Because you asked for it, well, two of you

I put my thesis on the internets. I'm going to be breaking it down into smaller bits on a blog I'll be launching soon to deal with this and all the other design, architecture, historical and geographical things I think about.

Theses are funny. They're a thing in their own right but so very flawed. They're not the book or article you would write. They're not the sum total of all the work you did. A thesis is the thing you do to get the three signatures on the front and go onto what you want to do next.

I'm aware of all the issues and problems with this and before it would become anything else, it would require substantial editing. (I have 100 pages of notes in my advisor's hand describing just that).

But if this doesn't daunt you, you're invited to read "The Architect, The Sketch and the Response: Construing and Constructing Cedric Price's Generator." And in a few days, you can read some digested snippets on the blog to be, elsewhere on the Internet. Stay tuned.

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Public thankings

Today, I handed in the final version of my thesis. At the front, I wanted to thank some people. But since I don't want anyone to ever read my thesis, I am posting my thank-yous here.

Research continually passes one through the eyes of needles. Coming to the Yale School of Architecture marked a major climactic change for me. Before I came, I knew little about architecture after World War II; for that matter, I did not know who Cedric Price was. And even that was too large a field of inquiry: in the course of the last two years, I kept narrowing, from mobility, to responsiveness, to Cedric Price, to Generator, and that one project might have taken eleven different directions.

And so, gratitude is in hearty order.

This thesis project could not have been realized without Anne-Marie Ségouin at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, or the generosity of Barbara Jakobson, John Frazer and Nic Bailey. I appreciated your stories and being drawn into the web of Cedric Price. Listening to you talk about your love and respect for him, standing up to my elbows in sketches, I've come to know him.

My parents, stepparents and brothers were supportive of the crazy move of turning down a management job at Yahoo and going back to school. Mom, Dad, Chuck, Carol, Andy and Ben, you know it's made me happier than I've ever been. My friends from before and during, you nudged me this direction and kept me going. Major hats off to Jenn, Ali, Maggie, Anne, Adam, Mocha, Bryan, Judith, Nathan, Mike, Liz, Abhishek, Derek, Jay, Andrew, John, Andy, Heather, and Vicky (and I'm sure I'm forgetting others); the fabulous 30-something female contingent and class of 2008 women, the students in Critical Imaginaries and Smart Materials, the Wooster Square gang, the people in and around John Blood's 2005 summer drawing class. And dicke Küsse for my long, lost German host sister, Birke, who just finished a thesis of her own. Du bist mir Lieb.

I thrashed around in my attempt to find the right project in a surely frustrating incidence. I owe the faculty the kindest of thanks for their patience, in particular: Emmanuel Petit's advisory mana and caffeinated meetings, Keller Easterling's prescience (and for turning me onto both Cedric Price and Generator!), Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen's sweet powers of focus, Peggy Deamer's life lesson that one should always state what's at stake, Dolores Hayden's support in my personal sea change, Henry Sussman's wander through Walter Benjamin's Arcades and Kant's systems, Claire Zimmerman's mentorship and friendship, and Dean Robert A.M. Stern for the guidance in all of my class's endeavors. Richard (Starbuck), Marilyn, Maria and Donna smoothed the journey with deftness and humor.

The MED (Master of Environmental Design) cohort is an outstanding, collegial bunch that I will treasure for years to come. Ghosts of MED future Zachary White, Kate John-Alder, Elizabeth Bishop, and Alan Brake freely shared their knowledge and support; ghosts of MED past, Sara Stevens, Joy Knoblauch, Frida Rosenberg, and Leslie Ryan, offered friendship and keen minesweeping capabilities.

Fellow ghosts of MED present, my deepest gratitude goes to you: Britt Eversole, McLain Clutter, Federica Vannucchi and Enrique Ramirez, for the conversations, schemes, arguments, collaborations and swooping around when I might've collapsed. You taught me so much and then some.

And Enrique—all of this might've happened without you but wouldn't have been nearly as interesting. Thank you for your love. This is for you.

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This begins to express my mental state


Molly Dresses Herself
Originally uploaded by E.G.R..

My best outfit yet. This shows where my brain is. My thesis is due in 24 hours. (This isn't what I'm wearing today, this was Sunday, when I didn't leave the house.)

I have just written the following to remind myself of how I'll feel soon:

"you will finish it in 24 hours and be tired but it will feel good. the sun will rise and you'll be done and it might be raining or it might be beautiful, but you will be done. you will print it and it will be a tome. you won't believe you did all that. you can't quite believe it. you'll set it free, know it will come back with holes in it, you'll have to defend it but at the very least, you'll be done and can move on with your life."

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Quick notes before I descend back into thesis writing hell

The new glasses arrived
new hair and new glasses

Here are a few things at once.

I HAND IN MY THESIS IN A WEEK. It is due the 26th. I have loads to do. So as a result, I will not be here that much. Or maybe I will be, which would be bad. Please wish me luck.

I HAVE NEW HAIR AND GLASSES. See left. I got bangs when I was in NYC. I got glasses from Selima on superduper sale. They put lenses in them and I picked them up last night. You can see the happy Molly in her kitchen. I also got a great new coat but will post later, when the weather cooperates.

THE SONG "YOUNG FOLKS" IS ABSOLUTELY GREAT, AND THE VIDEO IS EVEN BETTER. Have you heard this, or seen this? I cannot sit still if I hear the song and I dance in my seat.

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Cedric Price books

Re: CP
Cedric Price - The Square Book (Architectural Monographs (Paper))
Cedric Price: Opera (Architectural Monographs (Paper))

Since June, my mind's been on Cedric Price (1934-2003). He was an eccentric British architect whose work combined theater, tools for social change, and a lack of interest in traditional concepts of form and beauty. Most of his work was never built. He is best known for the Fun Palace (1962-64), a proposal for a flexible leisure center, and the Potteries Thinkbelt (1965-66), a physical educational network on rails.

I'm working on a later project, Generator (1976-79) as the subject of my masters thesis. I'm using it as a hinge for exploring responsiveness in architecture, though I think that the impulse toward responsiveness goes back to the 16th century, if not earlier. Price is credited with creating the first "intelligent" building, or rather, site. The machine intelligence came not from Price but John Frazer, who proposed attaching sensors to Generator's structures; a series of computer programs would interrogate the sensors and if they weren't used frequently enough, would become bored and suggest new layouts on the site.

Very little has been written about Generator, just a few pages here and there and a few articles in 1979-80. As such, there's no real record about it, no webpage to link. So in November, I spent a week at the Canadian Centre for Architecture's Cedric Price Archive, looking at every drawing, reprographic, sketch, engineering drawing, memo and letter they had on Generator. I've also interviewed one of the figures involved, Polariser, and will talk to John Frazer at some point this month.

There aren't a lot of books on Price; the first monograph on him comes out at the end of the month (by Stanley Mathews, the only American to have completed a dissertation on him). Aside from that these are the books I refer to very frequently and ironically, do not yet own. (They're the source of numerous library fines.)

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