Oculus - Winter 2015 - (Page 17)

opener Practical Attitudes B Y t r o Y C o n r A d t herrien curious history of architecture theory could be written through the evolution of obsessions with scaling alone. Not simply scale as in drawing to scale or scale models, but in terms of the discursive technologies deployed to argue for architecture to scale beyond merely building. Order, type, method, composition, style, gesamtkunstwerk, function, machine, model, organization, network, environment, index, program, diagram, and icon, to name just the lowest hanging fruits, have all been deployed at different times by different theorists as strategies for submitting the world to architecture. That is to say, for making the whole world the province of the architect while making the worlds inside and around buildings the result of their design. More precisely, then, the obsession is not merely with scale or scales, but with the fundamental scalelessness of architecture. The objective of architectural theory is to assert that architecture cannot be limited. The punch, however, might be that this is precisely what has never been allowed in practice. By practice I mean the way the discipline is conditioned and codified by ideas, protocols, and documents. Education, internship, licensing, contracting, continuing education, awards, and ethics fix the limits of what an architect should and can do. While they enforce perspectives that have crystallized over time into legislation, the attitudes of educators, patrons, critics, scholars, and other architects likewise police the boundaries of the profession. Despite marginal experiments with prefabrication, megastructures, and flexibility, the types of architecture that are accepted in practice always seem to return to those that are singular and sited. The union of scalelessness in theory and scalability in practice has never been consummated. This may account for the dismal percentage of the built environment that is designed by architects, an open wound of the profession. Churning out more licensed architects by slightly adjusting the accreditation system could double or triple this number, and that percentage would still be in the single digits. The profession, as such, can only be understood as providing a luxury service - architects are sufficient but not necessary. As a result, it has been spinning its wheels for centuries on producing patrons, spending as much energy on providing existential claims as it does on bringing buildings into existence. As the built environment becomes increasingly computerized, the dynamics of physical space itself will transform, and the present model will require increased efforts to maintain the necessity of architects in its design. If buildings go the way of cars, this already fraught balance will begin to tip into increasingly unstable territory. If this transformation threatens to snap the profession, one self-preservation strategy would be for it to become more elastic. Attempts in the past have been made to expand the architect imprimatur over all designers and builders of the built environment, but this is, again, just a change in degree rather than kind. Architecture practice since at least Leon Battista Alberti in the 15th century, and increasingly through professionalization, has been epistemologically defined. Those legally allowed to lay claim to the title "architect" are classified by what they know, rather than by what drives them. If the profession were bounded instead by an ethic, its umbrella would stretch much wider, multiplying its advocates, associates, and, thus, influence. Defining the architect ontologically would open up another five centuries of debate, but maybe it's time for drastic measures. ©Studio Dubuisson A Taylor + Miller, page 26 What's Inside 18 ice in the river: cornell tech's center of connectivity 21 restoring - at least virtually - One of england's Greatest lost Buildings 24 at the corner of Past and Present 26 the design-fabrication dynamic 28 how Big data is reshaping architecture 30 architecture at the digital edge 32 3d for the defense 34 thinking Beyond the flat Page Troy Conrad Therrien is curator, Architecture and Digital Initiatives, at the Guggenheim Museum. Initially trained as a computer engineer, and later in architectural design, history, and theory, he has held positions as an architect, creative technologist, innovation consultant, and adjunct professor. Reinventing Architecture: Design in a Digital World Winter 2015 Oculus 17

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Winter 2015

First Words Letter from Two Presidents
Letter from the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Opener: Practical Attitudes
ICE in the River: Cornell Tech’s Center of Connectivity
Restoring – At Least Virtually – One of England’s Greatest Lost Buildings
At the Corner of Past and Present
The Design-Fabrication Dynamic
How Big Data is Reshaping Architecture
Architecture at the Digital Edge
3D for the Defense
Thinking Beyond the Flat Page
In Print
51-Year Watch
Last Words
Index to Advertisers

Oculus - Winter 2015

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