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*** wired_01.04

[Cecil Balmond, The Informalist]
  • mystic
    "Structural engineer Cecil Balmond has been Koolhaas' collaborator on 30 projects since the mid-'80s, including the three that have made Koolhaas' name: the Bordeaux villa, the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, and the new Seattle Pulic Library. Today Koolhaas won't even start a project until Balmond has weighed in." (Jennifer Kabat, wired_01.04)

  • frac-tiles
    "Balmond, however, might never get what he wants -- public acclaim." (Jennifer Kabat, wired_01.04)

  • macho-ness of structure
    "Balmond is more subversive. He tweaks structure: ... He hides structure: ... He invents structure: ..." (Jennifer Kabat, wired_01.04)

  • wavy piece
    "Often, Balmond's engineering solutions affect the form of a building so much that his work is indistinguishable from architecture. Take, for example, the Yokohama International Port Terminal -- Foreign Ofice Architecture (FOA) -- a trendy, young firm going for its first major project -- tapped Balmond while competing for the $200 million commission. Balmond came up with an innovative plan that eliminated all columns" (Jennifer Kabat, wired_01.04)

  • tonsure
    "While interviewing Jencks in his London townhouse, I press the issue. I ask him whether, in the design of those famous buildings, it's Balmond who is really calling the shots. ...

    'To try and decide who did what gets you into the area of libel ...

    Even as a professional critic, it's very hard to know who to credit. There's the legal issue of copyright as well as the issue of who actually did it.' ..." (Charles Jencks, in Jennifer Kabat, wired_01.04)

  • cabalistic
    "The book, his second, is a manifesto, a call to arms urging his fellow engineers 'to release the world of engineering and feel free to enter architecture.' ... Balmond wants some credit." (Jennifer Kabat, wired_01.04)
  • accolades
    "The book is risky. He's nearly been sued -- by FOA -- over the credit issue before." (Jennifer Kabat, wired_01.04)

  • quasi-spiritual patois
    "FOA won the competition and started attracting press. 'But nobody at FOA mentioned me,' he complains. Then the firm chose to work with another engineer for the execution phase of the project, saying, among other things, that Ove Arups was too expensive. 'This was the worst episode in my career,' Balmond explains, looking down. 'Here was an idea that frankly transformed their work. I gave it to them and then, god-damn it, they cut me out!'" (Jennifer Kabat, wired_01.04)

  • the Rosencrantz
    "Yet Balmond is ambivalent about staking his claim. He's afraid of offending Libeskind and doesn't even want to tell him about the book. There is a chapter that covers the fractal tiles that coat Libeskind's V&A Spiral. In the book, Balmond seens chastened -- and doesn't take credit for things that, in private, he says are his. He goes to extremes to sound diplomatic, obscuring credit under the umbrella of 'we.'" (Jennifer Kabat, wired_01.04)

  • the Guildenstern
    "The question of credit would be moot if Balmond left Ove Arup to become an architect. Then there would be no questions about authorship. ... I ask him why he hasn't left ..." (Jennifer Kabat, wired_01.04)

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The world of architecture in competitions, theories, polemics, and propagandas. A chronicle of architecture's devastating footnotes and critical trivia.

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