the Urban Work Landscape
to commpliment my presentation
mind-map of this presentation
at SFIA October 16, 2003
links to annotations - indicated by , , etc. in text
links to ReBuilding the Future 500 books indicated as: [rbtfBook]
opportunity exists to rethink and re-make the
work habitat. In particular, how we work in the urban
This is long overdue, however, there
are several merging trends  that
can build to a step function of sufficient direction
and force capable of generating the energy necessary
to shift the mind-set  that
dominates workspace design today and overcome the
that exists. Step functions are matters of timing
- it is only if these trends come together in certain
ways that real progress can be accomplished. In addition,
good fortune comes to those who act appropriately
in these moments of
opportunity. How this can be done is the focus of
this talk and subsequent
article - and its many links.
is required. Although many positive trends  in
architecture have unfolded in the last 20 years,
old habits still prevail.
It will take a focused effort to launch a significant
present default mode which leads to the
compromise - and if it were to continue unchecked
- the destruction of both the human and
the planet as we know it .
At the present rate, the entire
planet will be a human artifact within the next 25
There is most likely no alternative to this .
The legitimate alternatives are in the realm of what
artifact we will make. In this we must choose wisely.
effort to which I refer will require that we re-think
what architecture is, how we practice it, and how
humans both conceive of their planet  and
collaborate with Gaia [link]
co-evolution. The model of real estate development
has to be re-thought
how we measure progress, reconsidered .
Unchanged, present approaches - even the “good” ones
- lead to a single, predictable
the root, this is not a problem of architecture in
the simple technical sense - and certainly not in
the sense that architecture has been traditionally
(a definition [link] and
scope we should challenge). Our buildings result
from our generic makeup and our social habits and
they, in turn,
these habits .
Our habits reflect our philosophy of life, our sense
and our concept of work. The quality we
bring to our building reflects the quality we bring
lives. Architecture is built philosophy - it is outer
development. It cannot be anything but honest.
A building is the inevitable result of thousands
minute value judgments, each small, all adding up
to an almost unstoppable circumstance 
circumstance can be positive - or negative. When
negative it is kept in place by the creed of utilitarianism
in the disguise of “being practical.” It
is argued, at each incremental step alone the way
to making a building, that this
or that is or is not practical, affordable, doable.
This misguided application of pragmatism  adds
up to a result that few like, that no one controls
work by any standard - in the end, the accumulative
built environment is heading for disaster. This
is why a new architecture requires
of working; a new way of building; a new way of financing;
a new way of insuring; a new way of organizing the
effort. A new system has to be put in place
The existing process is failing .
the day-today effort to get the work done - to get
things built, it is not easy to
perform the task successfully and change
the whole way of working that drives how
the profession and industry functions in its entirety.
This takes extraordinary effort, some measure of
extra risk and an intimate knowledge of
the many tasks that span the entire process of making
people to live and work .
By combining certain aspect of SFIA, as a school,
with SFIA-Master Builders,
as a practice, we are seeking the integration
and critical mass necessary to implement, at significant
scale, new, effective architectural process models .
this dual task has been my work for over 46 years.
There are few jobs in the entire process of developing,
designing, building and using environments that I
have not performed [link].
The perspective I have gained from this experience
makes the task-at-hand
different to me than to the majority who work in
some facet of these now separate fields.
Naturally, upon hearing my point of view on these
this majority usually assumes that I don’t
know what I am talking about. What I am saying runs
contrary to their experience with their piece of
it. Architecture - as a totality - has not been addressed
in context of our modern situation which is the creation
or possible destruction of an entire planet . All architecture
is now planetary architecture.
means the layers of context surrounding a single
architectural project and understanding their direct
effect on its formulation has to be greatly expanded.
are global as well as local consequences in each
building effort. Infrastructure has to be considered
as architecture .
Armature [link] understood
and employed at several levels of recursion from
elements inside a single building, to city-scale
and infrastructure scales .
Architecture must connect physically from part to
whole and it
metaphysically, fact-ness, symbol, social context
and idea [link]. This is what it means to practice organic
today’s social, economic, physical environment.
In the immediate time ahead, to only produce beautiful,
isolated works of architecture for individual clients,
while worthy and not easy, is not sufficient .
It is to deny the basic challenge of our times. It
is to fiddle while
the world burns .
urban environment resides at the very middle of
this task of planetary co-evolution. It forges the
greatest experience of living
that the great majority, in the developed and developing
world, can claim .
While being center to this time and place, the definition
of urban, itself, is changing.
As I think of
today, I include in this definition,
the traditional and modern city and what we used
to call suburbia .
Their previous distinctions are fading
their similarities and their scope of impact on humans,
animals and planet .
are three aspects of the task of creating affordable,
sustainable urban work environments that I will
address here: first, just what is the standard we
should be achieving; second, how can we go about
it; third, what changes have to be
made for this to happen? As always, I will do this
indirectly by weaving in and out of these themes;
as always, it is not what I have to say that is the
subject - it is what you choose to do with
these ideas that matters. Your thinking
is my address, my words are meant to be the stimulus
to that thinking .
conjunction with these three questions, I will profile
the four projects
and show how they are - in substance and in method
- addressing the issues I am raising. I will
follow up with a criticism of currant practices
and work. In doing so I will employ the four steps
of criticism [link].
Then, I will address certain aspects of the urban
landscape itself and its place in our future history
Last, the practice of SFIA Architects-Master Builders,
its relationship to the school and students. Altogether,
these are a number of broad subjects each in themselves
worthy of several hours discourse. It is how they
reference one another, however, that is my purpose
to explore herein. It
is the philosophy-in-action that is my focus
and the prospect of successfully dealing with these
that is at the core of what I wish to convey.
You can think of this as a celebration, as a start,
an invitation and a call to arms .
In the next generation, many of the choices I am
pointing to will be decided
- one way or another. We face choices, the nature
of which, we will never face again - at least, not
on this planet.
is a general set of issues that must
be considered in the production of authentic architecture
I have outlined them elsewhere [link].
The matrix I describe in my Architectural
Practice course forms an important context for
this presentation/writing; it provides a
for architecture can be created and applied. Included
in this is Alexander’s Pattern Language [link]
is central to every discussion of architecture and
represents a thought process to be applied to every
project. Even a brief overview of
that modern buildings fail to consider, let alone
the vast majority of standards necessary to
serve essential human requirements. The
excuses are usually those of costs, complications,
or people don’t
know or care and so on. In most cases, cost is not
an issue, better processes can cure complications
and people do care
they are presented with genuine alternatives - which
they rarely are. Whatever the excuses, a vast amount
of growing research confirms what in fact we have
known by direct experience for centuries regarding
the appropriate [link] human
To ignore this knowledge is a betrayal; it is to
place people in jails different only in
their amenities from the “real” thing;
it is to risk everything for short term commercial
gain. It is
that is deadly in its implications and consequence.
This is not the time for such waste; this is the
time for Cathedral Builders [link] to
reemerge  [rbtfBook].
is not surprising that so few develop a refined
sensitivity to the built environment  when
you look at what they grew up in, went to school
in, and subsequently,
end up working in [link].
The very act of traveling to work can be overwhelming
in its noise, confusion, distraction and dirt .
There are many great single works of architecture
architecture, track homes and institutional buildings
that promote and provide few human qualities .
The mediocre, mundane and common have become accepted
as the normal.
The art stands as an exception for a few
and outside the experience of the many - an almost
presence in our society .
What should be architecture has become an expediency
of money seeking - a commodity
in the shabbiest sense of the word .
The politics of water, power, land “development,” regulation,
road building, public transportation and the destruction
of habitat prevail 
American urban experience is composed of dirty sidewalks,
clogged traffic, the parking lot and the early morning
Noise [link] is
ubiquitous in our public spaces and airports which,
although representing some
better urban works, proudly announce the millions
impressions to be found there-in .
The human is reduced to being an economic animal
perverting, not only each individual and family,
but the very notions of economy and enterprise [link].
What happened to the commons ?
Even in the privacy of one’s own space and
computer each of us is beset with gross sensation,
demands - a virtual version of the Roman circus ;
a precursor to downfall .
are the predominate elements that make the human
urban environment (that which surrounds the external
circumstances of an organism) threatening to
eradicate the many amenities to be found in the urban
the commerce, social intercourse; the libraries,
schools, libraries, shops, offices, studios, museums,
sidewalk cafes, theatres, parks, lofts, work places,
true dialog and cats) and built history - the city
is being relentlessly dehumanized
that will eat whatever life and grandeur remains
attempt architecture without valid criteria is to
work blind; it is to build without purpose
or effective system. However, meeting criteria
alone, in the mechanical sense, will not produce
architecture. It is such attempts at over
rationalization - and to teach it that way - that
killed modern architecture and lead us to the intellectual
morass of post-everything that
we enjoy today .
Architecture - organic architecture - emanates
from the soul. It is fact-based, visceral, real -
not a visual art. It is reason and passion
combined into something that neither can be create
It results only from rigorous processes in context
of a long term deliberate practice. It resolves
the soul-body dichotomy. It is beautiful music one
can see, touch and move through. It is the sound
track of a self-aware, purposeful life. It is built
Aspects: Standards, Achieving It, Change
standards - a vision - there is no possibility
of genuine feedback [link] and
therefore small possibility for learning and correction.
If we do not organize and act to achieve
our vision, then philosophy becomes meaningless.
of all change
in ourselves else all attempts are doomed.
It is not “society” that needs changing,
it is ourselves - one person at a time - one design/build
a time - one practice at a time, one project at a
This, then, is a quest [link].
It is a quest like no other and one that has not
been undertaken in modern times. In the past,
the creation of a city, as a whole, was undertaken
times with notable results  [rbtfBook];
we have to undertake the creation of a planetary
artifact which is its proper expression and foundation
If we try this in a control-oriented, linear, technocratic
way - we will fail; the complexity is too great .
If we leave the status-quo in place, and continue
to drift in our miss-application of free enterprise
being small freedom nor enterprise in State Capitalism)
we will simply destroy much of the life on this planet
There is another way. To get to this way we
have to get serious about our principles of governance
stop violating them ;
we must articulate a set of principles that support
all life forms and we have
to stick to them .
We need to create a new political plank [link],
recognize rights globally [link],
and refrain expediency from running wild all over
the world [link] .
the level of the urban landscape and workplace, we
have to decide what is - and is not - human  (including
that potential humanness we are yet to reach) .
We must decide what standards we will seek - and
I am not talking about
minimum building codes .
I am saying we have to take a stand and decide what
we will have. This
means, equally, what we will not have -
not tolerate. Art [link] expresses
an ideal - makes abstractions and future realities
Architectural art makes these aspirations real to
be experienced and lived within. It manifests
what we pay attention to - and don’t .
cities for people or automobiles [rbtfBook]?
Are dirt, trash, noise, advertising and asphalt to
of the urban experience ?
How do we treat our commons?
The answer is the consequence of millions of votes
in the marketplace of ideas and goods. Have
you ever walked New York on a beautiful Spring
San francisco, Amsterdam,
Tokyo? Cities can be wonderful places full of energy,
excitement and opportunity .
Do they have to be incessantly overcrowded, nosy
places that destroy Nature and
distort their surrounding economies  [link]?
I think not. It is a matter of design and, first
what to design .
It is a matter of choice. It is the consequence of
acting from the center that
makes us human not from a distortion of some aspects
of our personality .
the New Workplace
move beyond the demonstration level - a period we
(MGT et, al. )
are nearing the close of - a new system of
work is being prototyped and introduced into the
A way of working (Dogu)  designed
to get at the many factors that impose so much unnecessary
time and cost burdens on both
housing and commercial architecture. It is not so
of talent or desire that causes the death of good
architecture - it is the arcane way by which people
attempt to produce it .
The existing method is flawed. It is its own worst
enemy. No one would design a
process this way from scratch.
the past, we, at MG Taylor, have been able to overcome
these circumstances and built effectively in a limited
venue for a discrete
period of time. The Swimming Pool Story [link] tells
of one such time. We have been able
to produce a number of our own environments within
extraordinary time limits and budget constraints
These examples, however, are too limited to stand
general principle and to make a sufficient example
of a broad-based practice model. The ability to scale is the
In attempting to do so, a design/build team runs
directly into the in-place methods with all their
very things they ultimately spawn: time waste, cost
runs, generally prosaic results with a few bombastic,
self-seeking and self-referential examples thrown
It is the rare office that consistently produces
period of time .
And, of the “good” work that is produced,
almost none of it is affordable and sustainable neither
for most humans nor the Planet which is still being
used as the ultimate trash can .
this crises of method are two other barriers to creating
the new workplace. The first is conceptual the second
is circumstantial. The conceptual barrier
is the definition of what is a successful
workplace [link] - and what elements must be there
to make it up .
The second barrier is architecture’s
prevailing business model which makes formulating
and artistically-economically sustainable practices
virtually impossible .
conceptual barriers to the new workplace are many.
There has been little definition of the requirements for
the successful execution of knowledge-intensive work
What we have are computers thrown at the situation,
onto a pile of archaic
processes from another time .
There is little sense of knowledge-augmentation [link]  and
how the physical environment helps or hinders it
In this regard, the office has changed little in
a hundred years (Look at Wright’s Larkin building,
nearly a 100 years old, repace the phones and typewriters
with computers and what do you see? .
Work as craft  is
not appreciated, it more often follows a miss-applied
model of industrial “production line”
processes. There generally exists poor accommodation
for group-work and the emergence of group-genius.
Group genius [link] is
not just the adding up of individual genius - try
it some time .
The modern work-place still provides space and resources
be done .
It does not recognize the many forms of knowledge
work - the work is stuffed into the
preconceived space - the space does not configure
to the work and
the desires/requirements of the worker .
The modern workplace is a cold place and allows little
virtually no play and, outside of a few prestigious
monuments, no art .
The lighting is terrible - all glare and poor signature
most plants cannot grow here and that should tell
you something .
There is little nature inside -
it is an artificial place
devoid of life, texture, serendipity .
Would you go here to study, to renew, to vacation?
to think. It does have symbols - most of
them arrogant .
It is not healthy, neither in air quality nor light
or in the use of materials - which are often toxic
It offers little prospect and refuge .
Face it, it is
but a much duller place than the real factories
where things are actually made. And, think
of those pejorative terms [link] by
which we critique one another but in fact are describing
our architecture: “Sue has tunnel vision.” “We
have to think outside of the box.” “My
back was against the wall.” Talk about a built metaphor!
Should we not listen better to ourselves ?
is a paradox that in the richest society in known
history we have one of the most anemic models of
We are becoming a nation of pampered wage-slaves
without the excuses of the past .
A great number of people actually think that they
work for no reason
but to secure a living. This is augmented by run-away
consumerism with millions living well beyond their
means further tying them to jobs they would not
go to except to pay off their credit cards .
As a result, fear is prevalent in the workplace and
is unfettered. Where is dignity? where is creativity?
Where is excitement? Where is life? In such circumstances,
good people often do dumb things - and sometimes
bad things .
We have an economic engine that offers unprecedented
wealth and options  -
millions have chosen to squander this wealth and
limit their options [link].
The workplace has lost meaning for most - a tragedy.
Animals, supposedly inferior to us, often exhibit
a far great capacity to live .
utilitarian approach to work is reflected in the
workplace - in its work processes, protocols and
the environment itself .
There is little ceremony or
A still dominate machine-age view chops work processes
into logical parts that deny the whole
and any sense of personal completion for individuals,
team and often companies .
In substitute for participation in the entire process
of making goods, and services,
abstractions, like quarterly numbers and surveys,
are used to as
universal navigators  -
and a questionable means of reward and punishment
The unwanted byproducts of these
work devoid of meaning, wasted lives, are ignored
Novelty rules, not necessarily effective innovation
the focus is hyper, short term and financial in the
meanest sense of the term .
environment reflects this poverty. Space and amenity
is the creature of rank [link] not
It is a space of cheap materials and thin veneers
designed to be torn out and redone each turn
of the lease .
Where people actually work, neither prospect nor
refuge have a place, vertical space
is absent, multistory building are stacks of one
story buildings piled on top of one another until
the numbers add up. If you looked at the personal
work areas you would have to conclude that all do
the same work, share the same interests, believe
the same thing .
The group work areas are not designed to promote
interaction and real group-work.
They are places for formal reporting at best. The
modern amenities are all there: the break room and
so on but reminding of 1950s public housing in their
begrudging style .
The air conditioning is generally noisy alternately
blowing hot and cold at terrific
volumes and carrying who knows what from person to
person - at least in sickness we are democratic .
The lights glare denying any shade and shadow -
no rest for the eyes already stressed by computer
This place is made of of few materials you want to
touch - it is built to clean, not embrace.
The design - if it exists at all - is abstract -
it does not reflect the work or the people doing
it. It has little interest; little variety;
almost no nature. It does not stimulate, intrigue,
facilitate. It is the environment of the domesticated
of place operates both at large scale
and at small scale - at the scale
of the city and the scale of the
We have all been in thousands of
placeless places, placeless buildings,
rooms. We spend half our lives in
the same placeless room - air-conditioned
so that the relationship between
and climate is severed, minimally
day-lit so that time is obliterated,
from sounds of the outdoors (there
could be birds or gun shots - it
doesn’t matter), washed in uniform
light so that the subscale of light
and shadow within the room is washed
away and the color of the light is
cool, so that the particular properties
of different materials mush together.
It has the Pella folding partitions
that subdivide hotel conference rooms
or middle school cafetoriums, made
so that featureless room can adapt
to different uses without being shaped
by any of them. It has an Armstrong
acoustic tile ceiling, featureless
in itself, concealing the tactile
presence of structure and Mechanical
and further muffling the sound. And
it all smells like carpet glue.
Global City Blues
first look, these projects are very different from
one another. At the root, however, they are much
the same and seek
to accomplish the same set of outcomes in both method
and built result.
are all urban in their setting. They are all associated
with an institutional campus. There is both history
and the future to consider as an integral part of
their design - none of these projects are in a location
- as so many are - that
of both. Their individual histories are different
but they are the same in that they each have history.
They all are based on a new way of working. They
all challenge the conventional wisdom associated
with learning and creative work. Each blends traditional
building materials and methods with new innovations.
These projects require close integration between
the structure/space and the Armature/WorkFurniture
system manufactured by AI .
With all four projects, I am seeking a new level
of intimacy between the
user and the building, and as part of this, an enhanced
tactile presence: texture, sound, smell - in this
sense, the environments are more “residential” than
typically commercial .
is different about these projects is equally interesting.
They range from five to seven thousand square feet
(Cincinnati and VCH) to 25,000 (Cleveland) to over
135,000 square feet (SDC). Two (Cincinnati and Cleveland)
house an organization’s learning group and a NavCenter;
One is the executive offices for a new hospital (VCH)
and one a multi-functional college environment of
which the dedicated collaborative spaces and NavCenter
are a part (SDC). Two (Cleveland and SDC) will have
direct impact on their urban setting. Cincinnati
and VCH “sit back” from their setting and are more
to their campus.
One: Cleveland NavCenter
Cleveland NavCenter is set in a transition area
between several typical urban settings [link].
It sends specific messages to the communities that
make up its surround. As part of a major VA complex,
it represents that organization. As one of the
first new buildings in an area designated for restoration,
it is a chaparral plant for the future. Standing
at the junction of three different urban areas
it has the opportunity to make integrated what
today is disintegrated. Therefore the scale and
of the building is very important to its ultimate
success or failure. At the same time, the building
has its own program to accomplish. This cannot
|link: project description
Two: Cincinnati NavCenter
Cincinnati NavCenter is on a VA Medical Center
Campus that is land-locked leaving the only means
expansion to build on top of an existing structure
It is an unusual setting and its treatment of
space is unique; it the the surrounding landscape
includes overlooking the Cincinnati zoo) that make
the outside walls of this environment. This is
why I have named it PROSPECT.
design is not insensible to the city of Cincinnati,
itself, and its program promoting its
architectural landscape .
It also is designed to be a legitimate statement
in regards how those
who use it relate to their community and their
own organization through the state and nation.
In this context, the building is designed to be
provocative in the positive sense.
glass wall system is three panes on the
exterior with one on the interior forming
a air plenum which
circulates through the walls, floors and
the space. Shades provide necessary sun
screening. The mullions and glass hardware
form a different pattern inside and out
providing dimention to the the wall.
larger image • link for project description
Three: Sojourner Douglass Campus
Sojourner Douglass Campus [link] is
being created by assembling three school houses
to them making - when completed - a new, integrated
environment composed of over 140 years of architecture
Campus will be developed through four Phases the
first of which is now in progress. It is in a marginal
urban setting across the street from Johns Hopkins
University which is the beginning phases of a 22
square block bio-technology expansion .
first thing we had to overcome with this project
was the low bank appraisal. The bank saw the project
as a sunk cost for a small urban private college
for buildings that had had outlived their usefulness
- buildings that could only be used for traditional
school instruction. We had to get them to see the
project differently; to see in it context of the
revitalization of the neighborhood, the expansion
of Johns Hopkins and the re-use of the old school
buildings. We told them to conceive of the project
going a hundred years into the future, through
four phases of development, to see not some old
school rooms but a thriving community NavCenter,
a fine arts center, a conference center and a world
class office building - all integrated to form
a campus of learning and community development
with residency for visiting artists and scholars.
We showed them what the expenditures would be in
the early phases in relationship to the (conservative)
value and that the margin of “equity” would
grow rapidly through each Phase and that the re-use
options protected their investment [link].
The bank promptly more than doubled what they were
to the college. They said that they never met an
architect who understood financial matters and
what a bank needed before - a strange indictment
of the state of architecture.
then had to integrate these disparate pieces -
and add new pieces - to get a campus that has all
these features in a way that can work as a whole
or as separate functions. This produced a campus
layout of overlapping Zones [link].
How the Campus faced the street and community had
to be worked out as the existing buildings were
“fronted” in the wrong and opposite directions.
This lead to creating a
new focal point around a community-focused restaurant
which will work in concert with the Phase III Fine
Center and Conference Center. The building were
made approachable with privacy established by the
created by the placement of functions. Interior
Atriums and semi-protected landscaped court yards
are planned to bring Nature inside during the harsher
moments of winter and summer.
back of the Auditorium faces what is now
the main view into the Campus - it presents
unfinished and desolate disposition.
the back stage, adding the restaurant and
connecting back to the the Convenience Center
creates an unified whole and social invitation.
and masonry materials tie this campus together
while the idiom of each era is preserved and augmented
with a new, lightweight, transparent/translucent
structure that brings forth its own embedded, subtitle
Four: VCH Executive Offices
Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital Executive
Offices [link] are
part of a large new Hospital building which
is, in turn, is part of a Medical Center on the
Vanderbilt University Campus - a major aspect
of the Nashville, Tennessee urban presence.
shells of urban landscape are interrelated. The
innovation with this design is the degree that
landscape is brought into the office environment
- a degree far more real and tactile than a strictly
metaphorical approach realizes.
project reintroduces a number of elements long
missing from the workplace. Places for the community
to gather and work together .
Individual settings, with unique character, for
each worker. Individual
control over prospect and refuge, lighting, sound,
temperature, the configuration of ones own workspace
environment, itself, is a landscape and
the first full realization of my 1990 design [link].
As a metaphor, streets and alleys, markets, parks,
workplaces and places of refuge can be seen in
this layout. However,
this goes beyond metaphor to realization. All the
elements of a Medieval city, in the positive sense,
are here .
This is a high variety environment with no two
aspects - even if modular - repeating
themselves. There is continuity and each
place within this commons is unique.
421 lh 9-19-03 Matt Taylor Notebooks Moleskin
juxtaposition of a
picture from Streets For People and
drawing from my 1990 POD, Armature, Cube
Office System concept lead to the determination
to take the VCH design to the next level
floor is composed of terra cotta tiles (on the
flat lower levels and higher transition zones),
colored rammed earth (at the raised work-POD levels)
and broken tile-bits of mixed colors and textures
ramps, radiuses and raised platforms), forming
a large continuous mosaic of texture and color.
The floor is solid and thick creating a horizontal
of great strength and presence. The rotating turntables
of the PODS are cork creating a resilient and tailored
totality of this space creates and environment
not seen in the workplace since the days
of craft and does so with integrated, sophisticated
multimedia and computer augmentation [link].
from this earth-like base, the wood and plexiglas
work-PODs [link] stand
- connected overhead by Armature trusses (carrying
wiring and lighting)
landscaping. The many kinds of spaces: prospect,
refuge, logistical and for transporting, utility
and work areas (supporting many different work
modes), are made each blending into the other.
provided. The HVAC supplies and air returns run
through the landscaping creating natural breezes
Four Projects Taken Together
different, each based on the same values and philosophy
of architecture, each based on a direct expression
of learning and work, each creating a different
aspect of the urban fabric. Taken together, they
offer a variety of new approaches to how a new
urban landscape can be created. Each will require
a new method of Design/Build/Use(ing) to be realized
at the level of their full potential.
takes on the issue of the urban landscape front-on
as does SDC. They both, concretely, will make up
a part of this landscape and will alter many aspects
of their immediate urban fabric. SDC requires that
a 140 years of buildings form one integrated whole,
while respecting the past of each piece, and done
in a way so that this complex can continue to evolve
for an extended
infill, re-use and mixed-use strategies.
the landscape into the environment creating an
intimate, tactile, space that is both metaphor
issues that these project address are: A buildings
place in time and how a building can evolve ;
adaptive reuse of old structures ;
urban scale and mixed-use in relation to other
healthy materials ,
sustainable energy  use
and non-intrusive HVAC systems ;
human scale and user control of their work environment;
the creation of intensively collaborative work
spaces that also work with private niches and personal
the integration of traditional materials and forms
with modern materials and techniques to return
tactile quality to the workplace ;
the creation of work environments that have prospect
and refuge, shade and shadow and expansive interior
(and where relevant) exterior landscaping as a
natural aspect of the environment not decoration.
All these are important - taken together, they
create an environment that is greatly divergent
from that which has become the norm. The quality of
these workspace is a different kind then
what we have come in our society to accept. This
is architecture built upon a different concept
of the human  and
a different notion of economics .
Four Projects: Addressing Standards, Achieveing
four projects are active and in Design Development.
There is every expectation that they will be built.
They involve interactions with complex institutions,
architects, builders and administrators - including
government. They are, each in their own way, radical
and involve a fair
level of social risk for their clients and the professional
teams assembled to realize them. By their nature,
force a number of controversial issues to
be directly addressed.
style of architectural practice is not confrontational,
however, it does take on problems generally regarded
outside the scope of an individual work. It is a
practice of consilience .
It combines art, economics, ecology, philosophy,
science, psychology, history with the requirements
of individual users and their society. It is based
on the premise that the environment is not neutral
- that it matters; that it makes a difference.
It requires that there be no contradiction between
the interests of the individual and the commons which
we all share with each other and with all other living
things. It is based on the idea that design can
intelligently reconcile what, today, are considered
competing interests. It demands a multi-layered,
multidimensional approach to architecture. It requires
integrity, dedication and a high level of skill.
architecture does not propose - it builds. It does
not argue - it demonstrates. It does not hide - it
incorporates the greater issues of our time into
the actionable opportunities provided by existing
work. It does not promote - it documents. It does
not compete - it collaborates. It is not supported
by privilege - it earns its way by providing measurable
value in the workplace. It is not an architecture
of the past or tomorrow - it responds to each time
and all time. It demands the best of us all and it
builds an expression based on the highest standard
of the human.
of the Status Quo
vast majority that would pass for building and
architecture has been turned into a commodity.
In viewing the common building, this is clear.
That the same has happened in the arena of “art” architecture
is less obvious but still true. In this latter
case, it is often the architect that has been made
in to a commodity and consequently socially “consumed” by
fame, attention and money .
The process of making architecture has become a
nightmare of confusion,
complexity, unnecessary steps and wasted resources.
This in turn - in mainstream work - makes only
the very high-end efforts capable of striving for
greatness. The social baggage that comes with this
kind of “great” work imposes a cost
all its own. One feeds the other in a constantly
upward spiraling exercise in excess. This results
in essentially three “levels” of architecture.
The bottom which is what people with little or
few resource have to settle for .
The vast middle which is singular in its mediocrity .
And, the so called signature pieces which are too
attempts at greatness .
It all adds up to the architecture of mendacity.
In total, as
art, it reflects our society well. In doing so,
it serves us poorly  [rbtfBook].
times of cultural health, it is perhaps sufficient
for the majority of architecture to reflect the
values of the culture. In times
like now, architecture must go beyond this basic
performance; it must strive to present a better
alternative. It must be fine Architecture and it
must show an alternative path to a sustainable
society. It must demonstrate valid alternatives
in life and work. It must facilitate a healthy
response to the overwhelming majority of mundane
buildings and be an answer to the excesses
- of the attempts at “statement.” And,
it must do this with economy and grace, ecological
balance and process integration .
Building a great building may always require attention
but it should not demand extreme social and financial
much of the focus of architects in the present
era is on individual pieces at the expense of the
totality of the urban landscape which is deteriorating
not only ecologically but historically .
This narrow viewpoint and accountability destroys
more than it creates and has reached crises proportion.
New standards of professional behavior and accountability
are called for.
most neglected aspect of modern architecture in
the United States today is the urban landscape.
There is no coherent approach to it’s creation
nor maintenance .
The Tragedy of the Commons prevails .
It is increasingly becoming nonhuman nor is it
do not expect the city to go away. I believe that
Jane Jacobs [link]
right about this and that Mumford’s many
insights  are
And, I do not expect the city to change as much
as some advocate - nor do I think it has to. I
believe that the core, traditional cities have
a great deal to offer and can be made quite livable
with careful attention and a few changes .
It is mindless suburban sprawl I have the most
This has become
blight on the landscape .
Neither fish nor fowl. Not a city, not a village,
not a community, not
a wilderness - not anything.
course, the urban environment does not exist in
a vacuum. It must be considered in the context
of specific bio/economic regions .
I believe it will be these that will be the the
political organizations of the the 21st Century
as the Nation State continues its decline [link].
Ecology, economics and politics will become far
less hostile and integrated in this coming era
Design will migrate from the superficial
to the deeper task of full systems integration
In this environment, many forms of urbanization
will be valid - each contributing something, none
allowed to be stretched beyond all meaning and
possibility of working as is the habit today .
Because of distributed, miniaturized and embedded
and communication technology, people will be able
to live and work where they choose 
functioning in networks of global reach
and self-selected affinity [rbtfBook].
Their choice of city-forms will be based more on
how they want
to live and what variety of density, interaction
and sociability they desire rather than the demands
of earning a living .
From this, new patterns of culture [rbtfBook] will
emerge [rbtfBook] and,
if we are to survive, the habits of human
will fad away [rbtfBook].
have long believed that whole new forms of
mega-structures and city-forms are viable [link].
It is probably a good thing that they have not
been built before now. All the horrors  conjured
up by mega-structure opponents would very likely
have come about in this time of exploitation
we are in and, hopefully, are now quitting.
Of course, taken as a whole, our cities and suburban
areas, today, are mega-structures - just
poorly designed ones .
It seems to me we should recognize the facts and
get on with it. To do so,
successfully, we will have to give up brittle engineering
solutions  and
design organic, responsive, learning, self-repairing
This is possible with today’s
knowledge but not today’s attitude .
Our infrastructure is now reaching the complexity
Nature  it
cannot be approached as simple machines connected
in complex networks .
The successful design algorithms of the future
urban environment will follow “swarming” rules
not the tight rationalist approach of the last
100 years [rbtfBook].
Craft [rbtfBook] and
technology [rbtfBook] will
make up complimentary aspects of the same whole.
the urban landscape is considered as architecture
the failure of most practice models becomes readily
Architectural practices are structured to deal
with pieces - with projects .
They cannot be requisite with the variety inherent
in an urban
landscape and its appropriate setting in a global
context. Practices that can deal with this level
of complexity will be ValueWeb [link] structures.
They will build on a different model of collaboration
than today’s typical practice. The closest
model to this I can think of, in
practices, is the Renzo Piano Workshop  [link].
are several practice models worthy of study. I
will sketch-out some aspects of how Wright ,
Greene and Greene ,
and, of course, Piano .
All of these models worked for their time and place
- and well enough for the individuals involved.
All can work today. However, it is Piano who seems
together the many elements from all of them to
create a practice potentially capable of creating
architecture on the scale required by our present
is introducing a number of new organizations designed
to address many of the issues raised
in this address. These have been in incubation
for a number of years [link] and
have not been discussed publicly until now.
to this is the creation of an architectural practice
associated with the school. There are many reasons
for this. Primary is to create a school of
This requires the entire range of activities from
thought, research, writing, teaching,
designing, building and the ability to do this
on a scale that matters. By school, then, I mean
the term in the sense like Prairie School -
a movement .
There is, however, one significant difference than
past movements. The unfortunate
habit of architecture to divide into combating
polemics is to be avoided .
This will be a school that is for not
against - that is inviting and inclusive.
Nothing less is moral and nothing less
has the chance to scale as it must.
is time for the best architects to stop knocking
each other out of the box by arguing who is the
most virtuous and thus leaving the field to those
who are merely paving over the world.
practice is also formed to bring economic support
to SFIA. There is a tithe from the fees earned
that goes directly to SFIA as revenue. All four
of the projects profiled, as well as the dozen
other projects underway, will contribute directly
to SFIA and create work opportunities for SFIA
is this aspect of work opportunity that is perhaps
the most important. Finding worthy, demanding work
- work that allows real participation in the total
process of making architecture - is one of the
most difficult tasks a young architect faces. Working
in a peer relationship with those that have a level
of mastery of the key elements of an integrated
practice is an equally elusive circumstance. The
SFIA-Master Builders practice is designed to provide
these opportunities across the entire spectrum
of design/build and with projects of all types
SFIA-Master Builders practice [link] concept
is based on the course I taught at SFIA in 2000,
and 2002. It is now being instructed by Matt Fulvio
and Scott Arenz with my time-to-time and remote
It also is based on Fred Stitt’s work on architectural
MindMap [link] for this presentation is
linked to many additional resources.
how I prepared for this session which was to draft
this page, then do the MindMap and then, after
the session finish this page with annotations.
annotations, along with the RBTF Reading List,
linked to this document, make up a comprehensive Syntopical
Reading exercise. It is worth the time to
explore these many threads and think through their
Reading 500 - One of Ten
July 2, 2003
voice of this document:
INSIGHT POLICY PROGRAM
July 2, 2003
November 6, 2003
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this document is about 85% finished)