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refabricating ARCHITECTURE: How Manufacturing Methodologies are Poised to Transform Building Construction (Architectural Record) [Paperback]

Stephen Kieran , James Timberlake
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 Dec 2003 Architectural Record
An approach that integrates technology, materials, and production methods to improve quality while saving time and money.

Product details

  • Paperback: 175 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional (1 Dec 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 007143321X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071433211
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.1 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 818,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Few architects have considered building construction...as carefully and insightfully...opportunity to improve...quality and speed of construction and design. (Architectural Record 2004-08-01)

By using thoughtfully designed elements...buildings can be "produced" in less time and at less cost while remaining true to good design and the needs of the space. (Civil Engineering 2004-04-01)

Excerpts from Get Smart section of magazine by Barbara Flanagan

Implacable sculpture made by ancient methods is no way to build now, say architects Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake...the partners claim that a new industrial revolution ought to transform the way buildings are planned, designed, constructed, and operated.

In short, they want to redesign design.

Why do ships, cars, planes, and spaceships keep getting better, while buildings don't budge? Part of the problem is that architects don't fully exploit "transfer technologies" -- that is they don't mine fields outside their niche. To speed the progress, Kieran Timberlake tries to turn down projects with "obvious" solutions and has, for the past two years, run a tiny inhouse think tank for nonapplied research...

SmartWrap, exhibited last fall at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, is one fruit of the 55-person firm's collaboration with students and with manufacturers such as DuPont. The project, resembling gift-wrapped scaffolding, showcased a "first-generation prototype" of a potential building material that absorbs energy and then uses it to heat, cool, light, decorate, and communicate. ...

...the firm's proudest achievement is the new addition to Penn's engineering school. Their plot to undermine architecture emerges in their new book refabricating Architecture. (I.D. Magazine 2004-01-15)

From the Back Cover

Preoccupation with image and a failure to look at process has led entire generations of architects to overlook transfer technologies and transfer processes. Kieran and Timberlake argue that the time has come to re-evaluate and update the basic design and construction methods that have constrained the building industry throughout its history. They skillfully demonstrate that contemporary architectural construction is a linear process, in both design and construction, where segregation of intelligence and information is the norm. They convince the reader to look at the automobile, shipbuilding, and aerospace industries to learn how to incorporate collective intelligence and nonhierarchical production structures. Those industries have proven to be progressively economic, efficient, and they yield a higher quality product while the production of buildings stagnates in the methods and practices of the nineteenth century. The transfer they envision is the complete integration of design with the craft of assembly supported by the materials scientist, the product engineer, and the process engineer, all using the tools of present information science as the central enabler.

The new architecture will not be about style, but rather about substance -- about the very methods and processes that underlie making.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
"IS ARCHITECTURE ART OR A COMMODITY Currently, little architecture is intended to be both art and commodity, but rather a commodity of value serving a specific function and purpose." Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars very thin and quite general 4 April 2010
very thin and quite general. The author has confused two things that you could not mix: the production system
in series with the production system of unique things (projects). All the techniques are different. Its operation is different and the environment as well.
It is wrong to extrapolate the philosophy of mass production for the project.
I recommend the author to study better the difference in producing unique things with the method of mass production.
Even if the author wishes to continue to be two different worlds.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
50 of 76 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Uneasy Transposition 22 Mar 2004
By J. Chan - Published on Amazon.com
In this book, the authors compared the present construction process of buildings to that of the automobile, ship building and aerospace industry. This is not new (remember Towards a New Architecture?). While Corb's book talked about end products, this talks about processes. Indeed, the authors presented some impressive research evidence on how the building construction industry can learn from these neighbors by sharing many common features of process and final product between industries.
However, what is not clear as an example, is the articulated, and perhaps even necessitated need for a building to emulate the joint tolerances of a car or an airplane. While the latter can sometimes determine the life and death of the user, a "half-inch tolerance" on a hospital facade will occur over the "millimeters" simply because there is no pragmatic need for such an emulation. This is, of course, not even an excuse for the lack of craft, but a statement that there should be a real need presented before a necessitated manifestation in form to occur. One simply should not look over to the greener pastures for the sake of doing so. The book is peppered with many such unclear determination and one has to really specify what kind of architecture does what, in a rather blunt way, before assuming with this pretense that emulation is good. Spirit of the Age has erred twice now over the raison d'etre.
The second major criticism for this book is the uncritical constant comparision between the building and the <car, ship, plane>. As much as I can appreciate the way automakers think of creative ways to make money from us, the allegedly "creative" folks through the streamlining of the process, a car differs vastly from a building because of context. Sure, context is too well hyped these days but surely we can speak the same for a plane or car in any context but we cannot do the same for every building we make. A car is driven in Asia or Europe but a building, as the authors noted, does not move very much. Context, therefore, as well as the ill-defined problem space of design is the problem here.
Thirdly, one cannot talk about refabricating architecture without commenting on the economical, labor structure of our society. Who are the conceptual workers of this industry? What is their wage and labor structure like? We simply cannot compare industry to industry on such a macro-scale because some fundamental aspect, though microscopic at this scale, dictates much of the process. The automobile or aerospace engineer can streamline their methods compared to architectural designers because of a marked difference between their wage, working and corporate conditions. What about forms of insurance, legal laws governing these different industries? All these are "form-makers" of the design process too. One cannot proceed to such an unbridled admiration of other design processes without at least commenting on these discrepancies.
The only salvation, in my opinion, of this book, remains to be the salvation of an architect's vision (architects, in this case of two authors). The very last part of the book displayes what modern architects are trained best to do, a marketable vision, possibly manifested in physical or representational format. While this remained as one of the rare books out there to tackle difficult topics of architectural process and methods, it needs a rigorous rework and editing (and perhaps peer review) before what is simplistically presented can be deemed as a useful reference for folks out there who is trying to do what the authors intended.
As a last reminder, F. Brunelleschi had the might of the Medici's empire backing him when he invented the cranework or the shell of the Dome. One simply cannot compare singularities in history with the challenges that the small to medium size offices face in this country everyday.
(The author of this review is not an Architect, but is interested in design in the larger context.)
5.0 out of 5 stars A well organized and thoughtful book 25 Sep 2013
By Aniel Martinez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great outline for what architecture could and perhaps should be during the 21st century and beyond. Very well organized, as it contains the information on the right page and diagrams/images on the left. The structure of the book makes it easier to reference. Very recommendable to designers, engineers, and manufacturing backgrounds. Its a good starting point.
5.0 out of 5 stars refabricating the building process 8 Mar 2012
By E. Hunter - Published on Amazon.com
This book lays out a system for building that is long over do. Bucky Fuller Started it with his Dymaxion designs 70-80 years ago. We can't afford to ignore more intelligents approaches to all human process, especially building. With very few exceptions suburban tract housing has been a aesthetic and environmental disaster. This book lays out what Bucky started. Pre fab has got so much to offer us in the way of better building, better design and better communities.
11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking Inside Out 2 Nov 2004
By C. McSorley - Published on Amazon.com
The overall strength of this work is the reminder to architects to look outside their field for inspiration, investigation, and implementation. Process is approached as beyond just "design process" to physical fabrication methodologies in various industries and the architectural conclusions are drawn from a comparative perspective.

The initial theme seems to be interpreted as a mechanized approach void of craft but upon further digestion the intention is to celebrate craft in architecture, the approach the authors have taken in practice.

I applaud the efforts to take what could have been a quite cumbersome topic and distilling it in a concise and intentional way.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reference book 25 Mar 2013
By bjrouge - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a gift to someone is a architecture as a reference or guide to update his knowledge prior to taking the state license exam. This was a useful reference and provided up to date code changes.
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