ASU Discipline Issue 05 Interview

As part of Discipline Issue 05 (Spring 2019) issued by The Design School at Arizona State University, FO's Bryan Maddock was interviewed with regards to the issue of the disciplinary 'Pivot.' Pivot asked industry professionals and faculty to discuss and illustrate their thoughts on the future of the profession and the role of multivalent practice and non-linear traditional business models. From the editors:

Pivot
In its historical declaration of servitude, the architectural profession has branded itself master builder in antiquity, and more recently, server of extravagance, often available only to the upper echelons of modern society. Buried beneath and obscured by misconceptions of mere blueprints and sketches lies the vigorous discipline of Architecture, delineated by paling perimeters of authority and dictated by autonomous creative agency. Today, we play witness to a paradigm shift in the definition, or lack thereof, of architectural discourse. Members of the profession are fervently pioneering multivalent practices, latent in archaic canon and decrepit familiarity. Architecture is no longer confined to concrete walls, but is now, more than ever, consumed through digital media and conceptual platforms alike. This year, we have given extensive thought to how discipline not only illustrates this pivotal moment in Architecture, but also empowers architects to assume command from our position of passive subservience.

ORGANIZER: The Design School at Arizona State University
INTERVIEWER: Meriel Vogliotti

DATE:
May 1, 2019
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RELATED WORK:
Interview spread with FO's Bryan Maddock from the ASU Discipline Journal - Issue 05 released in Spring 2019Interview spread with FO's Bryan Maddock from the ASU Discipline Journal - Issue 05 released in Spring 2019Interview spread with FO's Bryan Maddock from the ASU Discipline Journal - Issue 05 released in Spring 2019Interview spread with FO's Bryan Maddock from the ASU Discipline Journal - Issue 05 released in Spring 2019

FO's Bryan Maddock did an interview around the topic of 'Pivot' as part of Arizona State University's Spring 2019 Discipline Journal. Pivot seeks to investigate the current moment of the architectural discipline toward the empowerment of architects instead of its subservience .

Interview spread with FO's Bryan Maddock from the ASU Discipline Journal - Issue 05 released in Spring 2019
Interview spread with FO's Bryan Maddock from the ASU Discipline Journal - Issue 05 released in Spring 2019
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FULL STORY

How were your experiences within the distinct work environments/ cultures of both OMA and BIG. How have these experiences been translated into your own practice, Fantastic Offense?

Question everything. I mean this quite literally in the sense that nothing is off-limits. Though very different studios, both offices had a fundamental belief that the right direction is always the project that hasn't been done before-the risky proposal. Failure is something that we should celebrate constantly, and to be a part of teams that were willing to fail together is an experience that I hope to constantly replicate. If a project direction seems like it has been done before, it's probably not the right proposal. If a form feels safe and appropriate, you probably haven't let the work ask larger questions. Fantastic Offense (FO) sits somewhere between the worlds of OMA and BIG-an overlapping zone of critical research efforts and formal investigations that revisits questions of urban form, scale, and architectural practice models.


What is your approach towards the development in the narrative of the city through your research and projects?

'The City' for me is an ambiguous ambition that implies a level of complexity and community achieved through social and spatial interactions. Most of my current work with FO and through the studios here at ASU look at the possibility of projective architectures to function with these essential values of a city. Paolo Soleri referred to the same type of problem as 'miniaturization' of cities into singular objects when he was working through the various Arcology models. The Metabolists also took this task on through their organic part to whole urban experiments. As a skeptic of architecture's ability to 'solve' problems, I'm more interested in these spatial breaking points and formal frictions that have to deal with both the scale and complexity of the architectural object and its ability to create a new spatial condition that may be understood as a city into itself. This type of project seems especially relevant in the context of Phoenix without many moments of 'cityness' to be found.


The way we share, perceive, and value architecture is changing as our social structure evolves and technologies change. Is the discourse and attention within the architectural community reflecting this development?

The discourse has never felt as broad and welcoming as it feels today. Obviously, this is my limited perspective considering I've only been engaged with architecture for fifteen years, but it feels like if you have a valid concern and interest you can find an outlet and audience willing to discuss with. I noticed the shift in visual sharing of architecture early via Instagram (and Tumblr before that) and am constantly looking for signs of further transformations. In the last year alone, there has been the invention of visual journals, interviews, and Instagram only design projects that allude to social sharing as totally new art form. Needless to say, there are people that are very against the casual glorification of the architectural image on these platforms, but I'm all for it. More image, more work, more energy, more sharing. Let's see what the upper edges of this space look like! Where, when, and how does it break?


How has the role of the architect changed? Has the need for the architect changed?

Architecture, and the role of the architect in general, has always been in crisis and I think we are most woke when the larger cultural and social shifts make us aware of our own inadequacies and irrelevancy to the most immediate issues. Architecture is stigmatized for being a slow and self-critical art and the present world wants more content faster. What role does the architect have to play in a society where the speed and throw-away nature of instantly shareable online/ digital material has been normalized across other disciplines? This new space is exciting because it seems to offer clues to a) how young architects can speak differently about the work they do, b) reach a global audience of people interested in that conversation, c) make more work, faster, and with less consequences. Future young architects will not know of a world where new projects and ideas were only distributed through slow media outlets.


How are you helping to transform the role of the architect to achieve professional agency?

To transform the role of the architect into the future, I think we need to rebuild and redefine what exactly an 'architecture office' is today. The most crucial realization I had when framing the ambitions of FO, was to establish what the office wouldn't be. From a basic level this was architecture as a service-based practice, or what I would call a defensive practice model-an architecture office sits around waiting for the opportunity to wow new clients, keep return clients, and satisfy many people with their relatively safe and on-brand business decisions. What if an office was started as the opposite, an offense, from the very beginning? What would that look like? An office that proactively develops ideas for an audience that wouldn't have knocked on the door otherwise? An office that speculates on how architecture can react to topics that are in this week's headlines? An office that creates new entrepreneurial efforts and invests in their own projects?


How can young professionals and students activate change in the role of architect within society into 'knowledge workers'?

To transform the role of the architect into the future, I think we need to rebuild and redefine what exactly an 'architecture office' is today. The most crucial realization I had when framing the ambitions of FO, was to establish what the office wouldn't be. From a basic level this was architecture as a service-based practice, or what I would call a defensive practice model-an architecture office sits around waiting for the opportunity to wow new clients, keep return clients, and satisfy many people with their relatively safe and on-brand business decisions. What if an office was started as the opposite, an offense, from the very beginning? What would that look like? An office that proactively develops ideas for an audience that wouldn't have knocked on the door otherwise? An office that speculates on how architecture can react to topics that are in this week's headlines? An office that creates new entrepreneurial efforts and invests in their own projects?


Regarding the 'Alternative Desert Cities' studio you led, does the city of Phoenix, one with a non-architectural presence and identity allow room far architects to experiment?

Phoenix has incredible potential to become many things, but Phoenix's problem is that it really doesn't have many obvious spatial triggers or constraints that architects can investigate directly. One of the reasons I am so fascinated with what I call 'limited cities', cities that are forced to come to terms with the lack of undeveloped land in the face of housing shortages, is that they have very real social and spatial concerns that architects can take on directly. What are the problems with Phoenix? Sprawl vs density is a field condition and not an immediate issue-especially considering the fact that Phoenix is one of the most popular retirement cities because of weather and easy access to large private homes. Are environmental concerns driving new architectural forms? Not really-the desert modernist palette and glossy private desert home magazine spreads haven't changed in 30 years. Are people eager to develop the city? No, undeveloped lots in downtown Phoenix are typically more valuable as parking assets than mixed-use developments. Because we don't have these forces to react to, young architectural practices in Phoenix are finding productivity elsewhere-speculation, architect-as-developer, fabrication etc. After living in cities all around the world for the last ten years, Phoenix feels like a space where an architect can come, hit the reset button, and start practicing in a non-traditional way.

NEWS IMAGES

Axonometric drawing of a concept for Phoenix by Amy Dicker from ADC2 used for the cover of the ASU Discipline S19 Journal Axonometric drawing of a concept for Phoenix by Amy Dicker from ADC2 used for the cover of the ASU Discipline S19 Journal Axonometric drawing of a concept for Phoenix by Amy Dicker from ADC2 used for the cover of the ASU Discipline S19 Journal Axonometric drawing of a concept for Phoenix by Amy Dicker from ADC2 used for the cover of the ASU Discipline S19 Journal
Interview spread with FO's Bryan Maddock from the ASU Discipline Journal - Issue 05 released in Spring 2019Interview spread with FO's Bryan Maddock from the ASU Discipline Journal - Issue 05 released in Spring 2019Interview spread with FO's Bryan Maddock from the ASU Discipline Journal - Issue 05 released in Spring 2019Interview spread with FO's Bryan Maddock from the ASU Discipline Journal - Issue 05 released in Spring 2019

MORE NEWS

In September 2019, Japanese publisher Casa BRUTUS conducted an interview with FO's Bryan Maddock on the ambitions of our ongoing Dimensions.Guide database with illustrations, dimensions, and downloads of our world. The interview covers topics of use, history, future, and purpose.
Fantastic Offense will be exhibiting alongside fellow 'Rejects' as part of Team B's 'Rejected: Architectural Drawings & Their Stories' show at The Knowlton School of Architecture from 8/23/19-9/13/19.
As part of Discipline Issue 05 (Spring 2019) issued by The Design School at Arizona State University, FO's Bryan Maddock was interviewed with regards to the issue of the disciplinary 'Pivot.' Pivot asked professionals and faculty to discuss and illustrate their thoughts on the future of practice.
Fantastic Offense was awarded the distinction of Finalist for its submission to the University Island competition hosted by Young Architects Competitions.
Fantastic Offense was shortlisted for the proposal 'Infrastructural Infill' for the 2016 Superscape competition held by JP Perspektiven.
Bryan Maddock was awarded the Deborah J Norden Fund travel grant by the Architectural League of New York to research the work of Affonso Eduardo Reidy in Rio de Janeiro. Maddock's work will compare Reidy's “serpentine” social housing blocks that integrated housing and the landscape of Rio.
Bryan Maddock was selected as a 2016 Edward P. Bass Fellow in Architecture awarded by the Yale School of Architecture and the University of Cambridge where he will be earning a Masters of Philosophy: Architecture and Urban Studies (MAUS).
FO Director Bryan Maddock was selected as the 2014 Postgraduate Runner-Up for the project 'A Long Centre' completed with Elia Zenghelis at the Yale School of Architecture.