Richard F. Hansen Lecture in Architecture
In the wake of Haight-Ashbury’s legendary Summer of Love in 1967 and the People’s Park movement in Berkeley a few years later, and in the midst of the ongoing US-led war in Indochina, disenchanted California hippies did not only head back-to-the-land when seeking to experiment with alternative environments and forms of life. In June 1970 a disillusioned group from the Bay Area rented a vacant six-story industrial warehouse in downtown San Francisco and founded Project One as an urban commune of architects, artists, filmmakers, musicians, craftspeople, and, in turn, video and media collectives and computer programmers.
Like other aspects of the California counterculture, Project One was haunted both by war and technologies born of the Space Race, and it served as an intense environment for negotiating communal ways of life and the networks to which they gave rise. Focusing on Resource One — a group of computer programmers within the commune who remarkably acquired an SDS940 computer — along with the media collective Optic Nerve and their 1972 video, Project One, this lecture will trace how Project One served, for a short while, as a key node within the emerging communication networks of the 1970s. Moreover, it will put this late moment of the alternative culture of the 1960s into a dialog with British critic Reyner Banham who in 1971, and with typical lyrical flair, incisively revealed the limitations of ideals of alternative networks and emergent models of participation in architecture.