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Re: <nettime> Time to Remaster the Master Plan
human being on Tue, 16 Dec 2003 16:38:42 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Time to Remaster the Master Plan

On Friday, December 12, 2003, at 07:17  PM, martha rosler wrote:

> here are some further thoughts on the tower plans. but you cannot
> seriously be suggesting that those truly awful towers be rebuilt. As a
> New Yorker I don't care how many people sentimentally or definatly
> choose the option of repeating a mistake. I am not even remotely
> pleased with libeskind's proposal and find the freedom tower moniker
> an annoying and embarrassing bit of populist bravado, but let's get
> some architecture here, not the last gasp of an ill-conceived
> modernism, thankyouverymuch.  (and why is this stuff on nettime
> anyway? wrong kind of architecture)
> martha rosler


  responded to Martha's good post offline, to try to explain,
  yet feel that acknowledging publicly that the post sent
  may not have been properly clarified as to why it was
  nettime specific is a good point and thus share why so
  in brief, as it is important to qualify some of the basics...

  1) i sent the URL because the issue has been engaged
  on nettime previously, which i participated in, and so it
  was assumed there was a basic literacy of architecture
  to make a connection. the investigative report somewhat
  confused a private proposal for the site with a reporting
  of the process, and these were easy to confuse in the
  first URL but not the second one, which was fantastic in
  describing the use of digital imagery to change the scale
  of the buildings (in computer-generated perspectives)-
  basically, the point that images can lie, and the computer
  and digital aesthetics can do the same when supporting
  architectures which are based on aesthetic ideas alone.
  and that this is a transparent example of the vacancy of
  modernism as an ideological approach, seen in what is
  being proposed as the 'master architecture' of ground
  zero, the 9/11 memorial, etc. and that nettimers of theory
  and conference settings often invoke architecture, so it
  was thought an architectural literacy exists on the list in
  enough complexity to derive the basic meaning, but still
  it should have been prefaced with falsifying online polls,
  false proportioning of computer renderings, et cetera,
  and this was mentioned by myself on this list at the time
  (polling data being managed, etc.) as was the idea of
  an open-plan, open-development, open-architecture for
  the site plan, which is now being called for-- which was
  sent to the NY NJ Port Authority for these public purposes,
  as part of the networking aspect of architecture, it could
  be compared to tactical media but it seems it is not of the
  same assumptions as a form of information beyond its
  aesthetic use for legitimating a view of the world, instead
  of a complex understanding and reasoning of built ideas.
  the open site plan: http://www.electronetwork.org/bc/GZ/

2)  in addition, after sharing correspondence another view
  of the same data was made, along with an essay which
  further describes these efforts to bring open-development,
  open-planning, networking of communities and public-
  and private-sectors, for the cultural foundation at GZ. this
  is nothing short of a challenge to establishment architects
  and is in effect an ultimatum, either there is change or it
  will collapse into utter failure-- architecture needs to now
  change its power center, change directions, or if will fail.
  architects will choose sides, the status quo or change.
  and it will be seen who is left standing, who is going to
  concede and join the efforts of change and open- and
  collaborative- development, and those who want to go
  on with this charade, fight, and lose. as such, this is the
  battle of ideas, online and offline, which has been going
  on for awhile now, and a bloody or bloodless coup is in
  the offing for the architectural establishment in the .US--
  do the right thing or get out of the way, out of the schools,
  and out of the profession, as change is coming.... plus,
  hell's bells by AC/DC is repeatedly playing on the radio,
  so there is a theme song for what is going to go down...

design-l post: new WTC zoning/site plan (img)

diagram/image: basic zoning concept:

** site plan (2001) open zoning concept, sketch 12-13-2003:

[related to:] memorial 'design' issue ....post follows:

Date:         Sat, 13 Dec 2003 14:03:53 -0600
Sender:       "Basic and applied design (Art and Architecture)"
From:         human being <human {AT} ELECTRONETWORK.ORG>
Subject:      memorial 'design' issue

   something dawned on me which i'd like to share,
   i believe it is a basic and fundamental flaw in the
   approach to the WTC and 9/11 memorial design
   as it now stands... and i think it results from what
   the difference is between art and architecture, to
   add in that the memorial is being approached as
   if it exists in an architecture context, which is itself
   actually being presented in terms of being 'Art', at
   the same time the memorial contestants are in an
   environment which can be approached as a kind
   of architectural or artistic vision, yet also which is
   then defined in terms of memorial "Architecture" --
   while neither actually exist in the planning of the
   site itself-- and this makes apparent the lack of a
   depth of architectural knowledge in the memorial
   in addition to the lack of it in the site development
   as it defers to the abstraction of art- there are too
   many unknowns in the equation, but answers are
   given as they are imagined, all dependent upon
   a non-existent consistency in the fabric of place.

   if, instead, the ground zero site planning were to
   considered in terms similar to those of precedent,
   such as the Acropolis, this is today's equivalent in
   terms of what is needed, necessary, and how it
   should be approached to reach collective vision.
   there is neither art nor architecture in the process,
   so far, as the culture it represents cannot represent
   what is actually unique at the site, to history, to the
   epic story and scale of human action. by building
   in ideological terms for both the memorial and the
   surrounding area, it extends the ideas which are
   part of the problem, unreflective development of
   some subjective universal said to be modernism,
   instead of modern, it is retrograde ideology which
   bases itself on itself for its rationale: bureaucracy.

   this 'discourse' is an architectural one. no one was
   saying that 'art' was what fell on 9/11, it was a direct
   hit on western architectural ideology- and ideas- and
   instead of building on the resilience of the ideas, it is
   instead being rebuilt on the ideology that is, has and
   will continue to fail to provide the human context for
   the issues we face together. that is why, as a type of
   planning approach, the Acropolis is a better model
   than the Roman Forum, in terms of the regeneration
   of something unique to this place and time, not as a
   derivation of previously successful planning patterns.
   this is a one of a kind place, not a repeatable site, as
   such it should be treated as such-- and all the arts
   and sciences should be involved-- yet when it is a
   question of 'context' and the site planning, it is not
   the domain of artists to design the buildings, it is
   proposed, as the full knowledge of the issues such
   as energy, economics, transport, politics, materials
   much exceed that of a work of art, as a model for
   site planning of the Acropolis precedence model.

   this is to say that even the memorial should be one
   of architectural construction, an architecture of a
   quality that responds to what has happened and
   does so with full appreciation of the questions at
   hand with the site, the history of architecture, the
   history of architectural aesthetics of the WTC, the
   issues of zoning, land-use, development involved
   in the previous and current processes-- and then
   to build in this fully embedded context what is an
   architectural response to the tragedy of 9/11 and
   the WTC with a force of architectural ideas versus
   those of physical violence through architecture,
   and a memorial and redevelopment which is a
   failed attempt at an equally oppressive ideology.

   this is the central battleground in the 'war of ideas'
   about what is good about society, people, today.
   beyond the definitions of any one group or cause.
   it is what is meant to unite, and can do, if honestly
   realizing what connects and is of shared value.
   this is to make the greatest urban and civic space
   in America which resolves issues between public
   and private realms, if only temporarily, to build upon
   what is known by all who have had a chance living
   in free society and have a chance to do something.
   that is a shared quality, it is not individualism that
   turns into celebrity, it is not one building of many,
   it is of a city, of a scale that is now a world-axis.
   and this axis could tie the axis of evil to it in the
   perpetuity of ill-fated charlatanism, or it could
   instead become an axis for the regeneration of
   improvements, self-reflection, but also evidence
   that we are free enough to challenge, to change,
   we are strong enough to do the right thing, and
   we will not lose this battle at any cost, no matter
   how long, the public will strive to survive with a
   value that transcends a simple capitalization of
   ideas, to sell these out for the ideology of money.
   the private definition of the questions are easy
   to answer in terms of the past, they are no longer
   questions, only architectural or visual aesthetics.

   this is something else. this is structure, this is of
   values, this is beyond surface, beyond mediation
   of insurance repayments, this is beyond simplistic
   height of accomplishment and its ruse to sell the
   future another day, while it falls apart before our
   eyes. this is about the earth, about the ground,
   about connecting with where things are at, with
   the environment, with the physicality of ideas and
   their impact-- and architecture is the discourse in
   which this is happening-- and today, sadly, not
   yet happening, in order to respond with what is
   unmistakeably self-evident-- everyone loves NY.
   even in al Qaeda country-- that american dream
   that is the real thing- the idealism that can, with
   the collective will of individuals, make it into the
   realm of larger realities, without the need for a
   religious invocation of morality certainty upon
   which to decide actions, while respecting the
   right and truth of the private worlds of ourselves
   which may transcend what is otherwise transient.

   this is the .US' architectural response to Osama's
   architectural statement-- and we have neither the
   architecture nor the ideas to win this war of ideas
   with the force of ideology and power of aesthetics.
   this question is about truth, about reality, about
   the complex situation we face, and our success--
   or FAILURE at winning this war of ideas-- so that
   those posters of the greatest place of our time is
   known throughout, sought throughout, to visit as
   a force beyond words, beyond worlds, beyond a
   simple vision, which transcends throughout the
   public and civic sphere with a historical gravity
   the full weight of this question and its response.
   it is the duty of the city, the state, the nation, and
   the world to get this right, as it can bring about
   transformation at the scale of ideas to do direct
   battle with the false premises which legitimate
   terroristic acts, and even misguided anti-terror
   campaigns in a language unrealistic to what is
   now faced-- and this is not a single artwork, it is
   an idea which has many forms, many translations,
   many representatives, yet the 'architecture' is one
   that only an architecture of such a dimension can
   succeed at developing, not to rebuild the old but
   to rebuild the new, also, to reframe the questions,
   and propose a better world in which to inhabit.

   architecture, and architects, can do this, together.
   education is central, key, and core to the process.
   of students, professionals, citizens, relationships.
   this is the time to do the impossible, to go beyond,
   to make it happen, at any conceptual and physical
   and mental cost-- to do what is right, needed, and
   necessary. all architectural licenses in the .US
   should be voided if this does not happen-- as it is
   the 'civic' duty and 'cultural' responsibility of every
   architect to invest their skills in making sure this
   is the outcome, it is a question of integrity of such
   dimension it cannot be ignored as architectural
   aesthetics, as massing, as transportation-- it is
   a philosophy which will rise from memory and
   from the hands, from the fundamental actions of
   composing ideas in buildings, nature, and the
   environment they create together, as manifest of
   greater ideas, greater goals, greater good than
   now may otherwise exist in built forms. this is
   not a competition-- this is a realization of the
   value that is shared-- and to propose the best
   development which organizes around this idea.
   the idea of a public realm, the idea of religious
   tolerance, of multiple perspectives, views, and
   vantages. it is to bring about, through reflection,
   a regeneration of a better approach, yet also a
   triumph of the human spirit which exists in the
   world today, and needs to find itself prominently
   of absolute value at the Ground Zero site-- it is
   the idea that is the architecture, not only images.

   and the ideas are of epic proportion, epic scale,
   and are now to be distorted in mistaken lessons,
   in unquestioning righteousness, in brazen self-
   celebration and vacancy of the truth before us.
   this is a call for an architecture, a total and new
   architecture, not of architects, but of ideas, with
   an architecture that engages the questions in
   the ways they have been received, reflected
   upon, though yet to be communicated in built
   form, as ideas, -- this is the chance -- this is the
   time to fight to the last person to get this right--
   to stop the process is equivalent to destroying
   a possibility of change in the near term, and
   this change is going to come about by working
   together and doing what is in everyone's best
   interest- in some way- to recognize the scale
   of the issues, their importance, their value, the
   possibilities afforded us by the loss of others,
   and we still are around-- we can do something
   to change the outcome- and we must try to do
   everything to go beyond the stalemate and get
   to a conceptual resolution of ideas, of a basic
   philosophy of approach, of shared values and
   interests, and to build and see this being built,
   and allow everyone to participate in this sphere.

   it is architecture which can triumph over tragedy,
   with the arts, yet it is an architectural response to
   9/11 and the WTC disaster which is needed, and
   it is not a simple question of rebuilding what was
   there, it is a question of how to rebuild, and to do
   this primarily through architectural aesthetics, to
   not allow references to the depth of the field in
   which this context emerges, and to expect any-
   thing less than mediocrity is naive and unworthy
   of being built in this great space. it is architecture
   which is needed, it is a plan which is greater than
   that of any one designer, which has a logic which
   is cultural, which is shared, and is envisioned in
   many ways and on many levels of experience.
   it is both the extension of the ideas of classical
   origin in the present day, the background they
   provide for meaning, in addition to the inclusion
   to date of other cultures into a modern fabric of
   ideas, of shared civic space and values-- that
   are deteriorating all around us today as ideas
   have been cast aside for simplicity of ideology.

   architecture can fight this war of ideas and win.
   architecture needs to be the medium in which
   memory is constructed, not an outdoor art gallery.
   art is needed and critical in all dimensions, yet
   without buildings placed with a resonating sense
   and built with an understanding of the present,
   can what exists in lower Manhattan today be
   realized in architectural form, except for folly
   in the foolhardy attempts at not asking questions,
   not asking more of ourselves, not doing more to
   change the outcomes that are predictable, and
   not working together to get what needs doing
   done. more ruins are not the answer, the ruins
   of possibility and potential- nor is perfection of
   processes even possible or manageable in a
   democracy, unless it is that of a total dictatorship
   which dissolves the power of ideas for the false
   power of physical force as a response to calls
   for action. physicality of ideas, of truths, which
   are evident, and can and will be self-evident if
   the architecture is strong enough, real enough,
   true enough to accomplish this realization, then
   there is still a chance for an architecture which
   transforms this continuing tragedy into a clear
   and unmistakable statement of civic virtue, of
   the power of ideas, and the respect and advent
   of the unique qualities of architecture to do
   what only architecture can do, by the hands
   and minds of architects, with or without license.

  brian thomas carroll: research-design-development
  architecture, education, electromagnetism

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