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Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, “Inside Out”

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, “Inside Out”


When we switch off the light. OK. So, we have the pleasure to have
today the Billie Tsein and Tod Williams lecturing for us. As many of you know, they
are practicing architects based in New York. And have in 1986 co-founded
the husband and wife architectural firm, Tod Williams
Billie Tsein and Associates. Together their practice
and their [inaudible] have both won numerous awards. Some recent awards
for their practice include their IBA Fellowship
in 2014, University of Florida Design Excellence
Design Award in 2014, National Medal of Arts
presented by US President Barack Obama in 2013, AIA Architectural
Firm Award 2013, AIA New York President’s Citation
2013, and both review it and induction to the
National Academy in 2009. They have many
procedures projects with us or with the specific
award to do these projects. I want to mention the Institute
Honor Award for Architecture in 2015 for their work on the
LeFrak Center in Brooklyn. Also another one for the
Barnes Center in Philadelphia. And AIA in New York Architecture
Merit Award for their work on the Logan Center for Arts. And also the,
another one in 2015 for the Center for
Advancement of Public Action, and many others. Their office refers monograph
appearing 2000, if I’m right. Title I always insist
in the careful meaning and the way of the
titles, work slash life taught with Billie Tsein. And a number of
subsequent publications have been dedicated to
covering their practice, including the 2012 book, The
Architecture of the Balance Foundation. They’re in a garden,
garden in a gallery. And they have taught
extensively in many places. And they had the [inaudible]
sharing architecture of the University
of Pennsylvania, as well as a serving chair at
the University of Michigan. Billie has taught at
Parsons, [inaudible], Yale, the University of Texas,
University of Virginia, and here, obviously, at
the Harvard [inaudible]. Tod and Billie are
perennial visitors, in relation to the University,
who frequent this room to share their work and ideas
almost every year, almost every two or three years. We are particularly fortunate
to welcome them tonight. Given the resonance
of their work has always maintained it with
the topic of this semester’s symposium on architecture
that will be celebrated at the end of April 22. Almost the last day of the term,
and entitled Interior Matters. And all, I mean,
this picture as us the first one of [inaudible]
of [inaudible] and one that will come and
tell you their work, I insist in this idea
of interior materiality as the main topics of
the whole semester. Today in architecture,
philosophy, many branches of science, and the arts
the topic of materialism is being investigated
with new-found passion. In the last decades concern
over formulating new approaches to matter has taken center
stage in many fields. There are many such approaches
that I want to mention. For example, the work
of Richard Sennett that will be coming to this
symposium with a project that he has called Almost
Fiber, Exploring Material Ways of Making Culture. A series of books in which
The Craftsman in the 2008 is the first well
known installation. Also figures like, well
known like Bruno Latour, Jane Bennett, and Manuel Delanda. I’ll call your attention
to the vitality of matter. Its ability to do things. Architects, many of
whom are here at the GSD are investigating some economic
approaches to architecture and matter that try to bring you
the discussion on both issues interior and matter. I mean, in disciplines
as neuroscience there is [inaudible] description of
the relationship among our body and the matter and the
[inaudible] that surround us are being very crucial
to develop new ideas on our relation with the world. I think that this
was going to be, by the way, titled
Inside Out, but you have changed it to Interiority. Sounds more intellectual. [laughter] There are
other approaches. We have molecular,
phenomenological, which is also
reviewing it’s agenda as we all lose a
few that assisted to the symposium organized by
Sylvia Benevito on atmospheres, probably had some insights
on this renovations of the case of phenomenology. Among the many reasons,
resourceful pieces and explosion of
material thinking, I just want to mention one. This one stands out as
particularly, [inaudible], in my opinion. He’s an increasingly
bureaucratic and corporate context that tends to
limit degrees of freedom. The main thing that
this is bringing back this attention to the
interior and materiality. A refreshed focus on
material as a premise as a way out of the
corporate mode of success. The work of Tod Billie
has been invested in this sense of
capacities of material since before this shift. And in some capacity has
[inaudible] the importance of this issue today. In this sense, the
work finds belonging with a larger movement
that is on course to become one of the central concerns of
our disciplines in the present and in probably in the future. So please join me in welcoming
once again Billie and Tod [applause] All yours. So this is great. I kind of feel like we’re
in a big shower together. So like a group shower. [laughter] It’s very nice. That’s what you want, huh? [laughter] OK. [inaudible] very intimate. OK. Yes. Now this subject is as it’s
not just about the fact that we believe that
our interiors are more interesting than our
exteriors, actually more vital, and actually that deliver
our exteriors that we spend all of our time in our
interiors and inside buildings, but we find that it
increasingly grows and becomes ever more vibrant even
as we begin to decay. Hopefully not immediately. Well, not this evening. But- [laughter] Yeah so this is a picture
that we took a long time ago and I really liked it
because it’s a pump house that’s is enclosed in that
little shack with a wind turbine on the top, which
sort of brings the water up. But it’s also like
the DaVinci drawing, there’s this sort of interior
and then there’s the exterior, and both of them are
working together. So we’re not saying that
we only believe everything comes from the interior. But we want to focus on
that, because that’s really where we always begin. We always begin on the inside. Well, the other thing
is it that this also means that the work is site
specific and site located that it it has a respect for the
ground as the wind turbine did, as our feet do to the Earth. And as the stepwells
of Aminabad so inspired us when we went to
first to India about 15 years ago, and visited
these wells, which had almost no appearance at
the surface of the Earth, but were used for both
washing clothes and getting water hundreds of years ago. But unfortunately the system,
the wells have gone dry and these are dry spaces. But they’re cool spaces
and a place that really is very, very hot and very humid. So we are interested in
that sort of negative space and going down into the
ground as our students are unfortunately finding out. So the idea and the
importance of section is very, very important in
the studio that we’re taking. And this of course is Michael
Heiser’s piece at Dia:Beacon which is a kind of, also in
the head of the step well, it’s the negative space. And it’s extremely powerful. It’s presence is palpable but
you don’t see its presence. Well Michael Hesier’s
work in the southwest over these many, many years is
really particularly powerful. And it’s also
completely intimate. It’s his own project. Well, we’re architects and
it’s not, we’re not making art, we’re making architecture. At John Soane’s house is a
both a kind of horror to us and also place of huge
fascination because of the intimacy that
he created there. Well and also this idea of
the collection of objects and how objects
are very important. The ones that you
surround yourself are very important to
defining who you are. I mean, we’re architects, we’re
designers, were thing people. So things are very
important to us. So this, of course, anybody
who has kids probably, or grew up in a certain
time knows Goodnight Moon. But I found it very interesting
that the color scheme of Goodnight Moon
and the bunnies room is very similar to the
Capaccio painting of St. Jerome contemplating the death
of it’s St Augustine contemplating the
death of St Jerome. But, in both of
the rooms they are surrounded by the things that
sort of make up their life. So whether it’s the sort of
bowl of porridge by the side or some of the astrological
objects that are sitting next to Augustine those
start to define who you are– Even the comfort of the cat. You know– That’s a dog. We don’t like to think– [laughter] We don’t like to think that
we have such things around us. But, that’s a dog? Yeah. OK. [laughter] OK, well
from here, it’s a cat. We don’t really have any pets. No, we don’t But we have a lot
of things around ourselves. And they do, they
give us comfort. They give us a sense of
location in the world. And I think that’s what
that’s about or– here this is Lorenzo Lotto. Somehow this is at
the time when you’re becoming more aware of the
person having a character and the symbols that
were in the St. Jerome. So– Or now also symbols here,
but they’re more animate. So when you look
at this closely, so the art historians are
talking about the lizard being a kind of sign that
this person is not well, they’re sort of cold
blooded, and also the sort of fallen petals that
have come from the flower. So the importance of
things is something that infuses how we work. We’ve shown this many times. I haven’t seen it for
probably 20 years. This is the [inaudible] own home
outside of Philadelphia where he’s made this incredible stair
of wood that actually goes up and has a split piece that
heads up to a half landing, and a hand rail that
changes from wood to– Ivory. Ivory. And the sense of touch,
the temperature change is so startling when one,
although both are equally smooth and central, it’s
the temperature that really surprises one. Yeah. It’s so subtle. So when you run your hand down
the railing because the wood is really feathered
into the ivory and then that warmth of the wood,
and then all of a sudden the coolness. Although, the ivory’s
very old, so it looks very much like wood, is a
very, very powerful experience. And I moved into
Carnegie Hall in 1972. I found out that architects
could live there at low cost, and eventually moved up
to the very top floor. And then some years later Billie
came to work and live with me. That top floor– [inaudible] right there. We lived there
from 1972 to 2008. It was an amazing place. It’s kind of a
jumble of studios. There were 160 and eventually
now, there are none. But it was the very
interior experience within a very public building. So this is actually
an image of what we considered our backyard. And when you went out
the door of the landing you would be there. And our son grew up
in this building, so you could climb up
to the top of the roof. I guess I was somewhat lax
mother and you could be– [laughter] up there without any railings
underneath the water tower. Well we climbed up on the
top of the water tower and when Caesar Pelly build
the building next door we climbed into that building
as it was going up to the top. [laughter] But it was a magical place. I mean, the reason I moved
there is because I thought it was the center of the universe. And for me it was, it
still is in many ways. To be right in the
middle of something, in the very middle of something
is the most intimate experience one could ever have. So when we found
out that we’re going to be kicked out
of the building, as they kicked
everybody out, Tod did this drawing of the
plan of the apartment. Here. Yeah, I’ll point out
some of the features. You walked up. The elevators didn’t
come up to the level. They stopped at a
level before below, and then one walked up
a metal fire stair here. Open. Actually 15 stories
below, that was the door to the terrace
that eventually got a– that was our sneakers
that we’d leave outside, my bike behind the door. This was our studio at one time. In fact, the drawers
were for tools and we had two tables
here, but this– actually was the table I took from
Richard Myers after leaving. It was a door that was painted
that became our dining table. The bathroom. We had a two burner hot
plate, and an under counter refrigerator, and a convection
oven for those 35 years. Our son’s room here was the
size of our son eventually. [laughter] At first his crib. And we climbed up a
ladder every night to a little balcony that we
made that was under a skylight. And it was fantastic. And this became are
sort of library or study and then his room. So, it was full of stuff and
we’ve now moved from there to another equally small place
that has all of this stuff and more in it. But it’s interesting because
it felt like– it had a huge skylight over the top. In fact there were two
skylights, and actually very few, very small windows. So it felt as if you were
in a very interior space with light coming
down from above. Now, hold it. Back. That was his crib was in
there, when he was a little. Go back. And those are two little
windows and they were exactly on axis of the windows
that were opposite, so we didn’t really abuse him– [laughter] much. He could look out to the view. But so, it’s not John Soane,
but we also surrounded ourselves with all things that
were of interest to us and they were incredibly,
and are incredibly eclectic. And as Tod said,
the second skylight, we would climb a ladder and
sleep underneath the skylight. So, the bed was literally
cantilevered out over the space below. And from time to time
we would climb out that window, which was difficult
as they got older to the roof. Our son. [laughter] He came back for a– For a final shot. for a return engagement. Yeah. But living in that space
for such a long time really taught us a lot about
how to think about space. That we like to be
surrounded by walls, that light coming
in a certain way has a huge and powerful
effect on how you live, and that things are important. So, we moved to a
different apartment and this is a drawing that
Tod did for a handrail. Well, it was based on a railing,
loosely based on a railing for the– that I saw in the
studio at [inaudible] Zanken studio in Paris– In Paris. which was a very,
very thin rail and I thought it was wonderful
because it just bent as the railing could bend. So I thought if you could bend
a railing it would self-stiffen. And did these drawings
which then were followed by a wonderful iron monger. And created these transitions at
the corners that would actually self brace themselves. So, in fact, it was
supported in very few places or it is supported
in very few places. And– But although it doesn’t
change its temperature like the wood to ivory,
it is very satisfying because the turns give you
places to hold on as you sort of walk down the stairs. So we’re going to show
actually four projects. I’m gonna– this is still part
of the lead in to the four projects, but this is a
very early thing that we did as a collaboration with
the artist Carson Holler. And the idea was that everything
was being made out of snow, and it was done in
northern Finland. And those of you who
know Holler’s work, he works a lot with slides
and the idea of movement. And it was our idea that we
not have a visible slide, but we have a kind
of buried slide. So this was the
plaster model that we had done of the idea
where you would slide down through that hole,
but then you’d walk out through the
sort of curving paths. So all that needed
to be made was a meter high cake of
snow, which you could get, could happen here. And then you’d climb up
on that table of snow and slide down into
the center actually. This was done in Rovaniemi. Yeah. Where the– Here the guys were
cutting the snow into the– the dish on which
the– all you needed also was a hollow that was a little
deeper than that meter of snow. So it was actually
two meters deep. And you sort of didn’t
notice it actually– I mean– came up on it. And actually this was way
before we went to India and saw the stepwells. But it was this desire to
create an experience that went down into the ground and
had a very indistinct sort of almost hidden presence. Except here, it is at
night when the light is on. So now we’re going to start
to show these four projects. MacDowell Colony. Actually they’re very
different in scale and size. This is in Peterborough, New
Hampshire, which you may know. MacDowell Colony
was started in 1907 by Marion MacDowell
and her husband, who died a couple of years later. But she was a pianist
and he was composer, and they created an artist
colony which our architects can go to, but it’s often
writers and painters that go there and are given
a dwelling in the woods. There are 25 of them, and
you’re allowed to stay there for up to two months I think. Yeah. You would take your
breakfast in a common place and lunch would be brought
to you in your studio, and then you’d have
dinner together. So the one place
besides the dinner, where the people had dinner,
where people could gather was this little library
called Savage Library. And it wasn’t working
for a number of reasons. It was built in the 20s–
and the door opened directly into the one room, and so– And the one room had
a fireplace in it and that wasn’t very
good for the books. So– And without a vestibule and
without with a fireplace, without any thermal barriers,
this really was unsatisfactory. But furthermore, as
a one room library for 26 people in a
community, it was fine for having a
discussion in the evening, but it hardly would be really
a good place to for 25 people to find a book. So this is a very small project
for us but a very special one because we really liked
this idea of the MacDowell. We went to the site. And here you can see the small
library building, and then this very large rock,
which was nearby. And so we decided we would make
the addition to the library thinking about this large rock. So, the colony haul
is up to the right, and our drawing of our
addition is down at the bottom. This is a finished drawing. So that’s the
library to the right, and then this odd
little low piece is the addition to the library
which we thought should not challenge the library. And should be everything
the library was not, which is that it was multiple
spaces and a small labyrinth. But it was subservient
to the library. So this is a drawing. We’re trying to
work out the plan. And it became a little
simpler than this, but it more or less
worked that you would walk, slide
into actually– it’s a little later, so that’s a
fireplace because we couldn’t use this fireplace anymore,
an outdoor fireplace to triangulate the space. Walking in under the eaves
into a small vestibule, there’s a library in
there, which is there. She has a little room behind
her and there were a couple of rooms for video here. A small step down living
room in through here, and other spaces to study,
and a little place where two or three people could look
at a screening of something, and a couple of seats in
this side and two toilets, and– cause there weren’t
any toilets, an incline and a kitchen, and a gallery. So, it’s a super small building. We also then
renovated this, which really not going to show it so. So the building bent itself
around that large rock which is very, very beautiful rock. Yes. And then this idea
of the fireplace being the hearth that
moves to the outside was very important to us. And we were talking today
about flat roof buildings. And we haven’t actually
done that many buildings with pitched roofs,
so this was also trying to learn
a little bit more about how to pitch a roof
because it is New Hampshire and there was a
huge amount of snow. Well, they didn’t like, as
we talked with the builder, and it was the one
guy who was already building these little
buildings and repairing– we had to make sure the
eaves didn’t allow the snow to fall off and the ice
to fall off and then fall against the window. So this is the plan that
was ultimately made. So it is the building– We worked with Gary
Hildebrand, by the way, in creating the landscaper. And the beautiful paths. Using pieces from
the land to help to lock the fireplace
in and create a kind of a soft landscape that
removed some of the deciduous– the evergreens and made way
for some of the hardwoods. So it’s a quiet little building
which tries to both be present but also not foreground itself. I think really the
foreground, and here you can see the connection through
to the old Savage Library. Foreground element is the hearth
which has been pulled forward into the landscape. Although the fireplace
is a little out of scale, but it actually then works
pretty well as a counterpoint. It’s really the largest,
tallest piece in the land. So it’s kind of
placed to which one walks the rock is
just behind it, and then our building is
lower than the library. Inside is wood. The structure runs
right down sort of structural line that runs
right down through the center to help to support the
eave, which is pitched, and then we cantilevered
lights off that piece. But it’s really almost a–
it’s a– we were talking today about space being a
series of experiences. So, this is a series
of places to sit and either be by yourself
or be with other people. That’s a nice little place
to sit and [inaudible]. It seems a little narrow. But it’s I know
it’s comfortable. This, you pull a
curtain and slide a door closed, and
then look at this, at a screen that’s over here. And of course the
artists that are there are screenwriters
and composers and so things don’t necessarily fit
on shelves in a normal way. This is just after
the landscape went in. They’re all sorts of ferns
outside that have grown. This second project
is slightly larger and it’s two residence
halls at Haverford College. And we were talking
about how you can make what you do ordinary
so that at certain points it can be extraordinary,
and the balance of the ordinary
and extraordinary. So in many ways these are two
extremely ordinary buildings. Well, we have– this is
our third set of dorms. Our very first one
was at Princeton, and was I think
wanted to be strong, and probably was too
strong, a small tower. And then the next ones were
at the University of Virginia, which were too big
in a way, but were, we saw as walls in the land. And now this one really
wants to be completely subservient to the land. So, it is in the place of
a parking lot that existed. And the parking lot
was relatively level and had been built with asphalt.
And they had thrown debris below the parking lot
all sorts of stuff that wasn’t really useful for reuse. And what we did is we took
that debris and repacked it and created a mound
that then allowed us to have two buildings
that were– actually this building is identical
to this one, or virtually so, and that were two
one-story buildings that had no interior stairs. And used the landscape for
egress and the landscape has to commune. So that this in Haverford
College is an arboretum, and so we said, well the
arboretum is the living room. And then we placed
our buildings that were identical on either
side of this berm, And inside each of
them has a courtyard. And it’s a very
different kind of plan than what they expected. Every student at Haverford this
is the reconfigured Berman. It’s expected in the
relatively near future, we might or someone might
build some more buildings here. The land slopes. This is our analysis actually. Karen Timberlake did an analysis
of the what they might do, and which is more or less
what everyone does, which is– And we did to. Make a double loaded corridor. I mean, we did that [inaudible]. We did it at the UVA’s. It’s pathetic. But, I mean, sorry. It has two stairs. It has an elevator. It has a living element down
at one end and services. And we looked at this
and said if you actually would expand that
corridor you could get the same number of
rooms, and you would then have interesting communities
with more connections to the outside. This becomes the courtyard. And so if you look at the
10,000 square feet of space has, in this case,
700 feet of perimeter. In this case, 570. But the common space here
is 3,560 square feet. And here it’s 2,950. So, it’s an unexpected
payoff, and it enabled since we had no
stairs and no elevators we were able to build higher
quality at lower cost, which to me makes this a small
revolutionary building. The students each
wanted singles which made our life more difficult
because that meant more rooms. But we also designed very
simple furniture for them that they could configure
in a variety of ways, and had it built in
Long Island City. It’s very sturdy furniture. But essentially
the furnitue– it’s not that the furniture is
in any way revolutionary because it is very
straightforward, but the rooms are figured
so that the furniture can be arranged in a multiple of ways. And the horizontal
mullion of the window is set so that when you’re
either sitting at a desk or lying in a bed it
is at the right place. So it’s not– We made a mock up and
the students told us where to put the windows. Right. You know. But it’s so– It’s pretty much
what they said to do. But It’s just a thoughtful way
of making a space so that kids can rearrange their rooms. So these are
drawings of stairways that take you–
incline walks take you to the top of the berm. So their landscape
elements nothing– there’s no stairway quite
there, are stairs and then you actually cut
through the berm to visit your friends
on the other side. Early sketches of how we
thought that might be, and then this is the
way it looks today. It’s a stairway and
it’s a place to sit. This person’s walking
horizontally along that double, that two-story building
and these people are walking up at a
one and 20 incline. And then we retain that with
a low wall you could sit on. And then you can walk
between the buildings and across a bridge,
just by virtue of just a very slight
torque in the land. That enabled us to use these
bricks, the Peterson bricks, and the same dearth ERM
windows we used before. And billed– actually it
came in under the budget. They had– then we
created the courtyard on the inside with
the same bricks in a lighter color that becomes
the kind of glue for the– and then we put a wall in
the middle of the courtyard so that it would create
additional complexity. By this kind of box of light
because the outside is so dark. And we’ve been working both
with Heath Tile in Sausalito and with a commercial
felt company called [inaudible],
which allows us to design felt wall coverings
and use as a kind of baseboard the Heath Tile. And so these are– we
used in the hallways and then designed various
patterns with different colors to try to identify the hallways
because basically the two buildings are exactly alike. And the first floor and the
second floor are exactly alike. So we’re trying to bring
some sense of richness into something that is
actually very ordinary. So, yeah, actually
this is a skylight that carries light from the roof
down to the lower level here. We were able to then make
all the floors of oak and the door jams of wood. The rooms– the
kids’ rooms are sheet rock but the public hallways
are all in durable materials. And then the social spaces, we
had a little bit more budget so we could give them also
have Heath Tile on the walls and bring color in a
very, very durable way. So this is the lower
level of that courtyard. And then a study space. [inaudible] Cantilevers [inaudible]
are basically both set on top of one another. And then– So this was exciting
for us to– and I’m happy to say that the kids
have now been using them for three years. And they seem to be
in perfect condition. So if you do something that the
kids like they take care of it. One thing that
this is quite a lie though that they
keep their shades closed, it seems to me, but. I’m too much I think. And we [inaudible] to
pick them up here OK. The next project in both
of those previous ones are trying to be
quiet in the land. This one is too. These are skating
rinks in Prospect Park. We started this project
in 2007 and made a building that was too
big and we ultimately couldn’t afford it. But this is built now and it’s
in its third year of operation. This is a oval rink that
connects to an ice skating rink that’s the same size
of the old Boston Garden. And this is a
landscape and there’s a 230,000 square foot building
that sits below the land here. And are addressed. This is a green roof
and a restoration of 26 acres of the park. So– All the way down to here. One of the things that
we’re really proud about is that it’s a very,
very democratic building. Because parks and libraries
are really the most democratic places that we have. And that this pathway takes
you up on top of the building and you cross over
a bridge and you can go down another pathway
on top of the other building. And you actually often,
people don’t ever know there on top of a building. So it has– it’s a building that
has tried to sort of in a way honker itself down
into the park. And it has a powerful
presence, but not in a kind of conventional way. Let’s go back. So there are a couple
of other things. First, it’s true that
we’ve reorganized horse paths around here
and paths that go up. This is a mechanical aperture
that’s nearly the size of this port half of this room that
allows a mechanical to exhaust to air we’ve– this is
just after it was planted, but some of the planting
soil is three, and four, or five feet deep so that large
trees can grow and will grow. So we worked with a
landscape architect Christian Zimmerman who is
part of the Prospect Park Alliance on this. So this is interesting
Olmsted Vaux designed Central Park in 1857,
840 acres and we, since we lived there we think
that’s the best thing there is. And it is fantastic because of
the way it’s cut into the city. Prospect Park, which is
often, up until recently, a sort of second citizen. It’s smaller, 585 acres
done 10 years later. But they, Olmsteaad
and Vaux thought they did a better job
there because they have a mile and a
quarter of open space. They have a much
larger forested area. And they have a much
larger artificial lake. This is our site which is up
in this corner of the park basically. It’s an area which, this
is it under construction, it’s the most popular slash
populist portion of the site because it was– and it was
always intended to be that. So in the past
when the lake froze people would actually
skate on Prospect Lake. And in the Olmsted
and Vaux drawings they show a carriage turnaround
concourse, and then something that they called Music Island,
and a kind of esplanade around the edge. So the idea was that musicians
would go play music and then– Would be on the island
playing music to the throngs that would be– Who would be sitting there. And then boats would be
launched out into the water. It would be a grand time, and
the horses would stop here. This is called, I think it’s
called the Chinese Pavilion, right? Oriental. Oriental, excuse me. [laughter] But Robert Moses in the 60s,
1961, destroyed Music Island and created a rink
because he felt that that was what was
needed and people wanted it. And the rink was a
very inefficient rink. But then he turned the
carriage turnaround into a 300 car parking lot
and basically destroyed all of the detail. So we worked with Christian
Zimmerman and the Prospect Park Alliance to restore the
edge of the Water Music Island and the
esplanade, and then used what was the big parking
lot as the site for the skating rink. So, in both these cases
we just took a parking lot and then replaced it with this. So we’ve got a cafe
and party rooms that 50% of the restrooms
for all of the Prospect Park are here. Large mechanical space. That’s the aperture. Many of the utility vehicles
that are used in the park are parked here. Offices for the running of
this whole operation, which is the summer and
winter operation, so its roller skating or water
play fountain, and hockey. Eventually just covered it with
a single very, very large roof. Actually which was made
of steel columns clad in stone, but with
bar joists that just spanned this
and a ring beam so that one could cantilever. Well, this is a very big
cantilever, as you can see. Opening the corners by the
virtue of the power of the ring beam so that the
corners are released and the space flows through. But they– many of
the– because it was a parking lot the original–
many of the original trees that were planted by Olmsted and
Vaux exist around the edges. So this is one of the original
trees that was planted. So from the sort
of kind of lakeside you can see it as a
pavilion, but when you enter it from the park
side it is quite invisible. So this is actually
a construction shot that shows the earth that
was put on top of a building to hide the building. And so as you
approach the building you really only see
the roof hovering. And then this is also a
construction shot standing on top of the building before
the earth and the hard scape actually covers the
roof of that building. As with MacDowell, we
used– went up to Canada and we used a very,
very simple way of getting these
large stones, which is to see that they do
curbing up in Canada and they do it by guillotine. And it then cracks the stone
and gives a very, very irregular surface. But it also keeps the cost down. So these are actually three
and four inch thick slabs of stone there. You can see they’re tipped
up against a concrete wall, in this case with
a membrane on it. But that concrete wall
is the retaining wall that holds the earth
that hides the buildings. So this is now a one and
20 down and one and 20 up. Just let the normal park
fixtures run through here. And then this is a view
from the top of the two buildings looking down. But we really
wanted the building itself to feel as if it
were a part of the wall language of Central
Park or Prospect Park. So a sort of that rustic walking
through rusticated walls. And– And once again,
Heath Tile mural. Which is this idea of
moving from a kind of winter to spring, passing
along that mural. And then the
underside of the roof, which was very roughly
based on the figures that figure skaters– it used
to be that figure skaters were judged by the sort of marks
that they cut in the ice when they were doing their very
particular sort of maneuvers, and so that translated to
the marks in the ceiling. Which actually are carved
into an crappy eephus ceiling. But then– the
channels are this big. We thought about
putting lights in them, but couldn’t afford it. So it’s basically the
reflection of the lights off the ice or the concrete,
and the silver paint of those channels that makes it
look like they’re illuminated. It worked quite well. So, in the summertime,
it’s roller skating and they do films here,
and the water play. It’s been very, very
successful happily. Yeah the two rinks
sometimes are connected and sometimes
they’re are separate. So that’s the third
of the three projects in the interior aspect. The interiority is finding
a place in the land, and I think that was what we’re
trying to do in both cases, and we’re doing it once again
in this project in India. And we practice– let’s say we
try to do it in every project we work on. So interiority is
not just the texture of the interior of our
lives, but it’s also the sense of place in
the land, and that’s why we strongly believe that
we allow ourselves to be given away to the project at hand. That’s it’s no problem with
having a pitched roof in New Hampshire, or a flat
roof in Prospect Park, or working in India,
and then trying to actually feel like you’re
should be working in India, so. We’ve been working on
this now for 13 years. About, yeah. 12 or 13 years. It’s– has 2000 people in it. They’re just finished
another wing of the building and they seem to work
very, very slowly. Here. The courtyard, this
is a courtyard, you will see in
another courtyard here, and then there’s a large
dining room and a 1,000 person auditorium . But this is the north south
highway that joins Mumbai eventually to Aminabad and the
[? hutmansen. ?] Now the towers that exist in the
[? hutmansen, ?]. So this was probably
photographed about three years ago. Our idea was to see if we
leave every tree on the land. This was a place where
there were factories. And the factories had
trees all around them, and there were a couple
of older buildings. And we’ve, working with Brenda
Samiah and a local a landscape architect, we’ve
saved the buildings and tried to work
with the land again. So this is the form
of the drawings we showed to Ron [? tatata. ?]. It’s changed since then. This was an auditorium,
a much smaller auditorium and a dining facility. This more for more
or less exists, this doesn’t exist early sketch. But the land slopes up, so it’s
lower here and higher here. And we– Nearly 30 feet difference. Are keeping the ground floor
always at the same level. So, the buildings as they
move back towards the site are more and more
buried in the earth. And they plow into
the land because there are a couple of
other small homes that are part of the campus
that are back in here. We said that they should put
this as the model that we made. Actually more recent versions
of the model showing the 1,000 person auditorium. The swing is now built. We have
600 cars parked below grade. We have a whole
mechanical plan here and it’s a pretty good
system for saving water and– I’d say a very
sustainable place. Left the trees where we could. We– covering from the
sun, and from the heat, and the rain of monsoons
is really crucial. So everywhere you walk
you’re under cover. Once again we
wanted the buildings to be less than the land. So nothing is more than
three stories tall. And this is an entry
sort of canopy. And one of things we
were interested in doing because it’s such
a material culture is trying to think about the
things that happened there that are made there, and
how we might use them. So this is all clad
in China tile mosaic, which is very much
a living tradition. So it was– [inaudible] suspended roof. Because we used a– That’s right. Rubber membrane and not
brick bat totally and tile on top of it, which is the
way they used to do it. But we insisted that there
be a rubber membrane. And then the brick
bat and then the tile. Well that’s very
interesting because it’s a skill that’s practiced
primarily by women, and they’re from
a certain village. So all these women know each
other, and they work together, and they come and
they live on the site. And they tile really sitting
down around themselves. And then they join the circle. So when they’re finished you can
see actually the circle where people are sitting
joined together by the sort of– with
intermediate tiles. So this is it’s all white
to reflect the light. But one day I think they’ll
be solar panels here. So there’s an
entry area that has a very long bridge that connects
the buildings and upper level. Here’s the landscape work
we did, largely ourselves. Not physically building it, but
rather designing it ourselves. The fact is it’s very,
very labor intensive. But our idea was, once again,
that you would cut channels through a sloping landscape and
leave the trees at the level that they were, so. And then here we also
used these stone jollies that are carved on each side. When we started the project
it was all done by hand and now these things are
done in part by hand, and part by machine. It’s still pretty amazing. They were finished by hand. Well, it’s this dholpur stone. It comes out of the
ground soft like any stone does and gets harder,
particularly a limestone based stone, with as it oxidizes. So, here you can see
the sort of channels that are cut into the
ground and the trees at their original level. But as Tod said, we– as the
buildings move and the land moves up, there are a
very big retaining walls that are there both to
allow the buildings to exist at one continuous
level, but also to bring some sense of shade, and also
to keep the buildings dry. In this whole complex there
are only two elevators. But the fire stairs are all
open and they become breeze ways by which breezes
flow through this. So although portions
of the building are air conditioned–
here we are at the base of the buildings
which are all at one level and people can walk between the
channel, the retaining channel, and the trees. And in a way we did that
because we wanted the feet of the buildings to stay dry. One time we were
there there were 36 inches of rain in a single
day, which is, well a lot. So here we see the
trees in their landscape at that level of– the ground
hasn’t been planted yet. It’s just been
planted in this one. None of the windows require
shades, maybe a few of them do where we screwed up, but
largely because the sun shades protect them. So the land is rising,
but the build form stays at that same level. And this canopy of
trees– so these are the paths that connect
that are– the reddish paths are all of the non air
conditioned spaces. If you leave your air
conditioned space, you go out to have food,
or you go to the bathroom, or you go to visit a friend
and there’s a huge amount of non conditioned space. So. really, all the circulation
and all of the social spaces are under cover
with fans outdoors. And we designed the
furniture– and then these are some of those
spaces where you’re convening from floor to floor,
sometimes walking straight out into the land. And you’ll see that there
are large windows that are for the workstations. The ceilings are
made of reclaimed– Teak. Teak that come from
go-downs, and these are, we call them candles, that
we were easily made in India. And you put a light at
the bottom or at the top. It creates kind of wonderful– But the– quality. the air blows through across. And then with fans,
it moves the air, so it becomes actually a
quite comfortable place, really in all seasons. So, the work spaces
are configured around an interior courtyard. That interior
courtyard has fountains and two occuli which drop
light down on the fountains. So the idea with a
little bit of water here coming down over
stone and shaded it allows convection to occur. Unfortunately, as
I think about this, this is not the best idea. But anyway, because you’re using
water which is not the best. But it– then essentially the
cool air drops and the warm exhausts out of the top. And it really does work. It’s just that it’s not the
best way to conserve water. And then these are women’s
cooperatives that are weaving. We took a traditional
Eca pattern, which is a pattern that’s
woven by actually pre-dying the threads before you
put them on the loom. And these were– the threats
were pre-dyed and then sent to women in
different villages so they could do the weaving. And it’s simply taking
a standard pattern and making it very large. So these were used–
they were probably– 30 feet long. Yeah. Five or six feet tall. And they’re all different. So they give a character
to the workstations. And so here you can see
that there’s a lot of glass but the sun never strikes it
so you don’t ever need shades, and you always feel
you can step outside into a comfortable environment. There’s much more to
say about this project but just sort of
leave it at this. It’s about– these
are obviously, we’ve learned a great
deal from the stepwells and from building
into the earth, and feeling the shade of
the buildings themselves. Fire stairs there on
the right hand side. So we’re ending just with these
two small pieces that we made. So this was 1983. Going to Rome in 1983
for my first time and spent some
months there, I began to feel that I wanted to make
buildings that were heavy and I wanted to sense
this sort of– have a sense of the interior,
the intimacy of the things, the common things
we thought and saw. And had around us this
cardboard, the blood oranges, that one would eat
in the Spring time. They’re plaster cast. And this is a drawing by
Billie at about the same time, actually earlier. So, before Columbus
Circle was actually became what it is today with the
statue of Christopher Columbus, there was an ideas
competition about what to do with Columbus Circle. And I grew up at
a time when there was no connection between
China and the United States. So I never met my grandmother
during my entire adult life or even any relatives. You couldn’t even mail a letter. So I thought, well, what better
way to commemorate Columbus than to give them a very
direct way to get to China. [laughter] So. That was my idea. It was the idea that he was just
gonna fall right through it. [laughter] OK. And come out on the other side. But I think both of these are– Well they’re signals
of our interest, I think, of the continuing
interest we have in intimacy and of building into the earth. And in a way, not
being afraid to allow the ingredients of a particular
place to be overwhelmed by preconceptions that
we might bring. Clearly, we bring
preconceptions. But our idea is to use
projects to continue to grow and to change. Well, to lose yourself
and to find yourself. Thank you. Thank you. [applause] Thank you. Thank you very much. Don’t run. Come back here please. We have time to
take some questions. I would like to make
a comment and then I will open to– I’m curious
about how, I mean, you speak about what
you do, but this is in– I think it’s
interesting as what you do is, how do you do
it, and how much there’s a kind of close
relationship among one and the other aspects. And I’m wondering if you
can speak a little bit about the design process
that you use because I think that there’s a kind of, for me,
there’s a kind of difficulty in understanding how do
you survive in a country where speed is the main
issue, and you have to run, and you have to be, have
the idea in minutes, and deliver the renderings
in seconds, and construct in, I don’t know. So, I think that it’s
about the interior, this lesson or this
lecture is about interior but it’s also about
speed in a way. And the relationship among
intimacy and interior, which I mean, etymologically
have a kind of relationship. But I would like you to extend
a little bit on these concepts of how do you work. It’s always difficult
to speak of your work. [laughter] Billie, go for it. [laughter] That’s
a easy way out. Yeah. [laughter] Well we wrote a
number of years ago about slowness and about
how important it was to us. And certainly it’s easier to
be slower when you’re younger and you have less work, but
it is still important to us. And so part of what
we’ve done– and Tod says that this is how one
can start to define oneself, sometimes it’s
easier to know what you don’t want to
do than to know what it is that you want to do. So, slowly by taking
jobs and finding out that it was what we
didn’t want to do, we were able to determine
what it is that we want to do. And so what we want to do
is work for institutions, and usually they’re nonprofit,
which is why tomorrow we’re going to do the dog and
pony show for a project at Dartmouth, where we’re
always trying to raise money. But working for
institutions puts you on a slower schedule than
working doing commercial work. You know, it’s people’s choices. So we’re not saying
that one thing is right and the other thing is wrong. But what we’re saying
is we’ve learned by doing things that we didn’t
like what we sort of ended up liking doing. So by that choice of work, our
work is on a slower schedule and we also stay relative–
we don’t haven’t really grown. So– That’s not true. Well, we’ve grown since 1986, OK. [inaudible] But we stay relatively stable– Yeah. as a size of space. We didn’t show our
studio, but our studio is about two blocks
from Carnegie Hall. And well we won’t
leave that space. And so that space
sort of contains us. And that also
means that you only take on a certain
number of projects. So we like to, we
like to work together. I mean I’m not the– [laughter] I mean, I think this balances– [laughter] I like to work with you. In fact I insist on it. I don’t think I
could do it alone. And I don’t think– I don’t think a– And i don’t think I
could teach alone. Yeah. I mean, we just are very, have
different things we bring. I think I bring a great
practicality to everything. I think, oh! [laughter] That is the truth. Tell me. I think– I can’t
believe you said that. [laughter] Well. No. I actually think you’re quite– [inaudible] I think
you [inaudible]– I think [inaudible] No, no. No, no, no. I think you’re
quite the dreamer. [laughter] I think they’re actually
quite the dreamer. And I think I’m the sort of
more Chinese practical person. [laughter] At any rate, we shift roles,
obviously and sometimes– [laughter] It’s called transarchitects. The– I think that–
no, I like to say I’m practical because I do think
that all of those buildings are well, they have
to be built, right? And you have to figure
out how to build them. There’s no– I’d
like to think we, I could sort of understand
how you build it, even if I’m not going
to build it ourselves. Well that– and I’m
sorry, I take that back about the practical part,
because you do want everything to work. So people in our studio the
first question is loading. I mean, yeah. In our studio here, yeah. Everyone’s got to work on
their loading dock and so on. Where does the garbage go? Yeah. And I know I get my self too
deeply into that stuff, and so. And I think that Billie
steps back and usually makes these like, you know,
impressive observations that change the course of our work. But– And sort of settle it in
slightly a different way. I’m usually complaining
all the way, but I usually often accept that. She like things to be serene
and so we got to do that. You know. [laughter] Well, I think the way
we can work together is that we’re very different. So I think by not being the same
we can sort of knit together. I think if we were more
the same we’d probably have bigger fights. Yeah. Mm-Hmm. Yeah. So that’s, that’s sort of it. I mean, I’m more a three
dimensional person. Billie’s more two dimensional [laughter] I mean, no. No, I think Billie’s
more a painter. No, she’s more a painter. No, no. I just I can sort of figure
out how things go together and she’s more, she’s a painter. I think that’s a big difference. No? Yeah. Yeah, sure. [laughter] [inaudible] [laughter] Let’s go to other
questions, please. [laughter] [inaudible] Less personal. Yeah, OK. Less personal. Hi. So, thank you very
much for the lecture. And I was wondering
with so much thought that you put into the
interiority of your projects, I’m curious to know more
about the threshold, and how you sort of draw
this boundary of what it is, of the interiority
of your projects, and if– and what
sorts of questions you asked yourself during the
design process about apertures or more elongated
kind of experiential. Yeah. Well– One of the things I think
is the idea of threshold extends beyond the threshold. So it doesn’t happen with
everything that we saw here, but a lot of what we
do with our projects is we break the project
into other pieces. And so– then it’s a
space between the solids, that is also the architecture. So the threshold doesn’t just
become the door through which you walk, the threshold is the
place between the buildings that we make. That’s right. I mean that’s a perfect example. The fireplaces is the threshold
to the complex, the walls and the land, which
are not always orthogonal become
thresholds to the buildings. And then I would say it’s always
critical, at least for me, to have a sense of light when
I’m walking down some place. I can’t stand to not have
light at the end of a hall. And I don’t want to
necessarily see it all, but I’d rather see
it around the corner. And so I want to always
be curious about how to go around the next corner. And then there’s
the issue of weight, which is really important. Because I don’t think the
weight of the building drives it into the ground
and allows us to have mass, so we’re constantly
thinking about how thick walls can be rather
than how thin they can be. And that– I think– body of the building
then provides a threshold between inside and outside. And the importance
of solid walls. I mean, do you think the idea
of aperture is important to us, but it’s a very
controlled aperture. Because then what you see
becomes much more important to you than if you
see everything. So, in the Carnegie
Hall apartment the aperture was primarily
to the sky, and then the actual windows that
were in that apartment where about this big, and there
weren’t many of them, and they were
close to the floor, but you really always looked
because you were looking through something solid. [inaudible] could look out
through the foot of his bed. Yes. And he could look out
through these two things and they were intimate to him. Another– I was going
to say something. But you can use it
for the next question. OK. [laughter] Thank you. It was the final brilliant
thing I was going to say. Another question? Yeah. Please. Here. [inaudible] Can you wait? So given this stark difference
in the working styles and the overall perception
of architecture in India, how was your experience
of working there? And like what were
the challenges? Oh, in India? Yeah. Oh my god. Well. [laughter] Well. I think it was, it was very
interesting because the because a lot of things happened
through mock ups, very, very big building markups. And so large sections of walls
or even parts of buildings were built and then they
were taken down and rebuilt. So it was very much about a
physical understanding things through physical
language, not necessarily understanding things
through drawings or details. Mock ups are always
important in our work, but even more so there. And there, of
course, labor is low. And I also think
that there’s a lot of bureaucracy, which is why
this project has taken so long. That’s extremely
frustrating to us. But I would say the
ability for people to do amazing things
with their hands is– unparalleled. a dream. And I would say that the
overall experience was simply life changing. And that it was a kind of gift
that I could never imagine. Just a gift, period. It still is. Yeah. Yeah. [inaudible] Thank you. It’s a pleasure to
listen, to listen to you. Toward the end of your
talk I found myself, when you’re talking
about landscape and building into
the land, I suddenly started thinking about
Frank Lloyd Wright, and then I thought later about
the significance of the hearth, for example. What do you make of that
observation if anything? Well, no look I I was taught
not to like Frank Lloyd Wright. And I was told not to
like Alto and Kahn. I was told like Peter
Eisenman, and Richard Meier, and some other people. And eventually I– you find that
you like that stuff, and you– [laughter] You know we were just
at Taliesin and it– Yeah, we were at Taliesin West. The crappy little things that he
has out in his, the sun– what is it called the sun cabin. Just the same kind of
crap we have around. He’s found stuff and this
kind of layers and textures. But we don’t try to follow
that stuff slavishly. It’s just that it is a pleasure
to have it come into our lives so late on, you know. You know, it didn’t
come into my life til I was capable of
dumping my teachers and finding our own voice
through the work slowly. I mean certainly
the thing that was very interesting about
being at Taliesin and people always say that the
buildings are so tiny, which they are, and Tod hit his
head a number of times. But– [laughter] is the issue of
scale and detail. And I think, in
our earlier writing we said, well we mourn
the loss of the hand. And you can see we’re
still drawing by hand, but certainly we’re
practicing, and so we’re using the computer a lot. But I think one of
the things that’s important in the education
of architects today is really understanding scale. Because when you’re looking
at at a Frank– when you’re in a Frank Lloyd
Wright building, the scale, like how low
is the coffee table. What is the kitchen
counter height? All those things are
very, very thoughtful. And so when I’m
standing there there’s a little mirror that’s
part of the decoration and I see myself in
the little mirror, this was in the Frank
Lloyd Wright house. And so I think that it’s hard
to understand scale when you’re working in scaleless space. And so I think one
of the things I hope that we accomplish
with our students in our studio is to have them
really grapple with scale and how big things
are supposed to be, so that you don’t
draw a table that’s 15 feet across because it looks
good in the room that you made and it’s the right proportion. But then when you
actually measure it you realize you could never
have a conversation across it. Another thing I wanted
to say, maybe not directly to your question
is, is everyone says, oh gee, you built, you must
have huge budgets. Well we– the budgets
are not super low, but they’re not so high. We’re constantly
strategizing on how we can maximize the
material that we use the place where we go. At MacDowell Colony we
were told that the guy who made all of those
weird little buildings was the guy we’re
going to build with, and he was a real ornery
guy, and didn’t want to hear about architecture. And we had to slowly
make an agreement where he was an equal partner to us. And I think that
that happens and we do that– we see materials
as an equal partner to us. We sort of learn from
them as we go along. I just want to do this, these
ideas that you are mentioning in a lot of almost
all the projects that you do you
use fragmentation. I mean, paradoxically
you fragment the volumes to create interiors. I mean– Yeah. And I think that this
is always creating a kind of sense of a small
scale in this kind of attempt to really not– I mean, the
first approach you make when you have a program is
to put it all together and see how big it is. But it seems that you are
doing exactly the opposite. You slice it in pieces
and try to organize it in other places, and other ways. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely, absolutely. That’s [inaudible]. Yeah. More questions? All right. Thank you. Thank you. Amazing. [applause]

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