2008 Laskey Award: blueHOME

Dean Bruce Lindsey’s introduction to the book documenting the 2008 Laskey Award:

John Kleinschmidt’s blueHOME was the first Laskey Prize winner and fittingly so. The project spans media and medium, material and music in a way that reminds us that experience is continuous. It reminds me of Laskey himself, unwilling to be categorized. The project was built on Forsyth Blvd. on the plinth of Steinberg Hall, designed by Fumihiko Maki in the early 1960’s – a time when the very nature of architecture was being questioned. blueHOME was built beneath Maki’s striking but daring folded plates, each growing out of the common idea that the process of construction is significant enough to express in the things we build. This is even more the case when the designer is the builder. I watched the construction day-to-day, and saw the improvisation of learning through design in action. I recall that I heard the music daily. But then again, it may have been the spirit of Steinberg’s builders joining in the satisfaction of what the German’s call the “art of building,” or Baukunst. When does building become art, a musical instrument, environment, architecture?

A clue could be in the drawings. If a drawing is a record of perception drawn from life, and a projection of perception drawn as a speculation about a future situation, then drawings allow us to see another’s perceptions and another future. In John’s drawings for blueHOME we see not only the future project but also the rhetorical evidence of abandoned trajectories, themes and developments carried forward. We see ideas stored for other projects. The drawings themselves inform the completed structure and provide it with another life. Imagine the score for Kind of Blue. It holds the past, present and future in its notes. It allows us to share the perceptions of countless performances done by countless performers. A time machine of sorts that stands between us, the performance, and our own perceptions. Drawings are a way of thinking out loud. Drawings are also a record of thinking and, as such, give the construction a Greek Chorus that it would not otherwise have. I think Mr. Maki would be proud. We are.

Bruce Lindsey
Dean & E. Desmond Lee Professor for Community Collaboration
College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design
Washington University in St. Louis