to a large extent an enigma."^ 

This sort of method and its attendant 
fetishized drawing-objects are purveyed as 
an antidote to the 'false rationalism' of 
programmatic bubble-diagrams or nine- 
square grids, typical of traditional plan 
generators. Behind it is a very modern 
concept; the acceptance of the relativity of 
all initial architectural decisions. The 
method, which assumes that all points of 
origin are equally valid, might well be the 
ultimate DEGONSTRUCTION (as compared 
to deconstructivism). Deconstruction, the 
literary theory from which some of the 
principles of Deconstructivist architecture 
flow, holds that all interpretations of 'texts' 
are equally valid. A building, like a poem, is 
a 'text.' As the deconstructors of literature 
tell us, no one person can hold the key to the 
'proper' interpretation of any text. 
Interpretation is open to interpretation. If 
interpretation is open to interpretation, then 
why not the generation of 'text'? So goes the 
logic; meaning anything goes in the logic. 
Mere is where we enter the world of Big Julie 



25 



26 



from Damon Runyon'sGimsam/Do/Zs. lie's 
the gambler-hoodlum who shoots craps with 
his own dice, from which the dots have been 
removed. "I remembers where the dots was," 
he tells his associates. 

Post-Structuralism, the movement of which 
DEGONSTRUCTION is but one mani- 
festation, tends to assert multiplicity of 
meanings, individual accessibility, and the 
ultimate subjectivity of all understanding. 
The viewer puts his/her own interpretation 
into the act of 'reading.' Post-Structuralism 
abjures elitism. Railing against modernist 
criticism, the post-structuralists might be 
better placed alongside the architectural 
radicals of the late 60s, in particular those 
behaviorists of the so-called 'user-needs' 
movement. 

Post-Structuralism is, in fact, aligned with 
Postmodernism in literature and art. The 
connection which architectural DEGON- 
STRUCTIVISM has assumed to exist with 
post-structuralism of other disciplines is a 
paper connection, existing solely in the minds 
of the architectural deconstructivists. Like 
postmodernism in art and literature, 
Postmodernism in architecture was a pluralist 
idea, allowing for multiple interpretations of 
the modern world, while Deconstructivism 
is a single-interpretation theory, assuming 
an overarching technologicalZeit^eist which 
eclipses all other interpretations. The single- 
Zeitgeist doctrine marches in step with the 
anti-rationalism of the movement. Such 
anti-rationalism is typical of theories which 
exude univalent, totalitarian ideas of how 
things ought to be done. Rationalism, by 
contrast, is moderate, as Peter Collins has 
explained.^ "Rationalism has always been 
essentially a tolerant doctrine," writes 
Collins. "It is as uncongenial to those for 



whom architectural creativity is analogous 
to Action Painting as it is to technocrats who 
dream of creating an everlasting urban Utopia 
within five years."" 

In practice, the formal repertory of the style 
closely reflects the vocabulary of Futurism 
and Constructivism, with even less interest 
in establishing geometric, spatial, and social 
order than the Futurists and (especially) the 
Gonstructivists had. The relationship 
between our present 'avant garde' and 
Futurism has been underplayed; the style 
might be better called "Neo-Futurism," or 
"Futurist Revival." Futurism, like Decon- 
structivism, but unlike Constructivism, was 
nihilistic. Like Deconstructivism, Futurism 
took an essentially passive and uncritical 
role towards the excesses of urban squalor 
and unbridled technological pollution, with 
its acceptance of virtually anything that 
industrial development and science fiction 
have tossed in our path. Marinetti argued 
for, among other things, the destruction of 
Venice. Violence was the catchphrase of his 
Manifesto: "We want to glorify war-the only 
cure for the world -militarism, patriotism, 
the destructive gesture of the anarchists..."' 
{ Marinetti literally went into the streets with 
his squads in acts of symbolic violence.) A 
contemporary parallel can be found on 
Donald Bates's flyer for his architecture 
program at the Le Gorbusier Unite at Briey: 
"This endeavour is... a speculation on the 
mode of working which anticipates that the 
grasping of understanding be seen as a 
particular act of violence. This potential 
brutality is found readily in that apparatus of 
thought and experience named 
'architecture'." 

Marinetti's attitude toward his craft is shared 
by certain protagonists of the new 



architecture. The following description of 
Marinetti's Futurist Variety Theatre by James 
Joll might do for a few contemporary 
personalities. 

"Everything must be absurd: the actresses 
would have green hair, violet arms, blue 
bosoms, and orange chignons: glue would be 
placed on the seats of the theatre and the 
same seat sold to two people; itching and 
sneezing powder would be scattered among 
the audience: free seats would be offered to 
notorious eccentrics, and so on.'"* 

Like the Deconstructivists, Futurist apologists 
attempted to claim certain architects and 
other artists as part of their movement, 
"...attempts were made to claim Stravinsky 
and even Richard Strauss as the true Futurist 
musicians."" Frenk Gehry has been 
appropriated by the Deconstructivists, 
despite his lack of interest in their agenda. 

In the 6()s Archigram, Archizoom, 
Superstudio and other neo-futurist 
movements stood for a technological 
Zeitgeist, but these architects were not simply 
interpreters ofthe status quo. Their schemes 
and dreams were not merely reflections of 
the apparent technological /social /cultural 
conditions. They were rather statements 
about what ought to be . how people ought to 
live. Today the squalor of 'Blade Runner' 
becomes a paradigm for a 'new urbanism.' 

The revival of these seventy year-old 
architectural standards and theories casts 
suspicion on the idea ofthe Deconstructivist 
(read: Neo-Futurist) rejection of tradition 
and proves once again that the Emperor's 
clothes cannot be tailored without employing 
an existing bolt of conceptual cloth (or is it a 
conceptual bolt of cloth?). But despite such 



logical inconsistencies-indeed, perhaps 
because of them-c/iarisma seems to be the 
name of the game, as it was for Futurism. 

2. Is modern life truly chaotic and unstable, 
and if so, is architecture an appropriate 
vehicle to express our atomized society? If 
we consider the half-century since the end of 
WWII, our evaluation must be mixed. On the 
one side, we have had a nuclear threat, a 
global population explosion, a depletion of 
natural resources, terrorism, and the 
greenhouse effect; in 1961 we teetered on 
the brink of nuclear holocaust. 

On the other side, we have also witnessed 
over the past 4-1/2 decades one of the most 
prosperous periods of economic growth in 
history. Advances in agricultural science, 
medicine, and domestic technology have 
made much of the world a more productive 
and more prosperous place. It might even be 
argued that after Nuremburg our moral fibre 
has improved. (Most civilized nations have 
even outlawed the Death Penalty.) 

Modern life, in the West at least, is more 
predictable than it ever was. (None of the 
Deconstructivists has asserted that the new 
architecture expresses the angst of East 
Africa.) We can reasonably expect to live to 
a ripe old age and not get cut down by 
communicable diseases like plague, 
diphtheria, or polio. We have pensions for 
our old-age, seat-belts and air-bags for our 
cars, even the Heimlich maneuver to avert 
accidental suffocation on an errant chicken 
bone. We can avoid the roulette of sex: birth 
control or abortion to prevent or terminate a 
pregnancy, and 'safe' techniques to prevent 
disease. We can even replace some defective 
organs. And much of our future is in our own 
hands: we can choose not to smoke or eat 



27 



28 



saturated fats. Such knowledge and 
techniques were unavailable to Raphael, 
Mozart, Schubert or H.H. Richardson. 

WTiere are the uncertainties and insecurities 
of modern life? The Gold War is over. The 
real possibility of a nuclear holocaust-that 
dark cloud hanging over the generation of 
the 1960s-recedes from consciousness as 
world tensions ease. Those 1960s architects 
were committed to represent the potential 
stability of modern life through 'rational' and 
structurally stable forms. There were even 
attempts to extend rationality into design 
methods, as witnessed by the work of 
Christopher Alexander and others. WTiy 
didn't those architects interpret their age as 
unstable, and 'express' that instability in 
their designs? One possible answer is that 
they didn't think of it, they who were so 
moralistically engaged in making a "better 
world." 'Chaos,' it would seem, can be 
connected to the rational only tenuously, 
and to the traditional not at all. Yet it 
attaches itself quite easily to the charismatic. 

But to give 'chaos' the benefit of the doubt let 
us for the moment accept that the 'chaos' 
interpretation is but one among many 
acceptable interpretations of the essential 
Zeitgeist of our time. The 'order' inter- 
pretation would be another. By what measure 
is the 'chaos' interpretation better or more 
accurate than the 'order' interpretation? 
Viewed through a deconstructor's lens, the 
'order' interpretation of modern society is 
just as valid as the 'chaos' interpretation. If 
the point is at best moot, then it seems 
patently absurd that an architectural style 
purporting to represent either interpretation 
could claim to represent the Zeitgeist of 
contemporary life. Yet Deconstructivism 
claims such hegemony. 



There is another side to the 'chaos' inter- 
pretation, however. This is the 'uncertainty- 
in-science' principle: the fact that scientific 
certainty was shattered over and over again 
during the 20th century by Einstein, 
Heisenberg, and more recently by scientists 
who speak of 'chaos' — rather than order — as 
the normal state of the Universe. Today's 
architects who wish to make a parallel 
architectural theory should remember what 
happened when early 20th century theorists 
made similar connections to the science of 
their day. Theo Van Doesburg believed that 
4-dimensional, non-Euclidian estimates in 
space-time would make everything "very 
easy." The resultant Space-Time concept 
became the watchword for several genera- 
tions of architects. The most strident of 
these architects and apologists fooled 
themselves (and many others as well) into 
thinking that the Mies's Barcelona Pavilion 
expressed dynamism and spatial simultaneity 
better than-rather than slightly differently 
from-the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles or the 
Mosque of Cordoba. As Giorgio Grassi 
explained in 1983: "It is actually pathetic to 
see the architects of the 'heroic' period 
...trying with difficulty to accommodate 
themselves to. ..'isms' [cubism, suprematism, 
neo-plasticism]; experimenting in a 
perplexed manner because of their 
fascination with the new doctrines, measuring 
them, only later to realize their 
ineffectuality. ..."'" 

Numerous Avant-Garde architects, and 
untoUed students enrolled in American 
architecture schools, would like architec- 
ture to behave like certain other artistic 
disciplines. Many purveyors of these 
disciplines examine the 'underside' of 
contemporary life; the nitty gritty and the 
unpleasant. The architects are envious of 



playwrights, and novelists, filmmakers, and 
performance artists. This is perfectly 
understandable. Various artists evoke the 
uncertainties, chaos and atomization of 
modern life, just as artists from Velasquez to 
Brecht to Godard have done. Moreover, 
artists whose work mirrors the brighter side 
of modern life are usually dismissed as 
saccharine and sentimental. It's difficult to 
imagine, however, that Brecht would have 
wanted his house to do what his plays did. 

Further, it is eminently possible that liter- 
ature, performance art, theatre, film, etc., 
are naturally more conducive to expressing 
our collective angst than are the applied 
design disciplines of architecture, urban 
design, landscape architecture, civil 
engineering, or industrial design. Should 
automobile designers design unsafe cars? 
Should refrigerator designers create units 
which periodically malfunction so that we 
may better understand the life cycle of growth 
and decay? Computer programs that crash 
without warning would certainly call 
attention to the 'best laid plans of mice and 
men.' To be made aware of the ultimate 
fragility of all human existence doesn't 
dictate that those who are innocent of its 
causes should physically suffer for it. Perhaps 
architects should admit that architecture 
portrays angst rather poorly, and rather 
cheaply. A disintegrating masonry wall, a 
distorted and rotated frame, and an 
unfathomable zig-zag mass, are paraded as 
the emblems of an age of anxiety. These 
gestures pale as anemic trivialities compared 
to the themes of alienation which inhabit the 
novels of Gunter Grass, the films of Werner 
Herzog, or the plays of Samuel Beckett. 

There is a wonderful irony here. Despite the 
rhetoric about angst-ridden modern realities. 



Deconstructivist projects and buildings are 
extraordinarily picturesque. They are directly 
accessible to a generation raised on TV, Star 
Wars-style special effects, and abstract art 
movements. The forms are, in short, nothing 
new. The architecture is pretty, the way 
driftwood is pretty. In a society inured to 
shock and jaded by an overload of stimuli, 
the architectural projects of the avant-garde 
are probably more dangerous physically than 
culturally. (Teachers of architecture might 
consider getting a tetanus shot before 
handling their students' models.) This new 
architecture is not shocking; it does not test 
our assumptions or our sensibilities; it does 
not question our 'norms' and our bourgeois 
lives. It simply titillates. Futurism and Dada 
are part of history. Their revival is the 
ultimate in sentimentality. 

Assuming we can intuit the essence of an 
'age' while we are still living in it . does it 
matter whether architects are self- 
consciously interested in expressing it? 
Won't their products express their age-at 
least after the fact-whether they like it or 
not? Nobody, even a layman, will mistake 
the work ofMcKim, Meade and White for that 
of Bramante. Nor will most persons mistake 
the work of Leon Krier or Michael Graves for 
that of Paul Cret, or even the buildings of 
Richard Meier for those of Le Corbusier. 

The 1920s is often called the Jazz Age. It was 
also the First Machine Age, as Banham called 
it; the Age of Political Ferment; the Age of 
Greed, the 7\ge of Nationalism, etc. How do 
architects choose which Zeitgeist 
designation|s] to follow? If recent events in 
Eastern Europe are any indication. 
Nationalism and regionalism might well be 
the victorious Zeitgeist of the 1990s. For 
architecture, this might imply all manner of 



29 



vernacular and traditional revival, hardh 
consistent with the Deconstructivist agenda 



Longhena, He 
scores of othei 



md I'alladio, amoiij; 



It is difficult to imagine that Jay Gatsby 
would have been a more representative 
character of his era had he lived in a house by 
Gropius, or even Behrens. If Gatsby's neo- 
Renaissance villa in East Egg could neatly 
represent the Jazz Age ( and the Age of Greed ) , 
then what artifact doesn't symbolize its age? 
The revival of Gatsby-era tweeds in the 1980s, 
enhanced by the popularity of numerous 
films set in the '20s, is as emblematic of the 
'80s and '90s as the personal computer. 
Subtle changes in fabric and cut, like the 
differences between the architectures of 
Lutyens and Soane, make it unlikely that 
Ralph Lauren's clothes will ever be mistaken 
for the 'originals.' And if they are, so what? 
When the tower of St. Mark collapsed in 
1902, the Venetians rebuilt it dove'era 
com'era, ("where it was, how it was") by 
decree of the mayor. But the new tower was 
built of reinforced concrete and equipped 
with an elevator. Despite the reservations of 
some of the foreign press of the time, the 
Venetians decided that the expression of 
20th century technology was less important 
than the continuity of culture. To interpret 
artifacts as the representation of aspirations 
and nostalgia, not reality, is an accepted 
norm of historiography. 

Further, many historians chronicle the 
decline of the Republic of Venice well before 
the creation of many of her greatest palaces , 
churches, and paintings. Veronese's and 
Titian's paintings came at a time when 
Venice's cultural and economic influence 
was already on the wane. In order to 
establish an instrumental connection 
between Venice's glory and much of its art, 
then, we would be forced to deny Carpaccio, 



The Zeitgeist is not a ventriloquist, with 
architecture and other cultural artifacts as 
its dummies (this is a variation on British 
historian Eric Hobsbawm's idea that 
economic development is not a ventriloquist, 
with the rest of history as its dummy ) . " Even 
if contemporary architects could accurately 
intuit the Zeitgeist and convince it to speak 
through their buildings, would this be so 
wonderful? Designers in other disciplines 
are somewhat more sanguine about such 
temporal specificity. They seek timelessness 
and 'classical' continuity. Certain auto- 
mobiles from the '3()s-but not all-are deemed 
CLASSICS. The Citroen DS, first introduced 
in 1957, looks remarkably modern even 
today. The designer of the 1990s generation 
Mercedes Benz SL roadster was recently 
interviewed by the editors of an American 
automobile magazine. He described his new 
coachwork as not having "too much 
Zeitgeist" [sic], because with "too much 
Zeitgeist"' the car would age too quickly. 
The Porsche 911 has passed the quarter 
century mark with only cosmetic changes, a 
fact that undoubtedly makes Dr. Porsche 
very happy. Even considering the short life- 
span of today's buildings, annual aesthetic 
obsolescence might not be desirable for most 
architects or their clients. 

Most architects have big egos. They want 
their imprimatur on the buildings they design . 
They want everyone to know who designed 
them . But the more their buildings represent 
their age, the less they are identifiable as the 
work of an individual artist. The works 
become anonymous. This was ardently 
desired by some of the more radical architects 
and theorists of the '20s and '30s, from 



Hannes Meyer to Massimo Bontempelli. 
Today's architects and students most 
certainly do not want anonymity. The more 
their buildings share the Zeitgeist, the less 
the architects share the glory. 

Thirty years ago Aldo Van Eyck lamented 
that architects had forgotten about those 
aspects of contemporary life which were 
essentially the same as they were decades 
and centuries ago. The contemporary avant- 
garde might do well to heed Van Eyck's 
remark. I recently heard a story about a 
student who could not allow himself to design 
a building with a courtyard because 
courtyards are an architectural configuration 
from the past. An astute critic asked the 
student if he was against drinkinggin because 
gin was medieval, or against drinking 
champagne because champagne was 
Baroque. '- What about buttons or shoelaces? 
Should we 'button' our shirts and 'tie' our 
shoes only with velcro? As if the student's 
courtyard would ever be mistaken for a 
medieval cloister or a Renaissance cortile; as 
if Alvar Aalto's courtyard at Saynatsalo would 
ever be confused with the monastery of Le 
Thoronet. I have more than once heard 
students claim that the geometric figure the 
octagon represents a pre-modern era. Yet 
octagons would exist even if humans didn't. 

In the early 1930s a controversy erupted 
between two influential figures in Italian 
architecture, Marcello Piacentini, the most 
powerful Italian architect of his day, and Ugo 
Ojetti, the most influential art critic. The 
polemic was over whether Classical Roman 
arches and columns were required for an 
appropriate official Italian Imperial 
architecture. Ojetti said yes; Piacentini, 
taking an uncharacteristically modern 
stance, said no. After all, Piacentini argued. 



"You wouldn't have us wear a toga, would 
you, Signer Ugo?" Ojetti replied, " Palladio 
didn't wear a toga." Mussolini got his arches 
and columns. 

There is another, and rather comical, parallel 
to these attitudes within the Futurist 
movement, albeit late in the movement. In 
1930, at a banquet to launch the Futurist 
Cookbook, Marinetti railed against the staple 
of the Italian diet: pastascuitta. "Futurist 
cooking," claimed Marinetti, "will be liberated 
from the ancient obsession of weight and 
volume, and one of its principal aims will be 
the abolition o(pastasciutta. Pastasciutta, 
however grateful to the palate, is an obsolete 
food; it is heavy, brutalizing, and gross; its 
nutritive qualities are deceptive; it induces 
skepticism, sloth, and pessimism."'^ Here 
we have Pasta, defying the Zeitgeist. 

Courtyards, octagons, vertical windows, 
mouldings, etc., are among the myriad of 
architectural devices and forms which are 
allegedly inconsistent with a highly 
particularized - and doctrinaire - architects' 
view of the contemporary world. These 
proscriptions are corruptions of some of the 
more 'fundamentalist' Modern Movement 
beliefs concerning the appropriateness or 
inappropriateness of particular forms and 
formal relationships. The most common 
offender is symmetry. Why symmetry should 
have born the brunt of the modernists' frontal 
attacks is easy to explain, and refers to the 
charismatic. Classicism required symmetry, 
therefore, modern architecture, in order to 
express the non-classical view, must deny 
symmetry. Contemporary symmetrical 
buildings are unnatural, improper, even 
deranged. How, then, can we account for the 
fact that the two types of structures most 
conspicuously emblematic of modern life- 



31 



32 



skyscrapers and bridges-are almost always 
symmetrical? F"urther, they are symmetrical 
in two or more axes, and those which are not- 
like Michael Graves's Humana Building in 
Louisville -often represent a return to more 
traditional forms. Deconstructivists might 
also look to some of their own heroes from the 
early 20th century, like Antonio Sant'Elia, 
Ivan Leonidov, and the brothers Vesnin, 
architects who designed symmetrical buildings 
in the name of a technological avant-garde. 

3. Like any Avant-Garde, Deconstructivism's 
successes have brought it closer to the 
mainstream, blunting its sharp edges (in 
some cases literally). To date we have seen 
precious few Deconstructivist buildings 
actually executed, but many of those we 
have seen, like Bernard Tschumi's Pare de 
La Villette, are follies; they are 'fun' 
constructions which don't require heated 
rooms and weather seals. And they are quite 
wonderful, to be sure. Other Deconstructivist 
buildings are rather small. Still other built- 
works are interiors; they do not have to shed 
rain or snow. (Is this starting to sound like 
the Modern Movement around 1930?) One 
of the larger public examples of the 'new 
architecture' which I have had seen is Rem 
Koolhaas's Dance Theatre of the Netherlands 
in the Hague. What surprised me about this 
building was how traditional it is in every 
respect except its exterior surfaces. The site 
plan completes a traditional square; the 
groundplan is a rather orthodox modern 
assembly, with cleanly flowing spaces; the 
interior is composed of standard modern 
spaces, halls, lobbies and auditoria. Like 
Venturi's idea of the 'decorated shed,' this 
'ordinary' massing is overlaid with cladding, 
only this cladding is composed of zig-zags of 
metal and glass. Koolhaas has transformed 
an extremist and 'pure' version of a 



charismatic idea into something more 
palatable and ideologically neutral. He seems 
to be playing Dudok to Peter Eisenman's (or 
Daniel Liebeskind's) Van Doesburg.'^ One 
has the impression, however, that the 
cladding of Koolhaas's Dance Theatre could 
be easily removed for a renovation. If the 
building were renovated in Gropius's style of 
the 1950s, would that be an intolerable 
exercise in reactionary taste? 

Deconstructivism has continued the Modern/ 
Postmodern debate at the same scale and at 
the same level of discourse. And judging by 
the similarities of decorative excess, both 
POMO and DECON share a common 
ornamental point of origin . They differ merely 
in the source material of their applique. 
Despite all the talk of a technological Zeit- 
geist, they are both architectures in the 
scenographic, rather than the tectonic 
tradition, as Kenneth Frampton has shown. 
For Frampton, "...building remains 
essentially tectonic rather than scenographic 
in character, and, it may be argued, that it is 
an act of construction first, rather than a 
discourse predicated on surface, \'olume and 
plan,. ..."'" Modernism was primarily tectonic 
and eschewed the scenographic, at least in 
its original theoretical professions. Futurism 
was one of the few styles of modernism that 
was predicated on scenography, as well as 
charisma. 

But the Neo-Futurists do share a few ideals 
with mainstream modernism. One is the idea 
that buildings should not be 'veneered.' Veneer 
hides the 'truth' of the construction process. 
But for most building tasks, in most climates, 
using most contemporary installations, 
covering the skeleton is as normal and as 
important as covering the frame of an 
automobile, an airplane or a motorcycle. 



Projects in schools of architecture make 
Deconstructivism appear to be constructed 
with the most advanced technology; 
proponents argue that such technology is 'the 
way we build today.' Actually, at the level of 
detail these projects are presented, they would 
be extremely expensive, hand-made buildings, 
more like the Space Shuttle than the latest 
robot-built automobile. In reality, the way we 
build today is not all that different from 100 or 
400 years ago, not to mention how the Romans 
built: strong, cheap and plentiful materials 
underneath. Durable, fancy and expensive 
materials on the outside. We build like the 
ancient Romans, only thinner, and with more 
plumbing. (Actually, compared to the Romans, 
with not even that much more plumbing.) 
But whatever the relationship may be bet- 
ween old and new construction methods and 
materials, the exigencies of the construction 
industry are not what has generated the forms 
of Deconstructivism, no more than it gener- 
ated the forms of the original Futurism of 
Sant'Elia and Ghiattone. 

If this talk is a plea for anything it is a plea for 
better balance among the traditional, the 
rational, and the charismatic. The antidote 
to the charismatic excesses of Decon- 
structivism is not Prince Charles's 
Romanticism, any more than de Stilj was the 
antidote to Eclectic Classicism, or POST- 
MODERNISM was the antidote to the 1960s 
concrete bunkers in oceans of parked cars. 
In the end, most of the stylistic bickering among 
architects is painfully parochial and trivial. 

The difficulties and problems caused by 
modern architecture are urban , not styUstic . 
The Postmodern reaction to modernism 
should have been at the urban scale, not the 
scale of details and claddings. While some of 
the theory of the past 20 years has focused on 



the urban scale, little of that theory has been 
put into practice; Postmodernism was an 
almost wholly stylistic movement. It is 
possible to make good cities using modern 
architecture, as the Amsterdam School 
proved back in the 1930s. If Dutch architects 
could plan and execute a modern city back 
then, one which continues to function 
beautifully in the face of the technological 
changes of the past 60 years, then we should 
be able to do it now. 

There is good news, however, for those 
mainstream modernists, post-modernists or 
'independents' who are put off by Neo- 
Futurism's lack of social agenda, its disdain 
for all varieties of tradition, its lack of order, 
its self-proclaimed absence of rationality, 
and especially its anti-urbanism. Like pure 
sodium when it's exposed to the air, pure 
charisma has a short life span before it literally 
burns up. Or else it combines with other 
elements (like sodium with chlorine) and it 
becomes something as innocuous as taffle 
salt, something that gives a little more flavor 
to an already established recipe. 

Conclusion: 

Much of my argument here is prompted by 
the fact that architects and critics in 
architecture schools are engaging in 
activities which take them away from the 
original object of their studies: the building 
and the urbanism which groups of buildings 
create. This is not to say that the influences 
on architecture and design that arise from 
other disciplines-be they history, anthro- 
pology, literary criticism, etc.- ought to be 
avoided. An enormous amount has been 
learned from these disciplines, and others, 
in the past quarter century, and 1 have 
myself engaged in research using both literary 
criticism and sociology. 



33 



At a recent internal symposium at Princeton 
University involving Professors of Archi- 
tecture and Art History, a teacher of Art 
History asked the architecture faculty to define 
architecture. The first response by an 
architecture professor was, "Architecture is a 
system of representation." The historians 
response was, "I always thought of architecture 
as Baukunst: the Art of Building."'" 



form."'' But even literature has its 'pragmatic' 
side. The literal sense of a novel - the story - 
supports the allegory, interacts with the 
allegory, informs the allegory, and it is not 
simply the inadequate sustenance of an 
allegory that we could dispense with if only 
our audience were sophisticated enough to 
not require an understandable story to hold 
its atavistic attention. 



34 



Architecture is the art of building, however, 
before it is a system of representation. Were 
it only a system of representation we would 
not have to teach technical courses in 
professional programs; but, more import- 
ant, we would not have to worry about the 
relationship of literal to allegorical modes of 
thinking; they would be manifest, or at least 
more transparent then they are, as in 
literature or painting. But the inability of 
architects and students to distinguish the 
literal from the allegorical has perhaps been 
the cause of much of the academic, unreal 
(in more than one sense of the word) design 
work of the past decade. 

Worse, many architecture students today 
seem uninterested in any dialogue between 
the literal and the allegorical, between the 
"art of building" and a "system of 
communication." They desire pure com- 
munication, as if this actually occurs in any 
other discipline which can be regarded as a 
system of representation. This anxiety over 
the pedestrian and pragmatic essense of one's 
discipline is not solely the deformation 
professionelle of the architect. Even writers 
share it. E.M. Forster once wrote about the 
novel: "Yes - oh dear yes - the novel tells a 
story. ... That is the highest factor common to 
all novels, and I wish it was not so, that it 
could be something different-melody, or 
perception of the truth, not this low atavistic 



In this regard let me briefly return to some 
research I did a few years ago on Giuseppe 
Terragni and his methodological inspiration, 
Dante Alighieri. Terragni, I believe, under- 
stood the difference between the 'art of 
building' and 'a system of representation,' 
and between the literal and allegorical senses 
of both Dante'sDTOnie Comedy and the project 
he dedicated to that great poem and poet. 

Terragni relied on his source, Dante, for a 
method of dissecting his own architectural 
allegory, and to explain the relation of the 
corporeal, literal 'sense' of his building to his 
allegory. Dante in his turn, using a long-lived 
and well-worn tradition of Medieval "Fourfold 
Exegesis" explained his Divine Comedy to 
his patron, in a famous letter called the 
"Epistle to Can Grande della Scala."''' What 
is central to both Dante's and Terragni's 
allegorical meaning, is that it is constructed 
upon the literal meaning. The building is a 
building before it is the embodiment of 
Dantesque compositional criteria or Fascist 
allegorical ideals. 

Too many students, professors, and architects 
today do not understand this very simple 
necessity. My purpose here has been to show 
that nothing is new. This stuff is old hat, 
but is apologists are either trying to pull the 
wool over unsuspecting eyes, or have a ver\' 
poor grasp of history themselves. 



1. My thanks to Steven W. Hurtt, Andrea Ponsi, Janet 
Zweig, and Patricia Sachs for criticisms and 
comments on this essay. 

2. See M.Weber, The Theory qfSncial and Economic 
OrHunizutUm (New York, The Free Press, 1<)47). 



3. hi the Princeton University Student Course Guide 
tor 1992 the following entrj- is recorded for the 
Sophomore Studio: "Project #1: Design a religious 
experience for a smurf and a duck in two dimensions, 
with four colors, a baseball bat, and a sheet of 
aluminum foil. Draw a section of the experience and 
relate it to your interpretation of Senator Kennedy 
as a symbol of purity. Drawings should be at a scale 
of r=2 million feet." (p. 3). Observers not privy to 
the Princeton scene have been confused as to 
whether this is in fact tongue-in-cheek. 

4. Evans, Robin, "Translations from Drawing to 
Building, " London, AA Files, 12, Date?, p. 5. 

5. Peter Collins, Architectural Judgement, Montreal, 
McGil-Queen's University Press, 1971, 42. 



F.T. Marinetti, "Futurist Manifesto," inLe Figaro, 
20 February 1909, translation in J. Joll, Three 
hitellectuals in Politics. New York, Pantheon, 1960. 



8. .lull, op. eit.,p. 150, 

9. ,Joll, op. cit., p. 147. 



. Grassi, G., "Avant Garde and Continui 
Opposition.s 21, p. 2d-27, 



11. See Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, New York: 
Vintage Books, 62: "Economic development is not a 

sort of ventriloquist with the rest of history as its 
dummy." 

12. The incident occured at Cornell University. The 
critic was Colin Rowe. * 

13. Quoted in E. Da\id, kalian Food, llarmond.sworth: 
Penguin, 1954, p. 93. 

14. W.M. Dudok was an extremely talented and 
successful architect in Holland in the '20s and '30s, 
the designer of the Bijenkorf Department Store in 
Rotterdam and the Hilversum Town Hall, among 
numerous other fine works. He was awarded the 
AIA Gold Medal, one of two foreigners to receive that 
award in the pre-\VWll period (the other was Sir 
Edwin Lutyens). In Space, Time and Architecture , 
Siegfried Giedion dismissed Dudok as 'sentimental.' 
It seems that Dudok used bricks and, sometimes, 
pitched roofs. He wasn't avant-garde enough for 
Giedion. 

15. Frampton, K., Rappel "a L'Ordre: The Case for the 
Tectonic," in AD, The New Architecture, London: 

Academy Editions, 1990, p. 20. 

16. Re-told to the author by Professor .lohn Pinto. 



EM, Aspects of the Novel, New York, 
Harcourt Brace and World, 1927, 1955, paperback, 
ed., 1965, p. 25-26. 

IS. See Toynbee, Paget, Dantis Alaghcrii Epistolae, 
London, 1907. 



Architecture of 
Liberative Movement: 

A Design Thesis 1992-1993 



Henry Plummer 
Thesis Critic 



Benjamin K. Nesbeitt Mo\'ement is the creative poetry of liberty, 

University of Illinois . ,. , . ,. . , 

Urbana-Chmnpaisn eni''"ating from the expression ot inherent 

mobility; it is a manifestation of the graceful, 

vibrant tensions between equilibrium and 

imbalance, safety and risk, gravity and levity. 

The Architecture of liberative movement is a 
thesis aimed at generating a built 
environment which engages that dynamic 
mobile nature of man - an environment which 
invites participation and investigation, 
challenges mental and physical abilities, and 
allows users to be interactive with 
architecture. Users of this architecture can 
then become participants. By endowing 
these participants with opportunities for 
choice, spontaneity, and creativity, 
architecture gains vital freedoms, becoming 
ali\'e and liberative. 

The need for such an architecture is definite 
and unmistakable when traced to the more 
inventive stages of human mobile life. As 
children we are explorers of an expanding 
world, probing the tactile environment and 
testing gravitational limits. Ingenuity defies 
convention. Precarious places are reached 
through remarkably resourceful sequences 
of physical effort. We are free to ascend 
vertical rock faces if we dare. This inventive 
clambering and grappling is part of play and 
discovery; it is a curious, sometimes ecstatic 



revery of our liberation from the immobility 
of infancy. However, we are then conditioned 
to avoid risk. We employ ever diminishing 
degrees of creativity in motion. With the 
passage of time, the memory of excited 
exploration grows faint, or submerges into 
amnesia. This progressive restraint and loss 
of motivation is analogous to atrophy, only 
here it pertains not only to strength and 
agility, but also to those creative sensibilities 
which might infuse built environments with 
activation. 

Some rediscover what was known and natural 
in childhood through reviving movements 
and imaginations. This is exemplified by the 
diverse physical techniques and mental 
gymnastics required to solve the planar relief 
labyrinths of rock climbing. In the climb, an 
entirely different sense of balance, alien to 
the horizontal world, is engaged. The ascent 
allows one to become free, to be vertically 
intrepid, to vulnerably inhabit another terrain 
apart from conventional topography. 
Climbing has been compared to a tense 
vertical ballet. Sequence is critical to this 
dance, whose choreography is in part 
suggested by the features of the cliff 
formations and in part improvised and 
discovered by the climber. The challenges, 
choices, and creativity of rock climbing make 
it perhaps the strongest analogy for an 



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architecture of movement because it is these 
quahties which imply participation with the 
environment. These mobile and tactile 
freedoms-the liberative essence of climbing- 
can be imparted to architecture. 

Architecture, unfortunately, has done little 
to revive the creative interplay between man 
and the physical world. The majority of the 
built environment currently offers few 
opportunities for creative motion, instead 
maintaining level, predictable, pedantic 
circulational patterns. The liberative 
movement advocated here is arguably 
counter to what is safe and buildable 
according to codified regulations presently 
in use. Although liberative possibilities 
certainly exist within the letter of the code, 
some precedents studied would not comply. 
This is largely due to the proliferation of ever 
tightening restrictions, which can be 
excessively hmiting-and which should at 
times be subverted. Without ignoring the 
welfare of participants, it should be stated 
that vulnerability is the counterpart of 



security. If one is to participate in a free 
arena of motion, both safety and risk should 
be available as choices to the mobile 
experimenter. For architecture to depart 
from its sedentary status quo does not imply 
the seeking of danger, thrills, or sensation. 
Rather, it suggests an architecture which re- 
engages the potentials of the body and the 
faculties of the mind in an extensive and 
integral way. It calls for involvement-not 
only of the legs and feet, but also the torso, 
arms, hands, and eyes-in an ongoing act of 
architecture. 

The goals of a mobile, liberative architecture 
may thus be defined as creative movement, 
spontaneous movement, and freedom of 
movement, achieved through participation 
with architecture. For creative movement to 
occur there must be multiple choices or 
paths. These should offer variation in 
topography and difficulty, and should require 
exploration and creativity from participants. 
Because of this diversity, participants are 
freed to act spontaneously. They are granted 




the liberty to improvise. Freedom of 
moN'ement is the liberty of movinj; 
innovatively (aswellaseonventionally). It is 
the possibility of participating with space in 
three dimensions, both climbing and 
traversing at will. 

Participation may be defined as interaction 
with architecture in either of two ways. 
The first is an interaction whereby the 
built environment is able to elicit physical 
responses from users-the building acts 
upon its occupants, and they "participate." 
The second is a reversal of the first such 
that inhabitants act upon architecture to 
alter the physical environment, and as 
such, are able to participate In the ongoing 
generation of that architecture. It is these 
two modes of participation which can recall 
childhood's probing and testing of the 
environment. 

It is here that I return to the analogy of rock 
climbing as one of the most experimental of 
all movement activities. Climbing implies a 
range of creative motions which activate 
the entire body in participation, fluctuating 
among balance, strength, and sequencing 
skills. The language of movement that 
evolves from the activity of ascension, 
combined with the vocabulary of numerous 
architectural precedents (see bibliography ) , 
can be used to generate liberated 
architectural design. The sense of wonder 
found in exploratory environments can be 
regained, and the childhood freedom to 
experience them creatively can be 
recovered. Static, prescriptive architecture 
which rigidly determines modes of 
movement gives way to liberated, 
challenging environments. The result is an 
architecture of participation and vitality. 



In exploring the liberative possibilities of 
movement there is an implicit critical 
approach to convention. There is a need to 
depart from lifeless and sedentary terrains 
which are almost inhumanely monotonous. 
But it should be realized here that the 
experience of any terrain is just that — an 
experience that should be tested 
experientially. Experiential testing can yield 
feedback otherwise unobtainable . Participants 
can raise questions and issues, and can be 
genuinely informed as they articulate their 
perceptions on the movement which they 
encounter. This rationale clearly directs the 
design investigation toward a method of full- 
scale experimentation. To conceive ideas on 
the activity of motion solely on paper, or 
through reduced-scale models, would be to 
suffer from the illusion that one can know the 
ascent of a cliff by viewing its face. 

This full-scale testing began in the P'all of 
1992, with the construction of an actual 
size "detail." The one-to-one experiential 
character of the project became an asset in 
perceiving movements from a realized (not 
imagined or simulated) perspective. The 
piece is fully usable and deals with several 
phenomena. 

A steep, ladder-like stair was chosen to 
embody key theoretical ideas, which involve 
the entire body in the activity of ascent. 
Drawing upon precedents of battlement 
stairs and ships' ladders, its treads are 
alternating trapezoids, suggesting an 
energetic rhythm of climbing. The ladder 
can be used in multiple ways: It can be 
climbed using an ordinary rhythm; climbed 
more quickly and athletically; or descended 
by sliding down its right rail, somewhat like 
the descent down a ship's ladder. Thus, it 



offers choice and multiplicity while deviating 
from the typical ascent. For some parti- 
cipants in requires thought; for others, it is 
intuitive. The varied treads and risers 
comprise a continuous vertical terrain like 
that of a cliff face, only more accommodating 
and less strenuous. The phenomenon of 
irregularity is paired with phenomenon of 
stability, as embodied by periodic ledges in 
a rockscape. Broader treads provide for a 
stance at mid-climb and at the crest, while 
asymmetrical rails provide aid at the 
beginning and end of the journey . The ladder 
stair is constructed of light-gauge folded 
perforated steel, evocative of ideas of terrain 
and of lightweight "free" climbing. The stair 
also uses vertical displacements to represent 
energy, rhythm, and grace of movement. It 
thus begins to explore the psychological 
phenomena of invitations made by flotation 
and decollage. 

The lessons of this piece as a full-scale 
design experiment lead to the pursuit of 
thesis work through further full-scale 
constructions, expanding the exploration 
to larger choreographies and sequences. 

In selecting a site for experimentation, two 
types of potential may be considered. The 
first is its direct potential, in which a location 
geometrically, volumetrically, or otherwise 
suggests passage and movement. In this 
case, movement is inherent and awaits 
augmentation through architecture. A 
second, indirect potential exists in static, 
lifeless sites which are at first contradictory 
to the intended design activity. In being 
contrapuntal, such a site may offer, if not 
invite, the rigor of improbable trans- 
formational workings. It is a base \'oid, a 
dead cavity awaiting an infusion of life. 




The challenge of this second avenue was 
chosen in the form of a workable full-scale 
site. A construction/installation site within 
an existing building envelope was sought, 
requiring minimal footprint area, but favoring 
high volumetric spaces which permit 
movement in the third dimension. Such a 




space was graciously made available at 811 
N. State Street, Champaign, Illinois, for the 
work of this thesis. 

The site is a vacant, time-worn room in a 
brick and concrete icehouse dating to 1916. 
The space is a mere 700 square feet, but 
offers a ceiHng which slopes from seventeen 
to eighteen feet, suggesting multi-level 
possibilities. Moreover, its vertical dimen- 



sions were considered expandable. The aging 
floorboards rest on top of four feet of cinder 
fill, which could be partially excavated to 
allow level changes and descent in the space. 
iMthough the space is devoid of fenestration, 
laterally closed except for an exterior door 
and three interior doors, the site suggests the 
possibility of opening the ceiling upward to 
the sky. This raw and ruinous space was a 
seemingly latent site, brooding with 
anticipation. 

An experimental studio, or architect's atelier, 
was selected as a functional scenario for the 
investigation, stemming from the notion that 
experimental design work is generated in 
creative and interactive environments. The 
experimental studio can also serve to educate 
a public unfamiliar with the possibilities of 
such an active, participational realm. It 
should be noted here that participational, 
multivalent architecture has a tendency to 
resist functional typology and obvious 
pragmatics. Although the space may be 
designed with an aim toward a specific 
scenario (the studio), its nature (experi- 
mental) allows it to surpass any singular 
functional capability. The work is instead 
made and remade, according to the will and 
desire of the participants, in a process of 
being and becoming. 

The aim was, thus, to make a radical but 
indeterminate intervention in the icehouse. 
Early models began to study a "building 
within a building" concept with sloped, 
hinging, transformable floor and wall 
topographies. The wall and floor became a 
continuous folded terrain, and a curving 
system of screens began to speak of the 
notion of the swing or radius of a folding 
hinge. The sloping wall became a stair, and 
as cladding of the wall eroded, shelves of the 



reference library ambiguously became stairs. 
Wall and floor pieces also could be 
transformed to become work surfaces, and a 
mobile flat screen was allowed to descend 
into a vertical projection position from behind 
its arcing parent. The parallelogram-like 
geometry of the porous inner building was 
used to perspectivcly emphasize diagonal 
dimensions, creating the illusion that the 
completed space is larger than the original 
space of the site-a demonstrable contrast 
when juxtaposed with the unaltered (identical 
volume) workroom adjacent to the site. 
Layering added to this effect, through depth 
and indeterminacy of distance at the edge. 
Levitation and aeration of the architecture 
brought a sense of weightlessness, making 
psychological invitations to participate in 
an active place -a free zone. 

With many elements of design not finalized, 
construction began in early February, 199v^. 
The building process was also a design process 
during which numerous alterations occurred. 
Movement sequences were refined and 
expanded. Details and mechanisms were 
developed and tested. Idiosyncrasies of the 
existing structure were accounted for. All of 
these modifications were essential to the 
maturation of the work, and often were 
arrived at serendipitously. The greatest such 
case arose as a reaction to the structural 
failure of the aged concrete beams, which 
bore gaping cracks at their inboard ends, 
their thin steel tendons straining. Before the 
designed excavation or framing could begin, 
footings were placed, and two steel columns 
were retrofitted to insure the safety of the 
existing roof structure. In a sense, they 
inter\'ened in the intervention, yet became 
an asset in many ways. Their assertion of and 
connection to the pre-existent order of the 
site created a powerful intersection with the 



new construction, simultaneously 
emphasizing important pathways in the main 
wall. The balance of the construction process 
saw modifications to virtually every element 
of the design, from excavation and subfloor 
to the overhead screens and entry piece. The 
eroded configuration of the wall received 




thorough study, as did the steel railings, 
which became increasingly three-dimen- 
sional and multivalent. The making process 
continually gathered speed, culminating in 
substantial completion on April 21, 1993, 
the date of the on-site final review. 

The experimental studio truly is an arena of 
participation, both through interactions with 
kinetic elements of the architecture and 




through one's own mobile reactions to its 
interior terrain. The choreography of this 
activated terrain is initiated outside, while 
still in the parking lot. Arrival begins with a 
hybrid ramp/stair climb to the loading dock; 
a foretaste of discoveries beyond the 
threshold. The ramp/stair is a fragment of 
the floorings to be found inside, and foretells 
the configuration of the floor-to-wall 
transition. Crossing the existing threshold, 



one reaches a second threshold, defined by a 
virtual door overhead (a skeletal, unclad 
screen frame) and by a gap which one 
descends into or bridges over. This moment 
calls for either a jump or a downward step: a 
choice between travel to the highly active 
inner building or to the more sedate 
peripheral zones. 

Once on the main floor, several trans- 
formable pieces are found. A wall panel and 
a floor panel fold outward and upward to 
symbiotically form an adjustable drafting 
station, whose seat might be a similar fold of 
the wall or floor. The manipulation of these 
pieces exposes shelves behind the wall/ 
tabletop, allowing storage or ascent to upper 
levels. A lifted panel of floor becomes a 
conference table, where the legs of seated 
participants occupy the interstitial space 
between floor and subfloor. Hinging panels 
of floor give access to storage or flat flies, or 
become theatrical trapdoors. In essence, 
the floor becomes an immense cabinet for 
the participant to discover, explore, and 
even inhabit. 

Cloth screens overhead are an immense 
filter of natural light, diffusing the sky 
through the transformed space. The large 
flat projection screen is lowered by hand 
into the vertical projection position where 
it serves for presentation or theatrical events. 
The lowering of this piece requires exertion 





at the hands, arms, and back, gradually 
easing at the end of actuation. When the flat 
screen is lowered it further defines the 
conference area and a gallery passage behind 
itself. With the screens in place, projection 
viewing can occur from many locations. In 
particular, the sloping floor allows 
participants to sit in groups, or to lay back 
on the incline; images may be projected on 
the vertical screen in front, or on the cur\'ed 
ceiling screen above. These screens can 
also serve theatrically for backdrops, or for 
shadow plays, or as a play of solar and 
atmospheric events. They are amazing to 
watch in a lightning storm. 

The sloped floors, varying from four and 
one-half to fourteen and one-half degrees, 
are activators of muscles and sensitizers of 
balance. They call for response and 
adaptation, suspending notions of the level 
datum in favor of an awakened climb. After 
traversing and ascending this ramping floor, 
an ambiguous wall is reached. On the wall, 
the birch plywood cladding of the floor 
erodes progressively from frontal to rear 
mounted position, then into absentia. The 
revealed shelves become treads, and one 
questions whether the stair is a wall or the 
wall is a stair. One is able to move vertically. 



laterally, and also through the wall. The 
wall becomes the site of numerous, 
unpredictable activities, including child- 
hood games. A group of students had the 
impulse to chase one another on and around 
this structure, illustrating a recovery of 
spontaneous play. The steel rails further 
promote this improvisation, becoming not 
only vertical handholds, but also treads, 
footholds, and horizontal traverses. The 
rails step in at the mezzanine level, 
facilitating transitional movements. The 
right-hand rail then bends into the mezz- 
anine, behind the wall. It becomes a curved 
backrest at the top of the stair, forming an 
elevated perch, which allows one to sense 
the elevation attained by the climb. 

Rests such as this are a necessary counterpart 
to movement if authentic freedom is desired, 
and such choices of stillness are a stabilizing 
factor amidst vulnerability. Many points of 
rest can be improvised. The tread/shelves of 
the wall dissipate to broader intervals at 
higher elevation, creating niches large 
enough to be used as seats. The erosion of 
the wall creates a window from which one 
may securely lean out. Raised fragments of 
floor in the mezzanine create seats, 
encouraging reading, viewing, or conver- 



45 



satioii. The subtle inelined cant of the floors 
allows the mezzanine itself to ser\'e as a 
seating area (with the right-haiui rail as 
footrest). In the case of the corner loft, left of 
the screens, the floor is low enough to invite 
participants to sit, legs dangling over, while 
still allowing passage beneath. All of these 
rests call one to stop and become a voyeur of 
events in the studio-in participating, one is 
also an audience. These many possibilities 



A "diving lioard" (in a metaphorical sense 
linked to the "lifeguard chair" atop the stair) 
cantilevers from the mezzanine to the far 
corner of the space, oscillating with a sense 
of airiness. It floats, quivering and resonating 
under footfalls, just above the loft which is its 
destination. Although its pine plywood 
surface is smooth, its motion yields tactile 
feedback, imparting a vital sense of terrain. 
The crossing of the bridge begins with a 



r T 




46 



to rest as well as to move throughout the 
work defeat any sense of crowding, even at 
gatherings of fifty people. The architecture 
simply becomes activated as its multiplicity 
is invoked. 

Various vertical passages exist, in addition to 
the stairs of the wall. Other vertical con- 
nections might be constructed within the 
framework because the floors "breathe," 
floating away from the walls, and the unclad 
studs suggest an armature for future 
modifications. Likewise, holes in the existing 
masonry can become an improvised ladder 
for reaching the mezzanine. This is definitely 
among the more difficult movements, but it 
is an intimate connection to the rugged 
envelope, and is one of the least expected 
routes of ascent. 



wooden rail (the structure which carries the 
plane) on the right, which drops away just as 
a steel rail is encountered on the left. The 
crossing may certainly be made entirely 
without the aid of rails. This is often the case, 
as travelers respond to the piece by jumping 
energetically to the corner loft. From the 
corner loft, still more vertical passage 
possibilities exist. They are sometimes less 
than obvious avenues, such as sliding down 
the steel rail, or climbing its brackets through 
the floor of the loft. 

Several feet above that loft is another loft, a 
nest behind the screens. Access to the nest is 
a return to childhood, requiring one to 
clamber up and onto its floor, and only 
partially allowing an upright stance once in 
it. Low clearance of beams overhead rein- 



forces the already present sense of altitude, 
making invitations to sit, crawl, or lie down; 
the space implies the assuming of mental 
and physical postures of rest. The nest is an 
elevated haven, cradled yet exposed, invisible 
yet commanding of views. It is a perch among 
cloth and branches where one can regenerate. 
After all the mobile activities of the studio, 
this is a still and contemplative place in the 
light-a place of repose. 



practiced to its full potential, surpassing the 
limitations of functional and technical 
problem-solving approaches to design. Such 
approaches invariably result in little more 
than missed opportunities. In contrast, the 
experimental studio, by accounts of critics 
and visitors, verifies that a conceptual agenda 
can indeed be concretized, yielding 
experiential readings-both instinctual and 
intellectual. This is then a question of agenda. 




In retrospect, it seems that a full-scale design 
study is an almost requisite method for 
investigating freedoms of movement. The 
experiential nature of the experiment allows 
decisions and learning to occur which would 
be otherwise impossible. The built work 
may be short lived, but the forceful 
implications of its transient happening have 
bearing on the nature of work to come -this 
is but the beginning of a synthesis. 

The implications are both broad and specific. 
Some may seem obvious, others left to be 
inferred. As Thom Mayne stated, "This is a 
rather positive shock.... This is an aggressive 
demonstration ofa conceptual agenda." This 
thesis attempts to manifest the poetics of 
movement. This is also an implicit illustration 
of the need for architecture to be taught and 



Architecture of liberative movements posits 
the making of interactive places, as a catalyst 
of vitality in built environments. The 
conceptual design activity is approached 
phenomenologically, the intent being a 
tangible choreography of the adjectival 
qualities of mobile, participational events. 

To achieve this implies a questioning of 
process and limitations. The experimental 
studio was the result of a conceptual process 
and a making process which were never 
considered to be separate activities or 
sequential phases. This made the process, as 
well as the result, immediate and particip- 
ational. Many of the participational devices 
created sought to overcome the limitations 
of convention or type, leading to a multivalent 
ambiguity. The questioning of function and 



47 




typolojSy, as well as the subversion of their 
primaey, is not then a rash rebellion, but an 
opening of poetie possibilities. The 
c|iiestioninK of codified limitations, and 
resistance t(j their constraint, has been 
previously discussed. The built work of the 
thesis was necessarily set free of such 
restrictions, thereby raising the issue of 
safety. On this subject, Herman Hertzberger, 
affirming the sensitized engagement of the 
body which occurs in such a free zone, said, 
"You should invite children here, and also 
the building officials-so the officials can see 
that the children do not fall." 

In adopting such critically questioning yet 
pro-active stances, the architect takes on a 
highly political role-an act which itself 
interrogates current convention. Archi- 
tecture of liberative movement, as a thesis, 
advocates a blurring of conventions and roles. 
The architect moves beyond typical capacity 
to become both a maker and a participant; 
while the client or user becomes a participant, 
with uncharacteristic involvement with and 
impact upon architecture. Through this 
expansion, the architect takes on the role of 
an educator whose work is a continual activity 
of straining to expand potentials of design 
while striving to open society to a more vital 
architecture. 

It is my hope that in this built thesis the 
world of architectural education may be 
seen as integrated with that of professional 
practice. It has, to be sure, deeply affected 
both my teaching and my work. It is also my 
hope that the experimental studio, though 
now dismantled, has imparted some 
liberative life here. To me, it is a powerfully 
latent space, capable of intense energy or 
absolute silence. 




Selected Bibliography 

Carlo Scaqfta. A+U Extra Edition. Oct. 1Q.S5. 

I'liimmer, Henrv: "Stairway." -V+f. Aug. V)Hh 
pp. 75-79,81, "83-84,85,89. 

Plummer, Henry: "Prismatic Space." A+U. May 199] 
pp. 10-74. 

"Strata Via: The Street as a Mode of Existence." Book 
review bv Henrv Plummer. Journal of Architectural 
Eilucation. Summer 19S8 vol.41, pp. 58-64. 



Ndrberg-Schulz, Christian. Genius Loci: Towards a 
I'hetiomenolo^' of Architecture. New York: Rizzoli 
International Publications, Inc. 

Anchoring. Steven Holl Selected Projects 1975-1991. 
Jrd edition. New York, Princeton Architectural Pres 



Hines, Thomas S. Franklin I). /.sriiL-/ 
Projects New York. Rizzoli Intern: 
Inc. 1992. 

Coop llimmclblau. El Ooquis. June 



1989 no. 40, 

Ed. Tokvo, A.DA. 




1 Hertzberger. A+U 1991 Extra Editioj 



49 



What's Behind The Wall 

Wliy Progressive Public Memorials are 
Designed for Private Commemoration^ 



Jhennifer A. Amundson 

Unteed Nelson Slack 

Anderson Ltd. 

Champaign, Illinois 



50 



The study of memorials stems from an interest 
in the human need for remembrance. It is a 
natural reaction in all of us to immortalize 
our own accomplishments and memories in 
permanent forni: photo albums, family Bibles, 
yearbooks, ticket stubs and love letters are 
tools by which we all act as historians, if only 
on a personal and modest scale. The necessity 
for a collective memory across a group of 
people is served by the erection of public 
memorials, which make our landscape itself 
a record of our common achievements, and 
a mirror of our values as Americans. Both 
the values embodied in monuments, and 
their physical expression, have changed 
dramatically in the last thirty years to reflect 
the diverse memories of our pluralist society. 
An obvious formal distinction can be drawn 
between early nineteenth-century, 
classically-inspired monuments of white 
marble, and late twentieth-century geometric 
compositions hewn from dark granite. 
However, the difference between the two is 
much more than cosmetic: aesthetic 
evolution in civic monuments was preceded 
by a change in the character of contemporary 
designers, patrons, and viewers. 

The history of American monuments 
developed concurrently with that of the 
country itself.- Small scale folk crafts like 
quilts were a memory-inspiring comfort to 



the first settlers. As the country grew in 
wealth and materials, people in the new 
nation copied the art forms and techniques 
of their European homelands, even when 
commemorating the patriots of the 
Revolutionary War. This trend corresponded 
to a reliance on European architectural styles 
for American homes and public buildings. 
For over one hundred years memorial design 
for the strong, courageous, male leaders of 
this country was predominated by the neo- 
classical and Beaux- Arts styles; American 
patriots were immortalized in forms once 
reserved for Roman emperors. 

These commemorative sculpture pieces were 
large-scale reminders of greatness, glory, 
sacrifice, and leadership; the subjects of 
veneration were patriotic events and national 
heroes, usually holders of high political or 
military office. By the early decades of the 
nineteenth and through the beginning of the 
twentieth centuries, they were sculpted by 
artists who had studied the vocabulary of 
classical forms during a grand tour or study 
abroad, or who were at least familiar with the 
monuments of antiquity through published 
folios. Either means was an intellectual 
mark of distinction which the artist shared 
with his upper-class patrons. Although at 
times "Americanized"- for example, the 
substitution of corn cobs for the acanthus, or 




Linciiln Mt'imirkd. Washinfiton, D.C. 



the inscription of states' names in the frieze 
of the Lincoln Memorial-the classical 
imagery was probably best understood by 
those Americans who had enjoyed classical 
educations. While most nineteenth century 
Americans viewing a work like Baltimore's 
War of 1812 Monument would be impressed 
by its artistry, size, and materials, a minority 
would understand the greater significance of 
the column's form taking its precedent from 
ancient Rome's Column of Trajan. 

Typically in this period, government bodies 
and wealthy individuals supported the 
construction of monuments. These patrons 
were of similar learning and economic 
backgrounds as their objects of veneration. 
In effect, through their financial support one 
segment of the American populace decided 
which memories were worthy of being kept, 



and which cultural icons' contributions were 
deemed meritorious enough for eternal 
celebration. As a result, an under-represented 
segment of the country was without a voice 
not only in the writing of America's history 
books, but also in the tradition of monument- 
maldng. This group includes not only women, 
racial and religious minorities, but also rural 
inhabitants who composed the majority of 
the American population for decades, and 
had little contact with the great marble works 
being erected in the cities. 

During the City Beautiful movement, a 
response by Beaux-Arts planners to the 
increasing concentration of people and 
building in growing cities, classically-inspired 
mommients in city parks, boulevards, and 
squares were a means by which the ever- 
inereasingly urban lifestyle was beautified. 



51 




H'a.s/iiii^roii A/o(i!(»iciit, Baltimore, MD 

In this period and the following decades, 
three of the country's most prominent 
monuments were constructed or completed 
in the nation's capitol: the Washington 
(1885), Lincoln (1922) and Jefferson (1943) 
Memorials marked the great axes first 
envisioned by Pierre-Charles L'Enfant in his 
grandiose baroque plan of 1791. The great 
Beaux-Arts monuments are amplified 
versions of the common nineteenth-century 
neo-classical obelisk and column. Effigies of 
two past presidents are housed in their own 
temples, just as the great Greek gods were, 
making no small analogy for the prospering 
Republic. 

With the World Wars passed the first great 
phase in American monument construction, 
during which millions of dollars were spent 
on large-scale, totally non-functional 
buildings- save the function of veneration.' 
The waning of Beaux-Arts customs, especially 
in the construction of momuncnts, would 



Washington Mojiument, Richmond, VA 

see not just an end to this non-functionalism 
in civic building, but conversely, a turn 
towards functionalism in the act of 
commemoration, due to the Modernist 
disdain for classical traditions and a lack of 
funds resulting from the Depression and 
wartime. Wliere the desire to commemorate 
America's heroes was greater than the funding 
available for it, a more pragmatic type of 
commemoration was borne by bridges, 
highways, and sports arenas. 

Since that time, and especially within the 
past three decades, monuments have again 
emerged as a prominent building type as the 
pace of their construction has increased. 
The new aesthetic which has appeared during 
the past generation draws from recent 
developments in sculpture and landscape 
design. The sixties and sc\-cntics ushered in 
a new appreciation for outdoor art , as modern 
sculpture pieces were positioned in plazas 
across the country. Artists rejected 



conventional, realistic forms and worked at 
large scales and with architectural materials, 
making sculpture which engaged the viewer 
physically and defined space, rather than 
existing simply as an object for viewing. This 
"Plop Art" was the '7()s counterpart to the 
earlier Beaux-Arts park decoration, although 
its only aim was to be site specific and 
aesthetically pleasing. Landscape design too 
became more architectural in a sense, the 
use of abstract built forms accentuating and 
framing an otherwise organic design. The 
growing alliance between professionals in 
architecture and landscape design which 
began with building and planning projects 
was applied to monument design. The 
blending of disciplines developed new kinds 
of monuments which engage the landscape 
and define processional spaces. This 
prevailing memorial aesthetic is more 
appropriate to contemporary needs for 
commemoration, although not as much in 
stylistic terms as in the manner by which 
events and people are remembered. 

^Vhile this country has its very roots in a 
diverse mix of races, creeds, and interests, 
homogenous views were expressed by public 
memorial sponsorship until recently when 
the under-represented segments of the 
population organized themselves as patrons 
to support the commemoration of happenings 
and individuals outside of the mainstream. 
This trend reflects a curious kind of nostalgia 
and historical revisionism, which, in some 
cases, more than compensates for the 
discrimination of earlier decades. For 
example, Arlington National Cemetery is 
crowded with memorials to various 
individuals and groups who served in the 
military- mostly men. A recent competition 
for a memorial honoring the service of women 
in the military claimed the Beaux-Arts 



McKim, Mead, and White hemicycle at the 
entry to Arlington National Cemeter>' as its 
site. On the one hand, it is impressive that 
this under-represented group will finally gain 
well-deser\'ed recognition. On the other, 
one may well wonder if the siting of their 
monument at this prominent location may 
be misleading.^ In any event, this project is 
representative of the kinds of minorities 
finally receiving their due largely because of 
recent efforts towards inclusion and political 
correctness. 

The past decade has seen a second crest in 
the history of American monuments as 
dozens of proposals were made in Washington 
D.G. alone, many of which seemed designed 
to be either a consciousness-raising effort or 
a catharsis to American denial. Painful events 
like Vietnam and the 1970 demonstrations 
at Kent State have been gaining overdue 
acknowledgement as smaller groups of 
citizens speak out on behalf of their own 
heroes, so that they may join the ranks of 
more typically venerated historical figures 
who enjoy more wide-spread recognition. 
The patronage of commemoration, typified 
in the nineteenth century by the elite building 
memorials of people from their own ranks, is 
no different; it is the patrons themselves 
who have changed, and therefore, the kind of 
hero and event commemorated. The sheer 
numbers of new patrons has also expanded 
greatly, as seen in the variety of monument 
projects which are proposed annually. 

Just as classical traditions were not altogether 
replaced by the Modern movement, certain 
memorial customs are present today as well. 
Small-scale obelisks and statue groups guard 
city halls across the country; traditional 
heroic monuments featuring cannons and 
eagles have been erected since the 194()s to 




Astro7iauts ' Memorial 

honor veterans of the World Wars. These are 
still erected in courthouse squares for those 
who bask in the light of undisputed pride, 
such as veterans of the Gulf War. Formally 
speaking, these traditional monuments 
typically consist of an object of artistic focus, 
a symbol of the country's strength or the 
soldiers' valor, while the soldiers' names are 
placed on great tombstone-like plinths to the 
side or beneath the message-bearing emblem. 
The view is directed to the symbol of strength, 
courage, and valor. 

This basic pattern can be seen even in one of 
the most visually innovative monuments of 
this decade. Although completed nearly fifty 
years after the close of World War II, the 
Astronauts Memorial at the Kennedy Space 
Center is very much in the tradition of great 
monuments like the Washington Memorial, 
although clad in a high-tech, ingeniously 
engineered pretense which obscures its 
conventional format.' Selected in a 
competition of 1987, the design features a 



black granite bill board-like screen, which is 
positioned on a mechanical armature 
engineered to continually track the path of 
the sun across the sky. Computer-operated 
dishes behind the screen reflect sunlight 
through the names engraved in the black 
stone of astronauts who have died on NASA 
voyages; lights in the dishes compensate for 
overcast days and nighttime. 

Like the more traditional monuments 
positioned or focused on historic 
battlegrounds and harbors, recalling the 
place of sacrifice for those they honor, this 
monument continually mirrors the clouds 
and tracks the heavens where the astronauts 
perished. An inspiring, noble, and 
indisputably heroic monument, in high- 
tech attire it celebrates the men and women 
to whom it pays tribute as proudly as any 
marble obelisk. Like those traditional 
monuments, it dictates a message of valor 
which all viewers are expected to share. 
Appropriately, a runner-up in the com- 



petition, which is displayed in the nearby 
visitors' center, is a resin obelisk with 
aerodynamic features recalling the 
silhouette of a space shuttle. 

As visually impressive as it is, the Astronauts' 
Memorial is flawed in the same way as the 
more intricate of the neo-classical 
monuments are, in that the acknowledgment 
of the skill of the engineer/artist risks 
subordinating the recognition of the 
astronauts' achievements, goals, and 
sacrifice. Certainly, many viewers spend at 
least as much time admiring the construction 
and mechanics of the kinetic monument, all 
of which are exposed, as they do 
contemplatingthe lost lives further removing 
the commemoration from those who died. 
Critics have even suggested that the 
monument was meant to reestablish faith in 
the machine, which was crucial to NASA 
after the explosion of the Space Shuttle 
Challenger and as public and federal support 
for space missions diminished with the fading 
of the Cold War." 

Truly ambitious contemporary memorial 
designs are separated from their traditional 
precursors by more than just a new visual 
aesthetic. One of the prominent differences 
between progressive and traditional 
memorials is a shift from objects (as seen in 
both the Battle Monument and the 
Astronauts' Memorial) to 'experiential 
spaces.' Unlike sculpture pieces to look at 
and walk around, the more imaginative 
designs are more architectural in character 
and, at the same time, highly site-specific. 
Like the better examples of modern outdoor 
art, they embrace the landscape rather than 
sitting on it. Often sequences are a part of 
the memorializing process, as the project is 
designed to guide the visitor on a particular 



path of discovery. These experiential spaces 
encourage touch, and a pause for reflection, 
allowing for personal interpretations. 

This change from expressive element to 
space-defining form would not have occurred 
without a shift in the kinds of events and 
people being commemorated. Some 
contemporary heroes, such as veterans of 
particularly successful military endeavors, 
sports figures, and authors, are held in the 
same regard as their counterparts of several 
generations ago, and therefore often receive 
similar treatment in their memorials. Several 
contemporary conflicts demand a different 
approach due to the wider audience now 
participating as patrons and viewers who 
bring a greater variety of opinions to the 
commemorating process. This is especially 
true of those events which form the rather 
dark pages in American history. 

Memorials constructed to honor Vietnam 
veterans are some of the most powerful, 
and most divergent of war monuments. 
When one considers the lack of enthusiasm 
which met the returning veterans, it is no 
surprise that few, if any, memorials were 
constructed to commemorate those 
soldiers' war in the years immediately 
following their return. Local and federal 
government agencies had no intention, or 
need, from their non-supportive const- 
ituencies, to erect monuments to this 
conflict. To deny its presence on the 
physical landscape would aid in abolishing 
it from the collective memory. 

The period following the close of the Vietnam 
War was ripe for grass roots groups to claim 
their roles as patrons in monument-building 
efforts. The partial erosion of national pride 
due to this unsuccessful war effort, bolstered 



55 



56 



by the incru.-ised political aeti\isni of the 
sixties and seventies, and increasing distrust 
of the government duringand after Watergate, 
set the stage for individuals outside of the 
traditional power structure. They organized 
themselves to champion their own causes 
and heroes; to ensure that through built form 
the memory, good or bad, of this important 
turning point in American history, and the 
thousands of lives lost for it, would receive its 
fair share of the collective memory. 

In 1971, the first memorial for Vietnam 
veterans was erected in New Mexico by parents 
of a killed soldier with the proceeds from his 
life insurance policy.^ In addition to erecting 
a monument for an unpopular war, the family 
introduced the idea of private sponsorship 
taking an active role in enlarging the scope of 
events which had previously been acceptable 
for public commemoration. What would 
become a massive movement to comm- 
emorate the Vietnam, Korean, and other 
neglected wars and events, began with this 
personal effort, free from traditional patrons. 

News of the tribute in New Mexico reached 
Vietnam veteran Jan Scruggs, and inspired 
him to establish the Vietnam Veterans Memorial 
Fund for the sole purpose of erecting a national 
monument.** The Fund sponsored a comp- 
etition which attracted 1,421 entries; the jury 
selected university student Maya Lin's project 
of two black granite walls set deep into the 
earth at an obtuse angle. The memorial's only 
ornament was to be the list of the more than 
58,000 dead or missing soldiers' names. 

In this simple, striking gesture, Lin not only 
deleted all traditional military symbols and 
other patriotic elements, but also elevated 
infantrymen by making them the focus of the 
memorial, rather than its backdrop. By 



neutralizing rank, race, creed, and gender, 
all who served in the war received equal 
treatment, listed chronologically in the order 
they died or were reported missing. Rather 
than glorifying a war effort, as earlier 
memorials did, the Wall honors the .service 
of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for 
their country in Vietnam. No unfurled flags, 
galloping horses, gallant soldiers or soaring 
eagles, nor a single star or stripe grace its 
severe lines. Void of all imagery, the Wall 
was meant as a statement on the finality of 
the sacrifices made in Vietnam, portraying 
dutiful service and death as equalizers. 

The black slabs set into the earth were a 
jolting proposition in a city filled with white 
sculptural pavilions and gilt equestrian 
statues; the now infamous controversy began 
long before the memorial's dedication in 
1982. But the non-object, place-making 
quality of the memorial is its strength, and 
that which makes it important, appropriate, 
and ambitious. Not a symbolic entity for 
veneration, the Wall marks a deep, quiet 
crevice in the otherwise active Washington 
Mall. Maya Lin was the first in a series of 
designers to provide a place, rather than a 
symbol, for memory. 

It is difficult, if not impossible, to just walk 
past it. Visitors slowly stroll along its length, 
leaving photographs, and flowers, reading 
letters, and constantly reaching out to touch 
the granite surface. It was designed to seek 
completion by visitors- physically, with the 
ubiquitous reflections of passers-by on the 
mirror-like surface and with flowers, photos, 
and other mementos, as well as emotionally. 
Rather than expressing an artist's or patron's 
opinion, the memorial collects all feelings of 
grief, anger, hostility, shame, pride, peace, 
and dignity. Its design enforces an uninter- 



rupted procession during which one's 
concentration cannot be distracted from the 
symbol of sacrifice, loss, and service. The 
linear path demands one's attention, and the 
physical act of walking its length is just as 
important as reading the names. F'acing 
these personal feelings is as much a part of 
the memorial as the person's reflection on 
the thousands of names it will pass over. In 
the midst of a great public monument, the 
personal process of commemoration is an 
integral part of the memorial itself: it 
embraces the visitors' varied reactions 
and the memories they conjure. Lin's 
design is considered to inspire such potent 
reactions that a visit to the Wall is a 
culmination of several counseling 
programs for Veterans." The Wall defines 
a place, and holds the time, for personal 
reflection and the memorializing process. 
It thereby seeks to heal the wound in the 
fabric of American history which was 
rended by Vietnam. 

Once the National Monument proved 
successful and acceptable to the majority of 
visitors- Lin's Wall has become the most- 
visited monument in Washington D.(].- 
smaller-scaled initiatives to honor Vietnam 
veterans were made across the country.'" 
One of the most successful regional 
memorials built in honor of Vietnam, the 
Maryland Vietnam Veterans Memorial 
(1988), is as sensitive to its waterfront site 
as the Washington memorial is to the Mall. 
Removed from the commerce and tourism 
of Baltimore's Inner Harbor and poised on a 
slight hill in Middle Branch Park, the 
memorial overlooks the Patapsco River. 
Screened by shrubs, a ramping path leads 
visitors on a circuitous route around the 
insulated memorial before opening into the 
open field designed by architect Paul 




V'icm«»i and Korean Memorial. Morris. IL 

Sprierigen. Dedicatory blocks and an eternal 
flame bowl are flanked by the state and 
national flags at the head of the memorial, 
which is composed of a 100 foot ring of 64 
low plinths. The bench-like segments 
support triangular blocks, which are 
inscribed with the names of the 1,046 dead 
and 38 missing soldiers from Maryland. 
Sixteen light posts, one for each year of the 
war which lasted from 1959-75, stand like 
sentries around the ring. 

The memorial is shielded with thick 
e\ergreens from the adjacent busy street and 
hospital parking lot, but also provides views 
across the harbor and to the green of the 57 



park. Visitors ha\e a natural tendency to 
circumambulate about the gently peaked, 
grassy center; when they pause to sit on 
the bench-height segments, their gaze is 
directed toward the empty green. The 
absence of a physical marker at the center 
of this introverted, centralized space is an 
important aspect of the design. The arch- 
itect described the memorial as ". . . an 
inward kind of place" with the outside 
world all but unseen. Many citizens' groups 
lobbied to have a sculpture or flag placed at 
the center point, but Sprierigen was 
successful in his argument that the center 
must be left open and empty, because 
"that's where the memories go." The 
memorial is meant to adapt to visits by 
individuals and families, as well as group 
ceremonies. Like the national memorial 
before it, the Maryland Vietnam Veteran's 
Memorial is not so much an object meant 
to identify allegorically with the war as a 
place for personal reflection and tribute. 
Void of "trivial symbolism," according to 
the designer,'^ the memorial offers freedom 
for interpretation without overt political 
or military connotations. 

Increasingly devoid of heroic and realistic 
figure sculpture, the abstract forms of 
contemporary memorials allow a broader 
interpretation of the artist's intent, but also 
serve an important function in what could be 
termed a more culturally aware, if not more 
diverse, period in American history. The 
demand for inclusion, tolerance, acceptance, 
and political correctness is met in these 
monuments more readily than more 
traditional forms and symbols which incur 
problems associated with gender- or race- 
specifics. The importance of these issues is 
clearly illustrated by a number of altered 
monuments. 



The great equalizing effect of Maya Lin's 
Wall was aesthetically and ideologically 
comproihised by concessions made by its 
patrons to critics who interpreted it as being 
anti-heroic; government meddling at the 
National Memorial prompted the designer 
to disassociate herself from the project. In 
an effort to alleviate the discontent the 
Senate approved a bill to add a traditional 
sculpture of troops to the design. ^•^ The 
bronze figure group of three male soldiers, 
which placed third in the original 
competition, is now positioned near the 
entry to the monument in such a way that it 
is not visible from the Wall itself. Ironically, 
this "solution" only exacerbated the 
controversy surrounding the memorial, and 
on two fronts. An outcry was heard from 
supporters of Lin's original idea who 
criticized the imposition of bureaucracy on 
the artist's work and questioned the rights 
of government to alter memorial designs 
without the artist's consent. Women's 
groups also joined the fray. \Vhile the 
soldiers in artist Frederick Hart's sculpture 
represent a variety of racial types thereby 
including men of all races, the Vietnam 
Women's Memorial Project argued that it 
ignores the service of the 10,000 women 
who served in Vietnam. In response, another 
Senate bill resolved to add yet another 
sculpture depicting nurses at the aid of a 
male soldier.'^ 

A similar case of intervention to "correct" 
the original design of competition winners 
has been the subject of a recent law suit. The 
Korean War Memorial, under construction 
directly opposite from the Vietnam Memorial, 
raised further questions about proper 
memorial form and the creative rights of 
designers whose work is government- 
sponsored. The original competition of 1989 



was won by an entry submitted by Penn 
State faculty members.''' The design features 
a large-scale landscape work in which lines 
of larger-than-life soldiers march along a 
120-yard path toward an allegorical field of 
peace from one of discord. In the original 
design, the bronze figures were conceptual 
and meant to present a mood and define the 
visitor's path rather than present a taxological 
depiction of actual infantrymen. Once the 
design was accepted, a committee suggested 
that the figures be made realistic 
representations of the various ranks and 
races of soldiers who fought in Korea, which 
will detract from the original concept of the 
design as accepted by the jury. 

Both of these examples illustrate the futility 
of including realistic representation- except, 
of course, in cases where a memorial is 
dedicated to one distinct person. They also 
argue the suitability of abstracted forms for 
contemporary memorials, since they avoid 
gender- and race-related conflicts, which is 
especially important in our increasingly 
anxious and sensitive society. Both the 
National Vietnam and Korean War memorials 
as first designed provided absolute inclusivity 
by avoidance of particulars. Unfortunately, 
the impact of bureaucracy has proven to 
inhibit the popular success and artistic 
integrity of these memorials. 



agencies. Sited at a metro stop, the memorial 
blends well with the activity passing through 
it and is still an effective place of congregation 
for gatherings or for individual visits. At the 
time of its dedication, 12,901 names of officers 
who had died in the line of duty since 1794 
were engraved. A scriptural passage from 
Proverbs was the inspiration for the sculpture: 
"The wicked flee when no man pursueth but 
the righteous are as bold as a lion." The 




figural pieces chosen by architect Davis 
Buckley cleverly avoid race, rank, and gender 
issues; sets of courageous and alert lions and 
lionesses guard their unaware cubs. 



Kent State Memorial 



The National Law Officers Memorial in 
Washington D.C., dedicated in 1991, 
succeeds in being both inclusive and 
inoffensive through allegory rather than 
abstraction. The site is a handsome urban 
park in Judiciary Square with two tree-lined, 
semi-elliptical "pathways of remembrance" 
bordered by low cur\'ing walls inscribed with 
the names of fallen officers of all ranks of 
federal, state, and local law enforcement 



In addition to their comprehensive nature, 
abstract forms also allow public monuments 
dedicated to an event over which public 
opinion is divided to be interpreted by various 
points of view. This aim was accomplished at 
the National Vietnam Memorial, and also for 
a memorial at Kent State University. The 
student-National Guard confrontation of May 
4, 1970, at Kent State has been described as 
an event with no clear antagonist or victim. 



59 




Abraham and Is 



:o)i (Rcjcvtcd Kent State Memorial) 

Preceded by several days of rallies and violence 
following President Nixon's announcement of 
an "incursion" into Cambodia by U.S. troops, 
on May 4 the Ohio National Guard was 
summoned to police the campus. Tensions 
peaked as protesting students and the Guard 
converged on the campus commons; after 
refusing to leave the area, the students were 
tear-gassed. Following a brief period of 
confusion, the Guard opened fire into a crowd 
of students-some protesters, some spectators- 
killing four and wounding nine others. In 
subsequent court decisions, blame has been 
laid neither on the students for refusing to 



disperse when commanded, nor on members 
of the National Guard for firing into a crowd 
when they had no orders to do so. 

Without a clearly-defined group to condemn 
or celebrate, school officials were at a loss 
when pressured by students and families of 
the slain to permanently commemorate the 
happenings which have been memorialized 
by candle-lit vigils since 1970. Meanwhile, 
many residents of the town of Kent and 
university administrators-still bitter over 
what they saw as an event which tarnished 
their town's image and marked their 
administration as inept- wanted the incident 
to be forgotten, and certainly did not want to 
reinforce the memory of radical student 
activists. The urgency to erect a memorial 
peaked in 1977 when the construction of a 
gymnasium over part of the site of the protest 
and shootings was planned. This proposal 
prompted the formation of the May 4 
Coalition, whose 200 members formed a tent 
city to halt construction. The student group 
organized to collect funds for a permanent 
memorial, while opinion was divided on the 
issue of its dedication. 

Bending to the growing popular support, in 
1978 the University commissioned a small 
memorial sculpture by George Segal. His 
offering, "In Memory of May 4, 1970: 
Abraham and Isaac," based on the Old 
Testament story, met with great hostility. 
The bronze piece portrays a bound youth 
kneeling before an adult holding a knife; 
which could be understood as parental 
sacrifice for an abstract cause, or as a 
metaphor for generational conflict.''^ 
Although somewhat open to interpretation, 
the realistic pose and attitude clearly leave 
the youth at a severe disadvantage; the 
clenched fist holding a knife is a jolting 



image of an authority figure. The sculpture 
was deemed too hteral, powerful and violent, 
and was refused by Kent Statu admin- 
istrators.'" 

In an attempt to a\'oid a painfully specific, 
controversy-attracting monument, the 
Uni\'ersity launched a competition which 
insisted that e\'ery proposal be an "artistic 
incident" harmonious with the site, "neither 
heroic nor accusatory."'' The jur\' was in a 
difficult position to select a design which 
would appease the varying viewpoints; they 
favored projects which entirely avoided the 
violent imagery of the Segal sculpture. The 
memorial as built"* is a combination of plaza 
and landscape sculpture. Dedicated at the 
1990 anniversary, and designed by Chicago 
architect Bruno Ast, the project is simply 
entitled the "May 4, 1970 Memorial. " Avoiding 
commentary on any group's role in the tragedy, 
it simply honors the memory of the day. 

Placed on the top of a hill, the memorial 
overlooks the commons where the protests 
began and the parking lot where the four 
students died. Measuring roughly 70 feet by 
22 feet, the area is scaled to accommodate 
individuals and small groups, and be the 
focus for the annual vigils. Defined by 
orthogonal walls in two corners, the plaza is 
vaguely crescent-shaped and well-suited to 
the steep incline of the hillside, planted 
with daffodils numbering the death toll of 
the war. This area is separated from the 
adjacent sidewalk by two low granite walls. 
The walls and paving are alternately smooth 
and jagged to indicate abrupt interruption 
of normalcy. 

Within the plaza, four circular paving stones 
lie in a line reminiscent of trajectory paths, 
continued by large monolithic blocks rising 



from the earth. These simple forms and their 
arrangement in a non-axial line make vague 
references to bullets, grave stones and the 
number of slain students, but without a 
definite metaphor. The ambiguity allows for 
personal interpretations. The threshold 
which separates the main path from this 
plaza is inscribed with the words "Inquire, 
Learn, Reflect," in hopes of prompting 
individual commemoration. Designed to 
contain an experience, the memorial is 
politically neutral and non-committal. In 
the designer's desire to remain conceptual, 
none of the students' names appeared on the 
original design; there is no mention of the 
National Guard.''' 

Although its designer avoided symbolizing 
the grief, anger, and confusion of any of the 
several parties involved in the tragedy, the 
memorial provides a locus for the sharing of 
grief and loss. Its arrangement provides a 
space for contemplation and gathering of 
participants for the annual vigils. It is also an 
educational device, encouraging passers-by- 
especially today's Kent State students, most 
of whom were not yet born in 1970- to 
consider the past's conflicts and misunder- 
standings. Like the National Vietnam 
Memorial before it, the Kent memorial relies 
on the ambiguity of abstract forms to refrain 
from a didactic message; but it takes a step 
farther in avoiding particular commentary. 
Both memorials are silent, allowing for 
personal reflection, but the Kent memorial 
doesn't e\'en include the loss of students as a 
part of the design. Engaging the landscape 
which twenty-five years ago erupted in 
confusion and tragedy, it is wholly concerned 
with the incident to which it is dedicated, and 
thereby includes all who were involved in it. 
Maya Lin's success in memorial design was 
exhibited again at one of the most poignant 



62 



memorials built in the last ducadc, dedicated 
to the struggle for civil rights on November 5, 
19(S9. Representing a movement of 
remarkable conflict and courage, the 
memorial is located at a traditional hub of 
racial strife in Montgomery, Alabama, in 
front of the new Southern Poverty Law 
Center, which commissioned it.'" Amidst 
this historically tense atmosphere and in the 
extreme Alabama heat, the Civil Rights 
Memorial stands, like its patron, as a cool 
oasis of hope and compassion. 

The memorial consists of three main 
elements. Separating the elevated agency 
porch from the street level, a nine-foot tall, 
curving black granite retaining wall is 
inscribed with a quote by Dr. Martin Luther 
King, Jr. A stout cone set on its point is 
positioned off-center in the street-level 
plaza; its table-height top is inscribed with 
major events and names of men, women, 
and children who lost their lives in the 
struggle for civil rights. Each entry on the 
table is arranged in the attitude of hour 
markings on a clock face, as these individual 
sacrifices each indicate an important passing 
moment in the long history of the civil 
rights movement. The fact that the deaths 
of these non-violent, "ordinary" people are 
given the same emphasis as King's own 
assassination, which is the last "mark" on 
the dial, fulfills his prophesy of 1963 that 
"One day the South will recognize its real 
Heroes." The third design element is water, 
which is pumped up through the cone, 
bubbles from a hole on its surface, and 
sweeps down its sloping sides before 
splashing onto the concrete pavement. It 
washes over the inscribed names of the 
forty honored individuals, and references 
the forty days and nights of the Biblical 
flood. This metaphor is continued with the 



inscription engra\ed on the cur\'ing black 
wall, from King's "I Have A Dream" speech, 
which reads, "...until justice rolls down like 
water, and righteousness like a mighty 
stream." 

The bubbling and splashing noises and 
promise of tactile coolness are appealing and 
enticing. The water encourages inspection 
of the memorial on this cramped urban site, 
where Lin was prohibited from making a 
sweeping gesture or experiential promenade 
for visitors to move along. Instead, it is the 
monument itself which is active. Even more 
than the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 
Washington which Lin designed with the 
intention of encouraging visitors' touch, this 
memorial invites physical interaction. In 
the glaring Alabama heat, the sight and sound 
of splashing water invites curiosity. The 
slow-moving water which bubbles onto the 
top of the table stands thick over the events 
and names and can be pushed, almost 
shaped, through touch before it slides over 
the edge of the table; on the cur\'ing wall one 
can trace King's words under a cool, sheer 
sheet of water. 

The addition of a kinetic element to the 
composition also enhances the meaning of 
the monument. Not technically dedicated to 
the movement of the fifties and sixties, for 
which starting and ending events might be 
defined, and from which period the inscribed 
events have been chosen, the memorial 
commemorates the ongoing stniggle for civil 
rights. Through the wording of King's 
quotation, ''until justice rolls down like 
water," and the inclusion of active water 
itself, Lin emphasizes the idea that the 
struggle is still in progress; the passing of 
time is represented by the monument's 
moving element. The memorial is an 



animated composition which invites 
interaction and encourages further thought 
on the progressive nature of the cause it 
commemorates. Lin's simple geometric 
forms, coupled with a kinetic element, 
commemorate not a leader, or specific 
martyrs, but a series of events within a long- 
lasting struggle. 



which gave birth to events like the fight for 
civil rights, the Vietnam War, and Kent State 
are products of the changing cultural 
landscape in America which demands a new 
attitude toward the designs to memorialize 
these particularly twentieth-century 
occurrences from different points of view. 
Late twentieth century America, at least on 



...UNTIL JUSTICE Rpll,$ DOWN LIKE WATERS 
AND RIGHTEOUSNESS LIKE A MIGHTY mm 



^^^«^^\\'» V'/V^^^ 






The change in forms visible in memorial 
design is not as much the function of aesthetic 
considerations as it is the result of patron 
and audience motivations. The breakthrough 
design, Lin's National Vietnam Memorial, in 
its form as well as the way it was funded and 
brought into being, set a pattern for 
subsequent memorials dedicated to divisive 
events. The abstracted forms allow a variety 
of interpretations on the part of the viewer, 
and aid the artist in avoiding editorializing. 
The difficult decades and conflicting interests 



Civil Rights Memorial, Montgomery', Alabama 
its surface, as seen through its monumental 
building efforts, is coming to terms with 
superstition and prejudice.-' 

Contemporary designers who work with 
landscape features and in conceptual built 
form recognize that each of us responds 
differently to the dedicatory subjects 
represented, and by presenting a neutral 
judgment themselves, facilitate the visitor's 
free thought about the subject. Since old 
obelisks and new granite slabs alike will be 63 



noticed and tlierct'orc take the initial step at 
commemoration, tliese progrcssi\'e 
memorial designs offer not so much a new 
way to memorialize people and events but 
also encourage remembrance through a 
richer, more personal and active experience. 
By avoiding direct symbolism and realistic 
figures the memorials also avoid the 
complexities associated with our increasingly 
culturally aware society. This approach is 
especially appropriate today, when every 
faction is demanding to have its own objects 
of veneration indelibly marked on the public 
landscape. 

The movement in contemporary monuments 
depends to a great degree on the interaction 
of the people who historically were outside of 
the ring of patrons and artists. To this new 
inclusion we owe the Vietnam memorials 
and the May 4, 1970 Memorial, and current 
proposals commemorating sacrificial groups 
which range from Black Revolutionary War 
Patriots to American Housewives. " 
Contemporary memorials aspire to become 
a more accurate representation of our diverse 
values. A vital distinction between these and 
older monuments is that it is no longer 
bureaucratic agencies which determine the 
events and persons to be commemorated: 
the people who experience the conflicts most 
acutely make the decisions to choose which 
memories are to be represented. We -the 
patrons, financiers, audience, and historians 
of our own time- are called upon to fill in the 
gap between happening and history, between 
private memory and public commemoration. 



Fellowship CommittL- 
coa,st memorials. Than 
tor his helpful oomme- 



L- Long Traveling 
research on east 
obertOusterhout, 
»f this paper. 



For another discussion ol the historical development of memo- 
rials see Nicholas Capasso. "Constructing the Past: Contempo- 
rary Commemorative Sculpture," Sculpture (November/De- 
cember 1990): pp, 56-63. 



.V The City 1 

projects of great i 
theatres. 

4 For details concerning the selection process in this competition 
see Douglas E. Gordon, "Military Woman's Memorial Winner 
Announced," Archilccttire (January 1990,): 28, and Thomas 
Vonier, "Two More D.C. Memorials," Progressive Architecture 
(August 1989): p. 22. 

5. For further description of the Astronaut's Memorial see 
"Astronaut's Memorial," Progressive Architecture (January 
1989): pp. 68-70. 



7, For more on this early memorial in Angel Fire, New Mexico see 
Melissa Brown, "Memorials, not Monuments," Progressive Ar- 
chitecture (September 1985): pp. 43-46. 

8, A competition for a suitable memorial was launched, open to all 



that the motnimrrii 
who died (.r uci. i 


jlUMcllcctuiKpix- 
"Facing the Wall.' 


,,r;ill5s,17: 
.hmathuLiii 
' Life (Nover 


lui tliat th 


Washington Mununu 
rial. SOURCE 

See Lisa Grunwald, 
pp. 24-36. 


L-oln Memo 
nber 19921 



10, Not surprisingly, many memorials to the Vietnam and Korean 
Wars have been designed in what must be considered "the Lin 
style," as much as the designer is chagrined to ndmit it From the 
large-scale, urban memorial in PhihidclpliiM to the modest slabs 
outside of the Grundy County Courthouse in M<irris, Illinois, 
dozens, if not hundreds, of black i-raiiiEL- phiiihs and walls 
inscribed with soldiers' names exhibit the cosmetic style, if 
lacking the substance, and seem to pay homage to the Washing- 
ton memorial as much as to the war effort. 

1 1 , Interview with Paul Sprierigen, July 1992. 

12, The Bill passed in June of 1988 and also included provision for 
a 60 fool flag pole to be planted at the meeting of the walls. See 
Elena Marches Moreno, "Senate Votes to Add Statue to Vietnam 
Memorial," Architecture (August 1988): p. 32; also Gapasso, 
"Constructing the Past," pp. 56-63. 



13. It should be noted that t! 
in Vietnam are incKidi.' 
Wall. For more on this 
Marcheso Moreno, "Pm 
Spark Controversy," Ai- 

14. Veron 



J women who died 
inscribed on the 
ctnient see Elena 
letnam Memorial 
>|: pp. 48-49, 



15. William Robinson. "Commemorating the Past," Inland Archi- 
tecture (July/August 1986): p. 4-8 or Stanley Mathews, "The 
Persistence of Memory and Kent State," Inland Architect (July/ 
August 1990): p. 22 ff. 

16. Segal's sculpture nowstands on thecampus of Princeton Univer- 
sity, For more on the Kent State Memorial see Stanley Mathews 
"The Persistence of Memory and Kent State," Inland Architect 
(July/August 1990): p. 22 ff and Melissa Brown, "Memorials, not 
Monuments," Progressive Architecture, (September 1985): pp. 
43-46. 



64 



17. Ibid., p. 43. 

18. The original first-place prize winner was disqualified due to a 
technicality in the rules ( the head designer of the team entry was 
not an American); the project as built was a reduced version of 

-place entry by Chicago architect Bruno Ast, who had to 

pare down his design when the fund raising efforts failed to meet 
the projected budget. SOURCE. 



19. Since the time of the memorial's dedication University admin- 
istrators have added an unobtrusive plaque bearing the names 
of the dead and wounded near one of the ends of the plaza. 

20. Note. Historical Montgomery incident and the last building 
occupied by the agency, which habitually monitors the actions 
and movements of the KKK, was burned to the ground. 

2 1 . Even the wrongs done to several seventeenth-century Massachu- 

setts men and women have been righted as a memorial for the 
Salem Witch Trials Tercentenary was dedicated last vear. 



Hennessey, Christine. "Nineteenth Century Saw Explosion in U.S.- 
Made Sculpture." Satje Outdoor Sculpture! Update (Spring 
1992); published by the Smithsonian Institution. 

"Living Memorial." rtmc, October 1992: p. 21. 



"The May Fourth Site and Memorial: Inquire, Learn, Reflect." 
informational brochure published by Kent State Universitv, 
first in May 4, 1980. Text by Glenn W. Frank, Thomas R. 
Ilensley, and Jerry M. Lewis. 



23. BIBLIOGRAPHY 



Braman, John K. "Monument for Miners." Frostburg State Unii 
Brown, Melissa. "Memorials, not Monuments." Progressive 



Moreno, Elena .Marcheso, "Proposed Additions to Vietnam Memorial 
Sp:irU Cimlniversy ".Architecture (May 1988,): pp. 4«-9. 



e to Vietnam Memorial. "jArchitecture 



Capasso, Nicolas. "Constructing the Past: Contemporary Com- 
memorative Sculpture."Scu/p(u re (November/December, 1990): 
pp. 56-63. 



Crosbv.Theo, T/ieAVi 



"Prospect V-III; Monument for Miners," Department of Art and Art 
Education, Frostburg State College, Maryland. Informational 
booklet- 
Reynolds, Donald Martin. Monuments and Masterpieces. Macmillan, 



I Task." The Boston Globe, (25 May 



Fisher, Thomas, Gavin Hogben, and Jeffrey Kipnis. "Case Study: 
Holt, Hinshaw, Pfau, Jones." Progressive Architecture, (July 
1991,): p. 71-79 ff. 



Freiman, Ziva. "Saitowitz Wins New England Holocaust Memorial ' 
Progressive Architecture. (August 1991): p. 24. 



Sprierigen, Paul. Various unpublished sketches and documents for 
the Maryland Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Middle Branch 
Park, for the Maryland Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commis- 
sion, April 14, 1988. 



■ial Design Chosen", Progres 



aid, Lisa. "Facing the Wall," Li/e, November 1992, pp. 24-36. 



"With a Little Help From My Friends: Quilts of the Gulf War." 
Decatur House, a museum property of the National Trust for 
Historic Preservation. Leaflet. 



Ilartt, Frederick. A History o/ Art. 

Davis, Dustin and Urbas, Anton J, Interview 26 June 1992, 1 
MD. 

Sprierigen, Paul. Interview 1 July, 1992, Washington, D.C 



65 



Learning and Labor In Architecture: 

A Pavilion for Virginia Park 



Jeffery S. Poss 

University of Illinois at 
Urbana-Champaign 

Summer, 1994 

Studio Participants: 

Wembo Annios 

David Greenwell 

Auro Salam 

Robert Wilson 

Research Assistant: 
Leigh Jerrad 



This summer session studio project involved the design, construction, and erection of a 
small pavilion in Virginia Park in East St. Louis, Illinois. The studio consisted offourfourth 
and fifth year architecture students, a research assistant and the author as studio critic. 
The pavilion that was ultimately constructed was the result of the whole studio's creative 
thinking. The pavilion was the first visible evidence of a comprehensive master planfor the 
dilapidated park, designed concurrejitly by members of the Department of Landscape 
Architecture at the University of Illinois. 

The co-sponsors of this project were the East St. Louis Park District and the University of 
Illinois East St. Louis Action research Project, a consortium of faculty and studentsfrom the 
School of Architecture, Department of Landscape Architecture, and Department of Urban 
and Regional Planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The aim 
of the Action Research Project is to unite the ideas and energies of the university design 
community in order to help identify and initiate improvements in the impoverished East St. 
Louis community. 



66 



The objectives of the studio were to: 

- Develop teamwork as an essential 
component of the design process. 

- Emphasize design as a social activity where 
the designer has a responsibility to the 
environment, to the people, and to the 
community in which the design activity is 
taking place. 

- Sensitize the student to the phenomenon 
of architecture: space, light, materials, 
and their connections; how the material 
presence of a structure can relate to our 
emotions and to all of our senses; how 
these materials, when thoughtfully brought 
together, can express an important idea. 

- Recognize that creativity can occur at all 



phases of a design project, from conceptual 
design to construction. 
- Explore the possibilities of whole-to-part 
design relationships into an actualized 
building project on a specific site. 

A master plan for the placement, budget 
and scheduling of site improvements for 
Virginia Park was developed concurrently 
by Professor Gary Kessler and his Research 
Assistant, Mindy Cohen, both of the UIUC 
Department of Landscape Architecture. 
Their ideas, the result of earlier meetings 
with the East St. Louis Park District, were 
presented several times to the architecture 
studio at the beginning of the design process. 




Out of these presentations, several master 
plan concepts were developed. 

The entire design team then met with park 
district officials, city council members, and 
East St. Louis residents to discuss the master 
plan concepts. As a result of these 
discussions, four sites were identified as 
possible locations for pavilions. 

The East St. Louis Park District established 
the following criteria for the pavilions: 

- A total construction budget of S2,5()0 
was made available through a IIUD Block 
Grant awarded to the Park District for 
this project. 

- Any park structure needed to be designed 
to withstand punishment. 



Designs were to avoid the use of shingles 
because they have been used as frisbees. 
Any furnishings should be of heavy 
construction, or integrated into the 
structure; in the past, movable or chained 
picnic tables have been stolen. 
Metal should not be removable; any metal 
will be stripped off and re-sold. 
The Park District is open to a variety of 
formal and programmatic ideas. 
The park is heavily used on summer 
evenings and on weekends for the following 
activities: family picnics, church gatherings 
and Softball games, basketball, children's 
play, and passive activities. The pavilion 
designs should address these activities, as 
well as proposing additional uses. 



67 



There arc two methods ( known t( ) this autlior) 
for developing a desiiiii-huild project in a 
studio setting. 

The Yale Model: 

A design competition is conducted in the 

studio. The winning solution is constructed. 



The final design iiUegrates a large table and 
benches seating up to 16 adults with a 
translucent canopy of corrugated fiberglass. 
The interlocking 2x4 structure combines 
delicacy with strength. The organic, tree 
inspired form nestles well into the tree 
filled site. 



The Bedanes Model: 

The studio members generate a series of design 
prototypes, periodically exchanging the 
prototypes, so that each solution is a result of 
the group's effort, (suggested to the author by 
Steve Bedanes of Jersey Devil Architects) 

In order to emphasize the objective of 
teamwork, the cooperative Bedanes Model 
was followed. Each of the four students 
selected a different site to begin the design 
exploration. Each site proposal tested 



Design Development and (Construction 

Because of the short period of time available 
for development, construction and erection 
(three weeks), portions of the selected 
project-foundation, structure, and roof- 
were developed by individual team 
members. Meanwhile, the structure was 
critiqued by a professor of structural design. 
The construction sequencing and materials 
list were developed to insure that the project 
was within the budgetary guidelines. 




program requirements, structural concepts, 
and site forces. After three days, the schemes 
were discussed, exchanged, and improved, 
and then discussed, exchanged, and impro\'ed 
again. After two weeks of this process, the 
projects were presented to the park district 
and residents of the Virginia Park 
neighborhood. The selected project was then 
ready for design development. 



The pa\'ilion components were shop 
fabricated by the students at the School of 
Architecture in order to take advantage of 
the studio workshop. The construction was 
supervised by Leigh Jerrad, Wood Shop 
Resource Assistant, who served as Research 
Assistant on this project. The truss 
configuration was laid out in masking tape 
on the floor, the pieces cut to size and 



bolted together. This process was repeated 
for the columns and table components. 

The components were then hauled to the site 
170 miles away. Meanwhile, a backhoe dug 
the foundation for the pavilion. The following 
day, the components were unloaded, 
prepared, and assembled on site with the 
help of members of the Alternative Offenders 




iVFimM] 




Work Support Program, supervised by the 
St. Glair County Sheriffs Department. Tiiis 
second work day was complete when the 
ready-mix truck anchored the pavilion firmly 
to its site. On the final day, the roof panels 
were attached to the structure. 

Three days after construction was completed, 
the pavilion served as the center-piece for a 
large family reunion. With the success of this 
project, the East St. Louis Park District is 
enthusiastic about the continued involvement 
of the entire design team in developing the 
park's master plan, and in constructing 
specific features of that plan. 




Projections 



Kevin Hinders 

University of Illinois 
Urbana-Champaign 



Architecture 371-374 

Summer Studio 1994: 

Ashley Black 

Scott Flannagan 

Chriss Froramell 

Susan Haggis 

Duk Kim 

George Lapa 

Jyh-Mei Lee 

Kirsten Olson 

Jeremy Paris 

Stephanie Ritz 

Dominador Ruiz 

Janet Yuan 



"T/if projection of images onto the court- 
yard screen of Temple Buell Hall has the 
potential to be very important in the spirit of 
the School of Architecture. School and 
campus wide communicatioji of ideas, 
sharing of studio investigations, outdoor 
lectures and presejitations are but a few of 
the possibilities. This project is rife with 
potential. The communication benefits of 
this element will be tremendous if the design 
and execution is carried out in an out- 
standing manner. " 

- an excerpt from the course syllabus 



The creation of a full scale element to be 
placed in the Buell courtyard after the new 
building's completion allows for students to 
investigate a wide variety of form determin- 
ants. The concentration is on the design 
and construction of the projector/projection. 

"The projection booth - this eleinent is to 
enclose and protect a projector rack holding 
three carrousel slide projectors. Require- 
ments are relatively simple: 

1) Copper and a related building system 
will be comprise the building materials. 

2) The projectors must be elevated + 6'-S" 
above adjacent grade to facilitate the 
movement of persons in front of the 
projectors without disturbing the projected 
image. Vertical circulation as necessary 
must be incorporated into the design. 

3) The projectors must be made safe from 
theft and the elements (including both 
moisture and overheating). 

4) Students will construct the edifice to be 
placed at a later date. " 

- excerpt from project description 



70 



Representatives from the Copper Develop- 
ment Association agreed to have the GDA 
provide both technical and monetary support. 
Perkins and Will and Associates and the 
University Campus Architect agreed to assist 
and review work produced. 



Tlic process reciuircs di;il<)j;uc and yiowtli 
tliroujih experimentation, exchange ami 
discovery. Twelve individual investigations mo\ed 
to three projects chosen by the students for 
design development. After development and 
review one project was selected for design and 
construction. A practical process as designers 
come to consensus. 

The materials themselves are a major focus of the 
design investigation. Copper as a building material 
is examined, questioned and interpreted to inform 
the making of the object. The students work the 
material to understand its properties and its 
potential. 





"He had rolled in money 
like pigs in vwd, Till it 
seem'd to have entered 
into his blood By 
occult projection." 
Hood: Miss Kilmansegg st.ll 




o o o o o 
o o o o o 

O O O O O €4 

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O (pi ^ ^ ''<^' ^ 
O ( 

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eccentric projection 

the system of muscular sensations of mo\'ement 
and the system of visual sensations are combined 
to develop our perceptions of objective space and 
its three dimensions. 




Students build the edifice. The methods of con- 
struction and tools used substantially influence 
the manner in which metal can be cut, bent and 
connected along with the construction of backup 
systems. This process of making - the hands on 
process - informs the project. Changes are made 
to accommodate construction. New ideas spring 
from the act of making. 



The studio investigation budget was supported 
with both monetary funding and supplied 
materials. Economy became a part of the design 
process, greatly affecting design decisions. The 
project sponsors include the Copper Develop- 
ment Association, Revere Copper Inc., Chris 
Industries, Advanced Sheet Metal and Roofing 
and the School of Architecture. 



inform 1. to tell (a person) that of which he had 
no knowledge before; 2. to give form, shape, or 
vitality to; to imbue with life and actixity; fashion, 
mold or shape. 




The height of the projector-the image. The 
projection that this edifice could benefit the 
spirit of place. The height of the passerby versus 
the lamp and the carousel. The need for security. 
The School. ..How does it breathe? 




The studio is indebted to Mr. Mike Cain and 
Advanced Sheet Metal and Roofing for their 
generous support through the use of their facilities. 



insight 1. Power or faculty of immediate and 
acute perception or understanding; intellectual 
discernment; intuition whether that power is 
regarded as a general inner faculty, a special 
capacity for a particular field of view or the gift of 
mystical vision. 2. The perception of the inner 
nature of a thing; also the act of such inward 
apprehension. 3. Mental engrossment in regard 
to something. 4. An inspection; a scrutiny. 



74 



incite To rouse to a particular action; move to act 
by inducement or persuasion; urge onward; stir 
up; instigate; stimulate. 



Reflections 




RffleLtions S 



ScTiiper and Two American Gla 
Robert Dell Vuyosevich 



Post Partum: Wexner Fragments 
Kay Bea Jones 



n Search of a Critical Middle 
Brian Kellv 



The Many Faces of Architecture, or, Universal 
Civilization, Linguistic Insights, and 
Architecture 
Andi-zej Pinno 

Talkinsi Takcv.iinese: An lnter\'ie\v with 

MiiKiru Takeyania 

Concept and Image: How Design Evoh'es 
A Forum with Gunnar Birkerts, Joseph 
Eshcrick and Minoru Takeyama 



Reflections is the Journal of the School of 
Architecture and is dedicated to theory and 
criticism. Rejleccions 1-5 contains articles 
and papers focusing on design theory and 
pedagogy. Reflections 6: Landscapes, 
Townscapes and Memorials is thematic. 
Reflections 7 focuses on masters of modern 
architecture. 

Urbanis7n, a monograph series of the School 
of Architecture, addresses social, economic, 
political and cultural issues as they shape the 
urban environment. 




Reflections 9 

Arcadia, Utopia and the Collapse of Post- 
Modern Space: Mythologies of the Urban 

David Walters 

Kahn's Frames and Walls 
afford Pierce 

Reflections on the Nature of the Wall 
Robert Dell Vuyosevich 

Walter Burlev Griffin 
PuulKnity 

P( irtf< ilio of the Architecture of Walter Burley 
Griffin: A Photographic Essay 
Mali Muldre 

New \'isi()ns for Philadelphia 
Robert I. Sclby 

En Charrette; Exhibition of Selected Projects 
from the School of Architecture, University 
of Illinois at Urbana-Ghampaign 



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