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Elevation drawing of a food truck with patented roof sign device.
Georgia Pogas and Michael DePrez
Student Work M.Arch M.S. AUD

PENDING: Architectural Patent Office (APO)

289 Technology Seminar
2020

Amazon’s underwater storage facilities, Thomas Edison’s single pour concrete houses, Frank Lloyd Wright’s structural glass, Apple Store features, and Junya Ishagamai’s ‘Architecture as Air’ point to just a few 20th Century patents that punctuate an uncharted history of architectural technology.

Looking further back, the introduction of intellectual property protection can be traced to Ancient Greece, and was later formalized by the Venetian Patent Statute of 1474 in Venice, Italy. But despite these places doubling as two of civilization’s most significant testbeds for invention in architecture, our discipline rarely engages with the protection of its own making beyond the conventional discourses of authorship and style.

Proposed as a quasi Architectural Patent Office (APO), this seminar assembles a group of students to explore the novel, practical, intellectual and technological application of architectural patents now. Students will work through patent concepts, designs, legal, and logistical issues related to their own proposed architectural inventions. Through the (APO), our goal will be to fundamentally rethink our relationship to architectural technology – leaving behind the conventional catalog of tools, software, and building systems in favor of architectures that could only be made possible by one-of-a-kind inventions, scratch built technologies, or construction equipment envisioned from the ground up. In this scenario we will not assume technology to be high or low, but simply (as the US Patent Office puts it) new, useful, and not obvious.

The output of (APO) will hover somewhere between speculative design, social fiction, science fiction and reality, and the works will be represented as a contemporary evolution of the rich history of patent and technology drawings.

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Garrett Ricciardi
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