Wednesday, October 31, 2012


In the spring of 2004 my friend OF and I exchanged approximately 950 emails that rambled on about architecture and cities. (I have saved all of the emails in a folder titled "millesmessages." At one point I thought it would be cool to put them all online somehow. I am wiser now, and OF is now a practicing architect.) To my recollection the correspondence developed and was underpinned by twin themes: the aesthetics of infrastructure; and the paradox of designing urban space so as to enable the accidental.

I recall all of this as my Internet begins to fill with news of the death of Lebbeus Woods (see also Steven Holl remembers Lebbeus Woods, not to mention An Architect Unshackled by Limits of the Real World, etc.). I also remember flipping through Radical Reconstruction, which OF had lent me, while lounging on MK's bed in her tiny Fort Greene apartment; that must have been the summer of 2001. Radical Reconstruction hit me like an anvil, though it wasn't until I came to Berlin, perhaps, that its lessons sunk in.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

objet petit a

Adapted from an email to DA, October 9, 2012:

Here is where my OCD and my hoarder-ish tendencies combine to make being un-free seem preferable to...whatever being free is. The hoarding is a family trait, via one parent, the procrastination (a.k.a. perfectionism) also, via the other. Are we not the synthesis of our parents' worst characteristics? I see it in my own Kind:

Parenting isn’t so much passing along positive traits as attempting to minimize the transfer of negative ones. If you’re lucky, you might be able to break even, but you’ll never be in the black. In this sense, children raise us because they make our flaws visible and more vivid than our virtues and force us to focus upon and mitigate them.

This reminds me that, as a child, I used to play a game with the neighbors that involved hiding one’s action figures around the yard; I buried my original Princess Leia in a hole at the edge of the lawn by the bulkhead. I’ve probably already told you this story, which should give you a sense of how the burial and permanent loss of Princess Leia continues to be a discussed event among my family. For a long time my father would look for her while mowing the lawn, thinking that she would turn up someday, if only in pieces, thanks to the mower. Many years later, a girlfriend came upon an original Princess Leia at a flea market and gifted it to me. I have hoarded that one still, I think, unless it found a new owner when I left Cambridge...perhaps it was finally passed down to someone else?