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A grayscale picture consisting of curvy lines and circles that show neutrino interaction in the Fermilab 15-foot Bubble Chamber with heavy neonhydrogen liquid mixture, taken in April, 1976.
Picture of neutrino interaction in the Fermilab 15-foot Bubble Chamber with heavy neonhydrogen liquid mixture taken in April, 1976.

What’s with that name?

The word ‘polytekton’ comes from the Greek poly-, meaning ‘many,’ and tekton, a common term for artisan or craftsman; loosely translated polytekton means: the maker of many [beautiful] things…

What do we do?

• We edit, design, and maintain graphic media (book interiors/covers and websites) as well as physical artifacts (from ceramics and prints to buildings and their interiors).

• Our clients include publishing houses (Routledge/Taylor & FrancisCulicidae Press, LLC and Culicidae Architectural Press (both peer-reviewed), Hog Press (independent and non-profit), Musca Press, Zanzara PressObvious Press, and non-profit institutions, for example the Brauer Museum at Valparaiso University.

• We disseminate our work online and in person.

• We strongly believe in giving back to the community. That is why about 50% of our work is pro-bono, benefitting non-profit and educational institutions, such as the Southeast Chapter Society of Architectural Historians, the Architecture, Culture, and Spirituality Forum, The Alachua Consort baroque music ensemble, The International Women Composers LibraryHog Press, and others…

• We share prose and poetry at a rather infrequently written blog titled notArchitecture

A portfolio of polytekton, chronicling work that we completed in the last thirty years, is available in separate volumes through Obvious Press.

Interested in hiring us? Drop us a line…

Who is polytekton?

polytekton is the synonym of Mikesch Muecke, a German-born designer and academic who lives and works in the United States and other temporary international locations. 

polytekton’s work is disseminated through academic, commercial, and philanthropic venues that are part of a larger network of interdisciplinary endeavors concerned with the built and unbuilt environment in its material, historical, cultural, theoretical, and temporal representations (see the om page for links). To say it differently, I (or we, the royal we of The Big Lebowski) enjoy the following activities: to imagine, draw, think, make, build, write, design, and publish.

Currently polytekton makes the bulk of his living and working at Iowa State University (ISU) in the Department of Architecture where, in his role as an academic pinch hitter, he teaches—or has taught—studios at almost any level of the professional undergraduate BArch and the professional MArch degrees, and leads history/theory seminars as well as digital content courses.

In its earlier incarnation—as mikeschDesign—polytekton has been web-accessible since the mid-1990s but its origins go back to the 1970s when he began his career as an itinerant artist, producing drawings, paintings, and murals on automobiles and buildings in Germany and Canada (there may still be a mural of the Neuschwanstein castle on a house in Bowden, Alberta that he painted in 1979), then advancing this diffuse artistic vector many years later—following an academic career—into a full-time calling as a designer, researcher, scholar, and teacher.

Painting a car in 1980 with three children, from the now defunct Kinderheim Wiehmbeck, looking on.

Since 1979 polytekton’s scope has progressively broadened and deepened to include architectural design, book-publishing, graphic- and web-design, ceramics, print-making, as well as more conventional design-build projects such as condominium conversions, house renovations, and small buildings. This material work has been enhanced by academic schooling with degrees from the University of Florida (B.Design with a Major in Architecture and an MArch) and Princeton University (post-professional MArch and Ph.D.).

Something More Vague Perhaps?

A First-Person Mythological Narrative

How to cultivate an identity in the here and now is always grounded in a well-maintained mythology derived from an increasingly hazy past. So, let me remember spending hours in a forest adjacent to Spork-Eichholz, a small village near Detmold, Germany, where I may have grown up for the first seven years of my life. This is where I created perhaps imaginary places in my head, where I could have played on the harvested wheat and barley fields to the north of our rental apartment, where I probably, but not certainly, ran with kites in the Fall, and bicycled—perhaps furiously—during the long summers.

This is where I could have learned to whistle because the door bell of the house, to which I was delivering the news magazine Der Spiegel every week, appeared not to work. The village, I vaguely remember now, was the site of an inconsequential accident but a persistent memory. I may still wear a scar on my lower arm from scraping along a car parked next to my falling bicycle, a bicycle that felt different to me because it belonged to a friend, and my kinesthetic frame had not yet adjusted to it. That accident probably taught me the concept of difference, at age six.

Quite a few years later, right about now, or maybe a few weeks or months ago, I want to believe that those hours spent imagining, playing, whistling, and falling in three dimensions gave me a well-rounded foundation to become both a designer (in the sense of pro-jecting ideas into the present and future through representations like drawings, models, etc.) and a scientist, if we understand scientists not only as nerdy professors in white lab coats but also as innovative tinkerers who desire to learn. After all, the word ‘science’ derives from the Latin ‘scire’, to know, and the word ‘design’—in my German mother tongue I would use the word ‘Entwurf’—is a kind of throwing-out-into-the-world of something that has not existed before, an invention of sorts; something new to know.

Let me conclude this brief fictional and mythical life overview with a favorite author of mine, the late Kurt Vonnegut Jr., not only because he carefully crafted his stories but perhaps also because, with his craggy face, he looked a little like my late father (who didn’t work as a freelance writer like Mr. Vonnegut but as a newspaper journalist at the Lippische Landeszeitung in Detmold, Germany). Vonnegut, not my father, wrote in 2007:

The very best thing you can be in life is a teacher, provided that you are crazy in love with what you teach, and that your classes consist of eighteen students or fewer. Classes of eighteen students or fewer are a family, and feel and act like one.

I am a teacher…and a maker.

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