A Truly American Experience


exploiting-the-blackbox

NEWS: my academic work of the last two years has finally come to its end, concluding in a Master’s Thesis book called “Exposing the Data Center”. Done and done!

Abstract of the thesis is as follows:

“Given the rapid growth in the importance of the Internet, data centers – the buildings that store information on the web – are quickly becoming the most critical infrastructural objects in the world. However, so far they have received very little, if any, architectural attention. This thesis proclaims data centers to be the “churches” of the digital society and proposes a new type of a publicly accessible data center.

The thesis starts with a brief overview of the history of data centers and the Internet in general, leading to a manifesto for making data centers into public facilities with an architecture of their own. After, the paper proposes a roadmap for the possible future development of the building type with suggestions for placing future data centers in urban environments, incorporating public programs as a part of the building program, and optimizing the inside workings of a typical data center. The final part of the work, concentrates on a design for an exemplary new data center, buildable with currently available technologies.

This thesis aims to:
1) change the public perception of the internet as a non-physical thing, and data centers as purely functional infrastructural objects without any deeper cultural significance and
2) propose a new architectural language for the type.”

If this sounds interesting, make sure to get in touch and request a copy of the publication. I believe you can also find it in the Virginia Tech library. Please don’t hesitate to shoot me an e-mail if you want to help me take this work further in the form of lectures, talks, advance research or actual construction.

Cheers,

Ivan

 

P.S. A few snippets from the final “book”:

 

What is the "cloud"?

What is the “cloud”?

 

What we thought was ephemeral, is actually very physical: the rise of silicon materiality

The cloud – that we thought was ephemeral – is actually very physical. It signifies the rise of a “silicon materiality”.

Ivan-Sergejev_Master's-Thesis_Exposing-the-Data-Center_03

Data centers, spread out across the city, form a rhizome. They contribute to their surroundings via their unique spatial features, and become public spaces.

Ivan-Sergejev_Master's-Thesis_Exposing-the-Data-Center_04

They could be anything.

Ivan-Sergejev_Master's-Thesis_Exposing-the-Data-Center_05

A case study of a new-age super-dense data center on Broadway.

Ivan-Sergejev_Master's-Thesis_Exposing-the-Data-Center_06

As seen from Lafayette St…

Ivan-Sergejev_Master's-Thesis_Exposing-the-Data-Center_10

…and from Broadway.

Ivan-Sergejev_Master's-Thesis_Exposing-the-Data-Center_07

In section.

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In plan.

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Exposing the structure within.

1) Alright, you’ve gotten in. You’ve read all of books by OMA and about OMA. You’ve studied their projects and seen all the lectures by all the partners a dozen times. You think you know exactly “how it’s done”. You’re wrong.

2) Architecture is 98% “production”.

3) Never do anything half-way. If you are given a task, do it to the maximum, all the way until you either run out of time, or collapse and can do nothing any more.

4) Stress is the best motivator. That is why you produce your best work when you sleep 4 hours a night and work like crazy towards a deadline just a few days away. Masochistic, but great.

5) If you are asked “A”, answer “A”. But before you answer, make sure you know everything about, under, over and to the sides of “A”. It’s like chess: you don’t only make a move, you predict and proactively address every issue arising from your move (hey, isn’t that what architecture is all about anyway?). You have derivable questions answered before they are asked.

6) However, there is a fine line between not doing enough and doing too much. Routinely produce more than is expected, but make sure not to get carried away to the point where your supervisor/client/colleagues have no clue what you are talking about.

7) And remember: trying to put effort and pay into the same equation is non-sense.

8) Expect there to be no time for yourself. Watch “Devil wears Prada” to get an idea of what I mean.

9) However, whenever there happens to be free time, be militantly protective of it.

10) There will always be people you will not be able to get along with. Don’t fight it. Treat them with respect at all times. Don’t be emotional. Professionalism and self-possession are key in business – just look at Sho or Rem during client meetings.

11) Submission to office culture is better than fighting it. Fighting from start leads nowhere. Starting with submission and then gaining independence as you grow is the best strategy. And once you are there, stick to your guns.

12) Remember: “No Bullsh*t!”

13) However, never say you are not sure if you can perform a certain task, even if you aren’t. Say “YES”.

14) In the process, if unsure – ask. Do not waste your and other people’s time guessing. Wasted time at OMA is much more hazardous than asking a “stupid” question.

15) Identify the challenge and attack it right away. Do not procrastinate.

16) If you are overwhelmed by your “To Do” list, pick one item and do it. It is better to have one thing actually done than a hundred of “brilliant ideas” in merely an idea state.

17) Therefore, learn to work with imperfect but readily available givens. If you continue hunting for the perfect image to start photoshopping, you will keep looking and will never start working at all. So just start using what you have and produce an awesome piece of work anyway.

18) While en-route, remember: keeping your iteration cycle short is the key to producing great work. It’s ok to start with a sh*tty mock-up – just make sure it communicates your idea and you do it asap. Once you’ve shown it to your client/ colleagues/ boss and solicited feedback, you fix it. And again. And again. And again. You’ll be surprised how awesome it will turn out in the end.

19) Don’t think that if you will make it to OMA, you will be a happier person. You might be – for a bit (actually for one moment – the moment you receive the call), but in reality there is no direct relation between being happy and being at OMA. There are a lot of unhappy people at OMA. Probably even more so than in a lot of other places.

20) Disregard the previous point, because it is awesome to work at OMA regardless. As a matter of fact, this has probably been the happiest period of your life so far.

It is incredible to see how all this teamwork results in one presentation that then goes on to all the corners of the world; how behind a single project, a single presentation, there is a whole team of ultra-dedicated architects and designers who will go without sleep or food to make their “baby” perfect; incredible how easy, casual and natural it all seems in the end and what the reality of the design process actually is. Just incredible.

One of these days I’ll have to write

an ode

to a 5-minute break during a typical busy day

at OMA…

I can’t imagine,

What life would be without it.

*smiley*

I thought I’d brag just a bit, if you guys don’t mind.

I was recently honored to be the first student ever to get an exclusive profile featured in the Virginia Tech’s “Global University” newsletter. GU is a publication devoted to acknowledging and promoting Virginia Tech’s international accomplishments. Take a look at the spread with my profile below:

Click on the image to see it in full size

If you are interested in the whole publication, here is a link where you can find pdf’s of all their issues so far:

Virginia Tech Global University Newsletter

Huge thanks to the GU for the interest in my work and the honor of being featured!

Underneath the Brooklyn Bridge, DUMBO. A pretty surreal experience...

It’s been a while I wanted to post this. Meet my absolutely favorite house in Blacksburg, VA:

copyright: Ivan Sergejev

I hope everyone notices that it is suspended. Amazing, isn’t it? I’ve never seen this in Europe, but here – it’s a common thing. For me, this embodies the American attitude towards a house, as envelope – modifiable, expandable, expendable, movable, temporal, “in suspense”, but still “home”. A “Flying American”.

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