making of Authentic Architecture
and Overview - Part
Part Two • go to Part Three
This THESIS is
based on the following experience:
new way of working can be accomplished by
the tight integration of processes, environments
THAT this way is based on the
nature of mind and networks therefore it
is complex and emergent...
THAT among a myriad of applications,
this allows a new practice of architecture...
THAT this new practice facilitates
the creation of AUTHENTIC Architecture
which is financially and ecologically sustainable
and can be afforded by a much greater portion
of the population than contemporary architecture
THAT this is accomplished by integrating
design, engineering, fabrication, building,
development, maintenance and use as a single
system which is based on life-cycle economics...
THAT Architecture is, by necessity,
inclusive of what today is considered to
be separate: interiors, buildings, armatures,
infrastructures, landscape, communities,
mega-structures, regions and the planet
THAT architecture shelters, arranges
the flow of utility transactions in home,
office, communities and population centers,
and is both the fact-based, non-distorted EXPRESSION of
a culture’s values and also one of
the great shapers of those values... THAT architecture is not a visual art - it provides
for life to be experienced as art...
THAT the primary challenge,
in the generation ahead, is that Planet
is being turned into a human artifact
by default - not by intention and design...
THAT the present configuration
of society and its intellectual and organizational
cannot deal with this reality and is in
rapidly making it so...
THAT a deliberate local-to-global
effort is required if we are to accomplish
a civilization and planet that supports
free life in it’s myriad forms...
THAT a Program and process to
do this is possible and constitutes a minimum MORAL response
to the conditions we humans have created
and imposed on Planet Earth as a system.
experience, which I report, is my 50 years of professional
work in the domain of architecture, what I have learned
from this work, from the great masters I have been
privileged to know and study, and from the legacy
of civilizations that have proceeded ours and who
the test of
time as we are now in jeopardy of so doing.
This is written as a manifesto, a program, a call to arms and a hope that we
might step up to the challenge of our times and advance to the next great expression
of what it means to be HUMAN.
October 31, 2004
|Frank Lloyd Wright [link] once
said that one should take a long time preparing to
become an architect. I have
did that although I had no idea, when I started out,
that it would take me nearly 50 years. It has not
only taken me this long, it has taken the last 5
years working on this autobiographical part of my
web site to make sense of it all and to be able to
present the totality of my life’s as an integrated
electronic document is the first of three steps that
will culminate in my achieving this ambition: first,
to receive my Masters degree from SFIA [link];
second, to write my exam for a license [link];
third, to establish an on-going
and artistically/financially successful personal practice
of architecture [link] compatible
with but separate from what I am now doing with MG
Taylor Corporation and tsmARCHITECTURE.
This practice is
to be my “retirement” plan [link].
are not neatly linear steps, of course; they are
benchmarks along a path I have pursued in by mind
since 1952 [link] and,
professionally, since 1956 [link].
It goes without saying that my sense of what these
are - and mean - and their criteria for success has
evolved a great deal since I first walked into an
looking for a job [link] and
since I started working in this profession [link].
years ago (January
2000), when I started teaching
at SFIA, I told Fred Stitt that my Thesis for my
degree would be the course [link] itself.
Since then, I have decided
that, although this does make up a significant part
of what I want to say, it is not in itself, complete.
It is the lessons I have extracted from the totality of
my professional and life experiences - including
the documentation of the last few years as my architectural
work has started to grow with built examples and
some level of popular acceptance - that has to be
the scope of this Thesis. This means that the Thesis
and its reference materials are composed of this entire web
site which has been both an autobiographical effort
and an ongoing, daily documentation
of my last 5 years of work [link].
may seem like a strange approach, perhaps self-centered,
perhaps lacking in objectivity and adequate references
to things outside my own direct experience. I will
argue the contrary. One has only their own experience
to report no matter how rigourus their research.
In addition, no matter the many great teachers [link]. I
found along the way - and there have been many -
I had to teach myself how to become an
architect; and, by
at the threshold of
deserving that title. I will argue that this circumstance,
also, is a reflection of the way things truly are
and expresses a commonly overlooked generality. I
have long wondered how it is posible to receive a
Master’s degree in Architecture (or any subject)
without having built - without having demonstrated MASTERY [rbtfBook].
The most interesting - and heuristic - aspect of
my career has been the curious route
- so full of apparent detours and setbacks - that
has delivered me to the place where I am today. A
place that is the accumulation of experiences and
skill sets without which it would not be possible
for me to build what I have long held in my head
as an ideal and a possibility. It has taken nearly
50 years to get to “start” and I have
as yet not collected my $200. I
have, however, accumulated a set of experiences that
suited for what I set out to do. In retrospect,
has been an almost perfect education.
everyone’s path is different and each
has to find their own way, I am convinced that had
I followed a more “normal” course I would
have failed long in advance of the opportunities
that I now have
before me. I believe that this is not just an isolated,
idiosyncratic sample but that there exists generally
applicable lessons to be extracted from this quest [link] of
mine; and, that the conventional way of teaching
and practicing it, is why we have so little
of it that processes authenticity [link].
Thesis, then, is an annotated index to several
thousands of, yet incomplete, Notebook pages that
a 48 year journey. These annotations make-up my best
compilation of what
it is that I have learned and why I believe
that these principles are important and can be applied
beyond one person’s
is a fair question to ask: “why now?” “Why
at this moment in time is it important to “complete”
this Thesis?” The
answer is actually simple. Something is happening.
which has been
long resisted and ignored and has required enormous
effort to bring to the attention of a world distracted
by many mundane and superficial things, is “suddenly”
becoming accepted. This acceptance is demonstrated
both by a number of opportunities and a much greater
and active resistance on the part of many in the
design/build profession. You know that you are getting
someplace when you become serious enough to be opposed
not just ignored. Without question this is a tipping
point. Why? NOW I cannot
will seek that insight as I prepare these notes.
It is this moment, however, when the shift
is surely happening and yet the outcome is uncertain
poignant. Is this yet another blip that will lead
to failure and disappointment? Or, in fact has enough
been learned to accomplish success? This is an easy
assessment after the outcome but makes a
far more important statement before it. Heinlein
“if it ain’t documented, it ain’t
science.” If it
cannot be replicated it is not science either. If
what I have learned cannot be applied to a much greater
arena than one life, the report may be amusing -
and even insightful - but of little utility. If it
processes no “predictability” it remains
questionable and it will be discounted.
there is at least one more reason WHY. The
projects now underway are the first that get even
close to the threshold of the architectural
realm I have sought with dedication and passion.
I tell people that what I am building today is what
was in my head in the late 50s and early 60s. This
implies nearly a 50 year lag between vision
and realization. I confess that this is true. I am
not happy about it but it is what it is. This is
a strange circumstance, however, before I could see it,
there was a vision of architecture that possessed
build it, it taunted me; long before I could
employ it, I had deep dissatisfaction with
the function of almost all buildings; long before
I knew there was far more to be realized; long before
I could form a practice - a ValueWeb - there
was a persistent emptiness for a community of Cathedral
long before it was affordable,
I knew there was another side to the economic equation [link].
It is difficult, even now, to express how deeply
- and alienated I was from the
very beginning - and still am. When I started,
I knew nothing -
not even what I wanted. I did know I wanted nothing
to do with what
I saw around me. Today, it remains much the same
- this gap - even though I know a great deal more
about it. I have developed knowledge, skills, brand
leverage. The work now being done just starts to
be what I have sought
- at last
a glimmer. And, this is not only about the
thing of it - it is about the spirit -
the total experience of using it [link].
It is difficult to express the massive scale and
scope of my failure; more so the optimism and persistent
expectation that indeed this vision can be, must
be - will
at this moment; at this cusp, I plant my flag and
stake my claim. This ARCHITECTURE that I am talking
about is very different that what has been done before.
Not just the thing of it but the spirit of it, how
is is made and how it is used. The results to come
will provide the only measure of
will have to recreate [rbtfBook] [link] it
to make it real for yourself. But then, that is your story
and I hope that you will tell it someday.
a man does...
that he is”
Purpose and Content
is a sad commentary on the state of things that serious
architects often feel compelled to put a qualifying
word in front of the concept architecture.
Wright applied organic; Bruce Goff absolute,
Schindler transparent, Lautner timeless,
and so it goes. I have resisted
this but in moments of weakness I have felt compelled
to use the term AUTHENTIC [link].
(suitably done in capitals much to the annoyance
of the literary
types who actually know how to express what
they want to
say in words). Truth to tell “authentic” does
get at what I am about as does the term fact-based.
To me, architecture has a mission and this mission
is grounded in the reality of what a building is
and what it does. This is dependent on what
makes the concept HUMAN mean something.
I call myself the last of the humanists and I am
fastidious by half. What I mean as “human” is
not simply “what humans do.” In fact,
sadly, what humans do a great deal of does
not strike me as being very
human. Being an idealist as well as a humanist -
I am not sure the two can be separated - means that
my lodestone is an ideal conception of a perfected
human state. I realize, in confessing this embarrassing
point, I am excommunicated from the present state
of ISM be
commercialism or the many other isms that
pass for thinking and intellectual/emotional independence
in a world increasingly devoted to dogma, unthinking
habit and excess [link] -
and, I fear, self-destruction of all kinds. No, I
an idealist [link] and
I hold myself and our race to a very high set of
standards. I believe that architecture
can express these
standards in concrete terms, facilitate a life-style
based on them and, by its very nature and how it
is made, require us to live up to these standards
- at least in the making of our HABITATS.
The highest practice of these standards is necessary
other words, it
cannot be faked.
It IS. Authenticity is everything -
and in everything.
follows, then, that I reject almost every action
called for, in today’s world, in the name of
“The evaluation of the concept practical, Dr.
Ferris, depends on that which you wish to practice”
especially in the realm of architecture which is the practice of making ideals practical.
It just seems to me that if you are going to cut
that the wood should make something as wonderful;
if you are going to disrupt an animal’s habitat,
risk the creation of pollution, employ people to
work and spend energy (as a measure of effort) and
(as a measure of value) that the result should add to
the world and our way of experiencing it;
is should endure though a natural life-cycle and
it should promote the physical and mental health
should be better than what was. If it cannot
be thus... what justifies it? Why do it?
I know that there are many opinions regarding all
this and almost anything can be justified in the
name of the economy (unless, of course,
one questions if there really is an economy
other than a model that adds up a number of transactions
by someone’s standards - usually based on the
them - who then declares it “good” or “bad”).
A great many living creatures are dying in the name
Life, today, is often sacrificed to an abstraction - dwell on this for a moment.
You see, I do not think that the focus of the humanist
is about humans.
It is about what humans should be paying attention
It gets down to if you think of life - all life,
not just human life - as
sacred or profane. You can call it as you will but
because the universe is integrated there
is no escaping the consequences. “Structure
I digress - or so it might appear.
work to follow is presented in six sections starting
that, in my experience, have proven useful in the
production and use of
architecture. When I
started out in this profession, although my sensibility
was true (that is to say sense-able and
sensitive), I believed the opposite on nearly every
one of them. It took many hard knocks to learn them
- I am a stubborn man. I will follow this by a discourse
on what I think is distinct in my approach
to the making and using of architecture and, then,
a criticism [link] of
several architects worthy of the name. As part of
this, I will offer a criticism of my own work, both
projects and executed works, with an illustration of
these works and their related precursors and successors.
Then, the lessons from
life that lead me (sometimes kicking and screaming)
to this practice. For, if the
approach is not distinct
and no examples illustrating the principles and lesions,
then on what basis can a degree of mastery be
awarded? The last piece of this THESIS,
will offer some pointers to the road ahead -
the work yet to be done; which is a far greater distance
than the entire road behind. All of these comments
will be linked to my web site, my SFIA and ReBuilding
the Future Courses and other
links are an important aspect of the story. Without
them it would be incomplete and a distortion. You
will find that there is an epistemology in all this
and this is the basis for a tight integration of
the many aspects of mental processes that too often,
and for too long,
have been held in opposition to one another. In this
THESIS, the rational, experienced-based,
intuitional, emotional and spiritual are bound together
in a fact-based Design/Build/Use
which is disciplined, yet heuristic, and open ended
This is the real message under the theory
and practice of architecture presented here. This
potential of MIND is both the means to
the architecture and the reason for the
architecture. I will show that the same architecture
is to be found in the buildings we build, in music,
in the neural
a single human, in a social network - in structures
kinds. It is the pattern common
to all these that the
yield endless expression. These same structures also
form the basis for the processes [link] by
which this architecture can be built [link]
and used [link].
is important that you understand that I have said
something very radical here, and, if you understand
this, you will understand two more things: why a life [link] is
a legitimate subject of a thesis and why, despite
the great universality encompassed in this “report,”
it will have no value to you unless you recreate [link] it
all for yourself.
principle is not a principle unless
it is as constant and universal as any concept can be
- that is, up to very limits of the conceptual as
a distillation of, and descriptor of, a far more
complex reality than human language can “hold” and
define. It is not a principle unless it describes
of a field
ideal state and its generic - as a category. In other
words, it is equally true for “good” - i.e. full
- and “bad” - i.e. meager expressions - of the principle.
A valid principle can be applied in the
design process as an active agent in the
generation of unique works.
the principles below are both a specification of
the ideal of architecture, and its practice,
and a statement
of its nature that can be seen to be valid
throughout its entire history and - at present -
future. These are not all the relevant principles.
The focus here is on those that are most distinct
to my approach and most missing from common practice.
architecture works are universal and
unique; each global and site specific.
link for detail
scope of architecture is the entire
built human artifact, including infrastructure,
and how it interfaces with what we
- on the scale
of a single building, a complex, a
city, bio-region and the entire planet
is a social and experiential art -
it is not a visual art.
is a highly collaborative art - this
includes, equally, those who build
it and those who use it - now, and
into the future.
emanates from both craft and technological
practices - both are tools and means
of production; both have equal validity.
Every work will be some combination
of both and that combination is determined
by the nature of the work and the circumstance
of its making.
processes of research, design, engineering,
manufacturing, building and using are
and cannot be separated from one another.
purpose of architecture is to facilitate
the process of living, express specific
human aspirations and values that are
appropriate to each individual work,
and its setting, while offering
an unique viewpoint of reality that
is transforming for its inhabitants.
subject of any work of architecture
is the experience of the life lived
and the process of, and integration
of, purposeful work within it.
provides for all life forms equally:
human, animal, plant - it removes conflict
between them and brings harmony to
LIFE and the total experience of it.
The “art” of
building a work, and the value
of the experience of doing so,
important as the end result -
and the ends are one.
architectural work is never finished,
it continually evolves - reuse and
adaptability are natural and built
size, budget and social circumstance
of a work has no bearing of its architectural
potential or quality.
is a continuum of time and history
- past present and future; it
is the deep pattern language that
transforms any historical period
each work draws from the past,
references its own time and predicts
the future; and, every work will
have style which it the “chunking” of
the qualities of its time.
esthetic aspect of any architectural
work is its theme, derived from the
nature of the place, time and purpose
of the work and its use; it is IDEA
made real - as fact - in the daily
gestalt, detailed expression and
integration of, every aspect of the
work. Architecture is “frozen
music” only it is not frozen;
it is art that you move through,
and act with, as
you experience it; and, as both you
the work, itself, changes.
made of material thing-ness, the
essence of architecture is not that
- architecture is idea made real
made concrete and by being the environment
within which a life is directed and
experienced; architecture is “external
living being experiences architecture
in an unique way and participates in
its manifestation (that is, the causing
- making and living - of it) in an
have utility only if they are stated in a way that
indicates the path of, and, conceptually and emotionally,
compels action along that path to facilitating the practice of
an art. There are many criteria that must be met
the creation of architecture [link] -
these principles stand “meta” to these
criteria and are contained within them. The tragic
aspect of architecture,
is its lack of philosophical context - with the rebellion
against a dogmatic “modernism,” the baby
was thrown out with the bath water.
work has focused on bringing philosophy back to architecture
- both in terms of what it is and how it is made
- in a way so that it remain emergent and cannot
degenerate into a dogma.
have, in 48 years, worked in almost every aspect
of the total system that makes up the production
and use of buildings and their landscape. I have
performed work structured in the conventional
way and when integrated, cross-functionally, in a
Design/Build/Use process. It is these experiences,
as a sum, that have lead me to conceive of both the
objective and practice of architecture in radical
find that I am even further from the main stream
of architectural practice today than when I first
D/B/U model [link] is
the core of my practice approach
of my first serious break with
the profession I entered [link]. One
of my mentors through me out
of his office when he discovered
I had worked for Tishman as a
field engineer [link].
The breaking apart of these three
aspects of practice constitutes
in my mind the single greatest
reason why time and cost factors
today are way out of hand. I
cannot conceive working any other
way and do not believe that truly
complex, large scale Authentic
Architecture will be accomplished
without an integrated D/B(manufacturing)U
I started in architecture, design/build
was in decline. Now a bastardized
version has become acceptable but
is still not common. I did not
think up D/B; I came along several
thousand years too late for this
and the first serious words that
of this approach. The USE aspect
of a full practice model is my
innovation. I am not the first
person to design, build and operate
an environment but I am the first
(as far as I know) to make it a
practice ideal as well as a habit.
I believe that it is an essential
requirement of design competency
and necessary to understanding
building economics. Beyond even
these considerations the divorce
of use from architecture is I believe
the primary reason that despite
engineering and stylistic innovations
over the last century that the
function of most building types
has hardly advanced at all [link].
only is the practice of architecture
limited (engineering and building
being exorcized) the scope of building
categories is highly truncated.
On the inside, the vast majority
of technical systems (electrical,
lighting acoustic, HVAC, computer
systems, etc.) as an integrated
aspect connected to each other
and the rest of the building’s
functionality, are not a typical
have become specialized and mostly
the mere selecting of manufactured
goods that are largely out of the
architect’s ability to influence.
Interior design is becoming an
anarchism except in very high end
situations. Mostly, superficial
decoration rules. The landscape
is now someone
worry about - at least we call
them landscape architects (and
planners) and many of them practic
seriously and well. Infratructure
(roads, highways, power grids,
monuments, city-scapes, mega-cities)
out of scope [link]. Yet, we are
building mega-cities by default.
tell me that they could never live
in a mega-city I tell them that
they are - just a poorly designed
one. Add it all up and we are designing
a PLANET by default [link].
We are about to go into space [link] yet
I see few architects involved.
of this is Architecture
yet neglected as such. The notion
of architecture has been reduced
to the creation of building shells
(in which the engineering is twisted,
and disguised); placed on grids
(imposed on bio-regions); partially
augmented by “sub-division” “master”
plans based on questionable real
estate models [link];
with pre-packaged, regurgitated
interiors made up of products that
usually do not go well together.
The design process is largely one
of hand-offs and despite hard work
and the desire to integrate all
of this little is accomplished
other than spending about 50% of
cost of the building on tiers and
ties of an organization model/process
that if ever drawn up would look
nightmare from a century ago but
ballooned all out of proportion
and scale from any our Victorian
ancestors could have possibly conceived.
is not that architects are not
trying nor that they lack talent.
are taking on a task that is impossible
given the structure of
relationships in which they work,
their education and experience
(both of which which are inadequate),
the rule of UpSideDownEconomics [link],
and a paradigm that still takes
notions like the Nation State [link] seriously
and refuses to understand that
we are living in a highly connected
21st century Planetary society.
We use the connectivity to try
and exercise the old work processes
harder and faster in a vain attempt
to catch up with an accelerating
system collapse. Everyone is working
longer, taking on more stress and
risk and getting less and less
for it. The average person cannot
afford architecture the the few
(a year) “great works” (which is
what passes for R&D) are purchased
at great expense and usually,
controversy, too often being reduced
to a monument
of someone’s misapplied ego.
offers a hint at a different way
to conceive of a building and it’s
function. It would clearly have
to be built
you want to give yourself a few
hours of scarey thoughts, think
about another 25 years [link] of
this. What will our Planet be?
aspect of the scope issue is we
seem to think that architecture
need only address human needs.
Where did this idea come from?
Plants and animal survive by the
of migration. We are unecessarly
cutting them off from this ability
thereby enormously increasing their
risk of extinction. This ethics
of this are simply “might make
right.” Humans, as a species, are
powerful and careless and plants,
animals and planet get what they
The way to get past this complexity,
the need for expertise and the need
for integration - the requirements
of economics, ecology and ethics
- is to practice a scaleable and
inclusive organizational strategy
which I call
a ValueWeb [link].
FOR ALL LIFE:
IN THE CONTINUITY OF HISTORICAL
OF THE SOUL/BODY DICHOTOMY; THE
INDIVIDUAL VRS. SOCIETY SPLIT;
THE PRACTICAL VRS. IDEAL DIASTER:
OF THE ECONOMY OF ARCHITECTURE:
of these distinctions, itself, is a sufficient venue
for a lifetime of work. Taken together, they make
a synergy that not only rejects the totality of
practice as we know it, they form an almost insurmountable
barrier between myself and the various professions
that now define architecture. While there are many
individuals I like and enjoy working with, the scope
of the difference I have come to have with these
professions as a whole is extraordinarily challenging.
example is the whole issue of the architectural license.
I never wrote my examination because in the 60s and
70s, when I would have naturally done this, there
was great hostility to the practice of design/build.
It was considered a conflict of interest and unethical.
Architects who did design/build were constantly being
threatened with the revoking of their license. I,
of course take the opposite view. If an architect
one who practices the creation of architecture
then not to be involved in the entire process of
manufacturing, building and using is not to practice architecture.
I consider the vast majority of “architects” to
be architectural designers. There is validity
in this role. Not every professional has to take
on the whole scope of making architecture. There
is legitimacy in specialization throughout the process
in any complex system. No one can master the entire
scope and detail of architecture across the many
building types (I have given this educational challenge
deliberate attention and diligence and have done
so to a greater degree than anyone I know. Even so,
total mastery is impossible). However, when the process
disintegrates into the competency
today and when
the single biggest expense of a building is the cost
of trying to knit it all back together, then
this is taking specialization way to far. It also
consequence of legislating out of existence the key
systems integration role necessary to the economical
creation of architecture. Most architects would
not consider me an architect. I
do hold a license
and I do not run a conventional office. I do not
consider them to be an architect because they have
abandoned the role of MASTER BUILDER. Filippo
Brunelleschi would understand what I am talking about.
He is often promoted as the father of the profession
as we know it, however, modern practice does not
begin to approach his practice scope. He was an artist,
inventor, engineer, builder and entrepreneur. If
he had to work in today’s
practice structure there is little likelihood
he could have accomplished the level of innovation
did when building, several hundred years ago, what
is still the worlds largest span with a masonry dome.
have resolved this lack of integration issue by the
creation of the ValueWeb architecture and the invention
of the SYSTEMS INTEGRATOR role. I am, now,
just beginning to conduct projects explisitly by
use of this method. Today, it is legally possible
for a variety of professionals to take on the SI role
because the various professional societies have stopped
fighting the, yet unnamed, master builder function.
There does not exist, however, an overall legal framework
to do this explicitly and well. The licensed architect
still remains “in charge” without the
education, willingness, practice model and legal
support to do this role properly.
is but one example of the conflict between my definition
of architecture and its practice and what have become
the entrenched, legalized modern reality. There are
several others of equal weight which will be addressed
in another place.
two of this overview continues with CRITICISM,
ILLUSTRATION, LESSONS and THE
ROAD AHEAD sections of this Overview.
Three will focus on the the technical aspects
of my work. This will be approached in four subsections;
the first, on the Patent and mind/brain theory
that forms the foundation of the Taylor method
and, thus, the concept of human processes upon
which any valid architecture must rest; the second,
on certain aspects of design and design processes
that form the basis for my approach to this task;
the third, on design/build techniques essential
to integrating the various work processes necessary
to the task of physically making architecture;
and fourth, on the business and organization
aspects of building and employing ValueWebs for
the creation of ARCHITCTURE.
to Thesis Introduction and
Overview Part Two
to Thesis Introduction and
Overview Part Three
Projects 1952 - 2004
February 20, 2004
voice of this document:
VISION STRATEGY DESIGN DEVELOPMENT
February 20, 2004
October 14, 2004
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