on historic preservation
"writing history and preserving buildings clearly reinforce particular histories while ignoring others. however unlike academic historians, preservationists work in a world in which the traces of histories that they choose to ignore often disappear...this process of devaluation leads to destruction and fosters a historic landscape that increasingly confirms the priveleged narrative. as a result of this process, people interested in exploring alternate versions of social and architectural experience find it difficult to harness the power of actual buildings to make their histories palpable"
May 1994 Journal of Architectural Education Preservation and Renewal in Post-World War II Chicago
first of all i am ectstatic that i'm in the studio that gets to design the film building in the complex of buildings that all 5 studios are doing. i never thought about the connection between film and space/architecture and he is opening my eyes to all that. for instance the great quote by beatriz colomina , "Architecture is not simply a platform that accommodates the viewing subject. It is a viewing mechanism that produces the subject. It precedes and frames its occupant." (a great summary of colomina's work here) our first thing was to watch the film breathless by godard and represent at least a minute of film using architectural conventions (for instance using either section or plan). it challenged us to think beyond bodies moving in space but rather space moving through film. next task, i need to try to represent that drawing 3 dimensionally and start looking at the building program. anyway, i just appreciate his pedagogical approach. he's so humble, yet knowledgeable and inspiring. he's interested in what we think and how we think and in letting us play an active role in our own education as opposed to the just listening to the talking head idea... and he said, i believe that ultimately, you guys are the teachers, you are going to learn more from eachother than you will ever learn from me. how freirean of him!
my urban form class has turned out to be VASTLY disappointing. the subject matter is great but she's used the same powerpoint for the last 6 classes, i'm beginning to think that she's made the only point that she's going to make all quarter. i'm digging the idea of urban morphology and the significance of form in the built environment over function but i need more detail...and though keeping up with reading is a struggle, it would be NICE if we got more specific in class. sigh.
a day in the life
"well, i told her, this VERY beautiful woman who looks like either a dancer or an actress was in here looking for her"...at this point i glanced down from his middle aged white hair, white face and hawaiian print shirt and noticed he was wearing an ankh that was like the size of a credit card. (oh lawd here we go...that's sweet but of course i look like i could be an entertainer...not a neurosurgeon).
nervous laugh. "um thanks" i said. "um what the hell are you talking about and where is this conversation going next" i thought.
"so, are you?" "am i what?" "are you a dancer or an actor" "actually, no," (trying to turn to leave)..."oh well i saw this BRILLIANT play, titled: for colored girls who've considered suicide/ when the rainbow was enuf in cleveland last week and the women were just SO gorgeous in that play".
"REALLY" i think. "really?" i said
you look like you could have been in that play"...i think, "i BET i do"..."have you seen it"..."no, i LIVE it" i think...well not the literal sense...but figuratively...WTF?
"actually no, but i have read it. i really like ntozake shange's work". "oh really...the actors had to be really talented...i've been in theatre for years and i know when shows are hard...its just so complex"..."oh, kind of like this conversation" i think. "so what's your name?" "yamani" "so you are in architecture?" "yeah, the 2nd yr of the 3yr masters" "i bet its hard" "oh you have NO idea" i think. "yep, sure is gotta run, bye!"
i love suki
first things first...i am starting to figure out the depths of my anti-social-ness. i'm sure there is a better way to say that but. damn. must every class have a group project??? i'm all for team-work and group participation and all that beautiful stuff but, i feel like being selfish right now. i need some ME time. i want to really explore and express the issues that i think are compelling in MY work without compromise...not figure out how to not disagree, or not step on toes or filter through and include every body's vision. ok enough venting...i realize it's suppose to be the whole real life simulation ish with the groups. riiiiiiiight.
so. the studio project this quarter is basically somewhat urban design focused. creating a master plan for a new arts campus (UWSVPA-university of washington school of visual and performing arts) in a historic and constantly reappropriating part of downtown seattle. we have to present 11 master plans on friday the 15th...and pick 4 to proceed with. after that, i suppose we will start designing individual components as a part of that campus. we are at this point supposed to keep our master plans somewhat still in the conceptual realm...what does the plan mean not what it looks like. i really would like to use julie mehretu as an influence here. i go back and forth with myself about whether her work is aesthetically appealing to me. but i am clear that her conceptual basis and the idea of her work is exciting and inspiring. on the most basic level the notion of layering, her use of architectural and urban planning representation techniques and ideas with drawing and painting techniques to communicate issues of power, history, and narrative seems like a perfect place to start in at the very least representing the plan if not thinking about how to pursue the plan...hopefully the group mtg. tomorrow will be fruitful and we will this time come up with something that everyone can live with...
at some point i have to write about hannah arendt...probably mostly in this quiz!...but i wasn't into everything that she espoused as i initially thought i was....i had some issues with some things. i suppose there is more to come on that once i figure out how to articulate.
For all those who were stolen,
For all those who were left behind,
For all those who are not forgotten"
-rodney leon of aarris architects entry
in a message from the cornell black alumni listserve from nicole hollant-denis of aaris:
For the past 14 years the GSA (General Service Administration) has been looking for the right way to memorialize the 20,000 plus Africans that had been laid to rest in lower Manhattan. These souls were individuals who were made slaves and lived a life of complete struggle until their death. This cemetery site, first created in 1790, has been slowly "forgotten" through time and was neglectfully covered by tall buildings and skyscrapers.
It wasn't until some 200 years after the first body was laid to rest that some remains were "discovered" and brought to the attention of the Dinkins administration in 1990. The GSA is now in the final stages of selecting the finalist for a competition process that has lasted almost a decade.
During this extremely important public comment period you're invited to view and comment upon all five finalist designs at one of the five venues throughout New York City. Please provide comments and suggestions on the African Burial Ground Response form available at the exhibition site or on the Web Site www.africanburialground.com (under the memorial section). All comments must be received by October 8, 2004.
"architecture is the most political of the arts"-ruskin via ochsner
the first day....eh. about the only highlight besides my highly anticipated urban form class was meeting my studio prof. who seems awesome. he is adjunct and went to cranbrook which leads me to believe that he perhaps might approach architecture from a somewhat more artistic standpoint. and another highlight i suppose, was meeting the 'new people'. i felt a bit of trepidation. already the ridiculous pace was starting, the insane schedule etc. but i was ecstatic to see another brown woman in the new class. call me corny. but the #'s are absurd.
the second day...GYEAH! this is largely due to jeffrey ochsner's class introduction to urban design and preservation/context issues. and not my active controls (class figuring out where to put the HVAC-heating, ventilation, air conditioning- and electrical, plumbing etc.). jeffrey is so passionate and knowledgeable and has this odd way of getting you really pumped about whatever it is he is teaching. so he starts out with a quote by ruskin, "architecture is the most political of the arts" and goes on to explain the purpose of urban design and the course and why he believes that quote to be true.
i can already tell that this class is going to be really good for me. as i get more and more of the theoretical vocabulary that underlies my architecture/urban design/urban form interests the better i will get at articulating them. without writing an epic or a page of notes from class, he basically talked about architecture as the separation of the public and private realm. and urban design being concerned with that boundary. basically designing the public realm, what happens between the public and private realm...and the issues of that as a politically charged site. this was particularly useful to me in confirming that i would like to continue and deepen study/practice in urban design as, i am less concerned with the details of the building (that private realm) as i am about how it relates to the context of the street, the neighborhood and the city both formally and socially. next class we will talk almost exclusively about Hannah Arendt and her perspectives on public space and why "making" is important. which i'm sure i will write about in detail. he briefly mentioned some highlights and reminded us of the distinction btw. the natural world and public space. while the natural world is conceiveably untouched by humans. 'public space' is fabricated by humans. we make it for ourselves. i don't know if architecture is the most political of the arts, i think all forms of art can be highly political.
but land use/acquisition etc. is indeed inherently political.