Attention is an audio journal for architectural culture that uses the medium of sound and spoken word to capture a dimension of architecture otherwise lost in print. By precluding visual media, Attention strikes a distance between the distraction economy of much online media, creating an intimate and reflective space for the in-depth development of ideas and issues. Through interviews, roundtable debates, oral histories, field recordings, the exploration of archival recordings, experimental music and soundscapes, reportage and audio essays, Attention investigates issues of concern to contemporary architectural culture, theory and practice.
6A. Community Design As A Process
33:43In Episode 1, Anna Goodman explains how contemporary architects in the United States often pursue community-engaged work through the design of processes. Analysis from the architectural historian Susanne Cowan helps demonstrate how this contrasts with early modern designers’ strong association of community and territory. The episode features excerpts from interviews with Jeff Hou, Maria Sykes and Mary Comerio as well as audio recordings of the work of Louis Mumford.
6B. Karl Linn and the Idea of Neighborhood Commons
38:32In Episode 2, Anna Goodman describes a shift in the way architects in the United States viewed community starting in the early 1960s. Using audio clips from participants in an experimental park and playground built under that leadership of the influential community designer Karl Linn, it documents a transition from practices that linked community to the space of the neighborhood to those that focused instead on process.
6C. Ecological Community At People’s Park
41:28In Episode 3, Anna Goodman explores how a focus on the process of design over its products located community design at the intersection of anti-institutional activism and other social movements. It focuses on a series of events catalyzed by the construction of Berkeley’s People’s Park, using audio clips of participants provided by the Pacific Radio Archives, the documentary Design as a Social Act as well as commentary from the urban and architectural historian Anthony Raynsford.
6D. Carl Anthony, Race and Environmentalism
35:23In Episode 4, Molly Esteve describes the life and work of the architect and environmental justice advocate Carl Anthony. Using Anthony’s own words and commentary from Jah Sayers, the episode demonstrates how the Black radical tradition pushed designers and planners beyond the neighborhood to a metropolitan approach to community liberation.
5A. What is Theory?
23:33This piece asks the question: “what is theory?” It begins by attempting to define “theory” as a term or as a concept, a task that involves addressing ideas of abstraction, generalization, science, discourse, language and rhetoric, as well as the persistent oppositions between theory and practice, theory and history, theory as engaged and instrumental or theory as reflective and critical.
5B. What is Architectural Theory?
32:19This piece asks the question: “what is architectural theory?” It asks what the phrase “architectural theory” names for us, how architectural theory differs from theory per se, and what are its distinctive features that might remain the same despite changing historical epochs.
5C. How did Architectural Theory Change over Time?
25:25This piece addresses the question “how has architectural theory changed over time?” In particular, it explores the longue durée of two millennia of architectural writings in the west. In doing so the piece addresses the historicality of architectural theory in the western tradition. It asks what the big paradigm changes are that architectural theory has gone through, how it was different in earlier centuries to now, and whether there are different genres, formats, media, or dominant questions and problems that have defined it in different epochs.
5D. Is Architectural Theory Western or Global?
24:51This piece asks “is architectural theory Western or can it be global?” This means asking: is theory universal or is it geographically particular? Is theory inherently linked to Western notions of reason, philosophy, metaphysics, historical thought, and critique? And what is the relationship of theory to other modes of thought such as rhetoric, myth, symbolism, proverbs, moral and teachings?
5E. How do you Teach Architectural Theory?
31:09This piece asks “how do you teach architectural theory?” We ask what are the ways that each person teaches architectural theory in their specific classroom and in their specific school? How do they approach this as a pedagogical challenge? Do they approach architectural theory as something to survey or to explicate (chronologically, thematically, or philosophically), or as something to do, to demonstrate, or to perform in the classroom? And what are the methods that each person uses in the classroom to teach architectural theory?
5F. What are Architectural Theory Classes for?
24:37This piece asks “what are architectural theory classes for?” What is the purpose of the architectural theory class in relation to architectural design in the curriculum? What is the purpose of the architectural theory class in relation to the formation of the student—their ethical awareness, citizenship, the engendering of their “critical thinking,” even the cultivating of their souls? What is the impact of architectural theory classes on architectural practice once students graduate and work as architects? And does architectural theory make architecture better; both in studio and in the world?