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Paul Kennon: Innovation in architecture (February 19, 1975)01:00:37

Paul Kennon of Caudill Rowlett Scott discusses the importance of education and curiosity in innovation. He states that architecture should be responsive to the basic psychological needs of the population. He emphasizes the importance of the paradigm shift of working within a team environment, stating the team should be intellectually and emotionally energetic. He refers to architecture as an extension of human activity and emphasizes the importance of the concept of indeterminacy within architecture to provide a spatial experience. He discusses technology as the means by which the intangible becomes tangible.

Kennon discusses his firm’s team approach and its goal of amplifying individual strengths within the team. He talks about creating equilibrium within the design process and the matrix of organization. He endorses the systems approach, due to its emphasis on speed of construction and quality of living environment. He then discusses the concept of gaming, defined as a game played within the team which challenges roles in order to establish affinities and zoning. He compares the systems approach to the automotive industry and acknowledges architecture’s need to become more efficient.

Kennon discusses various projects completed by his firm. He discusses the design methodology utilized within certain projects, such as gaming. He also discussed some innovative approaches applied to the New York Philharmonic, implementing computerized ceiling panels. Within the Akron Performing Arts Hall, they reduced the weight of the ceiling utilizing a catenary system, which incorporated stage rigging and located the counterweights in the lobby that served as a sculptural piece. Kennon discusses the implementation of a chassis that provided a functional grid for elements to plug in to for a medical facility interested in keeping spaces flexible.

Kennon discusses various projects that seek to challenge hierarchies and that utilize concepts of gaming, indeterminacy, and energy conservation. In Columbus, Indiana his firm is working on four projects, a school, a bank, a phone company building, and a tennis/golf club. The community school utilized concepts of gaming to develop the program, and incorporated indeterminacy in order to allow the building to serve multiple functions within the community. The bank and phone company building explored the avenues of energy conservation with the incorporation of green elements, while exploiting energy capabilities and challenging norms of human interaction. In the tennis/golf club, they sought to incorporate natural ventilation and a windmill as a supplemental energy conductor.

Kennon discusses design progress and product by looking at the differences between participation and commitment. Kennon reflects on the importance of intellectual, emotional and physical curiosity to produce innovation. He goes on to emphasize architecture’s need to be responsive to the psychological needs of people, the relationships between humans and humans, humans and objects, comfort, security, privacy among other factors.

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