Back to the drawing board

Just got done with my midterm review – a lot of good feedback, but it looks like I’ll have to start pretty much from scratch.

The project is live-work housing for artists. One thing I think I’ll keep is the communal space on top:

I also kind of like the effect I got on the elevation, but since I’ll be moving circulation space off the facade, it’ll probably stay in the form of loggias or balconies:

Architectural project

I’ve been thinking what my long-term architectural project could be. I don’t care much about form, except as the icing on the functional cake, so to speak. Then again bad icing can spoil a perfectly decent cake. Though I’ve often been accused of being a functionalist, that’s not it either. Functionalism suggests that you either design only for function, which I’ve seen backfire too many times in various ways, or like Koolhaas and his bunch, the use of function/program to suggest a form. While some Koolhaasian architecture (the Seattle Public Library, for one) is admittedly really good, much of it gets stuck in gratuitously weird territory.

OMA’s Hyperbuilding project – fantastic or just weird?

Then there’s the issue of newness – is newness a good thing of itself? Should we strive to come up with “The New”? What’s the point of that? Being new doesn’t guarantee being good, though it hardly seems worthwhile to tread water repeating old patterns. Unless – wait – one understands the goal of architecture to be the design of functional, usable and esthetically pleasing buildings.

What I’m thinking is more of a typological approach – you get standard types, and depart from them only if something forces you to. For instance, an office building would be a typical open-floor stack of slabs dressed in glass, unless some requirement forces you to change something about it. In that instance aesthetics could be taken care of by elevation and interior design. Substantive departures could result from usage and environmental factors, but should be no greater than required to do the job they’re intended for.

I guess I am a functionalist at heart, though I’m thinking this is more of a “reduce-reuse-recycle” architecture than the Modernist version. But is “functionalism with a human face” good enough?

Lebbeus Woods on authenticity

Another star performance by Lebbeus Woods:

“Architecture has become more popular today than ever before. Its popularity does not come from the ways it improves the everyday lives of most people—as modernists like Gropius once hoped it would—but rather because of the ‘brand names’ now associated with its status as a consumer product.”

Come to think of it, that’s enough to get ol’ Walter Benjamin doing flips in his grave.

Speaks on design

… or is it >>Design<<? Anyway, food for thought courtesy of Michael K. Speaks and our ever-reliable Ivan Ostapenko:

I really like his thinking about what design can accomplish when applied to real-world problems, and not just sterile games with form.

There are other tasty morsels there too, so be sure to dig around a bit. Not your usual dry architectural fare.

The semester draweth to a close

Welcome to the funhouse. Click on picture to get a larger version:




The city needs public space, but public space that provides a focus for activity, and not simply undifferentiated square footage. The BFT proposes to cut away space that under the unpredictable economic conditions of the foreseeable future would not be fully utilized anyway, and to turn it into entertainment and recreation space that will attract people to it. This will provide an economic stimulus for the cultural and commercial program that remains.
The public space not only draws people to the building, but also creates new conditions by interacting with its “regular” program: auditorium, office and hotel. For instance, by providing views of people enjoying recreational activities to office workers and vice versa, it alters the experience on both sides of the divide.



As usual, everything is copylefted (cc-by-nc). Enjoy.

Added Dec. 15: here’s what my final display looked like (virtual golfer for scale only):


Pluggin’ away

The past couple of weeks have been incredibly intense. Schoolwork seems to pile up no matter how many hours a day I put in. And I put in way too many anyway.  I don’t know who came up with the idea that overworking students is a good idea, but they’re full of it, IMHO. Unfortunately the powers that be at UIC’s School of Architecture seem to subscribe to this view entirely. However – and I’m not the only one saying this – the overload only means we’re turning in work that’s nowhere near as good as it could be if we had more time (or more sleep, for that matter).


Amusement city

Going a bit off the deep end, but no time to really work the detail, which is where the real fun would be:

(click on picture to get a larger version)

site linework

And remember – bad feedback is better than no feedback.