What a night. Dark room. Flat floor. Packed with shadows of people. Giant screens. Two long tables. On two diagonals. Forming a “V” with a hole in the middle. Four on one side. Four on the other. Plastic bottles of water. Big name cards. One hand-held microphone. And it starts.
We are invited to talk for ten minutes on the assigned topic and also to give a roast on Mark Mack in honor of his retirement from teaching. Two lines—at the same time.
Mark Lee, the MC, started with a friendly welcome and praise for Mark Mack as an inspiring teacher.
Mark Mack then showed his history from Judenburg to his studies at the Technical High School in Graz and the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna on to working with Hans Hollein then to Haus-Rucker-Co in New York, which led him to work in the basement of MoMA for Emilio Ambasz before going to San Francisco to practice and teach at Berkeley, in turn taking him down south to teach at UCLA and practice and live on the canals in Venice, Los Angeles, with his wife and son. The story was punctuated by activities of Western Addition and publication of the San Francisco magazine Archetype–a dead serious and also upbeat, even cheerful, magazine about art as architecture and architecture as art.
Then Kurt Forster read a thorough disposition about the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS) and the publication of its polemical Oppositions journal weaving threads between Peter Eisenman, Palladio and the rise of a “new” critical (i.e. missing) discourse in America via the wedge of Oppositions.
Naturally, I was next. I was asked by Mark to show and discuss Haus-Rucker-Co, where we met in the summer of 1973, as well as the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies with some comparison of Oppositions journal to Skyline tabloid of which I was a founding director. I did that with a fatter narrative from Haus-Rucker-Co, where we did the first Rooftop Study of New York to an early magazine I did with Christine Rae of Knoll and Lorraine Wild of Vignelli Design. On to the start of Skyline at IAUS, to my founding of Metropolis, to Express, then on to Zapp Urbanism and recently Oysters: East Hampton Architecture Review. It ended with a comparative chart comparing the “physics” of Skyline to Oppositions in a physical, factual, matter-of-fact way.
Then the sequence hit the gap between the V of the two tables. Four down, four to go. Getting hotter, darker, and later.
In that gap was a video made by Steven Holl in his office looking through his collection of Pamphlet Architecture and Archetypes. He was most enthused about the second Pamphlet by Mark Mack on “10 California Houses” where we saw and heard something apparently normal yet also very interesting—layers of media—2D to 3D to 4D: Steven reading (voice)—from printing (ink on paper)—from writing and drawing (pencil and ink on paper)—via film (recorded)—and then projected up onto flat screen. Writing-drawing-printing-reading-recording-filming-projected = Cinema. Hollywood?
On the left, Peter Noever showed his MTV-like musical video of a linear history celebrating the creative muses of Mark Mack from his early days at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, working with Hans Hollein’s office on to his current life as an architect, teacher, husband, father, and wild DJ jumping up and down at parties.
After Peter, way down at the end of the tables, the final presentations were shown by Kyong Park and then Micheal Bell as visual biographic histories. Both gave extensive, personal reviews of their long, ongoing relationships with Mark over many years in New York and California interweaving with their own developmental stories as growing, testosteronal architects evolving—still—from boys to men. Homage as both/and appreciation and hustle. All in all, a great time was had by all.