In The Waiting Room: Non-Place, Distance, Purgatory

"If a place can be defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity, then a space which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place. Thehypothesis advanced here is that supermodernity produces non-places, meaning spaces which are not themselves anthropological places and which, unlike Baudelairean modernity, do not integrate the earlier places: instead these are listed, classified, promoted to the status of 'places of memory', and assigned to a circumscribed and specific position." [2]


"Sat down to read Foucault with pencil in hand. Knocked over glass of water onto waiting-room floor. Put down Foucault and pencil, mopped up water, refilled glass. Sat down to read Foucault with pencil in hand. Stopped to write note in notebook. Took up Foucault with pencil in hand. Counselor beckoned from doorway. Put away Foucault and pencil as well as notebook and pen. Sat with counselor discussing situation fraught with conflict taking form of many heated arguments. Counselor pointed to danger, raised red flag. Left counselor, went to subway. Sat in subway car, took out Foucault and pencil but did not read, thought instead about situation fraught with conflict, red flag, recent argument concerning travel: argument itself became form of travel, each sentence carrying arguers on to next sentence, next sentence on to next, and in the end, arguers were not where they had started, were also tired from traveling and spending so long face-to-face in each other's company. After several stations on subway thinking about argument, stopped thinking and opened Foucault. Found Foucault, in French, hard to understand. Short sentences easier to understand than long ones. Certain long ones understandable part by part, but so long, forgot beginning before reaching end. Went back to beginning, understood beginning, read on, and again forgot beginning before reaching end." [1]

"Val Vista Location Waiting Room", by Valley Women for Women OBGYN, via  Flickr

"Val Vista Location Waiting Room", by Valley Women for Women OBGYN, via Flickr

"Tinted Waiting Room", by Toncu, via  Flickr

"Tinted Waiting Room", by Toncu, via Flickr

"Dr. Chu's Waiting Room", by southpasadenadentist, via  Flickr

"Dr. Chu's Waiting Room", by southpasadenadentist, via Flickr

"Waiting Room 3", by veggieosage, via  Flickr

"Waiting Room 3", by veggieosage, via Flickr

"Read on without going back and without understanding, without remembering, and without learning, pencil idle in hand. Came to sentence that was clear, made pencil mark in margin. Mark indicated understanding, indicated forward progress in book. Lifted eyes from Foucault, looked at other passengers. Took out notebook and pen to make note about passengers, made accidental mark with pencil in margin of Foucault, put down notebook, erased mark. Returned thoughts to argument. Argument not only like vehicle, carried arguers forward, but also like plant, grew like hedge, surrounding arguers at first thinly, some light coming through, then more thickly, keeping light out, or darkening light. By argument's end, arguers could not leave hedge, could not leave each other, and light was dim... Thought of question to ask about argument, took out notebook and pen and wrote down. Put away notebook and returned to Foucault." [1]

"Totnes Waiting Room", by, via    Flickr

"Totnes Waiting Room", by, via Flickr

L: "Hell's Waiting Room", by Sir Twilight King, via  Flickr ; R: "Waiting Room" by stevelyon, via  Flickr

L: "Hell's Waiting Room", by Sir Twilight King, via Flickr; R: "Waiting Room" by stevelyon, via Flickr

"Manhattan Adult - 346 Broadway - 3rd Fl. Waiting Room" by NYC Department of Probation, via  Flickr

"Manhattan Adult - 346 Broadway - 3rd Fl. Waiting Room" by NYC Department of Probation, via Flickr

"The Waiting Room", by maskingtape, via  Flickr

"The Waiting Room", by maskingtape, via Flickr

"The Waiting Room", by Donna JW, via  Flickr

"The Waiting Room", by Donna JW, via Flickr

"Understood more clearly at which points Foucault harder to understand and at which points easier: harder to understand when sentence was long and noun identifying subject of sentence was left back at beginning, replaced by male or female pronoun, when forgot what noun pronoun replaced and had only pronoun for company traveling through sentence. Sometimes pronoun then giving way in mid-sentence to new noun, new noun in turn replaced by new pronoun which then continued on to end of sentence. Also harder to understand when subject of sentence was noun like thought, absence, law; easier to understand when subject was noun like beach, wave, sand, sanatorium, pension, door, hallway, or civil servant." [1]

"IL-Wood River - waiting room", by plasticfootball, via  Flickr

"IL-Wood River - waiting room", by plasticfootball, via Flickr

"Before and after sentence about sand, civil servant, or pension, however, came sentence about attraction, neglect, emptiness, absence, or law, so parts of book understood were separated by parts not understood. Put down Foucault and pencil, took out notebook and made note of what was now at least understood about lack of understanding reading Foucault, looked up at other passengers, thought again about argument, made note of same question about argument as before though with stress on different word." [1]

"Waiting Room Chairs", by mixie on film, via  Flickr

"Waiting Room Chairs", by mixie on film, via Flickr


Behemoths of North Brooklyn II: 55 Meserole Street

"John Carl Warnecke (February 24, 1919-April 17, 2010) was an architect based in San Francisco, California, who designed numerous notable monuments and structures in the Modernist, Bauhaus, and other similar styles. He was an early proponent of contextual architecture. Among his more notable buildings and projects are the Hawaii State Capitol building, the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame memorial gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery, and the master plan for Lafayette Square (which includes his designs for the Howard T. Markey National Courts Building and the New Executive Office Building).

Warnecke opened an office in New York City in 1967, hiring noted architects Eugene Kohn in 1967 and Sheldon Fox in 1972. By 1977, his company, John Carl Warnecke & Associates, was the largest architectural firm in the United States. But in his late 50s, Warnecke began reducing his active involvement in his architectural practice. Warnecke purposely downsized his firm as he approached retirement, not wishing for his firm to continue after his death." [1]

via Google Maps

via Google Maps

"The summer I worked for John Carl Warnecke, who just passed away at age ninety-one, I was asked to find some examples of past work the firm had done for a presentation. I went rooting through the archives and kept coming upon, amid a great deal of rather mediocre projects this huge firm had produced, beautiful designs filled with natural light that ran across sensuous white forms. I started pulling these images until my supervisor told me to put them back. They were all designs by Bill Pedersen. I was told the story, which I cannot verify, that one day Gene Kohn, the firm’s rainmaker, went to Warnecke and told him that he wanted to be a partner. 'There is only one name on the door,' the imposing former Stanford football star said; 'And that’s me.' The story continues that Kohn walked out with one arm around Pedersen and the other around his Rolodex to found Kohn Pedersen Fox, which within weeks had stolen most of Warnecke’s clients. By the time I arrived in the summer of 1982, what was once one of the country’s largest firms was trying to revive its fortunes through joint ventures with Michael Graves (they did the Humana Building together) and Frank Gehry. Steve Harris, the man who introduced Michael Graves to poché planning, was there designing a city in Saudi Arabia. None of it lasted.

Warnecke retreated to his ranch on the Russian River, leaving the firm to limp on for another decade or so. Gone were the glory days when he was Jackie Kennedy’s favorite architect, designing buildings for the Feds all over the world, including an office building right next to the White House and JFK’s gravesite. What Warnecke still had was great stories, and I am glad to hear that he finished his memoirs before he passed away." [3]

"I am sad to say that Warnecke stood for the worst in American architecture in some of its worst decades. He started in the 1950s by designing beautiful school buildings in the Bay Area, and was one of the first designers to try to adapt the abstractions of modernism to local traditions and climates, both there and in Hawaii. It was the reason he won the White House commissions in the first place. By the 1980s, however, he was creating such monstrosities as the AT&T Long Lines Building in Lower Manhattan, a windowless behemoth whose mass he accentuated, rather than attenuated, through an attempt to sculpt its top. Much of the work was a kind of weakened modernism that combined bombast with bad proportions.

It was especially difficult to see because, first of all, he was such a charming man and, second, few other architects with large-scale commissions knew what to do. Postmodernism was teaching us that we had to refer to and learn from history, but nobody knew how to make columns work at the scale of a skyscraper (they don’t).  Kevin Roche—whose brilliant early efforts when he continued Saarinen’s office were brutal, but clear and clean—was trying, and the results were worse than the products of Warnecke’s offices. Even Skidmore Owings and Merrill had lost the gridded path. 

I had fun in the office, and worked on some projects I wish had been built. Jack Warnecke was always supportive, not only of me, but of many young designers and critics who passed through his office and orbit. I prefer to remember him as the man who had an eye for talent such as Pedersen and Harris, who was earnest and concerned about architecture’s role, and who was a raconteur who knew how to live his life with gusto. I hope that life and those intentions, not his buildings, will be what we remember." [3]