ARC 493/593

My Own Private Buffalo

Towards an Encyclopedia of Representational Agendas

(extending from research related to 2018-19 Banham Fellowship)


For over 500 years - since the advent of printing - architects have used drawing as a key vessel for the conveyance of their architectural propositions. Along the way, a vast array of tools including - but not limited to - sketching, writing, rendering, and modeling, has allied itself with drawing to establish an amplified symphony of representational devices available to architects for the communication of their ideas and intentions. This expansive - and ever-expanding - toolkit is the Holy Grail of architectural practice: for the capacity of architectural representation - in its probably limitless categories and modes - to lend voice and vision to otherwise unheard and unseen design postulations remains the only agent that can really give architecture life.

Seminar: Exploring Precedents

The seminar will take seriously the position of architectural representation as an elixir that has the ability to make design propositions come alive. To this end, we will first consider modes of representation as historically occurring elements that must be searched out and discovered. We will examine these precedent approaches to architectural representation, and critically reflect on the efficacy of these methods in the engendering of imagined but yet unseen worlds. Our explorations of existing drawings, writings, musings and models will have - at their core - a desire to unpack the multifaceted agendas that generate these fragments of representation, and help to power them forward. Throughout the course of the semester, we will press ourselves to go well beyond casual looking, and to instead develop an intimate awareness of the precedent work under consideration, with the aim of formulating a coherent and incisive response - or even rebuttal - to the representational strategies deployed, their apparent agendas, and the relative success of their results.

Buffa-Laboratory: Testing Hypotheses

Our intensive study of representational methods will feed into the development and testing of our own architectural agendas via hypotheses about new tools for their proposition. With an understanding of our predecessors firmly in hand, we will become alchemists, operating under a tempered optimism that recognizes the occasional folly of our pursuit, but nevertheless remains hungry for life-giving potential that architectural representation can offer. Selected sites in Buffalo will serve as laboratories for the serious evaluation of our (sometimes whimsical) design inventions: as the semester progresses, these sites will become familiar and cherished fields of speculation, experimentation, and play.

More Information:


Cast: the Great Delineators