Things slow down at night. Not only in the night that follows each day, but in the longer night that follows any sunnier, brighter, and more lucid time—if, indeed, such ever existed. In any event, night’s slowness leads to contemplation, and particularly of those questions that are easy to avoid in the active, distracting light of day. These are the more difficult questions that we don’t know how to answer and that disturb us, unsettling our otherwise comfortable lives, cushioned as they are by soft layers of assumptions about architecture—what it is, what it should be, how to make it and for what purposes. The toughest questions always challenge ideas and attitudes that we take for granted as unassailable givens or truths. Well, you see, the night’s still young and I’m already philosophizing….

Leb’s All-Night Café works this way. It’s always open, of course, and there’s a Menu of questions cooked up by readers and selectively served by—who else?—the counterman, Leb. Whenever one of our regulars drops in for a bite, they look over the Menu, pick something they’d like to chew on, and write their thoughts about it in the Comments section, for all to read. Nothing complex about it, except the questions and, probably, the comments. The aim is twofold: to clearly state a question (not as easy as it may sound), and to at least move in the direction of (not too easy) answers.

It’s not difficult to imagine, for example, that a commenter might focus on sharpening and clarifying a question, as a first step in the right direction. Or, that commenters might get into a discussion with each other, by commenting on each other’s comments. Or, that commenters might offer yet more questions that they believe underlie an issue framed by a question on the Menu, putting us futher away from answers. Or, that a commenter might offer a straitforward answer that they claim to be definitive. All options are on the table, er….the counter.

This café has been opened with the idea that, in a small corner of the world, those of us concerned with architecture’s future will—however diverse our points of view— find common ground and purpose in identifying and opening up the crucial issues shaping it.


A few of the regulars: Michael Bell, Manuel DeLanda, Beatriz Colomina, Steven Holl, Diane Lewis, Thom Mayne, Michael Sorkin, Christine Boyer, Anthony Vidler, Aleksandra Wagner, Christoph Kumpusch, Mark Wigley, Deborah Natsios, John Young….

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