Choicelessness

Post Hyper Post

Posted in architecture by johnsnavely on November 26, 2008

Ack, Cathy, it’s another architecture post!

Seattle Public Library IMG_2865

Bryan once sent me to this TED talk by Joshua Prince-Ramos of REX, formerly of OMA. (And now Bryan blogs this post, which is a more beautiful way of saying what I’m about to say.)

I still think about it often. The major reason is that now that I live in Seattle I have access to the library itself. It’s a really beautiful building. Filled with surprises both visual and useful. Honestly, I like the building…really.

What I’m obsessed with, however, is the presentation of the building, the TED talk.  Prince-Ramos’ hyper-rational architecture (a sibling to Wes Jones‘ post post-critical hyper-critical architecture) is very presentable architecture. (Perhaps even the most presentable architecture EVAR!) Clear, singular readings of intention coupled with the diagrammatic approach have reached their apex. The buildings argument has no holes or flaws or faulty logic. This is the type of presentation that every architecture student aspires too. Form whose reasons for being are not only completely decipherable but also (morally) indisputable. Prince-Ramos wins!

It is also, as Pete DePasquale put it, a “soulless” presentation. Which is odd, because I find many of REX’s buildings to be pretty provocative, albeit in an old-school way. The Wyly Theater reeks deliciously of early Koolhaus; I can’t wait to see it.

Anyway, I don’t want to dwell on whether or not Prince-Ramos is a good architect (which I think he is) or even if this type of presentation produces good buildings (which it might).

What I enjoy doing is taking buildings that I love and trying to think about how I would present them. Could I represent any of FAT‘s work in the Prince-Ramos framework? Many of Bryan’s (who I’m mentioning endlessly in this post, sorry!) colleagues seem to have a strange relation to the firm. They’ll say something like: “I’m glad someone does that kind of work, I just don’t know if I want to be part of it.” If I didn’t know better, I’d say that was a backhanded compliment, sadly, a skill which architects are mastering. (Toosh!)

My guess is that some types of architecture just don’t present well, and students are afraid to create and defend projects that they might actually approve of. Which means that there might be a problem with our secret predilection for certain modes of representation over others.

I also suspect that the lovely thing about reopening architectural representation for discussion is that we can also talk about judgment. Though I’m not sure how to draw that link, so that’ll have to be another post.

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4 Responses

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  1. bryan said, on November 28, 2008 at 3:03 am

    totes. representation is the instrument of judgment.

  2. johnsnavely said, on November 30, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    b, you ever read any Robin Evans? (What’s your take?)

  3. Mon Oncle « no ideas but in things said, on December 30, 2008 at 9:40 am

    [...] formal architecture, like that of Ben Van Berkel and Preston Scott Cohen, sometimes ends up feeling soulless and dead. The work of great architecture lies beyond logical coherency—it lies somewhere in the [...]

  4. [...] formal architecture, like that of Ben Van Berkel and Preston Scott Cohen, sometimes ends up feeling soulless and dead. The work of great architecture lies beyond logical coherency—it lies somewhere in the [...]


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