Steal Like an Architect?

A while back I read about a video series called “Everything is in Remix” by Kirby Ferguson, but only recently did I finally sit down and watch all 4 parts. It’s a pretty brilliant series and a lot of fun. He doesn’t mention Architecture – focusing more on the world of cinema and music – but it comfortably fits his thesis that at the heart of creativity is copying – or more directly:

Copy, Transform, and Combine.

Too often we think of “true creativity” as the manifestation of something we’ve never seen (heard, experienced) before – as if this was even possible. I wonder what the hip-hip version of an architect would be – someone who samples different buildings into a new composition. Most architects would probably see that person as a hack – a cheater. But is Quentin Tarantino uncreative? DJ Danger Mouse? There seems to be huge scope for this sort of sampling process to be incorporated in to the architectural profession.

This also reminds me of Austin Kleon new book that follows a similar thought process called “Steal Like an Artist.” I haven’t read it, but it he seems to be pushing this idea in an interesting direction and trying to get people on board with this being an ok way to work. Let’s hope he succeeds.

Everything is a Remix Part 1 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Campus Progress

Campus - Columns

Construction is well underway on our Campus Project in Siliguri. Foundations are in place and columns are being put in place. Looking forward to that first floor slab pour…

Pharmacy – Almost…

Customer Zone

Just a few more weeks to go. Let’s sell some drugs!


It appears that the Kolkata Museum of Modern Art is finally going to start construction – after almost 3 years of hype. With Herzog & de Meuron at the helm, hopes are very high that this will be some sort of turning point for architecture in India. One could argue – quite easily – that there hasn’t been a significant internationally acclaimed building in India since Kahn finished his IIM in Ahmedabad – almost 50 years ago! With China pumping amazing buildings on a monthly basis, this attention to architectural greatness needs to shift, but it’s a bit depressing if we have to wait another 3 or 4 years for that shift to happen (KMOMA is scheduled to be complete in 2014).

UPDATE – 2012 May : Drove by the site on Sunday and absolutely no construction has happened.

Top 50?

Once again, we did NOT make the Top 50. What a crock.

Future Libraries

A little old, but still relevant - please disregard the author’s photo, it sort of compromises his authority.

Frank Ross Pharmacy

Frank Ross

Final image of our Frank Ross Pharmacy design. Construction is underway.


I used to work here.

East London?!

For a couple years now, Mamata Banerjee has been peddling the vision of Calcutta as the next London. Not only does Calcutta have a lot of the same historic architecture, but it also has some of the same street names. However, I always assumed she meant “LONDON” – and that this vision was a proclamation that Calcutta could be so much more. I agree with this notion. A thorough cleaning, renovation of it’s cultural icons, and maybe a rebranding to make people forget that horrid images that are in their head of what Calcutta used to be.


Apparently, they want to copy and paste London, starting with the London Eye. Creating a riverside park is a solid idea, and I hope they get some talented designers (ahem) involved, but the London Calcutta Eye? That doesn’t even crack the Top 10 of “Great Things about London.” My hope is this is just a brainstorming session and they’ll soon move on to better ideas that more appropriate to India and specific to the unique Calcutta landscape, but I’m more than a little nervous this was a directive – “Make this happen.”

Indians have long had a love affair with the copy and paste functionality of our integrated world, but it seems with the economy booming, we have an opportunity to create something wholly original, something that others might want to copy… instead of just erecting a giant ferris wheel and closing the book on city planning.

The Right Fit?

Last week I walked away from a project that on the surface seemed to have immense potential. It was hard, but necessary. Not just for our office, but for the client. It just wasn’t the right fit. I wish I knew it after the first meeting, or after the second and third meetings, when I had a nagging voice in my head telling me this wasn’t going to work out, but I ignored it. Not until 15 minutes into the 4th meeting did it finally become clear, and even then, before I closed my computer and packed up, I thought, “Can I afford to do this?” Then I realized I couldn’t afford NOT to do it.

Maybe I’ve been reading too many posts on Mule’s blog, but that mental check list of a good client should be on a constant loop during your initial meetings. Mutual Respect? An understanding of what we can provide? A realistic set of goals? Willingness to pay for your services? Add to that a nebulous gut feeling about how your personalities mesh and you’re about half way to analyzing the situation.

Too often we as designers are seen as a desperate lot. Willing to take any project that walks by and shows us some leg. Not only does that place us in a vulnerable place professionally, but it completely ignores the reality of client / designer relations – which is even more taxing for a private residence, where you are deep in the trenches collecting personal data on someone’s life.

It’s necessary to have the confidence that there are other projects out there to be had. Better projects.