What inspires us when we see art? What makes something visually appealing? How does a viewer perceive an object’s significance? I’ve been trying to discover the components of how we view art, and how that translates into how we feel about architecture. With mounting client pressures and professional standards that focus architectural designs on pragmatic issues – such as program, building codes, the environment, circulation, economic values – how does an architect defend the need for beauty and pleasure, and is that an important defense?
The Architect’s Brain, by Harry Francis Mallgrave, is primarily concerned with explaining the process by which we humans categorize our spatial environment, and how neurological wiring leads us to interpret our surroundings mostly through metaphor (rather than literal).
Richard Neutra’s seminal publication on designing for human comfort, Survival Through Design, was first published in 1954. His observations are surprisingly applicable and rarely seem dated, considering the lapse of 60+ years. It is surprising though, how little work has been accomplished since the first publication, on studying how to create architecture more responsive to the human condition and neurological processing.
Niche Tactics – Architectural Design via Analogies of how Organisms Communicate with Their Surroundings
In my search for uncovering the nature of the relationship between a building and its context, I discovered a book that came out in 2015, Niche Tactics, written by the Director of the Cornell University Master of Architecture Program, Caroline O’Donnell. She presents an analysis of architectural design via analogies of how organisms communicate, share, and respond to their surroundings.
There are underlying subject matters that recur throughout the book, so I’m synthesizing her chapters into broader categories.
The newly reinvented Petersen Automotive Museum is an eyesore on many levels, and Christopher Hawthorne does an excellent job in his LA Times article listing the multiple ways in which to sourly interpret the building. Even more though, I believe that this misanthropic contribution to the Los Angeles landscape is emblematic of two larger issues with Architectural design: the limitations of designing as a purely aesthetic proposition and the ignored interplay between how culture and technology intersect with built form.
I highly anticipated my visit to The Broad on September 30, and the experience did not disappoint. The strategies employed by the Architects – Diller Scofidio and Renfro – to create the form of the building parallels my own research into architectural form making. Their literal interpretation of the programmatic requirements into a clear diagram pairs beautifully with an exceptional attention to detail. I may not agree with all of the final results, but the building communicates effectively to a visitor and provides an exceptional space for contemporary art.Read More
This past weekend, I was excited to attend a conference at SCI-Arc, entitled “SCI-Arc Right Now.” Due to the recent succession of the dean, the school was interested to explore what the current nature of progressive architecture might be. It seemed universally accepted among the panelists that the formalist approach to digital design is becoming exhausted.Read More
Frank Gehry’s impact on the general public is perhaps more evident than that of other Architects. The general public is fascinated by his work, and his buildings attract awe and respect from our culture as a whole. His relationship with design professionals, however, is much more contentious. Read More
“. . .A book titled Reckoning with Colin Rowe, edited by Emmanuel Petit, just published this year. Here, an architectural elite – Rem Koolhaas, Peter Eisenman, and colleagues of Rowe from his Texas Ranger days and later – reflect on Rowe’s influence in their own careers and theories, and his influence on architectural discourse in general. In the introductory Chapter Petit proposes the intellectual framework for why an update to Rowe’s legacy is necessary. . .”Read More
The two biggest names in technology, Apple and Google (rechristened Alphabet), each introduced compelling designs for their future corporate headquarters in the past few years. Nearly opposite in their design approach, what these companies – respectively, the 1st and 4th largest companies in the United States by market capitalization – envision for their new offices is an extension of how they each conduct research and generate the design for their own products.Read More
Published on ArchDaily January 9, 2015
The current state of architectural design incorporates many contemporary ideas of what defines unique geometry. With the advent of strong computer software at the early 21st century, an expected level of experimentation has overtaken our profession and our academic realms to explore purposeful architecture through various techniques, delivering meaningful buildings that each exhibit a message of cultural relevancy.Read More
I have been passionately reading theorist Nikos Salingaros’ books recently, A Theory of Architecture, and Unified Architectural Theory: Form, Language, Complexity. The latter title, published just last year, reinforces much of the theory behind my recent research in Diagramism, the ability for a project’s characteristics and constraints to actually form the geometry of the design. Read More
” ANFA is undertaking the research to show how our brains mechanically identify with our surroundings. By understanding the neurological processes involved with how spatial information is processed, the idea is that Architects would be better equipped to design responsive, navigable, comfortable, buildings.”Read More
Theorist Nikos A. Salingaros outlines the two often opposing forces of designing for the built environment. Very well written. While this blog may be focusing more on the human element of how people interact with the built environment, Salingaros focuses on the underlying spatial relationships that consequently develop.Read More
It has come to my recent attention, as a practicing professional, that too often decisions are made by statistics, science, zoning, and illogic. Read More
To further an academic understanding of the intuitive relationship between humans and architecture, a categorical listing of elements needs to be documented. Human experience with the built environment can thus be divided into two main categories: Ambulation (movement) and Atmosphere (mood).Read More
“. . . how the architect can intuitively understand the geometries created within the design process, and how the end user relates and communicates with the built product. The two relationships are not exclusive, but rather form their own communication between idea and practice. . .”Read More