Lecture date: 2011-11-01
Green roofs, artificial mountains and geological forms; buildings you walk on or over; networks of ramps and warped surfaces; buildings that carve into the ground or landscapes lifted high into the air: all these are commonplace in architecture today. New technologies, new design techniques and a demand for enhanced environmental performance have provoked a rethinking of architecture’s traditional relationship to the ground. Some of today’s most innovative buildings no longer occupy a given site but instead, construct the site itself.
Landform Building examines the many manifestations of landscape and ecology in contemporary architectural practice: not as a cross-disciplinary phenomenon (architects working in the landscape) but as new design techniques, new formal strategies and technical problems within architecture.
Stan Allen is an architect working in New York and dean of the School of Architecture at Princeton University. He holds degrees from Brown University, The Cooper Union and Princeton. He has taught at Harvard, Columbia and Princeton, and his architectural firm SAA/Stan Allen Architect has realised buildings and urban projects in the US, South America and Asia. Responding to the complexity of the modern city in creative ways, Stan Allen has developed an extensive catalogue of innovative design strategies, in particular looking at field theory, landscape architecture and ecology as models to revitalise the practices of urban design. In 2008 he received a P/A Award for the Taichung Gateway Park and a Faith and Form Award for the CCV Chapel; in 2009 he received a P/A Award for the Yan-Ping Waterfront in Taipei, an AIA Award for the CCV Chapel, the John Q Hejduk Award, and an Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; in 2010, his building for Paju Book City in Korea received an AIA Award. In 2011, the Taichung InfoBox was recognised with a P/A Award, and AIA Awards from New York City, New York state and the Tri-State Region. In addition to numerous articles and project reviews, his architectural work is published in Points + Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the City, (Princeton Architectural Press 2001) and his essays in Practice: Architecture, Technique and Representation (Routledge, 2008). His most recent book is the edited volume Landform Building: Architecture’s New Terrain, Published by Lars Müller in 2011.
Lecture date: 2009-01-27
The emergence of landscape urbanism, along with the development of the protocols of digital design, must be counted one of the most significant developments in the field in the past decades. In the past ten years, a fully fledged sub-discipline has appeared. A catalogue of practitioners and projects exists, academic programmes have been developed, and an extensive theoretical literature is now available. To move forward from this strategic juncture, it is worthwhile to take stock of both the accomplishments and the limitations of the landscape urbanism approach, and to propose alternatives that complement and extend its potentials.
Stan Allen is an architect practising in New York and Dean of the School of Architecture Princeton University. His projects have been published in Points and Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the City and his essays in Practice: Architecture, Technique and Representation.
NB: Slight audio problems during introduction.
Stan Allen, Dean of Princeton University School of Architecture and Principal of SAA/Stan Allen Architect, in conversation with Preston Scott Cohen, Chair of the Department of Architecture at Harvard GSD and Principal of Preston Scott Cohen Inc.
The CCA presents its second Toolkit for Today, a two-week summer seminar for PhD candidates and Master students from around the world. This year’s seminar is conceived as an important component of the research launched by the CCA on the processes and practices related to digital media in architecture.
Guest speakers included Stan Allen, Greg Lynn, Reinhold Martin, Kas Oosterhuis, Antoine Picon, Hani Rashid, Molly Wright Steenson, Peter Testa, and Bernard Tschumi.
To learn more, visit https://www.cca.qc.ca/en/events/58784/toolkit-for-today-archaeology-of-the-digital
As part of a special lecture for graduate students currently preparing their thesis proposals, Stan Allen discusses five canonical figures—Robert Venturi, Peter Eisenman, Aldo Rossi, Toyo Ito, Rem Koolhaas—in terms of their transition from academia to independent careers. He notes commonalities—pursuing both writing and design as parallel tracks, sensitivity to how their work was photographed, defining colleagues and predecessors—but stresses how they differ in detail, demonstrating that there is no single formula.
Stan Allen frames his lecture as a reappraisal of what was valuable about Landscape Urbanism, and its potential deficiencies. Allen considers the working variables in Landscape Urbanism with an attention to process and change. Through the presentation of several projects he shows how these variables informed his urban designs. These projects include the Taichung Gateway, the Yan-Ping Waterfront, and Gwanggyo Lakeside Park. He follows his discussion on Landscape Urbanism with a shift to smaller scale architectural projects including the Sagaponac House, Salim Publishing House, and Chosen Children Village Chapel.
SCI-Arc students Connor Covey, James Kubiniec, Sasha Tillmann, and Nithya Subramaniam present drafts of their in-process graduate thesis proposals. Stan Allen, Florencia Pita, Marcelyn Gow, and Todd Gannon critique the proposals. Allen advises the students to refine their proposals in reference to the CATTt schema devised by Gregory L. Ulmer in Heuretics: The Logic of Invention:
• C = Contrast (opposition, inversion, differentiation)
• A = Analogy (figuration, displacement)
• T = Theory (repetition, literalization)
• T = Target (application, purpose)
• t = Tale (secondary elaboration, representability) But also Tail (applicability in the world)
He also offers Jeffrey Kipnis’s three goals:
• Convince that the problem belongs to the discipline
• Identify the vulnerable cliché
• Devise a viable counter-proposal
Todd Gannon reminds Allen that CATTt has been used for thesis prep for so long that it’s been retired. He suggests that, in general, rather than pursuing maximum clarity, it would be more productive to pursue incongruity and ambiguity.
Allen cautions against the temptation to try to describe and theorize a sensibility.
Commenting on specific projects, the panel suggests a variety of lines of investigation to pursue, from
Thomas Pynchon’s 1997 novel Mason & Dixon, Gerald E. Frug and Eyal Weizman on borders, Fredrick Barthelme’s “On being wrong”, and serious shop talk rather than theory texts as a model for formulating an argument.
After an introduction by Michael Speaks, Stan Allen discusses the driving concepts behind his recent publication Points and Lines. These points and lines together describe systems and networks that contain intermediate zones and interstitial spaces that are just as important as the network itself. He presents field conditions, infrastructural urbanism, and contextual tactics as the three major issues in his work. He is also interested in the language of detailing and construction that is self evident. He is interested in a tactical notion of the field as exemplified by post-minimalist art, as opposed to the serial repetition of minimalist art. He discusses his National Diet Library in Kansai, the Logistical Activity Zone for the port of Barcelona, an extension of the Museo del Prado in Madrid, renovation and addition to a house by Marcel Breuer and other houses.
Allen’s interest lies in a tactical notion of the field as seen in examples of modern art. Infrastructural urbanism is a way of dealing with all of the networks and systems that enable a building to exist rather than simply looking at the building itself. Contextual tactics also try to go beyond montages and collages, looking for more interesting and sophisticated ways to create difference within the new field of the modern city.