I have to give props to the good folks at the slightly mysterious LVHRD organization. They certainly know how to create spectacle out of the lowliest of spectator sports: model building. Last night was the fourth installment of Master-Disaster Architecture Duel. (I have left off the Dewar’s branding opportunity.) It pitted the brutes against the boutiques: James Adams and Paul Kim of FXFOWLE versus Sean Bailey and
David Iseri of Konyk.
One could describe it as Iron Chef for architects, but really, that doesn’t quite capture the thrill of watching four architects hunched over tables, slicing at drinking straws in the middle of the Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Did I mention that it was lumberjack themed?
Ostensibly this was to coordinate with the project brief: some sort of futuristic Alaskan Wilderness outpost constructed from repurposed oil pipeline (hence the drinking straws.) But really it was step one in creating spectacle. Ask people to dress up as lumberjacks and woodland creatures and already things are festive.
Step two, provide free booze. Step three, invite the media. (I ran into half dozen bloggers and journalists. Archinect was reporting live via camera phone and text messages.) Actually, don’t just invite the media, but create a buzz of media. Hire photographers and videographers to endlessly document the event and project it back to itself on large screens at the venue. As we all know, images always make things exciting.
They also encourage viewers to become participants, to snap their own pics. I’m reminded of the classically postmodern "most photographed barn in America" section in Don DeLillo’s White Noise. The line of the evening goes to an enigmatic gentleman named Seamus who cheered on a young woman with a digital video camera, “Fill that hard drive. Fill it.” Do not underestimate the need to document anything architectural.
Sadly, and predictably, the models completed didn’t live up to their hype. I voted for FXFOWLE’s trussed scheme only to find that from the right angle it looked like a happy face. (A frown upside down.) The guy drunkenly chanting best-described Konyk’s entry: “Cheeseburger penis. Cheeseburger penis.” Cheeseburger penis won. Ah, the discourse.