The League of Nations Competition
This competition drew an international field of architects. It was a very challenging program. The complex was to contain a giant assembly hall, lobbies a secretariat and a wide variety of bureaucratic functions for the newly formed world parliament, which had set itself the idealistic mission of restoring peace and order after World War I. Probably the two most intriguing designs were those of Le Corbusier and Hannes Meyer.
Le Corbusier placed the emphasis of his design on the assembly hall, with a processional courtyard leading up to the main entry and the rear elevation prominently expressed on the lakeside. The various bureaucratic functions of the complex were housed in linear blocks raised above the landscape, so that one could pass freely underneath the office buildings. The overall effect was that of “a communal machine for enlightened, well-meaning functionaries whose life would be daily nourished through contact with nature,” Curtis noted.
By contrast, Meyer sought a more Constructivist approach, with the emphasis placed on the secretariat in an open-framed tower that recalled some of the visions of the Russian avant-garde. He used a highly repetitive ordering system throughout the complex with the only expressive element being a bulbous glass roof over the assembly hall. Meyer intentionally played down hierarchical
associations as he saw the complex as being “an entirely open, egalitarian forum.”
Of the 337 entries, which were published in a catalog, Sigfried Giedion also noted
those by Neutra, Mendelsohn, and Polish Group Prezens. He felt that the new
program challenged conventional ideas and resulted in a victory for modernism.
However, the selection committee split over the diverse entries, declaring P.H.
Nénot’s “clumsy Beaux-Arts scheme” the winner, after disqualifying Le Corbusier’s
project on a technicality. This competition served as a catalyst for the formation of
CIAM in 1928."
The League of Nations Competition
Beyond the Spectacle: "“There are a number of these parastatal development companies,” de Graaf says. “They are private companies but still majority-owned by the royal family, which creates a very interesting mix of business and politics that would be taboo anywhere else but makes them incredibly forceful and determined. These companies are not just active in Dubai; they’re active in a zone of very rapidly growing cities that stretches from Morocco to China—they’re even building in California. They’re often precisely the kind of cities that no one in the West talks about or has much time for. You could say that the formula of Dubai, whatever you think of it, is shaping the world.”"
CLIMATE CHANGE, BUDGET, CAPITAL MASTER PLAN, MIDDLE EAST AMONG ISSUES AS SECRETARY-GENERAL BRIEFS INFORMAL MEETING OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY
CLIMATE CHANGE, BUDGET, CAPITAL MASTER PLAN, MIDDLE EAST AMONG ISSUES AS SECRETARY-GENERAL BRIEFS INFORMAL MEETING OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
"Let us also look to our own house. I am determined to ensure that the United Nations system is ready to act in a unified manner to support Member States, during both the negotiation and implementation phases. The United Nations Chief Executives Board is working on honing United Nations system coordination, and on an inventory of United Nations system capacities and activities. We will strive to go to Bali with a common message of what the United Nations system can offer to Member States. And we will come to the General Assembly in February ready to discuss what may be possible and what would be optimal for the future.
We will also strive to make the United Nations family lead by example, by moving towards carbon neutrality in our operations worldwide. This process has already started in parts of the UN system. Our upcoming renovation of the UN Headquarters in New York, under the Capital Master Plan, should dramatically advance this important agenda.
As you know, the Capital Master Plan is a monumental and historic undertaking to renovate and make safe our Headquarters. I am deeply grateful that Member States have reacted positively to my proposal for a revised strategy. If approved, this plan will mean that the disruption to the Secretariat will last for only three years instead of six, and the conference buildings will be done in two stages rather than three.
We have been providing Member States with details and information at a series of informal sessions of the Fifth Committee, which is now in the final stages of negotiating a draft resolution. Broad agreement is emerging on most aspects of the revised strategy, although there remain some concerns related to particular details.Allow me to reassure you on one point in particular: the CMP process will ensure maximum transparency, visibility and adherence to the existing United Nations Procurement Rules. I very much hope there will be an agreement when the Fifth Committee meets this afternoon.
As Chief Administrative Officer, I am committed to translating financial resources into real achievements. This requires balancing varied and often conflicting priorities. It also requires careful fiscal management. I have submitted the regular budget for the biennium, along with several proposals that I believe will contribute to make our United Nations faster, more flexible, more transparent and more efficient in delivering better results with the finite assets at our disposal.In this session, the management highlights are information and communications technology, revamping our internal justice system, and, as I mentioned earlier, the Capital Master Plan. Let me express my deep appreciation to Member States for the rigorous efforts and time they have devoted to the administration of justice. I am hopeful that we will have an agreement that will be a great improvement for the Organization as a whole."
Without Action Now, the UN Capital Master Plan Is Not Going Anywhere Anytime Soon - UN Reform - Global Policy Forum
Without Action Now, the UN Capital Master Plan Is Not Going Anywhere Anytime Soon - UN Reform - Global Policy Forum: "The initiative for the Capital Master Plan started in 1995 when the General Assembly decided to look carefully at the problem of the deteriorating building. The detailed review and analysis of the building status was completed by early 2001. Member states then considered two approaches to updating the building: an accelerated maintenance effort and a complete rebuilding. The later concept was endorsed and entitled the 'Capital Master Plan' in 2001. The plan has a rather simple goal: to make all the existing buildings code compliant by bringing them up to today's building standards. According to Reuter, 'The project was from the beginning defined as respect for the historical significance of the site, not an expansion of space or a new center for world government. The fundamental Capital Master Plan scope is: what you see is what you get, it just gets us up to the latest building standards, equipment and systems.'
The member states then considered what would be the best strategy for completely renovating UN headquarters: either in a single phase by moving everyone off-site, or a longer phased project with most functions remaining functional on-site. An architect was hired in 2001 to look at all the possible alternatives of each strategy and, in the end, it was decided that a single phase approach was more desirable. Simultaneous with this UN study, the UN Development Corporation, which is not affiliated with the UN, but acts as the landlord of much of the UN's office space that is located off of headquarters, indicated an interest in building a "swing space" building for the Capital Master Plan on the Robert Moses Park. The UN and the Development Corporation then embarked on an effort to make their two plans work together. But, by early 2005, these efforts were stalled. Early rental projections for the Development Corporation's "swing space" building had risen from $95 million to almost $250 million due to a number of factors, including construction cost pressures following the recovery from September 11th, 2001. Additionally, the New York State Legislature refused to approve the new building.
Ambassador Luers has been involved in talks about the capital master plan since 1998, largely due to his idea and push for a UN Visitors Center that would accompany a newly renovated UN campus. The center, which would be privately funded, would enhance the educational purpose of the organization and would be housed underground beneath the north lawn. The center proposal was received by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Secretariat with enthusiastic support, and was actually approved by the General Assembly as part of the 2001 Capital Master Plan. Like the rest of the plan, the center too has been held up by repeated setbacks. "If the UN's host government, the US government, does not get firmly behind this project," said Amb. Luers, "it will not happen no matter what the UN system tries to accomplish. Meanwhile, a great deal of money is being wasted, the UN's buildings are being put increasingly at risk and the project is losing highly qualified professionals who could get the job done.
As it stands now, the future of the Capital master Plan is problematic. In response to questions about opportunities for UNA USA to assist in moving the project along, Reuter talked about a number of efforts and ideas that might benefit the plan:
• Provide clear and factual information to the US public, Congress and the media;
• Consider involving an international body of architectural opinion—beyond that of the US—to encourage the preservation and restoration of the buildings. For example, Reuter recently traveled to Brazil at the suggestion of several South American countries to meet with original architect Oscar Niemeyer, now 98 years old; and
• Consider the development of the aforementioned Visitor's Center to provide information about the UN and capital master plan in advance of the renovation project.
"The dialogue that is currently going on, far above mere architects like myself, is what is the future of the United Nations and how is it to work going forward, and I think until that is done, the politics of the capital master plan may remain tied to that dialogue," said Reuter. "All of [the nations are], I think, holding their breaths that the buildings will still be there when they finish this argument.""
New York Architecture Images- United Nations Headquarters: "s Built for an important international organization, this modern complex helped revitalize New York City at the end of the second world war. Located between First Avenue and the East River at the terminus of 42nd Street, the 18-acre site was donated to the newly-formed United Nations by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. To facilitate access to the UN site, Robert Moses (then the city's construction coordinator) diverted traffic from First Avenue. The centerpiece of the UN complex is the Secretariat, an International Style skyscraper based on plans by Le Corbusier, one of the most well-known modern architects. The actual design for the building was carried out by an international team of architects under the direction of Wallace Harrison. This 39-story building was the first major International Style building to be constructed in New York. Typical of the International Style are its simple, geometric form, the absence of historical references, and its glass curtain wall. The architects' use of green glass, marble, and bands of metal detailing are modifications to the modern architectural vocabulary. Located on a highly visible site and surrounded by open spaces, this tower is the only freestanding skyscraper in New York.
The International Style, which originated in Europe, had social and political implications as it was frequently associated with progressive, reform-oriented architects and patrons. Here it symbolizes the international, benevolent functions of the UN but its soaring height makes a specific reference to America and to New York in particular. Although the building makes an interesting formal statement, it is not necessarily functional. The narrow floors are too cramped for the office spaces and its large expanses of glass have caused problems with temperature regulation inside the building. Despite these problems, this building helped to revitalize Midtown and the neighborhoods along the East River during a period when it was most needed."
Gothamist: Schumer Calls UN Building a "Fire Trap": "Senator Charles Schumer painted a grim picture of what could happen during an emergency at the United Nations' headquarters as he asked that the UN's much-delayed renovation to move ahead. Schumer noted that that if the Secretariat building 'were owned by a private company there would be so many violations the government could close it down.' The Secretariat has no internal sprinkler system and does not comply with many city fire and safety codes, plus asbestos could fill the area if old steam pipes explode and if many fire trucks were parked in a plaza, they could fall into the underground parking. At this point, there has been much talk of a U.N. building renovation, most recently with discussions about where the U.N. will or will not rent temporary office space, but nothing conclusive about the renovation has been decided. One thing holding up the renovation: The U.S. doesn't want to fund the $1.6 billion project."
Cost of U.N. Renovation Soars to $1.9 Billion - November 17, 2005 - The New York Sun: "Initial planning for the project was conducted in 2000 and again in 2002, yielding a cost estimate of $1.2 billion. The United Nations determined it needed to empty its premises entirely during the renovations, citing dangers posed by asbestos and other construction hazards. Offices of the world body were to be temporarily housed in a 900,000-square-foot, 35-story 'swing space' to be erected by the United Nations Development Corporation, a city-state public benefit corporation, over a neighboring city park. As a result, the secretary-general is recommending that the world body undertake its renovation in stages, under one of the four strategies for the refurbishment project set forth in the new report. Under "Strategy IV," the option endorsed by the secretary-general, a "phased approach" is undertaken. Ten floors of the Secretariat building at a time would be vacated and renovated, and the United Nations would lease approximately 228,000 square feet of commercial space in Midtown Manhattan to house the displaced staff. The world body would also rent commercial space in Long Island City to temporarily house the Dag Hammarskjold Library, and would erect temporary conference facilities on the U.N.'s North Lawn, a park on the world body's campus that is closed to the public. Under all four options, the U.N. would abandon plans to renovate the building occupied by the U.N. Institute for Training and Research, and today's report suggests the possibility of jettisoning that building as a U.N. property altogether, saying it "is not a cost-effective building to operate over the long term. ... The project would be completed in 2014, four years later than the United Nations said it had hoped to finish the upgrades."
Because the New York State Legislature did not issue the approvals necessary for the U.N. to seize Robert Moses Playground, the U.N. sought to rent about 700,000 square feet of commercial office space as an alternative.
Today's report, however, states that the 'failure of plans for the UNDC5 building,' as the swing space is called by the U.N., render it 'no longer a realistic option for swing space in the foreseeable future.' Moreover, 'no commercial solutions were found to accommodate the activities of the General Assembly and other intergovernmental organs,' the report states.
As a result, the secretary-general is recommending that the world body undertake its renovation in stages, under one of the four strategies for the refurbishment project set forth in the new report. Under "Strategy IV," the option endorsed by the secretary-general, a "phased approach" is undertaken. Ten floors of the Secretariat building at a time would be vacated and renovated, and the United Nations would lease approximately 228,000 square feet of commercial space in Midtown Manhattan to house the displaced staff.
The world body would also rent commercial space in Long Island City to temporarily house the Dag Hammarskjold Library, and would erect temporary conference facilities on the U.N.'s North Lawn, a park on the world body's campus that is closed to the public. Under all four options, the U.N. would abandon plans to renovate the building occupied by the U.N. Institute for Training and Research, and today's report suggests the possibility of jettisoning that building as a U.N. property altogether, saying it "is not a cost-effective building to operate over the long term.
The project would be completed in 2014, four years later than the United Nations said it had hoped to finish the upgrades."
NOT THAT I DIDN'T KNOW IT WAS COMING IN SOME WAY, BUT,
THIS IS CAUSE FOR EITHER CELEBRATION OR THESIS-CRASH.
After 10 Years and 3 Plans, U.N. Renovation Is in Sight - New York Times:
"Cruise ships, barges, islands, tent settlements, a 30-story annex, a Wal-Mart-size building, even Brooklyn.
All of them have been proposed by increasingly desperate United Nations officials as the place to locate thousands of employees and delegates while the organization’s stylishly timeless but dangerously antiquated 39-story headquarters are refurbished.
This decade-long search has ended now with a decision to begin a five-year, $1.876 billion renovation of the complex in the spring and to house the 2,600 people who must move out in rented space in Manhattan, across the East River in Long Island City and a temporary conference building on the United Nations campus.
...Those failings are serious, as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg underlined in October by demanding that the organization immediately improve its fire safety plans with sprinklers, smoke detectors and exit signs or he would prohibit visits by city students to the building and alert the public to the danger. The United Nations has pledged to make the adjustments in the coming months.
The elaborate rehabilitation plan, which the General Assembly is expected to approve soon, is the third in a decade. Like many other urgent items on the United Nations agenda, the mission has met with repeated delays.
The first plan was halted in 2005 when the New York State Legislature, angry about diplomats’ unpaid parking tickets, mismanagement of the Iraq oil-for-food program and what lawmakers viewed as the United Nations’ anti-Israel bias, refused to pass enabling legislation to construct a new annex on an underused city playground next door.
The second was abandoned a year later after its architect, Louis Frederick Reuter IV, a veteran of large project management in New York, grew tired of fighting persistent objections from Congress and United Nations bureaucrats. He resigned.
The author of the new plan is Michael Adlerstein, 62, an affable Brooklyn-born former National Park Service architect involved in the preservations of Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the New York Botanical Garden and the Taj Mahal and a man with 20 years of experience dealing with lawmakers in Washington....
“I took the job because it’s an ideal challenge for an architect at this point in my career,” he said. “It’s an iconic building of great stature in the world. You can show a picture of this building to people in remote, rural locations in the world and everyone will know it.”
While the famous exteriors will be unchanged, the insides will be brought up to 21st century standards of efficiency and security and reconfigured to consume 40 percent less energy.
The glass curtain wall will be replaced by a heavily laminated one that appears identical but is far stronger and able to withstand the blast of a bomb attack.
Energy-saving additions include sensors that turn off lights in unoccupied rooms and solar power systems.
...“Ten years from now there will be no way to tell that the U.N. was renovated unless you look at the Con Ed bill,” Mr. Adlerstein said. He said that he was well aware of the bribery scandals that have scarred the reputation of the United Nations procurement department but that Skanska, the Swedish company that is the construction manager, and his own people would make sure nothing like that recurred.
The cost of the project will be borne by the 192 member states in supplementary annual dues over the five-year period, with the United States responsible for 22 percent, or $413 million. The United Nations has leased office floors in a building at 305 East 46th Street and is negotiating for space nearby and in Lower Manhattan and Long Island City."
Ok, so the last few days have been considering program. To cut to the chase:
I had a brainstorming session (with AB) about program. I came up with 5 or 6 interesting ones. The big caveats were:
- "You are using the UN etc. to make arguments about architecture and agency, not about world peace and the like."
- "I should be able to distill program (that is interesting/important to me) from these, the arguments themselves are not the only things that matter (ie program is more important than argument/scenario)
Images of the blackboard (being as transparent and candid as possible here):
Based on this, I thought about 6 programs for a while. So far, the UN is the only one that has really gone anywhere fast. So in the spirit of ruthlessness and expediency, here is a slideshow ruminating on the UN as program, and Hong Kong and New York as sites. Its sort of all over the map and and loosely structured, but its doing something.
PLUS, ITS EXCITING! I am actually very into all this, and it dovetails really well with all my previous research. So, ruminations on other programs will proceed and summaries will be forthcoming, but for now,
HERE ARE SOME THOUGHTS ON THE UN AS OFFERING A THESIS (Including Proposal-ly things)
Hong Kong and the Culture of Disappearance
An Interview with Ackbar Abbas
By Geert Lovink
In a place like Hong Kong, different moments of history now seem to be out of step with each other.
What interests me is how to describe the little movements, certain happenings in the everyday life -- the unacknowledged historical processes.
In your lecture you spoke of the newly erected monument to the victims of Tiananmen Square in Victory Park, made by a Danish artist, as an ugly piece of kitsch which fitted into a series of spectacular events taking place during the Handover. This was within the realm of the simulacra of politics. On the other side, you said that there is indeed the possibility of a true form of modernity in local Hong Kong politics and aesthetics. You have found this in Hong Kong cinema. Do you see films from, for example, Wong Kar-wai, as an alternative to the political kitsch?
In the line of options that can be opened up, we could look at another dominant cultural form in Hong Kong which is architecture. Building infrastructure is one of the biggest projects going on, worldwide. However, there is very little reflection on building.
AA: When I came across the Koolhaas' article, 'The Generic City' I liked it because it was both against architectural snobbery and anti-identity. It discussed questions like repetition and seriality -- a whole new discourse on the city which might allow us to rethink the ways we produce it. Naming what is going on and by doing so, intervening in the process of creating a new urban space, bringing architecture in line with the artworld. However I was disappointed by the argument in the end. On the one hand, you have the anti-identity, which becomes the ruling one. It is a little bit like the Baudrillard argument of the silent masses where silence now becomes a form of imploded resistance. It can only be taken so far. In places like Hong Kong and Singapore, the 'generic' just means capital, low production costs and placing architecture outside the realm of other social values. Architecture becomes a purely practical process. One of the ways of avoiding the social question for the architect is by saying 'I am a builder.' However I think that Koolhaas is onto something that needs further development. I would like to see this urbanism as a genre, like in cinema. We should not celebrate it, but instead, within the genre of the generic city, make a twist, if architecture is going to make any claim to social responsibility. This is what we tried to do at the conference in Hong Kong about architecture and cultural studies -- to open up the dialogue with the architects. What kind of building would you like to see? How can architects work within the economic restraints? Once you asked these questions, you are already doing something. We all have a responsibility. It is also a question of specialisation. Architecture is not just engineering, it is not just construction, it is also social construction.
Opening up a dialogue is certainly what we want, but there are certain ground rules. It should not be a dialogue between East and West, simply because as soon as you say that, the positions are defined beforehand. By the same token, it should not be a dialogue between the Architect and the Theorist. It is the same issue: both are facing a common problem, which is how to deal with social processes. My model here would be Walter Benjamin's essay on translation. The translation, not just as a true copy of the original, but as the incomplete, full of faults. It would be an interesting model for what a dialogue would be. It is a question of cultural translation.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS MICHAEL ADLERSTEIN OF UNITED STATES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CAPITAL MASTER PLAN
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS MICHAEL ADLERSTEIN OF UNITED STATES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CAPITAL MASTER PLAN: "United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Michael Adlerstein of the United States as Executive Director of the Capital Master Plan at the Assistant Secretary-General level. Most recently, Mr. Adlerstein was the Vice-President and Architect of the New York Botanical Garden, America’s oldest and most respected centre for horticulture, botanical research and education.
In the 1980s, Mr. Adlerstein was the Project Director for the restoration of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, the most ambitious historic restoration project ever undertaken by the United States Department of the Interior. He led the master planning team and managed the team of architects, engineers, landscape architects and other consultants through the planning and design process and later managed the complexities of construction on Ellis Island. The success of the project led to his promotion to Chief Historical Architect. As such, he was recognized as the national expert in the field of historic preservation, advising the National Park Service Director and the Secretary of the Interior on all historic preservation issues.
During his National Park Service career, Mr. Adlerstein managed the planning, design and construction programme for the north-east region, including complex partnership projects at Gettysburg, Valley Forge, Acadia and Jamestown. Throughout the north-east region, he directed the design and construction process for major rehabilitation, stabilization and restoration of public facilities, visitor centres, historic buildings, utility systems, exhibits and other infrastructure.
Mr. Adlerstein, a New York native, received his architectural degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia and has worked as a State Department consultant on preservation issues on numerous projects, including the preservation of the Taj Mahal. He has been recognized for his contributions to the field of architecture with numerous awards, and in 1994 was made a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects."
"In recent years, I.B.M. has championed efforts to make data centers more efficient and to centralize more computing tasks in the data centers, with desktops and devices tapping in. These have had names like "autonomic," "utility" and grid computing.
Those concepts and research efforts have made a contribution to cloud computing. Experts say tools have been added to spread computing tasks across clusters of many machines and to make programming simpler. Advances likely to broaden the reach of cloud computing have often come from researchers tackling the challenges posed by Internet searches.
"In some ways, the cloud is a natural next step from the grid-utility model," said Frank Gens, an analyst at the research firm IDC. "What's different is the Google programming model, and that really opens things up. You don't have to be a Stanford or Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. to program cloud applications.""
Beam at Bridge Wings:
32 feet 10 inches
Height (Keel to Funnel):
Approximately 151,400 gross tonnes
2,592 lower berths
157,000 horsepower, environmentally friendly, gas turbine/diesel electric plant
Four pods of 21.5 MW each; 2 fixed and 2 azimuthing
Extra thick steel hull for strength and stability for Transatlantic Crossings
Estimated $800 million
- QM2 is five times longer than Cunard's first ship, Britannia (230 ft.)
- QM2 is 113 feet longer than the original Queen Mary
- QM2 is more than twice as long as the Washington Monument is tall (550 ft.)
- QM2 is 147 feet longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall (984 ft.)
- QM2 is more than 3½ times as long as Westminster Tower (Big Ben) is high (310 ft.)
- QM2 is only 117 feet shorter than the Empire State Building is tall (1248 ft.)
- QM2 is more than three times as long as St. Paul's Cathedral is tall (366 ft.)
- QM2 is as long as 41 double-decker London buses (31½ ft. each)
- QM2's whistle is audible for 10 miles
More Interesting Facts:
- In 1839, Queen Victoria awarded Samuel Cunard the first ever licence to deliver mail across the Atlantic, proudly granting his steam ship the honoured title RMS (Royal Mail Steamer). In 2004 RMS (Royal Mail Ship) Queen Mary 2 was awarded this privileged title and continues to celebrate this golden heritage.
- Queen Mary 2’s kennel programme is available on all crossings between New York and Southampton in either direction, and is overseen by a full-time Kennel Master who takes care of responsibilities such as feeding, walking and cleaning the ship’s 12 spacious kennels. Travelling dogs and cats also receive a complimentary gift pack and other animal amenities.The kennels and adjacent indoor and outdoor walking areas are open throughout the day, enabling passengers to spend significant time with their pet. Reservations for the kennels may be made at time of booking, and are based on space availability. Contact Cunard for fees and additional requirements.
Paying a Premium Not to Mingle at Sea - New York Times: "Over the past few years, Norwegian Cruise Line has been rolling out a new category of luxury cabins called Garden and Courtyard Villas that offer a private-access pool, sun deck, steam room and gym. A few of these rooms, billed as a “ship within a ship,” have their own hot tubs and garden terraces. Guests can even order room service from any restaurant onboard and stay holed up in their own little enclave, away from hoi polloi, if they so choose.
And Cunard, which operates the Queen Mary 2, is taking the class divisions further. The ship’s top dining rooms are already reserved for guests in the so-called Queens and Princess Grill Suites. For its latest vessel, the Queen Victoria, scheduled to debut in December, guests staying in those top suites will get their own elevator to take them to dinner, so they won’t have to rub elbows with the underclasses."
One last Columbia studio brief:
In the broadest sense, our studio program will be to design an infrastructure, a game, buildings, or even a city within an inclusive general economy that we describe in this brief. We will look to the way that energy & information are stored in the landscapes of the world- cities, highways, airports, deserts- and attempt to inflect the paths they flow along.
Dynamic systems in relation to each other condition not only the basics of interaction in the world, but also the very structure of time itself. The project of architecture, of design- is by its very nature, the construction of 'time machines'.
'"information and form always appear in association with historic development. In a world already endowed with a certain structure, any interaction between matter and energy- which signifies increased entropy- alters the structure and makes future changes more predictable..." In urban development, or in a building's construction, every decision- tracing a roadway, situating a facility, distributing a floor plan- conditions subsequent building episodes, rendering them more predictable; the energy necessary to materialize each of these decisions is accumulated in physical structures that on the one hand condition future construction, and on the other hand can be used to interpret past construction. The energy stored in construction- both in the materials themselves and in the significant order in which they find themselves as a result of transport and installation- is therefore projected toward the future, which it helps form, and toward the past, which it interprets.'
Fire and Memory, Fernadez-Galiano pp. 63/64
We will use this idea of energy, information, form, and time in the studio to develop a program in relation to contemporary problems of infrastructure and territory. We will add to it the model of general economy offered by Georges Bataille in his volumes The Accursed Share, and we will place Bataille's thinking against the 'World Game' concept proposed by Bucky Fuller.
'World Game is a continuing scientific research and physical prototyping development. It is devoted to progressive discovery of how most efficiently and expeditiously to employ  the total world-around resources,  total accumulated knowledge, and  the total already-produced technological tooling of Spaceship Earth, all three to the ever advancing equal advantage of all its present and future passengers.'
Critical Path, B. Fuller, p. 202
One of the strengths of Bataille's model in The Accursed Share is his ability to think through cultural, infrastructural and ecological energetic systems using an inclusive model. This addresses one of the basic limitations of Fuller's World Game, which emphasizes the fundamental survival of humans. I won't deny that our basic survival is indeed at stake today; however we will propose that factoring informational systems into the energy equations is necessary. One of the possible weaknesses of Bataille's model is an insistence on the unavoidable expenditure of energy. Whether this is seen as a waste, or a use of the energy for previously incomprehensible gains- c.f. potlatch, which Bataille cites, for example- will be one of the themes the studio tests.
'On the surface of the globe, for living matter in general, energy is always in excess; the question is always posed in terms of extravagance. The choice is limited to how the wealth is to be squandered... Solar radiation results in a superabundance of energy on the surface of the globe...living matter receives this energy and accumulates it within the limits given by the space that is available to it... real excess does not begin until the growth of the individual or group has reached its limits.'
The Accursed Share, Bataille, pp23-29
We will ask how architecture and urbanism can participate in a game within a general economy and general system of the world. What possible futures can be accessed by the time machines we develop?
We will visit several case study locations on our Kinne trip, which will include airports, highways around LA, the city of LA, and the Owens Gorge and Salton Sea desert areas near LA. In our visit to the Owens Gorge area, we will be guided by Matt Coolidge, working with CLUI [The Center for Land Use Interpretation], based out of LA. We will also visit their LA headquarters.
SPEED, TERRITORY, COMMUNICATION
Considering the project of architecture within this model of a general economy suggests the need for a wider net which can compass the 'invisible conspiracies' that theorists like Jameson have suggested we live surrounded by, in today’s unescapably geopolitical world.
The factors of mediation and migration described by Appadurai in his Modernity at Large parallel ideas that Foucault unpacked some 40 years ago, when he called the great variables of the post-modern and post-industrial world 'speed, territory, and communication'. These domains are not inherently part of the previous paradigm's vision of what an architect manages in their practice; however, one could argue that our current paradigm, shifts in technology, the sciences, global culture, politics and communication are indeed all vectors for a redefinition of what an architect or urban designer does, and in fact all those disciplines partake in the realms of mediation and migration- in the realms of 'speed, territory, and communication'.
The territories that architecture can establish- not just lines on the ground, or geometric composition, but networked energetic and material flows- the new speeds by which urban programs emerge, evolve, and propagate worldwide through social practices that are not part of buildings, but are nonetheless inseparable from space as a practice- the communications systems which are increasingly part of architecture- not in a semiotic process but in the ways that the construction of buildings increasingly offers the opportunity of construction within an intelligent system of manufacturing, financing, and use; these are all reasons why architecture as it has largely been practiced must undergo a paradigm shift on the practical and conceptual levels if it is to maintain or increase is value.
MEDIATION and MIGRATION
Appadurai's terms mediation and migration can impact design thinking on a very practical level. Much as Foucault changed the way we understand the work of language itself, in his text Archaeology of Knowledge, which redirected our attention away from a search from meaning, toward a search for the AFFECT of assemblies of words and concepts- similarly we have to consider the affect of mediation in today's world. This affect has little to do with the meaning or semiotic of architecture and space, and much more to do with the ways that space mobilizes ideologies, economies, cultures, and subjectivities. In this mode of thinking, it is irrelevant to argue about the meaning of a building, a facade, an urban space, a technology. The primary question leaps up in scale to ask how the design works, where it is relevant, what it moves. Affect addresses this issue.
Affect mediation is linked to MIGRATION. Migration of cultures, ideas, economies, information and energy. But also, migration of biomass and power. The biopower issue as engaged by thinkers like Foucault, Negri and Hardt, et.al., is key here, and today's architecture needs to address this fully.
Cities can inflect the massive flows of human bodies- by some accounts, in China alone hundreds of millions in the floating population, and worldwide some billions squatting on land they do not own- with entire nations depending on these 'illegal immigrants' to power economies, industry, agriculture. If cities can acknowledge, integrate, and inflect these masses, then they will be participating in an unprecedented manner.
PROGRAM , SITES
The site for this studio will be a generic, extended global landscape of migratory
infrastructures, highlighting the contrast from the open energy fields of the desert,
through the channels of the highway and the airport, to the energetic reservoirs of the city.
Although a general range of sites is given- Deserts, Highways, Cities, Airports- this site is extremely open. This studio will ask the students to formulate a thesis in response to the challenges offered by the studio brief. Students will develop their own programs and choose specific locations in the global 'site' to design their projects. It is suggested that the design solution is positioned approximately ten years in the future.
Our travel will take us to several locations on our Kinne trip to do case studies in Los Angeles, several airports in transit and in LA, the highways we can study around LA, and the Desert south and east of LA: the Salton Sea and Owens Valley areas. We'll pass infrastructural and energy accumulation sites: the Windfarms near Palm Springs, the many power plants, irrigation networks and infrastructures outside of LA.
There will also be an optional hop to Seattle to investigate further airport infrastructures, and the recently completed Seattle Library.
Methodologically, we will begin with an analysis process and develop a predictive model .
This will involve the conversion of data from dynamic, analytical models which simulate
systems behaviors, into a set of rules for designing architecture, infrastructure, and urban space. This process also will demand the conversion of these models into a set of rules for
playing the game. In this world game, the dynamic models should tell us something about the flow of energy and information through that world system.
REQUIRED READING [excerpts]
Fire and Memory: Fernandez-Galiano
Taking Measures Across the American Landscape: Corner & Maclean
Crying of Lot 49: Pynchon
Critical Path: B. Fuller
UBIK: Philip K. Dick
The Accursed Share: G. Bataille
City of Quartz, Dead Cities: Davis
Empire + Multitude: Hardt and Negri
A Thousand Years of NonLinear History: M. DeLanda
Structural Stability and Morphogenesis: R. Thom
Geopolitical Aesthetic: F. Jameson
Diamond Age: N. Stephenson
Lessons of Darkness: Herzog
Once Upon a Time in the West: Leone
Mamma Roma: Pasolini
Easy Rider: Hopper
Beau Travail: Denis
Lost Highway: Lynch
Paris, Texas: Wenders
Man With a Movie Camera: Vertov
Passenger, Zabriskie, Point, Red Desert: Antonioni
Repo Man: Cox
Until the End of the World: Wenders
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Gilliam
Shockwave Rider: J. Brunner
Electronic Disturbance, other texts: Critical Art Ensemble
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Thompson
Organizational Space: Keller Easterling
Tomorrow Now: Bruce Sterling
Anabasis: St Jean Perse
The Invisibles: Grant Morrison
Transmetropolitan: Warren Ellis
Lipstick Traces: Greil Marcus
Out of Control: Kevin Kelly
Smart Mobs: Howard Rheingold
Modernity at Large: Arjun Appadurai
Double Game: Sophie Calle
TechGnosis: Erik Davis
Watchmen: Alan Moore
A Thousand Plateaus: Gilles Deleuze + Felix Guattari
This is Peabody Air. A brief photo-documentary looking at air and its infrastructure in a Peabody Terrace apartment (mine). Almost identical to the one on the left:
I am attempting to bring together:
2) State of Exception (?)
3) Peabody Terrace
Ambitious? I think not.
Let the images do the talking (composition does matter):
BLDGBLOG: The bridged architecture of adjacent peaks and "the fallen man of letters":
"Awesomely, sci fi author and war correspondent H.G. Wells even did some reporting on the matter. For The New York Times, back in 1916, Wells wrote:
Mountain surfaces are extraordinarily various and subtle. You may understand Picardy upon a map, but mountain warfare is three-dimensional. A struggle may go on for weeks or months consisting of apparently separate and incidental skirmishes, and then suddenly a whole valley organization may crumble away in retreat or disaster.
Describing the Italy-Austrian mountain war as 'among the strangest and most picturesque [battlefields] in all this tremendous world conflict' –
– in fact, he adds, the "fighting in the Dolomites has been perhaps the most wonderful of all these mountain campaigns" – Wells goes on:
- Everywhere it has been necessary to make roads where hitherto there have been only mule tracks or no tracks at all; the roads are often still in the making, and the automobile of the war tourist skirts precipices and takes hairpin bends upon tracks of loose metal not an inch too broad for the operation, or it floats for a moment over a dizzy edge while a train of mule transport blunders by. (...) Down below, the trees that one sees through a wisp of cloud look far too small and spiky and scattered to hold out much hope for a fallen man of letters. And at the high positions they are too used to the vertical life to understand the secret feelings of the visitor from the horizontal.
- The aspect of these mountains is particularly grim and wicked; they are worn old mountains, they tower overhead in enormous vertical cliffs of sallow gray, with the square jointings and occasional clefts and gullies, their summits are toothed and jagged; the path ascends and passes around the side of the mountain upon loose screes, which descend steeply to a lower wall of precipices. In the distance rise other harsh and desolate-looking mountain masses, with shining occasional scars of old snow. Far below is a bleak valley of stunted pine trees, through which passes the road of the Dolomites.
Burying the Past | Metropolis Magazine | November 2002:
"Since October 2001 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has thrown out nearly 50 percent of its examiner collections of patents dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. Three things are being lost: a filing system, a specialized drafting technique, and a historical record of invention. And the history of an entire design medium is being destroyed."
"The patent examiner's former classification system contained almost 500 classes of technology, each with hundreds of subdivisions. It allowed researchers to easily learn the history of a patent and compare it to other similar designs. "Seldom does an invention come along that is as out of the blue as the first lightbulb, or electric motor, or laser," Rabin says. "Most are incremental improvements that fit in or between other similar patents. Being able to quickly span a decade or so of similar work in a matter of an hour provides an inventor a context and history he can't find anywhere else, and usually results in a better invention."
Unfortunately the computer system that will replace the paper library functions much the way a search engine does on the Web. Rabin explains, "You fish around with some selected words and hope the patent you are seeking (the one that may mean trouble for your invention) has the same words that you have chosen to look for it." If a match doesn't come up, a researcher is out of luck.
Three-quarters of the patents in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century contained beautifully lithographed drawings made by artisans that specialized in patent drafting; now their work is vanishing from public view forever. Beyond the delicate line quality and light and shade on display in, for example, Edison's 1893 patent for the Electric Locomotive (a recycling bin find), some of the patents, like R. S. Kibler's Continuously Variable Transmission, from 1936, were meticulously colored. The USPTO keeps a complete set of pristine patent drawings in the very same Iron Mountain facility as Corbis's collections. But the patent examiner's collection was a working one. Generations of examiners have added notes, new findings, and thoughts to the patent sheets, often in handwriting that can be dated by the style of its scrawl. This enabled each new examiner to see what his past colleagues thought of the invention, providing an invaluable picture of patent history. The black-and-white low-resolution scans available online at www.uspto.gov omit not only those notes (now lost forever) but the sheer beauty of the line quality, color, depth, and shade of the drawings.
"To save everything would," Rabin says glumly, "take a K-Mart"--about 75,000 square feet--to house the 6.5 million patents, which average 16 pages each. But he is doing his part via www.edisonsark.org, a Web site that includes color scans of the patents he has found, thus at least preserving the documents as they should be seen. For Rabin "the dilemma is how to preserve these patents and show what's being lost."
Freenet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Freenet's founders argue that only with true anonymity comes true freedom of speech, and that what they view as the beneficial uses of Freenet outweigh its negative uses. Their assumption is that free speech is more important than nearly any other consideration and Freenet attempts to remove the possibility of any group imposing their beliefs or values on any other. Although many states censor communications to different extents, they all share one commonality in that a body must decide what information to censor and what information to allow. What may be acceptable to one group of people may be considered offensive or even dangerous to another. In essence, the purpose of Freenet is that nobody is allowed to decide what is acceptable. Tolerance for each others' values is encouraged and failing that, the user is asked to turn a blind eye to content which opposes his or her views. One analysis of Freenet files conducted in the year 2000 claimed that the top 3 types of files contained in Freenet were text (37%), audio (21%), and images (14%). 59% of all the text files were drug-related, 71% of all audio files were rock music, and 89% of all images were pornographic. Due to the nature of Freenet, a typical user may unknowingly host this sort of information, which may hypothetically make them subject to severe civil and criminal penalties. Freenet attempts to prevent this through "plausible deniability", preventing the user from knowing what's on his or her own node and making it difficult to determine if a piece of information is in any given node without causing the distribution of that piece of information throughout the network to change in the process. No court cases have tested any of this to date.
Reports of Freenet's use in authoritarian nations is difficult to track due to the very nature of Freenet's goals. One group, Freenet-China, has translated the Freenet software to Chinese and is distributing it within China on CD and floppy disk."
NPR : A Los Angeles 'Hotel' for Internet Carriers: "And like the guests in a regular hotel, these networks can get to know each other. So if one telecom company needed to link up with another, it's much easier when they're under the same roof. That can be particularly helpful in the event of a disaster like the December 2006 earthquake that struck Taiwan, severing critical undersea fiber optic cables. Most voice and data traffic into and out of Taiwan was slowed or halted, and connectivity to and from other Asian countries was drastically reduced. Getting to the bottom of the ocean and repairing the cables has taken months. But places such as One Wilshire were able to re-route some of that Internet and voice traffic through their facility within days. Some observers says the role carrier hotels play in the Internet's ability to cope with disasters, could make them an attractive target for terrorists. Could 'carrier hotels' like One Wilshire be targeted because of their importance in global communications? And what if an earthquake or other natural disaster hit Los Angeles, disabling this critical site?"
HavenCo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "HavenCo Limited is a data hosting services company founded in 2000 which operates from Sealand, an unrecognised self-declared 'sovereign principality' that occupies a man-made former World War II defensive facility originally known as Roughs Tower located approximately six miles from the coast of Suffolk, southeast England."
BLDGBLOG: "Surely someone with loads of money could finally do something interesting, for instance, putting aside the cocaine addiction and the personal fleets of Range Rovers and the Malibu mansions and buying land, buying lots of land, buying as many tens of thousands of acres as they can afford – and not developing it, not re-selling it, not clear-cutting it, not even necessarily preserving it, just doing something out there in their own private wilderness, whether it's opening a system of public trails – or maybe you can subscribe to the land the way you subscribe to a magazine, and so you get access to new trails every few months – or building radio astronomical research stations, or a summer camp for landscape journalists, or the BLDGBLOG Academy, or a human clone farm, or whatever. Build a private cave. Who cares. But, surely, with literally tens of millions of acres of land at stake here, and with more and more – and more – people becoming billionaires, let alone millionaires, someone with a little imagination will come along finally and do something interesting out there, away from the airports, alone in the darkness of North America, surrounded by maple trees, coming up with plans, changing history, supplying novelists with fodder for plots for decades to come. Otherwise we'll just build more houses."
The Return of Superfly: "A couple of days later, eating at a T.G.I. Friday's, Lucas scowled through glareproof glass to the suburban strip beyond. 'Look at this shit,' he said. A giant Home Depot down the road especially bugged him. Bumpy Johnson himself couldn't have collected protection from a damn Home Depot, he said with disgust. 'What would Bumpy do? Go in and ask to see the assistant manager? Place is so big, you get lost past the bathroom sinks. But that's the way it is now. You can't find the heart of anything to stick the knife into.'"
So, the last few days have not been particularly productive on the speculation side; ruminating on Peabody Intervention has not produced much by way of fruitful architectural thought. As far as researching goes, I have had many more thoughts and frustrations and revelations, but I am still convinced (as was discussed last Friday) that some immediate, rapid, productive speculation is in order. Otherwise a downward spiral will begin shortly, and this will want to turn into a (bad) research paper. So, though I should have initiated this yesterday, I am now proposing an exercise in speculation. The bulk of it will be done before the weekend, and it will be analyzed and formatted over the weekend. The point is to make a proposal (which I am totally not sure of) and begin outlining an attack to it, which will hopefully allow me to bring in and frame the myriad of disparate thoughts and strands and blah blah blah.
In the spirit of the Daily Radical Proposal (yesterday's and today's of which this will count for),
GOOGLE URBANISM 1.0
The 700 MHz broadcast TV spectrum goes up for grabs early next year (Jan?). This is true.
What this means: the portion of the spectrum (2-51?) that was formerly reserved for the broadcast of analog television signals is available as TV stations were forced (asked?) to switch over to digital broadcasting by a certain date (2009?).
Google submitted a letter to the FCC stating that if 4 conditions of "openness" were imposed on the winner of the auction, they would submit a minimum open bid of 4.6 billion $ (what is this relative to current market value). More on this later, but it is basically a 'classical' economic response to a 'duopoly' that is being proposed, with all the attendant baggage. Plus Google wants in, obviously.
Perhaps a combo of cheap devices and free service based on an ad-centric model akin to that of their search engine is in store for nation-wide free wireless access, through any device, but especially a Google phone.
The other companies, cable TV and phones are pissed, AT&T the least (because they don't own the last mile to your home).
- It sounds so spatially evocative (think hydropower a little):
"At issue is a swath of spectrum in the 700 megahertz band"
"breaks up the 700 megahertz band into a five blocks of spectrum and requires the owners of a large, 22-MHz upper "C Block" to provide a platform that is more open to devices and applications."
"The FCC will soon auction off access to that spectrum, which is considered highly valuable because of its far-reaching strengths."
"leveled the playing field for companies that want to get into the network business but cannot break through the defenses erected by the massive incumbents who dominate the industry,"
- It's about networks
- Google is intense
- the internet, wireless communications, airwaves and the attendant metaphors are interesting: software v hardware, hacking, open source, open source community, docs, earth etc, massive multiplayer online universes, crazy networked physical infrastructure vs wireless infrastructure with mobile devices
- there is plenty of intense physical stuff to deal with
- Google has issues with censoring in China, is beginning to deal with global geographic issues
- maybe there is a wacky crossover between spectrums, comm waves and physical pollution as different emanations of the same stuff
- the whole ideas of communities (chat, email group, site, social progs, multiplayer lives and games) and forms of web-bing (blog, email, browsing, apps, storage, sharing, and so on) would seem exciting and spatial and you know
- s.o.e. is allover this
- this list goes on, and could get organized, but it all leads to
Small business - Patent Law - Prior Art Search and Existing Patents - USPTO Stopfakes.gov: "The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) strongly recommends that all prospective applicants retain the services of a registered patent attorney or patent agent to prepare and prosecute their applications. The preparation of an application for patent and the conducting of the proceedings in the United States Patent and Trademark Office to obtain the patent is an undertaking requiring the knowledge of patent law and rules and USPTO practice and procedures, as well as knowledge of the scientific or technical matters involved in the particular invention."