Taylor Studio Project
My Palo Alto Workspace
Introduction to Basic Architectural Practice
The San Francisco
Institute of Architecture
course is about the entire
design, build, use process
is open to anyone who wishes to function in an architectural ValueWeb
- in any
of the Investor, Customer, Producer or System Integrator roles.
course is open to those with no prior experience and practice to those
of extensive experience - the structure of the course and nature of
the content is such that - whatever your starting level - you will be
able to materially extend your competency.
terms of class interaction, participants from many different places
in the total process of creating and using architecture - as well as
- different degrees of understanding it, will actually enhance the learning
experience for all.
are 9 formal sessions that make up the Course - each is outlined in
the Notes linked to this page. These sessions take about three hours.
Each, involves presentation and dialog. Assignments will be given at
each session, all of which, will make up your final delivered work.
You are encouraged to read ahead. The more that this is done, the more
time we will have to move beyond the basics and explore the many ramifications
of our subject.
will be some informal sessions for more dialog and skill building in
the areas of design, document production and web publishing. A field
trip or two is desirable based on everyones schedule.
this Course means designing a work based on your recreation of the materials
presented, offering your work for peer review by all class members and,
in turn, providing the same feedback to your classmates project.
Your work will be presented on a web page of your design.
Course is about the entire design/build/use process in architecture.
Course involves a project, selected by each each of you in a category
set by me (Matt Taylor). This way all projects will be same in
terms of type but radically different in terms of program and
solution (see below). The basic category is to design an environment,
for yourself, in which to conduct the practice of architecture
as you see it.
I will do the same project - all projects will be put up for peer
review, at the end of the class, according to Eliot's
4 rules of criticism - this peer review process will be augmented
by the participation of other working professionals and prior
graduates of the class.
I will present a matrix
of criteria for judging an architectural piece (technical,
idiom, style, historical context, Pattern Language, utility and
so on). This will be augmented with the study of historical examples.
You will be tasked to respond to this material but create your
own formulation in preparation of your design work.
As part of my presentation, I will provide a set of principles
and rules in reference to the problem-solving, creative
process - for individuals and teams. Again, examples will
I will also provide a model of design/build that stresses rapid
prototyping, iteration and reduced time-to-value. This will
include practical commentary on the creation of working documents
useful in the field.
About one-third of the course time will be spent on defining architecture,
its criteria, the role of criticism and feedback, the scope
and kinds of architectural practices, life cycle economics, and
the creative process. This will be done with lecture, dialog and
independent research and study. At the end of this period you
will be asked to outline the program
of your project.
The second third of the course time will be spent covering the
design-build-use model, practice barriers, the strengths and weaknesses
of practice-types, and the development of your projects. The entire
process will be covered: program, design, engineering, design
development, contract documents.
The remaining time will be spent on exploring different graphic
and modeling options for communicating architecture, web site
construction, building ValueWeb systems, the economics of a sustainable
architectural practice and peer review of all our projects.
will be required to produce the following:
- Build a description (model) of the principles, rules you
select from the dialogs to use (explicitly) in the development
of your project (Pattern Language, idiom, style, design
principles, and so on). Provide documentation from history
to support your selection.
- Provide a program statement of the specific life/work
style problem to be solved, including the economic criteria,
for your personal practice project. Design a concept that
expresses an architectural solution consistent with the
program objectives and values.
- Drawings and/or models and/or multimedia of the design
solution. Anything is acceptable as a source document, however,
it is a course requirement that the end result end up on
the web and accessible via a standard Browser. This
also includes an analysis of how engineering issues will
- Description and/or demonstration of the building method
with indication how the construction process will be conducted
with sample documents (complete documents are not possible
in the time frame - a sample of each type showing a system
of communication is the objective).
- Strategy of how the work will be financed including an
economic analysis indicating affordability, etc. with an
outline of the proposed process of building the work. Demonstration
how this environment actually would augment your individual
life and practice.
- A brief written critique of your peers work - and my project,
- Feedback on feedback. A final statement of what was learned
and how feedback was used (or will be) in the next iteration
of the project. This will include a commentary on what you
learned about your own creative process.
- Maintain a Notebook (hand or electronic) Journal of your
experience - this can be shared - or not - as you choose.
The purpose of this is to document your journey and learning
and to relate this experience to your life and the larger
context of the society in which this class is experienced.
your production of this work, new methods of drawing, modeling
and display - i.e. web-publishing will be stressed. This is a
time compressed experience and a blending of art-ful-ness and
efficiently is required
every regard, your project will be treated as a real-world project
would be: constrained by time and demanding great clarity and
power of communication to a divergent group of people.
objective is to take the you through the entire process (short
of actual construction), in a time compressed period, stressing
design/build/use, the criteria for good work (reinforced by peer
and expert feedback) and rapid prototyping (requiring the entire
scope of work to be accomplished in a fraction of the normal
time). All of this to be done while studying the Matrix of practice
options, their relationship to architectural building types and
the basics of ValueWeb systems as a means of accomplishing projects.
project will be to design a build-able home (or retreat) and
work studio that fits your present economy and preferred life/work
other words, what would you live and work in, today, to pursue
a practice of architecture - whatever ValueWeb
role that practice be (see above). With this problem, the economic
constraint of the client's (you!) financial resources are real
and an integral part of the problem.
objective is to demonstrate through your own experience that great
environments have little to do with budget, per se - but with
design imagination (and discipline) and the ability to construct
a practical financial package and build well.
It is contemplated that the projects, as a set, will range from
large to small - from new construction to remodels. No matter
the scale and scope - the same criteria will be applied to each.
Formation Model, the entire Design, Build, Use process will
be taken to the level of the Preliminary Design stage ready for
Design Development. This requirement will act as feedback in regards
to the level of complexity and scope that you select for your
course will be taught at the SFIA and Palo Alto knOwhere Store
environments with a field trip or two (which will be non-mandatory
and additional to regular scheduled course time). you will be
provided access to a computer and other media so that there can
be dialog with me when I am traveling. This will be treated as
part of the course learning - remote
work is a reality now.
have been some questions related to the use of computers, HTML training
and if we had enough hardware at SFIA to provide enough access for everyone.
addition, the question has been asked if we should devote some of the
first course days to specific media training and general architectural
orientation for less experienced participants.
are expanding our computer capability at SFIA but it still is limited.
This course is open to those with virtually no computer skills
and those with a great deal of experience. The following is my response
to these questions and, in addition, thoughts that clarify the attitude
of this course:
course is divided the course into thirds: Criteria, Design, Execution
and Evaluation (Scan
position is that there is nothing special here that needs distinct
designs their own environment now, uses a process
to do so and uses media of some sort to describe it, communicate
it and document the process.
is fundamentally no difference between the design professional
or the user in this regard.
way I have outlined the course, means it does not matter where
a person is starting. The assignment involves selecting their
own project and its complexity.
only constraint is that the project is an environment for practicing
This is the common thread. Practice can be as a prime producer,
a critic, an end user - whatever. It can be a new space or fixing
one you have. It only has to be affordable.
this to work you have to go through the basics which is not selecting
your problem (this will happen organically) not by worrying about
HTML and architectural techniques.
I want each of you to do is commit to using new media. How
you do this will also evolve naturally with each student setting
their own level of ambition and learning pace.
issue around media should be a freeing thing not an additional
example if someone wants to draw this is fine. They can do this
and us various simple ubiquitous methods to make it electronic.
Is there a Kinko's near by? They can model. Or work all electronically
with no hand drawings at all (or even a drawing in
the traditional sense).
long as it communicates what has to be communicated to show that
the work can be executed. For a simple project this may be nicely
done hand sketches and notes (these can be faxed - thus digitized
- and set into a simple HTML program at the end).
you DO have to DO is effectively communicate your
concept sufficiently for an affordable design/build/use process
to happen - you have to do this via Internet space which is becoming
the only practical way to maintain sufficient day-to-day contact,
with a broad network, to get things done.
you can see, this is entirely in the spirit of SFIA - it just
takes a different form.
ASSUME, at SFIA, that everyone can think, design, build.
We are helping you do it better with more tools. We seek to break
out of the professional mysticism of architecture and make it
a natural process.
are going to REMIND you that you already know how to SHELTER.
engineering and tooling support this natural process. Someday,
you will have to remind your clients and associates
of the same thing.
way or another, each of us has access to far more then enough
expertise, and tools to complete our work. We often forget this
as we get trapped in habits. Freedom is essential. Expressing
an idea is the key thing. This approach allows happy learning
for both a seasoned professional and a novice.
important thing to remember is that you are DOING IT NOW. EVERY
DAY YOU ARE CREATING YOUR ENVIONMENT - YOU USE A PROCESS TO DO
SO. I hope to provide you with some tools to do it better.
is where we start and we will build, together, from where we are.
I will help you make this a self-aware, practiced process not
a lay-persons accident nor a professionals habit.
course is demanding and rigorous - and it is open-ended. It does
not assume one way of achieving a goal. There are some requirements
in common so that the works can be taken through a legitimate peer review
instructor, I will be doing the same work as each of you and submitting
my work to the same review process.
the end you determine your score. As is the tradition at
SFIA you cannot fail. You complete or not. Completion means producing
what as outlined in and submitting your result to the marketplace
of your peers who have shared your experience and are doing the same
in return. You set your own Appropriate
Response to the challenges offered up by the course content.
I am Teaching This Course
believe that professionals in any field should focus on
three things: defining their art, building leading edge examples of
it, teaching others how to do it.
repetitive work, over and over, keeping clients dependent while turning
the organization into a factory and, ultimately, kills a practice.
present method of practice that makes up the architectural profession
and the whole assemblage of organizations necessary to producing a work
is not working
well. It is neither sustainable nor affordable. This is the major cause
of very little good architecture being build - not the lack of potentially
good designers nor the desires of many architects
course will start to get under the covers
of this broken method and suggest new pathways for participating in
the making of great environments. This course is about many things and
it will cover many aspects of architectural theory and practice. At
the root, however, it is about creating a new kind of practice - something
that effects us all.
architectural practice model cannot be separated from architectural
theory or practice intent. Each sets the terms of the other. Each constrains
or augments the other.
make the case, in practical terms, that the design of practice is integral
to the design of environments. That the practice elements of architecture
promote or hinder the production of good architecture far more than
design as an isolated activity.
demonstrate that good design is not esoteric but the systematic application
of known criteria
and rules - it is a process that can be learned.
demonstrate and transfer certain principles of group
process as essential to accomplishing a complex work.
media methods as a serious means to communicate, coordinate and
collaborate across time
from my own 44 year career in a two fold way. First how the kind of
work I wanted to do lead me to an alternative practice path and, second,
how this path opened up alternatives that have in turn effected my concept
and practice of architecture.
Outline and Schedule:
Goals Requirements Criticism Feedback
general introduction which varies according to the participants.
Students commentary and work.
of the role of Criticism and Feedback.
definition of Architecture that avoids the traditional split between
utility and art.
matrix of Criteria for producing and evaluating Architecture.
and scope of Architecture.
of architectural practice elements.
of Practice types and Matrix.
Step Recreation Model. 10 Step Process Model. Design/Build, FasTracking
Methods - Swimming Pool Story. NASA Story.
barriers. Removing the waste in the total process.
ValueWeb Model and the issue of Requisite Variety.
of my work and methods. Focus on current projects.
of 4 Step Recreation Model
of the materials presented to date. How it works as a system.
tour of the Palo Alto KnOwhere Store.
of your projects. Web practices and structures.
of my Bay Area Studio project.
act of communicating Architecture: the right information
to the right person at the right time.
New drawing and media tools.
the Internet and www - practices and methods.
ValueWeb networks and systems.
SFIA architectural practice model.
economics (and ecology).
review of all projects.
the Criteria Matrix - how was it used?
review of your projects and Internet posting.
of the Course to next semester students.
To be scheduled
Course is evolving. Changes will be made each cycle. Prior students
can repeat the Course - or any part of it - at their own desecration.
feedback and Criticism is a key to an effective DesignBuildUse
Method and System.
are many criteria
that have to be used to effectively critique a work. This has to be
known, articulated and used by the Community-of-Practice that
is involved in the creation of a work.
in Architecture, today, is poorly practiced. It, generally, employs
too narrow criteria and is too often used to promote a specific school
of design rather than to support a feedback process aimed at improving
are many different kinds of criteria by which an architectural
work can be evaluated: design technique, Pattern Language, utility,
economy, building quality, building method, idiom, style, historical
reference and meaning and so on. Each of these have different standards,
method of proof and importance to a given work. They represent a historical
KnowledgeBase, a mental tool-kit available for use in the process of
producing architecture. Knowing them and employing them will not, by
itself, create a great work. It should prevent stupid mistakes. A great
piece requires integration of these elements and ART.
is that deep unique expression that comes from an individual, a Community
of Practice and a historical time and place - all working together.
This, also has criteria and we will talk about this along with all the
in Architecture, today is fragmented, biased and spits the profession.
It adds little to the process of making better environments. It is dived
into schools that are more interest in promoting their agenda
than promoting Architecture and its practice.
criticism is part of the feedback loop that promotes improvement of
a breed. Feedback is the message to the controller of a
system, from a sensor of a system, of the difference between
between performance and expectation.
feedback to happen the message has to be to someone or something that
can act on the message. For the message to be a legitimate message,
it has to come from someone or something that is accepted as a sensor
and it has to be rendered by criteria that is accepted as valid. To
be useful at all, it must address the difference between what
was expected and what happened.
for what passes as criticism and feedback
is not that at all.
CRITICISM should demonstrate, as an integral aspect of its own
process, how to make the art (in question) better.
this course we will practice criticism and feedback in this spirit.
It will be an integral aspect of the entire design process. And,
we will do feedback on feedback which is, according to Norbert
Weiner (the father of Cybernetics) FEEDBACK of a complex
have already indicated that effective behavior must be informed
by some sort of feedback process, telling it whether it has equaled
its goal or fallen short. The simplest feedbacks deal with gross
successes or failures or performance, such as whether we have
actually succeeded in grasping and object that we have tried to
pick up, or whether the advance guard of an army is at the appointed
place at the appointed time. However there are many other forms
of feedback of a more subtle nature.
is often necessary for us to know whether a whole policy of conduct,
a strategy so to say, has proved successful or not. The animal
we teach to transverse the maze in order to find food or to avoid
electric shocks, must be able to record whether the general plan
of running through the maze has been on the whole successful or
not, and it must be able to change this plan in order to run the
maze efficiently. This form of learning is most certainly a feedback,
but a feedback on a higher level, a feedback of policies and not
of simple actions. It differs from more elementary feedback in
what Bertrand Russell would call its logical type.
Human Use of Human Beings
pages 81 & 82
of the things wrong with traditional architectural education, by the
way, is that one can get an advanced degree never ever having heard
of Norbert Weiner or a host of others who established the present foundations
of science (let alone Business) - this Course will address this situation.
Short Rant On Habits That Dont Make Sense
while I am on this subject, I will also note the curiosity that one
can get a Masters Degree in Architecture never have ever built
a building. Imagine going to a surgeon who has a doctorate in the field
but who has never actually touched a body or performed an operation.
You go first! I place things like this in a the category of has
anybody noticed? Like down spouts and gutters.
the overwhelmingly common application of down spouts and gutters several
things are accomplished. After some effort to produce a pleasing elevation,
the down spouts and gutters are put on in the most ugly manner possible
with (I suppose) everybody playing lets pretend they arent
there. Then, to add insult to injury, down spouts and gutters
take a generalized problem (distributed water runoff) and make a specific,
chronic problem out of it: high volume, concentrated water runoff
focussed where you most do not want it on the foundations of
the building! Thus, insult (an ugly solution) is added to
injury (accelerating the destruction of the building) in one brilliant
pattern language of the down spouts and gutters logic
(!?) is common and repeats itself over and over becoming a habitual
practice of otherwise well meaning and intelligent people.
around the block and look for foundation cracks. Then locate the down
seems that we can do better than this.
reason, besides creating a strong sense of shelter, that Mr.
Wright used large roof overhangs was to get the water away from
the building. Warren Callester used to dump the runoff into a nice 12
inch wide gravel strip that ran the perimeter of the building. How rational!
These are good examples where art, practical engineering results from
end of rant - however it is the pattern of the thinking behind
these things that we want to discover and change for the better. This
is only a small example of the habits that need to be challenged.
yes, there is a way to do down spouts without these negative consequences.
delivery is an essential tool for an effective modern practice.
you intend to stay in a physically specific Boutique Practice, a modern
practice is, by definition, geographically dispersed. No amount of travel
- even staying permanently mobile as I do - will be sufficient for you
to meet your minimum commitments.
have to accomplish effective VIRTUAL presence.
are many (still nascent but powerful) tools available to help you do
this. They, however, do not by themselves add up to a method of work
adequate for you to be successful.
is a test: I am not suggesting that you should do this but...
if you could sit in a 20 foot by 20 foot room and conduct a successful
$50,000,000 design/build practice by yourself, never leaving the room
- this would mean that you have a practice method that employs the now-available
tool kit and meets the present market demands.
think about having that ability and being able to get out of the room
and employ all the other tools and methods...
is more to it, of course, than delivery. The www is inherently
a multimedia experience - and more importantly - it employs (however
rudimentary) Hypertext. This means that a browser can be used to access
a vast variety of documents that can be linked in a way that provides
an organized yet freeing, user controlled, documentation of any project.
server, web Browser and publisher combined with a database system and
interactive dialog space can combine to make a powerful practice tool
that can be afforded
by anyone. Between five to ten thousand dollars and a hundred or so
a month will equip a knowledge worker with a powerful multimedia, computing
and communication tool-set. In my mind, lacking this tooling is not
an option. It is taking a careless risk. It is opting out of the emerging
global society. It is equivalent to breaking your legs and then trying
to run a marathon.
course will show you one way to employ these new tools. Please, do not
convince yourself that you cannot afford
this level of tooling or that you can learn it later.
It is a way of working. The learning curve will get steeper and steeper
even as the tools get more powerful and easier to use.
at CadCam. The profession resisted it for years. Now, as it is being
adapted, wholesale, to make documents in a style driven by 100 year
old ideas and methods. Its present use means the net product is inferior
to the old hand drawings, the drawing process is no longer in the hands
of the architect (more shrinking of practice) and the real power of
the tool is rarely used. About the sole benefit gotten is that revisions
are less expensive than redrawing would be. This CadCam use is a classic
example of adapting new technology to old ways of working for marginal
economic improvement while missing the opportunity for a quantum leap
architects use the tool to design building that they cannot draw. Few
us the materials handeling and cutting potential. Frank
Gehry is a rare exception.
challenge of this Course is to think of the way of transferring an architectural
concept to the many necessary to design, build and use it in a way that
speaks their language and addresses the conditions and challenges that
they face at the time they face them. Given todays tools, and
challenging yesterdays conventions, how would you communicate
December 4, 1999
voice of this document:
IDENTITY PHILOSOPHY CONTRACT DOCUMENT
December 4, 1999
May 17, 2000
1999124.74646.mt 1999125.55414.mt 1999125.94740.mt
document is 85% finished
1999, 2000 Matt Taylor
Taylor Studio Project
My Palo Alto Workspace