Thursday, February 21, 2008

Arch 470 - Luis Garcia

About Me
The purpose of my presentation will be to underline my personal values as well as short-term and long-term goals that have shaped my choices of study, but also my perception of the word “profession.”
Through my years at USC my short-term goals have drastically changed, but mainly because in my original “plan” I hadn’t looked much past graduation. After re-evaluating myself I came to realize that the switch into the four year program would be the first step to a profession that would both interest me and be satisfying. Although my short-term goals are subject to change, my long-term goals have maintained consistent. The presentation will also address this idea that I am open to changes and that my reason for transferring to the BS in AS served the purpose of allowing for these options.

I will begin by introducing myself at a young age asking myself the question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” After running through a couple options, I will then talk about why I chose to study architecture and what I thought I would be doing ten, fifteen years down the line. Of course, I will have to then talk about my reason for switching into the four year BS in AS program rather than following through with the BARCH. This will also tie back into my personal values.

The presentation can take many formats. However, a PowerPoint is probably more suitable so that images can accompany the dialogue.

Architectural Medium
Although there are many practitioners and students of architecture, few have a well-grounded grasp on the nature of architecture. Depending on the specific niche which one has filled, or will fill, various divisions of architecture are created and the definitions then become segmented. It may be seen as the creation of aesthetically pleasing and functional spaces, or perhaps the creation of an object, or merely a minimum square-footage necessary for the inhabitance of a person or thing. So we ask ourselves, “What is architecture?” In an attempt to arrive at this definition, it is important to consider the similarities shared by all of these different notions.
To begin, the practice of architecture always involves a client. This “client” may or may not be a person, because the breadth of architecture is seemingly infinite. Whoever or whatever this client may be, there is always a need or needs which have to be fulfilled. These desirables often exist as a jumble of ideas consisting of vague conceptions of spaces or needs. Architecture then becomes a medium through which the client(s)’ need(s) are processed to produce a final solution. However, there may not be, and should not be a single solution, though the arrival at one may constitute architecture.
For instance, the commissioners of early Gothic cathedrals desired “heavenly” spaces with magnificently high ceilings and visually powerful lighting, as well as the typical components of a church such as the nave and transept. The architect then utilized the most sophisticated technologies and construction techniques to create the desired spaces which led to the enormous buttresses, narrow stained-glass windows, and other characteristics of Gothic cathedrals that we see today. The same applies to any other building typology. These needs begin to shape themselves through the medium of architecture.
However, what if this need is not a building, but perhaps a product, a sculpture, or an article of clothing? The same theory applies. There exists a need, and through the practice of architecture, these needs (and desires) are processed and worked through to create one of many solutions that may exist to satisfy these necessities.
In regards to the roles of the project manager or the developer, the relevance of this theory still stands. The means by which these needs are met may be different, though the fundamentals remain intact. For the project manager, the client is no longer the owner, as it is for the architect, but rather the architect and any others who depend on the project manager to oversee the construction process and completion of the project. Rather than directly designing the spaces, the project manager instead designs a schedule and overall master plan with which the project may be carried out in greatest efficiency and quality. As for the developer, the clients are the people who will interact with or inhabit the spaces which will be built. The theory of needs “using” architecture as a medium is manifested in the notion that the developer will satisfy these needs or wants through the creation of a design team and a build team. It may not be the space or object which is being shaped, but rather the idea and system by which the architecture will be created.
So then we ask ourselves again, “What is architecture? And does one need to be an architect in order to have a hand in its creation?”

Valuation of Architecture:

Architecture in itself has the ability to create a value other than just the materials and plot of land used to create the building. New trends in architecture allow for an added value that may not have existed before. Such trends include the emerging field of sustainable design, the notion of single authorship, and the fixation on the nostalgic characteristics that a building’s design may contribute.

There are two very separate proponents to the movement into sustainable design. On one hand, the inherent value is the reduction of the environmental footprint that a building produces. The use of materials and construction practices with less embodied energy as well as a reduction in the energy that a building must use to operate over its lifespan contribute to the notion of a sustainable value.
However, on the other hand, there are the proponents of sustainable design who see the primary value in it as its marketability. There are of course the direct money-saving systems within sustainable design that make it very desirable, but there is also the immediate association between the client and eco-friendliness. Ford Motors had been known as the leading manufacturer of large SUVs and trucks, but with its recent additions of hybrids and economic vehicles, they have found a way to tap into a new buyer group. It happens at the level of architecture as well. If a company is looking to attract this new wave of eco-friendly costumers, the first thing one would want is to have an eco-friendly building to house the offices or whatever it may be that represents that client. Sustainable design then becomes a brand, just as Nike or anything else. There may be those truly interested in the environmental impact of a building, but then there are those interested in how much “green” their new green building will generate as a brand.

Using nostalgia to add value to architecture also presents itself on many levels. Although not as clear-cut as the two camps of sustainable design, nostalgia as value in architecture does exist. The photo of Koenig’s Case Study #22 by Julius Shulman is a photo which has in a way allowed for this idea of nostalgia to re-emerge. With this photo still as popular today, if not more, as it was in 1960, whole markets of design catering to the clients who want what they see in this photo have surfaced. Many fashion trends today are based off of the eras of the sixties, seventies, and the eighties. Even if you look at the cap of the new plastic Coca-Cola bottles, you’ll find that they have the appearance of the old glass bottle caps of the earlier decades.

Single Authorship: The Gehry building of Los Angeles and the Gehry building of Barcelona are the most common buildings that come to mind when discussing the value of single authorship and the branding of architecture. The same stands with the Rem buildings all over the world or the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings of an earlier era. These architects have made names for themselves and have now produced a brand that is able to sell the product, probably most of the time without the client ever actually seeing the building design. For these reasons, it is important to keep the authorship laws in architecture strict, because it is the ideas and knowledge of architects that contain value. Some may disagree with the success of architects like Gehry, but the truth is that he has been able to utilize and manipulate the ideas of single authorship to be at the point that he is at now.

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