38: Do You Read Me? S/S 2014


“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

Editors' Letter

When Walls Are Doors

Jennifer Sigler


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 Right to Narrate

Homi K. Bhabha

The Survey

Cybermohalla Ensemble

Transcript (dog walk)

Eileen Myles


Braille, Tuberculosis, and the Fatality of Reading

Edward Eigen

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

Jianfei Zhu

It’s an Empirical Life

Brendan McGetrick

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


Flying, Reading, Landing

Peter Galison, Sonja Dümpelmann

Let’s See What Happens

Jonathan Zittrain, Lian Chikako Chang

Technocratic Visions

Alan Kaye, Olga Touloumi

Photo Essay

Signs in Sand

Denise Scott Brown, Jesús Vassallo


A Wagnerian Music Drama

Diébédo Francis Kéré

Black Box

David Pascoe

Libraries of Faith

Gareth Doherty

Railway Reading

Michael Kubo

Reading Rooms

Stephen Bates

Sorting Things Out: The National Library of Israel

Malkit Shoshan

The Tripping Subject

Martti Kalliala

Who Pays for the Picture?

Alexandra Lange


Architecture Is Tomorrow Morning

Tan Lin


Façades of Nations: National Libraries as Knowledge Icons

Daniel Rauchwerger, Noam Dvir


Chris Grimley, Enrique Ramirez, Michael Kubo, Mimi Zeiger

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)

K. Michael Hays, Peggy Kamuf