Thursday, January 05, 2006

Behind the Barriers

For those of you who are not my friends from the industry. Here is a look at one aspect of my job through the lens of Annie Leibovitz. This is what our work looks like before it is hidden behind walls or under concrete. We did more work like this in Chicago, here more of our work is concrete. Similar, but different. Great images that really capture what it looks like on a typical hi-rise or large scale construction site. Thanks again to my friend John for the link.

One thing that is evident in the photos is the controlled chaos. Plus it seems so surprising that so much of the work is still done by hand. For instance, pouring a concrete floor slab still requires a bunch of guys sloshing through the wet concrete sculpting a nice flat or slightly sloped surface. Interior partitions and finishes are assembled by hand. Muscles is still employed to move things from here to there move often than you would think. Machines don't do the work, just human strength and precision. And since almost every building is unique, it may never change.


Paolo Pace said...

I find this strangely comforting.

Lil' G said...

Good points Frank. Not to extend into the realm of archi-talk too much but that is why you will never see experimental blobchitecture projects (for example) really take hold as a design movement. (Although this type of design seems to be prevalent in academia today.)

Sure every now and then you will find a client with big $$$ to support the more experimental nature of that type of construction, but predominantly we are still tied to the everyday worker sludging through the concrete…a good thing I think and something as architects we should all embrace.

Frank said...

G, Now that you bring up blobitecture, it has me thinking. It is possible that computers will change the way buildings are built. For instance a computer driven machine that has the capacity to create unique forms out of existing or new low cost materials. How about some new foam injected fiber board that is strong as MDF, but as light as plywood? Will components of buildings become so complicated that regular joes could not work on them like cars nowadays? They already have the capacity to fabricate steel without printed drawings or manual work, could other materials like formwork be a decade or two down the pipe? You can see this really has me thinking now.