38: Do You Read Me? S/S 2014

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No. 38, S/S 2014 Do You Read Me?

“Do You Read Me?” marks a new direction for Harvard Design Magazine—one that invites “reading” across disciplinary boundaries, and stakes out an expanded arena for architecture and design dialogue.

The question anticipates a response: “Loud and clear!” But it also suggests the possibility for distortion, misinterpretation, or evaporation of the message. This issue is about reading and misreading, and the role of design in streamlining or garbling the exchange between sender and receiver, writer and reader, maker and user. Whether written or rendered, engineered or enacted, both message and messenger are designed, and it is the relation between craft and comprehension that is explored here.

But today, beyond the intentional construction and exchange of messages, we are all constantly “read” as data. While we offer our identities as moldable content and marketing fodder with every click; while our words, wants, and whereabouts are tracked by both “friends” and strangers; we might rethink the appeal of misunderstanding, or inscrutability. “Do You Read Me?” suggests that role of design is not just to construct certitudes, to clarify, but also to enable more nuanced realities to coexist.

Table of Contents

Editor’s Note

When Walls Are Doors

Jennifer Sigler


A Wagnerian Music Drama

Diébédo Francis Kéré

Black Box

David Pascoe

The Tripping Subject

Martti Kalliala

Who Pays for the Picture?

Alexandra Lange

Libraries of Faith

Gareth Doherty

Railway Reading

Michael Kubo

Reading Rooms

Stephen Bates

Sorting Things Out: The National Library of Israel

Malkit Shoshan


The Right to Narrate

Homi K. Bhabha

Transcript (dog walk)

Eileen Myles

Wild Thoughts of Savage Pansies

Matthew Battles

Dear Reader

Cynthia Davidson


Mohsen Mostafavi

Hand, Mind, Time

Rafael Núñez

Is Listening Reading?

Vijay Iyer

Second Nature

Keith Mitnick

Space as the Thing: Toward a Nonnarrative Architecture

Philippe Rahm

The Survey

Cybermohalla Ensemble


Eyes That Do Not See: Tracking the Self in the Age of the Data Center

Kazys Varnelis

It’s an Empirical Life

Brendan McGetrick

Plumbing the Urban Azimuth (at the End of the Age of the Book)

Sanford Kwinter

Tuning into the Void: The Aurality of Adolf Loos’s Architecture

Ines Weizman

Braille, Tuberculosis, and the Fatality of Reading

Edward Eigen

Empire of Signs of Empire: Scale and Statehood in Chinese Culture

Jianfei Zhu

Of Mirrors and Ashes and Beginning Again: A Note on Hejduk’s Instauration of Brunelleschi’s Experiment

K. Michael Hays

Talking _/)_s into Existence

Angie Keefer

Warehouses of Thoughts and Things

Jeffrey T. Schnapp


Architecture Is Tomorrow Morning

Tan Lin


Flying, Reading, Landing

Peter Galison, Sonja Dümpelmann

Let’s See What Happens

Lian Chikako Chang, Jonathan Zittrain

Technocratic Visions

Alan Kaye, Olga Touloumi

Photo Essay

Signs in Sand

Jesús Vassallo, Denise Scott Brown


Façades of Nations: National Libraries as Knowledge Icons

Daniel Rauchwerger, Noam Dvir


Mimi Zeiger, Enrique Ramirez, Chris Grimley, Michael Kubo

Puzzled: Architecture Magazine Firsts

Brendan Quigley, Inés Zalduendo

Range of Motions: Granite Flow from Vinalhaven to New York City

Jane Hutton

Rereading: Jacques Derrida’s “Point de folie – maintenant l’architecture” (1986)

Peggy Kamuf, K. Michael Hays