PRACTICE: Outside In | Inside Out

PRACTICE: Outside In | Inside Out


So good afternoon, and welcome. Just before we start, I
wanted to say something about contextualizing the
first part of this afternoon before Grace introduces
the conference. I’m really delighted
that we’re having this important conference
at this particular moment. The topic of practice
has been something that’s been really
important here at the GSD. At various times, we’ve had
really an incredible array of courses focusing on practice,
and today we also continue to be dedicated to this topic,
and we have many, many courses. And indeed, there is a
structure here in place which is called the practice
platform, which Grace La leads, and that’s really the vehicle
for bringing us together here for this practice symposium. One of the many
wonderful courses that we used to
have in the past was taught by a professor
called Sapers and Mack Scogin who is the Kajima
Professor in Practice here at the GSD. Sadly, Carl Sapers passed
away not so long ago, and so it seemed like a
really important moment and important
opportunity for us to use the beginning of this conference
to simply also recognize Carl Sapers and his
contributions to the GSD and to the topic of practice. So we’ve invited Mack as
his co-conspirator, people who really worked
together very closely for this incredible course,
to say a few words about Carl and his legacy. Please welcome Mack Scogin. [applause] Thanks, Mohsen. Believe me, wherever
Carl is right now, he is really
laughing his head off that I’m up here
trying to explain him. Who’s a former
student of Carl’s? Yes, well, you will
understand a few things that I wanted to say about Carl. Carl is an incredibly
special person, and I’ve written down
this, because I taught with Carl eight
years in this course, and I never wrote down a
word, and it drove him crazy. And so I’ve written down
some things about Carl and how he affected the
discipline of architecture. Carl was a very important
person, in his lifetime, to any architect practicing. Not just in the United
States, in the world. Carl was counsel to the AIA,
the NCARB, the lawyers that teach in the profession. He cut a really wide swath
across all these institutions. He was incredibly respected. His memorial
service– one moment, someone said that actually– if you know anything about
law, this is pretty incredible. He had three law
clerks that ended up being the governor of the
state of Massachusetts. That’s pretty impressive–
and especially when he was practicing law in
a fairly narrow realm. In fact, pretty unique
realm at the level that he was practicing. So I’m going to read most of
this, just to get through it and be brief and let
everyone else talk the rest of the afternoon. This symposium is sponsored
in part by the Carl Sapers Ethics in Practice Fund. So by way of an introduction
to its purposes, I’d like to say a
few words about Carl Sapers and his
extraordinary influence on the practice and
discipline of architecture over the past 40 or so years. Carl Sapers was as much
or more than anyone I have ever known involved in
the practice of architecture, dedicated to the transformation
of the virtual architect to the virtuous
architect, practicing within the discipline
at the highest level of moral standards. What I loved most,
and why I thought it was important to work
with Carl for many years on legal issues in the
practice of architecture, was that what he believed
in most was not so much how the architect should operate
within the strict letter of the law of its
profession, but in fact, it was how the larger realm
of legalities defining the profession could liberate
the architect in service to a broader definition
of the profession to sustain its futures. In other words, he was
liberating the architect within this veil of
rules and regulations in ways that piqued
your imagination. That’s the way he taught. In short, Carl was a
designer of serious realities to inform the world
of imagination for the present and future
generations of architects. The Carl Saperses of the
world are critical partners in the practice of architecture
that structure the instrumental ways in which we practice,
and more importantly, help us establish the
ethical framework necessary to our very
existence, our sustainability, and our ever-evolving
discourse in architecture. So when you see someone
like Harry Cobb talk about– which, Carl had Harry come and
talk about the John Hancock building here in Boston
and its development, and talk about the problems– the case story about the
problems of the glass falling out of that building– and his incredible
ability to convince that board of directors
of that institution to rebuild the facade in
its original condition based on principle– the principle that it was for
that city, next to that church, next to that plaza, in
exactly the way it was– because of his belief in the
Boston environment, the way he grew up here, that it created
a resonance within the city that needed to be sustained. You should get his
book, by the way. This is a sales pitch. Buy his book. It’s just coming out. And he talks about it. He literally says that
his life in architecture would have been ruined– destroyed– if he hadn’t been
able to convince that board to build the building
back the way it was. And so when Frank Gehry goes
out and builds his house with a bunch of toys, it
looks like this conglomeration of parts and pieces,
and it’s all about him and the way he thinks and the
way he plays with architecture. It’s meaningful in
that it’s grounded in this disciplinary and
principled idea about what you can do as an architect
the moment of inspiration, and how that inspiration can
project itself into years and years of development. And especially in
the case of Frank, where he takes this almost
playful look at architecture and turns it into the
development of whole systems and new ways of thinking
and making architecture. Same thing with somebody like
Peter Eisenman, who designs houses that you
can’t really live in. If you step out of the bed,
you’re down on the next floor. Not such a happy condition. But then again, the
same person makes– in Berlin– this Holocaust
Memorial that just absolutely breaks your heart when you
experience it within the city. It has as much power
and authority of emotion than you could ever imagine. There’s example after example of
this, where architects are not just designing. They’re acting on principle. They’re acting on a set
of beliefs and ethics that extend their
work into the future and sustain both time,
politics, debate– academic debate– and I think
that’s what we’re here to talk about today– of how the future of the
practice of architecture can sustain itself
for the future. So we’re looking forward to a
lot of pressure on you guys. Thank you. [applause] Thank you, Mack
that was actually a beautiful tribute to Carl. Many of us studied with him,
and he really was a wonder. So this symposium, I’m delighted
that you are all here today. We put it together
to consider discourse on contemporary issues
of design practice, and we’re structuring
it in two parts. First, the external pressures
of economic, environmental, and political systems, and
then the second part on internal forces of tools,
techniques, and strategies for design. So we’re attempting, here, to
address the multifaceted nature of the profession, and we
will explore these themes for the design of practice
such as work and labor, tools and technology,
ethics and agency. Our goal and hope is
that this symposium will highlight potential avenues
for the growth and constitution of practice, as well
as the issues currently at stake within the profession. We have, again,
the two sessions, and I’d like to
introduce our moderator for the first session. It is entitled “Building
Practice: Ethics, Agency, and Labor,” and please welcome
our new Chair of Architecture, Mark Lee. [applause] Thank you, Grace. When Mack was talking, the only
thing I was thinking in my head was the former NBA player
Allen Iverson talking about, “Practice? You want to talk
about practice?” [laughter] But the title of this
panel is, as Grace said, “Building Practice:
Ethics, Agency, and Labor.” This panel addresses
the current systems of value in contemporary design
practice for the management and creation of labor,
the evaluation of risk, and the mediation of underlying
economic and social dynamics in the design and the
built environment. Focusing on the duties of the
designer in our current culture of production, the panelists
will hold a critical discussion on the external forces
affecting practice, and the growing crisis of the
modernization of the design disciplines. The evolution of
practice will be examined through historical,
ethnographical, and other qualitative lenses, reviewing
complex systems of relations between key players in
the creation of the built environment. In outlining the
organizational distinctions between formal and
informal design methodologies, corporate
conglomerations and grassroot design
teams, the discussion will emphasize the
sociopolitical role of design, questions of
professional identity, and the opportunities to
increase the agency of design in the face of
uncertain futures. We have four speakers,
and each speaker will give a 10
minute presentation, and I will introduce each
speaker before they speak. And I will try to make sure
that my introduction is not longer than your presentation. [laughter] The first speaker
is Aaron Cayer. Aaron is an ethnographer,
historian, and educator of architecture. He’s currently an Assistant
Professor of Architecture at the University of New Mexico. Prior to New Mexico, he taught
architecture history and theory at Cal Poly Pomona, and he was
a Senior Research Associate at cityLAB, an urban research
center within UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban
Design, from 2012 to 2017. Also in LA, he
co-founded the LA chapter of Architecture Lobby of 2016. Aaron received his PhD in
architecture from UCLA, as well as undergraduate
and graduate degrees in architecture from Norwich
University in Vermont. His current research focus
is on histories and theories of post-war corporate
architectural practices as they are informed by
those of labor, capitalism, and urban political economies. Welcome, Aaron. [applause] Thank you so much. Thanks to both Grace and to
Mark for the kind invitation. I’m thrilled to be here. So I thought I would begin
today by briefly putting on my hat of the
late sociologist Robert Gutman over my
historian hat for just a moment to look at some of the important
shifts that have taken place within the practice
of architecture over the past several
decades of firm sizes, distributions of
revenue, and firm types. So if we consider, for a moment,
all of the firms in the United States, we can see
that as of 2012, from the most recently
available economic census data, that 92% of all
architecture firms are comprised of
less than 20 people. And when we compare
this to the early 1970s, we can see that these statistics
are virtually unchanged. But what has changed? So when we look at the kinds
of firms people are working at, we can see that roughly
10% more people are working in large firms of more than
100 now than in the 1970s, and 10% less in small
firms, so this effectively means that large firms
are getting much larger, while small firms have
decreased in size. But perhaps more
importantly to us and to my work in
particular, the changes in revenue distributions
in large firms are even more dramatic. So here we can see that even
though only 1% of all firms are large, they account for
30% of the total revenue in the field, and that
the 92% of all small firms are now competing for an
increasingly small portion of only 38%. And so this means that not only
are large firms getting larger, but the revenue
margins per employee are becoming much higher
in larger firms, which is a complete shift
from the 1970s, when revenue per employee were
higher in small firms. So how might we explain
these kinds of shifts? How might we teach
about it or study them? Well, one way is
to think about how the external dynamics,
including the pressures of so-called
neoliberal capitalism, have redefined the
labor of the architect, as well as the cultures and
structures of their practices. So with this view
in mind, I’m going to talk a bit about
one particular case study which is part of a
current book project of mine. And so I first began by turning
to the history of a California architecture firm that
started as a profit-sapping, three and quickly four-person– all men– architecture
partnership known as Daniel, Mann,
Johnson, Mendenhall architects in 1946 in Santa
Maria, California. And in the firm’s
first three years, the three architects and one
engineer were nearly bankrupt. They were taking
turns in and out of the hospital due to
stress-induced stomach ulcers. There were tall stacks of bills
unpaid, teetering unsteadily in their office, and they
were blaming each other for the firm’s inability
to make a profit. So we know this
narrative quite well. However, the founding
partners would be stunned to know that the
firm would become the largest global architecture urban
planning and construction firm in the world, presently
marked by its near 100,000 employees and over $18
billion in annual revenue, under a new name
since 1990, AECOM. So I began this
research by asking, at a moment when many
large-scale architecture firms were beginning to collapse by
the end of the 20th century– including The
Architects Collaborative here in Cambridge– what
were the conditions that made enduring corporate
entities such as DMJM, and thus AECOM possible, and what were
the architects within them required to do? So the first had to do with the
culture of the practice itself and the architects’ ability
to embrace rather than resist the structures of capitalism
in which they were embedded. So they hired a
management consulting firm by the name of Booz,
Allen, and Hamilton, and the leading consultant
here on the right, named Douglas Russell, outlined a
new structure for DMJM that was actually based on the
structure of Booz Allen itself, which included a new code
of partnership ethics that emphasized objectivity
and, quote, “dispassion.” And he demanded that each
practitioner view each other– whether they were
architects, engineers, landscape architects,
or urban planners– as social and economic equals. And so as a result,
the firm incorporated and began to grow by
acquiring and merging with a diverse array
of firms to keep up with the shifting demands of
the urban political economy. And so here you can see
a list, since the 1950s, of all of the firms
that were acquired. And even by today, I probably
need to update this list, because it changes
quite frequently. But each firm that was
acquired was understood to be a true counterpart. And well into the
1970s, the revenue that was generated
by the architects was equal to that
of the engineers. So by the 1970s, the vice
president, at the time, of DMJM argued that they were
a conglomeration. And so in business literature,
the word “conglomerate” is commonly used to describe a
particular type of corporation that proliferated
during the 1960s by acquiring and merging with
a diverse array of firms, often in completely unrelated
services or in geographies. But in this particular instance,
the verb “conglomeration,” meaning to ball together,
is being used as a noun. And so if we take this origin
of the word one step further, the core Latin roots of
the term “glem” and “glom” actually mean to latch
onto or to embrace. And so the use of the
term “conglomeration” actually signaled a new culture
of architectural practice that accepted the
various manifestations of architectural work by
measuring not what was or what was not to be
considered architecture, but rather by what was and what
could be considered as such. And so in practice, this
had direct implications for the labor of the architect. So in addition to
overseeing the firm, each partner was responsible
for the marketing of new work, including forming and acquiring
these new subsidiaries, some of which were viewed as,
quote, “capital extensive,” while the rest of
the firm, including the production of drawings, was
described as labor intensive. And so if we look at the
firm organization chart from the 1970s, we can see this
emerging schism or separation between manual labor and
immaterial labor, which is a testament to a
post-Fordist economy of work in which manual labor inputs
were not necessarily directly correlated to profit output. So what you’re seeing here is
essentially the subsidiaries being described in
diagrams, literally in a detached manner here. So what this meant was that
one could start to make money without putting in
any manual labor, such as the labor of drawings. So some of the
subsidiaries included a real estate company
called Realtech Resources in Los Angeles. They also developed a data
processing company called Logicomp, and here
we see a rare image of women working in the firm. But they also had a
series of off-shoots, including a space planning
and interior design firm, a construction
contract management company. They had a cosmic X-ray firm, as
well as an aerial surveillance firm for government
espionage– which, in the office they described
as, quote, “master planning.” [laughter] And in fact, the
entire urban economy was defined as the
site for the architect. So they drew this
circular urban system that was used as an
experimental city that was comprised of
12 subsystems that really modeled the philosophy
of the firm itself. So the city, like the firm, was
comprised of social, economic, political, and
physical subsystems, but architecture was
actually designated as only part of the physical
attributes of the city. However, when we
consider the broad range of practices in which the
architects were engaged– in the broader scope of work– we can see that the
field of architecture was, indeed, much, much wider. And so this
structure of practice also allowed DMJM to expand the
scope of the project itself, including prototypes for
the first intercontinental ballistic missile system,
or a sewer treatment plant that won numerous
design awards in Los Angeles. And so in 1990, the DMJM leaders
initiated a new consortium of firms– the details of which I
cannot get into today– and formed AECOM,
which has continued along the expansionary path
of capitalist accumulation. And as one vice president of
AECOM has concluded in 2010, we are AECOM. We can do anything. Indeed, AECOM is presently
the largest revenue generator of any publicly-traded company
in Los Angeles, rivaled only by those in neighboring
cities such as Walt Disney. And projects now include entire
cities, such as the 2005 master plan for Kigali in Rwanda, with
the so-called project including just about everything from
physical infrastructure to legal rights. So to conclude,
although one might argue that the
architects at DMJM helped to expunge the historical
role of the architect, I argue that the history
of DMJM illustrates one way in which they
actually expanded the scope and the
terrain of practice upon which architects operated– one that both capitalists
and even anti-capitalists might equally learn from. So the architects were required
to first recognize their work as work by describing and
lobbying for their work to be viewed as socially
and economically equal to that of other practitioners. Secondly, it meant that
without an unabashed interest in the nitty-gritty
details of business or the process of making
money, their projects would not have been possible. Thank you. [applause] Thank you for the
presentation, Aaron. I think your presentation
made me realize that my own small firm
has been paying large firm salaries all along– which I will adjust. [laughter] Our next speaker is Neena Verma. Neena is an architect
and theorist based in New York City. Her research and writing
focus on the intersection of practice and society, with
specific challenge to the norms of perception and beauty. As a former attorney,
Neena’s analyses consider both the legal and
architectural professions. Neena’s writings have appeared
broadly, most recently in Architectural
Research Quarterly, and a collaborative
work has been presented before the Association of
American Law Schools, Buenos Aires Biennale, and
Venice Biennale. She was an invited participant
to the AIA Emerging Professionals summit, and an
appointee to the AIA Center of Emerging Professionals. Her first built
work was completed as an architectural graduate
student with Tulane’s URBANbuild program. A recipient of the John William
Lawrence Traveling Fellowship, she has studied the slum
architecture in India. Neena holds degrees from the
University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton School, Rutgers
Law School, and Tulane School of Architecture. She is currently adjunct
faculty at New Jersey Institute of Technology, College of
Architecture and Design, and principal of her
eponymous practice. She’s working on a book about
immigrants finding place. Welcome, Neena. [applause] Thank you, Mark. I commend the GSD for
acknowledging the criticality of these issues,
and I’m glad to be part of the conversation today. If asked to describe
the theme of my work, I think it would be the
defense of architecture. An advocate by training,
architecture is my client. And architecture in these times
is an architecture at risk. While we can easily
identify several challenges to the field– the economics, the legal
environment, contractors, technology, development models,
governments, and so on– I believe these
challenges are merely facets of a broader
marginalization of the field and its practitioners. Today, when we talk
about architects, it’s architects with caveat– an asterisk of our own making. Frankly put, we are
both rendering ourselves and being rendered irrelevant. Externally, we are being
co-opted by the public. A Populist movement
is taking hold. At its most fundamental,
Populism is, quote, “Any creed or movement based on
the following major premise– virtue resides in the
simple people, who are the overwhelming
majority, and in their collective traditions.” And architectural populism
seeks to remove the architects from architecture. In 2016, the year of the
political populist revolt, more than 4 million
Americans chose to regularly spend their leisure
time watching television shows about interior design,
architectural renovation, house buying. At the helm of these
shows are, quote, “incredibly
relatable individuals with no formal
architecture training,” regularly misrepresenting
the craft as a game of trends and empowering their audiences
to join in on the fun. The AIA simultaneously averred
architects’ growing irrelevance by forcing itself on the country
with television advertisements, asking audiences to,
quote, “look up–” as if Americans
never before noticed that they were surrounded
by the work of architects. Further evidence of
a populist revolt– of late, our title
has been appropriated more than ever, the
verb “to architect” like nails on a chalkboard. While “architect”
has been recognized as a verb since
the 16th century, its current non-architectural
use is widespread. Indeed, in 2017, Ivanka
Trump wrote a self-help book that she describes as your
manual for architecting the life you want to live. Trump’s use of the term
“architect” in here grew heightened attention. For example, comedic
satirist Samantha Bee plead to her 1.25
million viewers, quote, “Stop using
architect as a verb. That’s not how you language.” [laughter] Learn how to
architect a sentence. Architects design only
a small percentage of what gets built
in the United States, and focused on dollars
per square foot, developers continue to
build homogeneous strip malls and residential
communities without sensitivity to local
climate customer culture. But despite the
architect’s absence in impression or
actuality, buildings continue to get built. So populism in architecture
may be very well. Indeed, let the people design. However, architects train
in a very specific way with a very specific toolkit,
because design is just not so easy. The populist movement has
erroneously adopted opinions on style and taste and
misappropriated these as architecture, and with this,
our perceived import wanes. Internally, our
field is threatened by our own insecurity. Why are architects
always rationalizing our own existence? Will Alsop may have
captured it best when lamenting his own
irrelevance at a cocktail party. He said, quote, “Today
we are quietly forgotten. It is as though not one
of us artists, architects, or designers has
anything to offer.” We have become part of the
Treasury’s view of culture as an expense to be avoided. The economy as a whole is
risk-averse, and we are risk. To which I respond– embrace the risk. Be confident in it. Stop explaining. Cyclic rationales
for architects, our role in society,
our impact, our value have consumed the field
in academia and practice for centuries, constantly
insecurely screaming, “Validate me!” In the 20th century alone,
the trending explanation for architects’ perceived
value fluctuated. In 1918, George Maher wrote
that the architect today occupies a rather hazy
position in the estimation of the community. Two decades later, glass
company Libbey-Owens-Ford printed an advertisement
with the tag line, “Consult an architect
when you build. He is a doctor of
better living.” In the ’80s, Paul
Goldberger lamented, “To many young architects
today, architecture is a highly
intellectualized pursuit. They have come to
the field in search of very analytical exercises.” In ’96, James
Russell rhetorically posited the architect as a
local peacemaker, salesperson, community designer,
and city builder. Two years later,
Peter Davey argued that architects prioritized
biotechnics over style. As the next century
turned, three explanations of architecture took hold,
each becoming highly familiar. First, architects were
imagined as digital editors. In the early 2000s, digital
technologies and curvilinear forms excited the masses
as no longer solely tools for representation, but
also for form generation. Second, architecture
explained its reach to include landscape
architecture. In 2008, Architectural
Record published a piece titled “Landscape
and Architecture Firms Grow Closer.” Third, architecture was
explained as a practice in sustainability. Once a drain on the environment,
architecture became responsible for transforming itself
into a positive green force, with metrics like LEED
introduced in 2006. Architecture today is
still often explained in these digital landscape
or sustainability terms, and all three approaches have
become woefully formulaic in their execution,
and therefore can be imagined, by their
nature, as somewhat inhuman. The next reaction
or explanation– what I argue is our most active
and current state of affairs– is a human one. You’ve witnessed it yourself–
structure as savior. Architects begin design
with a strategic end that impacts human existence. Examples of such
strategic ends could be the creation of
community, the streamlining of work processes, the
nurturing of learning. While architecture is
certainly transformative of human experience, as
Tadao Ando recognizes, there are limits. Quote, “The way people
live can be directed a little by architecture.” If we consider human
strategic ends first, the public will
come to view us– architects– as anthropologists
or sociologists or economists or political scientists, or
even community organizers. And while such public
perception is romantic, it places the profession in
peril by diluting its focus. Architects should rather
honor the professions that specialize in
the accomplishment of human strategic
ends by allowing those professions to
retain primary governance over their respective realms. While the strategic
ends-driven architecture may have necessarily resulted
from the inhuman digital landscape and
sustainability movements, it is but another rationale for
our existence, an expression of architecture as an
insecure profession, and so ultimately a threat. An asterisk follows us all,
even at the individual level. For example, I cannot stand
before you today perceived as simply an architect. I am an architect who
used to practice law. I am an architect who
happens to be Indian. I am an architect who
happens to be a woman. But I am an architect
nonetheless. I am an architect who
fights for architecture, because regardless of whether
a threat to our profession is from society or
by our own making, we combat it in one clear way. We make architecture. While I stand here
speaking words about our practice,
our passion, I implore that words
are not our best tool. Instead, is the act of creating
space in three dimensions– space that can be universally
experienced, and in that way, universally communicates
its own value. The medium is the message. I beseech you to not be
revolutionary and redefine the practice, the
modalities, the norms. Being revolutionary
is unoriginal. It is equivalent to
dodging the question– answering with a new paradigm,
rather than operating in reality. Being revolutionary is
a distraction, a sort of populism within the field. Rather, be conventional. Save architecture with the
tool we know best and the tool that all too conveniently
is powerfully didactic. Save architecture
with architecture. Let’s stop diversifying
our practices, demystifying our art,
letting ourselves believe that we improve
design output by surrendering decision-making authority. Let contractors build, engineers
analyze, consultants consult, and clients pay. Let us, the architects,
do the architecture. We will not shy away from
our academic design currency, referential jargon,
radical ideas, and projective realities– the
stuff of our grueling training and our absurd passions. We will not nod timidly
at whoever is asking. When we stop rationalizing
our existence by being everything
to everyone, we are able to focus on
our peculiar competency. And through such
insistent architecture, we will reassert ourselves. Thank you. [applause] Thank you for the wonderful
presentation, Neena. Our next speaker
is Jesse Keenan. Jesse is a member of the
architectural faculty of the Graduate
School of Design, where he teaches
professional practice courses and conducts research at
the intersection of climate adaptation and the
built environment, including aspects of design,
engineering, regulation, and finance. Jesse has partnered with a
variety of global actors, including the AIA, Audi,
Carnegie Corporation, EPA, Goldman Sachs, Google, ICC,
MoMA, Mori Foundation, Lennar Foundation, NASA, National
Security Council, NIST, Open Society Foundation– [sigh] take a breath– [laughter] –and Regional Plan
Association, Rand Corporation, Rockefeller Foundation, the
White House, and the UN. [laughter] Jesse is the author
of NYC 2040– Housing the Next One
Million New Yorkers, and co-editor of Blue Dunes– Climate Change by Design,
and Climate Change Adaptation in North America:
Experiences, Case Studies and Best Practices. Jesse’s forthcoming book,
Climate Adaptation, Finance, and Investment in California
will be released in November. He holds concurrent appointments
as a research advisor to California’s
Governor Jerry Brown, and as a visiting scholar
at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Jesse holds a degree
in law and science of the built environment,
including a PhD from the Delft University of Technology. Welcome, Jesse. [applause] As a social scientist in the
Department of Architecture, I thought it would be
appropriate to explore how labor economics is shaping
the practice of architecture. Prior to a conversation on
the role of social capital and the cultural
project of the city, we must give consideration
to the proposition that it is more
critical than ever that the profession retain not
only the best and brightest, but also that future
professional cohorts are inclusive of a diverse group
of individuals who also yield a diverse range of aesthetics,
traditions, and philosophies. That is, diversity
should not only reflect the public dimensions
to which the profession serves, but should also be understood
as a critical springboard for innovation and
experimentation. That is– being challenged
by organizational and spatial concentrations of capital,
global competition, and shifting consumer
preferences for the consumption of architectural services. According to the Bureau
of Labor Statistics, there are 128,000 people
working in architecture. Of this number, 109,000
are licensed architects. However, only 89,000 people
are making their primary income in architecture. This 18% gap between license
and income-producing architects is a combination of
retired, unemployed, and underemployed persons. While overall licensure
has been declining, the rate of multi-state
reciprocal licensure has steadily risen
as architects seek to pick up market slack in high
growth regions of the country– notably, in the south. The growth rate for the
profession over the next decade is 4.2%– or we may assume at 4.2% a year. By the year 2026, there
will be approximately 5,400 new positions in architecture. This rate of growth lags
behind the occupational average of 7%, which means in the same
time period leading into 2026, the profession is essentially
falling behind by 3,600 jobs. The fastest rate of growth
within the profession is among the
self-employed architects who currently make up a
fifth of the cohort at 10%, architects who are
also engineers at 13%, and architects working
in construction. At a 4.2% decadal
growth rate, the economy will add just 541 new
architecture positions a year over the next decade. It is estimated that
another 25 architects will leave the profession
every year by virtue of retirement, unemployment,
underemployment, and premature mortality. According to the
CDC, architecture has the fifth-highest
rate of suicide by occupation in
the United States. Overall, it is estimated that
approximately 19% of architects will retire by 2026. Over the past decade,
architecture schools have had a gradual
decline in enrollment, but have consistently graduated
about 6,000 students a year. About 20% of these
graduates are either being lured into
construction-related careers in the face of severe
labor shortages, or they are leaving the
profession altogether. For the class of 2018, there
are approximately 3,000 jobs and 5,000 potential applicants. What it means is
that 33% of graduates won’t match up with
full-time work. By the year 2026, 39% of
graduates won’t have a job. If one looks at just
full-time primary earners in architecture, which has half
the rate of growth, nearly 44% of architecture graduates won’t
be supported by an architecture job in the economy in 2026. If one were to remove the
15% of nonresident aliens that currently make up the
US student architecture population, assuming
that they return to their country of origin by
virtue of draconian immigration policies, then these numbers are
closer to 30% in the year 2026. Of course, it can be argued
that losing foreign-born talent would be deleterious
to our economy in terms of overall
competitiveness. The median income for an
architect across various stages before and after
licensure is $78,000. The highest 10% are earning
just $134,000 a year. With an 11% operating
profit, 160% overhead rate, and return on equity of
just 19.6% on average, architecture is increasingly
one of the most high-risk, make it or break it
professions in the country. Some research has suggested that
in any given non-recessionary year, upwards of 10% of
firms have a better than 30% chance of insolvency. But perhaps the more
interesting story relates to the organizational
and spatial concentration of the practice. Just five states
create more than half of all the architecture jobs. The top three states– California, New
York, and Texas– make up 39% of all jobs and
architecture wages, at about– I’m sorry, 50% of
architectural wages, which is the equivalent of
about $3 and 1/2 billion. The top 10 cities in the
country make up nearly half of all architecture jobs. The top largest
firms in the country, which are resident
in those cities, account for approximately, in
equivocal terms, of about 10% of the workforce. Part of this story of
organizational concentration is reflected in
productivity gains. Since 1987, productivity
gains in architecture have been more than double that
of engineering, at about 1.3% a year. That means you need
just 0.6 people to do the same job as
one person in 1987. This has been both a
blessing and a curse. It rewards larger
and larger firms who can make the
capital investments necessary to license software
and train their employers. However, it has been a
curse insofar as women often cite their inability to
stay current with technology as a leading reason for not
returning to the labor force after child-rearing years. This, as you can imagine, is
a real drain on our economy. It as an absolute loss in
terms of our best and brightest designers. Overall, productivity
gains have likely not had a meaningful
impact on wages, and have likely
worked to do nothing more than offset the
long-term trends associated with downward pressure on
billings and total revenue. We can only begin to
speculate on the nature of the spatial and economic
concentration in terms of talent, intellectual
property, and competitiveness; and more fundamentally, the
fact that much of our country does not have access to the
practice of architecture. This spatial and organizational
concentration of employment is insightful for
understanding one of several economic trends
shaping human capital development in the profession. First and foremost, the
current spatial alignment of jobs and wages make it
nearly impossible for graduates to enter the workforce. A combination of
high urban rents where the jobs are, increasing
levels of student loan debt are operating in
tandem to limit access to anyone who isn’t otherwise
independently wealthy. The average student loan debt
for an architecture graduate is $40,000. That mean starting salary
for an entry-level designer in the top three urban
markets is $59,800. With a $350 month student
loan payment, $2,100 in rent– if you’re lucky– there’s just $33 left to
allocate to disposable incomes and savings. It is worth noting
that the median salary of $59,000 in the top urban
markets reflects a mere $4,000 wage premium when
compared to other markets in the rest of the country. This lack of capacity for
the accrual of savings, exacerbated by weak
locational wage premium, can be devastating in
recessionary periods where billings largely drop off. As seen in the upper-right
quadrant of the graphic above, architecture– like
many other occupations– has had an entire
lost generation of architects following
the Great Recession who lacked experience required
of their age cohort. However, more fundamental to
the idea of economic mobility is employee turnover
in the development of highly-productive
mid-career associates. The economics of
larger and larger firms dictate large cadres of
low-wage workers working excessive numbers of hours to
make up for their productivity deficiencies. As these workers
become more productive, their wages don’t follow suit. The result is a
constant churning of low-wage employees managed
by increasingly valuable mid-career associates
who haven’t had the time or the
wealth accumulation necessary to rise to the
ranks of the partnership. One result of this phenomenon is
that increasingly large numbers of highly-productive
mid-career employees are leaving to
second-tier cities to enter the ranks
of the self-employed. By example, Denver has one
of the highest per capita concentrations of
architects in the world, something in the order
of 3 architects per 1,000 people in the workforce. We must ask ourself, how can
these large and prestigious firms maintain intergenerational
design continuity? What are the models by which
mid-career free radicals can ever be competitive
outside of a large firm model? Value-added talent might
not be enough to offset equal distributions of talent
on a global scale of production. In the top 20 largest firms
by revenue, some 30% to 50% of revenue is from
international work. So no matter which
way you slice it, international competition
operates to de-stabilize wages in favor of offloading
more and more work onto low-wage countries–
even in architecture. It is estimated that
30% of American firms already offshore some
component of their services, and it is worth noting that
NAFTA was America’s first foray into the international trade
of architectural services and cross-border registration. But absent offshoring,
independent contracting, part-time jobs, increasing
the work of paraprofessionals will continue to flourish
as a means to account for the volatility in both
domestic and international billings. Beyond the
cannibalisation process to finding labor economies
in a global economy, we represent an existential
proposition for architecture. We are familiar
with the delegation of construction administration
to engineering and programming to marketing. Likewise, we recognize
the wide range of architectural
specialties that have been spawned
by a combination of technological advancement
and risk management. However, there was a broader
set of forces at work. From a supply side
of the equation, global capitalism
and the proliferation of the supply of money
has dictated the deploy of said money to merely
keep up with inflation requires larger and
larger scaled investment. As such, urbanization and
architecture– convenient, but incomplete
conflation for now– are intensified in
all aspects of scale in order to give
material manifestation to absolute
calculations associated with wealth and power. The demand side
of architecture is moving from a service for
the supply of durable assets to a subscription model where
buildings become products and components, and where
consumption life cycles are broken down into smaller and
smaller increments of time and space. These parametric practices seek
to optimize a built environment that arguably defies
optimization, insomuch as subjective notions of
social organization and wealth are distributed and
participated in. These fundamental shifts
in supply and demand are reinforcing technical
specification and the dispersal of human capital and
organizational structures that skirt the lawful
practice of architecture. Sometimes this is
done for the purposes of the efficient aggregation of
services and project delivery and in other
circumstances, it relates to the consolidation of
proprietary intellectual property. Laws will protect the general
practice of architecture, but economics may
transform it in ways from which the rule of law
may not be able to keep up. However, sometimes
law and policy itself can be as fluid in
terms of shaping the economics of practice. By example, the
current trade war isn’t just resonating
at Walmart. Firms are reporting delays,
substitutions, and 15% of firms are reporting projects
being canceled outright because bids have imploded. The history of the contemporary
practice of architecture is defined by the
development of ethics that sought to internally
regulate practices before uninformed state
legislatures could do so. This preemption was based on
a capitalist ethic, reinforced by a stable and anti-competitive
economic regime. In light of contemporary
competitive economic pressures, should architects go the
way of other professions and prohibit the professional
partnership between architects and non-architects in delivery
of architectural services? Will this stifle innovation
or preserve the boundaries of the profession? Will this raise
billings that can be invested in human
capital, or will it make it less
economically competitive in the rest of the world? The question moving
forward is the extent to which self-regulation
will have a bearing on a new definition
of our practice that respects not only the economic autonomy
of the profession in a highly competitive landscape, but also
values the diversity of people who give life to the innovation
and keep guard of its most sacred traditions. [applause] Thank you, Jesse. I hope the students who are
in the audience– it’s not too late to change your profession. [laughter] Our last speaker
is Alison Brooks. Alison is the John
T. Dunlap Design Critic in Architecture
and the Principal and Creative Director of
Alison Brooks Architects space in London. One of the leading
architects of a generation and named in 2012 as one of
Britain’s 500 most influential by Debrett’s,
Alison has developed an international reputation
for a multi-award winning body of work since founding
her practice in 1996. Her architectural
approach emerges from broad cultural research,
with each of her projects expressing a specific
response to place, community, and landscape. As a recipient of the RIBA
Sterling Prize, Manser Medal, and Stephen Lawrence
Prize, she’s the only British architect
to have won all three awards, and in 2017 was appointed as
the Royal Designer for Industry by the RSA, and selected
as the mayor’s design advocate for London. Alison holds a bachelor of
architecture and BS degrees from the University of
Waterloo, where she also received an honorary doctorate
of engineering degree in 2016. She has taught at the
AA, the Bartlett, UCL, and recently taught at
Master Studio in Collective Housing at ETSAM in Madrid. Her practice is currently
exhibiting at the 2018 Venice Architectural Biennale. Please welcome Alison. [applause] Thank you, Mark. I’m going to try to
stick to my 10 minutes and speak both in broad terms,
and also in terms of specifics. I’m not going to show the
design work of my practice, but I’m going to try
to share with you my reflections on the
contemporary state of practice. And I’m going to
start with discussing the subject of the
space of practice, because I think it’s
also very important, in a way– it has
been important to me– the relationship between
the space of practice and the means and
objectives of practice. I studied architecture in Canada
at the University of Waterloo, which is a co-op
program, so you work and practice throughout
your academic career. So by the time I finished
my studies in 1988, I had worked in about eight,
nine different practices. And I would say that most
of them looked like this– highly-organized,
professional-looking, clean spaces. Lots of men at the time. And I completed
my degree in 1988 and decided to move to
London, and that was the height of the recession. It was impossible to find
work in any kind of practice, really, but I managed to
find work with Ron Arad at this showroom, which was
the one-off showroom in Covent Garden. He didn’t actually have
an architectural practice, but he’d set up a small office
to do a competition in Tel Aviv– the Tel Aviv opera
interior architecture– the foyer architecture. So I went from a very
conventional practice to literally working
in the white spot at the back of this
space, where there’s a room with some
drafting tables set up. And actually, all the walls in
this space were made of steel– 8′ by 4′ sheets of mild steel
that had been welded together. And obviously, the furniture
is made of steel, primarily. And one of my first
jobs there was to actually do measured
drawings of this environment, because the rent was going up. We were going to have
to move the studio, and Rolf Fehlbaum
of Vitra wanted to buy the interiors of
the one-off showroom. So I had to draw it up,
do measured drawings before it was all cut down and
shipped off to Switzerland. And the, I think,
around 100,000 pounds that he paid for
that interior paid for our next project,
which was to design our own office in Chalk Farm. And these are a
couple of my sketches from when we were taking on
board this project to convert a warehouse in Chalk Farm. And when you’re designing
for yourself as an architect, obviously you can break
every rule and run. In particular, was very keen
on completely redefining. We both wanted to redefine
everything about architecture, including everything becoming
soft, fluid, and unprecedented. So tension fabric roof, columns
that were like calligraphy, curving floors, soft ceilings. And this became
our studio space, which became Ron Arad Associates
practice, where we worked. And this was, as you can
see, a tension fabric roof. PVC roof, one layer thick,
8 mill thick PVC windows, columns in the shape
of musical calligraphy. It was totally
freezing in winter and completely
boiling in summer, and you couldn’t
hear if it rained or if a plane flew overhead. And there were people welding
underneath us in the basement and grinding the
steel furniture. That’s one of my section detail
drawings of the columns there. They’re based on
the 1 meter radius that we could curl up
the plastic windows to fit within the column, and
it literally broke every rule. We described it as an
indoor/outdoor furniture showroom, and then we
used it as an office. So this is what I describe
as a maximum risk, maximum experimentation scenario
for architectural practice that you can really only do when
you’re doing it for yourself. But in a way, is an ideal,
I think, of many architects. So this is my
practice space now. It’s a warehouse– converted
warehouse in North London– and I’ve tried to maintain
the qualities of the studio– the design studio that
I studied in in Waterloo and the adaptable, robust,
stripped-down character of what I feel is, in a way,
the artists’ studio. And I have a practice of
about 35 architects, fairly traditional structure. I’m not really going to
talk about the structure of my practice, because
I want to, in a way, talk about the paradox
that I feel we exist in. Even the terminology,
“professional practice–” we are meant to be professional,
but we are practicing. We are practicing with
experiment, with risk. Every project is a prototype. Every project is a different
site, a different client, a different budget. Building technologies change. And we have to balance
this with expertise, and we have to produce
work that performs, and we have to deliver
value for our clients. So there’s an in-built
paradox in what we do, and I feel that what this
leads to, in my case, is the idea of practice
as applied research. And you could call it an
applied research atelier, but rather than the idea
of a top-down atelier, I also support the
principle of the hive mind– that actually, ideas
emerge through openness to various people in
the practice, people who have initiative, people
who are part of a design team. I support and promote multiple
solutions to every problem, and then there’s a selection
process to which I contribute or sometimes curate, in terms
of quality of work and ideas and design. And I also want to
refer, of course, to the project of the city and
city building and city making, and this quote that David
Mackay of MBM Arquitectes, Oriol Bohigas. As you all know, that practice,
was part of the initiative to more or less reinvent
Barcelona around 2008, the project of the city. And he told me a very
important story, which was that when the project of
reimagining Barcelona emerged, they realized that they
would never get anywhere as a committee approach
to re-imagining the spaces of the city,
and they made a very, very small team of, really, the
mayor, the university, MBM Arquitectes, and they,
in a way, curated the design project of the city. So we are in this
paradox situation, and I felt like
responding to the subject matter of this symposium
that I would talk about negative externalities. I would adopt the
language of economists, and just summarize,
in a list, the things that we need to
confront and deal with and that we are
aware of all the time but don’t really talk
about in practice or in academic forums– which is why this forum,
I think, is so important. But yeah, so we are subject
to macroeconomic forces, referred to by previous speaker,
the global capital flows, the impact on land values,
the briefs that were given, the rate at which
we have to work. And we are trying to
deliver these high return outcomes for clients. We’re balancing time and
cost and quality, which we have to compromise and juggle. We are subject to restrictive
procurement practice, where smaller practices are
eliminated from many frameworks because we don’t
have that turnover. So that eliminates us from
practicing, so to speak. Fee undercutting– that’s a
whole other subject where we’re competing against each other,
and it’s very, very difficult to compete against these
very big practices. Contractor design
and build– we’ve offloaded our expertise
and competencies in delivering construction
documents to the contracting business. So now in the UK,
architects generally are never appointed
past the planning stage. We have to bid for every
stage of the project. So we bid a fee bid
for the planning, and then we have to bid again to
do the construction documents, and then we have to bid again
to do the site supervision. So we have to compete all the
way through the appointment process. And then, I think, lack
of public presence– we are not very good
at communicating our value to the public. And so all of these add
up to loss of authority, and I think combined
with that authorship, we have a loss of
expertise as we’ve offloaded our skill sets
to other professions and consultancies. We suffer from low fees that
we are victims of our own competitive practice, and
we really lack evidence– in a scholarly sense, I feel– access to evidence and data
proving the value of our work. Positive outcomes, or
positive externalities– I think our professional
collaborations– and by that, I mean larger
practices inviting smaller practices to work with them
on larger projects where you can have diversity
and knowledge exchange. Architectural awards–
when they’re actually based on visits by juries, not
based on judging photographs for projects– I think are very
important in terms of small practice dissemination
of ideas and quality. The lecture circuit– obviously,
institutional knowledge exchange is hugely
important, and the value of cross-cultural exchange. In practice education, the idea
of apprenticeships and schools where actually
working in practice is part of the education
I think has huge value. And I’m going to focus,
really, on the last two advocacy that, in a way, I
think architects ultimately are public servants. In our code of
conduct, we have a duty to the public that always goes
beyond the immediate client brief and product
and service that– well, it’s in the RIBA– code of conduct that
ultimately, architects always have that duty to the
public and that that is not understood generally, publicly. And in a way, the
way we can make that understood is in rules
as champions of issues, and advisors to policy-makers
in terms of urban governance. So the new territories,
I think, that do offer impact and
potential in terms of communicating our value– I think we should all be
working on an open source technical database,
where architects share their details, open
source cost-value research database, knowledge
exchange, education strategies, collab
culture, community practice, and public service. And this– I’ll just
give a little bit of a case study, which is Public
Practice, a new organization in London sponsored
by the mayor’s office. And it’s a not-for-profit
social enterprise that places outstanding built environment
experts within public forward– sorry, within forward-thinking
public authorities. And so the idea here,
and what happens is architects and
planners sign up to Public Practice with the GLA. They’re placed as advisors
to the municipal councils around London, and then they
produce collective learning and research and help
local authorities improve the quality of design
commissioning and selection, and the oversight
of design quality to deliver that for
their constituents. And this initiative is supported
by both government and private development bodies and
architects and engineers, and it’s a truly cross-cultural,
not-for-profit social enterprise. And this is just an example
of one of the documents– they stage seminars– as well as
the secondments or appointments to various councils. They produce papers
and research and work that help steer design culture
into public urban governance. And this is a diagram
that shows how it works and the group of people at
the GLA who are organizing it, and one of the events
that they stage with people like Brian
Eno in conversations with Finn Williams, who’s one of
the originators of the program. So I just want to end
on a note of optimism– that there are alternative
futures up there for the way architects– this is Finn Williams, who
is obviously a huge voice and champion of the service that
architects can offer in terms of delivering the common
good– projects that are for the common good– but actually bringing design
intelligence, expertise, and promoting the value of
architects across discipline. Thank you. [applause] Thank you. Thank you, Alison. Thank you all the presenters. We have about half an hour
for questions and discussion. I thought what we
can do is perhaps I can start off with a few
questions and some thoughts that could generate
some responses between the panelists,
and then we’ll take some questions
from the floor. Well, for me it’s
a very diverse– different takes on the notion of
contemporary modes of practice and backgrounds, but I do
see some commonalities. I think one question
I’d like to address is the question
of design quality. The late Robert
Venturi, who passed away two weeks or so ago– I think in his Pritzker
Prize acceptance speech, he ended his speech
by quoting Pygmalion, saying, Eliza Doolittle
said, “To be a lady, you have to be
treated like a lady.” And he said, to be
an artist, I have to be treated like an artist. It’s not unlike the
quote of David Mackay that Alison showed that for
a city to be a work of art, we need to be an artist. So I’m thinking, in terms
of Aaron’s presentation, for example. You talk about how
large firms are growing. Is there a relationship
in terms of their growth to the harder-to-quantify
design quality of the work? Certainly, the surfaces
begins to expand, begins to make more money. I mean, I’m thinking
of particular moments– especially with DMJM– maybe
in the ’60s, when people from Saarinen’s office came out with
C sar Pelli, Tony Lumsden– that took on the
very interesting role with a corporate-scale practice,
but they are practically, very clearly designers. This is one of these models
that I don’t see anymore. I wonder if that’s somehow
an in-between model– between the boutique firms
versus the large corporate firms. And how do you gauge that design
quality as a firm like DMJM or AECOM begins to grow? That’s a good question. I think DMJM’s a particularly
unique case, as you describe– I mean, with C sar Pelli
and Anthony Lumsden, there. But Tony Lumsden
essentially argued and became so involved
and interested in the inner workings
of the practice and maintaining a high level
of design output and quality in all of the work,
but what it required them to do was to take projects
that they wouldn’t necessarily consider architecture– like a sewer treatment
plant or a bridge– so a wide range
of infrastructure projects– and try to
make them architecture. And so some of
these projects were fascinating in the way
in which, actually, they rose to the level of
design awards, right? They were recognized by the AIA. They were recognized by a
series of design awards. I think that the sewer
treatment plant that I showed very briefly is one example of
that– the Tillman wastewater Reclamation Plant– which is a
funny, bizarre, smelly place, but there are weddings
there, and it was used as the backdrop in Star Trek. And so I mean, I
think there are ways in which the rigor of
architecture and design were applied to a
broader range of objects. So certainly. Yeah, I think that’s
a great example. In reality, it cuts
both ways in the sense that very often, particularly
with large conglomerates, architecture is bid in at a
loss to get the engineering work, where you really make
the money on the overhead. And that can work
for and against you, because you can take
that loss, and depending on where your quarterly
profits are and the pressure you’re getting up and down the
stream about whether you really want it, how far of a loss
are you willing to take? And sometimes I think
it’s liberating, but other times I think it
comes at serious constraints. And I think, as highlighted
in the last presentation, that creates an artificial bid
pricing bind between people who are willing to actually
put in much higher quality services. And so it creates an
artificial value stream that I think fundamentally
challenges what they’re doing on a consistent basis. I would just add,
though, I think it also requires a
redefinition of the value streams in some ways. So when you mention loss– or the architectural loss– there are other ways
that the architects were providing revenue, or
providing value to the firm, right? So for example, if they
design a small project, the direct output
and contributions to the firm in terms of
revenue might be less direct. However, if you look in
other ways– so for example, all the architectural work that
was done by AECOM architects, or DMJM architects were the
projects that were broadcasted to shareholders– to large oil companies
to invest in the company. So there’s a different
kind of value there, whether it’s an
image-based value or otherwise, that is not typically
what we might consider. So sure, there might
be a loss in one way, but a gain in another way that
we don’t necessarily consider. As a historian, Aaron, did
that really start with DMJM? Because when I think about
Pelli and Lumsden, who came from Eero Saarinen’s office– and they talked about when
they worked on the metro rail– the monorail project in LA in
the ’60s that never happened. They benefited a lot by
working on the Dulles Airport, teaming with Boeing on designing
the people-moving system that is outside of a typical
construction system. And when I look at the roster
of Eero Saarinen’s office that included all the great– Gunnar Birkerts, Paul Kennon– everyone that somehow
developed their own practice. I wonder if, historically–
where do you draw that lineage? Yeah, that’s a
really good question, and I would say it’s a– from Paul Kennon, and
thinking of Caudill Rowlett Scott in Texas,
or the Architects Collaborative and SOM– certainly, the history
starts before DMJM, I think, because they were
working at Saarinen. But I would say they were
not all fit, necessarily, for thinking about the
economics of the practice and trying to think about how
that influenced their design work, right? So Lumsden in particular
was gung ho and trying to make that work,
whereas Pelli said, this is not necessarily
for me at DMJM, in this really for-profit,
capitalist model, and so left very quickly
when he got to DMJM. So certainly, I think, the
history starts much earlier than that, but it’s
not necessarily one that is for everyone,
I guess, in that model. So yeah. I mean, I think
it’s interesting, because it seems very
optimistic at that time, and also taking a type of
mentality of taking offense. Sure, sure. Whereas in both in Neena’s
presentation and Jesse’s presentation, they
talked about defense– defending architecture,
defending architects’ role to prohibit architects and
non-architects in terms of the delivery of service. And I mean, I think
the way that Neena talked about what the
zeitgeist is today reminded me of the story of– I think in Switzerland, the
Herzog/de Meuron generation or [inaudible]
generation– where when they were
educated at the ETH, the prominent figure was Lucius
Burckhardt, the sociologist. And everything you should do– you can anything
except buildings. So that’s why they say
when Aldo Rossi came, it was a breath of fresh air. Focus back into architecture. Let’s just look at architecture. I mean, certainly,
one doesn’t have to take these type
of extremities today, but I thought there were
interesting historical moments that one might find parallel to
what you’re describing today, Neena. Yeah, so I think that the
consistent thing through all of these movements
is that we are architects– that we’re always
architects producing work. And while we may be holding
something else– sociology– at the forefront, we can’t
lose sight of the fact that we are architects, and
what we produce is architecture. And so I guess in
retrospect, as I movements through the 20th century, I
became worried that the more that we put other
things at the forefront, the more we forget our core. And so it’s exciting and it’s
good to have other things to motivate us and interest us. It keeps the work interesting,
and it also pushes us. And it differentiates practices,
and that’s all very good. But at the core
of what we do is– if it’s architecture,
then we have to remind ourselves of that. Alison, could you
also [? reply? ?] Well, I would just say, also
just for the sake of debate, that I don’t think those
things are mutually exclusive. I think if you are
practicing architecture, you have a duty
to take a position on certain social aspects
of contemporary life, economic aspects, the
political aspects– things that have, I think,
traditionally been off the table– like
architects don’t talk about their politics– or being critical of the
system in which we operate. It’s difficult,
because then you’re biting the hand that feeds you. But at the same time, I think
it’s actually really important for clients and society at large
to understand that sometimes we have problems with what
we’re designing, and it’s– I mean, I’ve written a
piece in this month’s– The Plan Magazine;
the editorial– for October’s issue. And in it, I try to describe
the way in which I think the current model
for urban development in this age of urbanization
is completely broken. The housing crisis is a
product of capitalist forces, global capital, land value,
planning policy, land use policy– a kind of equation
that’s generating a certain kind of
urban development that’s excluding many
populations from living in the city. And I think I’ve said some
kind of unpopular things in my piece in terms
of some of the clients that I’m working for
in high-density urban regeneration, but I think
it’s important to say that we need to change these things. We may be working within them,
but how can we rethink them? How can we nudge and push
the audience that we’re working with, as well as the
commissioners of our work to change things, but
then at the same time, also convince our clients that
they are patrons of the arts? And this is another, I think,
really important message that counters the idea of the
architect providing a service. We’re not just
service providers. We are providing an art
form through the vehicle of our clients. So that idea of patronage
is something we also have to come to terms with. Yeah, I think that’s a
really important point, and I think one of
the keywords that I draw from that is “duty.” And certainly, fiduciary
duty we understand in this transactional sense. But I think one of the
aspects of architecture that has been somewhat limiting
in favor of diversifying the notion of duties– not just as a patronage
as to ownership, but architecture gets to a point
where you deliver the building and you get your CO and your
TCO, and then beyond that, it’s not one’s consideration. And certainly, Brand
and others thought about lifecycle, thought
about post-occupancy, thought about not
just program in terms of the infinite nature
of future users, but there’s a
cutting-off point that I think begins to think
about the life of buildings as the public life of buildings. And not just their context,
but their post-material considerations and the
footprint that that has on land use and everything else. And I think the further
out we draw that, not only does it fall within
the rhetoric of sustainability, but I think it
more fundamentally helps us see the true range
of publicness in architecture. And to respond to
Alison’s open of debate, I think engaging socially,
politically is important, but I don’t think it
should limit your practice. And there are firms
that I won’t name that their opening remark,
their forward statement is that they don’t do prisons. They don’t do suburban
housing, right? Those things are
architecture, right? I mean, I don’t think
we can argue that. And they’re not going to
eliminate the creation of suburban house models. They’re not going to eliminate
the detention of peoples by not designing
those spaces, right? Someone else is going
to take that job. Maybe they’re
making a statement, but by differentiating
their practice– or perhaps valuing it higher
because of their political position on the matter– I don’t think it’s successful. I actually think
it’s detrimental to the whole practice. But I think– thinking about
this through the lens of duty that you mentioned, and thinking
about the architect as a public service professional, that they
have a ethical responsibility– so I know that this is one of
the terms of this panel, but– and this is a really interesting
question about whether or not an architect should
or should not engage in a particularly
problematic project– for whatever the reason may be. So for example, the recent
border wall proposal, right? And there are a whole series
of architects and engineers that were involved
in the prototyping, and it was a tricky
question of whether or not we should advocate
for or co-opt no wall, or engage and then critique. So there was a whole
series of projects that the architecture lobby
led about not our wall. And so essentially,
the statement was that as a public
professional or a service professional, there is a duty. And so why would one engage
in politics of violence or an act of violence if that’s
what it might be defined as? So then I would perhaps
counter that argument to say that, well, sure,
someone might do it. But if we’re the architect,
maybe we shouldn’t be, and then maybe we should
actually use this as a model or a mode of critique to
the project altogether and what, actually,
it represents. So I don’t know. It’s a tricky– but yeah, I
totally understand where– Well, and I think the
grouping of architects together through The
Architecture Lobby– that’s what makes that powerful. An individual
architecture office choosing not to
engage in a project? Perhaps less powerful
and more of a statement, and a missed
opportunity, perhaps. But at the end of the
day, that border wall– that competition
of the prototyping was a variety of smaller
firms, and their capacity to execute at scale
would be, I would think, would be compromised. [inaudible] In some ways, Neena,
when you talked about embracing populism– it’s, in some way, acknowledging
that by and large, architects are always friends of
power to a certain degree– to a certain limitation. And I’m interested
in acknowledging that, as opposed
to, maybe, earlier generation of modernists who
always try to critique power, or at the end becomes a posture
of critiquing power, where the actual subjects
that they critique are actually easily forgiven. I’m curious, are you
talking about this chasm between the role of the
architect and identity, or the architect in relationship
to his or her actual power within the profession? Yeah, that’s interesting. I think what I’m getting at is– I think you mentioned
the word zeitgeist. Zeitgeist, now,
is design-focused. Architecture is exciting–
or what the public perceives as architecture is exciting. But we, perhaps, feel more
irrelevant because of it, and that paradox is perhaps
rooted in the notion of power, because we are hired
by clients that pay. And those engaged in the
populist movement who aren’t designers
are– we’re seeing them get paid to do some work
that we thought was ours, or is perceived as ours. But historically,
yeah, architecture is in service of power. It’s in service of money. And that’s really hard
to hear and reconcile, but it’s evidenced by the
fact that the majority of what gets built doesn’t necessarily
require an architect. It’s a much deeper issue as to
what codes and city regulations require in terms of having
a stamping architect– when you need one,
when you don’t. So it’s certainly ingrained
in the deeper structure, but it all leads back
to those with authority, those with power–
ultimately, those with money. They have financial capital,
but the architect’s power is the idea. And the idea can transcend
any notion of capitalism in the sense that, more
fundamentally, the question, perhaps, is is it authorship
and intellectual property? And I think as we have
greater resolution on the role of authorship in
intellectual property– and replication
and reproduction– and that becomes more finite– and actually, it’s probably
one of the good things of globalization. I think that that redistributes
in favor of talent. I think that’s a great
way of looking at it, and it’s also something you
see happening in other fields, where they were
traditionally service– they weren’t service industries;
product industries– and now their power’s in the data. I think maybe it’s good to
hear anyone’s thoughts in terms of the changing role of practice
and how it affects pedagogy in an educational setting. I think of Alison’s last
comment about we’re not merely service providers. What is that extra value
that’s added on top of it? And it reminds me of Aldof
Loos’ definition of an architect being a bricklayer
who studied Latin. And I think about this a
lot, because it’s not just– as someone who has
mastered brick laying and then studied a
little bit of Latin, it’s not a Latin scholar
who laid a few bricks. I think there’s a fundamental
difference in terms of how we think about– there’s a certain raison d’etre
for us as service providers, and the excellence of that
allow us to do something else as added value, as talent– and all these things on top– that gives us more power. So I’m curious to hear, of
you involved in academia and teaching, if you can
comment a bit on what you think is the
[inaudible] role within this pedagogical
environment. Well, the first thing
that comes to mind is that professional
practice is usually the last course in a sequence
of required courses, and– [laughter] –and there is the top
quintile, who is really engaged, and then there’s the
bottom quintile that, particularly at 8:30
on a Monday morning, requires a little
bit of caffeine– if not fear. [laughter] And I think that that fear is
a healthy one, because it’s– as I like to teach the
students, what I’m trying to do is prevent you from
filing bankruptcy. But I’m also really
trying to empower them with the skills and
the diversity of skills necessary to understand not
the production of their work, but to calibrate and
find what is feasible and what is realistic
so they can position their work within a value chain. And not just values of
capitalism, but something that’s meaningful to them and
to the organizing principles and values of their firm. And I think that notions
of management, accounting, and the like– we overlook the
true value of that, and we overlook it in
the course of why are we not having more land use
training and building codes training earlier on? I don’t know. There’s no real reason. You learn it on the job. But I think, fundamentally,
exposing students, I think, earlier on
in that education is a critical component
for the future. And I know that comes at
the cost of losing something else in their
education, but I think that at least for those
that are interested, perhaps there’s an opportunity there. I think next semester we
scheduled your class, Friday night at 6:30 PM. [laughter] Fair. I completely agree. And I think, for
me as a historian, thinking about the
term “practice” really specifically– when it first emerged
in the ’60s and ’70s in a cultural
anthropology discourse, it didn’t mean any of the things
that we take it to mean today. It actually meant– it was a
theory of history and thinking about the ways in which
economics and culture were being reproduced
through one’s actions. So for me, thinking
about practice is a much broader and
much more fundamental concept that
permeates all aspects of an architectural education–
which makes total sense to start this really early. And so it’s not just the
last moment that you need to memorize a set of
contracts before you head off into the so-called real world,
but really thinking about, well, how can
practice influence– or this idea of practice–
influence the way we teach history, the way in which
we teach theory, the way– so it’s just a broader
range of incisions. So for example,
there are a series of scholars and
academics now that are rethinking the
traditional history theory sequence or the world
survey, now adding– instead of a traditional
textbook, now adding, maybe, a text of capitalism
alongside, right? So actually, the text is
a history of capitalism. Marta Gutman is
using this, right? But it’s an important
historical process of getting students exposed
to– well, what is capitalism, and what is the
world in which I’m going to be working
when I leave school? So I think it’s a broadening
of what we think of as practice and profession, right? So Jay’s “The History
of the Architect” seminar that was taught here
is a testament to that as well. So there are two
rules in my studio. You can’t use the word “cool,”
and you have to be boring. And I teach freshmen, so those
are both loaded terms for them. But I push them to see
the creative opportunities in, perhaps, the mundane, right? And so when we talk about
thinking about practice differently, when
you’re teaching, I think that you have to
acknowledge that it’s not just about cool stuff and interesting
forms and amazing models, because if you’re
informed about some of the more practical,
quote, “boring” stuff, you’re going to be pushed to
create more beautiful things, and those beautiful things
are going to have a story. And you may actually have
a door that’s to code. That’s not the end of the
world if you start considering some practicalities. And I see it in practice, too,
at firms I have worked at. There is the design director,
who does the cool stuff. And then there’s the
draft people, who execute. And that chasm needs
to change, and I think the place we can start
changing it is in the design thinking of students. And it’s OK to be
a design manager. The design management
itself is a track that we should really
reflect in values. Yeah, I actually think
it’s true that we need to embed more
different kinds of thinking into architectural education,
and I think writing and the use of words is
a really crucial skill that could be emphasized more. It’s amazing how
much time I find I have to spend, both
writing mission statements, concept statements, project– the texts that go with
project competitions. You’re basically writing
essays the whole time. So writing an essay as
a secondary activity in an architecture
school I think is a wrong way of
looking at things. It’s a fundamental part
of, I think, design– is thinking through
your concepts in words, being able to articulate
those concepts, and being able to write them in
a coherent and convincing way. And I think– well, the school
of architecture I went to, it taught cultural history
as a course for three years. It wasn’t architectural
history and theory. It was cultural
history, and it embraced all forms of cultural
production– in a way, also the economic, but
artistic and literary canon since antiquity, and
it was essay-based. All we did was write essays
week after week after week. It was really hard. The course was
called Iconography, and we called them “Icokillers.” Every other Friday, we
had an “Icokiller,” which was a 20-minute essay test. And I think that discipline
about articulating ideas– and then that actually
goes into contracts. We have to read
contracts all the time and spot the hole that’s been
planted in the contract that’s going to get you at the
site inspection stage, and just the matter
of a few words can mean you lose
money for three years while you get underpaid
for site services, or you actually
get paid properly. So being able to read
and identify and write in a forensic way is, I think,
a crucial skill for architects that really needs to be
supported and encouraged and will serve everybody in
many ways throughout their life, not just as a practitioner. And I think that
has to be balanced against the passive voice
history theory production that comes earlier in their careers. For us, in terms of development
of professional writing, it’s active voice
and two-page memos– getting to the point, being
quite discreet and clear and concise as to their
intent and to their analysis. And I think that
it confuses people. Shouldn’t this be a 10 page or
15 page memo on equal terms? But in reality, that
is the spectrum of time that we have allocated to
this particular problem, and we should be
skilled in that regard. Well, thank you for all
your thoughtful comments. We can open some– take some questions
from the audience. Thanks for the talks
and the conversation. I’m really curious if we
can mess things around? And I would like to
listen your speculations on what are more
balanced, in terms of gender and minorities– what kind of
profession should we be building and thinking
and imagining from academia? How academia can inform practice
to become a little bit more of a reflection of
what society is, and how do you see that
in your different roles? I think it has been touched
very briefly why women disappear from the professional
panorama, but I would like to hear a little
bit more what your thoughts are from a radical re-thinking
on what kind of future do we want to make the
profession a little bit more inclusive and diverse? I will speak. I think it’s the
creation of opportunity and the capitalizing
on that opportunity. I have been told
that I can’t be hired because I don’t look like a
developer’s son or the clients. These things are said to
me in open company, right? And in some places,
that’s still the culture. And in order to change that,
there need to be opportunities, and schools offer
amazing opportunities. And how do we take that
opportunity into practice? I think it’s supporting other
minorities, gender or ethnic, and also calling each other out. I think being less afraid. And perhaps it’s
the culture of firms that creates hierarchy
and barriers to, maybe, being too frank
with one’s opinions. But I think if we are able
to support one another and call each other out and
hold each other accountable, I’m hopeful that
design will benefit. And at the end of the
day, that’s all I want. I don’t necessarily believe
that more women is good. Because it’s more
women I think it’s because it means better
design, because it’s a different background. It’s a different experience. Same with minorities. So if we all just, again,
focus on why we’re here– which is to produce
architecture and see the value in a diversity of architects– I think we push design
forward, and then it hopefully self-perpetuates. So as a historian, I always
am trying never to speculate. But for just for
a second, I would say that perhaps if there’s
one thing that we can aim for, it’s being able to articulate
value in moving forward. And then as a historian–
or thinking about the role of history in all of this– is where can we critique the
things that we think we know? So how can we deconstruct or
demystify this authorial figure that we have come to know
as the white male genius by showing, actually, how
architecture is produced by a series of
collective workers, together from the
bottom to the top? And then what were the
different kind of gender roles? And then actually call attention
to the stories that are always overlooked in our historical
texts or in our slides or in the way in which
we think about practice. So I think there’s a role for
all of us, perhaps, in this. But yeah, that’s what I would– [inaudible] I have a slightly– well,
a different interpretation. I think it requires
active effort. I think you just
have to be a mentor. You have to look at both
merit of people’s capacity and their inherent talents,
but you really just have to actively reflect
the power or control or influence that one has in
whatever stage of one’s career to help give voice to those
that face severe biases and preferences
that are unyielding and, one can even
argue, immoral. And so I think we have– and this is where
ethics, I think, becomes a really powerful point. There is a conflict between
NCARB Model Rules and AIA Rules of Ethics and Professional
Conduct about humanity and how you treat your
coworkers and your employees. And in some areas, violation
of certain labor laws may get you in trouble. In certain jurisdictions,
it may not. And I think we really have to
come to terms with a much more active role and realize that
it’s not necessarily ethics and professional conduct. It is. And one builds reputations
and has consequences of that. But I think it’s
more fundamentally a shift in culture defined by
a recalibration of morality. [inaudible] I want to take some
of those standards and try to run with
them a little bit. I’m struck, a little bit, with
this extensively stimulating and exciting
conversation that there’s a lacuna, here, for me– which is a direct conversation
about value and the value that the architects
bring to the table. I think architects are not
very good at defining it. But fundamentally,
as designers, we are responsible for
the design of the built environment– the shape
of the places we live in. I think there is a
potential value there and a potential instrumentalized
value which can manifest as transformative power. And I would like to just try to
provoke the panel a little bit to consider those avenues
for the future of practice, because I think
it’s foundational for architects, going forward,
to define their real value proposition– or practice
to be sustainable. Because I think we’ve seen a
lot, in these presentations, about the constrictive nature
of the trends of practice, and I think personally, the
only way forward out of that is to redefine a basic value
proposition [inaudible] foundation of practice. Maybe I can start
to answer this. I’ve actually
spent a lot of time trying to promote and
expose the lack of evidence and the lack of narrative and
the lack of convincing material that architects have to
hand to prove their value. We are terrible at doing
things like post-occupancy evaluations, for example, to
prove how our designs improve people’s quality of life,
improve their well-being, improve their mental
health, their performance. And the problem is that we
don’t have the fees and the time and the staff to actually do
that post-occupancy evaluation ourselves, and
somehow we don’t also have scholars or
students who are producing that evidence, either,
in academic institutions. Or if they’re there, we
don’t know where they are. We need more access. They need more
visibility, because I feel that we so often end
up justifying our work based on trying to reference things
that our clients might know or relate to that
they know are good, but we just don’t
have the proofs that show that really
great buildings have certain qualities and certain
criteria that deliver value. And the other really critical
thing is long-term value. The only way we describe
and measure long-term value is as heritage. In particular, in the
UK, everything heritage is valuable. It’s like period houses– super valuable, everybody
loves period houses. Everything built before
1900 is heritage, and it’s described as
beautiful and wonderful and all of these things. And we don’t have any ways or
means of actually crystallizing the value that we add. And also, things– like when
you design a really fantastic– the Bilbao effect has
become a default terminology that when you design
a fantastic building, it brings a tourist
economy, but it actually uplifts the value of all the
properties in the neighborhood of that project. But the immediate client,
especially if they’re a developer– they don’t
care, because they’re not benefiting from the value
of that neighborhood uplift. But the city cares that they
are benefiting and everybody– that constituency– is
benefiting from that uplift. So I just feel like there’s
a huge amount of research and data gathering
and evidence that needs to be done that
can help the profession to prove our value and
be able to offer more, because we have that behind us. And I could say we teach
post-occupancy evaluation here at the GSD. There’s a methodology to it. There’s a survey
methodology to it. We look at models
like BREEAM where you have not only
the commissioning, but post-occupancy reports, the
transparency with consumers, that interaction
between how they use the building and the like. And I mean, there is an element
of building science there, as well as social
science, that I think is– it’s not just practical in
terms of quality control. It’s practical because
it’s a line of service. And I think it actually
helps us understand and evaluate what it is that
we’ve designed and produced. And in terms of value, back
to Alison’s presentation– the nature of competitiveness
in the field– bidding at every stage of
a project, for example– it divides us. And so as a field,
unlike, perhaps, the legal field, where
you go to work for a firm because you’re
interested in what they do but you still
hold absolute respect for other firms. And you’re across
the table in court, but there’s a
congeniality that we tend to replace with an
intense competitiveness amongst ourselves and
amongst our practices. And while that
probably generates some really
interesting output, I don’t think it benefits
the whole field, because we can be divided, right? So cities can pit us
against each other. It makes it harder for
us to define our values. We start differentiating
ourselves from each other, and perhaps not in
architectural ways– which, again,
dilutes the practice. So things like Aaron’s work
in The Architecture Lobby is an opportunity to
create a uniform value, even if it’s general, right? Even if it’s just
the big idea, it helps the public acknowledge
us as a valuable profession, and perhaps builds us up. Well, I think given
the time constraints, we should perhaps take
a break– unless there’s a yes or no question. [laughter] We’ll take a break,
and we’ll reconvene– a full 10-minute break,
and reconvene at 10:05. But thank you,
again, for all the– [applause] So like the first
panel, we’re going to have four speakers
speaking 10 minutes each, and then we will open the
floor for conversation. Our guests will join
us here up at the front and have an opportunity to
converse with all of us. So this second panel– it’s called “The
Architect’s Arsenal– Tools and Strategies.” The panel focuses on both
the tangible and intangible resources available to
the designer in practice, with an emphasis on
the ways in which the incorporation of new
technologies and strategies affect design. With numerous digital
platforms, BIM and machine learning programs
already normalized within design workflows,
new opportunities arise with the development
of digital simulation to use spatial representation
and fabrication technologies for the built environment. So our next panelists will
discuss emerging technologies from early stage
research and development to commercial and
professional usage, critically exploring the gap between
potential possibilities and actual feasibility in
the architect’s arsenal. So our first guest will
be Eduard Sancho Pou, who is a registered architect
in both New York and Barcelona specializing
in strategic consulting, planning, and directing
projects of all scales. His academic profile is based
on his own diverse working experience, which includes
being Director of Strategy for a private equity real
estate firm in New York, developing projects for the
city of Buenos Aires as Urban Projects Operation
Manager, running an architectural
gallery in Barcelona, and developing an international
architectural competition with the Holcim Awards
with a Swiss multinational. He has lived and worked in
Barcelona, Buenos Aires, and most recently, New York. Currently, he is based in
the Greater Zurich Area, running his own
architecture studio, where he focuses as a strategic
consultant and an architect. Eduard is the author of
Architectural Strategies and the book Function
Follows Strategy, which focuses on how marketing,
policies, and data affect the process of a project. He is in process of writing a
third book, Digital Strategies for the Built Environment,
which concentrates on the tools with which to
implement strategies and design intangibles. He’s taught at Columbia
University GSAPP, Universidad de Palermo in Buenos Aires,
and Universidad Politecnica Catalunya in Barcelona,
where he received his degrees in architecture
and construction engineering. He has been awarded a Graham
Foundation grant and a Festival of Arts and Design Theory
Award for his research in architectural practice. Please join me in
welcoming Eduard. [applause] Thanks, [inaudible]. Thanks for inviting me. My name is Eduard. I specialize in
intangible strategies. When I explain that
I do intangibles, normally people don’t
understand what’s going on, and I always use an analogy. Imagine an ecosystem where
all the animals can see only on black and white. And then suddenly,
just by a mutation, there’s a predator
that can see on color. What happens? This predator begins to grow,
begins to eat other animals, begins to reproduce. And when the animals that
can see on black and white study the ecosystem,
they really don’t understand what has changed. This camouflage
doesn’t work anymore, but they feel a
threat, but they don’t know from where it’s coming. I compare these animals that
can see in black and white with the architects that
design on tangible tools– that they design based on
form, place, materials. And I compare that
predator with an architect that, together with
the tangible tools, it’s able to design with
intangibles based on brand, on data, and on relations. But the important thing– what we need to understand–
how it’s done, the mutation. How it’s able that
this architect is able to see in color,
to have this extra layer of information. And this is through
technological disruption. It can be the appearance
of the computer, of the TV, of the smartphone. It appears new tools that some
architects are able to use. And especially,
what they achieve– it’s evidence. It’s data. And what I will try
to explain today is that these architects,
instead to prove or to evaluate his designs based
on how it looks, well, they base on
how it works thanks to intangible strategies. I represent three architects
that, at a certain moment on the history, they were
able to see in color, and the first one
is Charles Luckman. On the ’50s was the moment
that was the propriety of TV, and Charles Luckman– he tried to apply the
system of the survey. What is the survey? A survey allows the
programmers of TV to know what is the
opinion about the program. And what Luckman
did is he applied to architectural projects. I don’t know if you have been
or if you know this machine. This is the Galton box. You can find these
in amusement parks. These are drop dollar machine. You never know, if you throw the
ball, where it’s going to fall. But the amazing thing is
that if you throw 100, even 1,000 of balls,
what it happens is that appears the
normal distribution curve. It appears in order. And what Charles Luckman did
is trying to find this order to make architecture. What it means? He was trying to find
the average of opinions. And through the
average of opinions, he was able to build buildings. This is the CTTV
studio in Los Angeles. It was built in 1953. And what is interesting
about this building is that the first TV studio
that was not on a theater, it was a completely
new building. And when he designed
this building, it was all based
on the feedback– on the post-occupancy reports
what was wrong on the theaters. It was very difficult, the
access for the [inaudible].. In the theaters, there was
no access for the sponsors. The sponsor was a
new type of public that was on the TV studios. And it was always very hot. And through the
surveys, for example, what he realize is that
he needs to install this kind of ACs that are
hanging on flexible ducts, and what it permits is that you
can move where the lights are, lowering the temperature. This was the important of
the post-occupancy reports. The second architect
that was able to see in color on the
’80s was Gensler, and was through the computers. Gensler, as Luckman,
used, also, surveys. But he had a new tool
that was the tickets. I don’t know if you know
what a ticket means, but a ticket is
something that is wrong. Through the surveys,
we can imagine that everyone can agree that we
would like to be in a building that all the summer it’s
at a certain temperature. But if you begin to
receive complaints that you send to the HR
Department and you’re saying, today I am too cold, or on the
upper floors, it’s too hot, what you get– it’s a new kind of data. This is the survey. This is the opinions. This is the knowledge that
Gensler got from Luckman, but what he had is this
new layer that these is the feedback of the people,
and this is the evidence. And how it was able
to merge, he was able to merge through
the Bayes’ theorem. This is mathematics. What is interesting about this– that he was able just to
begin a new kind of praxis in architecture
that was consulting. And the motto of Gensler
is, what I deliver, it’s like a racing car. And a racing car
needs adjustment. And to do these
adjustments, I need to do post-occupancy reports. And the biggest difference
is that Luckman just did, one time, a
post-occupancy report to understand what was
wrong with a client, and Gensler did one
post-occupancy report every month, just in order to
adjust, but also to be paid. The third architect that can
see in color is Miguel McKelvey. He’s an architect,
but he’s also one of the co-founders of WeWork. Everyone knows WeWork, and what
is interesting about WeWork is that he used a mobile phone
as a way to track his users. He also does surveys,
he does tickets, but he had internet of things. He knows how the people move
around the building, but adds, also, another one
that is data exhaust. What is data exhaust? It’s the digital fingerprint. And you can know how is
the mood of the person and how they react when you
put more people in the office or when you change the
position in the office. How WeWork works– again,
there’s the survey. But this is different kinds of
tickets, of internet of things, of data exhaust that
everything is merged through [inaudible] networks. It’s so complicated mathematics
that they need machine learning in order just to merge. And then we get
these kind of spaces, where that last important
thing is the tangible design. People is not here because
of the kind of beer that they deliver, the kind of
furniture, or the ping-pong. People is here
because of the brand. They want to be
in a WeWork space. They want to be here,
because they have an app, and through the app,
they are able just to meet very interesting
people that work around. And as architects, what
we need to understand is how this works. And for this reason, I
have developed a new tool that is the design I– DISF– Design Intangible
Strategies Framework. What I try to do is try to
measure how works each side. What we can see is that WeWork
has a huge amount of captivity. And why captivity? Because they are community
managers that match the people. And what they try is that
bring the people together, and that they can interact. There’s also
reverse engineering, because they learn and
they improve, each time, from each new site
that they develop, and they work on performance. And the performance is not
based, as always, on revenue, because WeWork now
is losing money. The performance where they work
is just to develop a brand. There are other things. There’s co-creation, simplicity,
outsmart [? integration ?] that are not so much, and in my
opinion, it needs to improve. This is a subjective
tool, and what is important about
this subjective tool is that it gives
me the possibility to make a dialogue with talents. Because when we study
different kinds of works, the problem is that I
always agree with them. There’s many, many
tools that are applied on the same building. The problem to see is how
they interact together, but especially, how
can you perform better? And for this reason, for
each area, what I have done is I have developed tools
to make them stronger. For example, in captivity, they
match storytelling [inaudible] that can help to gain
[inaudible] on this. Something else is that this
half, the use of data– it’s an approach that
it’s more humanistic. And on this other
side, it’s an approach of data that is more
parametric or algorithmic. What is interesting about
the AIS is especially that I can compare
buildings, and I can look through
the buildings, and I can see what is the amount of
intangibility that is there? The number is not important. It’s really not
important, because it can be a very good
design that there is no intangible tools applied. But what is important
is that we can measure– we can track– how it works. For this reason,
what is important is to explain that the AIS– it’s based, or it’s a way
to track how intangibles are applied on architecture,
and it’s even correct for webs, for apps, or for buildings. And to do this change,
what I decide– or what I apply– is the concept of what
is real architecture? Normally, we think
that what is real is something that is
materiality or gravity. This is the Newton definition. And I will use the Floridian
definition– that what is real, you can interact with it. What it means, interact? You can interact
with a brick, but you can interact also with an
app in a certain context. And if we accept this
change, we can do the shift from how it looks
to how it works, but especially, we
can do the shift from architectural practices
to arch tech firms, if we understand
that what it defines is that it’s interactivity. Thank you. [applause] Thank you, Eduard. So next we have Sawako Kajima,
who is an Assistant Professor here with us at the GSD, and
the Shutzer Assistant Professor at Harvard’s
Radcliffe Institute. Her work investigates the
integration of architectural, structural, and
environmental knowledge to create unique,
efficient, and previously unattainable designs. In pursuing this objective, she
develops computational design methods and artifacts
employing computer simulation and various digital
fabrication technologies. Her work has been
widely published, exhibited, and has won
multiple design awards. Pursuing both academic
and applied research at the interface of architecture
engineering and computer science, Sawako has led multiple
interdisciplinary research projects in collaboration
with various fields, ranging from structural
engineering, aeronautics, materials science, and art. In addition, she was
involved in the development of a vast range of architectural
projects undertaken in collaboration with
widely-acclaimed architectural practices such as Thomas
Heatherwick, Foster + Partners, and other London-based
structural engineering consultancies–
for example, AKT. Prior to joining Harvard,
Sawako held an appointment at the Singapore University
of Technology and Design. She received a master
of architecture degree from the lesser institution
down the street– [laughter] –and a Bachelor of Arts in
environmental information from Keio University in Japan. Please welcome Sawako. [applause] Hi, thank you, Grace. Yes, I’m from the lesser one– yeah. So in the recent past,
digital technology has altered the way in which we
conceive, describe, and produce architectural space. Proliferation of
new technologies often bring existing industry
and educational structure into question, and
provide opportunities for their redesign. In this context, my work
focuses on designing interfaces to integrate knowledge embedded
in architectural, structural, and environmental
fields, as Grace said, in order to create unique,
efficient, and previously unattainable designs. Today, most of the parties
related to architecture utilize various
software tools in order to perform their tasks. Those software tools generally
try to facilitate production within each discipline. They do share a common
underlying representation of information in
a digital format that can be accessed
by using, for example, programming languages. This is significant, as there
is a technical technological communication channel between
architecture and engineering. So my background is in
architectural design, but I worked for structural
engineering consultancy for years in the past, and
developed multiple custom methods and tools to address
project-specific design engineering challenges
within the industry. However, today, because
our time is limited, I would like to show you
just a few approaches I’m taking to integrate mechanical
properties of material in design. Topostruct is a software tool
we developed over 10 years ago based on topology optimization. Topology optimization is
a well-documented method in mechanical
engineering where you suppose a continuous volume,
and apply support and loading conditions to find topologically
optimal material distribution of materials in space. The question here
is not necessarily the production of new forms– though this might
be a side effect– but rather to shift the
intuitive understanding of the designer in relation
to the problem of structure, hybridizing the representation
based on distinct elements, and one based on
material distributions. This idea was literally used in
a research project with myself and Mechanical Engineering
Professor Martin Dunn on interlocking joinery. Our approach revisits
knowledge embedded in crafts from the pre-industrial
age in light of post-industrial
information technology. The link between the
pre-industrial mode of production and current
mode of production might open up new
possibility of rearrangement between engineering
and architecture. Although traditional
interlocking joints that have been developed
and refined over centuries exhibit an enormous body
of material knowledge, its applications to
buildings are limited today, and often requires
mechanical fastening. Though the complex geometries
can be fabricated today, one of the main obstacles in
reintroducing the technique is a lack of scientific
understanding of the structural behavior
of joinery systems. After our preliminary studies
on the traditional joinery, we have determined
four key factors affecting the stiffness of
the joint structure, that are geometry, mechanical
properties of material, friction, and fitting. So this is the
geometric principles of interlocking joinery,
though generally these are documented based on the
craftsman’s step-by-step marking methods. Instead, we documented
it computationally. Actually, it’s quite simple. As long as you don’t have
any kind of undercuts in the assembly axis,
all the joints are valid, and you have all the
freedom in the perpendicular plane to the axis in
terms of the geometry. These simple rules can be
multiplied and assembled together to make quite a
complex structural element. Also, the understanding of
this kind of geometric concepts allow us to modify the
joinery system so that it can give more geometric freedoms. As you can see here, this
is a multi-axis joinery. They’re all identical
joineries that can be fitted into
multiple directions. However, if we were to
build this out of timber, it would not work structurally,
as all the wood fibers will be cut in an unreasonable manner. But instead of taking
this as a given limit to geometric possibilities
of joineries, our research takes
a particular view that micro structures and its
composition of every material, including that of wood, will
be designed and custom-tailored to improve its performance and
reliability in the near future. These materials are called
functionally graded materials, and one of the methods to
materialize such concepts is accessible today through
multi material additive manufacturing technology. The multi material printer
we use in print materials with varying elasticity. Here, the pink indicates
a stiff material. So what we did was we used this
process called Voxel printing, which allows you
to really control the droplet by droplet,
microscopic material layout within the volume
in a single print. However, though this
technology’s possible, actually, the process
to effectively work with such a resolution
is not within the reach at this moment. So right now, our
architects use, generally, boundary representation as
a data structure to describe [inaudible] geometry, polyhedral
structures for finite element solid contact analysis, and
also Voxel type of structure is used for the printing. So we needed to make a
lot of customs in between in order to enable
the data translation from one side to the other. So this is one of
the tables we made as an illustration
of our process. It’s basically a [inaudible]
table without the fasteners And of course, the highlight
is probably the leg, here. And what this is
showing is that– oops. This showing that this is fully
3D printed with multi material printers, and the
grain is designed in the optimal direction for
this particular structural conditions. Of course, it is not
only about the materials. Also, the global assembly
structures are quite important. And also, the fitting criterion
can be somewhat solved by the inspiration we got
from the scarfing technology of wood-making. So though this small instance
could work in the table scenario, one of the
difficulties when we go upscale is the friction. Basically, it’s
very difficult, even with the digital
fabrication technologies, to have a perfect fit for
the structural purposes. And always, assembly access
is weak in the pull-out axis. So what we developed here, with
the same kind of multi material technology, is that the locking
scenario that is inspired by a ratchet-type of mechanism– where you can insert
in one direction, but it is difficult to
pull out in the other– is a really simple idea where
this tooth-like scenario with soft material
around it can resist. It enables smooth insertion,
but resists the pull-out forces. Actually, this is the
first iteration, when we have a better structure now. So with all this, we
went on to make the more architectural prototype, here. So this is a pavilion made
for a small exhibition we held in the Singapore
National Design Center, and a lot of the
difficulties actually came from the intelligent
assembly sequencing. But also, a lot of
optimization algorithm were developed in order to make
sure we don’t kill anybody. And also– OK, and we
developed 26 new joinery that were custom designed for the
particular loading scenarios we were designing. And as you can see, quickly,
from this drawing set, these are ratchet
mechanisms, and all the material distributions
were embedded within each joint system. Also, what was
interesting here was we were able to print this
in a transparent material. In the crafts time, the
inner workings of the joinery were trade secret. But now, with this
type of new technology, we could open up what once
was a secret information to the public as well. Of course, the 3D
printing material is not yet immediately
applicable to architecture use, but there is another
type of materials that we are looking into right
now that is CNC knitting. CNC knitting is also another
type of molten material printing technology which
is a little bit more difficult to comprehend
in terms of structure, but currently we are
developing in a similar mode, material distribution-based
design systems that reacts to the external stimulus
to build structure around it. But we haven’t published this,
so I can’t give you the details yet, but I hope to present
it to you next time. OK, so I’d like to
finish with this quote, but also, like after
the first panel session, I want to ask this question. Is it important for architecture
to keep authorship of design and operate in a
holographic manner? Thank you. [applause] Thank you, Sawako. So next we have
Randy Deutsch, who is the Associate Director for
Graduate Studies and Clinical Associate Professor at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, teaching
and conducting research in design professional
practice, building technology, and digital technology. An architect responsible
for the design of over 100 large, complex,
sustainable projects, Randy has been an Exec
Ed program leader here at the Harvard GSD. He has written for
DesignIntelligence, has been featured in Architect
Magazine and Architectural Record, and is the
author of three books– Convergence– The
Redesign of Design, on the Nature of the Ongoing
Convergence of Technology and Work Processes
in the Profession, Data-Driven Design
and Construction– Strategies for Capturing,
Analyzing, and Applying Building Data, innovative on
the innovative individuals and firms who are
leveraging data to advance their practices,
and BIM and Integrated Design– Strategies for
Architectural Practice. And this tracks the social
and organizational impacts of the new technologies and
collaborative work processes among other publications. His next book is
called Superusers– Design Technology Specialists
and the Future of Practice, and that’s due out
next year in mid-2019. Welcome, Randy. [applause] So there is a transformation
that is coming, and we’re all trying
to understand it. I’ve tried my publications in
this very disruptive decade, that is nearing an
end, to try to make it understandable to my
students and to others. DesignIntelligence has said that
50% of all architecture firms– and schools in particular– have increased the
amount of technology that they’re offering–
digital technology. And I teach at a
architecture school that’s among the 50%
that is decreasing the amount of technology,
so I need to obscure the teaching of technology. I try to make technology very
simple by breaking it down into its constituent parts
so it’s understandable, and I also teach
technology in such a way that it’s really nothing more
than the best tool for the job. It’s just tools in a tool box,
and that can include tools from my own architectural
education– more traditional tools like
Moleskines, Mont Blanc pens, and tracing paper. And this transformation
all began, really, with the way that we used
to be able to suggest a change to somebody
in our office, and they can make
that change, and we knew what they were doing and
they knew what they were doing. And today, that’s become
more and more complex due to the tools that
are available to us, and we don’t always know. Our employees have
become enigmas to us. So design has become
data-driven in the sense that we design not
by manipulating form, but by manipulating data. Generative in that
it is algorithmic, and also, at the
same time, parametric within the constraints that
we define, and predictive. We talked a little
bit before about post-occupancy evaluations. Today it’s predictive
in the sense that post-occupancy
evaluations can inform the pre-design before
the project’s even designed. We start to look at firms–
architecture and engineering and construction firms– as an intermediary
of information, and at the same time,
we’re digital middlemen or middle-people. And this introduces
another continuum that maps out the field today. So on the far left is a
situation, as dystopian as it sounds, where nobody
designs and we design nothing. It’s generative design. And on the far right, it’s
where everyone designs, and they design everything. And we think of it as
crowdsourced design. But that’s generative
design, as well, in that it’s the public that
is generating the design. In Grace La’s podcast– wonderful podcast that
everyone should listen to– in her episode
with Paul Nakazawa, they define the
left side as Patrik, or Patrik Schumacher’s world,
and the algorithmic project. On the far right was
[inaudible] world. It’s the cultural project. But also, in the episode
with Jeanne Gang, it’s also on the involvement
of the public and what we do. So of course, now AI is
upon us, and AI is very much a black box, just as our
employees are black boxes. We need to have a conversation
with the profession itself so they can define what our
stance is in terms of AI, whether we’re augmented
and informed architects– which is happy outcome– or a not-so-happy outcome
where it’s literally just AI. So we’re comfortable, as
designers, with ambiguity, but not everybody else
is, including our clients, so we need to aim for
clarity and certainty. And at the same time, we’re
trying to simplify what we do and make things immediate. So we’re not quite at the
technological singularity yet, we’re just before that. I call it the age of Venn. And so I’m going to fly
through, very quickly– design and manufacturing is one;
outcome, BIM, and computation as well; and the outcomes from
combining those two tools that end up in real things– in Hangzhou, in this instance. Gaming, spatial analysis,
leading to virtual reality in architecture, BIM
in virtual reality, BIM in the internet of things. Here we have a fenestration
study from LMN’ tech studio. Design optimization and
fabrication, of course– going back to the
Hangzhou Stadium, leading directly into
documentation, and 3D modeling. Computational
tools, which– data has always informed our
intuition, but in this case, now when the model
turns green, it actually improves our intuition
as building designers. Structural analysis and design– we’re now meeting structural
engineers earlier, especially on highrises, and using
collaborative techniques via HNTB– and also in terms of
neuroscience and gaming. You notice that we’re going
from two to three bubbles. So you go out into the field
to do a site observation, and the part of
the construction is in red that’s behind schedule,
and that informs what we do. And instead of farming out
separate design visualizations from the work that
we do, we’re now able to actually have the
visualizations in real time. That also improves
our ability to design. We’re now up to four. Using spatial analysis– both
equipment and the people out in the field, just using video– and that then informs
the project schedules. We look for idle time for both
the equipment and the people– unions allowing. We try to tighten
up that schedule and make things more immediate. This goes back to 2010– Woods Bagot, wonderful project
in Australia, leveraging tools. And you can see from there– here’s Paras & Partners in
Toronto, leveraging, reality capture, as well as
drones to make a great bar and sauna using robots. And so we have purpose-built
BIM models, as well, that leads to what
is essentially like the end of the
fireworks, which is an ecosystem of all the
tools– no one particular tool standing out from the others. And it is very much
like the Renaissance– not primarily about
introducing new forms, but just like the
Renaissance, it was about using existing
forms in new ways, similar to what we’re doing
today with the technology. So it’s less about
the technology, and it’s more about the people
who are using these tools. And so what a good
superuser would do– would take the obscure
and try to make it clear and understandable. So superuser is somebody who has
the wherewithal, the curiosity, the confidence, the
capacity, the creativity. But the most important in
creating the ingredients is really the
interpersonal intelligence. And so I’ve identified,
through practice-based research and ethnography, 10 things
that are easy to memorize– these attributes. So I’ll start the
letter C. But you could see that technology is
really a minor part of what makes the superuser. And so the emotional
intelligence supersedes– is more important than– the digital technology. And so we tend to see design
technologists and computational designers as having a preference
or predilection for technology. That’s not really what we
mean by superusers today. They are people
who understand what is the better approach for
this given circumstance, just like the better tool
to use in the tool box. And of course, they’re
T-shaped, and so they interact and collaborate
really well with others. They’re high-performing,
high-functioning, highly-connected,
and highly-motivated. And they’re not unicorns. These people really do exist. And based on the question from
before the break about value, they define everything
they do in terms of value– financial, performative,
liability reducing, architectural, design
excellence, increasing value. They also see themselves
as being noble. That’s a word that came up
again and again in interviews. They’re force multipliers
and talent accelerants. They achieve 80% of the results
with only 20% of the effort. And employers know this
better than anybody. They exist in the gray
space between being a generalist and a specialist. And Scott Crawford from LMN
said they are this generation’s generalist architect. Here’s the rub. The career path
is a risk journey. When I became an
architect, these were the three main roles,
and these remain, very much, the three main roles
in architecture firms. These are the roles
of the future, and they are often seen
as separate or the other. And firms will often
say, we’ll just absorb them into the company. That’s not the case. They self-identify,
because they’re people who just enjoy
having fun in what they do, but they’re also misunderstood,
undervalued, hard to find, hard to keep, hard to keep
happy, hard to promote, and hard to fit in. Here’s the test that I give. If this is your desk,
you’re a manager. If this is your desk,
you’re a superuser. [laughter] Going back to the quote
from the beginning, there is a transformation. So while interviewing,
earlier this year, Dan Anthony for NBBJ,
he left to a startup in the midst of the interview. And so we’re seeing
more and more people go from corporate
architecture firms to startups, verticals– are vertically-integrated
companies– software developers, and
real estate concerns. I’ve identified
firms of everything, including these here– and I’m going to skip
over this real quick. Really, there is a
line drawn in the sand. And the line drawn in the
sand is an important part of what’s going on in
our profession right now. One of the most important
things we can do, as design professionals,
is to learn how to stay. And nobody is going to
stay within our field who aren’t paid well or
treated like the other, not shown a future
within their firms, if they can’t find
themselves on the org chart, if they’re tempted to leave
for a startup, for example, and to question the appeal of
even staying within our field. So these are traditional
ways that we’ve kept architects in the past– engineers and
contractors as well. Our ultimate goal as educators
and as design professionals within firms is to help
others understand not only how to stay, but why
they should stay. And the alternative,
per Ian Keough’s forward to my book, paints
a much different world– which is the AC primarily
exists as a breeding ground for these
individuals, but then will leave for startups. So I’ll leave you with
what I leave my students at the end of lectures– what role, given all of
this, do you want to play? Thank you. [applause] Thank you, Randy. Our fourth panelist
is Robert Pietrusko– Bobby to many of us. He is an Associate Professor
here in the Department of Landscape Architecture,
where his teaching and research focus on geographic
representation, simulation, narrative cartography, and the
history of spatial data sets. His design work is part of
the permanent collection of the Fondation
Cartier, and has been exhibited in
over 10 countries and at venues such as the
Museum of Modern Art, ZKM Center for Art and Media,
and the Venice Architecture Biennale, among others. Prior to joining the
junior faculty at the GSD, Bobby worked as a designer
with Diller, Scofidio, + Renfro in New York and
held research positions at Parsons Institute
for Information Mapping at the New School, and at
Columbia University’s Spatial Information Design Lab. Bobby holds a bachelor of music
in music synthesis with honors from the Berklee
College of Music, a master of science in
electrical engineering from Villanova
University, and a master of architecture with distinction
from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He is our superuser. Please welcome Bobby. [applause] Hello. Oh, wow, those lights. You didn’t warn me
when you came up here. So first, thank you
to Mark and Grace for inviting me to be here
to show my work a little bit. I lecture all the
time in this building, and yet somehow, when
it’s in this context, I get a little
knot in my stomach. So I’m going to try
to warm up, here. There’s a little bit of nerves,
even though I’m at home. So in my work, relative to the
context of the conversation we’re having here, I try to
think of ways that data that we might use in more practical
ways has the potential for us, as designers, to tell different
kind of stories of space, to engage critically with
practices of using data, and put them in contexts
where a design mentality can be transmitted to the public,
often in the context of gallery work or in museums or in
festivals and exhibitions. The goal for this is not so much
just to make design research as a form of
entertainment for others, but to elevate a conversation
about the uses of space and various spatial
processes that emerge in a contemporary
moment, but also for us as designers to imagine
new typologies of sites where we might work. And in that way, I don’t just
mean the gallery context, but I mean in the
content that shows up in the pieces I’m going to show. There’s new types and
spatial conditions that might be venues for us to
insert some of our knowledge and skills. The first piece I’m going
to talk about here– and it might be the only
piece, time allowing– is a piece I developed earlier
this year for the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale– a piece called “In Plain Sight.” I did this in collaboration
with Diller, Scofidio, + Renfroe and Laura Kurgan, a couple of
longtime collaborators of mine. This was a little bit
of a reunion for us to work together again. It was part of a show called
Dimensions of Citizenship, where a variety of
firms were invited to explore the theme of
citizenship at various scales. And given my interest
and backgrounds, I was lucky enough to work
on the scale of the global– so what are ways of
exploring global citizenship? Given my interest in
optics of geospace– or looking at the world through
media or looking at the world through data– started with a simple
historical prompt about the way different images of the world
have framed popular conceptions of how the world operated. So on the one hand, we
have what’s conventionally been called the blue marble. First recorded
photographically in the 1970s, and became the icon of the world
as a fragile planet, humans as the steward of this planet,
what Buckminster Fuller once called “Spaceship Earth.” On the other hand, we have
a more contemporary image. And we see this in
all sorts of venues. This is in magazines. It is at the
beginning of movies. It’s in all sorts of
Marvel comic films where a superhero is
flying across the surface of the Earth, we see
the nighttime lights. And this tends to be connected
to narratives of the globe as a highly advanced
technological object that is indifferent to all sorts
of geopolitical boundaries. There’s free movement and
flow of capital, information, and people. It’s an image of highly
connected planet, which is quite different from the
view of the planet as something fragile. The thing that happens
with the second image, however, is that it
displays the world in a way that there’s no
friction for anyone, and yet we know, in
many cases, that there’s plenty of friction for
all variety of communities and populations. Moving across borders is
never easy for a vast amount of the world population. So engaging in this imagery and
looking at the nighttime lights more closely, I
was wondering how the nighttime
lights as a data set could tell stories
counter to those claims from within the data itself, OK? So we have, on the one hand,
the nighttime lights data set. We also have a
different data set, which is called the gridded
population of the world– equally global,
equally ambitious. And it’s produced by CIESIN– a group of geographers,
demographers, and earth scientists out of
Columbia University. And the gridded population
of the world data set has the ambition of counting
every person on Earth, all right? So it’s not limited in its scope
by administrative boundaries or municipalities. It tries to synthesize
all of that information– a kitchen sink approach to
locating where people are. Now, my goal is not to
celebrate this relative to nighttime lights. Both data sets have
their own problems. But the point is something in
these two global ambitions– these two data sets that are
used to represent reality in different ways– we can highlight gaps and
discrepancies within them. So developing
software– and this is often what I do, is develop
geospatial software that analyzes data and uses
that data to tell stories in an algorithmic fashion
and narrative cartography, as Grace had mentioned. In that software–
very simple operation– was the foundation
of this piece. A subtraction, or the difference
between these two data sets. If, on the one hand, we
say the nighttime lights data set is meant to
show where people are through their development
and through the emission of electricity, and
if, on the other hand, the gridded population
of the world data set is supposed to also
show where people are, if we find the
difference between them, can we tell certain
stories that are critical of these worldviews? So in this difference,
we came up with a rough– and admittedly reductive
and problematic– breakdown in the way that
we’re labeling it. But there are two
main categories after this difference. One is places where,
according to these data sets and their subtraction,
there are lights but there are no people. And on the other
hand, places where there are people but no lights. This, then, became the
framework for establishing a taxonomy relative
to these two claims. So beginning first
with places where there are people
and no lights, we used this image not to explore
all 16,000 of these points, but to say these
16,000 points gave us points where we could go in
and research further and try to develop a story. So we came up with a
series of taxonomies. The first was a
taxonomy of places where there were
people but no lights, and what are the different
spatial conditions that produce that quality? So just for example, we have
things like wealthy enclaves where they want light
control at night– so places where there’s huge
mansions out in the woods, et cetera– informal settlements,
indigenous territories, outages after political
or environmental problems, extraction settlements,
isolated villages, and so forth. Now, the black squares
that you see here– this is a still from an animation. But these black squares– that’s
not the black of the screen. These are actually
sampled black locations from the nighttime lights image. So we’re actually zooming
into very specific pixels and saying, though the nighttime
lights shows these as dark, there is settlements here. And if we also incorporate
satellite imagery, which is– OK, three minutes– we can
see the actual footprint of that settlement. We then generalize
and look at it over hundreds of
cases that correspond to these people but
no lights conditions, and then show them
relative to the pixels as they’re sampled on the map. On the other hand,
we have conditions where we have lights but
no people, all right? So this was the second
taxonomy that we derived, and I’m going to talk about some
of these in a bit more detail, because once we zoom in
to these conditions– and here we are zoomed in quite
closely to the nighttime lights data set– we can see that similar
to the last case, there are a number of
categories of situations where we might have
lights but no people, and that these activities
support urbanity, and yet have a problematic relationship
to populations and where they’re located. We focused and zoomed into
three specific conditions, and told very specific
stories about them. So for instance, we looked
at strip mines, tourism site, and a site of natural
gas extraction. Specifically– for
instance, the strip mine, we looked at the KOV mine
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In terms of tourism
sites, we looked at Punta Cana in the
Dominican Republic, and then the Malvina natural
gas extraction site in Peru. So focusing on one of
these, we would then zoom in and tell a particular story. Again, this is analyzing
data to turn it into a form of
cartographic storytelling. In the case of the KOV
mine– this is in the Congo– there’s an open pit
mine owned by Glencore, which is a global
mining corporation– a conglomeration of British
and Swiss interests– and they produced a
1,700 kilometer DC power line that connects
to the Inga dams on the far side of the
country, all right? So this power line draws
power from the dams– hydroelectric power– and
sends it across the country– 1,700 kilometers– to power
operations at the KOV mine. All right, so far so good,
except along that pathway, there are numerous settlements
and cities that do not have any access to this power
line– this infrastructure; this territorial
infrastructure– and therefore suffer
power outages, have unreliable
access to electricity. Sometimes they have to
time share electricity within the settlements. So these are the
types of situations– these relationships we’re
trying to highlight– with this lights but no
people kind of narrative. And for us, we’re
imagining that these are potential sites where
designers could enter in and start working, right? The site becomes situations
where there are potentially mining operations and
populations that are under-served by electricity. So here we zoom in on a number
of settlements along that power line, and then look at them
in terms of their settlement figures. And as we go back– or maybe you saw just
when we zoomed in– that the KOV mine
and the Inga dams were the only ones that
showed up as bright spots in the nighttime lights imagery. And then we looked at over 250
mines owned by the Glencore mining company– and here’s just
128 on the screen– and we’re able to show
them spatially distributed after looking at
all of them in terms of their actual
settlement patterns. And then this will
[? flock ?] on the map. Sorry, there’s
just one last move. I want to show it. There we go, all right. [laughter] So anyway, I’ll maybe
stop here and just summarize my main points again. In numerous aspects
of the design process, we use spatial data. That data is also used broadly
and culturally in order to tell particular
narratives of space. My interest is in
using tools that are within the design context– tools like GIS and geospatial
tools that I use myself– in order to critically
engage those data sets through a form of
geographic storytelling that connects to the public,
but also reflects back on the practice
and design research to highlight sites where
we might operate ourselves. So there’s a bundle
of interests here, and I think they’re all related. We, as designers,
have a role to play in communicating complex
spatial processes to the general public. But also, within
making that work, we should be able to communicate
back to ourselves where sites of intervention could be
for the future of the field. And so that’s my relationship
to all of these tools, and hopefully it can contribute
to the conversation of how certain impulses within design
education or design research could affect practice. Thank you again. [applause] Thank you so much. Wow, lots to talk about. It seems that when we hear– especially these
four– we didn’t know, when we invited
you, exactly what you would all talk about. We didn’t script
you in that way. We just simply gave
you the prompt, and I think it’s really
fascinating that we’re seeing, here, hints of the
creation of an understanding of how we would
think about the value proposition of architecture. We’re also seeing new
territory, new places, new arenas for
architects to imagine– or for designers in
general to imagine– future possibilities
for practice. So I’m eager to ask you
all to speculate on, in your areas of research
that you presented so clearly to us, what are their futures? Talk to us about what
these futures are. What do they look like? OK, I’ll jump in– just to start– so they can
think about something to say. So I do see this as
the line in the sand. I do see there being a
situation, currently, where– it will either be disrupted– our industry will be
disrupted from the outside– or we’ll be doing
the disruption. And my vote, and my dollars
are in us doing the disruption within the AEC industry. And so things we will
need to do moving forward for that to happen to assure
that we don’t become a breeding ground just for the startups
and verticals, the software development companies and
so on, is that we will need to work on the softer skills. No one goes into architecture
to become a project manager. Similarly, no one goes
into architecture, really, because they’re thinking first
and foremost about people– other than maybe the people
that use their buildings, or the neighbors
of their buildings. We need to be
thinking about people in all the different
ways, including the way that we communicate
our ideas to others– things that we’ve been talking
about for a long, long time. But it needs to
become, in education, an emphasis for what we do. People need to become
our foremost focus within the industry. And so even in teaching, for
example, professional practice, interpersonal interaction and
interpersonal intelligence really becomes the primary
focus of a class of that sort. I agree with Randy,
but I would like to add, also, a point of view. I think that normally, our
practice is based on building. And I think that
since the 2008 crisis, we need to begin to think that– the crisis was– this is a
point, indeed, Alan Greenspan– he comment that
the crisis was only for things that has a span or
durability more than 20 years. And I think that this
point is interesting. We architects– we
have been always doing things that has a durability,
or we think or we expect, that has more than 20 years. And now companies
are not anymore interested on things that
has this kind of durability. If we see what corporations are
doing, they are keeping cash. And before, what
they were doing is they were investing
in buildings. They weren’t investing to grow. But now, for example,
all the corporations– they have, first, two
trillions of cash, or Apple has 1/3 of
his valuation on cash. And what it means– that they don’t trust, anymore,
something that is built. They trust what is ideas. And we, as architects–
we need to do exactly this kind of approach. We need to understand that
everything is so uncertain that companies– what
they are expecting, or what they are so
afraid about the change– they want to keep the cash
just to have the opportunity to buy what’s coming. And this is really against
us, because what we deliver, it’s a product that has a span– or we always promise durability. And now we need to teach
the students, especially the practice, that we can
also look for solutions on the short term, that it
doesn’t really necessary be something built. And there’s
the connection that I don’t know if I was able
just to explain, because– one minute; three minutes. And I just got
nervous now, but– [laughter] I think that– what I
think that is important is that the shift– is that
what we, as architects– we need to deliver. We need to interact. And this is the key for me, no? But I really– I agree with Randy. Technology is going to
be one of the big steps to go forward in direction. But also, strategy– we need
to figure out ways to do this, and because the technology
changes so quick, the important thing is
to be aware about what we need to deliver. So I have a very specific and– I don’t know how
[? else ?] to put it. My relationship to practice
is– it’s a media practice. That’s the type of work I do. And so how it
relates to building, for me, is probably
less clear, but I’d like to think about
another aspect of what we do as architects, which is
create spatial experiences. And if a lot of the space
that people exist in right now is global, interconnected,
highly complex, are there other ways of
using media as architects to help people have
experiences of those spaces that they literally occupy? We are all global bodies. We’re connected through
huge metabolic flows. How can we have an interaction
with that space in any way? It’s not something we
can directly experience. And so for me, this is why a
media practice is of interest. It just, to me, feels
like a contemporary way to put people in
touch with their place in that larger set
of connectivity. In addition to that, I feel
there’s a certain practicality that comes with
working with media in terms of the number of
people that it can reach. And this won’t surprise
anyone, really– that when something becomes
filmic or an animation or something and can
circulate, it can communicate with a huge number of people. So just anecdotally,
I had collaborated with a couple of
documentary filmmakers several years ago
where they actually– documentary filmmakers from
this university, Rob Moss and Peter Galison– and they had invited me to do
some cartographic animations for their film. And just off-handed,
they mentioned to me that it was going to be on
PBS’ Independent Eye one night, and that that, on average, had
between 6 to 8 million viewers. And nothing I’ve
ever done in my life did I imagine would ever be seen
by that many people– certainly entering into design school
with maybe more modest ambitions than that. But it was eye-opening
for me to think that just simply
based on the format that these types of spatial
stories are transmitted, they have an ability to
connect with a broad audience, and connect with them
to tell– hopefully– nuanced and complex
stories about what it means to exist spatially
in the contemporary moment. And so for me,
that’s very powerful. I don’t know if that’s
as relevant to the type of practice that we’re
talking about today, but if we’re thinking about,
maybe, an expanded practice, then those media
practices, I think, are quite exciting, just in
terms of its relationship to architecture as
a form of research. OK, I tried to avoid
this, but it came to me. [laughter] Yes, so it’s
interesting to say– also, for me, I never really
practice in architecture office as well. I had architecture
design education, but I went on to work for
structural engineering consultancy, where I
saw the cross-section of various architecture
practices operating. And somehow, what
was interesting was how much the authorship mattered
to architectural offices. And their particularity was
attached to their novelty, therefore their value. And what was very
difficult or interesting is on the other hand,
the engineering side has, by definition, let’s
say more engineering or scientific practices
value generalization. And it’s interesting–
the digital technologies allow us to access
this accumulation of generalized knowledge. And then if we can
get these libraries of generalized information
that is accumulated over time, we could probably bring
architectural, let’s say– not necessarily authorship,
but some sort of control to actually bring back
the value of architecture beyond representational or
holographic type of practice. So that’s where I
see the possibility– in the technology-optimistic
way, in some ways. But also, probably
this is not going to happen without a
fight, in some ways– fight from the architecture–
traditional architecture– side in some ways that,
yes, we are kind of put as a technology panel. And as you mentioned, we
are always the other within. And then when we become one
of the architecture side, then I think it means
that it’s marginalized, and probably we can talk about
this in a more productive manner, in some ways. So I want to immediately
open it to the floor, because I was hearing that
there were lots of thoughts that we’re running out of
time to invite our audience to participate. So I would like to ask– I actually have a lot
of other questions, but I do want to open it up to
you, because we’re getting late in the day. Gerald. Thank you for the interesting
discussions all afternoon. And I’m struck,
with both panels, that there’s an
aspect of the field that I wonder about in terms of
the attitudes of both panels, but the attitude of our school. A lot of schools that
are professional schools have students who
go on to practice in the conventional definition
of the profession itself, but they also have students
who go on and practice in a lot of different ways. For example, at the school
of government here– the Kennedy School– there are a lot of
people who go on to work for Goldman Sachs
or Boston Consulting Group. And we could say that’s
a tragedy, that’s a terrible thing. Or we could say,
no, let’s celebrate. That’s infiltration
of other areas with Kennedy School government,
public policy values. I wonder what our
stance is, both as an educational institution
but as a profession as well, of architects who are
trained to be architects. They get their degree. And then they never
practice architecture in the traditional sense
of the word through a firm, or what would be
called architecture, but they are using
all of their skills in some other profession. And they may even
self-identify as architects but not be recognized
in that way. And if 50% of our graduates
ended up doing that, would that be a
tragedy, or would that be something that we
should if not celebrate, deal with pedagogically
and think about in terms of the training we offer here? So historically– this
may not be 100% accurate, but historically, 50% of
architecture graduates go on to practice
nontraditional practice. 50% stay within our profession. The school where I teach,
97% of the students become licensed architects– despite the fact that
just about in every class, we try to convince
them that they can go the nontraditional route. We’re not exactly sure
why that’s the case. We’re about to find out, though,
what the other schools have experienced, because the
Gen Z’s, as a demographic, are currently the
first-semester grad students, and they are a completely
different cohort. They do not see themselves– so again, very quickly, I have
the entire sophomore class of 120 students every semester
for the last 20 years, and then I also have
the final semester 80 or 85 students, grad students. And I can see very viscerally–
so I know this isn’t sociology, and it isn’t science– but just viscerally, you
can see a radical change in this cohort. They’re very loyal. They want to pay their dues. But at the same
time, they do not see themselves as
plugging themselves into little boxes or silos. In paying their dues,
they’ll spend five or eight years in the profession, in the
industry, and then from there, they want to own
the entire vertical. Not from an entitled
standpoint– but because it’s much
more interesting, they think they can have
much more of an impact. So while this doesn’t
directly answer your question, I think it contextualizes
a little bit, and it also speaks to
something that, while we’ve prided ourselves on the
percentage of students that have gone on to become licensed
and stay within the profession, we’re about to get a taste of
what others have experienced. Through my experience, what
has happened in Barcelona– in Spain– is that the crisis from 2009– many, many students were
not able to get a job. And what was proven is that the
architectural skills that they got in the university
was good enough just to find another kind of job. This is the good part. The bad part is
that most of them were unhappy, because they
were willing to be architects, but to be architects and to
build on his own practice. And especially something
that we don’t have so much– we don’t so big corporations
of architecture, but people that were working
for other architects that was not focused on design– they were also unhappy. And I think that the profession
gives enough deep to understand how society works, and then you
can work in different fields. But in [inaudible] of the person
that tries to do architecture, he would like to achieve
to build something. I think, for me, I
feel like it is not necessarily positive
or negative– these percentages– but as
an architectural educational institution, I think we should
actively and methodically approach to integrate
with other disciplines, instead of trying to
keep ourselves within. So for example, the GSD has a
master of design engineering program together with
the continuing school, and I think this is a
very interesting, positive prototyping of what
architecture could be. Where are the boundaries? What are the values? How our profession can
actually contribute to other disciplines,
and how can we be enriched by
other disciplines? So I would like to see, in a
sense, more active approach to figuring– out testing out
the boundaries of architecture in order for architecture
values to survive. I’m for infiltration. [laughter] What is interesting, I
think, because at the GSD– and maybe, Bobby, in
particular, your comment is really interesting having
actually been a student here, where you know that our core
sequence– the first two years of our core–
is really quite a bit about the discipline of Latin. To connect it to our
earlier conversation, we talk a lot about Latin. And so it’s a very interesting– I think there would need to
be quite a shift, actually, in the curriculum and the
goals of the curriculum and the expansion
of it and how that’s manipulated, because I think– at least in this
program– there’s incredible interest,
still, in the building as an object of cultural value
of all these other things. Jeffrey? Thanks, Grace. Thanks, everyone. Wonderful conversation. I wonder about this
issue all the time, though– about authorship–
but in terms of hierarchy; sometimes of who claims
the ownership of the image of a building or of work of
art, or whatever [? it is. ?] But also in terms of the
access to participate in the kinds of ways
that you’re describing. I mean, I love the Gensler
stories and Luckman stories, but the firm is
still called Gensler, even if he created these
kinds of strategies that were meant to facilitate
the data collection so that [inaudible] thousand
employees can constantly respond to that work. But I just wonder
[inaudible] how do these sorts of strategies,
whether [inaudible] access tools, or the access to
certain kinds of thinking– how do they play into the
traditional roles or hierarchy of a office? And I [inaudible] myself I
don’t want to put context, also, with the
[inaudible] power, because oftentimes, we are
still [inaudible] of offices, with individuals at the
tops of their institutions is still quite [inaudible]
dialogue between those [inaudible] individuals. I think that your
point of view– it’s really valuable, because
the problem of the architects sometimes is how to deal
with the divisions that are made on the built environment. And in my opinion, this is
the difference between design studio and practice– or what I think that
should be practiced. I think that the practice
should pay attention how the decisions are taken. And many times, the focus
is not on the design, and the focus is on
other things that we need to study and to understand. I have been working
the last three years in New York in a property fund. And for me, it was
amazing how irrelevant was the architect in New York. And for me, it was
impossible to understand that the decision of the layout
was done by a real estate person. I applied to be there. I applied to be
director of design. And they told me–
no, of course not. You shall be
director of strategy. And why? No, because if you want
to take decisions and be upon the real estate people,
you should be strategy. And I think that we need
to empower our skills, but especially, we need
to have ways to convince real estate people and
project developers, and especially the
owner or the client– because many, many
times, we cannot prove, because we prove through
design skills and not evidence. And for me, Luckman– I really don’t appreciate
the design skills of Luckman, but I really appreciate
the way that he was able to convince his clients. And I think that this
is a very valuable. And I think that we can
learn a lot about Gensler. And if we give these kind
of tools that Gensler is [inaudible] to the [inaudible],,
maybe they can fight, and maybe they can
get an opportunity, because at the end, if
we see the students– just to get a project,
it’s so difficult that they need to find
his own opportunity. This is what’s explained by
Ole Bouman in Unsolicited Architecture. And I think that
architects need to be– or a few of architects need
to work as entrepreneurs, to find his own opportunity. But to do this, we need
to give other tools. And I think that there is
the importance of practice, and especially of
this symposium. And I think that
the importance is that we need to empower them. And we can use
our design values, but we need to have other
values, because sometimes the design values
are not enough, and for others are enough;
but for our clients, our coworkers are not enough. We’re design technologists
and computational designers. The issue they’re facing
in terms of authorship is the fact that– alluding to that idea
that they provide 80% of the value with
20% of the effort– they may find a way,
through creating an app, add-in or plug-in, to
reduce a four-week assignment to take only one week, or a
four-hour assignment– it only takes an hour. And in doing so,
they’re superheroes. They save the day,
because the fees have been reduced since the
downturn in the economy– 2008. Each person is doing the
work of three or four people, and the firm is staying
afloat– if not succeeding– in large part because
of these individuals, but they;re being overlooked,
because unlike the building itself that ends up in the
magazine or on the website, that’s part of the process, and
the process just seems to be absorbed. We need to find a way,
as design professionals, to acknowledge those efforts,
because they’re very much part of the success and leading
to the beauty of the projects that do succeed. Yeah, following on
what Randy said– and this is a question
to you, Randy– you mentioned, in
your presentation, the importance of
artificial intelligence and how it will be
challenging the discipline. And I’m not clear how aware
we are of the challenge that artificial intelligence
is imposing to us. And it comes to a conversation
I had a few weeks ago with David [inaudible] from Marc Daly. I was talking to him about
what are you guys thinking of? What are you guys doing? And he said, we’re
investing most of our money in artificial intelligence. And I said, wow, you’re going
to enhance the navigation or the website, and so on? No, he said, we’re building
the architect of the future. You guys are sending
us all of your plans, and you want to be
published on our website, and we are creating an
algorithm through big data, sensitizing the key concepts
of the best projects all over the world. So instead of being
superusers, as you mentioned, we’re going to end up
being super subscribers. And the question there
is it won’t replace us, but probably it will
create shortcuts when you get a commission–
either a hospital in certain climate or
latitude or a house. You’re going to be a subscriber
of our daily services, and you will get the layout
considering all their databases of the optimum building, and
then with BIM technologies and so on, you’re going to
have a lot of information and metadata, and you just
play around with the space or whatever is left to you. Is that the end of architecture,
or probably it’s just sci-fi given your experience
and knowledge? Yeah, so that
technology exists today in many, many different forms. There are companies
that are created– I’d say at least one a week. I’m trying to keep track of it. You lose track after a while. Architecture firms
currently– many of them are identifying anything that’s
repeatable and automating it. The first time you do something
twice, it better be automated. And that’s essentially
where AI comes into play. Beyond that, there’s
machine learning, where we’re no longer
doing the programming, but it can program itself. And that’s where, I think,
the real concern is. Where we’re at today–
we have the technology. This isn’t about
40 or 50 years out. We have the technology
already, today– in these startups and
within architecture firms. What we don’t have is the
ability to unleash it, because we have empathy for
our employees and others. Firm principles– sit here
all afternoon giving you examples– are holding back on
letting go of the technology right now, because
they just don’t know how to deal with
the after-effects of it. But we’ve arrived at that point. And so justifiably, it
should be a concern. That said, AI is not going
to replace the architect. It’s going to form a outside
alternative for any client that doesn’t value Architecture
with a capital A, that doesn’t care about– they’re going to flip the
project as soon as it’s built. They don’t really care about
the environment that it’s in. They only just spoke
with the neighbors to get the approval
and the permit process and so on, so forth
AI is for them. Knock yourself out. But for the rest of us, we
have huge opportunities, because internally,
within our offices, we’re automating processes,
and we’re keeping up every step of the way. I was wondering– to tie it back
a little bit to the first part of the symposium– just to brainstorm
some ideas, what is the ethic that’s associated
with this idea of infiltration into other professions versus
staying within the profession, and what are some possible
implications of the changes in labor that would result? I said infiltration
publicly, so I guess– [laughter] –you’re asking me. What are the ethical issues? I don’t know. I think we need more
people in more places that have a spatial sensitivity and
understand the complexities of space and people. The cultural sensitivities
that designers learn in this building I think
is crucial for all disciplines. Maybe I’ve been drinking
the Kool-Aid of design for too long, but
I don’t know, I feel like some of
the other disciplines aren’t doing so well. And some of the
issues that I see– I have a very limited
toolbox, but I think climate
scientists, for instance, don’t need designers to
talk to them about science, but they need designers to help
them communicate, for sure. So that’s one realm. So I think there’s positive
ethical ramifications of it. In terms of labor,
I think there’s plenty of people who graduate
from design school who want to find
meaningful work, and I know a lot of
students that end up in the bowels of a big
firm making models, never actually
returning to design. They have a certain
set of skills. That maybe isn’t a
fair comment, but I think there’s plenty
of places where design as a type of
laboring could do real good. So that’s a very short
answer, and maybe not a very sophisticated
answer, but I do think there’s
plenty of spaces where what we learn here– even the Latin, in fact. I think– if I can just
respond to that a little bit as part of this question, in
terms of infiltration, for me, just speaking from
my experience, the interest in that comes from
a very specifically grounded architectural education. I don’t think we
should dilute it, and I feel like
there’s things we learn within the
interest of shaping space through architecture that
can be applied elsewhere. And the other disciplines,
too– urban design, of course, to landscape architecture. But I’m just using architecture
as the standard in this case. So I hope my comments
about infiltration are not read as a desire to make
design as a discipline anything to all people. I actually think a very
canonical education in design is crucial for bringing that
kind of knowledge elsewhere. So for me, that’s
a real interest. And I wonder if
that question could be slanted towards, I think, the
value of time as a commodity. So when I think about
the questions of labor and I think– I mean, I remember a moment– so I went to school
here at the GSD just before Mack
arrived as chair, and we were coming out of the
chairmanship of Rafael Moneo. And I remember that
many of my colleagues who worked for Moneo in his
practice here in Boston– they were asked, at
that specific moment, to erase the trace,
because he needed to save money on the cost
on the role of the trace. And it’s a funny example,
but it’s not so funny, because I think
what it spoke about at that particular moment was a
disconnection between the value for labor– the labor it took to erase this,
rather than just simply using a new piece of trace. And that opened up,
just, Pandora’s box. And it was so interesting,
because we then had Mack as Chair. He’s up there hiding. And it was such an
interesting moment, because this model
of American practice and a certain kind of
question of scrappiness, partly driven by recognizing
the commodity of time– so now, I don’t know what– there’s something in
that that I’m thinking about in this question of– in your question of labor. I want to ask a question that’s
way too big to be answered. I’m going to do it anyway. I want to get back,
on those notes, to the territory of
this infiltration thing a little bit,
because I think it’s germane to a lot
of the presentations that you all gave. If the idea that architecture
is a multimodal art in a bunch of different ways that we’ve
seen– technologically, strategically,
digitally, mapping– it seems to me that the
most clear way that I can think about it is that
there’s a core of architecture, and then there are
resonances out within it. So I guess my question,
which is to big to answer, is what is that core? I try to answer. I try to answer. I will connect the answer
with a previous question. We are now in a certain
moment that we need– and also a little bit
with the presentation– we need to understand which
is the value of the architect. What is the core? What is the value? And especially now,
we are under threat, because there are
machines, or there are systems that they
can deliver solutions. And what can we do
better than them? And I think that we need
to understand how the AI, or how it works. And it works, definitely,
by difference. When you have a self-driving
car, it has a map– a very good map–
that he can provide– a very good map. [laughter] And then what this car makes– he looks for difference,
and he has systems that tracks the environment. And if something is different
at what is on the map that he delivers,
then he pays attention and try to understand
what’s going on. This is how, general, we
can say that machines work. But the other way, we
cannot fight on this way, and the opportunity is that
we can think just by finding similarities. And this is an amazing
opportunity for us as an architect, because if
we look for similarities, there are so many possibilities
that a machine cannot calculate. And that is when it
becomes to be intuition. It begins to be taste. It’s tradition. And if I need to define
and give you what is value or what [? is ?] practice– and practice, the
opportunity for us is just to teach or to give
the architects the opportunity to think of
similarities, and these will have especially to
do cross-pollination. And then also, I can try to give
an answer to the other question and to broad our
scope by similarities. Because if we do by difference,
we have no opportunity. We really have no
opportunity, because then they get so much data, that they– and I have been studying this. And especially, this has
happened with a chess game. At certain moment with a
chess, when the machine was able to win Kasparov,
it seems that it was not, anymore, chess. But now Kasparov,
another creation? No, it’s amazing. Now we can work together
with the machine, and then what’s important is
not if you’re a good player. It’s not important, anymore,
if you have the best machine. It’s important if you
have a better process that you can coach the machine. And this is what
I have been trying to do with the [? dias ?]
that I present here in one minute– sorry, one minute. [laughter] But I would like
to have a system that it helps you
just to perform better than the machine. And this is only by just
addressing architecture by subjective, because if
you address by objective, you’re completely lost,
because the machine always overpowers you. The core is design
thinking, and when I see people from the
business school come over and they’re wearing a bib
in the architecture school– because they know that you can’t
design thinking from a book or from watching
a YouTube video. You just have to go
through the iterations of being in design studio and
live through that experience. It’s that ability to be able to
see something that you never– you look at all
the possibilities that are normally– what seemed like
excellent solutions, and then you pass this rubicon
into this whole other territory that can only come through going
through that as an experience. And then you can
apply that, needless to say, to buildings and
everything else in the world. Hi. So this is a smaller– more of a comment to
the AI question earlier. So I thought that we
can liken architecture to fashion in a way. Nowadays, we don’t really like
to say it because “fashion” was a bad word, but clothes
are easy to automate or AI [inaudible]—- like clothes,
cars, or phones or shoes. They are very easy to make,
but fashion designers– they have not disappeared. And I feel that this goes
back to the first panel, where we were talking about the
value of architecture, and it lies in the sometimes
uniqueness or style or whatever value there is
that we put in architecture. And a few others– some aspects of
architecture that’s very similar to fashion in that
even though you have something that can be easily made
by machines and that can be mass-produced,
designers are still there designing things. So I guess that
part of architecture is going to be very difficult
to be replaced, even with AI. We already have it worked out. It’s called genetic algorithms. And so it puts imperfections
right into the matrix. So things seem very human, like
the little warning you get when you buy blue jeans
saying that there’s– imperfections are natural
to the process itself. So yes, there is a
concern, but that’s not going to stop AI from
addressing things. What will stop AI
is when you think about the people
behind the algorithms, their ethics, the things
they leave in and leave out, the decisions that they
make, the very things that make AI black box– that’s really where
the concern should be, because while the clothes may
be fashionable and comfortable for a certain subset of
the consuming public, it’s going to exclude
others if the people who created the algorithms
didn’t think holistically about who might benefit– maybe second-hand, when it’s
no longer fashionable for you, but you end up giving
it to somebody else. We have a question here. Do you think that
there really are limits to growth in the sense that– I mean, a week and a
half ago, two weeks ago, the Intergovernmental
Panel of Climate Change delivered a report
that is dooming, and I am wondering
if, in your opinion, should be running to the
exits and actually planning for a disastrous scenario
where all of these– I fear all of these discourses
rely on permanent growth, or a curve of element. And I don’t know, is this
a disaster risk reduction exercise that we
should be focusing on, or to what extent is the
GSD embracing or having an active role in helping us
communicate this possibility, if any? OK, very difficult question. Very difficult question. I think that, right
now, there is a change. And it’s a change of
approach, and we see, always, architecture like– the general trend is the
identifying of the cities. And especially, we
have seen studying gentrification and how all
this gentrification has been produced. But at the same time,
what is happening is that some corporate
companies are deciding to just avoid big cities. And by avoid big cities and just
to move to the rural areas that are well-connected, they gain,
very, very fast, two factors. The first one is that they
have their real estate, and it’s very cheap. And the second one is that
the employees are paid less. And through this, they
really directly increase the value of the stock market. Why you think that this
is very, very important? Because right now, as we
have seen in politics, there is a rural community that
is angry, or they feel apart. But now it’s going to
be a new confrontation, because many urban people
are going to move there, just because the corporations
decide that it’s cheaper. And for example, what
Amazon is doing now– just trying to find a second
venue for his company. And I think that this is a
scenario we should study. We should study how
it’s going to affect, because it’s going to have major
considerations in architecture. I don’t think growth is a given. I think there’s a large analog
backlash going on right now, where I think it’s recognized
that quality over quantity is just as important to a lot of
people to the quality of life, and so on. And so I do think
there are limits to growth for that reason. I think people are coming
to their senses about that. I think we have
time for one more. Hi. I want to ask about generations
in the scope of what you talked about, because
the future is also here– the GSD’s educating the future. And it’s largely a kind of
response to what Grace said, the generation that I am
in– it’s being educated by the generation who went
to architecture schools in the ’90s and
’80s, and in the ’90s and the ’80s versus
’60s and ’50s. So in this way, my generation
[inaudible] what the employment possibilities and the
educational possibilities are defined by the people
who went to schools in the ’80s and ’90s, and then– Are you saying we’re old? No! [laughter] But to think that
future will be– I have the same feeling. [laughter] The future generation
will also be defined by, in a sense, what people who
are currently in school now choose to do with their
degrees, because that will define the future
possibilities and employment opportunities for them. So I’m wondering, as
educators and as people who are, in a way, shaping that
future that we’re embracing or not embracing, what are
your thoughts on what you’re preaching to students today,
versus the practice that you’re practicing outside
of the school? Thank you. I think you’re maybe being a
little bit harsh to the older generation in the sense that
those of us who were educated in the ’80s and ’90s– I think one advantage of
age is that you look back with increasing
clarity of thought as to what you did in the
past and how things work. And I think a lot of what
we have done is reject– reject a lot of the values
or the lack of value systems or ethical systems that
informed our education, and we’re trying to pass that
on to subsequent generations. And I think, in a way,
the modes or the models of architectural education
now are obviously, in a way, much more informed,
for example, than the way I was educated, which was basically
the canon and by books and journals, and that was
it– and all white men tutors. It’s a very different scene now,
and I think a much better one. And so I think fundamentally,
though, what could be of value is realizing is this
idea of self-realization that it’s what you
bring to the world, what you bring– your experience,
your values, your ideals. That is the most
important thing, in a way, because we
tend to talk a lot about, as a profession or as a cohort,
that we all think the same, and it’s just not like that. Everybody brings
their own ambition and their own
experience, and that idea of bringing a kind of
mission or a manifesto that’s very personal that’s
about your experience is, I think, something
that will have increasing value in the future,
because in a way, it’s like the return to
trying to find authenticity in the world– this
idea of difference not because of
novelty, but because of purpose and ethics and
a humanist perspective that restores our sense of mission,
and the service of humankind. And the way in
which you implement your knowledge and your
learning is very much your personal decision. Yes? [inaudible] a little
high, up here. [laughter] Mack, please. I wasn’t going to say
a word, but I really appreciate what you just said. I would just like to add to that
that you can’t do what you just said without allowing yourself
to be innocent innate. And every generation
that has done that has moved things
like architecture– a discipline that deals with the
harsh reality of making things safe and protecting
lives just as much as it does in creating imagination– beyond just our
discipline– creating imagination for the public. And so I think in
order to do that, you have to know how to
be naive, and you have to know how to shed
yourself of all this technology and look a little bit closer
at the plight of the human in order to do that. And every single year
that I teach here, I’ve just found so much
joy in the students, because they can do that– every single year. And I think it’s our
responsibility, as teachers and professionals,
to try to maintain that quality in the students. Thank you, Mack. Thank you very much to
our panelists, and to you, as the audience, asking
wonderful questions this afternoon. Thank you. [applause]


2 thoughts on “PRACTICE: Outside In | Inside Out

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *