Modernism for Sale (near NYC)

My neighbor Joyce just sent me this listing for a Deck House for sale down the street. It’s in Montclair, a train town 45 minutes from Manhattan by train (30 minutes by bus or car in off hours). I can’t say enough about Montclair. It has good schools, it is diverse in race and income, there are few chain stores, it is community and neighborhood oriented, there are huge numbers of parks, and the food is good. The house is on Highland and you’re on the highest point west of Portugal (not counting midtown’s skyscrapers which may or may not be visible from this house), sort of the Hollywood Hills of the east.

There aren’t many Deck Houses left that haven’t changed hands and there’s not a lot of modernism near the city.

It needs some restoration, but we can go over that. The house is on a half acre of land.

Contact her if you’re interested (you can also ask me for more info).

A letter to Rem Koolhaas

A letter to Rem Koolhaas:
July 16, 2013

Dear Rem Koolhaas,

we have never met, or so it seems. We are a non-relevant group. We are about half of the humanity, maybe more. We are also about 20% of our and your profession, maybe less. We are architects, yet female.

We have seen you signed the retroactive campaign about Denise Scott-Brown’s spoliation of the Pritzker Prize. That made us feel better about the fact that again, a white male in his late 60′s has been given power, this time over the Venice Bienniale. We thought you might help. Maybe not.

We have scrutinized the 2012 edition by your predecessor David Chipperfield and found the number of female participants appallingly low. We though you could do better. But then, someone said you appointed Hans-Ulrich Obrist for the Swiss Pavilion.* **

“Women are the ghosts of modern architecture, everywhere present, crucial, but strangely invisible,” says Colomina. Please make sure we are not side-lined, invisible, marginalized once again at the 2014 Architecture Biennale.

We would like you, for next year’s edition, to say F*ck Old White Men and give space to women in architecture: the talented, unjustly ignored architects, that happened to be female.

Through positive action and representation, we believe gender equality to be fundamental and hope you do too.

Hopelessly yours,

Die Architektin (Verein für)

A House for Pink Floyd

I am on the jury for "A House for Pink Floyd," along with frequent NYC co-conspirators Carla Leitao and Edward Keller together with Dan Coma, Dan Mellamphy, Nandita Biswas Mellamphy, David Gersten, Eric Ellingsen, Ezio Blasetti, Orhan Ayyuce, Juan Azulay, Kenneth Cameron, and Leopold Lambert. The competition is sponsored by ICARCH (International Competitions in Architecture), in partnership with Atelierul de Proiectare (AdeP - Design Studio) Magazine.

I'm looking forward to seeing the entries. On a historical note, I had been hoping that I could find that Pink Floyd playing at Rome's Piper Club directly influenced the idea of Superarchitecture as developed by Andrea Branzi of Archizoom since he mentions the Piper Club, but it turns out that the Floyd's concerts at the Piper Club came two years after the 1966 Superarchitecture show. One day, perhaps someone will do a definitive history of rock and architecture and elucidate all this for us.

Good riddance, Pritzker

Earlier today the Pritzker jury decided to do away with any good that the prize has ever done. Refusing to retroactively acknowledge Denise Scott Brown's contribution in the work of the firm that she shares with Robert Venturi, the jury voted instead to affirm its patriarchal authority. See the piece on the topic in Architect Magazine

Curiously, the Pritzker has previously been awarded to Ryue Nishizawa alongside Kazuyo Sejima. Not to denigrate his contribution, but I have heard SANAA referred to as "Sejima" as often, if not more, than I have heard VSBA referred to as "Venturi." Why the double standard? 

The sort of patronizing language used in the letter by Lord Palumbo is all too familiar. It is the voice of money and authority, the same sort of voice that spoke out against the rights of the women, the poor, and minorities. It is, alas, the voice of what Brown describes as the "sad white men's award."     

I see no way in which we can, in good conscience, think of the Pritzker as being anything but a detriment to the profession. Indeed, the entire notion of the Pritzker Prize stands testament to the misguided fallacy of architecture as the work of solitary geniuses, ignoring that it is almost inevitably a team product. Now we may give awards to individuals at school (although at Columbia we have also split those awards among partners), that is a special case in which students are work, in most cases, individually. Practice, particularly at the large scale that the Pritzker typically lauds, is another. 

After three decades of affirming much that is wrong about our profession, the Pritzkzer has run its course. If, collectively, we decide that it is invalid and pay it no heed, it will die. And die it must. There should be no second chances for an institution as bankrupt as this one. 

$100,000 a year is a lot of money. It's time to shut the Pritzker down and give that to people who need it, not to a bunch of well off sad, white men. Why not put take the list of countries ranked worldwide by GDP and distribute the money to needy students in countries in the bottom half? Jay Pritzker's money would be doing much more for the profession. At least it wouldn't be perpetuating misogyny.

Something happened to this photograph of a model I made in first...

Something happened to this photograph of a model I made in first year architecture studio at Cornell during 27 years of storage.

art-in-public: Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (Futurist)


Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (Futurist)

Retrieved! A game from my childhood now part of my kids’...

Retrieved! A game from my childhood now part of my kids’ childhoods.

Devastation in Meatspace


“The missile rushing over your head was processed through an Instagram filter just hours previously. As you see it pass out of sight behind the apartment block opposite some young conscript is preparing for video footage of it to be compressed and uploaded to YouTube before the hour is out. By nightfall tonight that explosion which just shook your neighborhood, in one of the most densely populated areas on earth, will have been liked over 8,000 times on Facebook. Welcome to Gaza City.”

“Like many of the more advanced lifestyle brands, the IDF are shifting the focus of image production from their own staff and creative team toward their consumers: in this case, the troops, reservists, and supporters of the IDF. Content is aggregated from individuals and fed back into the social networks of the target audience. In many ways this is an advanced form of brand-management for a such a large institution; it shows a willingness to trust the audience, allowing them to define the brand, making IDFgram perhaps the first crowdsourced propaganda campaign for a state military but also one whose identity is ever more meshed with that of its troops and supporters, emulating fashion and lifestyle brands’ movement toward consumer-led campaigns.”

Devastation in Meatspace – The New Inquiry



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