Once again, Life Without Buildings turns to erstwhile London correspondent, present New York correspondent, and all-around art-world darling, Veronica Kavass, who attended LVHRD’s recent architecture duel — the results of which were announced today.
LVHRD’s motto is “build ghettos out of cheese”. This rather lively organization exists to gather imaginative, stylish NYC geeks — with the generous help of their bibulous sponsor Dewars, of course — under the bright lights and against the backdrop of hot women to promote a competitive camaraderie that borders on the maudlin. One activity LVHRD gets very excited about is the Architecture Duel. Last year’s event, ARCH DL III, involved all female architects, a comedy club, and twenty pounds of cheese. Replacing the literal cheese with the figurative, ARCH DL IV, held on January 28th, took place at the Williamsburg Music Hall and involved a dress code — come furry or come plaid-y. Isn’t that how hipsters always come?
Local architecture firms Konyk and FXFOWLE were asked to respond to a challenge: It is 2029 and oil is no more. Dismantle the Trans-Alaska Pipeline to build a wildlife research center, “a monument to mankind’s commitment to preserving earth’s natural resources.” The two firms were hardly briefed prior to the event. If I am not mistaken, they were emailed one word as a hint: caribou. [Ed. note: 24 hours before the event, the firms were also informed that secret building material would be straws] They arrived, were attacked by journalists, Konyk was represented by a Dash Snowish lumberjack and FXFOWLE by a giant, flirty bear. Divided by a wall, the two teams were provided with Alaskan wilderness mock-ups and countless straws.
Watching an architecture duel is like attaching your pair of eyes to a ruler and a marker — more specifically, it is like one eye is holding a ruler and the other is holding a marker. Being an active viewer consists of analyzing two teams of two architects, each bent over big pieces of paper with markers, come up with a draft and model in a ninety-minute span. One of them pulls out the marker and slashes across the page like a swordsman. Your eyeball holding the marker likes this, wants more, and makes bold strokes with architect. You are rooting for that team, the one that seems to just go for it. The other team is very close to their piece of paper making close calculations and measurements. Depending on your personality this may either give you a sense of calm or make you antsy. Your eyeball holding the ruler empathizes with the obsessive-compulsive desire for exactitude and safety measures. Lets throw something else at the eyeballs — some alcohol. Namely Dewars scotch. Ginger Dewars, Sour Dewars, Dewars and water, Dewars straight up, Dewars on the rocks, a double of Dewars, an endless supply of GDMN Dewars! The eyeball holding the marker pokes little playful dots into the ruler. The eyeball holding the ruler giggles and rolls around. At the end, drunkards dutifully handed in their votes for the favorite team. This spectacle championed Konyk. A week of online voting ensued.
On February 8, LVHRD gathered the DL IV architects and press friends in their hot pink office for the final voting results and more Dewars. Konyk won. The losing team swallowed this news, grabbed ping-pong paddles, and bounced balls back and forth until they realized no one was really losing or winning. As a voter for the losing team, I spent most of the evening talking to Paul Kim of FXFOWLE (a conversation which only confirmed to me that they should have won). Not that I think a great injustice had been done. I, too, am a sucker for height. I thought that Konyk appealed to the inebriated appetite for dramatic effect. They treated their markers like swords, chopped up the land, incorporated it into their leaning tower, and moved like ninjas. For the sake of performance, bravo. For the sake of Alaska’s wild life future, their model was problematic. Wouldn’t the elevated chunks of permafrost melt all over the place until the tower toppled over on to the precious caribou? FXFOWLE’s research center at least appeared sturdier. The structure was clever looking. When I think of 2029, I picture humans spending more time in the air — maybe even in outer space. Aerial views will make up most of our future postcards and a smiley face made out of pipeline may appear more impressive than a giant tower. During our conversation, Kim discussed about other uses for the empty pipeline — an information highway of sorts.
[FXFOWLE's smiley-face in progress]
[Konyk's finished tower]
Speaking of information highways, this one is turning off at the next exit. I see a gas station on the horizon and it is in the shape of a bed. From the city that never sleeps, this is LWB’s NY correspondent signing off!
Billboards Are Almost All Right