Category Archives: Commentary

Comments on Mathematica Founder Developing Search Engine – PC Magazine

Mathematica Founder Developing Search Engine – PC Magazine – Steven Wolfram is developing a search engine that is attempting to make knowledge computable. That is to say, Wolfram is attempting to make a search engine that can understand the relationships between different pieces of knowledge and then can respond to queries against that knowledge. At the moment there is only a place holder for the site at but the initial site is set to launch in May 2009.

Comments on Ai Weiwei: Surgeon of Space, by Geoff Manaugh

Ai Weiwei: Surgeon of Space, by Geoff Manaugh – Ai Weiwei's show of four collections of furniture at Phillips de Pury & Company in London is accompanied by this essay by Geoff Manaugh. Manaugh's discussion of Ai Weiwei's work is interesting in its ability to imagine new worlds projected out from Ai Weiwei's distortions on furniture. Like Manaugh's essay on his own blog, BLDGBLOG, Manaugh's writing takes a fresh, nuanced look at his subject. Ai Weiwei's work in turn is a fresh and nuanced look at traditional Chinese furniture. In several pieces he takes a traditional piece and disassembles it to using its internal logic constructs a piece of furniture distorted from its original intentions. They are fascinating pieces in their ability to focus space around the furniture that everyday furniture can't seem to do.

Comments on RATP Bus Center in Thiais / ECDM | Arch Daily

RATP Bus Center in Thiais / ECDM | Arch Daily – The RATP Bus Center in Thiais, Frnace by ECDM Architects is a deceptively simple building. Covered in precast concrete panels with the "non slip" domes common to pedestrian paving, the building feels like it is drawn from the surrounding pavement of the bus control center. Its careful choice of materiality is both contextual and abstract, giving the building a very clear sense of self while remaining largely mute on its architectural intentions. From the concrete facade, gaps are cut out of the mass of the building; gaps which are filled with color tinted glass. These slick and shiny cuts relieve the buildings domineering rectangular from and soften the hard pavement like facade without becoming overly expressive and taking away from the clarity of the building's form. The RATP Bus Center is a clear example of architecture that draws from its context but isn't subservient to it.

Comments on MANUEL DELANDA: Opportunities and Risks « LEBBEUS WOODS

MANUEL DELANDA: Opportunities and Risks « LEBBEUS WOODS – Manuel De Landa takes on perception from a materialist point of view. De Landa views perception as the ability of an animal to assess and take advantage of opportunities and risks in its environment. He defines this ability as the capacity of an animal to affect and be affected by its environment. Though he never explicitly addresses it, in many ways this theory of capacity is an extension of Merleau-Ponty's ideas on perception but without the transcendental baggage. Like Merleau-Ponty, De Landa's theory posits that our embeddedness in the world is our perception, but De Landa takes it a step farther by extending the idea beyond its purely human roots and into the specifics of how all animals can affect their environment. The most interesting consequence of this idea is that it extends to acts of construction as a construction becomes an extension of the animal's body.

Comments on James Howard Kunstler dissects suburbia | Video on

James Howard Kunstler dissects suburbia | Video on – James Howard Kunstler discusses the failures of suburban public spaces with polemics and humor. His very serious critique of the faults of contemporary architectural design are stinging in their validity but his advocacy of New Urbanism caries with it the same nostalgic problems as post-modern historicism. When will there by a theory of urbanism and architecture that will address our very real human environmental needs without falling back on pure humanism and architectural languages of the past. There are very real lessons in the past, but there are still innovations to discover in the future; I call for an architecture of the ordinary that can draw from both. A new vernacular that doesn't use the crutch of language or style but also doesn't leap into the sky with untestable ideas and concepts that more than often fail to address the needs of our daily lives.

Comments on Building on Canvas: Sarah McKenzie and the New American Landscape | Arch Daily

Building on Canvas: Sarah McKenzie and the New American Landscape | Arch Daily – An interview with Sarah McKenzie, who is a painter that has taken to painting images of the modern landscape, specifically buildings. She started painting aerial perspectives of suburban subdivisions but has since moved on to buildings under construction. Her painters are an interesting twist on abstraction and still life. Their rich, creamy colors confront the viewer with banal images of everyday environments made fresh and potent again. The painters challenge the viewer to think about the very real impact such environments as a subdivision or a wood framed house under construction have on our daily lives; yet the paintings hold judgment, leaving the viewer to make up their own minds as to the implications.

Comments on Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio-Arch Daily

Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio-Arch Daily – The Ningbo Historic Museum is a strange combination of local Chinese construction methods and contemporary formal logic. Made of board formed concrete, stone masonry and clay tiles mixed into patches, the walls of the building splay and tilt as they rise form the ground. Like a material collage, the building challenges one’s understanding of design as the hands of the workers can clearly be seen in the patches of material. Windows are sprinkled throughout the walls with little apparent logic. The interior courtyards are floored with gray wood decking from which the walls seeming to float above. The interiors are more refined and have a feel of many contemporary buildings while not giving up on a distinctly crafted feel.

It is difficult to come to a conclusion on the Ningbo Historic Mueseum as it seems to defy any kind of clear reading, but whatever the building is, it is definitely intriguing.

Comments on Villanueva’s Public Library / Meza + Piñol + Ramírez + Torres | Arch Daily

Villanueva’s Public Library / Meza + Piñol + Ramírez + Torres | Arch Daily – Villanueva’s Public Library is a study in spatial layering and materiality. The simple rectangular form of the main building is clad in stone gabions while the public loggia like space in front is clad with crisscrossing wood pallets which shade but still let diffuse light into the building. The two story structures houses a library as well a community theater and with its large loggia in the front, the building opens itself to the community.

The Villanueva’s Public Library is an excellent example of architecture working for its community, becoming something more without the need for expressive forms that lack anything beyond their singular expressive concept.


SEEING SPACE « LEBBEUS WOODS – Lebbeus Woods presents a series of drawings by Sotirios Kotoulas whose research explores making visible the spaces of the electromagnetic spectrum. While his drawings are fascinating in their angular complexity, they lack a direction forward beyond their own creation and internal logic. The drawings feel too much like a subjective rationalizing into formal ideas based on a metaphorical understanding of the logic of electromagnetic waves. Perhaps it is just a missing explanation of the rules for the internal logic of the drawings but I fail to see anything other than a series of beautiful drawings. If that was the desired intention, I would congratulate Sotirios Kotoulas but the drawings are billed as research and in this case I find them lacking. Research should point to new methods, ideas and actions, not just create another piece of art full of affectations and percepts.

That said, some of my own most productive research was largely incomprehensible to others.