VERTICAL CITY, BLAST OFF CRANBROOK

THE TIME WAS 1965, TIJUANA BRASS, KINGSTON TRIO AND SOUND OF MUSIC. I BOUGHT MY WIFE JOANNE, WHO PLAYED THE PIANO, A GUITAR IN HOPES SHE WOULD BE JULIE ANDREWS. PRESIDENT LYNDON JOHNSON WAS PUSHING CIVIL RIGHTS AND STARTING USA VIETNAM INVOLVEMENT IN MARCH 1965.


SAN FRANCISCO VERTICAL RIBBED PEDESTAL CITY, SPRINGING FORTH FROM THE TOP OF SAN FRANCISCO HILLS, 1965
A COMPLETE FANTASY SKETCH THAT EVOLVED WITH STUDIES THAT LEAD TO THE FINAL SOLUTION OF THE VERTICAL CITY.

I WAS FRUSTRATED, ELEVEN DIFFERENT OFFICES IN 4 YEARS, ALWAYS FEELING SUPERIOR TO THE MEN I WORKED FOR. DOING THE WORK I LIKED AT NIGHT AND ON THE WEEKENDS, ECONOMICALLY STRUGGLING. I WAS HEADSTRONG AND INDEPENDENT. NOT THE SORT OF EMPLOYEE THAT TAKES ORDERS WELL. I HADN’T MARRIED MONEY, STAYED LONG IN ONE OFFICE. , NOR LANDED A CLIENT WITH MEANS. THEREFORE, I WAS LIMITED ABOUT HOW I COULD EARN A LIVING.

SAN FRANCISCO VERTICAL RIBBED PEDESTAL CITY, THE INTERIOR, INSPIRED BY NERVI . GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE UPPER LEFT CORNER. 1965

SAN FRANCISCO SKETCH 2012 GLEN HOWARD SMALL, THERE IS A PATTERN HERE INSPIRED BY SKETCH IN 1965 FOR SAN FRANCISCO. WILL DEVELOP FUTHUR. WHETHER IT HAS ANY RELEVANCE IS QUESTIONABLE? DEFINITELY NOT FOR SAN FRANCISCO AS IS.

SAN FRANCISCO SKETCH 2012 INTERIOR

LOOKING AROUND AT THE ARCHITECTS THAT DO MAKE IT, IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT MANY OF THE BETTER ONES TAUGHT. IT OFFERED AN ECONOMIC BASE THAT ALLOWED ONE TO PICK AND CHOOSE. ARCHITECTURAL COMMISSIONS DIDN’T HAVE TO SUSTAIN YOU, THEREFORE, ALLOWING ONE TO PUT THE ARCHITECTURAL TIME IN TO GET IT RIGHT AND SURVIVING FINANCIALLY TO DO MEANINGFUL PROJECTS. THUS, LAUNCHED MY TEACHING CAREER.

TO TEACH ONE NEEDED A MASTERS DEGREE. IT NEVER DAWNED ON ME THAT I MIGHT NEED TIME TO THINK AND FORMULATE A PHILOSOPHY. MY EGO HAS GOT ME THROUGH MANY A FORMIDABLE TERRITORY. I STILL REMEMBER SEEING THE SKETCHES OF METABOLIST KISHO KUROKOWA (JAPANESE ARCHITECT THAT DID HIGH TECH ORGANIC DESIGNS) HELIX CITY AND BEING ENTRANCED WITH EVERYTHING FLOWING TOGETHER. THIS TOGETHER WITH PAOLO SOLERI’S MESA CITY WERE DRIVING FORCES TO ADDRESS THE CITY AS AN INTEGRATED WHOLE. I HAD NOT BEEN EXPOSED TO ARCHIGRAM.

KISHO KUROKOWA HELIX CITY 1962

PAOLO SOLERI, MESA CITY 1961

LIVING IN SAN FRANCISCO ON THE AVENUES I TOOK A BUS TRIP DOWN TOWN AND THEN WALKED OVER CONCRETE ABOUT EIGHT BLOCKS TO THE ARCHITECTURAL OFFICE OF HENRIK BULL. SAN FRANCISCO WAS THE EXCITING CITY OF THE WEST, BUT IT WAS FOR MOVING PEOPLE, CARS AND TRUCKS OVER HARD CONCRETE WITH SHOP WINDOWS BECKONING BUSINESS. WELL DETAILED VERTICAL TOWERS WAS THE ARCHITECTURE A FEW PARKS DROPPED HERE AND THERE WITH GOLDEN GATE PARK BEING THE PEOPLES GEM. THE CABLE CARS AND VICTORIAN FACADES OF HOUSES WERE QUAINT, BUT NOT PROJECTING THE FUTURE I WANTED TO BE PART OF.

I WAS FORTUNATE TO BE WORKING FOR HENRIK BULL . THE SIXTH OFFICE IN SAN FRANCISCO IN TWO YEARS. HE HIRED ME TO DO A THEATER IN TAHOE, BUT WHEN THAT HIT A WALL HE MENTIONED TAKING A DESIGN LOOK AT A NEW RESIDENCE FOR AN AFTERNOON. IT WAS FRIDAY, SO I TOOK THE PROJECT HOME FOR THE WEEKEND AND KNOCKED OUT A SCHEME AND MODEL. HENDRIK LIKED MY SCHEME AND SOLD IT TO THE CLIENT AND WE DID DESIGN DEVELOPMENT AND HAD WORKING DRAWINGS MADE. IT ALL FLOWED TOGETHER, BUT NEVER GOT BUILT. THE CLIENT GOT SCARED. HENRIK DID THE NEXT DESIGN ON A LSD TRIP, SOME TEA HOUSE CONCEPT THAT DID GET BUILT. HENRIK IS STILL GOING STRONG AT 82, HE SKIES AND LIVES IN A BEAUTIFUL OLD HOUSE ON THE HILL IN BERKELEY. I ASKED RECENTLY WHY HE DID NOT LIVE IN A HOUSE HE DESIGNED, HE SAID FEW ARCHITECTS DID, BECAUSE THEY COULD NOT AFFORD IT. HENRIK TOASTED ME IN THE GOING AWAY CRANBROOK PARTY, “GLEN IT HAS BEEN NICE WORKING FOR YOU. ”

MISS PERU WORKED AT HENRIK’S OFFICE AT THE TIME AND GAVE ME SOME WISE ADVICE WHEN I WAS FRUSTRATED AT SOME DECISION BEING MADE. CONSIDER THE SOURCE GLEN. I NEED TO KEEP REMINDING MYSELF OF THAT CONSTANTLY, BUT OFTEN FORGET.

OSHER RESIDENCE TIBERON, SAN FRANCISCO ASSOCIATED WITH HENRIK BULL 1965

PIN WHEEL PATTERN ON 30 / 60 GRID. CLIENT OSHER GOT FRIGHTENED AND DID NOT BUILD SCHEME.

OSHER RESIDENCE, ASSOCIATED WITH HENRICK BULL 1965

I KNEW THINGS COULD BE BETTER. I TOOK IT FOR GRANTED THAT THE WORLD WANTED TO IMPROVE. WHAT I DIDN’T REALIZE IS THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE ARE QUITE HAPPY WITH THE WAY THINGS ARE. IN FACT THE FAMILIARITY OF THE EXISTING, EVEN THOUGH IT IS BANAL,BRUTAL AND HARSH BECOMES HOME. TO THIS DAY I AM ASTONISHED BY WHAT PEOPLE ACCEPT AND CHERISH IN CITIES. TO ME I WANTED TO EXPLORE A VISION OF A NURTURING INTEGRATED WHOLE. HISTORY WAS NEVER A BARRIER, BECAUSE EXCEPT FOR A FEW MONUMENT ARCHITECTURAL BUILDINGS I HAD NEVER EXPERIENCED A CITY I FELT WORTH PRESERVING. I FIND PARTS OF CITIES THAT WOULD BE GOOD FOR POSTERITY, BUT EXCEPT FOR VENICE ITALY , PARTS OF PARIS, HILL TOWNS AND HISTORIC VILLAGES THE CITY SCALE NEEDS A LOT OF HELP.

TO WANT TO CHANGE ONE HAS TO BE DISSATISFIED WITH THE PRESENT. OUR EXISTING CITIES ARE NOT DESIGNED AND BUILT BY DESIGN SENSITIVE PROFESSIONALS. USUALLY THEY ARE THE RESULT OF PRACTICAL DESIRES OF ORDINARY PEOPLE THAT HAVE VERY LIMITED CONCERNS. FOR YEARS I WOULD SHOW ALL THE CRASS DEVELOPMENT AND POLLUTION OF OUR EXISTING CITIES TO SHAME THE SOCIETY TO PREPARE THE AUDIENCE TO RECEIVE THE VERTICAL CITY OR BIOMORPHIC BIOSPHERE. THE SHAME WORKED, BUT NOT THE PROPOSED SOLUTIONS. SOCIETY TAKES THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE, WHICH IS USUALLY WAY SHORT OF IDEALISM. I ON A BASIC LEVEL OF APPROACHING AN EXISTING CITY START TO SHUTTER WITH DISMAY. I FIND IT ALL SO JARRING AND UGLY VISUALLY . OTHERS DO NOT EVEN SEE WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT, SO WHY SHOULD THEY WANT OR EMBRACE CHANGE.

I DREW A COUPLE OF CRUDE SKETCHES ONE EVENING OF HUGE TREE LIKE RIBBED STRUCTURES RISING OUT OF THE HILLS OF SAN FRANCISCO. THE BRANCHES BRIDGED WITH THE ADJOINING STRUCTURES. THE INTERIOR DRAWING LOOKED OUT ON THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, ONE OF THE FEW STRUCTURES I REVER. THE WOMEN DRAWN FROM THE REAR WITH CUMBER BUM HAIR , BECAUSE IT WAS TOO DIFFICULT TO DRAW THEM FROM THE FRONT.

I SENT THESE SAN FRANCISCO SKETCHES, IN CONJUNCTION WITH MY PREVIOUS WORK, AS A PROPOSAL OF A DIRECTION I WOULD LIKE TO INVESTIGATE WHILE PURSUING A MASTER THESIS STUDY.

I APPLIED AT NORTH CAROLINA STATE, BECAUSE THEY PUT OUT A PAMPHLET OF INTERESTING SCHOOLWORK. THERE WAS A SPIRIT OF EXPLORATION. I APPLIED AT CRANBROOK, BECAUSE IT WAS THE HEART OF ERRO SAARINEN ( THE LATE DEDICATED TALENTED HARD WORKING ARCHITECT THAT DID THE TWA AIR TERMINAL LIKE AN EAGLE PREPARING FOR TAKEOFF AND A HOCKEY RINK AT YALE THAT INSPIRED SKATERS) . ERRO DIED YOUNG, SHORTLY BEFORE I APPLIED, AND I ALSO APPLIED AT ALL THE PROPER SCHOOLS, HARVARD, YALE, U.C. BERKELEY, AND COLOMBIA. I MADE UP A DESIGN PACKAGE OF SLIDES AND A LETTER OF INTENT. TO BE PROPERLY APPRECIATED THE PACKAGE REQUIRED A DESIGN SENSITIVE PERSON TO SEE IT. IT WAS CONSTRUCTED OF BROWN CORRUGATED CARDBOARD AND BLACK MASKING TAPE. CRANBROOK OFFERED ME THE ELIEL SAARINEN FULL SCHOLARSHIP . NORTH CAROLINA STATE, SAID THEY DID NOT OFFER A MASTERS PROGRAM, BUT WERE INTERESTED IN INTERVIEWING ME FOR A TEACHING POSITION. THEY FLEW ME BACK AND THEY SPENT A COUPLE OF DAYS LOOKING ME OVER. I HAD A CHOICE OF TWO BEDS, ONE THAT FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT SLEPT IN, OR ONE THAT MIES SLEPT IN, I CHOOSE THE FLW , BUT I DIDN’T GET THE POSITION. JUST BEFORE I LEFT SAN FRANCISCO I CUT MY HAIR. I LOOKED LIKE A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT, THE AGING PROCESS HAD NOT HIT, AND THE COMMENT FROM THE DEAN HENRY KANPHOEFFER WAS I DIDN’T REALIZE HOW YOUNG YOU WERE.

IN THE SAME TRIP I VISITED CRANBROOK ACADEMY OF ART, SET AMONG LARGE ESTATES OUTSIDE OF DETROIT. I VISITED WITH GLEN PAULSEN THE HEAD OF ARCHITECTURE. A TALENTED EXCELLENT DESIGN ARCHITECT THAT HAD WORKED WITH ERRO SAARINEN IN HIS GLORY YEARS. I FELT COMFORTABLE WITH GLEN.
THE PROPER SCHOOLS ALL TURNED MY APPLICATION DOWN. POSITIVE THINGS HAPPEN FOR ME WHEN SOMEBODY RECOMMENDS ME OR A DESIGNER AT THE OTHER END RELATES TO MY WORK. I NAIVELY THINK NORMAL PEOPLE WILL LOOK AT MY WORK AND INSTANTLY DOORS WILL OPEN.

AT CRANBROOK THE DESIGNER WAS GLEN PAULSEN. AT NORTH CAROLINA STATE IT WAS A GROUP OF OUTSTANDING DESIGNERS AT THE TIME. HEADED BY DEAN HENRY KANHOFFNER.

THE SAN FRANCISCO CIVIC CENTER PLAZA ENHANCEMENT COMPETITION 1965. ONE OF MY BEST DESIGNS THAT REACHED THE UNIVERSAL BEAUTY CATEGORY, I ENTERED JUST BEFORE MY DEPARTURE TO CRANBROOK, WON NOTHING. ANOTHER BLOG.

SO I PACKED UP MY FAMILY OF A WIFE AND TWO SMALL GIRLS IN SAN FRANCISCO , BOUGHT A FORD ECONOLINE VAN, (WITH FINANCIAL HELP OF MY MOTHER) RENTED A U HAUL TRAILER , AND SET OUT FOR BLOOMFIELD HILLS MICHIGAN, THE HOME OF CRANBROOK ACADEMY OF ART. ON THE ROAD ACROSS THE GREAT SALT FLATS OUTSIDE OF SALT LAKE CITY, A GREYHOUND BUS WHIZZED PAST AND SET OUR IMPROPERLY LOADED TRAILER INTO A WHIPLASH MOVEMENT. JOANNE MY WIFE WAS DRIVING WHILE I WAS RESTING IN AN ELEVATED PERCH BEHIND THE SEAT. ALL OF LIFE SEEMED DOOMED. WE JACKED KNIFED AND ENDED UP ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE ROAD. IN SALT LAKE CITY I REPACKED THE TRAILER AND WE HEADED EAST AGAIN. DESTINED TO MAKE HISTORY.

CRANBROOK ACADEMY OF ART, BLOOMFIELD HILLS MICHIGAN 1965

CRANBROOK ACADEMY OF ART IS SITUATED IN BLOOMFIELD HILLS OUTSIDE DETROIT. THE ARTS SCHOOL WAS ONE OF THREE SCHOOLS, THE OTHER TWO PREP SCHOOLS FOR COLLEGE. ALL ISOLATED FROM EACH OTHER IN THE ROLLING COUNTRYSIDE OF THE BOOTH ESTATE NEWSPAPER BARON NAMED CRANBROOK. THE GROUNDS HAVE STREAMS AND LAKES. THE BUILDINGS WERE DESIGNED BY ELIEL SAARIEN (THE FATHER OF ERRO SAARINEN) IN A COMFORTABLE SENSITIVE MANNER, BUT NOT ANYTHING TO EXCITE ME. I WAS TOLD THEY WERE IN GOOD TASTE.

THE ART SCHOOL WAS A BIRD CAGE TO HOUSE ARTISTS. CONTRARY TO THE PREP GIRLS, BOYS SCHOOLS AND GEORGE BOOTH MANSION ON THE GROUNDS THAT FITTED WITH THE UPPER-CLASS NEIGHBORHOOD. THERE IS A FASCINATION OF THE RICH WITH ARTISTS, AND IN THIS CASE THE ARTISTS WERE HOUSED IN THEIR BACKYARD. A FIERY GROUP. THE INTENT OF THE BOOTH FAMILY WAS TO HAVE AN ARTIST COMMUNITY. A NOBLE IDEA, BUT IN THE REALITY OF THE FAST MOVING TIMES IMPRACTICAL. A SAD NOTE . PARADISE OF SENSITIVE VISUAL CONCERNS IN A PARK SETTING. BOOTH HAD MADE HIS MONEY IN THE NEWSPAPER BUSINESS, AND YET LONGED FOR THE ALL INCLUSIVE ARTIST LIFE.

I STARTED A SUMMER ARCHITECTURAL JOB WITH GLEN PAUSEN. I DID A CHAPEL BOX DESIGN FOR A CATHOLIC SCHOOL IT WAS A GEM. IT IS ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT I DO NOT KNOW IF IT GOT BUILT. ONE DAY GLEN PAULSEN ARRIVES IN THE DRAFTING ROOM. I PULLED A PLAY CAP PISTOL ON HIM AND BANG. THE LOOK THAT CAME OVER HIS FACE WAS AGASP. RADICAL ARCHITECTURAL STUDENT SHOOTS RENOWNED ARCHITECT AND EDUCATOR. NOW THEY MIGHT CART ONE OFF TO JAIL FOR SUCH A PRANK. I WAS READING ATLAS SHRUGGED AT THE TIME. THE IDEAL INDIVIDUAL WAS THE GOAL.

GLEN PAULSEN GAVE THE MASTER CLASS OF SIX STUDENTS A WARM UP PROJECT TO SEE WHAT HE HAD TO DEAL WITH. A RESIDENCE AT THE END OF AN EXISTING CUL DE SAC SITE FOR AN ARCHITECT AND HIS OFFICE. MAYBE GLEN PAULSEN HAD A DREAM OF COMBINING WORK AND HOME TOGETHER. I KNOW THAT HAS ALWAYS WORKED FOR ME. ROLLING OUT OF BED AT ANY HOUR AND PUTTING THE DREAMS TO WORK. HAVE THAT AT THE MOMENT NOW.

ARCHITECTS RESIDENCE AND OFFICE, CRANBROOK 1965

ARCHITECTS RESIDENCE AND OFFICE, CRANBROOK 1965 THE SITE BIRD’S EYE

ARCHITECTS RESIDENCE AND OFFICE, CRANBROOK 1965 RESIDENCE AND POOL

ARCHITECTS RESIDENCE AND OFFICE 1965 THE APPROACH

ARCHITECT RESIDENCE AND OFFICE 1965 PLANS, OFFICE LOWER RESIDENCE UPPER

THE SCHEME WAS ON A HILLSIDE LOT THAT YOU APPROACHED ON A PARKING BRIDGE WITH A HOUSE ON THE RIGHT AND AN ARCHITECTURAL OFFICE ON THE LEFT CONNECTED BY A SPIRAL RAMP UNDER A SWIMMING POOL WITH A GLASS BOTTOM, ALL SUPPORTED BY A MUSHROOM COLUMN. IN THE TRADITION OF FLW,ALVAR AALTO, NERVI ETC.

THE PATTERN WAS CIRCULAR WITH BOXES ON THE EDGE FOR PERSONAL SPACE. A COMBINATION FAN AND ARTICULATED RECTANGLES.

THE LIGHTING WAS FROM ABOVE WITH SLOT LIGHTING ON ROOF RIBS AND OVER DESKS ETC. ON THE BOX SAW TOOTH PATTERN.
MY TAKE AT THIS TIME WAS THE UNION OF MATES PHYSICALLY IS WHAT KEEPS A FAMILY TOGETHER.
IT REFLECTED IN THE MASTER BEDROOM (UPPER LEFT) WITH TWO ENTRIES THAT LED TO INDIVIDUAL DRESSING ROOMS AND BATH FACILITIES THAT BROUGHT THE COUPLE TOGETHER ON A ROUND BED THAT LOOKED TROUGH A LARGE SHOWER TO THE POOL. THE PROCESS OF HANGING OUT IN BED , SHOWERING AND DIVING INTO THE POOL WITH THE REVERSE PROCESS OF COMING BACK TO BED SURROUNDED WITH THE GOODIES LIKE TV, AUDIO, TREATS, ETC.

ALL THE OTHER ACTIVITIES OF THE FAMILY HANDLED ELSEWHERE.

THIS PROJECT DEMONSTRATED MY ORGANIZING SKILLS. IT WAS LIKE CALCULUS, I HAD EVOLVED TO HANDLING COMPLEX COMBINATIONS OF FUNCTION AND FORM. 1965.

CRANBROOK ESTABLISHED A NEW DIRECTION IN MY LIFE OF DESIGNING THE IDEAL WITHOUT A CLIENT . THERE IS A HUGE JUMP THAT OCCURS ONCE ONE EMBARKS WITHOUT A CLIENT. THE CLIENT WAS NOW THE WORLD STARTING WITH DETROIT. I SOUGHT TO DESIGN WHAT I FELT THE WORLD NEEDED. I DID NOT STOP TO PONDER WHETHER THE WORLD WANTED MY IDEAS, NOR WHETHER I HAD THE QUALIFICATIONS OR EXPERIENCE TO INITIAL SUCH GRAND IDEAS. I JUST FELT IT WAS RIGHT TO PURSUE ONES DREAMS.

WHAT HAPPENED WAS NOW MY WORLD DIVIDED BETWEEN THE WORLD OF REAL CLIENTS AND VISIONARY ARCHITECTURE. I BECAME A SCHIZOPHRENIC. IT BECOMES EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO FUNCTION IN SOCIETY. WHAT DO YOU IDENTIFY WITH? CLIENTS HAVE SPECIFIC GOALS, NEED ASSURANCE, EXPECT TOTAL INTEREST IN THEIR OBJECTIVES. RIGHTFULLY SO, BUT IF YOU HAVE A HIGHER CALLING IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO COME THROUGH FOR THEM. YOU PRODUCE A PRODUCT, BUT NOT WITH THE TOTAL LOVE IT USUALLY DESERVES. TO LEAP FORWARD YOU MUST HAVE VISION OF WHAT COULD BE. THUS WANTING TO CHANGE THE EXISTING. THAT IS THE MOTIVATION THAT SPURS CHANGE.

I ‘M IN A STATE OF CONSTANT TURMOIL. EVERYTHING COULD BE SO MUCH BETTER. NOT JUST A LITTLE, BUT A WHOLE LOT, A REVOLUTIONARY LOT. WHAT IS PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE WITH OTHERS IS A BLOODY SHAME WITH ME. THIS DISCONTENTMENT CHANNELED, BECOMES A DRIVING FORCE. OUR SOCIETY DOES NOT ENCOURAGE DISCONTENTMENT, THE PUSH OF PSYCHOLOGIST IS TO FIT IN, LIVE IN HARMONY, HAVE TOLERANCE. WE SHOULD ENCOURAGE DISCONTENTMENT AND DIRECT IT FOR POSITIVE CHANGE. PEOPLE ARE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH CONFLICT. WE SHOULD EDUCATE PEOPLE TO DEBATE AND BE OPEN TO POSITIVE SUGGESTIONS. I SEE IT IN MY OWN BEHAVIOR. I AM OUTSPOKEN IN SOCIAL SITUATIONS, LIKE HOW CAN YOU LIVE IN SUCH A BANAL HOUSE? THIS SETS OFF SUBSTANTIAL REACTIONS. THE PARTY IS OFFENDED. I AM BAWLED OUT FOR BEING INSENSITIVE. WHAT REALLY NEEDS TO OCCUR IS A DEBATE OR DISCUSSION. LIKE THE PARTY SAYING WE LIKE EARLY AMERICAN, BECAUSE IT IS COZY AND HISTORICAL. THEN WE COULD HAVE A DIALOGUE.

ON THE LECTURE CIRCUIT THERE ARE FREQUENT OUTBURSTS OF HOSTILITY TOWARDS MY WORK. I HAVE BECOME SAVVY TO THESE OUTBURSTS AND HAVE LEARNED NOT BE THREATEN. BUT, IF I SUDDENLY CONFRONT HOSTILITY OF MY WORK WITHOUT WARNING, I SOMETIMES BECOME UPSET AND LASH OUT. I LIKEN IT TO NOT BEING IN TRAINING. HOSTILITY IS NORMAL. WE SHOULD BE PREPARED. I HAVE LEARNED TO LISTEN TO THE HOSTILE QUESTIONS USUALLY IN THE FORM OF A STATEMENT. I OFTEN AGREE WITH THE STATEMENT AND THEN ELABORATE ON THE SUBJECT MATTER. THE TRICK IS TO STAY HONEST AND CALM . SO OFTEN ONE CAN BE RIGHT, BUT LOSE THE DISCUSSION BY SHOWING ANGER. OUR SOCIETY CONDEMNS THOSE THAT ARE ANGRY. THE DEVIL BEING POLITE IS ACCEPTED.

THE PEOPLE THAT SUCCEED HISTORICALLY ARCHITECTURALLY, ARE THOSE THAT PLAY WITH THE EXISTING. THE SOCIETY IS DESPERATE TO BE SANCTIONED. A STAMP OF APPROVAL. THAT IS WHY WHEN THE ARCHITECT ROBERT VENTURI SANG THE GLORIES OF LAS VEGAS ARCHITECTS JUMPED AT THE APPROVAL. IT WAS LICENSE TO BUILD BOXES AND DECORATE THEM IN ANY MANNER. LIKEWISE WHEN MIES VAN DEVOE SANG THE PRAISES GLASS BOXES , THAT ANY ARCHITECT COULD REFINE AND DESIGN, EVERYBODY LEAPED ON THE BAND WAGON. BUT WHEN YOU COME ALONG AND SAY NO, WE HAVE SCREWED UP AND NEED TO TOTALLY RETHINK THE WAY WE DO THINGS, PROBLEMS ARISE. YOU HAVE GONE TOO FAR.

IN MOST EVERY PROFESSION TOO MUCH EDUCATION SUGGEST RADICAL CHANGE. THAT IS WHEN THE SOCIETY SAYS STOP YOU ARE NOW USELESS. THE DISTRESS SIGNAL GOES OFF LIKE SOME LOUD AIR RAID SHIRK. OUT OF CONTROL THIS MAN IS THINKING TOO MUCH. HE IS DANGEROUS TO SOCIETY. SHUT HIM UP, SHUT HIM UP. THE MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON IS REAL AND THE BAD GUYS WIN, NOT MR. SMITH.

THE POLICY WAS TO LET THE STUDENT SELECT THE AREA OF STUDY THEY WANTED TO PURSUE. EACH STUDENT GIVEN A LARGE OFFICE SPACE AND ENCOURAGEMENT TO EXPLORE. FREEDOM IS A CURIOUS THING. I LOVE THAT AND AM SELF MOTIVATED, BUT OTHER STUDENTS AT CRANBROOK WERE NOT EQUIPPED TO DO THEIR OWN THING AND FLOUNDERED AROUND, PREFERRING BOUNDARIES AND DIRECTION TO DO THEIR BEST.

I LOVE SCHOOL AND DO MY BEST WORK WHEN FREE TO EXPLORE.
WELL I WAS ON A COLLISION COURSE WITH SOCIETY, AT CRANBROOK. I WAS IN HEAVEN I WOKE UP IN THE MORNING SAYING, WHAT DO I WANT TO WORK ON TODAY. FREEDOM ON AN URBAN SCALE.

THE MODERN DAY THINK TANK. THE MIND IS A POWERFUL TOOL WHEN IT IS ASKED TO PERFORM AT ITS MAXIMUM CREATIVE CAPACITY. ESPECIALLY WHEN A POSITIVE MORAL SOLUTION IS AT STAKE. ONE IS DRIVEN WITH A SURGE OF POWER THAT MANDATES SOLUTIONS. YEARS LATER AFTER ONE OF MY LECTURES A MYSTICAL SORT OF YOUNG MAN TOOK ME ASIDE AND TOLD ME I WAS SPIRITUALLY DRIVEN. IN SOME DIRECT WAY I WAS. I WAS ON REMOTE DRIVEN BY A QUEST. I HAVE ALSO BEEN ASKED IF I WAS ON DRUGS DURING THIS PERIOD. I HAVE NEVER DONE DRUGS. I AM ON A DESIGN HIGH NATURALLY.

IT IS SO RARE THAT ANYONE IS ASKED TO REALLY THINK ABOUT THE ULTIMATE SOLUTIONS. THE PRACTICALITY FOR PRESENT DAY EXISTENCE SHUTS DOWN HOLISTIC SOLUTIONS IN ARCHITECTURE, THERE IS ALMOST ZERO TIME ALLOTTED FOR RESEARCH ON IDEAL URBAN SOLUTIONS. IT IS SNUBBED AND RIDICULED. PARTIALLY BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE FEEL THEY KNOW WHAT A CITY SHOULD BE, AND ARE QUALIFIED TO MAKE THAT DETERMINATION. THEREFORE THEY SUPPORT THOSE THAT CAN IMPLEMENT THEIR DESIRES. THE PROBLEM IS THAT THEY HAVE VERY LIMITED VISION AND THUS COMPOUND LONG TERM URBAN PROBLEMS. TO MY DISAPPOINTMENT ECOLOGICAL SOCIETIES LIKE THE SIERRA CLUB LACKED ENCOURAGEMENT OF RADICAL APPROACHES LIKE MINE. INSTEAD THEY RELY ON STOP GAP METHODS AND NOT SOLUTIONS. BY NATURE, ECOLOGICAL PEOPLE ARE CONSERVATIVE TOWARDS SOLUTIONS. ALTHOUGH PEOPLE DID PERK UP AND TAKE NOTICE ABOUT ECOLOGICAL DESTRUCTION, I WAS USING IT TO SELL THE SCALE AND SPACE AND INTEGRATED WHOLE OF MY SOLUTION, THE PROFESSION WAS READY TO BE SHAMED, BECAUSE ARCHITECTS DO PLAN AND PREPARE THE DRAWINGS THAT EVENTUALLY END UP AS BUILDINGS. THE PROFESSION WAS NOT PREPARED TO BE SCRUTINIZED AS ECOLOGICALLY SENSITIVE. THIS WAS 1965 THE HAY DAY OF AIR CONDITIONING ON ALL SCALES.

IT WAS REFRESHING EVOLVING FROM UP SCALE RESIDENTIAL HOUSING TO DESIGNING IDEAL CITES FOR MILLIONS. IT WAS GOOD TO BE ALIVE!

I LIKE COMMENTS, AND LOOK FOWARD TO THEM.

THANKS,

GLEN

TO BE CONTINUED

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19 comments

  1. Glen, When i saw the picture of your Vertical City my first thought was metaphor/ simile as in ‘this city is like a ..tree’ . You can see the roots, the trunk, the branches. Literal organic, without the process that you worked out later.

    But afterwards, when I read about Saarinen I figured out more. To me Eero Saarinen work , and i looked at everything i could, almost always had this simile structure. The idea , the essential aspect of the architecture, was expressed as an ideal form. The form as expressed idea. I will give examples;

    TWA Terminal expresses the idea of flight, and the forms both interior and inside all all about that idea.

    The CBS building expresses the idea of the vertical building.

    The MIT at church expresses ascension. The Yale Hockey Rink, movement.

    All one has to do is look and the visual idea is there, clearly done.

    It is an interesting approach to create an ideal form. Very different from modernism today with all the parts combining and articulated to make form. This is form as symbol. The architectural solution as neat as a logo.

    maybe that’s why Saarinen was the darling of the corporate architects.

    eric chavkin

  2. eric,
    logo architecture. i think eric mendelsen was into expressionism way before with his einstein tower and sketches from the trenches.
    the sydney opera house is the logo of australia, and rightfully so.
    definitely the first prmitive image of the vertical city was grouping of trees. there must be a logo there? but for what corporate client?
    glen

  3. There are a lot of different types of expressionism. A hot dog stand in the shape of a hot dog is one type. Movement as expressiveness ala Mendelsohn another.

    I was looking at Saarinen as motivated expression. The idea expressed as form. Some FLW is like that . The Church that has the form of hands praying.

    Sydney Opera House repeating curves are supposed to resemble sails.

    later

    • THAT interpretation, of course , was a parody. I think Chls Jencks would call this sort of semiotic interpretive piling on of signs as multi-valent. Corbusier’s Ronchamp and the LA Pacific Design Center have been designated Multi-valent as well by Jencks . It’s all balls as some Brits say.

      But as image theroy, which i am interested in , the looking backwards from an abstraction, shapes, forms, colors, whatever, could end up signifying anything. Which is the logic flaw. Hindsight makes any conclusion appear reasonable. The logical flaw is following the generalized abstract result to a specific root cause. There are too many other possibilities.

      The expressive forms I am referring too by Saarinen start with more or less general concept and is expressed as a form that embodies that idea: ie speed, vertical, gateway.

      Saarinen forms are a result of ideas, not the other way around.

      • eric,

        as you are aware saarinen was the judge that arrived late in sydney, went into the back room of discarded projects and found the sketches of utzon and convinced the rest of the judges that utzon was the winner. utzon’s sydney opera house will live forever, the ultimate building logo.

        the sails of ships , the orange peel sliced or the hint of a shell for sound inside all pushed to make shapes for utzon, turtles doing it was probably a reaction. like my mother looking at abstract design and declaring it an animal, insect, fish etc.

        the power of universal beauty . i nailed it with the acoustical shell in nicaragua. 500,000 people the other day in the plaza dominated by the uplifting shell. when do i get another try? eric you would formulate in a minuet ten different convincing scenarios of the acoustical shell’s meaning in the nica society , and what motivated me.

        glen

  4. I can see why Saarinen liked Utzon’s scheme. The Opera house drawings, the form, embodied an expression, expressed a concept visually. I dont think it was semantics like Jencks or others like to argue. I dont think these are sails or ships or seashells or turtles fucking. That is too literal.

    I also find strained the geometric argument, actually a mathematical rationalism , that Gideon proposed: that the curves are segments ,” like peelings from an orange” and that Utzon’s shapes were derived from spherical geometry, a continuation and advancement over constructivism but still the same, Gideon would argue.

    I see what Saarinen probably saw; the convex segments expressing a force, like wind or some energy, billowing out and shaping, pushing the ceramic clad skin outward. Yes like sails in wind. But it isnt a sea breeze that shapes the interior volumes of Utzon’s Opera House. The forces comes from within. The shape expresses waves of sound, and the mighty power of music.

    That is what I see.

    eric chavkin

  5. I think I agree with Eric if I understand what he is saying, which is important.

    Saaranin wasn’t creating based on analogies of form but was searching for a form that expressed the idea best. He created with intention but not reflection. Only after the expression of finding what one was looking for can the expression become meaningful and readable with regard to symbols etc…and ultimately historical. Its a small point but expressionism could be creation without reflection and therefore more pure creatively and left wide open to criticism afterword…but who cares about that…

    By the way Glenn, again not a theme in your post (at least stated as such) is your ever present clear grasp of the game of architecture and its culture. I used to not remember your sites address so I would always google, and the article that always came up first (by popular clicks and viewing) was the dressing black blog. If you get bored, wondering if you could break the game down by social class, or in another words – let’s assume Starchitect is the goal (winning) how does a working class kid do it vs rich kid etc..I ask because you already talk about this and you of all people call the game like it is. I’ve been disappointed to find out an architect hero had an “easier” start by having the freedom you did at cranbrook because of finance or social class advantage. I hear of new guy and ask how did they do it, and someone says “oh they married rich” or “their father’s a developer” etc…
    Thanks

    • chris,
      thanks for the comments.
      i want to clarify that by the time i got to cranbrook, i was on my own financially. i had a full scholarship and taught at lawrence institute of technology at night.
      teaching was the thing that freed me to think in an ideal way, not anything to do with clothing.

      i never played the contact game to get ahead . never designed anything for relatives. never joined the lions club.

      i did start my practice with apartments. a client suggested quitting my job at a.t. wilkes office where i ran the split level apartment projects, and going on my own. not loyal to the boss. a conflict of interests. the only thing that saved my soul was teaching to seek the ideal.

      i was mired in cheap creative apartments, the client telling me he was thinking of john lautner to do his personal house. i was shocked he did not consider me up to the task.

      glen

  6. Thanks Chris, for the comment

    WHENever I try to get abstract I get in trouble. I need pictures to compare and contrast to clarify what i am pointing out. Waht i do, and I do this all the time with everything, is that I try to connect a phenomena or a perception to some visual logic or idea. Its all about how do we know what we see?

    In Glens case a lot of the visual aspects are biomorphic, that is, they resemble or allude to biological based shapes. Some other of Glens forms are staggered rthymns . These trace movement, like the French photographer Marey. The futurist painters used rthymic patterns almost exclusively.

    What I do, my approach, is to catalog variations of imagery and define and name them in language terms. Its axiometric as logicians say. I am developing a logic for visual langauge.

  7. Glen, was at the Getty for a panel on images of heaven and hell in the middle ages. Someone said has anyone conceived of a heaven on earth? I spoke up and said it that was an architectural problem. There was this project, actually planned here in LA, a sort of vertical Garden of Eden called the Biomorphic Biosphere….

    • eric,

      thanks for the biomorphic biosphere plug as heaven. i got a new slide scanner and am trying to sort things out for the next vertical city blog leading to the biomorphic biosphere.

      the big one in the society is greed. it has a way of destroying the most humane solutions. a raising of social consciousness is sought. an endless quest that we should have obtained, but sadly lacking.

      do you have any scenario to reach the biomorphic biosphere level?

      glen

    • eric,

      this form classification thing about nature needs to calm down.

      my approach is to think of the functional things i want to accomplish and then i proceed to find a pattern or patterns that allow the function to work well. a back and forth between form and function. not a warehouse to receive any function, but an expression of the function and pattern to make it happen.

      the end result looking like shapes of nature and often drawing comparisons. but this is the end result of expression. like my house called the star fish house, i hate the name, but others see the resemblance, thus providing a catchy pitch.
      glen

  8. Glen, Chris

    First Glen: This ‘form classification thing’ I wrote about is my thinking about your work backwards. You think of a pattern, a form, that fits, expresses a function(s).
    I was asking the question ‘are there sets of forms and patterns that express functions and can be used as ‘blocks’ or sets that express and I think that is obvious.
    The pattern sets need to be worked out, articulated and defined.
    The analogy would be the patterns found in roman/greek classical vocabulary. Classical, orders, motifs and patterns, I can argue, are arbitrary. Why not a biological, nature set. The Bauhaus pattern sets are all based on machine symbolism and geometric shapes. So why not nature?

    Chris;
    The other track I visit is an approach towards image making. How do we know what we see. So name and define image types; Symmetry ( various types); Rythymns (various types), morphic types; metaphors, visual narrative types, critical commartive types (parody, satire, caracature, irony, visual puns, sarcasm, sardonic), ways of sequencing & ordering, ways or organizing, scale and size, issue of color, time, lots of examples. Over 300 images types so far.

    My approach in general is to name the image making pattern and discuss how the pattern effects the meaning, creates meaning. Still working on it.

    eric chavkin

  9. Glenn I was actually suggesting you tell us how, but you did answer my question. Appreciate the inside facts that often get glossed over as accessory to the design of the project.

    Eric – what you talk about both in your response to Glen and to me is of interest to me. Lately I have been into modeling my dreams (while sleeping) literally. What I have found is at least my mind the imagined architecture is actually a collaged architecture of memories. I could argue this is the case for nearly all architecture, except for perhaps the architecture that invents a recognizable pattern as you describe. What would be great, hence the catalog question, is I could say take a study as yours, apply it as reference material to the dreams, and from there begin to derive a theory on how we experience architecture literally and viscerally.

    I know Glen responded to this, but in the creation of the biomorphic biosphere, I would like to know what you were looking at and experiencing at the time.

    I know for creative architects its a hard thing to admit, but the truth is nothing is original ever. With google these days you can find that out a lot faster. If you had a great idea, google it and you will most likely find someone spent a lifetime developing that idea.

    • chris,

      i am just warming up on the biomorphic biosphere how the twelve year study from cranbrook vertical city to the biomorphic biosphere came about. i will try and pace myself so the whole story will be told.
      your question of what state mind i was in, will be explored. i was on a quest to show the way for a future that addressed all aspect of society. the final pitch a feature movies depicting the evolution to the bb.

      glen

  10. Chris, I know of one image structure I call DREAMSTATE which has a hybrid appearance. Think of mythological creatures made up of parts of different animals. In art there are photo collages, examples such as by Hannah Hoch.
    In architecture the 18thC French architect LaQue? has a drawing of a building composed of several historic styles. Rbt Venturi has a house, the green one, that combines art deco, and another style that i forget. Thats it of the top, I have notes somewhere.

    There are other theories mostly on art and dreaming, also some language essays in the analytical mode that makes distinctions between imagination, dreaming, hallucinations.
    Surrealism has many references to dream art

    I hope this helps whatever

    eric

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