Master of Architecture
Douglas Garofalo traveled to India, Indonesia, and Japan.
Douglas Garofalo traveled to India, Indonesia, and Japan.
Asylum for subjective realities, 1987. © Douglas Garofalo.
Raul de Armas
What interests me most about architecture is its relationship to the individual. I have begun, through my studies in art and literature as well as design, to think of architecture as a kind of sanctuary for human subjectivities. An architecture that does not beg us to identify it but allows for our identity. An architecture that does not need or want to be classified, yet one rich in associations. At the same time, I am fascinated with certain qualities that give architecture its presence, its permanence, its emptiness.
The contemplative nature of these ideas seems evident in the architecture of the East, namely India and Japan, to varying degrees.
It is my intent to study such qualities, touched upon above, elusive and undefinable as they seem, through literature as well as history, drawings as well as photographs. In this way, my proposal supports the role of impressions along with facts, of seeing along with thinking, of virtuality with reality.
Chaitya Hall of Worship, Bhaja, first century B.C.
Caves, Ajanta, sixth–seventh century
Village Reservoir, Kapadvanj, twelfth century
Step Well, Adalaj, fourteenth century
Pleasure, Religious, and Mortuary Complex, Sarkhej, fifteenth century
City and Citadel, Fatehpur Sikri, sixteenth century
Observatories, Delhi and Jaipur, eighteenth century
Stupa, Borobudur, Java, eighth century
Castle, Matsumoto, sixteenth century
Castle and Prison, Hikone, seventeenth century
Katsura, Kyoto, seventeenth century
Hongan-ji North No Stage, Kyoto, sixteenth century
Ryōan-ji Temple Garden, Kyoto
Tea Houses, Kyoto, sixteenth century–present
Hida Minzoku-Mura, Folk Village, Takayama
Yoshijima-Ke, Takayama, 1908
July 20, 1996
When I started to do my portfolio I started with the idea that the work should be the latest and the best, and there should be a consistency to the portfolio. One of the first things I did was to canvass my peers at Yale to see what they had done. Yale requires portfolios every year so everybody had some experience doing them, but most of these were much more informal than a submission to the SOM Foundation would be. Everyone I talked to had definite ideas of what to do and what not to do, but there was not much consensus.
I tapped into friends who knew something about photography. They were able to walk me through some of the processes I wanted to use. My portfolio turned into quite a production for me. I learned enough about photography so I could do some of it, but I didn’t have a color lab so it was a kind of hybrid product. Each of my plates was a single sheet of high contrast film. I made negatives of the drawings and photographs I wanted to use sized to the place they were to occupy on the finished sheet. Then I cut a piece of Rubylith with flaps in it for each of the negatives, and I exposed each of them in turn, shielding the rest of the sheet from the light by the Rubylith since they each needed a different exposure time. I did the same thing with the type. I had a typesetter do all of the typing and had it printed out on negative film that I stripped into the Rubylith in the same way I did the images.
For the color work I used color print film and had prints made at a commercial lab. Then I cropped them and laminated them to the sheet. The competition rules only allowed for images on one side of the sheet, but I decided that I could make the sheet look better if the reverse of the sheet was a different color. So I took the same photo paper, exposed it and developed it so that it came out a glossy black color. Then I heat-pressed the two plies together. The whole process took me a huge number of hours. Today, of course, you could do a lot of these things much more quickly on the computer.
I knew I wanted to travel to Asia and India because I had already been to Rome and Europe and I wanted to see some of the other two-thirds of architectural history. I got a lot of advice on this from one of my instructors, Alexander Purves, who had mentored me on Surrealism. I wanted to spend as much time as my money would allow. In the end I spent three months in India and one month each in Indonesia and Japan. I would have liked to get into Iran.
I was interested in Surrealism and the kind of walks they took in a semi-dreamlike state. I wanted to do something like this in Asia. I was not so much interested in historical accounts, but I read a lot of fiction from Kipling to Naipaul. The biggest impact on me was seeing how architecture was not separate from culture the way it sometimes seems here in the West. Although I saw overwhelming poverty in India, there was still the sense that culture and history, architecture included, still had an integral role in daily life. My struggle was to know whether this was accurate or whether it was just my foreign eyes.
I was gone for over seven months. That was a long time, and I really needed to stretch my dollars. I was traveling alone, and I went as cheaply as I could. Sometimes this didn’t work too well and I had things stolen. By the end of the trip I looked pretty emaciated. It was even worse in Japan than in India because everything was so expensive. I slept outside illegally a number of times because it was just too much money doing anything else.
I know that my travel experience really shaped me. For example, I have a lot of foreign clients, particularly many who are Asian. I think part of my ability to do work that satisfies these clients comes from my being able to approach them in a broader cultural way. I know that there has been a formal influence on my work. In a Thai restaurant I did in Oak Brook, for example, the spaces I saw in Asia were influential and I used a kind of metal canopy that was influenced by the things I saw in markets in Asian cities. My experience has made me a firm believer in travel as an educational experience, for an architect particularly, not to copy what one sees, but to throw a spin on one’s own perspective.
received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1981 and his Master of Architectures degree from Yale University in 1987, the year he started teaching at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture. He established his architectural practice, Garofalo Architects Inc., in Chicago in 1988. The award-winning practice was among the first in the US to use digital technologies for the design of its buildings and completed significant projects such as the Korean Presbyterian Church of New York (in collaboration with Greg Lynn and Michael McInturf). In 2006, his firm was the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including his selection as a United States Artists Fellow in 2008. Douglas Garofalo died on July 31, 2011.