Something Else is a site for the studio of Erik Chu

By day, I am a professional architect and planner. But in the evening, I admire the magic of the Tao and long for something else. This site is a record of these meditations.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Dream Deferred

Growing up Asian in the United States is not easy. There have been moments when I have felt anger and rage. How I have dealt with these strong emotions largely defines my character.

Humor, grace and toughness allow me to coexist in a country where an ingrained prejudice against Asians is not uncommon. Those who react crudely and trivially toward people with Asian features like me fail to understand me as an individual. Moreover, they are blind to the significant contributions Asian cultures might bring to America.

Despite all this, I find I am more driven to better understand the culture of my ancestors and to build a better bridge between the United States and Asia. But there have been barriers yet to be broken.

Perhaps the next generation of Asians in America will fare better. In the meantime, I continue to work to rid the United States of its provincialism and its limitations.

Image of Chinese artist Ai WeiWei Dropping a Ming Dynasty Urn. Working in the opposite direction, Ai WeiWei works hard to break China from its own provincialism.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lincoln Center Reborn

The recent work of Diller Scofidio + Renfro at Lincoln Center has been breathtaking.

The stunning incision to Alice Tully Hall never fails to astound me with the life that has been brought out to the street. The new fountain, glass canopies, entrances and car drop-off shimmer with a sense of rebirth. Cool, elegant and open-armed – the new elements set off the older elements in a way that seems to give the older elements greater stature.

The best aspects of the new design reverse an attitude of hostility toward the urban context. Where the original design isolated itself from the city, the new elements embrace the city in a more playful, engaging way. Bravo!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Early FOG

I have always preferred the work of the early Frank O. Gehry over the later Frank.

The early Frank, the pre-Bilbao Frank, is an architect hell-bent on expressive form within a limited budget.

A beautiful example is the unbuilt Wagner House of 1978. The simple play of geometry against a steep slope produced a building with a tremendous sense of movement -- as if the whole structure has begun to tumble down the hill.

In homage, I have constructed a simple 3D model:

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Keys To a Low-Key Generation

The generation after the Baby Boomers has long recognized that it does not have the demographics, the sheer numbers, to be the majority influence on power and culture in the United States.

But it does have time on its side.

From the sidelines it has watched the Boomers crash and burn; and make reckless claims and unfulfilled promises. In the arts, spectacle reigned supreme. All this apparently has come to close with the crashing of the economy. A space has opened up for the younger generation to define itself. What does the future hold?

As a member of this Low-Key generation, I think the new direction in the arts is OBVIOUS. It is less a reaction against the previous generation, and more of a matter of self-definition.





Modest and pragmatic may not hold much attraction to the Boomers. But to a Low-Key generation it has been a method to make sense of the madness leftover from the Boomer’s party.


Below is an excellent example of Tao imagery: