Sunday, August 29, 2010

Spoken into the Void: Adolf Loos and the Search for Truth

Art, which made the floor under the ancient's foot and the vault of the church ceiling over the Christian's head, is now cramped onto boxes and bracelets.  The times are worse than one thinks.   
- Goethe

The evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornamentation from objects of everyday use. 
 - Adolf Loos, "Ornament and Crime" (1908)
The outspoken critic of ornamentation, who nevertheless could not quite live up to his own ideal. Adolf Loos: the declared foe of the Viennese Secession and the German Werkbund. Pevsner’s “enigma.” While his texts, when taken as individual essays, are chock-full of inherent contradictions, Janet Stewart contends that the complexities and contradictions of Loos’ texts are a reflection of the modern age of which he saw himself a part. She sees “a ‘new’ Loos, simultaneously ‘modern’ and ‘traditional,’ whose sense of paradox identifies him as a sensitive barometer of the tensions characteristic of Viennese modernity” (9).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pi-Yahtzee! (or Urban Space Analysis 001: Santa Maria Novella vs. Santo Spirito)

Dear Loyal Readers (all 4 of you),

Today marks the first in what I hope to be a continuing series of explorations of successful urban spaces.  To get things going, I'll start by reaching back into the vault to grab a few analyses--gasp--I've already done.  Future posts might be a little more blog-friendly.  As it were, the initial analyses were documented somewhat on the fly during my '05 semester abroad.  Exhibit A: a comparative analysis of two piazzi in Florence--Piazza S. Maria Novella and Piazza S. Spirito.

For reference, a site plan of central Florence, with the two areas under consideration highlighted:

Florence (Satellite Photo via Google Maps)
S. Maria Novella: Initial Documentation
S. Spirito: Initial Documentation

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Love's Labors: LOST

Below are a few of the LOST-themed designs that prompted me to get into the T-Shirt business (evidently a latent passion of mine).  These and others can be found at Another Pearl, my shop on cafepress.

Solitary Hatch
Smoke and Ankh

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Fortress, The Warehouse and the Marketplace: 2005 Master's Thesis (Abridged Version)

The curious and purposeful individual is fueled in part by the idea that there are others out there like him.  He seeks knowledge and finds joy in learning, but he also knows that what he learns and what he values are intrinsically connected to what he does and what he produces.  He therefore views the library not as a place of escape, but as a forum and a resource integral to the course of his life.

This project is not a monastery, an intimidating civic palace, an egalitarian warehouse of books, or simply a digital resource center.  Why must the library act as a stand-alone civic institution?  It is my contention that the connection between thought and action, between the individual and the community, will most clearly be seen when manifestations of education and business are fused together within the same program, with the library serving as the mediating core.  Classroom space for a school for continuing education and office space for start-up businesses commingle, tied together by the library and ancillary public spaces (an exhibition hall, a lecture theater, a coffee shop).

Keeping in mind the parallel goals of social interaction and the possibility for isolated contemplation, I formulated two design strategies: embedding and porosity.  They enjoy a complementary dialogue, as the act of embedding elaborates not only upon the idea of solitary thought, but rooting the project in the city and in the site.  The embedded site and building are then rendered porous, as spaces are carved out and the enclosure is pulled apart.  These two strategies play off of each other to create a dynamic succession of experiences, alternating between the open forum and the contemplative realm.

Early Conceptual Sketches
View of South Entry Courtyard

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Coming soon, in feature-length glory... a year in the life of the Red Hook Container Terminal.  Begun as a daily documentation of the ever-changing commercial and climatic activity in and around the terminal, I'm hoping the project will come to fruition as a multimedia installation.  For now, here are a few of my favorite captures.  More to follow...


From my installation proposal:

"An observation of one year, one day and one hour in the life of the Red Hook Container Terminal will project onto a three-dimensional topographical representation of South Brooklyn, Buttermilk Channel, Governors Island and Lower Manhattan.  The time-lapsed photographic documentation of the ever-changing commercial and climatic activity provides a base for site-specific mapping.  The information embedded within the photographs will be dissected and extrapolated to create geographical and informational overlays.  Mapped information will include: changing sky conditions and weather patterns; the fluctuating density of the container yard; positions of cranes, barges and cruise ships; and cargo and shipping routes, timed to correspond to the passing of days."

2010: Dan Ruhland Designs (Website)

In the Spring of this year, I completed my first commissioned website for budding architect and designer Dan Ruhland.  A couple of screenshots are below, but the whole enchilada is here:

Project Page: Tewksbury Farmhouse
Image: Tewksbury Farmhouse

ECTOPARASITE: 2009 Google Shelter Competition

The Ectoparasite seeks to exploit underutilized urban infrastructure—in this case, by latching onto a billboard adjacent to NYC’s High Line. Dependent on the billboard for suspension, the steel structure acts as a skeletal framework for enclosure (triangular glass and Cor-Ten panels), while wrapping in to support furnishings. Visually connected while physically detached from the park, the shelter provides an ideal lens for observers of city life and public space.

View from High Line Looking South
Axonometric View
Exploded Axonometric
View from Shelter Interior to High Line

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

2008: Facade Study

Some models and drawings I did for a hotel project at work a couple of years ago...  These photos are of a model for one wing of the facade (each opening is one hotel room), obviously made with a laser cutter. In the third image you can see the assembly method.

1/16" Model for One Wing of Facade
Detail of 1/16" Model

mass_Specific: 2008 Emerging Voices Competition

This project is the the brainchild of Aileen Iverson, R.A.  My role on the project could have been loosely defined as "collaborator/concept developer."  Mostly, I developed the working prototype for a mass_Specific website.  Had our entry been selected, it would have gone live.  Alas.  Aileen's latest work on the project may be found at  The incarnation at the point we submitted our proposal (along with a couple images) follows.

"Recognizing the current paradigm as the Information Age whose byproduct, data, is mined, sorted, sifted and recombined as benefits interested parties, we propose that this system be used to create an equally revolutionary shift in the architectural practice by using data-mining as the basis for creating architectural projects.

In this way we create a prototypical architectural practice that more closely aligns with its pedagogy and is better able to distribute the products of architects, namely analytical research as well as and in equal proportion to building design. 

The name of this architectural-office-prototype is MASS SPECIFIC (M_s).

SYNAPSE: 2006 Venecia Bridge Competition

The bridge becomes a connective tissue in a network of historical and cultural destinations.  At the crossroads of academia and everyday life, it signifies the suspended moment between perception and cognition, contemplation & action. 

Motion and fluidity permeate the design, as the exhibition spaces are embedded within the sinewy circulation routes, which bypass and intersect each other as they span the canal.  These tendons are fluid, transparent and tense, while the exhibition and study areas provide room for pause--suspended, yet solid and introspective.

Competition Board

2005: Parametric Screen Wall

Project designed and prototyped for Kyle Talbott's Advanced MicroStation course at UWM.  6" x 9".  Basswood and Powder-based 3D Print.

Model Front

2005: Sketches of... Spain? Well, at least Europe.

Sketches from a semester abroad, based in Florence and Paris.

Michelangelo's David

2004: Elastic Fabrication

From Kyle Talbott's Microcosm Studio.  Elastic with Pine Frame.  7' x 3' x 6".  

Fabrication Detail
Fabrication Detail

2002: Sketchbook

Billie Holiday. Colored Pencil.