Posts Tagged ‘dsr’

DS+R in the news. . .

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Here are some articles about the projects I’ve been working on. . .


San Francisco Chronicle: “Cal Museum Lays Foundation. . . “

A/N: “Diller Scofidio + Renfro Plants Flag at Berkeley”

And Broad:

NYTimes: “Eli Broad Is Said to Pick a Museum Site.”

LATimes: “L.A.’s Peripatetic Patron.”

Also, SFMoma, though I wasn’t involved:

SFMoma’s web-interview

(speaking of which, did you know that Mario Botta, the architect of the current SFMoma building, once worked for Le Corbusier? You don’t hear that much of people who once worked for the ol’ Corb, and I wonder why?)

I lived in San Francisco and various locations in the Bay Area for 3 years after college, and for a while told people that I was from California, fond as I was of it, and California being the first place I settled as an adult. So it’s been a nice to have a hand in working on some projects that may change the landscape a bit over there. That’s all I can really say.

photo by my friend, Morgan Frank: "Meow!"

Due to train traffic ahead of us. . .

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Some of my more dedicated readers may have noticed that it’s been a while since my last blog post, and wondered as to the cause of such delay. Well, the lack of blog posting directly coincided with the start of a new job; I started at Diller Scofidio + Renfro several months ago, and my time has been scarce since.

In actuality, though, it may not be an issue of time–I wrote more than I ever had before (or have since) during graduate school, when I was busier than I am now (though it’s close. . . ). No, I think the issue may be that DS+R is a firm that is capable of, and welcoming towards, those ideas that usually have no place in an “architectural practice.” You might imagine how they would be amenable towards offhand inquiries into media/tech and its relationship to architecture, and so far they’ve proven to be just that. So the idle thoughts and expressions that usually have to wait until the after hours get due attention in the office. The partners at DS+R so far have shown a remarkable willingness to entertain crazy enough ideas, and so far I’ve felt little need to explore things outside of work.

Open the flat files at DS+R and you're liable to find stuff like this. . .

It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, however. At my last position, working for Richard Meier and his progeny, the work was much slower, and the ideas were. . . shall we say, less up for discussion. Those who worked for Meier were confident and secure in what they thought was good, and didn’t really bide any differing ideas. Or were incapable of discussing them. Or both. They reminded me of Germans in their arrogance and lack of tolerance for difference. Or people who went to the GSD. And a lot of them were one or the other. Or sometimes they were both. Though in all truthfulness, I met the most competent, capable, and knowledgeable architects at Meier’s, and if I’m ever in a position to hire, I will look extremely favorably towards people from that office. I also think Germany has a great chance to win the World Cup this year. Like they always do. Scary bastards. No offense. Love their cars.

Bastian Schweinsteiger says "GSD rules."

But what this means is that the mental space that wasn’t being occupied by work was searching for challenges outside of work, and I appreciated the space it gave me to apply towards other things, this blog being one of them. Now that I’m at a work environment that seems capable and willing to entertain my other ideas, less of it gets channeled outside of work. It’s also a bit sad because though I’ve been involved in so many great projects already, I’m not at liberty to discuss much of what I’ve been working on. It’s stuff I would have written about otherwise, so it’s funny not to able to now that I’m so close. So my thoughts mainly have to stay in the office. In short, all of my energy is going into work, and I’m not sure yet if that’s a good thing. It’s a direction I’m going and I guess I’ll have to go far enough down that road to know if I want to stay on it. Remains to be seen. Just like the World Cup (go Spain or Argentina!).

Lionel Messi would go to Yale.

Argentina vs Germany, July 3rd, 10:00 am EST, on ABC!

National Museum of African American History

Thursday, May 7th, 2009


The competition entries for the National Museum of African American History in Washington, D.C., are currently on display at the Smithsonian Institution Building.  Adam Fagen has a Flickr set of photographs of the exhibition here.

The entrants included designs from Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Moshe Safdie, Norman Foster, David Adjaye, Antoine Predock, and Pei Cobb Freed. The model of above is the DS+R project called “Stone Cloud.” David Adjaye, the Tanzanian born, London based architect, was recently named the winning entrant (two images below via NYTimes, last one by Adam Fagen).





Monday, December 29th, 2008

One of the great things about working with Dietrich Neumann from Brown University (click here for a great link about Brown) was that he selected movies that I knew I had to watch but just couldn’t make myself for one reason or another. Well, when film and architecture are mentioned together, this is one of the first movies people think of, so it was overdue.


Metropolis (1929) 123 minutes, directed by Fritz Lang

Let’s face it: today, technology is no longer an important part of our collective image of the future. Or maybe I should define “technology” as specifically the sort of industrial/machine age concept which is represented by cars, trains, airplanes, and skyscrapers. Today we have technology in the form of cellphones, iPods, laptops, Blackberrys, the internet and Maya, which are a distinctly different beast than cars and airplanes. In fact, stuff like a 3-d modeling program isn’t technology at all. It’s magic.

A week ago or so, the New York Times published an article about how the recent proliferation and popularity of certain “magic-realist” television shows such as “Lost,” “Heroes,” “Medium,” “Ghost Whisperer” and others were indicative of a popular fascination with the supernatural and the unexplainable. The article goes on to say that this is the harbinger of a society’s decline, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that yet. What I will say, however, is that I think what has happened is that technology has come to signify something else to us: it’s complexity, sophistication, ubiquity and incomprehensible power has breached a tipping point and technology has morphed into magic.

This follows what is sometimes commonly referred to as Clarke’s Third Law (after Arthur C. Clarke): Any sufficiently complex technology is indistinguishable from magic. Don’t think that’s true? Try explaining to me how a television works, on a subatomic level. What about a microprocessor? Still don’t think technology is magic? Did you know that even common household electric wiring systems can only be predictably accounted for using quantum mechanics? And do you know what the single most important principle of quantum mechanics is? The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: that at a certain scale it is impossible to know what is going on. Which is why string theory is simultaneously both extremely exciting and extremely disappointing: it can never be scientifically proven or disproven because it theorizes phenomena at a scale that we simply cannot test for. Somebody explain to me quantum mechanics. I don’t care if you’re Michelle Addington (more Michelle). You can’t. Because it’s magic. iPods and cellphones and Blackberrys and laptops run on magic.

The film Metropolis is the godfather of all filmic images of the Modern conception of the city. In this film the city under the influence of Modern technology was imagined to its logical extreme: layers upon layers of traffic all flowing in orderly grids between behemoth sized skyscrapers with Babel-esque proportioned hubris. In a sense, all films dealing with the city have been a response to Metropolis. But the age where Metropolis represents our image of the future may be closed, along with our faith in the promise of skyscrapers (except in Asia, but more on that later): prominent architects have all said or proposed as such: Rem called his CCTV (known in China affectionately as “Big Shorts”) loop a death knell to the age of the skyscraper, Eisenman’s Max Reinhardt building was also theorized as such, and Thom Mayne even said in spoken lectures that skyscrapers make no sense for cities today. Metropolis, with its grand skyscrapers, is the image of the city under the spell of technology.

As an element of urban planning, the Grid may be the most conspicuous example of an obsolete machine-age emphasis on the vehicle. How pernicious the grid has been to cities in the Twentieth century! It’s no wonder that today we care most about the cities and spaces that were developed before the car and hence, before the grid: lower Manhattan, parts of Boston, parts of San Francisco, and of course, old Europe.


Another holdover from Modernist urban planning is the vertical stratification of traffic: designers since the Modern era have always attempted to create vertically layered levels of traffic: clover freeways, elevated railways, pedestrian skybridges, etc., all in alignment with the image that Metropolis helped propagate. But in every instance the attempt to create just one more level of streetlife has failed miserably (save for in Asia, but again, more on that later). Wherever pedestrian skybridges have been built they’ve managed to kill the street life both on them and below them, and the images of clover freeways are somehow always juxtaposed next to images of suburban angst: be it Columbine High School or Insane Clown Posse. The reason why layering pedestrian traffic doesn’t work may be most simply explained using a concept Molly Steenson introduced to me: FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out). It may be hard to reside in any one place when you can see a more activated streetscape one level above or below. The next test of this idea will be seen in New York’s High Line, a competition won by Diller, Scofidio+Renfro in collaboration with Field Operations, which faces the unenviable task of trying to design an artificial environment to compete with the bustling, organic streetlife of Manhattan.

(originally written 2/20/2007)