Maintenance Criticism – #2 (2006)

I was responding to a comment today about “Maintenance Criticism,” and I remembered that two years ago I  completed an earlier installation engaging with the subject of architectural maintenance as critique. 

The images below were for a student-run, faculty competition in 2006 (at my previous gig at PSU). Faculty were asked to design something that negotiated architectural “weathering.” I think the students were inspired by the David Leatherbarrow book on the subject.

For my entry, I met with some of the people that cleaned the architecture school and asked if I could make an installation for the competition about the weathering that occurs through their labor. The cleaners and machines they use slowly transform the color of the exposed concrete floor. I also thought it would be clever if I, as the full-time history/theory faculty member, limited my “design” to just the use of words. The semi-permanent stencils can be pulled off in two years, revealing the difference in floor color that occurs through these people’s work. I called the entry “Local 8” after the name of the labor union that organizes the cleaning crews at the school. We also happened to win the competition.


  1. t

    wording design

    That was an interesting approach to the ‘design problem’ as the tools of architectural representation are usually drawings and models. One can definitely argue for the inclusion of theoretical text, as it is also a means of proposing intent. But the words that you used were more than intent. They were/are physical. So, through the installation you’ve left a mark and provoked, which is the aim of good design. Years after you’ve left, your ‘tag’ is still there. It reads quietly, ‘David was here’… graffiti ?
    Now members of ‘Local 8’ have to work harder to remove your mark… by extension ‘weathering’ the building at a faster rate.

  2. dlgissen

    Thanks for the comment “t”; and you make a good point that I did not consider: the words were physical — like a stone wall etched with phrases or names.

    After writing the post I asked someone from the school to take a shot of the hallway as it is now. Apparently the stencils were removed last year. We will see if it worked as intended.

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