morality_play (morality_play) wrote,


Architectural designer. I went through the five year hazing ritual that architects substitute for _normal_ university education to acquire my bachelors degree in architecture. I've been preoccupied with buildings since childhood, and decided to become an architect in kindergarten. I have a very awkward relationship with the profession though. In part, I think this is because I did my undergraduate education while certain schools of contemporary French philosophy were in ascendency in the discipline, and I entered it with an entrenched antagonism towards French critical theory. There's no delicate way to explain to a tenured professor that Agrest and Gandelsonas' impenetrable mess would not meet the minimum standard of scholarship in any school of philosophy. My experience has been that other theory driven disciplines like literature and the plastic arts revile characters like Virilio as a loon, while his writing is culturally celebrated among academic architects. Gary Steven's "The Favored Circle," would be an excellent primer on my problems with the state of architectural thought if you're that interested in knowing more.

I work in an architects office. Most of my time is spent producing realistic digital models of buildings from construction documents. These are used to help a client understand what the finished product would look like, and to make changes to the design as necessary. I am not getting enough experience detailing construction documents in my current position, and I'm looking at other job opportunities. Please don't advertise this to you know who.

My dirty little secret is that I'm perilously inexperienced with computing technology for someone who uses design software every day. Oh, I know how to use the software. But that's not really the same thing.

Graduate Student. Materials Science and Engineering. I'm completing undergraduate curricular requirements to do this, because I did the B.arch as an undergrad. At this rate, I'll be done by 2080. I still get to participate in some exciting work though. I'm assisting in the development of selective laser sintering and stereolithographic procedures that will permit the fabrication of components whose material/mechanical properties will change throughout a single member. They'll also allow for embedded responsive actuation at the point of original synthesis. I'm interested in developing this as a strategy for resolving some of the problems inherent to composite materials, where the structural weaknesses of conventional joining and connection technologies is exacerbated by composite properties. Designing new connection details for these sorts of high performance materials is an important area of my inquiry, and demonstrates how my architectural and MatSci interests converge.

My architectural sensibilities are difficult to summarize. My non-architect friends declare I'm interested in "that modernist stuff." But this isn't actually true. In fact with only a few exceptions, I hold the mid-century modernists in varying degrees of contempt. I _am_ preoccupied with expanding the palate of architectural medium, particularly it's material and fabrication technologies. I'm always looking for ways to import transfer technologies from the aerospace, automotive and maritime industries into the structure and building envelope of architecture. I closely follow the work of Jan Kaplicky, Amanda Levette, Peter Cook, Linda Roy, Richard Horden, John Prewer and Kieran/Timberlake as exemplars of such design strategies. I hold Kaplicky, in particular, in higher esteem than probably any other designer.

Green design commitments propel me, in part, towards these alternative architectural technologies. I'm looking for ways to reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment, and anticipate construction strategies for peak extraction of iron in the next century. I'm enthusiastic about the potential for carbon fiber structural technology, (in the manner of Peter Testa's speculative carbon-fiber skyscrapers) and the importation of fiberglass envelope technologies from the aerospace industry. I'm envisioning a built environment that would be principally carbonaceous and siliceous, and take advantage of the natural abundance of these elements. Ian McHarg, William McDonough's Design Chemistry and Edward Mazira have all been instrumental in the development of these commitments.

I don't embrace any particular kind of "style," and tend to be attracted instead, to parametric design strategies that optimally "shape" the envelope responsively to programmatic (or literal) forces applied against it. This doesn't always need to result in "plausible ugliness." Greg Lynn, Kolatan/MacDonald, and Reiser/Umemoto are all excellent exemplars of such formalist strategies.

I hasten to emphasize that the design work I do now is fairly banal, and certainly doesn't reflect these commitments. Someday though, I'd like to be doing architectural specialist consultancy somewhere at the intersection of zero-carbon design chemistry and composite material joinery design. And I'd like to be able to do private commissions and one-off product designs at the same time. Assa Ashuach is probably the best representative of the way I'd like to practice eventually.

I sincerely wish that Robert Venturi would burn to death in a fire... in one of his buildings.

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