Free Book Review On Greg Lynn
While it is clear that Greg Lynn has earned his place amongst some of the most prestigious of architects, what is it that makes Lynn so enticing? As a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, Architect Greg Lynn received a ‘Golden Lion Award’ from the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2008. The United States Artists also honoured Lynn with the title of ‘Fellow’ in 2010, valuing Lynn’s emphasis on “provocation rather than a prototype” (Boehm). Very clearly, Lynn has broken the prototypical mould and in doing so, has redefined the nature of design. What sets Lynn apart from others in his field is the way he uses computer technology to enhance not only architectural design but the design culture as a whole (Lynn, 2010). At UCLA, Greg has brought his innovative geometric concepts into the classroom as well as the forefront of modern design. His projects include a wide variety of creations, from Southern California architecture to sculpted furniture, to written works on design concepts. With pieces on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Art Institute of Chicago, and at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, it is clear that he is an active participant in the arts. With an “Archaeology of the Digital” exhibit at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, it becomes even more apparent that Lynn is a trendsetter within the world of design. Through a review of Lynn’s views regarding proportional geometry, his place within historical and contemporary architectural contexts, Lynn’s achievements, and some of his early influences, it becomes possible to define what it is that makes Lynn stand out amongst the best.
In his article, “Multiplicities and Inorganic Bodies,” Lynn tackles the relevance of understanding the principles of proportional geometry. He believes that by incorporating the philosophies of architectural designs, architects can achieve harmony, which results in more natural, well-crafted works (Lynn, 1992). As a professor of architecture, Lynn is thoroughly concerned with the spatial bodies of inanimate objects he refers to as ‘organisms’. Lynn argues that to understand any object more completely, destroying it would be the first option. Similarly, biological sciences attempt to study the vital functions of the organs through live dissection and open surgery. In architecture, creating a plan represents a simple way of dissecting a building, with the inclusion of the design and the systematic methods for building different sections. As Lynn further suggested, planning reduces the amount of time consumed by re-working and destroying certain parts that might not be useful at all. In accordance with the design, elements of geometry and accurate measurements are necessary in order to obtain a desirable effect.
Classical and Modern Aesthetics
The Statue of Liberty located in New York is an example used by Lynn that illustrates modern yet classical aesthetic forms of design. In his article, Lynn focused on dissecting the Statue’s body and interpreting them through geometrical shapes. He illustrated the inside of the statue by a continuous, repetitive and geometrical shapes composed of rectangles, squares and triangles. Equally proportioned in height and weight, as well as in terms of physique, the Statue of Liberty is avant-garde in contrast to other sculptures made in the late 19th century. Its proportion and accurate construction made it withstand the passing of time. Living organisms can be deconstructed and bound by their own geometric exactitude, and organisms are reducible and repeatable (Lynn, 1992). Lynn noted that these characteristics are also true for this colossal structure, which is acceptable in terms of art. However, although this type of architecture pleases the eye, it surely precedes and resists the geometrical exactitude. Despite its singularity as a sculpture, the Statue of Liberty in New York represents a diverse assembly of contingent and compliant substances resulting from an internal resistance to any single power, form or type (Lynn, 1992). Lynn reinforces that people’s attraction to simple, bare, smooth and flat surfaces and architecture has existed for decades. One can see that design Lynn’s philosophical approach as reflected in his works. The use of digitalization has enhanced his ability to create, and has freed Lynn from Modernism’s restraints (Chan). Furthermore, spatial designs, developed through the combination of digitalization and moldable materials, such as glass and metal lend, allows for infinite possibilities.
The Classification of Spatial Bodies, Proportion and Modernism
The introduction of his article begins with the classification of spatial bodies. Lynn conducted his studies with villas constructed in the Palladian style of Italy. He points out the difference between mathematical and harmonic proportions of an object. Although the mathematics is the language of Architecture, what distinguishes harmonic proportion from mathematical measurements is the value granted to specific ratios based on the symmetrical unity of all parts to a whole (Lynn, 1992). Inorganic bodies refer to buildings and other manmade objects whilst organic organisms are those occurring in nature. In this article, Lynn points out that geometry is an essential part of architecture. Proportionality in a work can be determined if both sides of the figure are exact and physically equal. Quite a tedious work as Lynn constantly notes, maintaining proportionality is a gruesome task and requires a lot of patience and calculation.
Moreover, Lynn defines the avant-garde as the highest work of modernism (Lynn, 1992). Avant-garde is the term for high style most often linked with figures featuring elegance, such as the Renaissance sculptures and architectural styles. Likewise, Lynn’s idea of the avant-garde is closely linked to the so-called modernism propaganda, which breaks the traditional style of building design. Instead of using the typical pencil designing technique, building designs can be developed with the use of computer programmes. In his article entitled, Design in the Digital Age, written in the fall of 2005, Greg points out recent advancements in architecture such as the Automated Computer-Aided Design (AutoCAD) that allows architects to manipulate the object and their design. One advantage of using this software, Lynn explains, is that architects and engineers can review the finished product even during the latter part of the designing stage.
Proportional Geometry and ‘Curvy Digitalism”
Lynn believes that there is “a palpable sexiness to curved shapes” (Chan, 2008). His desire is to get people to experience his creations aesthetically. Lynn has deliberately moved away from traditional styles of contemporary design and architecture. Northern European innovations and constructivism represent qualities that have never appealed to Lynn. Rather, he prefers the designs of Oscar Niemeyer’s and Frank Lloyd Wright. Lynn states that architects, such as Wright, were free to integrate different elements, even those that represented features from the 19th-century. Lynn appreciates the freedom to experiment and believes that an intense response to his work means that he has achieved something new and different. Lynn states that the contributions of architects such as Rudolf Steiner and Paolo Soleris have often been overlooked. Their more “organic” approach has included free-flowing lines that contribute to the fluid nature of their designs, in the same manner as Lynn’s methods.
Flowing curved lines become continuous and developmental variations. Lynn explains that curvilinearity in architecture describes the involvement of outside forces in the developmental stage of the project. Viscous fluids serve to balance the outside forces that are exerted in order to control internal stability. Likewise, curvilinearity defines the ability of an object to become pliant, or bendable, withstanding the external forces that might otherwise cause it to break. Contemporary architecture utilizes the principles of pliancy in creating new buildings that are earthquake resistant. Architects nowadays often prefer simpler building designs composed of spatial and inorganic objects that manage to achieve a balance whilst maintaining the modernist approach (Horwitz and Singley, 2004).
Additionally, Lynn became one of the leading editors of Architectural Design, a magazine solely created because of the emerging style in the modern architecture industry (Lynn, 2005). Lynn’s background in architecture, his work as an educator at UCLA, and his passion for computer aided graphics, cause many experts to consider Lynn the man behind the AutoCAD movement. One of his many contributory articles, namely the “Architectural Curvilinearity,” is just a single example of his computer program contributions designed to make the architects’ task more convenient. Because the field of architecture is a continuously evolving business, the urgency of using these new machines makes the planning and designing stage more accurate. For the designing phase, architects can manipulate the program in shaping their buildings into whatever shapes they want, using geometrical shapes installed in the program. Manipulation is continuous and it is an integral part of the design phase. Architects can accurately view the progress of their building designs through the stages of their project presented in colourful plates (Lynn, 2005). Computer aided measurements are more convenient than traditional forms of designing. As Lynn notes in his essay, CAD has helped revolutionize the architectural realm with such high-tech machines. Therefore, architects’ lives have become easier; allowing them to become more productive and produce higher quality works (Lynn, 1992).
Lynn was born in in Ohio in 1964. From the time that he was a child, Lynn was on his way to becoming an architect. With his mother’s encouragement, young Greg Lynn began drawing construct perspective designs and “axonometric projections” (Chan). Lynn took pleasure in sketching. While in high school, he took a drafting class where, from the start, it was evident that he excelled in form-drawings. Lynn would draw items such as combs and sketch them using “two-point perspective.” For Lynn, drawing was a form of recreation. He enjoyed creating images of unusual geometric shapes, particularly anything with complex curves and lines. Objects like engines and gears were of particular interest and he pushed himself to take on increasingly difficult artistic challenges. Even at a young age, Lynn was attracted to curved designs and unusual edges. When computers became more readily accessible, he had found his ideal artistic tool. However, it was not until Lynn was in graduate school that he began to integrate computer technology with his designs (Chan). Before becoming a full-time architect and designer, Lynn completed his Bachelor’s Degrees at the Miami University of Ohio, in Architecture and Philosophy, and his Master’s Degree at Princeton.
Greg Lynn Today
“Multiplicities and Inorganic Bodies” is just one of Lynn’s writings. Today, Lynn continues his work as a professor, philosopher, architect, and author of science fiction (Lynn, 2012). Having taught conceptual architecture at the European Graduate School EGS, he continues makes his home in Venice, California. Combining Philosophy with Architecture, he has taught such classes as “An Exploration of the Future.” His “biomorphic style” has won him acclaim in notable publications. TIME Magazine recognized him as one of the 21st Centuries top one-hundred innovators in the area of contemporary design and architecture. “High theory” is the force behind his works and computer-aided design is a critical factor in his creations. Lynn hopes to continue his efforts by integrating calculus into new forms of architecture and design. Recently, Lynn’s efforts have moved into areas where integrated form and structure combine to produce biomorphic results that are resistant by their inherent nature to load. Various applications include the manufacturing and production of plastic ducks (Boehm) and furniture, boats, autos, on aerospace developments. Materials such as fiberglass, plastics, and wood are enhanced and refined through CAD and CNC modifications.
Clearly, “Multiplicities and Inorganic Bodies” outlines Lynn’s views regarding the basic principles of proportional geometry. These ideologies are consistent throughout everything that he does. Acknowledged as one of the primary innovators of his generation, Lynn continues to draw many of his ideas from philosophy, mathematics, and theories from postmodern philosophers such as Luce Irigaray, Gilles Deleuze, Ilya Prigogine and Sanford Kwinter (Lynn, 2012). Greg Lynn is clearly an architectural genius who has earned his reputation for the numerous contributions he has made. In the field of architecture, he continues to contribute knowledge and expertise to individuals who are just beginning their journey. Siting limitless examples, we may conclude that Lynn’s works and articles add substance to the experience of professionals and students worldwide. His provocative style continues to be anything but prototypical, and his innovativeness continues to bring architecture and design to ever-greater heights.
Boehm, M. “UCLA Professor a Winner at Venice Architecture Biennale.” Los Angeles Times. 2008. We. Jan. 2015. <http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-et-lynn24-2008sep24-story.html>
Chan, Carson. “GREG LYNN: Curve Your Enthusiasm” 032c. 2008. Jan. Web Dec. 2015.
Horwitz, Jamie, and Paulette Singley. “Eating Architecture.” Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004. Print.
Lynn, Greg. “Design in the Digital Age.” National Design Journal. 1.2 (2005): n. pag. Print.
Lynn, Greg. 'Multiplicitous and Inorganic Bodies'. Assemblage 19. 1992: 32. Web. Dec. 2014
Lynn, Greg. Profile. UCLA A.UD. Architecture and Urban Design. 2010. Web. Jan. 2015. <http://www.aud.ucla.edu/faculty/greg_lynn_13.html>
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