Tigerman: Are you going to do any hands-on teaching yourself?
Tigerman: Mies was influential, of course, because of his buildings. And Gene Summers was influential because of his buildings. You will also be influential because of what you’ve done, whether you like it or not. Once a year, Peter Eisenman invites me to his juries in New Haven in the winter, and Frank Gehry in the spring. And when you go in the winter the kids are little Eisenman maniacs. And in the spring they’re little Frank Gehrys.
So your work has—albeit that it’s very reductive and to the point—it has an impact, no question. Students will look at it. And one can expect to see a very minimalist approach to things, which is actually the tradition of the place, of Mies.
So without my rambling on further, it’s nice to hear you’ll be teaching, because it would also have an impact on what’s happening. Particularly in the context of research. When you talked about the Netherlands doubling in size and what it might mean, that’s also true here. And there’s been a huge resistance to living in an urban environment, because it’s been misused here in terms of public housing. Things have not gone well in that sense. There’s the keeping of a stratification, a layering—economically and sociologically and behaviorally—and that has to change.
I was just reading something about an experiment of a project in Chicago where rich people are living actually literally next door in an apartment building to very poor people. And it works and it doesn’t work. Do the poor people and the rich people communicate? Not really. Not yet, because it takes time to see what happens. So I’m interested in your having a series of nodes of what’s going on. Obviously, schools that have a bachelor program are influenced by the three-year students. If the doctoral program was more than simply engineering oriented, that would also have a very big impact.
Arets: That’s for sure what we’re going to do.
Tigerman: You should. Look at Princeton. I was on the visiting committee there when [former dean] Ralph Lerner was alive. It was an incredible program because there were 12 doctoral candidates in residence at any given time. They had a huge impact on the M.Archs. There never was a B.Arch. program, but certainly other people studying architecture were influenced immensely, immeasurably, by the doctoral candidates. So your doing that will also have an impact here.
Arets: Yeah, but we have the B.Arch., then we have the master program. But what I would like to also say again, the master of science is actually something you do after you finish your M.Arch. or Bachelor’s. And those students will have an incredible impact on the M.Arch. and B.Arch. students.
And the Ph.D. students, they can teach. They’re allowed to teach. So to bring them as teaching people into the curriculum I think is great. So I believe that what is happening now in this school, and in many schools, you see a vertical sort of system: B.Arch. is here and the M.Arch. is there. That’s okay, but I would like to cross fertilize. I want to do studios together, maybe. They can do a master class together. They can do seminars together.
Tigerman: They can do research.
Arets: They can do research together. One can do reading classes for the other. I think, let’s say, a master of science student or Ph.D. student can do reading classes. Maybe he can work with a bunch of, say 15, young students on a theoretical problem. So that’s also the challenge of a big school. This big school means I have at least four schools in one house.
Tigerman: Do you know the tradition of what happened there when Mies came? If you don’t know, it’s a story you should know. When he took over the school there was a retrograde, very conservative wing that hated him, of course. So what he did when he came, he first came in ’37. When he began in ’38, he and [Ludwig] Hilberseimer and [Walter] Peterhans taught the first year [students], and they gave up [on] the rest. They let it go. They cast it adrift, like put it in a lifeboat and set it off. They never bothered.
The next year, he still stayed with the first year and Hilberseimer and Peterhans and [Alfred] Caldwell took the second year [students]. And so forth, and in five years it was a changed school entirely.
I have to make the analogy, given that we’re in an American election cycle, with Barack Obama, who made the mistake in his first term of trying to be a conciliator with Congress. Which didn’t work, because Republicans have blinders. They only see one thing, their eyes on the target. They never change.
Mies understood that when he came here, and he didn’t try to change the old guard. He just took the first year [students] and made that the school. See what I’m saying? That was a different time.
Arets: And a very small school.
Tigerman: Yeah, it was a very small school for sure. It was a wholly different time, and we are talking about 70 years ago.
Arets: But this is a strategy I could use, and I did use at the Berlage. I was involved, of course, in teaching at the Berlage. But it was a very small school. That was a strategy which worked when Mies was doing it. I completely agree.
Tigerman: But your point here is that this could be a series of small schools in the larger, over-arching umbrella institution.
Arets: Yes, and I think you, Stanley, know very well that students, I don’t want to say they mimic, as you said with Peter Eisenman, but they look at other students. And rather than them looking at me or star architects like Peter Eisenman or Zaha, I would like them to mimic and to look at students who are in this place.
At least that’s something I learned from the AA. In Zaha’s studio, yes people were drawing like Zaha. I tried to avoid that in the beginning, which was very difficult. Because at the end of the year you saw all the portfolios, and people said, “Okay, yeah, it looks like your work.” That was the kind of mimicking of the AA.
When you teach students to draw you talk about a signature. But the moment they do research they have to develop their own language. I think for me at least it’s a kind of trick: out of research they’re going to develop their own language. They’re going to develop their own topics. And in the long run, I think that’s an interesting challenge for this place.