Yesterday, I went, along with some students from my studio, to a lecture in St. Louis Missouri at Washington University. The lecturer’s name is Peter Eisenman, principal of Eisenman Architects. Before the lecture, however, we wondered around the university to explore a bit. The architecture building was in a nice area, with a plaza space between it and the art museum. The art museum had contemporary art, and architectural drawings. There were drawings from Zaha Hadid before she was as huge as she is today.
When it was time for the lecture, we all met in the auditorium in the architecture building at the university. The room was filled with people. I sat on the stage very uncomfortably but I got through it. When the lecture started, he sat down and did not use any slides of pictures for the first half. Before he talked, he did something interesting. He said to put away our pens and sketchbooks while he talks. I could see the look of horror on everyone’s faces as their sketchbook was a sacred thing they never want to put down, especially in a lecture. He went on to talk about the so called “selfie”. He went on about thinking deeply about the reason why people feel the need to take these “selfies”. He broke it down as think about one’s self as other.
When he started the slide show, he showed one main project. It was his firm’s winning proposal the City of Culture competition. This project strived to replicate the landscape. There are six buildings that wave up and down like the landscape of Galicia, Spain. The whole outside of these buildings was cladded in stone. Even the roof was full of stone. There were stone facades on the south sides, and glass facades for daylighting on the north facades. Since this building flows from the ground, it creates spots that are very attractive to skateboarders. He even said, they did not design it to be used, it just is. That made me wonder how he could build something like that and not realize that what he is making is a giant skate park.
I guess the main reason is that skateboarders see things differently than architects do. Skateboarders see a handrail as an obstacle to ride one while architects see it as a walking aid for pedestrians. I will know, when designing something, whether it will have a problem with skateboarders wanting to skate it. I think that is an advantage, however small, that I have when designing buildings.