Machado & Silvetti: A Selective Biography

Posted on November 7th, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Academic, Press

A new monograph of Machado & Silvetti’s work begins with an introduction by Nader, who studied under Jorge and Rodolfo at the GSD. Below are excerpts from Nader’s introduction, his full introduction can be read HERE. The print monograph can be purchased online HERE from Oro Editions.

“Interpreting architecture is a sufficiently complex task, but reading into a work that has so deeply biased one’s own education, practice, and pedagogy is altogether another challenge. Such is the Oedipal anxiety I confront in returning to the work of Machado and Silvetti. Thus, rather than claim neutrality here, I want to acknowledge a motivated project, even if I bring to it a different cultural backdrop, generational perspective, and personal viewpoint. Suffice it to say that while this book contains a vast retrospective of their designs, it by no means completes their story. If much remains for them to build on, there is even more that others, like myself, will be contributing to their project through our own speculations.”

above: Djerba House by Silvetti and the Country House by Machado

“Among the myriad writings on typology of this period, the significance of Machado and Silvetti’s contributions lay in the idea that architecture is a cultural practice, and therefore immersed in systems of representation and engagement with a larger public. As such, while they adopted types as a convention for establishing continuity, they did not idealize them. Types, for them, did not have the authority of propriety, but instead were cultural matter as mutable as they were meaningful in their ability to transmit change. In this regard, Machado and Silvetti’s work also explicitly challenged the avant-garde notion of the ‘new’, which is invariably and repeatedly absorbed, consumed, and normalized in the digestions of the cultural process.”

above: Asian Art Study Center at the Ringling Museum of Art

“The transformation of Machado and Silvetti as a firm into a builidng practice produced a meaningful shift from their academic work. With a small set of commisssion in the 1980s and early 1990s behind them, winning tje Getty Villa competition and embarking on the design of its expansion in 1994 enlarged the office tenfold. It also required the partners to translate their conceptual and theoretical priorities for a broader cohort. Their baggage of professional experiences would catapult them into new possibilities for materializing complex assemblies, in some instances; but it would also be a sober reminder of how the industry predetermines the vast set of questions and specifications that go into building processes. Balancing out the relationship between the customized and the generic, the theoretical premises of the figural and the configurative helped Machado and Silvetti to set certain priorities within each project.”

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Victor Lundy: Artist Architect

Posted on October 8th, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Academic

“Lundy’s built work denies signature in the form of a singular voice; he lets the natural grain of raw matter, the texture of its aggregation, and the malleability of different materials help determine the aesthetic sensibility of his buildings. Consider the Unitarian Meeting House in Hartford, Connecticut, or the IBM Garden State Offices, in Cranford, New Jersey, and how Lundy negotiates history, identity, and building configuration through material organization.” … “in the facade of the IBM project, we discover the power of the individual in the context of the collective. In this curious wall, Lundy adopts each brick as its own soldier with independent orders, and as each takes on its own position within the face of the building, we come to understand the power of the field condition as the basis for a compositional swarm.”

Read the full book foreword by Nader Tehrani HERE. More on Lundy, Nader and ‘Beyond the Harvard Box’ HERE.

image above: IBM Garden State Office Building, Cranford, New Jersey, ,1964  /  cover image: I. Miller Showroom, Grand Hall, New York City, 1962

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IRWIN S. CHANIN SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE OF THE COOPER UNION AMONG FIVE TOP ARCHITECTURE SCHOOLS!

Posted on September 13th, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Academic, The Cooper Union

In the areas of Design, Research, and Design Theory Cooper Union surges forward to ranking 5th, 4th, and 2nd. Congratulations to the students and faculty!

Read about the full ranking and the methodology on Architectural Record HERE.

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Nader to jury futureNOLA

Posted on September 10th, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Academic, Things We Like

The futureNOLA Project has announced the first six jurors who will review submissions to the futureNOLA Call for Ideas. Joining Nader on the jury will be artist and activist, Brandan “BMIKE” Odums; artist and writer, Valentine Pierce; writer and producer, Laine Kaplan-Levenson; affordable housing advocate, Andreanecia Morris; and artist, Simon Gunning.

How would you envision New Orleans over the next 300 years, through the lenses of our environment, cultural identity, smart growth, and equity? To submit your ideas go HERE. Submissions are due at the end of the month!

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Geostories: Another Architecture for the Environment

Posted on July 27th, 2018 by Dara Lin

Posted under: Academic, Press, Things We Like

Geostories: Another Architecture for the Environment, curated by Rania Ghosn and El Hadi Jazairy of DESIGN EARTH, is a collection of projects which combine geographic representation and projective design to bring attention to the current conditions of Earth and the environment, and where they may lead. Separated by scope into three sections – terrarium, aquarium, and planetarium – each projection attempts to foster awareness and a sense of immediacy in a population referred to as “anesthetized.”

The collection is a continuation of DESIGN EARTH’s contribution to the US Pavilion in the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, titled “Cosmorama.” This exhibition sought to draw attention to the matters overlooked in the technological triumphalism and frontier narratives of the Space Age, by means of three hypothetical “geostories.”

Nader contributed an essay titled “Section Cut: An Allegorical Construct of the World,” in which he discusses the liminal space between allegory and reality, how the former speaks to the latter, and how the work of DESIGN EARTH is especially evocative in this respect.

“The answer to Design Earth’s representational approach might also be lodged in the idea of the allegory itself: that images – much like stories or buildings – call on their audiences to construct meaning within a larger ideological, ethical, or political sphere.”

Read the full essay HERE.

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‘What is a School?’

Posted on July 14th, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Academic, Lectures

In April Nader participated in the ‘What is a School?’ Symposium at the Daniels Building in the newly complete Principal Hall. He discussed the varying approaches each of NADAAA’s three schools of architecture embodied. Watch his lecture above or see the full Day 1 of the symposium HERE.

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Vote for Beaver Research + Design Center!

Posted on July 11th, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: _BEAVER R+D Center, Academic, Awards

The R+D Center has been selected as a finalist in the Architizer A+ Awards program in the Primary & High Schools category. It is now competing for the two most sought-after awards: The Architizer A+ Jury Award and the Architizer A+ Popular Choice Award. You can help choose the Popular Choice Award by voting HERE!

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Nader at ACSA New Instrumentalities Conference in Madrid

Posted on June 11th, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Academic

Nader is co-chairing the “nascent material conscience” topic at the ACSA’s New Instrumentalities Conference this week in Madrid with Sunil Bald of Yale Architecture. More info HERE.

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Katie + Richard Sommer presenting DFALD at OAA on Friday

Posted on May 21st, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: _Daniels Building, Academic, Events, Lectures

This Friday: Katie and Richard Sommer, the dean of the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design (DFALD) at the University of Toronto will present the design and construction process of the new Daniels Building at the Annual OAA Conference. Full details on the lecture HERE. Register HERE.

photo by Michael Muraz

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‘Down to Earth, Looking up to the Heavens’

Posted on May 4th, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Academic, Installations + Exhibitions

NADAAA contributed a drawing to Tempietto Exemplum, an exhibit at the Yale School of Architecture curated by Amanda Iglesias this Spring. Below is the accompanying text.

See the drawing up close HERE.

 

St. Peter’s Inverted Crucifixion: Down to Earth, Looking up to the Heavens

Nader Tehrani, 2018

The altar of the Tempietto, located on axis with the entry into the courtyard of San Pietro in Montorio, appears to be composed of monolithic pieces of marble. It is distinct from the conventional altar conceived as a free-standing piece of furniture. Encrypted into the logic of the building’s architecture, the altar is set against the outer wall, further thickening the mass of the load-bearing structure. Consistent with Robin Evans’s article “Perturbed Circles” in The Projective Cast, the position of the altar contributes to the effect of multiple centers achieved in this building, and its de-centering underlines the importance of this choice. Indeed, the altar is not only monolithic, but the inverse. It is composed of a series of thin marble slabs, behind which a cavity allows for a clerestory window into the crypt. The altar serves as the window’s frame, and thus the two are co-dependent.[1]

As partial as it may seem, the sectional detail of this altar reveals something about this building that not only subverts the conventions of its time, but also requires a form of representation beyond the normative techniques of drawing. Due to its curious spatial reciprocity, the figure-ground relationship between the space of the clerestory and the form of the altar is so tight that the building is exempted of the poché characteristic of the structures of this period. If the mass of a traditional wall is meant to provide structural support for a building, it is also the means by which ancillary spaces such as niches and other figural voids can be carved out. The Tempietto does away with this mass altogether, ingeniously conjoining the two functions by using one as the alibi for the other—the altar gives light, and the clerestory offers mass.

This telltale detail of the Tempietto also exposes the difficulty of drawing complex circumstances that require simultaneously looking up and down, if only to show two facets of something inextricably bound together. For this reason, this small structure offers the ideal opportunity with which to advance a form of representation whose purpose is not to illustrate what is already known but to expose the inner workings of something that can only be unearthed forensically. This drawing is the result of the “flip-flop” technique, coined by Daniel Castor in his 1996 book Drawing Berlage’s Exchange, where he demonstrates how this drawing type produces a beguiling form of visual ambiguity that enables the eye to invert the perception of foreground and background.[2] Not dissimilar to El Lissitzky’s Abstract Cabinet 1927 drawing, Castor’s isometric, constructed from a tri-fold 120-degree angle of projection, is distinct in its balanced bias towards the X, Y and Z axes all at once.

The architectural application of this technique resides in the latent alignment between the conventional bird’s eye and worm’s eye views, the latter often attributed to Auguste Choisy. If the bird’s eye view exposes the world of the roof, the worm’s eye reveals the inner workings of the dome, effectively two different symbolic realms.  Donato Bramante conceived of both the Tempietto and St. Peter’s Basilica a few years apart, making their conceptual connection somehow inevitable. The Tempietto, a martyrium dedicated to St. Peter, is a folly of sorts—at once a model, a mock-up and a miniature building in its own right with the gravitas of spatial, formal and linguistic tropes that advance the discourse of its time. In its crypt, a pit on center with the oculus, is purported to be the receptacle within which St. Peter’s cross would have been planted upside down, looking up at the dome as it were. In light of the eventual dual-shell construction technique adopted for St. Peter’s dome, one can understand the absolute necessity of looking up and down simultaneously, because the domes are not only symbolically divided but structurally semi-autonomous. By extension, even though the Tempietto is a single-shell structure, the flip-flop technique in this drawing demonstrates the instrumentality of also looking inside and outside simultaneously.

Within the vicissitudes of representational techniques through the centuries, we are beneficiaries of many conceptual advances in the arts that, when seen in tandem, help build a rich repertoire for an analysis of this kind. For instance, Charles de Wailly’s sectional perspectives show the connection between buildings and their urban context in full splendor, in effect bringing the city into the building. The graphic work of M.C. Escher also demonstrates how the latent connections between geometry, space and the construction of perception contribute to their hypnotizing architectural effect. We witness in Picasso’s cubism the desire to overcome the impossibility of seeing many facets at the same time—the front, the back and the sides. In this tradition, as an extension of Castor’s own work, this composite drawing looks up and down, inside and out, toggling back and forth, taking advantage of the isometric’s unique visual sleight of hand to reveal the anomalous alignments, correspondences and reciprocities that would otherwise remain lost in the seemingly pure and idealized form of the Tempietto.

[1] The complex relationship between the building’s oculus, connecting the chapel and crypt, as well as the crypt’s clerestory, diagonally drawing in light from the exterior, is lovingly depicted in Paolo Sorrentino’s 2013 La Grande Bellezza, effectively linking the multiple centers in one shot (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYwIoxnUWjg),

[2] The Yves Alain Bois essay, ‘Metamorphosis of Axonometry’ makes reference to the Josef Albers painting Structural Constellation, wherein the visual symmetry of the drawing produces simultaneous depth and flatness. Accordingly, as the eye toggles back and forth between the two sides of the drawing, it can be seen to perceptually pop in or out.

CREDITS: Nader Tehrani, Katherine Faulkner, Lisa LaCharité, Mitch Mackowiak

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