suckerPUNCH will be posting interviews in a new section – in the ring
the third of five interviews will also be featured in the current publication of tarp: coding parameters. tarp is the architecture manual published by PRATT.
image: everything ornament by Bureau V
images clockwise from top left: RES, trillion dollar mile, trillion dollar mile, trillion dollar mile all by Bureau V
sP: Could you start by talking a bit about starting Bureau V and the common interests that brought you together?
peter ZUSPAN: The three of us were in grad school together so we knew each other pretty well. We were in a lot of the same studios together. We were pretty good friends socially and noticed that our interests were pretty similar, although we definitely work in different ways. I had worked for Diller Scofidio + Renfro for a few years, and Stella and Alex had worked for Asymptote for a couple years, when we decided that we had hit the point where our tolerance level for working for someone else had shrunk. We were ready to move on. I think you guys had been talking about it for awhile because you were working together.
alex PINCUS: Yeah, we were talking about it for awhile. We had to stage our retirements from Asymptote as to not rock the boat too much. Basically we quit when Peter was still at Diller, and he brought in one of their projects that would fund us. It was a collaboration. Basically it was us getting on a bigger project and surviving while we started doing our own stuff. That was the very beginnings of it all.
pZ: We had a period of a year and a half, two years, where we were getting by financially, barely, but we were doing a lot of fun, small projects. We did a couple of fashion installations for the designer Mary Ping. Everything was really fast and small scale. Maybe a year and a half ago we started talking to this guy about doing a music venue project. Basically we just got really lucky. So that’s the huge project that we are working on right now, which is taking up all of our time.
aP: We are doing a retreat in the desert also, and we dealt with this guy for a year and he would come and go and then all of a sudden at the exact same time as the music venue project he decided to start that up, too. Which was cool, but stressful to do both at once.
pZ: It was also nice, because we didn’t have any work for two years. Then wall street collapses, and we get a lot of work. That was a nice feeling.
sP: What are some of the common architectural ambitions within the office?
aP: In the abstract, we have overlapping architectural concerns. One of the interesting things from my take is that Stella and I had worked together a lot and could pretty seamlessly work together, but we also knew that we didn’t want to be doing what we were doing which was Asymptote – even though I really like Asymptote – we are not them. Peter and I certainly have a different take on design and design thinking, but in the best of all cases that’s complimentary or at least challenging in a way that in the end we actually make something better. I have a certain disposition that I think I take towards design, and so does Peter. I think they are pretty different, but ideally he proposes things that he cares about or I propose things that I care about. I offend him or vice versa, and we work through it. We haven’t really gotten to the end of anything yet so maybe it’s a total disaster, but theoretically I think it’s going to make something better. I don’t really believe in the position of Diller Scofidio + Renfro or the position of Asymptote as something that I would aspire to, but putting those things together – and those aren’t the only things we are putting together – coming from two different perspectives like that can allow for something cool to happen.
pZ: But I also feel that before we had inherited identities in terms of the offices that we worked in, we always ended up in the same studios. So the same thoughts that were being tossed around the school we were all pretty interested in, but we had similar criticisms of them even though our processes and what were doing were pretty different back then.
aP: But on a nerdy level we have pretty similar processes.
pZ: Yeah, that’s true.
aP: On a theoretical level they are pretty different, but on the actual technical level we were doing pretty similar stuff.
sP: In making the leap from small scale fabrications to larger building projects have you adjusted your approach, specifically in regards to using digital tools and algorithmic design?
aP: I would say definitely. What’s interesting is the whole time we were working on smaller scale stuff we were doing a lot of drawings, and in our drawings, we were using a lot of the digital processes–probably way more so then in our fly by night projects. Literally you would have two weeks and a thousand dollars to build a showroom or something. You get an idea, you hash it out, and you just start making things. It has its own methodology that is totally separate. If we had 6 months to script the whole thing, we could do it in a different way, but no one has the budget to work like that. On the larger scale stuff it gets employed in micro ways. In our concert hall there are certain wall areas that will be completely scripted with a full parametric model to make it work. Where as the bathroom layouts – we aren’t dealing with that kind of stuff – with the mechanical systems. We are blocking those out.
sP: So you don’t have one giant parametric model for the whole thing?
pZ: No. Its pretty surgical in terms of where we use the more difficult tools.
aP: When you are in school you can idealize this fact–that my whole twisting kilometer tall tower is going to be made out of CMUs with a parametric system that is going to deal with everything. It just isn’t realistic right now. For a project at Asymptote we used digital project from Gehry Technologies which allows you to make a parametric mechanical system in your building. But today you are still isolating out different parts of the building. Maybe in 20 years its going to be different, but to a certain degree you have to be strategic where you use these things.
pZ: I think its a similar thing in design. If you look at a large curtain wall, the structure is always custom at a certain point. Even though these tools offer you the chance to do everything custom, at a certain point, it just doesn’t make sense to use it for everything.
aP; So far in all of the projects I’ve used these kind of tools on you end up making five different parametric models through each stage of the game. When the rules of the model change, the level of specificity changes. The pipeline from the beginning to the end is not some fluid thing. Maybe if you are building a boxy house in Revit you can pull that off.
sP: Are you currently working on any speculative projects or research?
aP: No. We are definitely in the flying by the seat of our pants mode right now. We hired a couple of people and we are working full time to make these things happen.
pZ: Before when we didn’t have financially sustainable projects, a lot of the work we were doing was creating drawing versions of all of our projects.
sP: The drawing series, Deliverables, is interesting because it takes some of your more lo-fi projects and explores them through high end digital representations. Could you talk about the role of representation and how it feeds back into the work after a project is complete?
pZ: I think in the beginning when we were working on things and designing things, they could all easily get lost. We didn’t want the Richard Meier model where if the project doesn’t happen you delete it from your resume. We wanted always to produce work that was going to add to our office and studio environment. So we made a little rule for ourselves that if we work on something for a significant duration, whether it happens or it doesn’t, we are going to make a document for ourselves. That is where it started. Drawing is such a weird thing right now. With the slew of other tools, no building is hand drawn anymore. And then you will see the Diller, Scofidio + Renfro rendering where you print it out, you put it over the lightbox and trace the main perspectival lines. We wanted to push away and rethink that. We got a residency early on that helped us – from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. That was great because they gave us a space, a big space, where we could lay these things out and really work on them. We invested in a printer really early and just started experimenting with going back and forth – always with the idea that we want to push what that drawing means outside of the instructions for building construction or the propaganda for selling a design to a client. What could a drawing then exist as? It is an ongoing experiment fueled by the idea that we would always have something if we worked on the project no matter what. So our idea right now is to do be doing a similar thing once this project hits the point where we have a little more free time. As you’re working on projects, you have tons of different ideas that don’t end up in the project. We have this list of some of the things we want to document in this way. This venue project for instance will have life in this way as well – drawings produced from the cast-off ideas.
aP: We did take a couple of breaks in the middle of the project to do some of these fly by night projects which was doubly stressful because you also have a real project hanging over your head. The people that we typically work with on the smaller stuff are asking ‘can you do a pop up store for me for next week’. We did a pop up store, and we did an installation for pinup magazine smack in the middle of crazy, hardcore deadlines. Actually it is a nice release to stop thinking at that scale and stop looking at RCPs and build something with your hands, but you are still thinking of all of the things you need to be doing. We are at that in between point where we are doing $250 projects and $5 million projects.
pZ: Yeah, that’s actually kind of the nice part-at least in the beginning, after you work on a big project. The big project I was working on at DS+R was part of Lincoln Center. The project came to the studio before I got there, and it will last years after I left there. It is such a massive scale. When you are a little bit younger, it is excruciating. It is really refreshing to do something in two weeks.
sP: It must be nice to produce something so fast.
pZ: With the drawings, it is also this paper artifact. So it is nice to produce that as a thing even though most of our communications are still pdfs and emails.
sP: Your essays in Museo always point equally to high culture and pop culture. Could you talk about how those mix and influence your work?
aP: The high/low model is a fair way to categorize some of our thinking. On one hand we are pretty serious about architecture, but we didn’t really drink the kool-aid in the sense of certain fanaticism or belief structures. We took that approach on this music venue project. It is in a 100 year old warehouse building. We are basically keeping the shell of it, and we have a certain amount of money to distribute, and the typical performance venue scenario is that everything is up to a certain level of quality. All of the walls have a certain level of finish and trim and a certain generic atmosphere that you produce. With this project, parts of it are as ghetto as you can make it, and parts of it are $1200/sf. We are really trying to get some transcendent quality out of the juxtaposition of those two types of feelings.
pZ: I started thinking about these ideas, in some of the writing stuff that I was doing, and we think it just really makes sense for a project like this. Even when we are making a budget for him we are thinking the same thing – choose your luxury. There is something modern about that. I have a friend who will only spend $6 on lunch and then spend $5 on a bottle of Kombucha to go with it. That is where she want her finances to go. It came from a theoretical idea but it is starting show in the common details of the projects in a nice way.
sP: How do your clients respond to that attitude?
pZ: He has really liked it so far.
aP: We are lucky to have pretty awesome clients. They probably wouldn’t be our clients otherwise, because it is kind of a big risk to go with a firm like us. We don’t have any experience building a classical music performance hall or experience building anything as a firm on our own. For the music venue he has said no to one thing in a year and a half, and it wasn’t a big deal. Mostly they are pretty cool with it. There is an interesting ability for people with money to trust people who are really involved in the design of their project and actually believing their ideas which is pretty fun.
pZ: There are not that many people that really know what they are talking about in terms of what really makes a great building. The creation of value is so arbitrary. At a certain level there is the materials model that has been around for a while. If you use nice materials, it’s a nice project, or it is an interesting shape. We are interested in interrogating what those methods are that create value. I think the high/low thing is one play on that.
sP: We were interested in your article Mannerist Transparency where you discussed architecture as background and the employment of distractive techniques.
pZ: A music venue is a perfect example. You are going there to do something very specific. We got lucky with the owner of the project because he has three main things when going into it. One, he wants good food. Two, he wants it to be an acoustically amazing space. Three, he doesn’t want it to be a black box. He wants it to be a place where you go, and you actually want to be. A lot of it comes out of those simple ideas in terms of how you can actually impact someone’s experience in the space through secret, slippery kind of means. There is a great Siegfried Kracauer essay where he talks about this. He basically says that all movie theaters should be absurdly ornate, so one never is able to fall completely into the propaganda of the movie – the audience can get distracted, productively. If you go into Lincoln Square there are gauche carpets everywhere, but it doesn’t really work. That is a failed project. But I love that idea that architecture can sneak in a little bit and actually frame what you’re doing. You don’t know how to really talk about it or you don’t really notice. I think that is something we have been thinking about for a while too outside of just the theory part in terms of our projects.
sP: It seems refreshing that the discussion surrounding architects engaged with digital fabrication and algorithmic design has begun shifting from technique and process to materiality and sensation. Could you talk about your ambitions in relation to these design methods and engagement of curated atmospheres and effects?
aP: I think that work actually came out of a lot of the work we were doing in school with Jeffrey Kipnis and Greg Lynn to a large part and possibly Hernan Diaz Alonso who I think jumped on that bandwagon, too. We are thinking about atmospheres and effects in a different way then they are conventionally spoken about in terms of them being just a by-product of digital formalism. That may or may not be true. I don’t really believe in that. We are trying to really interrogate what the atmosphere of our spaces wants to be and how we enable them through architecture – as opposed to running through a series of processes and saying ok this has an effect to it, so its up there. Digital manipulations are meant to support a larger idea of what the atmosphere of the space could be, as opposed to the other way around.
sP: Do you think there is any relationship between meaning and atmosphere and effects as suggested by
pZ: On a certain level it gets into a discussion of semantics which sometimes doesn’t go anywhere. I don’t know what his definitions of the two words were. One thing I discussed in that Museo essay is the possibility for architecture to have something you can stare at and think about versus something that affects you in a way that you didn’t necessarily think about at the moment in a verbalized, mental way. There is a distinction there that we have been interested in playing into. There is also a strange thing with the digital formalism and its relationship to atmosphere. You can see the excitement in it because its a new route that’s a little easier to do now. But they seem strangely immediate bedfellow. I feel like the whole school of atmosphere and its relatives have such a huge historical discourse way outside the idea of a shape or a form. The connection seems a little too easy and often unnecessary, at least in terms of the discourse around it.
aP: If you read about Baroque without looking at the pictures it sounds like contemporary digital formalism and then you look at it, and it is like the most rational thing you have ever seen. Personally I think there will always be an uncontrollable amount of symbolism within work but I don’t think that its architecture’s goal to undermine that. I also don’t think that is the necessary resultant of producing a truly effective or atmospheric project. All of this has gotten limited by the visual things that we are tying to the vocabulary, and I think its unavoidable that techniques are going to impact the way we understand our interpretation of the work. If you reverse engineer atmosphere from a concept down to performance versus performance up to concept then you are going to have a greater possibility of getting interesting architecture. Whether it is successful or fails, it will be an architecture that is more tied to intent, which is obviously another arguable thing. I will always fall on the side of do what you need to do rather then let the computer figure it out for you.
sP: There seems to be healthy re-engagement with precedent and architectural history rather than just an obsession with new tools and running scripts recursively until they produce something new. How do you engage precedent in your work?
pZ: People are obsessed with making something new, for better or for worse. I understand the interest in process-driven ideas – the band wagon of “let’s devise this crazy futuristic machine that will make us think of something new”. There is a lot of value to that in terms of being able to produce something that you have not thought of, but at the same time there is a reason why poetry has rhyme. There is still a lot of interesting work that can come out of it. The processes and the discourse have gotten too tied up with each other. The processes don’t need to have the fanaticism behind them in terms of all or nothing. It becomes strangely moral.
aP: There is a stigma against digital design, whatever that is, because probably all architecture now is digital design. It incites arguments against anything that involves form, texture or experimentation when there might actually only be problems with 2% of people within that realm. People take these divergent approaches in their learning because of these stereotypes that are pretty invalid. OMA uses as much digital technology as Asymptote or vice versa. Experimentation can happen throughout any of these analytic, formal tracts. Experimentation is totally valuable but when it gets tied to a political argument about the way the world should and will be, particularly when it comes from an academic perspective, seems really divorced from any reality of the world. It’s a little bit scary. It’s pretty apparent that the world that we live in is really divergent than the world imagined by a certain strain of digital formalism. That doesn’t mean that we should be making iconic MVRDV boxes like BIG or PLOT. These aren’t the only two options for the future. The fact that it gets segregated like that is pretty depressing.
sP: Do you think atmosphere and effects could be a way for architecture to engage with a larger public which is actively engaged with technology and searching for new sensations such as 3-d cinema?
pZ: I have a very practical, anecdotal comment about it. When we started working on the Nevada project, in addition to showing us photographs of the site, the client just sent us a Google SketchUp model of the project that he made. That was a pretty funny relationship to have with a client. There is a facility to that in terms of people’s engagement. This particular guy is very versed in the tech savvy stuff. It was very funny to have someone to whom I could send a model, and he could spin it around and take a look at it. As a studio, we are just starting to have owner/architect relationships, but that alone was a pretty interesting surprise in the way that project was going to work. In terms of a larger audience, there are so many levels where that could happen. The immersive movie/cinematic thing is one option. For me, I have a little resistance to that in terms of its relationship to architecture. I used to work for this artist, Ben Rubin, and one of the things he always used to say that I grasped onto is that he had never seen a good interactive art project.
aP: Neither have I.
pZ: I’m really for it as an idea but I’ve never been to one that I thought was good. There’s an issue with the nomenclature of it too, interactive. You could argue that walking into and seeing a sculpture in a gallery is also an interactive experience. There is something in between this and a touchscreen that architecture could have a reasonable role in. The main part about “interaction” is that it often becomes gaming. When you put something out there that reacts to people, they are going to learn how to play it. A lot of people get into interactivity, and they don’t think about the gaming side of it. This is the way it’s supposed to be, and so you should play it like this. I have these pretty fascinating conversations with my brother about this sort of thing – he’s a big MMORPGer. There is something between that which people play like a game and something like a building: the part where you think about it and the part where it affects you but you don’t think about it.
aP: To a certain degree, it’s like cars. Every year you see the car of the future which could easily be the car of now – it’s not technically very much more complicated. The Toyota car of 2020 they can make right now, but the public isn’t ready to deal with that car. The public deals with subtle body shape changes every year and a slow build up of performance changes. Now all of a sudden is the year they are putting the internet and full PC’s in cars. It is a slow process of acceptance until something happens that makes people understand that a total different spatial experience makes sense. Bilbao allowed people to realize that. Frank Gehry produces a space that enables economic development and that people find beautiful. Now every crappy Frank Gehry building like Bard is a masterpiece of architecture because people see that as something that they can understand. The digital angle of enabling more atmosphere has proved to be really bad so far. If you look at the Microsoft home of the future, or any of those projects, technology is so easily divorced from the architecture. It has yet to become integral. There are tons of people working on how to make the technology and the architecture integral to each other. It is a really different medium and a really different way of thinking. The effects made by these different fields are valuable for different reasons. I don’t want my house flashing at me all of the time. I think the effects that they produce are unique and I don’t mind them remaining unique.
pZ: The constant juxtaposition of cinematic environments with more everyday environments has allowed people to reach the point where they are able to start criticizing, as opposed to the cinematic always having a wow factor. I went to a performance of the New York City Opera recently, and almost the entire set was projected. It was very well executed, but it immediately felt cheap. You understand why they are doing it. They don’t have a budget for a major set that would arguably be more interesting then those projections. It is becoming the easy way out. There is that challenge to new media that I am interested in because it is now getting to the point where everybody can criticize it rather then being wowed by it. I’m interested in something coming out of that, but I’m a little hesitant.
sP: Could you talk a bit about how parametric tools and scripting are used in your work?
aP: We are working with them a lot in our current project. The interior of the performance space itself is really acoustically sensitive and also meant to be a room. This means that all of the equipment that does the work of making it acoustically strong is hidden within this double wall that is about 4′-0” thick. There are multiple layers of sound absorption, sound refraction. There’s curtains back there; there’s wiring and lighting racks and things mounted in there. The surface itself has to feel like its opaque but has to be acoustically transparent. We are essentially producing a giant variable perforated surface related to the needs of the sound bouncing off of a wall or penetrating through a wall. It is pretty directly tied to the research we were doing. I’m sure if we weren’t doing that research, we would be doing it in a different way. It is pretty important in actually getting the space to function, but also staying with something that we think is an interesting realm of experimentation.
pZ: The nice thing about the pattern work we were doing earlier is that it was at a scale where we could see it all as a whole. It was something you could print. It was at that kind of scale. When you bump it up to the large scale you need something even bigger to be able to house that quantity of pieces. We are playing with these patterns in the venue project. The shape of it has meaning too, so we have these other models that are working in similar ways to our earlier experiments. It is obviously a different animal when there are no longer 500 parts, but rather 22. This changes the nature of work and the tools.
sP: It seems that your past work has a strong interest in aperture and gradiated fenestration as an architectural consequence of these modulated fields and scripted patterns. Are you still interested in these types of pattern explorations?
aP: Its definitely still an interest. The thing we are trying to balance right now is a certain level of restraint with a certain ambition to do a project that we think is really good. We are trying not to throw everything we have at this thing where every wall surface is a different crazy perforated or modulating thing. We are really trying to be strategic about the distribution of it, not just to be restrained but also to understand where we think it works and what’s effective from it. There is no cliché style I could say that we are working in. It is definitely a hybrid of a lot of ideas. A lot historical ideas coming together to try to enable three or four, not straightforward, but concrete ideas about how we want this space to work – where we want particular effects. For example, the fenestration is really straightforward. The building is almost opaque. There are probably five openings in the facade that are pretty simple that allow you to look into different types of spaces. We are super interested in that but I wouldn’t say its our only interest.
sP: How has working on a large scale project that is going to be built changed your attitudes?
pZ: There is more at stake. That has definitely changed our attitude. We decided not to throw everything at it early on because that didn’t make any sense. We want to take one or two ideas that have sat with us for awhile and work on them. It is exciting to be able to think through how to give our work other values than simple organization or specific aesthetics.
aP: There is a difference between cutting a pattern in marble versus cutting a pattern in MDF. Most of the projects to date that have dealt with perforation or panelization have been built out of relatively cheap, straightforward materials. It is not that we are trying to cut them out of the most expensive materials, but we are trying to investigate this in terms of atmosphere and effects. What does it mean to use everything from conventional to futuristic materials in relationship to contemporary design techniques? A reclaimed timber faceted wall is a lot different then an auto-body painted faceted wall. We are trying to divorce some of the techniques from the materials they have been typically associated with. There is a cheesy 1999 vision of the future where everything is glossy and plastic. Clearly none of us are wearing glossy, plastic anything. There are alternate material selections that are informing the way we deal with pattern and texture.
pZ: A lot of that has to do with the question of atmosphere and its immediate relationship to ornate “digital design”. There are a whole lot of other things that can go into the production of atmosphere. I’m not saying that our work is not formal, but it’s nice to dirty up that model a little bit.
sP: In architecture there seems to be talk of a generational shift every five years. Now that a number of your classmates at Columbia’s GSAPP have design offices [Commonwealth, Associated Fabrication, SOFTlab] do you see a shift in attitudes or approach from the young designers who taught you [Greg Lynn, Hani Rashid, Hernan Diaz Alonso]?
aP: There is a pretty strong interest in making real things and testing the ideas that we had in school in the real world. Everyone is more intuitively connected to the tools of production from the modeling software all the way through to making things as opposed to theoretically attached to those models. I had a pretty interesting conversation with Hani [Rashid] from Asymptote the other day about what it was like in the beginning when he and Greg [Lynn] started the advanced program at Columbia when they started using computers. I was like ‘what were you doing before you started using computers?’ Both of them developed an approach that was theoretical in relationship to what they imagined computers were able to do. To a certain degree they developed their techniques there and certain skills, but they didn’t spend their whole education modeling in NURBS. To a certain degree by the time Hernan [Diaz Alonso] and Chris Perry were professors they had done a certain amount of that but they hadn’t spent their whole time actually fabricating things. I think the connection between the scales of the tool abilities and the modeling techniques start to develop with people to a point where you can, from within, criticize the theoretical approach of how it needs to be, or how it wants to be.
pZ: Another aspect to our drawing project was a critique of this notion. It is the medium. When you go to presentations there’s a projection overhead, and you flip through renderings and slides. We want something physical and the value that it brings with it – because it didn’t have any value in terms of our education. It is a microcosmic look at this issue.
aP: What I did think was kind of funny was some people–I don’t know how much younger they are–, but seemingly a few years after we came out of school. They are of that age of people who are doing strictly digital formalism: mostly rendered, pretty intense formal environments–and then they would fabricate something. It is pretty interesting that there is a pendulum swinging back and forth between those fields. I honestly think that the realm of attaching techniques to building things and figuring them out in the real world and what their meaning is in the real world is ultimately going to be more successful. Whether or not it is ultimately more meaningful is another issue, but in terms of getting projects and producing architecture with an A or architecture that actually exists.
sP: What is your relationship to teaching and practice?
aP: We all like teaching. Teaching is a weird field to be in while practicing in the sense that you are dealing with, at times, really divergent ways of time management and attention. I enjoy it, especially when I have good students. I think it compliments work in the office. It’s hard. Right now we are so in over our heads with work that the idea of going into studio for four hours three days a week is tough.
pZ: There is something really great about that relationship. If you are with good students its unbelievably refreshing. You actually get to talk with them about things that help you critique your own ways of working. Ultimately I think it is something that is super important for the discipline in general to have that awkward relationship. It keeps things more fresh, it keeps things strange. You do get students who aren’t so into it – which totally happens. That’s always a bummer. In general though, I think there is a big problem in architecture schools. If an architect is doing well and is a good thinker, he or she probably has work, and then it is very difficult to teach. There is a big hole in terms of good teachers at schools in the US. There are way more students that want to learn architecture then there are good teachers for them. The bar is set very low for architecture educators. It is a big problem and really bad for architecture. It devalues our work and the culture around it.
aP: There are so many options in architectural education now that it’s hard to get a real strong grasp of general principles before getting into more complicated techniques or approaches. People can have a pretty interesting experience in school. My take from Columbia is that you did really well when you got out, or you crashed and burned. The stuff we are learning you really have to twist it around to make it relevant to the real world pretty quickly and intuitively when you go get a job or else you are pretty screwed. There are maybe 20 offices you can go work at given what we learned when we were there. What is funny now with the work we are doing, there is so much stuff that having worked at pretty fancy architecture firms we don’t really know, we are figuring out as we go along. It is pretty fun, surprising and stressful. I would be a bigger proponent of some sort of conventional education at least for the first year in terms of architectural history, precedents, techniques…
sP: What do you think about architecture schools current concentration on technique rather then history/theory/precedent?
aP: I guess the people who are going to take ownership of their education and make it work are going to be successful regardless, so it might be a moot point. I think for the medium it’s really important to get some fundamentals involved in the more sophisticated approaches to the kind of things people are trying to do. The balls to the wall, everything is futuristic, everything is innovative approach is dangerous to a certain degree. People should have some understanding about what is innovative about what they are doing and whether or not it is innovative.
sP: Whose work is on your radar?
aP: Its pretty interesting. There is the stuff that you just see constantly in the architectural media that’s filtering in that doesn’t interest me as much because you just get it to a certain level. The people I’m interested in are our peers. People within five years ahead and behind us. Most of the people that we know. I think that is the most interesting conversation even if we are not always talking about it – Commonwealth, Ball-Nogues, Parrish Rash, The Living – we went to school with these people or know them peripherally in an interesting way. It is pretty cool to watch people start building stuff and starting to be successful. How they are tweaking what they are doing as things start to go. We can have drinks with these people. We all have a base understanding of where we are coming from and general principles that we all share even though the work is pretty different. It is fun to watch all of these people.
sP: What are you reading/watching/listening to?
aP: I am reading Murakami’s book about running which is the best work book. It should be a business book. It’s about the relationship of running to writing. It should be about architecture – at least its easy to draw those parallels and about how we should be working versus how we are reading. And I’m reading a book on Alberti which is pretty awesome. He was a really weird interesting guy.
pZ: I guess in a classic trope of architecture and science fiction, I’m reading Dune, which I hadn’t read before. The movie is one of my favorite things, but I had never read the book.
aP: On the high/low answer – Townes Van Zandt.
pZ: I have a friend who is a big black metal critic, so I’m starting to listen to a lot of that. That’s just in the last few weeks.
sP: Is that the new work music?
pZ: No, alex turns off all of my music.
aP: We did play music at the Guggenheim the other day. That was awesome, strange and fun.