Thursday, January 22, 2015

A LESSON from the DUOMO


The Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy represents reason behind a strategy to achieve an owner goal, and the exceptional talent of Brunelleschi symbolized the reason he employed. The result was shelter to serve an owner goal and solve a structural challenge.

It was a project solution, however. Projects combine to form the Shelter Division within a Built Domain, and the new challenge is to shelter growing populations within a limited Built Domain that protects their quality and source of life - the Natural Domain. The Duomo challenges us to improve our reason and assemble symbiotic shelter one project at a time within a limited Built Domain that does not threaten its source of life. The Duomo teaches us that appearance follows reason. In the future, reason will recognize that form must follow symbiotic function within the Shelter Division of a geographically limited Built Domain.

My companion, and better looking, blog "Cities and Design" can be found at www.wmhosack.com
 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

TWO QUESTIONS


Dear Sir: You asked two very relevant questions: 

1)      ”… should we not be convincing the public of our sincerity? Maybe our efforts are misdirected and not focused on repairing the theses of LeCorbusier and Wright.”  

2) “…The question in my mind is whether our professionalism has been and will continue to be compromised by out sourcing to others?” 

My answer to both questions is yes, and I don't mean to be impertinent. We are all reluctant to part with money if we don’t believe in benefit from the expense. It doesn’t mean that we’re right. It’s a function of perception. If the public is convinced of value, they may even be willing to mandate the service. This depends on the argument. I think you can tell that I don’t believe the argument is adequate at the present time.  

Architecture will continue to be compromised by outsourcing until it convinces the public of its unique ability to provide benefit equal to cost and value. 

I’m sending you my argument to support the claim that architecture will provide public benefit when it expands its point of view and adopts the tools needed to create the knowledge required.  

I sent Mike an older copy of this argument. It has many facets and is part of Chapter 6 in the book I’m working on. I asked him to only use it with attribution. I’m sending you updated text for your review because of your interest, and I also ask that you only use it with attribution.  

I’ve returned to Chapter 6 because of the current AIAKnowledgeNet discussion.

CH 6: <<NAME TO BE REVISED>> 

The lesson from Chapters 3 and 5 was that a generic forecast model can predict development capacity and intensity for any specific activity when an activity module is attached to translate unique characteristics into the common values expected by the master equation in an architectural algorithm.  

PROPOSITIONS 

These algorithm examples were based on the following propositions: 

Scope 

1)      That the planet is not a world without end

2)      That our finite planet is protected by a thin veil of atmosphere at risk

3)      That this planet is a source of life that can be polluted, depleted and consumed

4)      That pollution, depletion and consumption are characteristics of a parasite that lacks a symbiotic relationship with its host.

5)      That we are faced with two worlds on a single planet: the Built Domain and the Natural Domain.

6)      That the Natural Domain is an unstable source of life in an infinite, unstable universe

7)      That the Built Domain includes the Shelter, Movement, Open Space and Life Support Divisions.

8)      That the Built Domain is slowly consuming the Natural Domain with sprawl.

9)      That a sprawling Built Domain includes a Shelter Division that is an aggregation of individual projects.

10)   That shelter capacity is also referred to as development capacity or building capacity in total square feet per acre.

11)   That development capacity introduces various levels of intensity within the Shelter Division of the Built Domain.

12)   That development capacity and intensity measurement, evaluation and prediction will allow us to evaluate our ability to shelter growing populations within a geographically limited Built Domain while protecting their quality of life.

13)   That the ability to measure and evaluate shelter capacity and intensity can produce knowledge to defend design decisions in a scientific language. 

Architecture  

1)      That architecture defines a strategy to achieve an owner goal. This goal, when constructed, becomes part of the Shelter Division of the Built Domain. (This strategy is called “design” by architects and involves the correlation of work by many allied professions to produce a contract for bidding and construction of a shelter project. The project is a prototype designed to suit the unique requirements of the owner.)

2)      That the majority of shelter projects are not currently defined by architects.

3)      That architecture includes the context, composition, form, function and appearance of a shelter project strategy.

4)      That shelter projects aggregate to form the Shelter Division of the Built Domain.

5)      That the Shelter Division must accommodate growing populations within geographic limits to protect their source of life

6)      That the shelter capacity of a limited Built Domain is equal to the capacity of its constituent parts

7)      That shelter capacity alternatives emerge from architectural design decisions to produce intensity options.

8)      That a new ability to measure, evaluate, and forecast development capacity and intensity is based on architectural algorithms.

9)      That architectural language can be used to evaluate development capacity and intensity decisions.

10)   That the ability to measure and evaluate development capacity and intensity will produce knowledge

11)   That invisible development capacity and intensity design decisions create a foundation for the context, composition, form, function and appearance of architectural solutions.

12)   That architectural form, function and appearance must blossom from symbiotic policies and solutions.

13)   That the physical appearance, social activity and economic stability of a Built Domain will reflect the city design policies and shelter projects created.

14)   That these policies and projects are needed to achieve the third leg in the holy trinity of city planning (The original term was “welfare”. Unfortunately, the term has become political. The term “quality of life” seems to have become a replacement.) 

Architectural Imperative 

An architectural strategy must combine with a planning strategy to achieve economic stability and an improved quality of life within a limited Built Domain. Nothing less than shelter and survival is at stake. 

Observations 

1)      We can solve climate change and still consume the planet with growth called “sprawl”.

2)      Economic growth is currently symbolized by physical sprawl sheltering social and economic conflict.

3)      Improved knowledge can help us learn to shelter the activities of growing populations within geographic limits that protect:

a.      Their source of life from extinction,

b.      Their quality of life from excessive intensity, and

c.       Their economic life from misallocation of land use activity that produces financial instability

4)      Design matters because we must learn to live within geographic limits and function symbiotically. (Form and appearance must eventually follow symbiotic function. This is the message of hope from Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. It is a level of awareness that can lead to a Symbiotic Period of collaborative effort.
5)      The Symbiotic Period will be symbolized by the compostion, context, capacity, intensity, function, form and appearance of city design divisions within a limited Built Domain.

City Planning Goals

  • To protect our source of life by geographically defining the Built and Natural Domains.
  • To coordinate the land use allocation of shelter capacity and intensity; movement corridors; open space; and life support systems within a limited Built Doman that protects our source of life; our quality of life; and the financial stability of our shared municipal organizations.

City Design Goal

To shelter growing populations within a limited built Domain tht protects their quality and source of life - the Natural Domain.

Architectural Goals

  • To coordinate land use allocation with shelter capacity, ntensity and economic benefit at the project level, since the aggregation will determine our quality of life within a limited Built Domain.
  • To improve the design of shelter context, composition, capacity, intensity and symbiotic function within a geographically limited Built Domain.
  • To improve the tools, knowledge and concepts needed to achieve the preceding goals.
  • To expand private practice into the public domain and workplace by offering the ability to improve public benefit

Common Collaborative Goal

To build a network (of professional organizations) to achieve the preceding goals through research, collaboration, education and practice.

In This Book
 
You will learn how to measure, evaluate and forecast development capacity and intensity for six architectural design categories with a credible scientific language. These categories encompass the generic spectrum of available shelter options within the Built Domain.
 
The Implications
 
The appearance of planning, city design, urban design and architectural project goals will be judged by many related professions. The physical, social and economic success of these efforts will be evaluated by the population. If successful, the results will symbolize a new period of symbiotic awareness in our attempts to protect the public health, safety and welfare.



Follow-Up
Thank you for your kind response. I omitted much from Chapter 6 and hope you will find that this work should be required reading for architects as well as city planners, geographers, landscape architects, real estate developers and so on. Architects must bridge the gap to public benefit with a common language capable of building credible knowledge. The architectural archives of all architects represent a treasure trove of information that must be translated and evaluated before it can be applied by architectural practitioners. I am 71 years old and was once a member of the AIA, AICP and NCARB. I agree with everything you say from a lifetime of experience and commitment. My work on the architectural algorithms for this book is done. I just have to explain it and this is taking a great deal of time.

Your third paragraph is something I wish I had written. The greatest unrecognized lesson learned in architecture is correlation. This is leadership, but leadership needs a goal worthy of the effort. Architects are leaders that have limited objectives. Think of it in military terms and it becomes easier to understand. In WWII the goal was set by Roosevelt and Congress. The strategy was created by Marshall, Eisenhower and central command. The objectives were achieved by field commanders. In architecture the policy goal is missing and there is no central command strategy that will convince the population of public benefit, in my opinion. This leaves field commanders (architects) defining strategies to achieve limited objectives with no policy goal and strategy. It is like Patton roaming Europe with no direction.

You said, "My concern is that we are too timid to stand up for what is right and correct. Also, that by abdicating our leadership role we give the creativity which is part of our professionalism to others LESS talented." There are two important points here and I’ll take them in reverse order.

An architectural education improves the ability to reason. The claim that architects have more talent does not sell on Main Street. Talent is applied to reason to create form and appearance. Architects have not focused on their ability to reason nor sold it to the general public because their language is inadequate and they ignore programming as the starting point for architectural reason. Their explanation of solutions is weak as a result and this weakens their competitive position in the marketplace. Their strength will come from a universal goal, a universal strategy, and a language that does not depend on emotion when addressing the public.

What is “right and correct” is a political issue that defines the nature of a culture. Religion often has a modified version and the two reflect the conflicted nature of man.

Regarding timidity, architects have a very limited marketplace of work opportunities and a negative reference can have a very damaging impact. They work at the pleasure of partners as draftsmen and women after graduating from years of education. (Call it an “apprenticeship” or an associate AIA member if you like, but graduation from college as an apprentice is an abuse of the intelligence and ability they bring to the table.) Their opportunity to become a partner is extremely limited and partially a function of a very uncertain economy. It is no wonder they are timid. These are very real problems that need to be addressed by the format of professional education and practice.

I like your terms “inward knowledge” and “excitement of discovery”. I also agree with your municipal government frustration having once been a local Director of Development and a Deputy Director of the Ohio Department of Transportation. Inward knowledge requires a public explanation with an adequate language. This is what my book is about. Excitement of discovery is why we remain committed to the world of architecture, and it requires a combination of reason and appearance that has not been explained with an adequate language.

I’ve gone on long enough, but you raise questions that are at the heart of the need to “reposition” architecture as one of many armies needed to shelter growing populations within a limited Built Domain that protects their quality and source of life – the Natural Domain. Reason will lead to success. Talent will symbolize success. The secret is a new level of awareness, knowledge and language that can overcome timidity, entrenched interest, and lack of interest.

 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Value-added Architecture

This is a continuation of the "Reconsidering Architecture" discussion posted on the AIAKnowledgeNet.It has been updated for this site on 1/18/2015 at approximately 3:10PM.
 
Mr. Ytterberg’s comments have given me pause since he is a professor of architecture and urban history, theory and design at the University of Pennsylvania. As such his comments are influential and they’ve stayed with me.

He makes two points that I didn’t address in my first response:

1)      That architecture is a “value-added” profession.

2)      That: “There are many designers of the environment – that is not the privileged realm of the architect.”

These comments are stunning because I believe architecture is a strategy to achieve a goal. I believe the unrecognized goal is to shelter growing populations within a limited Built Domain that protects their quality and source of life. This means that architecture has fundamental value that is not recognized. 

Shelter is essential to survival but can sprawl to consume its source of life. Sprawl grows one project at a time. A project is the realm of an architect. The goal is the realm of the organization. I believe the goal I’ve mentioned is essential to the public interest because we can’t survive without shelter, but it has an impact on the environment and our source of life. For instance, we could solve climate change and still consume the planet with sprawl.

The tools, concepts and knowledge required to address the goal I’ve mentioned can place architecture in a leadership position that requires its correlation skills, if it accepts the challenge. In other words, repositioning begins with an examination of the organizational goal in my opinion. We need shelter to survive and we cannot survive without symbiotic solutions. A foolish parasite consumes its host. Other parasites evolve to establish symbiotic relationships.

At the present time architectural goals are primarily dictated by special interest. Strategy is based on intuition and anticipation that is always influenced by emotion, but depends on intelligence and knowledge. Knowledge is accumulated from research referred to as intelligence by the military. As knowledge increases, strategy improves but contribution depends on the scope of the goal. As long as the architectural goal is limited to special interest, the population will consider the benefit marginal. Professional requests to introduce a public mandate for architectural leadership will be considered self-serving.

If architectural education is focused on bringing emotion and appearance to the need for shelter, then I believe full disclosure is long overdue; because the name of the education is entirely misleading.

The fact that architecture is not considered part of environmental design is another stunner. The “privileged realm of the architect” indicates a disconnection with the public interest.

It appears that the definition of architecture deserves further consideration as a first step in the effort to reposition the profession. Vitruvius offered a definition of excellent architecture to Augustus that was outdated long ago, but he avoided the definition of architecture. If you say that architecture is shelter designed by an architect the public may agree, but this will not improve their respect for the effort. This will require a sustainable, environmental focus; not justification based on value-added emotion, appearance and privilege. This is a contention that appears “out of touch with the mainstream of society”. I’ve borrowed this phrase from Mr. Ytterberg’s criticism of the current re-positioning discussion.

Previous Response to Mr. Ytterberg

Naiveté has gotten us to this point. A building is always a structure but a structure is not always a building. All buildings are shelter. It is naive to claim that shelter is not architecture unless it passes a litmus test of emotion and appearance. This argument says to me that only design award winners are architecture and only the work of practitioners is an issue. I think many architects will disagree.

This argument seems to miss the point. It is not just the work of practitioners that should be debated and classified as architecture or non-architecture. The support they all receive to improve their value and credibility to the community should also be discussed. To limit the discussion distracts attention from the leadership they need. I realize this is a heretical argument, but architecture by your definition is an artistic religion. Its tenets should be re-examined. The acolytes deserve more than an emphasis on emotion.

You can stifle my voice by preventing me from submitting blogs. This has already occurred since I'm not an AIA member. You may also ban me entirely, but this will not solve the re-positioning many intuitively realize is required. You may call it naive. I call it anticipation that will be refined. This is the true nature of design and the decisions required to create a strategy.

Mr. Ytterberg’s Comments

This entire discussion seems hopelessly naïve, a prime example of why architects seem to be so out of touch with the mainstream of society. Unless mandated by law, architects are a value added. Hence in most cases an architect's services are outside of the financial calculation most people make when a building is required. Do not all of us make that same calculation every day?

One needs to ask why there are two words in most languages to describe the structures we make, building and architecture. Though you may not find this in the dictionary, architecture is clearly building with something added. Pevsner famously tried to distinguish between the cathedral and a shed, but that overstates the cultural distinction that separates a work of architecture from a work of building. Society values the cultural component highly when that component is needed/wanted. That is the reason there are so many popular shelter magazines. Every object we touch in our lives is infused with meaning, and people are very willing to spend their hard earned cash on things that they find meaningful to their lives. Architects frequently find themselves in the position of denying the meaning of architecture in order to sell their desired approach as rational and beyond the realm of emotional decision making. But to take a technocratic approach and try to reduce architecture to a variety of engineering is misguided. There are many designers of the environment - that is not the privileged realm of the architect.

-------------------------------------------
Michael Ytterberg AIA
Principal
BLT Architects
Philadelphia PA 

Original Submission to an AIAKnowledgeNet Discussion. Re-titled “Reconsidering Architecture”

The goal of medicine and law has been to improve the tools and knowledge used by its practitioners to protect the public interest. Architecture is perceived as serving private interest. It prepares a strategy to achieve an owner goal. Before you object, think about the struggle to accept building and zoning codes that protect the public interest. They have often been considered restrictions on creativity. Architecture needs a public goal before it can step into the same arena with medicine and law. A brief review of the architectural process will help set the stage for my repositioning comments.

PROCESS

An architect defines an owner goal with a programming effort, or asks the owner to provide a program of requirements. A strategy to achieve the goal is defined through a design and production effort. The result is a set of construction documents. They define a product that is a prototype. Bidding of contract documents produces an agreement to achieve a vast number of specified objectives with one or more contractors. These contractors are field commanders.

When a command strategy hits the beach in this military analogy adjustments are required to compensate for imperfect anticipation. The same is true for any prototype. In these circumstances a prototype strategy that hits the beach requires an adjustment budget. Every untested strategy requires adjustment. In automobile manufacturing this adjustment occurs before production at considerable expense. In architecture this adjustment occurs during production at minimal expense often referred to as a contingency budget.

Architecture is a prototype that serves a limited special interest. Its public benefit has been mandated but not embraced. An emphasis on public benefit will equate architecture to medicine and law, but this will require additional levels of awareness and expanded goals.

GOALS and OBJECTIVES

An architectural prototype is the responsibility of a practitioner, like a doctor’s responsibility to treat a patient. It is only an organizational responsibility when support to the entire profession is considered. This responsibility is to improve the tools, knowledge and concepts placed in the hands of a practitioner to improve the public benefit provided. I believe this distinction is at the heart of an architectural repositioning discussion. The question to be debated, in my opinion, is one of organizational goals and practitioner goals. I’d like to suggest five levels of awareness and four organizational goals that would involve repositioning.

Awareness

1)      To recognize the presence of two worlds on a single planet: the Built Domain and the Natural Domain.

2)      To recognize that the Natural Domain is an unstable source of life in an infinite, unstable universe.

3)      To recognize that the Built Domain is slowly consuming the Natural Domain with design decisions that produce sprawl.

4)      To recognize that sprawl contains shelter capacity and intensity that is an aggregation of individual project design.

5)      To recognize that shelter capacity and intensity are physical conditions that require new measurement systems to assist and defend design decisions.

6)      To recognize that design matters because we must learn to live within geographic limits and function symbiotically. Form and appearance must follow symbiotic function. This is the message of hope from Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. It is a level of awareness that can lead to a Symbiotic Period. The period will be symbolized by its composition, context, capacity, intensity, function, form and appearance.

Goals

1)      To improve the design of shelter context, composition, capacity, intensity and symbiotic function for growing populations within a geographically limited Built Domain in order to protect their quality and source of life – the Natural Domain. Form and appearance will flower from the policies established.

2)      To improve the tools, knowledge and concepts needed to achieve the preceding goal.

3)      To expand private practice into the public domain and workplace by offering public benefit.
4)   To build a network (of professional organizations) to achieve the preceding goals through research, collaboration, education and practice. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

RECONSIDERING ARCHITECTURE


PLEASE SEE MY LATEST BOOK, The Science of City Design: Architectural Algorithms for City Planning and Design Leadership. The book offers a universal language to correlate the work of many isolated disciplines concerned with one issue: The provision of shelter for the activities of growing populations within a limited Built Domain that protects their quality and source of life - The Natural Domain. It is available from Amazon.com in both e-book and paperback.

I wrote this in response to an AIAKnowledgeNet discussion on repositioning the profession. It has been revised several times since this submission. The latest update has occurred around 9:05 AM on 1/16/2015. See Follow-up "Value-added Architecture".


The goal of medicine and law has been to improve the tools and knowledge used by its practitioners to protect the public interest. Architecture is perceived as serving private interest. It prepares a strategy to achieve an owner goal. Before you object, think about the struggle to accept building and zoning codes that protect the public interest. They have often been considered restrictions on creativity. Architecture needs a public goal before it can step into the same arena with medicine and law. A brief review of the architectural process will help set the stage for my repositioning comments.

PROCESS

An architect defines an owner goal with a programming effort, or asks the owner to provide a program of requirements. A strategy to achieve the goal is defined through a design and production effort. The result is a set of construction documents. They define a product that is a prototype. Bidding of contract documents produces an agreement to achieve a vast number of specified objectives with one or more contractors. These contractors are field commanders.

When a command strategy hits the beach in this military analogy adjustments are required to compensate for imperfect anticipation. The same is true for any prototype. In these circumstances a prototype strategy that hits the beach requires an adjustment budget. Every untested strategy requires adjustment. In automobile manufacturing this adjustment occurs before production at considerable expense. In architecture this adjustment occurs during production at minimal expense often referred to as a contingency budget.

Architecture is a prototype that serves a limited special interest. Its public benefit has been mandated but not embraced. An emphasis on public benefit will equate architecture to medicine and law, but this will require additional levels of awareness and expanded goals.

GOALS and OBJECTIVES

An architectural prototype is the responsibility of a practitioner, like a doctor’s responsibility to treat a patient. It is only an organizational responsibility when support to the entire profession is considered. This responsibility is to improve the tools, knowledge and concepts placed in the hands of a practitioner to improve the public benefit provided. I believe this distinction is at the heart of an architectural repositioning discussion. The question to be debated, in my opinion, is one of organizational goals and practitioner goals. I’d like to suggest five levels of awareness and four organizational goals that would involve repositioning.

Awareness

1)      To recognize the presence of two worlds on a single planet: the Built Domain and the Natural Domain.

2)      To recognize that the Natural Domain is an unstable source of life in an infinite, unstable universe.

3)      To recognize that the Built Domain is slowly consuming the Natural Domain with design decisions that produce sprawl.

4)      To recognize that sprawl contains shelter capacity and intensity that is an aggregation of individual project design.

5)      To recognize that shelter capacity and intensity are physical conditions that require new measurement systems to assist and defend design decisions.

6)      To recognize that design matters because we must learn to live within geographic limits and function symbiotically. Form and appearance must follow symbiotic function. This is the message of hope from Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. It is a level of awareness that can lead to a Symbiotic Period. The period will be symbolized by its composition, context, capacity, intensity, function, form and appearance.

Goals
1)      To improve the design of shelter context, composition, capacity, intensity and symbiotic function for growing populations within a geographically limited Built Domain in order to protect their quality and source of life – the Natural Domain. The form and appearance of shelter will flower from the policies established.

2)      To improve the tools, knowledge and concepts needed to achieve the preceding goal.

3)      To expand private practice into the public domain and workplace by offering public benefit.

4)      To build a network (of professional organizations) to achieve the preceding goals through research, collaboration, education and practice.