Archive for August, 2008

From Brook Hollow

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Brook Hollow got wired a few days ago, making it the last utility to line up, cross that off the to-do list. Still on the list is car and license change, but I did register to vote today, so I’m gaining on the move-in front but have a long way to go to normal.

Studio is underway! The group seems to have grown from the 14 that were on the rolls on saturday. We spent two hours this afternoon in the 95 plus degree heat, but they all stayed and worked on their concept sketches for the project. Some points I’d like to remember that came up in the discussion were:

When in doubt – act, do something, as long as we fall on our face we are moving forward. Sitting still is the least productive thing to do.

Work with a range of media, sometimes pencil, sometimes charcoal. Sometimes Revit, sometimes InDesign, sometimes physical models, sometimes digital. Use the tool that allows the best study of the question.

Begin the project with an element of architecture… a wall, a door, a fireplace, a roof…. find the place on the site where the project begins, place the element and build out the from there.

When it’s not clear what one thing to do, make three, or five, it’s easier to choose from your own alternatives than it is to come up with the “right” answer at the start.

Remember all the little things that irritate you about the constructed environment, not being able to park, getting wet moving between buildings in the rain, not having enough shade to walk around comfortably, not being able to find someone inside the front door to ask questions about where things are, being too cold/hot in a space, paying too much for your utilities, not having a place to put your grocery bags when you unlock your front door….the list could go on and on… remember all of those irritations, then make sure you never do that to any of your clients, or any of the people that will use your environments. Like the old vaudville joke “doctor it hurts when I do this” and the doctor says “don’t do that!”

If we think about architectural design as a pendulum swing, architectural clarity can often be found at the extremes of the swing… instead of 5 downspouts, one really big one….or a hundred small ones. The one (singularity) often requires a concentration of resources that implicitly makes the one present. And presence is a distinguishing characteristic of architecture. Similarly, the ten thousand things (Lao-Tse) have a presence just through their number. They make a powerful pattern and with any pattern, subtle transformations become possible, and elevate simple presence into a potentially more complex condition. When we deal with structure and mechanical systems the same principles hold true. One duct makes the air present through velocity, one thousand diffusers can make the air present through a hard to sense movement (displacement).

Structure too, works with the pendulum of presence. One column for a building becomes immediately present (think Johnsons Wax Research Tower by Wright) and develops the capability through it’s mass to contain ducts, stairs, elevators…a hundred columns visible in one space become a forest (think Johnsons Wax administrative building) You can see the one or many approach to present throughout the work of Louis Kahn too.

What else. We talked about what keeps us from being prolific in generating alternatives… we discussed the desire for a perfect solution as an obstacle, our deep satisfaction with one scheme as an obstacle keeping us from other schemes, our desire to “complete” one scheme before generating another. We need to overcome these impediments to creativity, and pursue an inner discussion so we are clear about what we are making alternatives to and what we make them from.

We’ll be indoors on Wed. I’m looking forward to the first sketch models and propositions about programme.

Got to go, keep drawing.