Recently, I have been able to attend three of the lectures of the Aesthetics series at TCAUP.  First, Mark Scogil and Meril Elam spokes about the creating an architecture that had multiple readings, that was somehow “strange.”  In their most recent work, which departed from their tested process, was an interest in surprising themselves and “getting into trouble.”  Mark further spoke of having being “uncomfortable with your design.”  In an overarching way, he was speaking of determinism in architecture; he seemed to believe that determinism resulted in unsatisfying and the expected.

The below diagram charted what he believed the paths of an architect in terms of developing an aesthetic.  Functionalism and rationalism, he believed, were short lived aesthetic trials that ultimately could be accomplished, but would also result in a lack of opportunity for the architect.   The paths of pursuing the “sublime” or the “beautiful,” however, were both more challenging and more rewarding.


The next speaker was Ken Smith from Workshop LA.  He presented on various landscape projects both at the scale of cities to individual roof gardens.  Most interesting of his thinking was his discussion about “inductive” versus “deductive” design.  Inductive, he stated, was designing from the detail to inform the whole.  Deductive was designing the whole then down to the detail.  He particularly believed that inductive design occurs on smaller projects, which makes sense, while deductive design is for fronted on larger projects.  This simple discussion, however, made me rethink my on design process and place it in in comparison to writing’s framework; do you write the beginning first or start with the ending of a narrative?


Lastly, we heard form Mark Gage from Gage Clemenceau architects.  His presented an interesting reflection on the nature of the profession. He said that architecture is moving away from the “starchitect” model and towards a more transdiciplinary practice, where different skill sets are brought together in collaboration.  I think this is profoundly true, given that the world continues to seek more greater performance from nearly ever physical or digital object.  It seems the starchitect practice where one opinion dominates is incapable of adapting to the rigorous problems presented by the clients and public.  I think this shift has occurred in other firms, who are looking both inside their people and to outside of their firms to create a more diverse and flexible entity.  Mark Gage, given his classical training from Notre Dame, interestingly brings up the topic of patrons of architecture.  He relates each period of time to particular patrons, who funded the design of the most progressive architecture of the time period.  Today, he believes the patron is no longer corporate america but rather the industries of fashion and media.  His opinion is that architecture should look to insert itself where the architectural is wanted or desired, such as in pop up installations, fashion shows, etc, where a physical space and affect are the most charged.