Monday, December 8, 2008

Blobs


From a comment on one of my earlier posts:
I've noticed both UCLA and SCI ARC showcase a lot of amorphous blobs; any thoughts on why that is so popular? Is that just the technology?
This is just my guess, of course, but I think the answer can boil down to just a few people (first and foremost, Greg Lynn and Neil Denari) and one school, Columbia University. For the non-architects who are actually reading this, you may not realize this, but architecture is a pretty incestuous family. Greg Lynn taught at Columbia, where he (and others) influenced many people to start working with non-traditional forms in their work (ie, blobs). He moved to UCLA, spreading his gospel of Maya.

[Side note: when GL had the chance to build at the Korean Presbyterian Church in Queens, NY, the blob became quite a bit more rationalized. Turns out, actual building materials aren't made out of vectors. (Photo from archidose's flickr page) There are more examples of blobitecture at wikipedia.]

In the meantime, Neil Denari moved to SCI_ARC, where he eventually became Director, at which point he recruited a bunch of Columbia professors/graduates, who were also working with/teaching the blob, including Hernan Diaz-Alonso and Michael Speaks (I believe he is at Kentucky now).

So that's how students are exposed to the idea. As for why students have embraced the blob so whole-heartedly? Again, this is just my guess, but I think it's because the blob is new (or new-ish, rather. It's 10+ years old at this point) and if not new, then at least new to the students. It's also the first time many students get the chance to play around with some sophisticated software (Maya) and a milling machine.

All this is just my opinion, of course.

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