Statement by Dale Laurin, RA, Architect and Adjunct Assistant Professor, CUNY College of Technology
My outrage at the lies that have been told about Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism is exceeded only by my happiness in refuting them.
Concerning the totally unfounded assertion that Aesthetic Realism is against a person's learning elsewhere: At the time I began studying Aesthetic Realism in June 1976, I was also pursuing a master of science degree in Historic Preservation at Columbia University 's Graduate School of Architecture. My study of Aesthetic Realism not only encouraged these studies but also helped me be a more serious, effective student, who graduated with a high grade point average.
As to the ludicrous claim that Aesthetic Realism in some way squelches individual aspirations and achievements, including monetarily: While studying at Columbia, I got a prestigious job with the Historic American Buildings Survey, helping to photograph, measure, and make drawings of several landmark buildings. My consultants and fellow students congratulated me, and did again when I graduated and got a position in one of the oldest and most respected architecture firms in the city. Over the next 26 years at this firm, I was promoted from designer to project architect, to project manager, to associate and received regular salary increases and bonuses. Aesthetic Realism was invaluable to me on a daily basis in terms of my architectural skills, my ability to work well with others, and my levelheaded professionalism—all qualities cited in yearly reviews, as was my study of Aesthetic Realism in more than one.
Other personal pursuits include the following:
A. I participated in design competitions for the National World War II Memorial (exhibited at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC); for the World Trade Center Memorial (currently on view on the competition's website) ; and for a large sports club facility in South America—a competition that I won and which led to a commission for the firm I worked for.
B. I represented this firm at annual conferences of two national sports associations in Orlando , Salt Lake City, Kansas City, Louisville, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Providence, including as a speaker on the subject of sports facility design.
C. As a member of the American Institute of Architects, I proposed a continuing education seminar that was accepted and presented by myself and three colleagues at their 2000 national convention in Philadelphia. This presentation, about Aesthetic Realism's understanding of the cause of the US housing crisis and the solution, has been subsequently given at Boston College, Harvard, NYU and other universities.
D. From the fall of 2006 to the present, I have been an adjunct assistant professor of architecture in the Architectural Technology Department of CUNY's College of Technology. Along with my colleague, Anthony Romeo who is also on the faculty there, we have been guest lecturers at the College's Architecture club, speaking on Aesthetic Realism's understanding of the works of two eminent contemporary designers, Santiago Calatrava and Frank Gehry.
E. These talks are two of dozens we and other colleagues have given in the Architecture and You series, based on Eli Siegel's groundbreaking principle, “All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves." This series has been presented for four (and counting) years at a large public library as well as other libraries and community centers throughout the metropolitan NYC area.
F. I have also presented talks from this series at the “Artists Talk on Art” series at NYC's School of Visual Arts and at the International Hawaii Conference on Arts and Humanities in Honolulu, which brings me to my next point…
Concerning the lie that Aesthetic Realism somehow tethers a person to 141 Greene Street : In addition to the locales mentioned above, during the time I've studied Aesthetic Realism I have traveled to over 40 cities in 25 states, as well as South America, whether on business trips, or to visit my parents and other family members, or see buildings, tour historical sites, and yes—to relax.
I also want to refute the lie that Mr. Siegel was obsessed with getting praise and adulation from his students. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was the most truly modest, unselfish, unsnobbish person I have ever met. He asked that people be critical of everything he said, and he was critical of people whenever they tried to flatter him. “It's not genius,” I once heard Mr. Siegel say emphatically to a person who used that word to describe him: “It's analysis.” In other words, his greatness came from work—diligent, joyful work consisting of careful observation, comprehensive study, the deepest thought — completed by and at one with sheer good will.
It is the honor of my life to have been his student and to continue seeing the truth and beauty of the education he founded, in every class, public seminar, and dramatic presentation I attend.
—Dale Laurin, RA
B. Arch., Carnegie-Mellon U. '73
MS. Historic Preservation, Columbia U. '77
Associate, Urbane Architects
Consultant, Aesthetic Realism Foundation