We sat for quite a while


We sat for quite a while talking at his desk. It struck me how removed the practice gets from academia (note, in PK’s lecture he shared his belief that the academy does not educate you on how to practice architecture, but more how to conceive of it). Even as much as I struggle to keep my efforts unshackled by the general concern of practice for assimilation, applicability, and communicability (business), or transcendence (silence, ‘the building’), I find that it is the residues manifested in the bureaucracy of practice that grind down my resolve to include the unnecessary, the intransigent, and the intangible, the wet paint of thought. But the schism, or the inability to communicate with Leach, was not out of differing pursuits but of differing exposures. Necessarily the attitudes were different. That is a matter of survival between the worlds of practice and thought. I liken it to the perception of a teenager by an adult: their naivety is offputting yet their enthusiasm and immersion are enviable. They have not stultified. It is academia’s job to unearth tangents, the nodes, the inflections. Is their nuance to ephemera, to steam? It is a coaxing of unknowables into a shadowy image cast by successive puffs of smoke. Practitioners often scorn that ephemerality or uselessness. But often in history (where?) the constellations of history, interdisciplinarianism, and personality have inflected practice at its mid-to-elevated strata of frontiersmen. If not directly then at least categorically by organizing trends into cultural milieus that could be operated upon in an evolutionary process by practitioners (wittingly or unwittingly). The real schism though is language. The language of practice and thought are divergent or they circle one another like prize fighters. The language of practice is active, it looks to quantify known systems (money, construction, time, spatial requirements, all bundled into the lamentable ‘scope’) while academic thought is communicated in terms that never become real (this sounds like a ‘you see, white people talk like this… bit), about which there is question (language itself in words and drawings)(triggered, ready to go off), its langage is pointing, rather than structural, and immersive (as a surrogate to the built experience), and absolute. Having sat in a holding pattern for so many years on my Austin job I didn’t have such a severed relationship with the inherent commitment to deferral I sensed in Leach’s language, his referentiality, I didn’t think these jots were useless, I envied them in fact, although structurally similar to my efforts, the way in which they were categorized, the interests and pursuits more searching, and as they diverged in their aspirations I didn’t have the language to engage them. If obscure architects are heavy-bundled adjective, I was only getting the nouns. The clouds were thin to me.


Critical Response:

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