Discover more from The Horizontal Fault
New posts for January, February, March and beyond.
Happy MLK Day and a belated Happy New Year, 2022!
My last post appeared in September 2021 before I started teaching again, in person, after almost a two-year break from the classroom.
I had a tremendous experience teaching a graduate design studio at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. We focused on mid-density affordable housing in South Los Angeles. The design studio was based on the Low Rise Los Angeles competition. The 13 graduate students in my studio visited LA in October for almost a week then returned to New York where they produced some remarkable projects. I'll be writing about the results here soon. You can see two efforts by Ekta Patel, above, and Sara Brandt and Ayesha Agha, below.
In 2021 writing was a means to get through the pandemic and plan for a new book. But, as it turns out, it's been a fantastic way to rethink old projects, reframe older ideas, connect with old friends and reach new ones. So this year, whether we are endemic, post, pre-or just pandemic, I hope to keep posting about 2 to 3 times a month. In addition, I will be writing some more about art and architecture, city making in Los Angeles, as well as posting older writings from the 1990s and 2000s.
As ever, if you are enjoying the Horizontal Fault, please do share it with your friends and colleagues. And, in case you missed anything, here are the posts from January through May 2021.
Think Small, Part 2.
Many of my colleagues have been thinking a lot lately about small urban things, specifically tiny houses, smaller lots, small reclaimed public spaces. Many of us are hopeful about the promise they collectively hold to transform Los Angeles for the better, especially after the passage of California State Senate Bills 9 and 10. After much opposition, these bills may make it easier to densify Southern California intelligently. But, predictably, many local cities are panicking about the impact of SB 9/10. This post will be a follow-up to an essay I revised here last February and illustrated with projects developed by my students at the Pratt Institute.
Orchestrated Chaos, Part IV: Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.
In February or March, I will post the final of four short essays about the 6AM project in the Los Angeles Arts District. In the meantime can read the first post here, the second post here, and the interlude here.
Case Study Casita
In 1945 Arts and Architecture Magazine announced the Case Study House program, stating that the purpose of the project was to:
“…fulfill the specifications of a special living problem in the Southern California area…we will begin ….with the analysis of land in relation to work, schools, neighborhood conditions and individual family need…. [Case Study] houses must be “capable of duplication and in no sense be an individual ‘performance’ … to evaluate realistic housing in terms of need… to take a plot … and create ‘good’ living conditions for … American families.”
I will be revisiting that program through the lens of a small, very narrow single-family house I designed and built in West Los Angeles in 2012.
Kazimir Malevich stated something to the effect that “…an artist is under the obligation to be a free creator, but not a freeloader.” One might tend to disagree. By examining the fraught relationship between contemporary art and architecture, I'm hoping to prove Malevich wrong. We’ll see how that goes.
Design for Dignity II.
I provided closing remarks for the 2017 follow-up to the first AIA|LA Design for Dignity forum. I will be editing those remarks and posting them here with some additional thoughts about the ongoing homelessness crisis in Southern California.
Paul Rudolph: Are you Talking to Me?
Paul Rudolph is one of my favorite misunderstood geniuses.
In 2011 I presented a talk about Paul Rudolph at the Future of History conference at the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. My talk was titled Rudolph Retconned: a Parallel Post Modern Project. It was a follow-up to another paper about Rudolph I presented at the Flip your Field Conference at the University of Illinois, Chicago, in 2010. I'll be editing both pieces and posting them here.
At some point this summer or fall, I will be trying to make sense of my fascination with American corporate architecture by meditating a little about my stints in large-scale, international corporate commercial offices like AECOM, Jerde, and Gensler.
A Poem for Zaha
It is hard to believe that it has been five years since Dame Zaha Hadid passed in 2016.
I wrote a poem for her in Fluid Totality, a book to commemorate her Professorship at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria (or Universität für Angewandte Kunst Wien, informally Die Angewandte.) I will post it here with notes about my fond memories of the inimitable Zaha.
While I have spent most of my professional life working in Los Angeles or New York, I have never felt like an insider in either city, more of a stranger on either coast. Therefore, I've been wondering about the importance of identity in relationship to architecture. And to do that, I plan to write about a mythical creature made of many weird parts, the Chimera, and architecture and see where that gets me.
Big City is No Longer Modern
One of the first essays I published, with the encouragement of one of my favorite teachers, was about Frank Lloyd Wright's Broadacre City project. I wrote the essay for a seminar with my professor Detlef Mertens at the GSD. After I graduated, it was published in 1999 in Daidalos, then edited by Bart Lootsma. I will post it with updated observations on Frank Lloyd Wright's urban design thinking.
In 2017 I attempted to establish an independent, tuition-free, and “horizontal” architecture school. The effort was, not surprisingly, a collective success but something of a personal, nagging failure.
Later this year, I will be posting a conversation with my friend Portuguese-French artist, architect, and designer Didier Faustino about that experiment. Our discussion was published, in French, in Architectures Cree. I will be translating the conversation and posting it here. Finally, I will attempt to provide some closing comments about my efforts to start a school of architecture and why I will probably, never say never, do that again.
Po-Po-Mo? Sign as Surface, almost 20 years on.
Yesterday, Rowan Moore suggested that Post Modernism (or Post-Post Modernism as he terms it) might have a comeback in 2022. “Its big idea,” he suggests is that., “…architecture could be like pop art, that it could combine artistic sophistication with a direct appeal to everyday culture, that it could riff on themes from notable architects of the past while offering imagery that a child might get.”
At some point this year, I will revisit Sign as Surface, an exhibition at Artists Space, a symposium at the Cooper Union, and a publication that I organized in 2003 that explored so-called radical Post Modern architecture.
Per my curator’s essay, the show studied, “…the architectural surface as a point of contact and transit between the urban and the architectural, interior and exterior, private and public, artificial and natural… [understanding] the architectural sign through issues such as inclusion versus exclusion, the popular versus the academic, and representation and decoration versus interpretation and abstraction.”
And other things that pop into my head…
There are a few other things I'd like to write about this year.
Although Carolina Miranda beat me to the punch, I will write a review of OMA’s first large-scale public building in Los Angeles, an extension to the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Koreatown, along with a pre-review (prereview??) of Peter Zumthor’s LACMA.
I've also been meaning to dig up and rewrite a paper I presented in 2002 at the 8th Baltic Triennial of International Art at the Contemporary Art Centre, in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 2006.
That talk was about parallel forms of modern city planning, created under radically different political systems but producing similar physical conditions. Specifically, I examined new ‘Science Cities’ in the former Soviet Union and Southern California, comparing the master plans for UC Irvine, California, and Novosibirsk.