Who: Mark Hash
Artist’s Chosen Location for Interview: WWNO studio – headphones on and microphones ready
Q: If you could 3D print a building in New Orleans that has been blighted or abandoned in order to rehab it, what building would you choose?
A: I wouldn’t. [Laughing]. And here is why. 3D printing is a contemporary technology. It didn’t exist in the past, so we should use it as a tool to create new spaces and new forms that weren’t previously possible. The idea of recreating a historic building with a 3D printer is…well, it’s a simulacrum. You’re just replicating the form of it. We don’t build that way anymore, so it’s just a copy of a copy.
3D printers are becoming ubiquitous on a small scale. They’re throughout the design industry at small to medium scales, and they’re now becoming consumer available. There are only a few that are large enough to build large structures like a house. An interesting example is in Amsterdam. They’re actually 3D printing a pedestrian bridge. I think they technology they’re using is called FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling). It’s actually depositing thin layers of steel or metal in a very intricate and dynamic form that looks like a skeleton or spider web. That’s something that would have been difficult or cost prohibitive to build with any other technology.
That’s a great use of a 3D printer. It’s using your tools the correct way or at least maximizing the use of your tools.
And a lot of things we do now with building are the same as the past. We still do stick frame building; although, not so much heavy timber anymore. Some of the things that we’ve lost are the craft – like terra-cotta, iron work, and things that could be seen more as ornamentation. That’s the kind of technique or material that I would like to use, but it no longer exists because the Industrial Revolution wiped that out.
Q: How would you describe architecture to someone who doesn’t speak your same language?
A: It’s always a challenge to communicate architectural intent to people because it’s a very abstract concept. I am a reductionist by nature, so I try to reduce something down to its most simple parts, and that is what I often do in the design process. I use diagrams in the design process to explore design, and then those also become a graphic tool in order to communicate design to the client, to the community, to the public.
When I discovered architecture, I had just moved to Japan in the early 90s. I was illiterate in that language, and I didn’t understand the culture, so it forced me to see the world differently. I discovered architecture in that context, and that’s how I started to understand what it is.
Through the use of visuals, that takes the burden off of me to explain architecture or design to people. I can just point to a drawing, and they understand it. It’s a visual tool and a visual aid. Sometimes it carries over into everyday life. I will draw diagrams to explain a situation to somebody.
Q: What would you say is the difference between creativity and productivity?
A: That always comes up in the architectural profession because it’s a service-based industry. We have to work within a certain time constraint to make a project deliverable. I think the best work strikes a balance between those two. If you focus too much on creativity, then the result is speculative design that never gets built. If you focus too much on productivity the result is built work that is uninspired.
We try to have a design process that allows us to explore abstract design concepts. I call it a ‘process of discovery.’ The idea is that it has to be productive, and it has to result in something. You’re setting up a conceptual framework for people to make decisions within as the project moves forward from beginning to end.
Q: What texture would you choose for your clothing if there was not limitation?
A: For me, clothing is not important. I wear a standard black shirt, jeans, you know. I guess I’m going to answer your question by not answering your question.
I wear the same style and cut shirt and jeans everyday. I do not like to think about what I’m wearing. I like to put that thought into other things. If I know that it will fit, that it looks good enough, and I don’t have to think too hard about it, then it’s good, and I’m out the door.
I’m always buying what I already like and what I know what will fit, so I’ve never really experienced a texture that I don’t like.
Q: What shape do you wish could be in ever structure and what is it about that shape?
A: People who work with me know that I don’t have a preference for any specific shape. I like to find what the best fit for a project is, and whatever geometry or shape that is, you are rigorous with the implementation of the geometry throughout the project. Whether it’s a square. A circle. Or even more complex geometries. You want to be rigorous and deliberate with its use. I don’t have a preference, so I’m pretty unbiased. At least, I try to be as unbiased as possible when I approach a project.
I have had shapes, though, that have emerged out of design process, and you are happily surprised with it, and you figure out how to use it. We recently finished the Fogo de Chao in the Marriott on Canal Street, and we were exploring patterns for interior screens that never really went anywhere, but we discovered this offset parallelogram that followed a gradient pattern, and we used that on the monumental stair on the interior. It’s delicate and beautiful.
Now when you go in there you can say, ‘There’s the parallelogram.’
Mark Hash is a Senior Designer at Eskew + Dumez+ Ripple. You can see also see Mark’s work by traveling around and looking around you. Some of Mark’s notable projects include Lockport Community Center, World Trade Center Redevelopment and Fogo De Chao Brazilian Steakhouse.