Pattern LanguageXanadu ProjectMy Palo Alto Workspace
Real Estate DevelopmentThe Crystal caveEcoSphere
Gail’s Nest

San Francisco Bay Area Studio

For Matt Taylor

Program Statement


The Basic Concept

“The building stood on the shore of the East River, a structure rapt as raised arms. The rock crystal forms mounted in such eloquent steps that the building did not seem stationary, but moving upward in a continuous flow-until one realized that it was only the movement of one’s glance and that one’s glance was forced to move in that particular rhythm. The walls of pale gray limestone looked silver against the sky, with the clean, dulled luster of metal, but a metal that had become warm, living substance, carved by the most cutting of all instruments-a purposeful human will. It made the house seem alive in a strange, personal way of its own, so that in the minds of spectators five words ran dimly, without object or clear connection ‘ His image and likeness...’ ”

The Fountainhead
Ayn Rand


For my antecedents see:

1960s work

Cooper House - 1960

EcoSphere - 1969, 1975

Domicile - 1967, 1973, 1977

Steinmeyer House - 1974

CAMELOT - 1988 to present



This is both a real project and my project for my Architectural Practice Course at the San Francisco Institute of Architecture. It exemplifies the philosophy and criteria I am presenting in the course.


Flying between Hilton Head and San Francisco, on the way to do the first session of the course (January, 2000), I sketched out the basic criteria of the project. This work was further augmented by four follow-up working sessions (the last on January 30th). I had previously decided to base the work on the sketch shown at the top of this document - an “old” 60’s concept that I have a strong resonance with.


This program statement describes an extremely ambitious project - one that both satisfies a number of my personal architectural agendas and creates an environment efficacious for its purpose. There are many design, engineering and construction innovations intrinsic to the concept. This emanates from my premise that professionals should focus on advancing their art and transferring it - not grinding out an infinite number of works common to and within the state-of-the-art. There are several architectural ideas explored here: the intimacy of each functional areas specific shape, texture, viewpoint and orientation to its function; the idea of employing a vertical “skyscraper” configuration to an intimate, small scale piece; the “multi-module” system employed; the “earth sculpture” setting at the base of the structure; the central core, rising from a tap root system and serving a series of cantilevered “arms” that house the living/working spaces; the integration of transportation units into the architectural schema; accessible and “plug and play” mechanical systems, wiring and technology.


My 1960s work established the basic concept of the type - the form, stance and attitude of the work. The Cooper House project by employing open pavilion-like spaces and the unconventional location for Kitchen and food service areas. EcoSphere, some of the interior layout schema in the sense that many gradations of elevation and vertical spaces can be employed to provide both utility and unique vantage (view) points - and the demonstration that floors do not always have to be flat or level. The Steinmeyer project contributes the construction method and resource/energy management strategies. CAMELOT, many shipbuilding methods, the example of extreme small, compact, multi-use spaces, non intrusive technology integration and the quality of material finishes and details.


There are several built projects by Wright, Dow, Schindler, Goff and others that, in some way, utilize and explore some aspect of these ideas.


The metaphor of “EarthShip” is both exact and important. This structure will “float” on a tap root friction piling that supports a small footprint - a cantilevered reinforced concrete pad (approximately 16 feet by 16 feet), upon which, the entire structures central core rests. The various spaces will cantilever from this core. Each space, capable of accomplishing several specific program functions, comes out of this womb-like core and projects in a specific direction - a direction that provides view, light, exposure appropriate to each space’s specific function(s). Each space accomplishes, within a common grammar, its own unique expression necessary to its exact mission.


Because of this vertical schema, little of the land will be disturbed, wiring, plumbing and duct work will be minimized and the structure will not be subjected to the stresses associated with a large, spread out footprint.


The weight and location of the various cantilevered arms will be calculated to maintain a basic balance of vertical forces - this way the pad will not be subject to great asymmetric loads. Additionally, prevailing wind loads will be taken into consideration for both structural and heating/cooling reasons.


The base of the structure will be surrounded by earth berms the extent of which will be determined by the site. Issues of water run off, prevailing weather, sight lines, food production, access and security will determine what is to be done. An objective is to provide a warm outdoor, semi-covered solar court that is private, along with landscaping areas in three progressive zones: a green area that blends naturally with the interior landscaping, a band of edible landscape based on Permaculture principles and a final transition area to the prevailing “landscape” conditions whatever they may be. This transition zone also will control access. Depending on the final site selection, the context may be urban or open.


This is a small structure - about 1,500 square feet of enclosed functional space and, perhaps, a somewhat greater amount for Vehicle Dock, decks and semi indoor/outdoor and formal landscaped sitting areas. In this size budget, a broad program has to be accomplished. CAMELOT, by contrast, has about 324 square feet of interior space (and an equal amount of more or less open deck space) and provides complete living and work facilities and mechanical systems for two - for extended cruising - and for two couples for shorter periods. This work is conceived to sit on (if necessary) a small piece of land - as small as a 60 x 60 feet. Even on a larger site the amount of “developed” land, which has to be maintained, will not be large.


The idea is to build small, build well with great craft and attention to detail and spend the money necessary to build an enduring structure based on a life cycle cost model. This is how a boat is done. A boat can change its landscape by moving. In the case of this EarthShip, the building has to carefully adapted to the landscape setting so that short and long views are achieved along with privacy, security, entrance and a certain amount of intimacy with the Earth. Only the mobile units of this EarthShip can move.






The primary purpose of this Studio is to facilitate my practice of architecture. The test is that a global practice can be supported from this environment. This means that the Studio will have to provide state-of-the-art Virtual Presence and creative augmentation. It is to be both a retreat environment and a window to the world. These are two “contrasting” esthetic themes that play together in delightful ways. Many such contrasts will be explored with this project.


The kind of practice that I intend to engage in is a “STUDIO” practice - an essentially one person organization with a few (at any given time) student assistants. The larger organization of which I intend to be a part can be called a guild or tribe. I intend to create a ValueWeb enterprise that is capable of executing fine architecture, of any scale, any place in the world. The “swimming pool method” will be employed, as well as, PatchWorks Design processes. We are exploring a practice, based on the principles of my Course and the ideas that Fred Stitt has been advocating for many years, to be associated with the SFIA school.


My present work environment (until April 2003) at the Palo Alto knOwhere Store, is less than 400 square feet. Gail’s and my house (and work studio away from the Store) is about 1,000 square feet. The Studio will be about 1,500 square feet of enclosed space. More or less equivalent to my present house and work space. Our Hilton Head Sealoft that served as home, studio and MG Taylor Office for nearly ten years was 800 square feet. We do expect to add a Guest/Studio addition to our Gulala Home which will be about 720 square feet and that will take some of the “load” off the Studio itself. There is a distinct difference in the studio work and the guest venue between these two locations. The Gulala environment is a place for Gail and myself - an intimate retreat. Our “work” there is more thinking and writing and related to the various enterprises we have created together. It is also a place for a few friends and associates to visit The Studio will be placed more central to the denser life of the San Francisco Bay area and is dedicated to architectural practice. It may be necessary to add a drafting wing to the Studio in the future, if the practice requires it, and that will be conceptually developed when the site is selected.


Note: The comments related to our Gulala home and studio were added in April 2002 after our move from our rented Eichler home near the Palo Alto knOwhere Store. The Eichler was 1,100 square feet.


My personal focus of this practice will be a design-build practice and will largely be concerned with education, broad architectural issues and the distribution of design/build/use materials to a global constituency. Projects will be limited to interesting, innovative pieces, with active client participation, that cover the broadest range of architectural types as possible. It is intended that most executed projects will be accomplished in collaboration with a variety of design and construction firms as members of a ValueWeb. It is also anticipated that on many of the projects I will be acting as the developer and participate in the ownership. A significant focus of this practice will be devoted to the development of green architecture and affordable housing. It should be noted that what is affordable in one economy is not in another. My interests in affordability range the entire bandwidth of conditions all over the globe. Affordability to me also means that the PLANET can afford it - not just a person’s budget - on a sustainable basis. The administration of the Master Planning Process - on a global basis - is another key program requirement of the Studio project. Some of these projects, of course, will “graduate” to their own place(s) post-incubation - thus, ventures like The Crystal Cave.


While not primarily a residence, sleeping facilities for myself (when working on projects) and a permanent caretaker (“keeper”- student) will be required. Client and business associate overnight guest facilities are also necessary. This is a production environment for researching, planning, designing, facilitating and managing the entire architectural practice as I conceive of it. It is a place to live and work, without distraction - a place of Right Livelihood.


As such, it is a signature piece - my business card. It is also a “case-study” project. It should incorporate the broadest number of my architectural agendas as possible consistent with the accomplishment of a harmonious and integrated work. In one way of looking at it, this piece will document what I have learned, so far, in 46 years of design-build practice.


It is to be a cathedral to the creative spirit and a place of creative habits.


The Studio will be as self contained (and protected) as possible without becoming dominated by these concerns. Its immediate landscape will produce editable food and a water supply stored on site sufficient for drinking and protecting the building from fire. Materials and fabrication methods will be selected to minimize maintenance and deterioration over time. This approach is based on a life-cycle premise that stresses long-term, life-cycle economics and programmed maintenance and upgrades. With the exception of programmed “weathering” and patina, the building and landscape will evolve and stay “new.” No plumbing mechanical, electrical (and media) lines, conduits and ducts will be buried in the Superstructure or inaccessible walls. Where any of these utilities reach from one structurally self contained part to another (Superstructure to land, as example), flexible joints will be provided. By these design strategies and the small foot print of the foundation (see below), the Studio will be as secure from earthquake, landslide and wind damage as reasonably possible. In addition, all “machine” and mechanical/equipment systems will be accessible for inspection, cleaning, repair and replacement. In all these ways, the Studio will be designed and built like a ship.


Transportation related to the practice is considered to be an integral aspect of this project. This includes a mobile sleeping/working office environment for site work and a personal transportation unit for individual use. The mobile office will dock to the Studio and be electronically active and spatially useful in that state. The personal unit will dock to the mobile office as required for travel. These units will most likely be built before the Studio itself.


Each functional space is to be oriented to the site and seasonal/sun exposure as best facilitates the function. This include the character of the architectural space (inside and as defined by view), as well as the specific employment of materials and their texture. The idea of this environment is that of a highly customized and detailed approach to the exact orientation and experience offered by each space - and, the connotative and denotative relationship to the activities therein. The ambition is to take this further than ever before accomplished. This will, of course be achieved within an overall, integrated grammar. It will also be achieved with by the creation of archetype and “universal” spaces that will adapt well to many reuse possibilities. This can be accomplished by abandoning traditions definitions such as dining, bedroom, family room, drafting room, and so on and replacing this with a grouping strategy that is based on a more fundamental understanding of the kinds of activities that different space-types support.


The intent is to build a “complete world” environment. Even though there may be (depending on site) long views (off site), everything will be employed to reinforce the total self containment and unity of experience of this one place. This is a requirement of its main purpose and function - it is mission critical.


The Studio will employ “smart” technology to the maximum useful degree. At minimum, the Studio will perform basic scheduling and phone answering routines; monitor key technical systems; reorder basic consumables; provide essential security routines; initiate emergency procedures and facilitate automated teleconferencing. The Studio is the butler. The building is an intelligent agent responsive to the requirements of its occupants.


The Functional Areas are:


3 external zones
First Level

plant screening for all views and sound sources, sitting areas, programmed walk-in entry, drive and guest vehicle parking, editable landscaping, compost


Earth-sheltered, partially covered
First Level

space heating (in close zone), tile decks, sitting, fountain and pond, plant screening for all views and sound sources, editable landscaping


Earth-sheltered, partially covered
First Level

built-in storage, space heating, planting beds - intensive gardening methods

100 sq ft

In Core - Open to greenhouse & Patio
Second Level

built-in storage, space heating, hot tub, exercise equipment, soft sitting area

  Vehicle Dock

Earth-sheltered, partially covered
Second Level

built-in storage, vehicle plug and play, shop facilities, space heating

  Entry &
80 sq ft
Partially in Core & Cantilevered Composite Wood structure
Second Level

built-in sitting, Library, Display Area
Main Room
496 sq ft
Cantilevered Composite Wood structure
Second & Third Levels -
open to Fifth Level - wood (carpets) and tile floors
A dialog area - Balcony, fireplace, built-in sitting, Library, Dining, Presentation Area, Rest Room
Food Prep
144 sq ft
Partially in Core & Cantilevered Composite Wood structure - tile floor
Second Level - adjacent to Greenhouse

Kitchen, fireplace serving, food storage, dumb waiter, storage
248 sq ft
Cantilevered Composite Wood structure - wood (carpets) and tile floors
Third Level

Balcony, fireplace, Bathroom, sleeping, closet, Library, Work Area
  Guest Studio
144 sq ft

Cantilevered Composite Wood structure - wood (carpets) and tile floors
Fourth Level

Balcony, Bathroom, sleeping, closet, Library, Work Area

  MT Studio
288 sq ft
Cantilevered Composite Wood structure - wood (carpets) and tile floors
Fifth Level

Balcony, fireplace, Bathroom, sleeping, closet, Library, Work Area [link]
included in other sq ft numbers
Precast Concrete Block
First through Sixth Level

Storage, utilities, conduits, ducts, all wiring bus panels, natural ventilation, fireplace flues, plumbing, house technical systems - Look Out at top


The Program Matrix (above) describes the Functional Areas (first column), their square footage budget (second column), some of the features and components of the Area (third column) and if the Area is considered part of the Superstructure (S) or Landscape (L) and is budgeted accordingly.



...Grammar and Palette



FOUNDATIONS: Poured concrete covered with tile where exposed.


SUPERSTRUCTURE - Core: custom precast, integral color patterned and plain blocks with high “stone-like” finish (based on and advancing the Wright “textile-block” system).


SUPERSTRUCTURE - Wings: prefabricated screwed and glued plywood sections over laminated ribs. Finished surfaces cold-molded epoxy and laminated wood (cedar). This is weather proofed and acts as “roofing,” siding, interior wall finish.


WINDOW AND DOOR WALLS: Combination wood and steel mullions, steel and glass window sections and doors. Steel to have a baked enamel finish. Glass to be in small sections with etched and colored patterns - a lacy window wall. The majority of window walls will be fixed. Operable windows will be used to supplement folding doors & walls for ventilation. In each functional area, at least on large operable glass wall and or skylight will open to a Patio, Balcony or Greenhouse.


FLOORS: Wood and tile. Oriental rugs. No fixed carpeting except in built-in sitting “pits.” Carpet and rugs to be organic wool or cotton. Many sections of the “floors” will be angled, sloped and configured to accommodate leaning, sitting, lying down, and so on. Floor need to be level only where walking is required. This is based on a concept of types of spaces: space for view, space for utility, space for moving and so on.


FURNITURE: Built in and rolling. Follows general AI functionality, look and feel. Some custom pieces.


LANDSCAPING: Extensive. Blended through 3 exterior and one interior zones as noted. Interior landscaping will be intensive.


COLORS AND TEXTURES: Final color and texture selection is site sensitive. However, at present, these are the working assumptions: The concrete block is smooth - cast stone finish and is between an off-white and egg shell with just a slight cast of gray (Note: this has been altered - see February 22 Notes). The tile is a traditional Spanish tile between Van-Dyck Brown and Venetian Red. The laminated 1 x 3 wood finish over the prefabricated plywood sections is a smooth, highly finished (varnished) natural cedar. Any exposed ribs and wood mullions are a medium finish with a light Gold Ochre stain. The steel window wall pieces are greens: Cedar Green, Juniper green and Gronerde Gray Green, respectively, for the various shapes The glass, a slight green tint. Wood flooring white oak. Furniture, built in and wood doors, naturally finished Baltic Birch with naturally finished cedar trim for highlight. Carpeting, natual wool and cotton ranging from off-white to light brown. Carpets, a variety of selected traditional Orientals.


In general, the color palette is from the Faber-Castell Polychromos Nature (pencil) Set.






The Module System selected for this work is generated from the full exploration of the hexagon and incorporates, triangles, diamonds, rectangles and circles on three axis. The base dimension will be 4 feet - the length of the base hexagon segments.


multi-module Diagram

The module patterns repeat, through levels of recursion, in one half size increments - larger and smaller. Many slopes and angles can be generated by moving from one level to another.


This module provides both a complete dimensional control system and a technique (like musical scale, time signature and form-type) for crafting the form of the work.



...Site Criteria



Bay Area. Can be urban, suburban or country. The drive to the San Francisco, airport and KnOwhere facilities is important. This is not so much a traffic issue as travel can be at non peak but is critical in terms of interest and sense of “getting somewhere” and a feeling of isolation (back at the Studio) once there.


Note: in April 2002 the site criteria became more specific. See Project # 112.

Site can be a “problem” site. For some reason one that is not easily seen as “buildable.” This can be because of topography, soil stability, size, noise, access, etc. It must, however, have some intrinsic redeeming features: location, view, what ever. It can be a landscape that needs to be completely restored.


The site has to be one where the intrinsic features of this design approach can be used to create a building/landscape harmony. When built, success is defined as when no one can imagine the site without the building nor the building without the site.




...Design/Build Method


This will be a hybrid off site manufactured and site built project. Site Clearing and Foundations will be done first. Only minimum disturbance to the site will be allowed. A small crane will be used to drive the Pile (s), move foundation materials and place the Superstructure elements. The Block Superstructure Core elements will be precast off site and hand set on site. After setting the blocks will be fused with poured grout.


From start to finish, Site Clearance, Foundations and Superstructure will be completed within 30 days. In terms of job phasing, exterior windows and doors are considered part of the Superstructure.


As soon as the Superstructure is complete, driveways, walks, landscaping will be installed and the site will be treated as “finished.” As the Superstructucture comes to the site in almost totally finished condition, the Studio will be livable within 30 days of Super Structure completion.


Miscellaneous elements such as plumbing and electrical trim, tile, finished carpentry, and so on, will be field fit. Pieces and components, however will be rough cut and assembled in to packages in order to minimize time and material waste and disruption to the site. Any time on any site is risk. Minimizing site-time reduces exposure to unexpected consequences and controls wasted costs better than any other technique. However, it is equally important to remember that some things are best done on site - best for workmanship and economy. Best for the experience of building.


Basic time line elements, post site selection, are: design: 30 days. Permit set: 60 days. Final contract documents: 60 days. Fabricating concrete, wood and window wall Superstructure elements: 120 days. Final arrangements to start: 30 days. On site erection/building time to occupancy: 60 days. This is a 12 month project from securing the site to move-in. Extreme FasTracking can reduce this by half, however, given the innovation level, time compression adds risk (quality and cost) to the project.


All contracts will be let by the owner and will be fixed price and performance based. Bidding will not be used. Construction documents will include material cutting information; working drawing and shop drawing coordination will be very high. The Shop drawings will, in effect, become a major part of the final contract documents.


The design/fabracation/build process will follow the “NASA Model:” Design Strategy, Performance Specifications and Administrative Method.


This is lean production as applied to architecture and the model is based on over 44 years of my experience. This project brings it full cycle and uses the building method as a basis for conceiving the building. In other words, the way of building is tightly coupled with the concept of what to build. Feedback.




...Cost Model



The project budget is $1,000,000 cash. In addition, $120,000 will required to maintain and upgrate the facility on an annual basis. To support these Capital costs ongoing expenses and upgrades, an investment account will be set up for $3.2 million dollars and money drawn and borrowed to meet the financial requirements. An appropriate margin will be kept to cover stock price fluxuations. This account will be set up from the sale or transfer of some of my MG Taylor stock. This way maximum preservation of capital and liquidity will be maintained.


The earliest estimated time for this stock transaction to be possible, without negative consequences, is early 2001 - a year from when this document was created. This provides a year to find the land and do the basic research on the engineering schema and building methods. The 12 month buildout schedule, then, makes the move date early 2002. This is consistent with my plans to broaden my practice at this time.


Note: The recent economy and other events has altered the build schedule but not greatly. The estimate as of April 2002 is start building about one year from now. As of April 2003, yet another year delay is likely.


What this means, assuming a more or less normal economy, is that the house can be built from this fund and maintained indefinitely from it. This includes all capital and maintenance costs - including systems upgrades. All that will be required is that the fund be managed with basic competency.


This not only reduces the financial burden of ownership, it reduces dramatically the financial costs of practice.


The basic budget is as follows:

100 yrs
250 Month
20 yrs
1,250 Month
7 yrs
1,190 Month
10 yrs
416 Month
2 yrs
4,166 Month
5 yrs
2,500 Month
$ 9,772 Month
$ 1,000,000


The first column lists the major categories. The second, the life-cycle of replenishment. The third column, the actual Capital Budget for the initial construction and procurement.


In terms of the 3.2 million dollar fund, the following assumptions are made: The property will increase in value over time. Therefore, cost-of-money is not included as an expense. These two should, at least, wash with the potential of a slow increase in capital value. Because this property is associated with a professional practice, most of the costs are a business expense. Note that the major life-cycle expenses are equipment and transport. Standard tax amortization schedules are somewhat different than these time values, however, this should not make a significant difference. Setting the fund at $3,200,000 allows for stock value fluctuation. With active and prudent management, the fund should be able to preserve its Capital, fund the Studio Capital costs, fund the annual (life-cycle) expenses and pay back the original capital contribution over a 10 year period.


An alternative to taking Capital return is using the net revenue for living and practice costs. In effect, the entire environment, tooling, life-cycle costs, living and practice expenses can be funded with an investment of four million - the only way to practice architecture!


There are tax consequences in moving or liquidating my MG Taylor stock to set up the fund. This will be in the 30 to 40% range - worst case. In round terms, this makes the Studio a 4 million plus deal or about 25% of my MG Taylor stock when the company trades based on a 30 million plus evaluation.


Note: As of April 2002, these ratios may be off. The reorganization of MG Taylor is likely to change my ownership significantly. This may not be known until later in the year. As of 2003 and the MGT debt reduction schema and it’s impact on my personal finances, another way of financing the project may be necessary.


Based on 1,500 square feet of actual enclosed space, this Capital budget allows for $200 a square foot to build the basic building plus $67 a square foot for electrical and mechanical, $33 a square foot for furnishings.


These are adequate numbers given the nature of the building and the degree of innovation required - and, assuming careful lean production methods.


The Transport budget of $150,000 allows for a hybrid-fuel mobile sleeping and working environment that docks to the Studio and an electric personal transportation system that docks to (and charges from) the mobile unit.


What is not included in this Model are the ecological costs associated with the building. This will be developed in the Design Development phase of the work. As the structure and materials are more or less traditional, there is already an existing body of knowledge that indicates that this design can be executed in a way that minimizes negative impacts. There are several design strategies embedded in the basic concept to further insure this. The mild weather of the region serves to simplify heating/cooling issues. So does the life style of the occupant. In another project - one of greater unknowns or weather extremes - a deeper analysis would be required in the program and schematic Phases.



...Historical References


Millard House
Chrystal Chapel
Dow Studio
Sagrada Familia
Storer House
Freeman House
Lovell House
Bavinger House
Millard House
Bavinger House
Sagrada Familia
Wayfarer’s Chapel
Sagrada Familia
H H Hotel
Hanna House
VC Morris
Freeman House
Sturges House
Lovell House
Drake House


These pictures show a number of examples where some of the ideas and grammatical elements of the Studio project have been explored and built. Each demonstrates the efficacy of many aspects of the design. None, however - even all together - explore the entire paradigm presented by this proposed work.


Picture credits:


Frank Lloyd Wright: Pasadena Millard block House (textile block system with patterns and openings, landscaping as a place maker and privacy shield)... Bretwood Heights (LA) Sturges House (cantilevered structure, privacy - with openness - by raised platforms, simple grammar and palette)... Freeman House - LA (site placement, “framed” view)... Storer House (repeating pattern on several levels of recursion)... VC Morris (Bay Area site, vertical organization)... Hartford Hotel Project (a stunning use of cantilever and site placement) - one of Mr. Wright’s finest ideas...

Bruce Goff: Chrystal Chapel project - University of Oklamoma (crystal forms, different angles vertical forms “adding up” to a plumb line)... Bavinger House - Norman, Oklahoma (one functional area flowing into another while keeping distinct identity, privacy by raised/hanging platforms)...

Rudolf Schindler: Schindler/Chace House - LA (size, use of space, precast concrete), Lovell Beach House - Newport Beach (interior vertical space, privacy by raised platforms, open balconies, concrete and frame superstructure combination, patterned glass)...

Lloyd Wright: Wayfarers Chapel (extensive use of glass in superstructure, setting, prospect and refuge, openness and intimacy, exterior landscaping as the actual visual “walls” of the building)...

park house - LA (modulated, articiulated, growth-like use of block system)...

Aldan Dow: Studio (angled plan on the bias, use of block in staggered, stepped forms, marrage with pond)...

John Lautner: Malin Residence - Chemosphere (360 degree view, privacy - with openess - by raised platform and unique site placement, access via bridge, single structural bearing point and utility feed)...

Gordon Drake: Drake House - LA (intimacy of small spaces, simple materials pallete)...

Antanio Guadi: Sagrada Familia Catherdal (basic forms, use of inlayed tile)...


All of these works convey their idea in one direct perception. Each uses ornament as an integral aspect of the structure and as expression of the meaning of the building. Each has stood the test of time.


The Rand quotes, at the top of this page, and below, actually come closest to the idea of the Studio and it was these words that inspired my concept in 1961. Her description was of a much larger work. I wondered if the idea could be applied on the scale of a small single living unit and if these scale issues could be handled. What were houses in the “Enright House” translate into rooms and major spaces in this work. At this scale, of course - and given the program and probable site - the Stuio is a far less heroic edifice than Rand described. Xanadu, a project I conceived in 1959 and put to paper just this year, is more on the scale of the Enright house. It’s three towers express some of Rand’s description - perhaps in a more relaxed way.


“It was a structure on a broad space by the East River. He did not grasp it as a building, at first glance, but as a rising mass of rock crystal. There was the same severe, mathematical order holding together a free, fantastic growth; straight lines and clean angles, space slashed with a knife, yet in a harmony of formation as delicate as the work of a jeweler; an incredible variety of shapes, each separate unit unrepeated, but leading inevitably to the next one and to the whole; so that the future inhabitants were to have, not a square cage out of a square pile of cages, but each single house held to the other houses like a single crystal to the side of a rock.”

The Fountainhead
Ayn Rand

Rand’s descriptions are extremely provocative. Her use of connotation is brilliant. These are mature architectural concepts - the results of much study and thought. They are concepts worth building. I belive that only by employing the multi-module system on, at least, 12 levels of recursion can the “incredible variety of shapes” and as delicate as the “work of a jeweler” objectives be achieved. It makes an interesting challenge just on the level of geometry, let alone, structure.


At the time I first started woking on this idea, I was building (as construction superintendent) some 6 story units on Long Island and was impressed by how dramatic a 40 to 50 foot raised view, into a contained courtyard, could be. This effect, combined with indoor/outdoor semi-contained spaces, creates the special quality of the Studio space. The angle of a view in and out of a space is not neutral - the angle, itself, possesses connotation and meaning. Think of neuro-linguistics.


This is an overlooked aspect of architecture: its fact-ness. Architecture causes you to see a certain way. It imposes a habit. It establishes a rhythm to your life. It impresses with its texture. The ART of architecture is experienced - not just seen.


The Studio is a 20th Century design, in idiom, style and building method. This is appropriate as an environment to launch a 21st Century practice. Over the next 25 years, architecture will undergo a revolution. From Nano technology, to virtual reality, to space habitats, the entire set of requirements, as well as, the means of creating environments will radically change. The Studio, for me, will act - as art - as a transition piece: anchored in a long tradition of building while being the place to start a new tradition based on entirely new conditions and tools.






The single integrating principle or theme of this work is: multiple iterations and multiple levels of recursion. It is the architectural expression of the “Zone of Emergence” Engine.


This is a key principle and process of the MG Taylor System and Method. To use it as a theme in this Studio is fitting (for aesthetic and historical reasons) and requires a high degree of pattern integration across several scales (which is what the practice of PatchWorks does). It plays with the concepts that Alexander raises in his book on carpets. In effect, the entire environment in form and surface patterning becomes a a three dimensional carpet. This will be a constant play on the modular schema.


As a user of this environment, this theme is appropriate because it reflects the way I think and the way I have approached my entire work-life. To put this into perceivable form is a direct expression of my values and a “reward” - to be expressed - for my work to accomplish this level of integration in work and life.


On the level of expression, the work is much like a piece of music in this regard - a concerto perhaps - with major and minor fugue-like motifs. Themes within themes.




...Pattern Language



The Studio employs 128 Patterns from Christopher Alexander’s 253 Pattern Language principles. While different in its form than most buildings, the Studio is firmly rooted in a 10,000 year tradition of building. Pattern Language is one criteria to be considered when building a comprehensive work.






This Studio project is to create a “complete world” environment. A private world with a total virtual reach to the world “out there.” It connotes, quietness, peace, place-ness, order and musical playfulness - it is fugue-like - understated excitement, total thoughtfulness in design - a temple to the true process of creative work. It directly references my intellectual work. Total architecture on a doable scale. A piece of sanity in a careless world. On a very personal note, the basic gesture of the work expresses my energy and desires.


It is to be organic and highly automated. Light and delicate in scale and form and extraordinarily strong in construction and resistant to disruption and deterioration.


It is to be a complete support system for a practice of architecture including tooling and transportation components.


It is to be a signature piece - a Brand.


It is updatable, evolving and “self-funded” from a capital fund.


At the root, it is a work of Art as it embodies 44 years of thought about a work-life style and how this may be expressed in a single gesture.



...February 22, 2000 Notes



In preparation for the class tonight, I prepared a 3/16” scale sketch of the Studio, the purpose of which, is to establish the basic grammar of the work and to study the interplay and siting issues associated with the multi-levels described in the Program. This is a “proof of concept” study. It establishes the material palette and demonstrates how the levels will work together. It also establishes the basic scale of the building. The one major change for the Program Statement (above) is the color and material composition of the cast concrete block. Heat-treated rammed-earth will be used to make the “blocks” which will then act a forms for poured concrete where required. This will create a variegated terra-cotta like finish the color values of which will be close to the ship-like varnished siding.


The Sketch is an Elevation View looking North. This assumes the lot is on the West side of the Bay and that the view is down hill toward the Bay.


Note: As of April 2002 the most like location is the East Bay. This will significantly alter the orientation causing the layout to be flipped 190 degrees.


It indicates the “language” of all the major architectural elements: cantilevered, taproot footing; vertical masonry core; cantilevered spaces and balconies; vertical spaces “bleeding” into one another; specific orientation for each area according to function; one internal and three external zones of landscaping that transitions to the “natural” landscape; the overall thematic gesture of the work.



Bay Area Studio - Elevation Looking North - February 22, 2000


Go to: Bay Area Studio Drawings for more detail.
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Matt Taylor
January 4, 2000


SolutionBox voice of this document:


posted January 4, 2000

revised November 6, 2000
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(note: this document is about 99% finished)



Pattern LanguageXanadu ProjectMy Palo Alto Workspace
Real Estate DevelopmentThe Crystal caveEcoSphere
Gail’s Nest

Total time: Notebook, web page and drawing: 52 hours


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