MIT mock-ups featured in David K. Ross’s new book

Posted on May 15th, 2021 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: _MIT Site 4, construction

Archetypes features a recent series by Canadian artist David K. Ross, who works at the interface of photography, film, and installation. His images of architectural mock-ups, staged at night with dramatic lighting that isolates structures from their surroundings, demonstrate how these objects have become a charged form of proto-architecture. The book offers an effective platform to consider what it means to pre-construct fragments of buildings in all their complexity. Published alongside Ross’s images are four essays framing the historical, technological, and civic significance of the mock-up.

NADAAA, Kendall Square, Cambridge, United States, 2018 (I and II)

For more information or to order a copy please click HERE.

Many of Ross’s works will be exhibited at upcoming shows in Zurich, Munich, Basel, and at Daniels Building’s Architecture and Design Gallery.

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MIT Mock-Up featured in DAVID K. ROSS Exhibit

Posted on August 26th, 2019 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: _MIT Site 4, Installations + Exhibitions

The Patrick Mikhail Gallery in Montréal will present, from August 28 – October 19, 2019, “ARCHETYPES” by David K. Ross, featuring new photographic works. There will be an artist reception Wednesday, August 28th at 5:30pm. More info HERE.

“The result of four years of research and exclusive access to construction sites around the globe, Ross’ photographs take us behind the scenes and over the hoardings to encounter these rarely-seen fragments from the world of architecture. Captured using flash photography on building sites locked down for the evening, the scale and location of these structures remain ambiguous.” – Patrick Mikhail Gallery

“Mock-ups carry something of the photographic within them. Both the mock-up — and its image — physically and indexically reference concepts and ideas that are in formation but are not viewable in their totality. Like photographs, mock-ups are framing devices that focus attention on specific elements taken out of context.” – David K. Ross 

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Posted on November 17th, 2014 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Lectures

Nader will be giving his “Mocked Up” lecture on Wednesday Nov. 19th at 6:00 pm in the Stuckeman Jury Space at Penn State.



Study Table Mock-up

Posted on November 13th, 2014 by pmacdowell

Posted under: construction, NADLAB

Down in our shop, work has begun on a custom table made of aluminum and anigre-faced plywood. The client commissioned us to design a table where their family of five could work and study together. The pinwheel form provides each user with a dedicated space and routes computer cables through an opening at the center. The pieces of the table flat-pack for easy shipping and are bolted together with specialized custom fasteners.

table2Exploded Axonometric drawing showing the assembly logic of the table.

table3A mock-up was built to evaluate the material choices and test the custom fasteners.

tableMockup01Waterjet-cut 6061 Aluminum features a non-directional satin finish. CNC-cut Plywood with an Apple-ply core is faced with White Anigre.

tableMockup02The wood and aluminum are laminated together with Marine Epoxy.

tableMockup03Tight tolerances are critical for the precision attachments.

table1Detail Axonometric Section through the Leg / Table-top connection.

tableMockup09The unique aluminum fasteners are machined by hand in our shop.








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DFALD Hyperbolic Paraboloid Ceiling Mockup #2 – Radiant Panels

Posted on November 7th, 2014 by tberesford

Posted under: _Daniels Building, construction, NADLAB

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A year ago, NADAAA blogged about our hyperbolic paraboloid ceiling mock-up, which will be featured above the third floor design studio at the new Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design.  Since that time, the client has charged us with an additional mandate:  to reduce projected mechanical energy through the incorporation of radiant mechanical systems throughout the building.  This mandate presented a unique challenge for our feature ceiling:  radiant chilled panels are almost always flat, where our design distinguishes itself through a subtle ruled curvature.

Radiant panels are widely used in Europe, but are less common in North America.  Nevertheless, we corresponded with several vendors, all of whom were enthusiastic about helping us resolve this technical hurdle.  This fall, we provided space and support to enable Twa Panel to replicate our mockup, only this time using a new graphite-core radiant panel product with embedded copper hydronic tubing, provided by SGL Group.  Twa Panel gambled that the graphite panel and tubes would be flexible enough to conform to the gradual curvature, which is smaller in degree (approx. 550″ radius) than it appears when viewed in composite across a surface.  The mock-up proved successful, as the panels twisted with relative ease:


Rendering of the Level 03 Design Studio feature ceiling at the new Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto


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HyPar Mockup No.2: 2’x8′ radiant graphite-core panels on 1/4″ plywood strapping, over light gauge stud backup framing. NADAAA’s original mockup is seen beyond.


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In this image, the radiant graphite panels are mudded and taped against a perimeter of conventional 1/2″ thick gypsum board, ready for a standard paint finish.


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This image shows the backside (top) of the mockup, where copper leaders penetrate the backside of the panels for connection to hydronic tube supply/return connections.


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Posted on November 26th, 2013 by pmacdowell

Posted under: construction, Installations + Exhibitions, NADLAB

Recently, the warped ceiling surface of the DFALD Level 3 design studios came under scrutiny as a major cost item during DD cost estimating.  Conventional building practice suggested that the complex form could only be achieved with hand-troweled plaster on metal lathe.  We proposed an alternative methodology using simple framing with cost-effective sheetrock and proved the viability of the concept with a 1:1 mock-up, fabricated in-house.  The mock-up convinced the construction team and reduced estimated costs by more than 50%.






UT_mockup_01c2×4 metal studs are cut to length and attached in the proper orientation for mounting rails.  Stud locations are measured and marked on the rails.  Because they are different lengths, stud spacing is 11-7/8” o.c. on one rail and 12-1/4” o.c. on the other.


UT_mockup_02Spanning studs are attached to the mounting rails.  As the geometry twists, the studs get longer, so each stud must be cut to a unique length.  The shortest stud, in the foreground, is 126-1/2”.  The longest, at the far end of the structure is 135-1/4”.


UT_mockup_03Because the studs have been spaced equally along both mounting rails, straight lines can be struck across the twisting surface.  Support members may be run through the knock-outs of the studs to reinforce the structure.


UT_mockup_06We chose to unify the structure with more 2×4 studs above the spanning members.  We achieved straight lines by dividing the first and last spanning members into thirds and running the reinforcement between those points.  Additional members attach the system to the structure above.  Note that both the mounting rails and the spanning members twist to accommodate the curvature of the surface.


UT_mockup_08Gold Bond “High Flex” gypsum board (1/4”  thick) is cut into 12” wide strips and attached to the frame, perpendicular to the spanning studs.  We did not need to score or wet the gypsum boards. The joints between boards are staggered to reduce the appearance of facets on the surface.

UT_mockup_09BThere are inherent geometric errors when mapping  rectangular sheets onto a doubly-ruled surface.  The maximum gap size we observed was approximately 3/4”.


UT_mockup_10Gaps between panels are relatively inconsequential at this stage, as this layer of gypsum will simply act as a substrate for the second, final layer.

UT_mockup_15BThe second layer of gypsum is hung perpendicular to the first.  These sheets are screwed directly to the first layer, avoiding the studs everywhere except the perimeter of the surface.


UT_mockup_20The rough edges of the sheets are cut back to the bounds of the surface and trimmed with corner bead.  Joints and screw holes are taped and mudded.


UT_mockup_21The surface is shown here after a single application of joint compound (Level 2 finish).  The joints are still wet and are not sanded.


UT_mockup_22The form is clean, with no apparent  inconsistencies or planar facets.



Mocked-up: In Footnotes

Posted on March 27th, 2011 by Lisa LaCharité

Posted under: Installations + Exhibitions

While in common practice the architectural mock-up has mostly served to confirm design ideas, essentially facilitating the transition from representation to building, it is also potentially a speculative medium that can transform and generate architectural propositions. The various mock-ups, fabrications, and installations in the practice of Office dA attempt to do just that: serve as a vehicle for material experiments that challenge common industry building practices, test out emerging digital fabrication methods, and renew the theoretical interrogation of construction.

Several key venues have supported this agenda. The Fabrications Exhibition, curated by Terry Riley, helped launch the practice of Monica Ponce de Leon and Nader Tehrani. The Immaterial/Ultra-material Exhibition at the Harvard Graduate School of Design sustained this thread of research. The Ventulett Visiting Chair at Georgia Institute of Technology enabled Ponce de Leon and in 2005 and Tehrani in 2006 to work with students to develop a diverse and ambitious set of installations that brought pedagogy and practice into a productive alignment.

The mock-up on this wall is a work in progress: a layout of an eponymous book documenting the various installations in relation to material sciences, historical precedents, geometric analyses, disciplinary alliances, and also other Office dA projects that emerged from the research –multiple threads that weave a parallel narrative in the footnotes. The mock-up radicalizes material agency within a controlled framework; in turn, the architectural project presents the full array of design contingencies, from programmatic to structural mandates or from water-proofing to circulatory requirements. These provide friction, complexity and contradiction in the design process. The mockups and projects of Office dA together establish and exploit a link between pedagogy and practice. They underline the importance of the fabrication process as a transformative agent in architectural practice, while also bringing the building industry to productively bear on academic research.












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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 (,

[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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Cultural sites under attack in the age of unaccountability

Posted on January 10th, 2020 by Nader Tehrani

Posted under: Press



Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan, Iran. (Amirpashaei/Wikimedia)

In a manner befitting of the current American presidency, Donald Trump’s casual tweet “….we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!” aired some forty-eight hours ago. In fact, the president’s threat does not merit further comment beyond what has been articulated widely in the press: to destroy cultural sites would be an illegal act, and moreover a war crime. Trump’s threat has already been retracted by the Pentagon in what is, by now, a common pattern of contradictory communications so endemic of this administration.

The fifty-two target sites in Iran are claimed to be symbolically linked to the fifty-two American citizens that Iran held hostage in 1979, as if those individuals asked for retribution after forty years. For those of us who remember the hostage crisis and the 444 days of suffering it created, the trauma was real and the political implications have remained intact for over forty years. But for those who remember a generation prior, we are reminded of the infamous 1953 American intervention in Iran that sowed the seeds of systematic mistrust, when a U.S. administration participated in a coup that overthrew a democratically elected Mossadegh to reinstate the Shah’s dictatorship that would guarantee American access to oil. Indeed, the Iranian Revolution may have crested in 1979, but its roots can be linked to an earlier upheaval where the American involvement cannot be understated. As the White House scrambles to justify recent actions, we are wise to recall that the direct U.S. involvement and complicity in the creation and destruction of nations is not restricted to the Iranian experience. Iraq is now reliving its own trauma, the result of rogue American judgment and the coercion of a prior U.S. administration, whose facts were not only flawed but intentions clearly motivated by an a priori decision to occupy a foreign land without any appeal to the truth.

Inside of a qanat at the Temple of Anahita in Iran. (youngrobv/Flickr)

The more significant question that underlies this premise is to what degree the United States can be held accountable in the International Court of Justice in the Hague for its crimes. The United States is not a State Party to the Rome Statute which founded the International Criminal Court. By refusing to participate, the U.S. also sees itself as exempt from the international system that attempts to bring to justice the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so. Insofar as the destruction of cultural sites continues to fall under these protective measures of the World Court, then the aim of this piece is also to demonstrate a broader link between cultural heritage, foreign policy, and a system of governance on which we can rely for checks and balances, both national and international. Though not visible at first sight, the environmental policies that drive foreign affairs is also at the center of this narrative, making important links between the American way of life and its reliance of fossil fuels, the very factor that is coming to challenge how we view the environment, whether in cultural or ecological terms.

A rudimentary scan through the various heritage sites in Iran unearths a wide variety of cultural significance, protected by both World and National Heritage registers, identifying the very diversity of this region’s history. Indeed, even if the current regime’s theocracy has only enjoyed about forty years of leadership, Iran is composed of many people, tribes, and religions including Zoroastrians, Christians, Jewish, Bahai, and of course Muslims, both Sunni and Shiite. The country’s cities are known for the many contributions they have made to art, science, and architecture, as made apparent through works of infrastructure, urbanism, landscape, architecture, sustainability, and building technologies. The “Qanat” of Gonabad is estimated to be 2700 years old and an early invention of an underground aqueduct, an infrastructural system designed for arid climates –allowing provisions for agriculture, bathing, drinking water, and human survival. In turn, the urban promenade that binds Naqshe Jahan Square, the Bazaar, and the Si-o-se-pol Bridge on the Khaju River in Isfahan forms one of the most significant examples of urban design known to the discipline.

The housing fabric of Kashan and their contained landscapes, “Hayats” and “Baghs”, are the basis for some of the early doctrines of landscape architecture. The wind-catching “Badgir” towers of the Yazd houses are some of the earliest examples of sustainable cooling strategies of this region’s architecture. Of course, beyond public monuments like the well-known Shah and Sheikh Lotfollah Mosques, there are many other classic icons, like the Soltanieh Mosque, whose double-shell dome is one of the most innovative engineering feats of its time, built some one hundred years prior to Brunelleschi’s in Florence. Some of the earlier passages of the region’s heritage go back to Antiquities, and Pasargad, Persepolis, and the cube of Zoroaster take us back to a time when Persia’s international relations formed a completely different dynamic with Greece. Of that era, the Cyrus Cylinder, dating back to the 6th century B.C. remains maybe one of the earliest artifacts to document the idea of a unified state under higher governance with a direct appeal to human rights as part of its contribution to humanity. Thus, while examining the current political predicaments of our moment, it is important to look at this culture’s history, with over 3000 years of documented heritage, to establish how the diversity of its people come to contribute to the legacy of world culture, and indeed, part of its living history.

While few will challenge American generosity in the Second World War and its seminal role in building an alliance that addressed war crimes that defined the 20th Century, the White House’s self-entitlement today is a means to escape the very standards of law and democracy that stoke our national pride and the civil values foundational to American society. Ironically, this sense of entitlement is also foundational to what has allowed the Trump administration to relieve itself of accountability for other questionable actions over the past three years—a factor that prior generations of American leaders could neither have calculated nor fathomed. Sadly, this administration’s hubris is now part of this nation’s ethos; reversing it will be a task to reckon with in the coming years, if not decades, and it will fall on the collective shoulders of the entire nation to address.

As we ponder the American omnipresence in the Middle East, Australia burns with a vengeance, a disaster seemingly unrelated to Iran in both cause and effect. And while it burns, the country’s Prime Minister returns from a family vacation in Hawaii, only after being compelled by mounting political pressure, too little too late. With all the scientific evidence behind the sources of global warming and its impact on climate change, Prime Minister Morrison remains unswerving in his commitment to the investments of fossil fuels, coal and the many policies his party holds dear in its commitment to profit. In this sense, Morrison follows a path no different than that of his American cohorts, whose military presence in Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, among other places in the Middle East has defined American foreign policy for decades. Beyond the social, economic, and cultural upheaval, industry-first policies have produced the injustice of climate inequity, the very phenomenon that stands to compromise not so much humanity (although it will) but the ecosystems, flora, and fauna that do not have the legal instruments to protect themselves. Thus, the American immunity to the World Court is no small issue, because the scale of its ramifications can only be measured in relation to global forces, not merely national ones. It will only be a matter of time when the balance of world economies in Asia take a turn towards other super-powers whose might will define America’s position in the future world order. However, the imposition of their reign may not be paired with the promise of democracy, equity, or a civil society; it is at that junction when we, as Americans, will regret to have abandoned the very values for which we would want to be known today and for history to have recorded for the future. By absolving ourselves of international responsibilities in the World Court today, the US guarantees precedence for others to do the same in the future. Moreover, the current U.S. administration’s abandonment of collaborative dialogue with the United Nations, UNESCO, The Paris Accord and other world bodies only exacerbates the possibilities of other rogue states, whose strategic interests in the future might be to establish their primacy over the greater good of a global community.

The Ka’bah-e Zardusht, or Cube of Zoroaster, in Marvdasht, Iran. (Diego Delso/Wikimedia)

Trump’s disregard for democratic institutions, collective processes, and legal frameworks is only radicalized by his penchant to isolate individuals or smaller interest groups as a basis for assault. His current bombast on Iran is no different from what we have witnessed him unleash on African Americans, women, Mexican immigrants, the LBGTQ community, and many others whose diverse backgrounds, belief systems and ways of life differ from his own. Within this context, the destruction of cultural heritage sites can only be interpreted as a targeted attack on the very significance of cultural diversity, and the role that monuments play in the representation of a people.

I am reminded of the vacuous niches that once held the monuments of Bamiyan. Magnificent Buddhas were destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban in an act of brutality, using cultural artifacts as pawns to eviscerate an ‘other’ culture than that of their own. Among other things, the Rome Statute was put in place precisely to protect from such eventualities. Trump’s prejudicial pattern of destruction is perhaps even more sinister because it is inflicted without pause. Some have misperceived Trump’s thuggish mockery of Greta Thunberg—an enlightened embodiment of the next generation—as an assault on an individual. Indeed, it was, but it was also a concurrent assault on the collective: on civil society, on a cultural heritage, on critical discourse, and in the age of Thunberg, on the global environment. Within this context, it is virtually implausible to make a case for the protection of cultural heritage without reinforcing the very foundations on which they rely: A global environment that is sustainable, and a faith in governance and policies of stewardship that can uphold it.

The individual and the collective take on a different resonance in the context of Trump as a person and the system of governance that supports him. It is completely understandable that an individual may not be able to comprehend the basic tenets of fairness, decency or democracy; less digestible is witnessing an entire political party that shuts its eyes to a pattern of behavior that has demonstrated itself to be no accident. There may be no larger strategy to this president’s actions, but there is nothing unpremeditated: Trump behaves the way he does by design. More alarmingly, an entire Republican party behind him, composed of hundreds of individual leaders, support his illegal actions, whether in enunciated defense or silence. Without a restoration of democracy, in the way in which this country’s founders had imagined, it is hard to conceive how its politicians can advance collective agendas that transcend the terms of party lines, and moreover world politics, whose relevance to the United States should be heeded.

The Iranian Revolution occurred in 1979, and its current regime is well-aware of its statute of limitations; with a population of 81 million people –that is, 43 million more than the time of the revolution—the Iranian government understands that its youthful majority can only thrive with a completely different interaction with the international sphere. Despite its acrimony with the West, the achievements of the nuclear deal set in place with the former U.S. administration demonstrated wisdom from both the East and the West. Gain can only come from good communication, collaboration and an appeal to an expanded discursive field. Here, I would argue, the nuclear deal (JCPOA) was not actually the only target, but the means to develop a discussion that could be temporally transported to future administrations: effectively to build better collaborations over time.

Ironically, the Mullahs clearly understood the impending dangers of obsolescence; in order to survive, they could no longer isolate themselves from the world. The current isolationist doctrine of the United States has not only alienated its conventional adversaries; recklessly, but it has also distanced itself from the very allies that hold their connection to America so dear. For America to remain relevant to these audiences, the first step will be to recognize the all-important inter-relationship between global phenomena that sees no borders. Whether considering climate change, economic equity, fair trade policies, or the mutual respect of other’s heritage, an integrated view of world interests might be the only way for securing American priorities in a meaningful way. The monuments that populate seemingly remote regions of the world are not the ‘other’ of America; they are its foundation, its source, and its reference, and once we recognize America’s diversity again, we can also re-enter the global dialogue. An understanding of shared governance may also be the only path towards a strategic plan for survival: there is no America once the global sphere is compromised beyond repair. The disengagement of these relationships can only help to obscure the many causalities that have given rise to the dire state of affairs today.

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Daniels Building in ‘The Plan’

Posted on March 28th, 2019 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: _Daniels Building, Press

Raymund Ryan writes for The Plan on the Daniels Building:

“To design a school of architecture is an enticing albeit formidable prospect for any thinking architect. In the United States alone, there is the legacy of Mies van der Rohe at IIT, Paul Rudolph at Yale, and John Andrews at Harvard. These buildings from several decades ago were signature, standalone monuments to professional bravura and to the respective institutions. Three or four decades later, out in Los Angeles, SCI-Arc pursued a different, radically less expensive path, colonizing warehouses or factories first in Santa Monica, then in Playa Vista, and now in LA’s rapidly urbanizing Downtown. Echoing mid-century notions of the Museum as Temple and this more recent appropriation of industrial space for artistic production and display, these dueling typologies of the architectural academy find a synthesis in the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto.”

“There, a grand Gothic Revival building – an isolated urban icon with many gables and embellishments – has been extended in line with the cardinal axes marking the site. Whereas this older edifice contains many small individual rooms, the new structure is essentially one contiguous studio instigating, on this rather tight lot, that modern dream of multifunctional, open floorplan.”

“The new floor plate ascends to allow for a barrier-free mega-studio in which student activity is ideally unimpeded. An extraordinary new roof floats overhead:” it spans in the long direction without the intercession of columns and warps. It is filleted to allow for natural illumination.”

“It is a bravura gesture, this porous canopy sailing free above the heart of the reinvigorated institution. The architects worked through one-to-one mockups – with straight metal stud frames skinned in unusually thin gypsum – to determine curvature and to convince the contractor that this unorthodox construction technique was indeed feasible. Such lissome elements are telltale characteristics of this and other NADAAA projects, whether at the scale of a ceiling or a window or a handrail. The language of each building is not imposed through some academic or artistic diktat but emerges through a scrutiny of fabrication options and the ways in which these components meet one another, not unlike the words in a paragraph.”

Read the full essay HERE.

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