SILENCE EXPLODING

AS A RESULT OF NOT GETTING COMMENTS BACK ON THE BLOG JUNGLE THEATER 1984, I SENT OUT A LETTER TITLED “SILENCE” TO ABOUT 50 PROFESSIONAL FRIENDS AND GOT A TIDAL WAVE OF REACTION AND COMMENTS.

SOME VERBIAGE WAS SENT TO ME PERSONALLY AND OTHERS TO REPLY ALL.
HERE ARE THE COMMENTS RECEIVED IN SEQUENCE. THERE MIGHT BE SOME ERRORS. SORRY. I INCLUDED SOME PERSONAL REPLYS. NO OFFENSE.
I WANT TO THANK ALL THAT RESPONDED, AND THE SINCERITY AND EFFORT THAT WAS MADE .
READING THE OUTPOURING OF THOUGHTS BRINGS A CERTAIN COMMON BOND THAT WE ALL STRUGGLE WITH AND ENJOY.

MAY THE TRUTH SET YOU FREE. WHO SAID THAT?

GLEN

RON KAPPE WROTE

Thanks for the heads-up about your blog. I’ll check it out.
Please keep fighting the good fight. Best, Ron

ERIC CHAVKIN WROTE

News means new. Headline Architect proposes Radical Bio-morphic green-remaking of NYC Times Square.

eric

GLEN SMALL WROTE

ERIC,

LIKE THE HEADLINES, PUT IT AS A COMMENT.

HOW IS THE ROBIN HOOD WORK GOING? IS THERE ELECTRICITY IN SHERWOOD FOREST?

THANKS,

GLEN

ERIC CHAVKIN WROTE

We have seven persons sleeping in a two bdrm house with no hot water and glad they have a room over their heads. Like communist russia people are camping out in the kitchen hallways and anywhere they can.

As soon as Robin Hood can change the locks the forest will be liberated.

JAMES WINE WROTE

Hi Glen,

This is a killer time of year – with my thesis students in crisis and an overload of SITE work – so I haven’t been a very good e-mail respondent these days. Also, my health has been pretty bad, with lots of tests to see what is wrong. In another two weeks I will be relieved from some of this stress and I write you at length.

Where are you these days? Are you on the West Coast or in South America?

Best regards, James Wines

ERIC CHAVKIN WROTE

Glen

BTW went to the alumni cheerfest annoncement: SCI-Arc has a home and bought their building. Mentioned several of the SCI-arc originals, Thom mayne, a couple others but not you…wrong direction, up to a point….

Now that the SCI-Arc mainstreamed avant-garde as Moss implies and I say , so where does SCI-Arc go from here; the next 25, 10, 20, 40 years?

One path is overtly political. As I sugestted to orhan, we should spent time and create, and articulate new archi-social typologies.Very much in the attitude of the Soviet revolutionary typologies. Types such as collective housing, green markets, free to sell swap markets, preventive medical and free health clinics, free universities. Stategies such as suburban takeovers, urban farming, dismantling of the punitive court system, …

The forms that I envision mimic the organic, and differ from the soviet models in thatb they work with nature. Turf town, Jungle theater, .. i do need to brainstorm more.

But that is the idea, a set , a series of new architecture proto-typologies: inspired by natural forms, designed to predict and solve the new emarging social needs. Now that is exciting to me.

I am sure that you have a few ideas….

eric

KEN KELLOGG WROTE

yes…do not listen to anyone but yourself…kellogg…………………..

ERIC CHAVKIN WROTE

“NO ONE OWNS THE FUTURE”

SCI-Arc alumni cheered as dean Eric O. Moss declared the end of one era and beginning of next. Bracketed between the usual thank-yous and acknowledgements Sci-Arc alumni held drinks and toasted ala cinco-de mayo independence with margarita’s and Mexican beer. As if lifted from a Spencer Tracy movie, Moss , metaphorically pumped his chest, proud of the schools accomplishments. No longer the ‘vagabond’ school Moss summarized the Sci-Arc success story from its Santa Monica beginnings to its present day permanent home. The irony of SCI-Arc’s location, once a homeless encampment east of skid row was not lost on this observer.

AHDE LAHTI WROTE

You write well!
Good stuff!

I would have done it a little differently.
But that’s just me.
Ahde

CARLOS OVALLE WROTE

Dear Glen,

I can’t relate, at many levels.

I’ve never been to New York City. But I have been to lots of other big cities, like Rio de Janeiro, with worse slums and inherent perceived danger than NY. Angela and I were mugged in the equivalent of Central Park in Cochabambua, Bolivia’s second largest city a couple of years ago. We had beer thrown at us by a group of skinheads in downtown Dusseldorf last year. We had guns pointed at us in downtown L.A. during the ’92 uprisings. Got caught in the middle of a riot in Paris in ’83. Yet there is something alive in cities that despite the grime and crime makes them appealing. Cities are alive, we are social animals, and we crave excitement and adrenalin. Speaking for myself, there is something about sanitized Leave it to Beaver suburbia, a relatively recent phenomena that I don’t like, though we live in it. The towns and their lifestyle that Normal Rockwell memorialized are largely a myth.

That’s all for now, I’ll continue my response later.

Carlos

RALPH MURSINNA WROTE

HI GLEN

SO MUCH INSANITY ON SUCH A BEAUTIFUL PLANET. THE BEST WE CAN DO IS USE OUR SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE TO BE GOOD CARETAKERS AND HELP OTHERS LIVE A MORE COMFORTABLE LIFE.

COUNTRIES AND BORDERS DON’T MATTER, WE’RE STILL ALL CONNECTED BY THIS WEB OF LIGHT. WITH THE SPEED OF TECHNOLOGY INTRUDING IN OUR LIVES IT’S HARD TO KEEP UP WITH EVERYBODY’S STORY…… BE GLAD YOU’RE IN A PLACE WHERE VOLUMES OF BUILDING CODES AREN’T CHOKING YOU WITH INSANE REGULATIONS, TAKING ALL THE FUN OUT OF BEING CREATIVE.

I KEEP SANE BY SIMPLY BEING GRATEFUL, A LITTLE MEDITATION AND A FEW PRAYERS TO MY NON-JUDGMENTAL GOD WHO LOVES TO DANCE.

TRY GETTING OUT OF YOUR HEAD, IT MIGHT HELP……OR JUST TAKE TWO FUCKITALLS……

♥ RALPH

GLEN SMALL WROTE

CARLOS,

WOULD YOU PLEASE SHARE YOUR FEELINGS WITH A COMMENT ON MY BLOG UNDER THE JUNGLE THEATER 1984

IT SEEMS LIKE YOUR A BIT WITH CONFLICT, LIVING IN SUBURBIA AND DREAMING OF THE DANGEROUS CITY SCAPE WITH ACTIVITY TO INVIGORATE YOU.

I THINK THAT IS THE CHALLENGE.

GLEN

CARLOS OVALLE WROTE

No conflict Glen. There are reasons I live where I live. Mainly, my elderly father is within walking distance. Second, I’ve been a cyclist all my life, I was racing bicycles before I knew I wanted to be an architect, so that’s one of my main passions, and I live a couple of hundred yards from the best dedicated bike path in southern California. By the way, it’s not just me, but also Angela, and the kids that love having access to the bike path. But when my father is no longer with us we’re moving to Downtown Long Beach where we will have everything we want.

GLEN SMALL WROTE

CARLOS,

EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED IN DOWNTOWN LONG BEACH. ISN’T THAT A BIT OF A STRETCH? BUT I DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU WANT.
I KNOW LIVING ON $800 IN THE TROPICS HAS SOME UPSIDE, BUT AM TRYING TO PIECE THE ALTERNATIVES TOGETHER.

GLEN

CARLOS OVALLE WROTE

It’s got dense urban environment, the ocean close by, the L.A. River, the river bike path, the ocean front bike path, plenty of places to watch people, entertainment, museums, mass-transit, etc. What else could I want that a city has to offer? Nothing.

Nothing else can be offered by the built environment in the society in which we live. If I want something else, I will work towards changing society. Architecture is not going to do that, architecture follows society. I believe you’ve tried to pull the horse with the cart, and it’s a brave endeavor, but it doesn’t work because it’s not realistic. Architecture is a tool used by the powers that be for its own purposes. There are exceptions to this rule but they’re few and far between… and insignificant.

Carlos

BRIAN HANNA WROTE

Dear Glen.
Any suggestions to keep sane?
One.

ABANDON THE PARANOIC PERCEPTION THAT YOU ARE MISUNDERSTOOD, UNDERVALUED, IGNORED.OR A FAILURE

This perception does not serve you.Simply because any potential client who thinks you that you ACTUALLY believe this will take off at top speed in the other direction.

Appealing for pity or charity simply confirms a popular image of failure which devastates your claim to be the person to handle substantial commissions.
Relentless optimism ,tedious though that too can be is a much more seductive pose. I remember having to take that route in 1982 when I had to renew a mortgage at an interest rate if 18% which of course had brought all construction activity to a grinding halt.and killed my corperate job.and launched me into private practice.

.I had to put out that game lie that all was going swimmingly for 2 years before people decided to trust that I was there to stay.My first client said.’People tend to see you the way you see yourself.’ That is a great truth.
SO HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF?. I MEAN REALLY, AT THE DEEPEST LEVEL YOU DARE TO LOOK? And before you take that as an excuse for further public anguish remember that you are a unique and beloved child of the Universe for whom there are no limits.Well other than the ones you impose on yourself. I suppose.

People, typically engage an architect not primarily to provide an outlet for the architect’s gratification but to produce a building ,on time ,on budget, which looks nice, without melt downs ,posturing ,emotional bloodbaths, storms, and hysterics.
They WONT pay for drama, and they usually wont pay for what they don’t understand and think they may not like.Successful transactions are actually measured in Their heads NOT yours. The ego based person never gets that because no matter how lonely he may be in his own head he feels reluctant and vulnerable in someone elses

A lot of architects have had their lives ruined and their hearts broken by Ayn Rand when she drew her blueprint of the heroic creator.
But for all lumpy prose There was just enough truth in the Fountainhead to delude a lot of Architects of modest talents into thinking they were great ones who should never have to compromise. She fed the paranoia, the trashing of each others work,encouraged the fragile but extravagant claims of omnipotence.and in doing so she helped create the picture of the beset genius,.A picture that is in reality almost the precise opposite of how commissions are ACTUALLY won and absolutely NOT the way that building are ACTUALLY produced.
She has left in her wake a socially destructive ,near fascist legacy,.of a master race of creatives who operate in A culture that denies to all but the fittest the right to survival and a meaningful life .Its about as humane as the notion of putting a paraplegic in the ring with a boxing champion and saying “May the best man win”.
Iam greatly reassured that a recent Rand epic out in the movie theaters has closed prematurely despite the earnest efforts of the tea partiers to turn it into a smash.IT seems that your masses arent asses after all.

NO if you really want to do large buildings you have to get out of your own way, and be part of a team.Which means you cant afford unwieldy egos which are simply,to the more perceptive manifestations of private insecurity.So few people seem to get that.

Lest you think that I am trying some elaborate stunt to publicly humiliate you let me tell you that I have been there myself several times and that learning was slow.

I last did a set of working drawings myself in 1992 and they were nowhere near as good as a partner and a couple of young trainees produce every day in our office 500 miles away.

Has the process diminished my control over what is produced by the Rand definition..Yes it has.Somewhat.
The office output reflects the personalities and talents of the team members. So YES It does undermine the solitary creator concept a bit.

But I firmly beleive that nobody of our age will have the stamina to be the sole creator of major buildings.Or to put it more realistically ones chance of persuading a client to the contrary would be zero.

MY ADVICE
Deal in concepts. and supervise .consent to be absorbed into an existing. working setup.Try to choose one that is getting lots of work.Then when underway Keep your temper,pay elaborate,and generous credit to your associates.as if you truly beleived that you are ALL essential to the results ,AND GO ON DOING IT UNTIL YOU ACTUALLY DO BELIVE IT.
For it will be the truth,and it will be embarrassing if you are the only one who doesn’t get that.

You have always scored well with the young.They are the future.They are your true constituency.

One final word
NEVER ever again be heard coming out with your favorite line saying “The masses are asses.” First of all its absolutely NOT true. Secondly no one will engage an architect who has such obvious hostility and contempt for his fellow beings and blames everyone else, and their stupidity for his or her failures. It simply means that one is too insecure to learn from ones own mistakes. So the perceptive client will assume you will make more of the same on his watch. It is always helpful, and impressive to be seen as a developing creative force, generous to others and always ready to learn.

Finally its a cliche. We create our own reality .and I sense that you ache to create a new one .Why not.Its a great way to spend the rest of your life.
Just remember that the ego undoes us not because its too BIG. That’s just inflation, Its actually too small. Like the Wizard of OZ. It just emits a ferocious noise but the reality is as Shakespere said “It’s full of sound and fury but signifying nothing”.

Welcome to the human race.Its never too late.
Brian.
PS I love you.

MICHAEL SORKIN WROTE

What wisdom! What friendship!

ERIC CHAVKIN

Michael, others.

Glen’s recent prose is what is commonly called a rant. And its caused by his isolation. Glen likes people. He is a social animal and teaching keeps him sane. The social part of teaching.

I was at the Miliken conference yesterday and met a lot of men with money. Met the ex-president of Poland, also Gary Becker, nobel prize winning economist. Boone Pickins. Billionares and wanna be’s. Lots of boring people too. All looking to make thier dreams concrete. Like the parable of the one eyed man in te country of the blind, An architect who can see is like a god there because of others lack of visual clarity and (mostly), a lack of trained visualzation. I am having fun, For the price of a Starbucks coffee.

Glen, My advise is stop the rant and mix with people.

eric

ORHAN AYYUCE WROTE

i agree the congenial advice makes sense but it is all rational and can not be adopted by glen. there is a lot of truth to glen’s complaints in his real life. sure, he could dramatize less but he doesn’t. he is telling his story the way he knows how. at this point and age, do his friends try to mold/chisl him so he is accepted by normal or do his friends listen to what he is saying?
and why shouldn’t he feel outcasted? he is. i appreciate glen’s work. eric moss could bring him back to sci arc and ask him to teach, turf town, jungle theater, green machine, biomorphic biosphere and other ideas he so creatively harbors. he is a great teacher. people always come up to him and say they had his class in the past and he really helped them. it is so amazing to me glen can still stay focused on architecture after all the beatings he endured.

CARLOS OVALLE WROTE

Orhan, I don’t know that it’s an issue of wanting to mold Glen, it’s about him seeking advice from us. He has genuine gripes about the way he is/has been treated by society because society does not see the truth… Glen’s truth. Same could be said of each of us. So it’s fair game to give Glen the advice that he seeks based on our own way of seeing things, our own criteria. Glen doesn’t want to hear himself talking, he is reaching out for OUR truth and we owe him that.

-Carlos

GLEN SMALL WROTE

ORHAN,

THANKS FOR COMING TO MY DEFENSE.

I WILL LET YOU AND FRIENDS IN ON WHERE BRIAN HANNA IS COMING FROM. HE IS A CANADIAN ARCHITECT THAT IS MARRIED, FOR NUMEROUS YEARS, TO MILICA DEDIJER, MY EX WIFE. SHE BEING A HUGE PROFESSIONAL FAN OF MINE.
HIS BIG PASSION IS WRITING, AND HE IS CONSTANTLY IN WRITING GROUPS. HIS WRITING SKILLS ARE TO BE ADMIRED AND PRAISED.
HIS FATHER WAS AN IDEALIST ARCHITECT . BRIAN NEVER TOOK THAT PATH .

HE TAUGHT AT OXFORD, HE TOOK OFF FOR CANADA , WHEN OFFERED A LUCRATIVE JOB WITH SOME HOTEL CHAIN DOING DING BAT MOTELS ACROSS CANADA.

HIS REFERENCE TO BEING DONE IN, WAS HIM STARTING HIS OWN ARCHITECTURAL PRACTICE.

HIS WORK IS A LOT OF STUFF HE CLAIMS HIS CLIENTS WANT. BRIAN HAS NEVER SHOWN ME HIS WORK. BUT IT HAS ECLECTIC OVERTONES. HE IS ACKNOWLEDGEABLE AND KNOWS WHAT SEPARATES THE PACK.

MILICA HAS ALWAYS HERALDED ME AS THE ULTIMATE ARCHITECT, AND I COULD SEE HOW BRIAN IS UPSET BY HER FEELINGS, SHE ADMIRES MY DIRECTNESS AND TALENT, WHILE BRIAN HAS OTHER METHODS .

WHEN MILICA FIRST MET BRIAN, HE WENT INTO OUR GARAGE AND WEPT UPON SEEING THE MODELS OF ALL MY UNBUILT PROJECTS. IT IS ONE OF BRIANS FAVORITE STORIES. IT SOUNDS LIKE AYN RAND TO ME.

WHAT YOU HAVE WITH BRIANS LETTER OF RESPONSE TO *SILENCE*, IS AN ARCHITECT SKILLFULLY JUSTIFYING HOW HE FEELS A LEADER OF THE PACK WITH A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW SHOULD MANIPULATE IN THE ARCHITECTURAL WORLD.

HIS ADVICE I HAVE HEARD MANY TIMES BEFORE, AND OBVIOUSLY, I HAVE CHOSEN NOT TO PRACTICE. IN MANY PEOPLES MINDS HIS ARGUMENT IS CONVINCING. BUT HE IS A PREACHER WITH OUT ANY CLUE OF WHAT IT TAKES TO THINK IDEAL. THERE IS TOO MUCH JUNK IN THE WAY.

I KNOW HE LOVES ME ,AS WELL AS I LOVE HIM. I CALL HIM *SAINT BRIAN*, THIS IS A WORLD OF FREE EXPRESSION THAT I ENCOURAGED TO COMMENT. SORKIN HAS SECONDED BRIAN’S COMMENTS, BUT I WOULD SAY TO SORKIN, *WHAT WISDOM? WHAT FRIENDSHIP? *I DO WELCOME ARCHITECTURAL EXCHANGE. THANKS. *
MY RESPONSE IS, LET MY WORK AND DEEDS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES. SOME OF YOU ENCOURAGE AND HELP ME DO THAT. WHAT IS SUCCESS?

KEN KELLOGG WROTE, ( AN ARCHITECT THAT DOES IT HIS WAY) , OFFERING ME HOW TO KEEP ARCHITECTURALLY SANE WITH MY CONVICTIONS.

KEN KELLOGG WROTE

glen, what are you going to do with all this advice…ken kellogg.

MILICA DEDIJER WROTE

Glen, good response.
take care,

Milica

JAMES WINES WROTE

Hi Glen;

I think that Brian was trying to communicate one simple message – negative thinking never pays off and even your best friends tend to shy away from self pity and rabid denunciations of society and the profession . . . which invariably includes a perceived lack of appreciation and subversive plots by the system, leading to intentional ‘career destruction.’ I think I can safely say, that all of your colleagues in architecture have shared very similar – if not identical – disheartening experiences along the way. In point, I recall participating in a conference about fifteen years ago, where four or five prominent architects were being chastised by the audience for their dedication to high art (versus HUMANITY!!!). Finally, after this critique had dragged on too long, Michael Graves looked out across the audience and asked one simple question. “I wonder how many of you in this auditorium would go through all of the shit we have endured over the years; just to deserve to be sitting on this stage today?” The audience fell appropriately silent as they thought it through.

Positive thinking – even in the toughest of times – has a way of attracting rewards. Come on Glen, it’s worth a try.

Best regards,

James Wines

GLEN SMALL WROTE

DEAR JAMES,

THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING, BY NORMAN VINCENT PEAL. HE WAS A PREACHER .

I GET THE SAME CRY FROM MY WIFE.

I REMEMBER BEING IN JUVENILE COURT WITH MY SON, BECAUSE HIS BIKE WAS STOLEN AND SEEING A TEN YEAR OLD IN SHACKLES BEING DEFENDED BY HIS POOR MOTHER LYING AND COURT APPOINTED LAWYER. THIS IS THE WORLD WE LIVE IN THAT IS REPEATED THOUSANDS OF TIMES OVER IN A SINGLE DAY. MY HEART WENT OUT TO THIS KID AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT GOT HIM THERE. AND YET OUR PRISON SYSTEM PER CAPITAL IS WAY OFF THE CHARTS COMPARED TO OTHER COUNTRIES.

DOES NOT THIS MAKE YOU UPSET? WOULD THAT BE CLASSIFIED AS POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE?

WHEN YOU KNOW TOO MUCH, THE ONLY STATE OF MIND IS TO BE AWARE OF THE INJUSTICES . BEING POSITIVE, MIGHT MAKE CLIENTS COMFORTABLE, BUT IT IS NOT REALISTIC.

WHAT BRIAN IS SAYING IS HOW TO SURVIVE COMPROMISING AND ENJOYING IT. YOU KNOW THAT.

WHAT YOU ARE TELLING ME IS YOUR SECRET OF OPERATION OF DEALING WITH ALL THE SUSPECT CORPORATIONS THAT YOU SEEM TO CHARM. POSITIVE THINKING. YOU ARE GOOD AT THAT. MORE POWER TO YOU, THAT IS NOT MY STYLE. THEY DISCOVER ME QUICKLY.

I HOPE YOUR HEALTH IS POSITIVE, YOU ARE SUCH A WONDERFUL ARCHITECT, THE WORLD NEEDS YOU. WHAT EVER HAPPEN TO YOUR URBAN FOREST SCHEME?

THANKS FOR YOUR CONCERN AND STAY CLOSE.

GLEN

P.S.

I CAN ONLY TALK FOR MYSELF AND THE DISCUSSION I HAVE WITH OTHER PROFESSIONALS.

I AM NOT ONE OF THE COLLEAGUES OF THE PROFESSION THAT YOU TALK SO UNDERSTANDING ABOUT.

MY DIRECTNESS AND WORK HAVE ESTABLISHED MY DIFFERENCE. BOTH OF WHICH I CAN TAKE PRIDE ABOUT.

YOU OF ALL PEOPLE, I THOUGHT UNDERSTOOD THAT.

WHERE ARE ALL THE ANGRY CLIENTS? THE ONES THAT ARE PISSED AT WHAT IS BUILT AND WANT TO MAKE A POSITIVE CONTRIBUTIONS.

ANY REAL ARCHITECTURAL CHANGE HAS TO COME FROM BEING DISGUSTED WITH THE PRESENT AND SEEKING THE IDEAL.

BILL MENKING WROTE

Go James! Glen this is great advice from all…we love you and know how
hard life can be…your work stands on its own so don’t get down on
yourself!

BRENDA MULLINACK WROTE

Last year I met a monk and asked him the same question… Any suggestions to keep sane.

And he smiled and said, keep going.

And the famous line from Winston Churchill- never, never, never ever give up.

And

When you’re going through he’ll, keep going.

I’ve only just emerged from my cocoon where I went through a very dark night of the soul. Everyones is different but they all are designed to get you closer in touch with your soul.

The book, Dark Nights of the Soul, by Thomas Moore is helping me understand what I just went through

If it helps, know that you are not alone yet alone you must make this journey- when you get to the other dude this will make sense

Love, Brenda

CARLOS OVALLE WROTE

Glen,

When you had an opportunity to design part of a playground for the uberwealthy of the world in Dubai, spending millions of dollars in high-end technology to make a paradise against the forces of nature, how did that make you feel? If I recall correctly, your gripe wasn’t the perversity of it all but the politics of the company you were instructed to work with by the client. This is what you told me when I went to visit you at the Irvine office. Moreover , this was relatively recent but by no means an isolated incident.

When you taught the natural structures classes, when you taught design studio, when we bullshitted over bottles of wine with friends at your Venice house, or at the Quinta in Nicaragua, it was all about principles and idealism. There is a disconnect there between what you practice and what you preach, and I think that’s what makes you unhappy, in part.

The other thing is that you see architecture as a savior of our society. You and I have had countless discussions where this issue is discussed ad-nauseum. When we live in an ideal world, if such a thing is possible within our lifetime… or at all… we will build what is truly necessary for the advancement of our society on egalitarian principles and as natural structures in every sense of the word.

The Times Square competition which is where this current discussion started, be a moot point. This Mecca of capitalism will be razed and turned into a park or abandoned altogether to the force of nature who will take care of it all on its own. It will be a jungle, but not by your design.

Sorry if this upsets you. I know it does because it always has, but I can’t be a friend without telling you how I really feel.

If I found myself in your shoes, I would dedicate myself to designing anything and everything, whether there is a client or not, whether there is a program or not, whether there is a site or not. That’s what you like to do, so do it, and do it with the same intensity as you did the Biomorphic Biosphere. Don’t compromise your egalitarian principles, and don’t compromise your natural structures.

Carlos

GLEN SMALL WROTE

CARLOS MY FRIEND YOU HAVE BOUNDLESS ENERGY.

THE ONE POINT I TAKE EXCEPTION TO WAS THAT MY ASSIGNMENT IN ABU DHABI WAS TO DO A SUSTAINABLE RESORT FOR THE RICH. I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH SPENDING THEIR MONEY TO ADDRESS THEIR WORLD. I WANTED TO GO ALL THE WAY WITH GROWING FOOD, PRODUCING PRODUCTS OF THE DESERT AND GRAVEL PUTTING GREENS WITH TOTAL NATURAL SYSTEMS. I WAS JUST BEGINNING AND WANTED THE ECOLOGICAL EXPERTS TO ASSIST ME. MY INSPIRATION WAS ALL THE ACIENT SYSTEMS THAT HAD BEEN AROUND FOR EVER TO DEAL WITH THE HARSH ENVIRONMENT.

YES, I WAS COMPLAINING ABOUT THE CONSULTING FIRM I WAS GIVEN. THEY WERE CLUELESS TO THINK THAT WAY AND EMBRACE THE SAND DUNES FORMS I HAD CREATED, BUT I WAS PUSHING THE BOUNDARY AND ALSO WAS PROMISED THE BIO MORPHIC BIOSPHERE IN THE FUTURE.

DID YOU SEE THAT FOSTER CLAIMS TO PRODUCING A ZERO CARBON ONE MILE BY ONE MILE DEVELOPMENT IN ABU DAHBI.? THEY CHOSE HIM, THE SLICK ADAPT TO THE TIMES CORPORATE ARCHITECT TO DO THEIR BB.

I AM NOW ANGRY THAT I WAS FIRED. BUT LEE TABLER THE CONTACT, RECENTLY E MAILED ME HE HE WAS STEPPING DOWN AS SCHEDULED AS CEO OF TDIC. HE PLAYS HIS CARDS CLOSE THE TO CHEST, SO I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.

THE RECENT UPRISING IN THE ARAB WORLD SHOWS A LOT OF DISCONTENT OF HOW THINGS ARE DONE THERE, AND I EXPECT IT WILL GET TO ABU DHABI.

COUNT MY BLESSINGS.

CARLOS OVALLE WROTE

Glen,

But you see, you were creating something in the middle of nothing. True, better your way (or Foster’s) than by diesel-powered generators, but against nature nevertheless. Even worse, in my opinion, is that this wasn’t for something beneficial to humanity, this was a playground for the rich. The Arabs, the Bedouin, they didn’t need this. What is making all this development possible is the wealth their nobility and our nobility (the oil industry here) are extracting from beneath their sands, used to power our (USA) insatiable addiction to our SUVs and of course the same kind of financial shenanigans as in Times Square. No profit can be squeezed from sand of course, it takes labor, and if you’ve paid attention to the little news articles hidden in the back pages you may have noticed the deplorable treatment, near indentured servitude, of their South Asian laborers that would build yours and Foster’s Xanadu.

If you have no problem “spending their money to address their world”, why should any of us? Should we just take architecture and ignore the forces that make it possible? To take an extreme but not too absurd example, is a nuclear engineer at peace with him/herself after designing “the big one” simply because he did it using recycled materials in a LEED Platinum laboratory?

C

GLEN SMALL WROTE

CARLOS,

I WAS NOT AWARE THAT WE WERE GOING PUBLIC WITH THIS LAST BLEEP.

WHAT YOU HAVE RAISED IS THE AGE OLD QUESTION OF ARCHITECTS SERVING THE RICH AND THE CONTAMINATION OF THEIR DEEDS? THE BEDOUIN WAS THERE FIRST, AND IF WE CAN CREATE A NEW SUSTAINABLE TENT FOR THEM IN THE WORLD. SO BE IT. I WOULD LIKE TO GO BACK TO THE OLD WAYS, BUT WE ALL KNOW THAT IS NOT FOR REAL.

OIL IN THE GROUND, I WAS PROPOSING SYSTEMS TO GET AWAY FROM THAT. THEY WERE TRYING TO FIND ANOTHER FORM OF INCOME (TOURISM)TO GET AWAY FROM OIL.

YOUR NUKE THING IS OVER THE TOP. ARE YOU THE DEVIL DRIVING AROUND LOS ANGELES, DELIVERING YOUR KIDS ALL OVER? THE PROBLEM IS MUCH BIGGER AND THERE ARE POSITIVE INVENTIONS, PRODUCTS, AND MATERIAL GAINS TO ELIMINATE THIS DEPENDENCY.

YES, I WAS AWARE OF THE WORKING MAN’S CONDITIONS IN ABU DHABI, IT WAS ONE OF MY FIRST SUGGESTIONS, SEE MY BLOG ON ABU DHABI, TO DEAL WITH. AND WITH THE GEHRY MUSEUM THE WORKERS COMPOUND WAS UPGRADED. I ASSUME THIS WILL TRANSFER TO THE WORKING CONDITIONS AS WELL. THE OUTCRY IS IN ORDER AND THE PRESSURE CREATES CHANGE.

ENJOY,

LONG BEACH

KEN KELLOGG WROTE

Glen…since about 1992–most of us have gone thru one “shit” or more “shit”.
like you never have seen before. also because all devices are now being tapped
by the fbi and they also interfere in my workshops (the attorney general says…via fbi misuse of a patriot act
provision) until this situation is resolved, it is difficult to have any more workshops.

MICHAEL SORKIN WROTE

Seemed like a heart-felt and supportive message to me. I, of course, know nothing of ex-wives. The wisdom has to do with making a choice and being true to it, dealing with regrets by affirming the alternative. The greatest architect I know is Leb Woods. Part of what gives his visionary practice such integrity is that he is completely at one with it. No second thoughts about being unable to build hip-looking Holiday Inns. This is a tough position for those of us who feel a conflict between out politics and our desire to make buildings. But the alternatives are clear. Either be content with some incremental improvement in the capitalist mode of architectural production (a little more sustainable, a little more beautiful, a little more equitable), serve the disenfrachised in the most direct way you can, or make propaganda.

In Solidarity with Political, Expressive, and Psychical Struggles,

Michael

GLEN SMALL WROTE

MICHAEL ,

THE GREATEST ARCHITECT YOU KNOW LEB WOODS.

I AM NOT UP ON WHAT HIS LATEST STUFF IS, BUT HE CAME TO SCI-ARC YEARS AGO AND GAVE A TALK. THE BUILDINGS SHOCK, UNDERGROUND VISIONS, WEIRD INHABITANTS ECT. THIS WAS SOME SCARY SCI FY FLICK. HE SPOKE WELL AND THE DRAWINGS WERE BREATHTAKING.

I ASKED MY STUDENTS WHAT THEY THOUGHT. ALL AGREED HE WAS FANTASTIC. I ASKED WHY? STUDENTS’ RELY, THE DRAWINGS ,THE DRAWINGS, THE DRAWINGS.

I ASKED IF THEY LISTENED TO WHAT HE TALKED ABOUT? THEY HADN’T. IT IS LIKE PARANESE (SP) CELEBRATING THE PRISONS. I LOVE THOSE DRAWINGS AND SHAPES.

LEB WOODS IS NO THREAT TO ANYONE, SO HE CAN BE AS OUTRAGEOUS AS HE WANTS. ” AT ONE WITH IT”

HE SURE KNOWS HOW TO PROMOTE HIMSELF. HE SHOULD GET A METAL FOR THAT.

GLEN

MICHAEL SORKIN WROTE

Check out his blog. You should link to each other.

Leb is a threat to the complacency of conventional practice and the idea that architecture must be a sell-out. His is also a threat to those who think architecture can ever be disengaged from the social.

And he is not a self-promoter. You should get over the attitude embodied in the catty Oscar Wilde line: “it’s not enough that one succeed, others must fail.” A little solidarity for your real comrades.

Michael

ERIC CHAVKIN WROTE

Glen, from what I hear Leb woods is in the same boat at you. scraping by teaching. . I agree he has an extroadinary vision

KEN KESLER WROTE

Thanks for these posts, Glen.

Raimund Abraham once said to me that “drawing is everything”. He noted that Piranesi remained hugely influential.

At the heart of our profession is the creative will. It transcends the will to make a buck! I remember Hejduk’s note on the opening page of Richard Meier’s first monograph (here is a mis-reading from memory): “I need to build more Richard, but you need to read more”….

Everything on this earth is temporary and “dust in the wind”….this simple fact reinforces the importance of imagining and drawing a future that may or may not come to pass. Building is good, but achievement in architecture is much more elusive than the built artifact….

JAMES WINES WROTE

I attached a brief summary of the intentions of my book on ‘A Line Around and Idea,’ which simply tries to turn what I view as a critical problem into something positive. I think. when finished, it will fill a gap. For me, this is just as gratifying a goal as designing another building.

Hi again Glen,

Good heavens!! You have opened up a very compelling international dialogue. Instead of complaining about everything, why not compose all of these generous and provocative thoughts into an essay on the state of architecture today – including its aberrations and disappointments? I am sure such a document would be published to great effect.

I couldn’t agree more with our colleagues’ advocacy of drawing as the key to ideas. The currently overwhelming dependence on digital delineation simply means too many architects (and especially students) are letting technology – in fact, a grid system of pre-organized dots – determine their conceptual product. As an obsessive ‘mind-to-hand’ enthusiast, I could just sit around and moan about this visual wasteland; but, instead I am working on a book to at least try to clarify the value of surface structure/deep structure and the ‘subliminal accident’ in graphic communication.

You write and draw magnificently – plus you have stimulated an eruption of views on the state of architecture today – so go for it . . . edit and publish the ensemble!!

James Wines

I attached a brief summary of the intentions of my book on ‘A Line Around and Idea,’ which simply tries to turn what I view as a critical problem into something positive. I think. when finished, it will fill a gap. For me, this is just as gratifying a goal as designing another building.

GLEN SMALL WROTE

HI JAMES,

I AGREE WITH YOUR ASSESSMENT. THE DIALOGUE BROUGHT OUT PENT UP COMMENTS OF BROTHER ARCHITECTS. WE ALL SEEMED AT EASE TO TALK . WE DID NOT START SCREAMING OR QUOTING THE BIBLE. WE APPRECIATE IDEAS AND DISCUSSIONS. AS YOU KNOW, BEING OLDER WITH TONS OF STORIES TO TELL ENTERTAINS. BUT AS THE SMOTHER BROTHERS ACTUALIZED, IT IS A GOOD PLATFORM TO CONVEY IDEAS.

OBVIOUSLY WITH THE PEOPLE THAT COMMENTED WE COULD GO ON A ROAD TRIP TO ARCHITECTURAL SCHOOLS TO DUM UP QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS. SITTING DUCKS FOR FACULTY AND STUDENTS TO BOUNCE IDEAS OFF OF FOR HOURS.

KEEP CLOSE,

GLEN

DAVID KESLER WROTE

How about applying for a Graham Foundation Grant for a “recession” symposium series leading to a book on a grand tour of architectural school across the country?

CARLOS OVALLE WROTE

Hi Glen,

It was my mistake to reply only to you on the last one, I had intended it for everyone. The beauty of this dialog that you started (thank you by the way) is that it’s like a classroom discussion, we all bounce ideas off of each other and we all learn, even though we probably won’t agree with each other in the end.

It’s been great reading all the responses and formulating some of my own. Too bad luminaries such as Kappe, Moss and Mayne don’t bother to do so, it would be enlightening… or entertaining to say the least. I also wish some of the younger intellectuals like Sergio Duran would throw in their two centavos, and of course I’d love to hear the opinions of the Small siblings from a non-architectural point of view.

Personally I consider it a tremendous loss not to have the input of all the above as I have much to learn.

Carlos

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14 comments

  1. glen,
    it is suggested to me by bill menking i write a book on you, concentrating on your projects. it is usually a no go these days people writing their own book on themselves, he also said. i’d get eric chavkin, carlos, ralph, suheil to collaborate too. i would not want too much family stuff since lucia did the definitive work on that one.
    orhan

    • ORHAN

      A BOOK ON GLEN AUTHORED BY YOU IS A BRILLIANT IDEA!…I SUGGEST THAT IT NOT ONLY BE ABOUT HIS ARCHITECTURE, BUT ALSO THE INSPIRATIONS FROM NATURAL FORMS AND STRUCTURES, WHILE ACKNOWLEDGING THE CENTRAL ROLE OF ECOLOGY.

      IT WOULD BE AN HONOR TO COLLABORATE.

      RALPH

    • ORHAN,

      GREAT IDEA THE BOOK,

      BUT LUCIA DID NOT REPRESENT MY PERSONAL LIFE WELL. IT IS A PUNCHY CRAFTED EXAGERATION TO MAKE AN INTERESTING MOVIE.TALK TO HER NOW, I THINK SHE WANTS TO CLARIFY THINGS.

      YOUR TEAM WILL WRITE A GREAT BOOK AND I WILL FURNISH YOU WITH WHATEVER YOU NEED. YOU DEFINITLY CAN TELL MY LIFE IN AN INFORMATIVE INTERESTING WAY. A BEST SELLER IN THE ARCHITECTURAL WORLD.

      BUT I DOUBT, IT WILL TELL THE STORY AS I WANT TO. I DO NOT THINK I AM BORING NOR HARD TO UNDERSTAND OR SELF SERVING. I AM UNIQUE. JUST BY THE COMMENTS, PEOPLE TAKE OUT OF MY LIFE AND WORK WHAT THEY ARE ATTRACTED TO. SOME THE HOUSES, OTHER THE MONUMENTS, OTHERS THE BIOMORPHIC BIOSPHERE, OTHER THE PRATICAL SCHEMES LIKE THE GREEN MACHINE AND TURFTOWN. AND OTHER BELIEVE IT OR NOT LIKE MY WRITING STYLE. SO I WILL CONTINUE TO WRITE MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY, BECAUSE I KNOW IT BETTER THAN ANYONE.

      KEEP CLOSE AND WRITE THE BOOK

      GLEN

    • RALPH

      I RECEIVED A TON OF E MAILS ALL AT ONCE, SOME PERSONAL AND OTHER ALL REPLIES.

      I FELT YOURS WAS A POSITIVE THOUGHTFUL REPLY THAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE DIALOGUE THAT YOU RESPONDED TO, I CAN REMOVE IT IF IT BOTHERS YOU. BY THE WAY YOU NAME WAS USED BY BILL MENKING TO WRITE A BOOK ON ME.

      KEEP COOL,

      GLEN

      GLEN

  2. This is an unbelievable post for many reasons.
    - correspondence between some of the greats in the field of architecture fully exposed
    - publishing emails for the world to see, some apparently intended to be private
    - in a short blog, it sums up the ontological and psychological state of the academic cult of modern architecture at its final hour
    - the echo of former old employers, a subplot of architectural idealism, one I feel most my generation does not connect with in any way (you old guys, even up to people who graduated in the early 90′s all sound the same) although maybe possible some of my generation sound like this, I’d never have a beer with them…

    Which brings me to a question that I think you Glenn could answer like no one else.

    First some background/analogy here. You mention preachers. Preachers are what you call career christians, people who are making a living being christian. All religions have a version, including the cult modern architecture – usually in the form of academics or wealthy hobbyists. Having sat thru a zillion hardcore save yourself the rapture is coming sermons its obvious to me your generation bought into what the genius preachers of modern architecture so much that as disciples you prolonged the delusion of critical thinking based on abstraction of ideal purity in the context of form, space, matter and energy. This deluscion coupled with imaginary social and environmental agendas produced a clan of all black wearing idealists who get together at design crit juries to talk about their religion as they skim over the offerings of the students. The irony is, the great concepts of the modernists have dually served the emperical nature of capitalism, john smiths invisble hand and have created a new form of architecure delivery. Do you idealists deliver architecure? Do you know the trend now for financial types is to create investment firms that make money on real estate alone, an office full of lawyers, MBA’s, engineers,
    developers, and contractors managing architecture like a hedge fund. Forget developers, this is bigger. Modernism and computers have made this possible.

    So Glenn, what kind of great sociopathic preaching pricks brainwashed your generation? What ideals did they preach that were so convincing to have you give your soul to architecture?(Their versions). What is it about he cult of modern architecture that is so self destructive in practice? Why is when “real architects” step out of the sanctuary of academia no one listens as then scream the world is coming to an end. Where did it all go wrong? What bullshit fucked It all up man?

    (Did you feel guilt when you left the sermon, like you sold architecture short (not humanity))

    From a blackberry on a bus about to open up my office (laptop) and do architecture in a world of points.

    Thanks in advance.

    • CHRIS,

      I JUST WROTE A GREAT REPLY, BUT THE INTERNET WENT DOWN AND GOOGLE LOST THE TEXT.

      SO HERE GOES AGAIN,

      THANKS FOR YOUR COMMENTS

      I AM IN THE TROPICS SWEATING, KILLING BUGS AND FIGHTING WITH MY LAPTOP.

      I HOPE YOUR BUS RIDE AND DAY AT THE OFFICE WENT WELL WITH ALL THOSE DOTS

      I DO WEAR BLACK, BECAUSE I AM OVERWEIGHT, AND BLACK MAKES ME LOOK THIN AND ARTY.

      I WORE WHITE THE OTHER NIGHT AND HAVE LOST WEIGHT RECENTLY, SO MAYBE MY BLACK DAYS ARE OVER IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

      THE OLDIES BUT GOODIES GENERATION IS DYING OUT, SO YOU ARE IN CHARGE.

      HEDGE FUND ARCHITECTURAL OFFICE SOUNDS GOOD TO ME, BUT THEY HAVE NOT SOUGHT ME OUT.

      IT ALL STARTED WITH MY FATHER DEMANDING I WIN THE RACE WHEN I WAS SIX,
      LYING AND CHEATING WAS NOT TOLERATED. EDUCATION MADE ME QUESTION AND PROMISED ANYTHING WAS POSSIBLE. I BOUGHT IT.

      I AM AN ARCHITECT THAT BUILDS REAL BUILDINGS AND ALSO MAKES PROPOSALS TO THE SOCIETY TO IMPROVE HUMANITY AND BE ONE WITH NATURE.
      THERE IS A CONFLICT BETWEEN THESE TWO PRACTICES. HAS BEEN SINCE I WENT TO CRANBROOK IN1965 FOR MY MASTERS.

      THE PREACHING LINE WAS TO BRIAN WHO IS ACTIVE IN THE CHURCH AND OFTEN TAKES THE PODIUM. AN IN JOKE.

      IF YOU WANT TO LISTEN TO ME, SO BE IT, I HAVE A LOT TO SAY.

      I HAVE DROPPED OUT OF THE NORMAL MODERNISM WORLD. I DO NOT REGRET IT. BUT ALL THE HISTORY, JARGON, SHAPES, DETAILS, ARE A PART OF MY SOUL. I DOUBT IF I WILL FORGET THEM.

      WISHING YOU THE BEST,

      KEEP CLOSE

      GLEN

  3. so why the drop out of the normal modernism?
    and the cranbrook stuff was great, we going to see that stff posted extensively anytime soon?

    • THANKS CHRIS FOR THE COMMENT

      I AM GOING TO DO A BLOG ON THE BIOMORPHIC BIOSPHERE SOON, I AM WAITING FOR THE DIGITIZED IMAGES TO HAPPEN FROM MY SLIDES, THAT IS IN THE PROCESS.

      I AM WORKING ON AN UPDATED VERSION FOR A MAJOR CITY IN THE USA THAT IS REALISTIC TO WHAT EXISTS NOW.

      THE ONE THING ABOUT ARCHITECTURAL VISIONS IS THEY GET WHACKED BY TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS. CORBU IN PARIS WITH PLANES LANDING ON ROOFTOPS, WRIGHT IN BROAD ACREA WITH HUMMINGBIRD WINGS ON SAUCER SHAPES, FULLER 3 D CAR COVERT TO BOAT AND PLANE. I WITH MY INFLATABLE BALL CAPULE MODULAR SYSTEM. NOT A SAFE THING TO PROJECT, IT ALL CHANGES QUICKLY. THAT IS THE WONDERFUL THING ABOUT MOVIES. CAPTURING THE TIME PERIOD THEY ARE DEPICTED IN. SO A DIRECTION CAN BE SUGGESTED THAT IS PRACTICAL IN THE FUTURE, BUT WHO KNOWS WHAT WILL REALLY HAPPEN? QUE SERA, QUE SERA, WHAT EVER WILL BE WILL BE.

      KEEP CLOSE,

      GLEN

  4. Glen, it comes down to this:

    Be an architect that is willing to compromise: you will likely be successful.
    Be an architect that is unwilling to compromise: you will likely be unsuccessful.

    It is a choice you make every day and I admire you for keeping with it despite your continual misfortune. However, it is a choice you have made and you can change your mind at any time, so stop bitching to the world about how it doesn’t accept you and your overinflated ego when it was your decision to be unsuccessful in the first place.

    Cheers.

    • DEAR DUSTIN,

      YOU HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT. IT IS TRUE I COMPLAIN A LOT, COMPLACENCY IS NOT MY MODE. POSITIVE CHARGE COMES ABOUT BY SEEKING A BETTER WAY. IF YOU ARE HAPPY WITH COMPROMISING, CHANGE COMES SLOWLY AND MIGHT NOT BE CHANGE AT ALL.

      BUT IF YOU ARE ANGRY AND DIRECT YOUR ANGER FOR POSITIVE SOLUTIONS THEN AT LEAST A GLIMPSE OF WHAT COULD BE IS ENACTED, AND OTHERS WITH THE SOOMTH TALKING WAYS WILL PICK UP THE BALL.

      YOUR RIGHT, I SHOULD BE HAPPY BEING MYSELF. AND BEING MYSELF IS COMPLAINING. SO BE IT.

      KEEP CLOSE,

      GLEN

      GLEN

  5. Dear Glen.
    Splendid web site I must say.Excellent and fair selection of comments.,and some great work

    It does my heart good to see you hard at work with Milica on the Aquatic Center in Newport,and to see the the firm grip you keep on your emotions.
    Your sketch of it is magical and wonderful,enough to shorten the odds against it as is goes on the market to find
    financial support.
    My favorite saying when asked whether something is successful or not is That its too soon to tell.
    In this context .It would have clearly been premature to write you off.
    Your drama has reached Act 3,where all everything reaches a climax,and all is finally resolved.Remember that all iis oneYou are on the stage yes but you are also in the audience.and you cant control the outcome.
    You will be fine.
    Love Brian.

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    Any feedback? Hope you can help me.

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