Architecture Beyond Criticism

For the past 4 years, Aaron has been working with colleagues Wolfgang Preiser, Ashraf Salama, and Andrea Hardy on Architecture Beyond Criticism: Expert Judgment and Performance Evaluation, due in stores and online this December. 

For the first time, this book demonstrates that the two paradigms of architectural criticism and performance evaluation can not only co-exist but complement each other in the assessment of built works.

As architecture takes more principled stances worldwide, from environmental sustainability to social, cultural, and economic activism, this book examines the roles of perceived and measured quality in architecture. By exploring in tandem both subjective traditional architectural criticism and environmental design and performance evaluation and its objective evaluation criteria, the book argues that both methodologies and outcomes can achieve a comprehensive assessment of quality in architecture.

Curated by a global editorial team, the book includes:

  • Contributions from international architects and critics based in the UK, USA, Brazil, France, Qatar, Egypt, New Zealand, China, Japan and Germany
  • Global case studies which illustrate both perspectives addressed by the book and comparative analyses of the findings
  • A six part organization which includes introductions and conclusions from the editors, to help guide the reader and further illuminate the contributions.

By presenting a systematic approach to assessing building performance, design professionals will learn how to improve building design and performance with major stakeholders in mind, especially end users/occupants.


two new books

Two recent books featuring PRE and a little PRE work:

First up is The Studio-X New York Guide to Liberating New Forms of Conversation (edited by the ever-wonderful Gavin Browning, featuring an afterward by Mark Wigley and the graphic design of MTWTF). The guide includes a few of Leah's events with the Buell Center as well as PRE's event in October 2009 and 2010's RAPID RESPONSE: Spontaneous Architecture.

Second, Dimitris Kottas' Contemporary Digital Architecture: Design and Techniques features Leah's 2009 collaboration with SoftRigid's Brian Brush and Yong Ju Lee, "Ornamental Connectivity: Form, Fabrication, and Data Environments." The project was an experiment in the potential intersections of GIS analysis and digital fabrication techniques.


Spontaneous Architecture: August 2010: Heat

Decadal surface temperature anomalies relative to 1951-1980 base period. From "Global Surface Temperature Change" (2010) by J. Hansen, R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Excerpts from this month's brief: "It's hot, and it's hot everywhere...If you live in a city in the Northern Hemisphere, the urban heat effect is probably melting you...When politicians are still denying Global Warming and Al Gore isn't convincing anyone new, when we're still pumping out air-thickening pollutants and protected by our air conditioners, how do we start to contend with our sweltering summers and staggering seasonal changes? Further, what kind of winter might Mother Nature have in store for us this year?"  

Let's be honest, this heat is oppressive and borderline unfathomable. This month we're asking for submissions from people who are sweating and have an opinion about that fact. Read the full brief and enter the competition at


Spontaneous Architecture: July 2010

After a rough patch of technical difficulty, July's Spontaneous Architecture competition is off and running! This month's brief can be found at and centers around last month's strange happenings regarding Cold War-esque Russian espionage in American suburbia.  

After six months of learning-through-doing about the Spontaneous Architecture project, we hoped to return to a topic somewhat akin to January's brief: something a bit more speculative with perhaps a little more critical visioning than problem-solving...something perhaps a little more fun.

We would like to thank you all, once again, for your continued participation and support!  Our winners and regular participants have all been fantastic, and we look forward to the next six months of SpontArch 2010.

July's competition will close (due to the late start) at 11:59PM on 27 July 2010.  Good luck!





PRE-Office recently completed design on a brand for burgeoning music moguls SWISS HARPER LIVE, made up of the indescribably talented Swiss Chris and Jake Harper. They wanted to convey their unique, client-first brand of music production and were turned off by brands that seemed to adhere to style over quality. After several iterations and meetings with the guys, we produced something that is super-restrained and strong without being overbearing. Inverting the idea of a brand as an umbrella term used to perpetuate a single image, SWISS HARPER LIVE serves as an operative frame through which to see the talent that they work with. Check out the project page for more images, and best of luck to SWISS HARPER LIVE!