9.27.2001

new finds at half-price:

The Pritzker Architecture Prize: The First Twenty Years
(often described as the "Nobel of Architecture"... the book brings together representative projects of all the laureates, which serves as a good overview of the big shots for reference, especially since I have no desire to buy individual monographs for many of them. This award was initiated in 1979. There is not a single woman laureate among them. Not one. Read the list. Is there another field in which you can say the same?

here are the names of some prominent women architects, for those (including me) who sometimes have a hard time thinking of any....
Zaha Hadid
her work has been criticized for being difficult to understand, and she seems to piss a lot of people off, but that could be said of many of the male laureates, as well.
Denise Scott Brown
her husband+partner, Robert Venturi, received the Pritzker in 1991
Liz Diller
Billie Tsien
Merrill Elam
Adele Naude Santos
Maya Lin
Karen Bausman
Leslie Gill

some no longer living:
Charlotte Perriand, collaborator with Le Corbusier
Eileen Grey
Lilly Reich



also purchased:
The Ground Beneath Her Feet, my first Salman Rushdie venture....

Experiencing Architecture by Steen Eiler Rasmussen (an old dog-eared copy of a first-year-architecture-school standard)

and Arquitecturas del Tiempo (endearing english translation of that page here and amazon ordering info here) monograph of installations, furniture and architecture by Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue:
"Time Architecture brings together sixteen projects in which the temporal factor is as important as the spatial, the obvious basis of all construction. In these works, however, 'temporal' is not necessarily synonymous with 'ephemeral'. In fact, Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue believe less in a conception whose meaning is directed towards a final closure than in an ongoing work made up of instants in which, as Goethe remarked to Eckermann, each step along the way is, without ceasing to be a step, a goal in itself. Between space, time and movement, these architectures bear witness to a journey which extends from exhibitions in Harvar, Venice and Copenhagen to the Contemporary Art Fair in Madrid, taking in the play of shadows a building produces, the design elements destined for other, childhood, games, and the changing set design of an opera premiered in the architects' own Barcelona studio. The projects presented here combine architectural reality with its representaion to create a new reality that enables a constructed and essentially immovable space to move -- in time -- from continent to continent. Thanks to their migratory nature, these works are consistently different without, for all that, ceasing to be themselves..."

9.25.2001

one day, one entry.
I double-dog-dare myself.

today --
two meetings with clients that I knew would be long meetings, involving lots of nodding and listening as they told their tales (both are talkers). One for lunch, lasted 4 hours. The other (dinner) lasted 3 1/2. The surprise is that I actually let go of the "get through this meeting, get things accomplished" mode and really listened. Discussions ensued of Vietnam, Matagorda Bay, fishing, strings of lights like a necklace around the shore, the Ant Farm artists, quilting, pornography, friendship, betrayal, Salman Rushdie, sea bass.... (not necessarily in that order)

9.14.2001

I find I am grieving not only for the dead and the bereaved, and for the horror of this particularly vicious act, but also for those whose hatred of us is so great, for those who see the arrogance in this "superpower," and for all of the misunderstandings and the gridlocked minds throughout the world. It makes me think of how, in the few, unfortunately, heated arguments I have experienced, I feel an overwhelming sense of my brain being tied in knots, of the foggy, dense greyness of attempting to communicate when walls and defenses are rising up quickly all around me.

At the noon remembrance ceremony here on the campus of the University of Texas, thousands of students and faculty overflowed the Main Mall, softly singing the national anthem, and then the "Eyes of Texas Are Upon You" (the same tune as "I've been working on the railroad...). Whoever was brought in to lead the singing made, I think, a powerful choice by singing both songs very slowly, and simply. The crowd responded in kind, and the singing slowly drifted over and through all of us, voices so, so soft and gentle. It ended with a single bagpiper, playing the "Eyes of Texas" main melody, repeating over and over. This was supposed to be the end of the ceremony, the signal for all to make there way from the campus, but everyone stayed, EVERYONE -- silent, and observing, some with hands lifted in either the school "Longhorns" symbol, many with the peace symbol. After a VERY long time, people finally began drifting away, and you could hear the whispering and shuffling of feet.

And then, I watched an amazing thing. At the center of this very large crowd, at the main flagpole, a group of students holding hands slowly drew a circle, with others joining in, expanding its circumference as the crowd thinned. It looked as if the circle had been drawn in space BY the movement of the crowd. Some people were holding signs asking peace, some wore black armbands. I stood and watched as the circle grew, and the green lawn inside was left empty, with the flagpole at the center. Students who were leaving turned and watched the circle grow, and some more joined in. It reached the outer limits of the lawn, and held stable, with probably 200 students all joined. And then I heard, VERY VERY quietly, so quiet, in fact, that I thought it was coming from somewhere else, or it was something I was imagining, the soft, soft singing of "all we are say-ing......is give peace a chance.....all we are say-ing......is give peace a chance....." A quiet quiet, quiet plea. This continued, with a respectful silence (and many photojournalists) all around, for quite some time. Tears ran slowly down my face, and I stood with them, in a second, looser circle of witnesses for their simple, powerful act.

Often speaking softly, but deliberately, is the most passionate expression and most effective way of getting a message across. This floored me. No enraged demonstrations, no cries for attention, no rhetoric, just a simple, sad plea for humanity.

I watched the local news to see how this was covered, as the stations were surveying all of the various events of remembrance across Texas. They showed the large crowd, discussed the display of school, and patriotic, spirit, and turned to a different story. Something about how Walmart had sold out of flags. The quiet plea didn't make the cut, apparently.

And as I type this, there is a map up on CNN, with expert commentators outlining the possible offensive stategies, diagrams being drawn in yellow delineating the access routes into Afghanistan. The game, I'm afraid, is well underway.




wood's lot has an extensive compilation of views from ALL sides of the issues.

Caterina's friend Chad writes "I woke up yesterday with a line from T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" reverberating through my head endlessly..."

I find I must post it here as well. Enough talk.
Let the poets speak.




What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust

. . . . .

Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours

. . . . .

What is that sound high in the air
Murmur of maternal lamentation
Who are those hooded hordes swarming
Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth
Ringed by the flat horizon only
What is the city over the mountains
Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air
Falling towers
Jerusalem Athens Alexandria
Vienna London
Unreal

9.13.2001

with all of the rhetoric, all of the experts commentating, all of the press conferences, the thing that stands out above the mindless talking TALKING TALKING, is the word "literally."

I hear it everywhere:
Diane Sawyer "...with backhoes literally dragging the rubble apart..." victims "...then it was literally raining down on top of me..." witnesses "...you could hear people literally screaming for their lives..." politicians "...this nation has literally been brought to a stand still..." agencies "...the FBI has put literally every agent on this case..." Peter Jennings "...cabdrivers have literally ripped the seats out of their cabs to be able to help carry victims bodies..."

Listen for it. It's all over the airwaves, the radio, in print, on the internet. Many Americans (and many others) live in such a figurative, virtual society, and it has now all been wrenched into the literal. Into the real, sensory world, filled with direct, analog implications. This means this, instead of this means that. Nothing digital about it.

In their search for frameworks of reference, people are using metaphors and similes they are familiar with: "...it was like night..." "...it's a battlefield down there..." But for those moments when the towers came down, it was night. It is a battlefield. My fear is that people will respond with other frames of reference that they do have -- the posturing and irresponsible crys for ACTION by the good people of every Armaggeddon movie. It's already happening. Someone fired shots into a Muslim community center in Dallas, just north of Austin. Somewhere else, a school bus of Muslim children has been attacked, with people throwing stones.

This is not a movie. This is literal. This is real. This is shocking and sickening and sobering. Yes, we need heroes, and pride, and strength. But please, let us be characters with depth, and not merely a teeming angry throng of extras, playing our patriotic parts.

9.11.2001

I visited the World Trade Center for the first time this past January. I rode the subway in to the stop located in the basement of one tower, bought a green and yellow checkered scarf in the hall of shops there, and ate a Krispy Kreme Donut while sitting in the sunshine out on the plaza.

It was early in the morning, sometime around 9am.

9.10.2001

back in... the saddle... again......
coming soon: elaborations on the themes of the past few weeks:

more insubordination of habit, notions of record vs. document, subterranean spaces, planes and points, materiality and the brick project, architecture as narrative vs. architecture as need, classroom dynamics, rollercoaster physics, birthdays, birds and bella.