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Beauty + Ethics

Here’s an experiment:

My MBA program doesn’t offer a class on business ethics (GASP!) and I recently had a conversation about whether or not it’s ethical to create architecture that is not beautiful. What if we blend the two notions together and ask is it ethical to build a business that’s not beautiful? How do we begin to answer this question?

We begin with Kant.

The dérive continues as a confused, hopeful architecture graduate student takes a one year detour from an M.Arch program to start and finish an MBA. What was the subject of discussion today?
Operations and Process Management.
We looked at Gantt charts, POS, PERT diagrams, and a slew of other methods of project and process management. All of these things are diagrams (and in our textbooks and PPT slides, ugly ones). Since I can’t sit still in class and don’t remember a damn thing when someone lectures at me, I drew in class (and then added a little Photoshop afterwards). What did I take away?
All of the process controls that businesses seem to use (which I remember from my days at PwC) are not at all different than the kinds of processes we go through in studio as architecture students with one major exception: they are exquisitely and precisely bounded, intentionally so, but in my opinion, to a fault. The use of the tools offers a rigorous and necessary framework for planning, executing, and delivering projects. What they don’t allow for is lateral thinking to issues beyond the immediate project. 
The phrase “social responsibility” came up for the second time in two weeks. Great! We’re mentioning it. “Social responsibility” was, yet again, not defined in any sort of concrete terms. No so great. “Creativity” came up again. Great! Once again, the same professor that was referred to as the “creative one” was referred to as the “creative one” and a metric or rigorous discussion of creativity escaped (though serious credit is due to the professor who lectured today because he honestly and straightforwardly said that he did not know how to measure creativity or talk about it rigorously and that he did not want to speculate and give an answer that was fluff - kudos).
The question that popped into my head, again, is the following (or a variant of it):
How can we cross-reference the efficiency and performance of MBA candidates with the “creativity” and social-consciousness of designers (and yes, I’m aware of what that specific phrasing implies)?

The dérive continues as a confused, hopeful architecture graduate student takes a one year detour from an M.Arch program to start and finish an MBA. What was the subject of discussion today?

Operations and Process Management.

We looked at Gantt charts, POS, PERT diagrams, and a slew of other methods of project and process management. All of these things are diagrams (and in our textbooks and PPT slides, ugly ones). Since I can’t sit still in class and don’t remember a damn thing when someone lectures at me, I drew in class (and then added a little Photoshop afterwards). What did I take away?

All of the process controls that businesses seem to use (which I remember from my days at PwC) are not at all different than the kinds of processes we go through in studio as architecture students with one major exception: they are exquisitely and precisely bounded, intentionally so, but in my opinion, to a fault. The use of the tools offers a rigorous and necessary framework for planning, executing, and delivering projects. What they don’t allow for is lateral thinking to issues beyond the immediate project. 

The phrase “social responsibility” came up for the second time in two weeks. Great! We’re mentioning it. “Social responsibility” was, yet again, not defined in any sort of concrete terms. No so great. “Creativity” came up again. Great! Once again, the same professor that was referred to as the “creative one” was referred to as the “creative one” and a metric or rigorous discussion of creativity escaped (though serious credit is due to the professor who lectured today because he honestly and straightforwardly said that he did not know how to measure creativity or talk about it rigorously and that he did not want to speculate and give an answer that was fluff - kudos).

The question that popped into my head, again, is the following (or a variant of it):

How can we cross-reference the efficiency and performance of MBA candidates with the “creativity” and social-consciousness of designers (and yes, I’m aware of what that specific phrasing implies)?

A continuation of the previous train of thought, but in a more refined manner, this close up of a model for a long narrow stretch of a path of the proposal of excavation for the trek up the Palatine Hill and back down to the San Gregorio Gate shows only one single condition of the four possible line conditions explores: floor. This leaves the ceiling and walls exposed to encourage a visitor to physically engage with excavated ruins, not only with sight, but with touch, hearing, and scent.

A continuation of the previous train of thought, but in a more refined manner, this close up of a model for a long narrow stretch of a path of the proposal of excavation for the trek up the Palatine Hill and back down to the San Gregorio Gate shows only one single condition of the four possible line conditions explores: floor. This leaves the ceiling and walls exposed to encourage a visitor to physically engage with excavated ruins, not only with sight, but with touch, hearing, and scent.

An initial first pass at a concept section collage for the San Gregorio Gate. Time for whimsy, crazy mechanical things (Roman engineering!), compression and expansion, a release into Domitian’s Circus, culminating in a framed view of…? That’s what I’m trying to figure out, too.

An initial first pass at a concept section collage for the San Gregorio Gate. Time for whimsy, crazy mechanical things (Roman engineering!), compression and expansion, a release into Domitian’s Circus, culminating in a framed view of…? That’s what I’m trying to figure out, too.

This was a sketch done on 2012.06.24 at the Baths of Caracalla. It’s the fourth attempt at simplifying down the space that I looked at to a minimal number of lines. It’s unsuccessful in most respects save one: through each iteration of the sketch, my awareness of what I actually intended to draw became higher.

This was a sketch done on 2012.06.24 at the Baths of Caracalla. It’s the fourth attempt at simplifying down the space that I looked at to a minimal number of lines. It’s unsuccessful in most respects save one: through each iteration of the sketch, my awareness of what I actually intended to draw became higher.

a mapping exercise done on 2012.06.22. i struggled for a while figuring out what i should draw there. the place is overwhelming. something about it’s scale fooled me into forgetting about it’s very obvious axial arrangement. perhaps it’s the break of the axis in the southeast corner that leads up to the organ fountain [which we were lucky enough to hear play]. i still lack confidence in representational drawing out in the field which is one of the reasons for me to be here in Rome, but the mapping was an interesting experiment in mixing representational and diagrammatic drawing. and it was FUN!

a mapping exercise done on 2012.06.22. i struggled for a while figuring out what i should draw there. the place is overwhelming. something about it’s scale fooled me into forgetting about it’s very obvious axial arrangement. perhaps it’s the break of the axis in the southeast corner that leads up to the organ fountain [which we were lucky enough to hear play]. i still lack confidence in representational drawing out in the field which is one of the reasons for me to be here in Rome, but the mapping was an interesting experiment in mixing representational and diagrammatic drawing. and it was FUN!

This is the first set of drawings I used during my final presentation for the Buddhist complex project I worked on in studio in the spring of 2012 at the University of Oregon. It was leaps and bounds of improvement beyond the work that I produced in all previous terms. Ideas explored included fiscal sustainability [let’s grow and sell endangered species of butterflies and flowers!], wetland and species restoration, big ROOF, infill, experiential cyclicality, building and site as measuring device, digilog media techniques, plaster, watercolor, Rhino + grasshopper and others. It was a true term of exploration and questioning of what ‘space’ is, how it’s shaped, and, in particular, can I think of sustainable building as something that primarily ignores building science and looks extensively at human experience, social buy-in, and flexibility as primary drivers of sustainability? Can someone help me define this word and approach?

These are the second set of presentation drawings that I pinned up. Part of the presentation discussion revolved around the relevance of pinning up “beautiful drawings with the expectation that no one would ask questions about the design intent behind the drawing because of it’s aesthetic quality. You students pin up work and think that just because it’s pretty, no one will question it.”

I have a few responses. As students, we must consider the value of our work in our portfolios for purely pragmatic reasons. Why shouldn’t we use drawings that are of the highest quality in our presentations? Eye candy is NECESSARY not only for pulling someone from across the room to look at your work but also for making someone stop when they’re taking two seconds to flip through your portfolio to make a hiring decision.

However, the beauty of the drawing can not exist outside of it’s use as architecturally or design-ily informative. It’s art for art’s sake if it’s just eye candy and it’s lifeless and boring and UNMARKETABLE if it’s not beautiful. It MUST be both. 

"Thingness at two scales."

This is more of the process work and some of the last drawings I did for the Roof.Buddha project in Spring 2012.

This is some of the process work that led me to the point where I felt like I had a presentation that I could use to catalyze a conversation at reviews.

Beauty + Ethics

Here’s an experiment:

My MBA program doesn’t offer a class on business ethics (GASP!) and I recently had a conversation about whether or not it’s ethical to create architecture that is not beautiful. What if we blend the two notions together and ask is it ethical to build a business that’s not beautiful? How do we begin to answer this question?

We begin with Kant.

The dérive continues as a confused, hopeful architecture graduate student takes a one year detour from an M.Arch program to start and finish an MBA. What was the subject of discussion today?
Operations and Process Management.
We looked at Gantt charts, POS, PERT diagrams, and a slew of other methods of project and process management. All of these things are diagrams (and in our textbooks and PPT slides, ugly ones). Since I can’t sit still in class and don’t remember a damn thing when someone lectures at me, I drew in class (and then added a little Photoshop afterwards). What did I take away?
All of the process controls that businesses seem to use (which I remember from my days at PwC) are not at all different than the kinds of processes we go through in studio as architecture students with one major exception: they are exquisitely and precisely bounded, intentionally so, but in my opinion, to a fault. The use of the tools offers a rigorous and necessary framework for planning, executing, and delivering projects. What they don’t allow for is lateral thinking to issues beyond the immediate project. 
The phrase “social responsibility” came up for the second time in two weeks. Great! We’re mentioning it. “Social responsibility” was, yet again, not defined in any sort of concrete terms. No so great. “Creativity” came up again. Great! Once again, the same professor that was referred to as the “creative one” was referred to as the “creative one” and a metric or rigorous discussion of creativity escaped (though serious credit is due to the professor who lectured today because he honestly and straightforwardly said that he did not know how to measure creativity or talk about it rigorously and that he did not want to speculate and give an answer that was fluff - kudos).
The question that popped into my head, again, is the following (or a variant of it):
How can we cross-reference the efficiency and performance of MBA candidates with the “creativity” and social-consciousness of designers (and yes, I’m aware of what that specific phrasing implies)?

The dérive continues as a confused, hopeful architecture graduate student takes a one year detour from an M.Arch program to start and finish an MBA. What was the subject of discussion today?

Operations and Process Management.

We looked at Gantt charts, POS, PERT diagrams, and a slew of other methods of project and process management. All of these things are diagrams (and in our textbooks and PPT slides, ugly ones). Since I can’t sit still in class and don’t remember a damn thing when someone lectures at me, I drew in class (and then added a little Photoshop afterwards). What did I take away?

All of the process controls that businesses seem to use (which I remember from my days at PwC) are not at all different than the kinds of processes we go through in studio as architecture students with one major exception: they are exquisitely and precisely bounded, intentionally so, but in my opinion, to a fault. The use of the tools offers a rigorous and necessary framework for planning, executing, and delivering projects. What they don’t allow for is lateral thinking to issues beyond the immediate project. 

The phrase “social responsibility” came up for the second time in two weeks. Great! We’re mentioning it. “Social responsibility” was, yet again, not defined in any sort of concrete terms. No so great. “Creativity” came up again. Great! Once again, the same professor that was referred to as the “creative one” was referred to as the “creative one” and a metric or rigorous discussion of creativity escaped (though serious credit is due to the professor who lectured today because he honestly and straightforwardly said that he did not know how to measure creativity or talk about it rigorously and that he did not want to speculate and give an answer that was fluff - kudos).

The question that popped into my head, again, is the following (or a variant of it):

How can we cross-reference the efficiency and performance of MBA candidates with the “creativity” and social-consciousness of designers (and yes, I’m aware of what that specific phrasing implies)?

A continuation of the previous train of thought, but in a more refined manner, this close up of a model for a long narrow stretch of a path of the proposal of excavation for the trek up the Palatine Hill and back down to the San Gregorio Gate shows only one single condition of the four possible line conditions explores: floor. This leaves the ceiling and walls exposed to encourage a visitor to physically engage with excavated ruins, not only with sight, but with touch, hearing, and scent.

A continuation of the previous train of thought, but in a more refined manner, this close up of a model for a long narrow stretch of a path of the proposal of excavation for the trek up the Palatine Hill and back down to the San Gregorio Gate shows only one single condition of the four possible line conditions explores: floor. This leaves the ceiling and walls exposed to encourage a visitor to physically engage with excavated ruins, not only with sight, but with touch, hearing, and scent.

An initial first pass at a concept section collage for the San Gregorio Gate. Time for whimsy, crazy mechanical things (Roman engineering!), compression and expansion, a release into Domitian’s Circus, culminating in a framed view of…? That’s what I’m trying to figure out, too.

An initial first pass at a concept section collage for the San Gregorio Gate. Time for whimsy, crazy mechanical things (Roman engineering!), compression and expansion, a release into Domitian’s Circus, culminating in a framed view of…? That’s what I’m trying to figure out, too.

This was a sketch done on 2012.06.24 at the Baths of Caracalla. It’s the fourth attempt at simplifying down the space that I looked at to a minimal number of lines. It’s unsuccessful in most respects save one: through each iteration of the sketch, my awareness of what I actually intended to draw became higher.

This was a sketch done on 2012.06.24 at the Baths of Caracalla. It’s the fourth attempt at simplifying down the space that I looked at to a minimal number of lines. It’s unsuccessful in most respects save one: through each iteration of the sketch, my awareness of what I actually intended to draw became higher.

a mapping exercise done on 2012.06.22. i struggled for a while figuring out what i should draw there. the place is overwhelming. something about it’s scale fooled me into forgetting about it’s very obvious axial arrangement. perhaps it’s the break of the axis in the southeast corner that leads up to the organ fountain [which we were lucky enough to hear play]. i still lack confidence in representational drawing out in the field which is one of the reasons for me to be here in Rome, but the mapping was an interesting experiment in mixing representational and diagrammatic drawing. and it was FUN!

a mapping exercise done on 2012.06.22. i struggled for a while figuring out what i should draw there. the place is overwhelming. something about it’s scale fooled me into forgetting about it’s very obvious axial arrangement. perhaps it’s the break of the axis in the southeast corner that leads up to the organ fountain [which we were lucky enough to hear play]. i still lack confidence in representational drawing out in the field which is one of the reasons for me to be here in Rome, but the mapping was an interesting experiment in mixing representational and diagrammatic drawing. and it was FUN!

This is the first set of drawings I used during my final presentation for the Buddhist complex project I worked on in studio in the spring of 2012 at the University of Oregon. It was leaps and bounds of improvement beyond the work that I produced in all previous terms. Ideas explored included fiscal sustainability [let’s grow and sell endangered species of butterflies and flowers!], wetland and species restoration, big ROOF, infill, experiential cyclicality, building and site as measuring device, digilog media techniques, plaster, watercolor, Rhino + grasshopper and others. It was a true term of exploration and questioning of what ‘space’ is, how it’s shaped, and, in particular, can I think of sustainable building as something that primarily ignores building science and looks extensively at human experience, social buy-in, and flexibility as primary drivers of sustainability? Can someone help me define this word and approach?

These are the second set of presentation drawings that I pinned up. Part of the presentation discussion revolved around the relevance of pinning up “beautiful drawings with the expectation that no one would ask questions about the design intent behind the drawing because of it’s aesthetic quality. You students pin up work and think that just because it’s pretty, no one will question it.”

I have a few responses. As students, we must consider the value of our work in our portfolios for purely pragmatic reasons. Why shouldn’t we use drawings that are of the highest quality in our presentations? Eye candy is NECESSARY not only for pulling someone from across the room to look at your work but also for making someone stop when they’re taking two seconds to flip through your portfolio to make a hiring decision.

However, the beauty of the drawing can not exist outside of it’s use as architecturally or design-ily informative. It’s art for art’s sake if it’s just eye candy and it’s lifeless and boring and UNMARKETABLE if it’s not beautiful. It MUST be both. 

"Thingness at two scales."

This is more of the process work and some of the last drawings I did for the Roof.Buddha project in Spring 2012.

This is some of the process work that led me to the point where I felt like I had a presentation that I could use to catalyze a conversation at reviews.

Beauty + Ethics

About:

Some of my work[play] and, generally speaking, an attempt to make cohesive a trajectory.