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Simple. Not Simplistic. A book by Aaron Mark.


geometric history The following ten pages contain selected examples of architecture studio projects completed prior to Simple. Not Simplistic. While none of the geometries shown are duplicates of one another, they all fall into the same family of shapes.


SIMPLE NOT SIMPLISTIC People often get words that sound the same with like definitions confused for one another. Simple and Simplistic and Complex and Complicated are tragic examples of this type of confusion. I am interested in simple design ideas rather than complicated ones. To be simple is not to be simplistic. To be simply stated is to be concise. To be simplistically stated is to be naive about how complex an idea is. To be complex is not to be complicated. Having a complex idea is to understand that there are many inter-related parts. Having a complicated idea is to not understand the inter-related parts. I believe that confused architecture is bad even if it looks interesting or even if it looks beautiful. My intent is to create architecture that is clear conceptually, formally, and functionally but not be naive about what it is. Architecture is inherently complex. Architectural designs that should always be thought about and understood as inter-related. Complicating what these are leads to a confused architecture. Simple and complex are both acceptable. Simplistic and complicated are sins. My preoccupation with particular geometric forms has largely influenced my work for several years. In the past, there has been little investigation of a particular family of re-occuring geometry. Projects have developed, for better or worse, with out realizing or addressing how these specific geometries can impact or drive an architecture. In this book, I have integrated significant investigation into the implications of geometry as it is applied to the forming of buildings of particular site and program. Lot-Ek has asked us to make physical concepts. For me, these physical concepts have started with geometric statements. In each of the five buildings we were asked to make, I aspired to use geometric statements to invent solutions that address the complexity of program and inhabitation. This book is an exploration of the potential of simple geometries as spatial devices.


3. Health Club

2. Storage

5. Hotel


1. Retail 4. Theater

FIVE BUILDINGS. Given five opportunities to explore the insertion of formal studies into urban context, in each chapter, geometric study adapts to program and setting Five unique sites along New York City’s High Line are given for five general program types: Retail, Storage, Health Center, Theater, and Hotel. Each site provides a new set of characteristics and limitations that influence the proportions and applications of a desired form requiring a balance of geometric purity and programmatic practicality.


1. Retail 4. Theater

FIVE BUILDINGS. thrift store for ideas Given five Store opportunities explorea the The Thrift for Ideastofeatures insertion into urban showroomof thatformal seeks studies the collaboration context, in eachof chapter, geometric and the evolution original ideas study to program and setting throughadapts the selling of novelty. Here, individuals can purchase patented ideas Five unique sites New discarded York City’s or inspiration that along have been High Line are given for five general by creative people. program types: Retail, Storage, Health Center, and Hotel. Each site The openTheater, air structure allows for provides a new set of characteristics and an open exchange ideas and limitations thatAinfluence the proportions accessibility. viewing space at the and applications of acts a desired form level of the High Line as a visual requiring a balance of geometric link between occupants of the Highpurity Line and programmatic the showroom.practicality.


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1. The display space fills the interior of the show room, maximizing the density of displays allowed at the Thrift Store. 2. The viewing space from the High Line allows visitors of the park to look into the show room.


Ground Plan


Second Floor Plan


Roof Plan


Site Plan


3. Health Club

2. Storage

5. Hotel


Totem storage The Totem Storage Space is a facility for placing small personal items of large sentimental value. The goal of the architecture is to emphasize the impact of an individual’s experience with their personal item. A dense field of storage units within and above the mass in addition to the sea of letter boxes at the ground level of the site creates a large scalar shift from outside and inside. The heavy mass touches the ground selectively limiting accessibility in order to promote privacy.


1. The entrance from the High Line limits separates totem storage from the letter boxes at the ground level. 2. Personal items are stored within 8x8x8 inch boxes that exist within a field of storage cells at the roof level.

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Ground Plan


Second Floor Plan


Roof Plan


Site Plan


3. Health Club

2. Storage

5. Hotel


Dive and Climb This health club utilizes a repeated series of mirrored frusta units which house artificial climbing rocks and pools of water for diving determined by orientation and depth. The interior forms of each unit vary in tilt and depth to provide several difficulty levels for both diving and climbing accomodating a range of fitness levels. In addition to holding personal fitness functions, each unit also acts as a light well that tunnels diffused light onto the site below.


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1. The deepest diving units go up to a depth of 40 feet, allowing for scuba training. 2. Entrance to the health club at the High Line level through the easiest difficulty-level rock walls offered at the facility. 3. In addition to the High Line Level Entrance, more difficult climbing units can be accessed from the ground level where climbers can hook onto automated belay devices.


Diving units range from most easy and shallow to most difficult and deep.


Climbing units range in difficulty based on overall height and the tilt of the interior surfaces.


Ground Plan


Second Floor Plan


Roof Plan


Site Plan


1. Retail 4. Theater

FIVE Concert BUILDINGS. Wheel Given The Concert five opportunities Wheel uses atoradial explore the insertion formationof of formal frusta units studies to direct into urban a context, centralizedin focal eachpoint chapter, from allgeometric audience study members adapts to conductors to programand andalso setting individual focus to specific musicians Five of the unique ensemble sites beyond. along New Audience York City’s High members Line occupy are given units for in pairs fiveabove general program ground while types: musicians Retail, perform Storage,below. Health Center, Theater, and Hotel. Each site provides A reflecting a new pool setatofthe characteristics ground level and of limitations influence the proportions the projectthat visually completes the ring and of theapplications geometry that of isapartially desiredhidden form requiring below ground. a balance of geometric purity and programmatic practicality.


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1. The entry of to the Concert Wheel leads to the center of the ring where all participants of the show are visible. 2. Each audience cell points specific views towards the center and to an individual musician’s cell beyond.


Ground Plan


Second Floor Plan


Roof Plan


Site Plan


3. Health Club

2. Storage

5. Hotel


Hotels Field The hotel operates as a field below ground, a field at ground, and a single large module very high above ground. In this project, an array of a single geometry operates in a field condition generating spaces varying in levels of intimacy. Hotel units in the field function at a domestic scale which is contrasted by communally scaled auditorium spaces contained in the large module sitting above.


1. Hotel are divided intolevels two levels 1. Hotel units units are divided into two to take advantage of form the interior to take advantage of form the interior the geometry. spacespace of theofgeometry. 1. Hotel units are divided into two levels to take advantage of are formlocated the interior 2. Points of entry 2. Points of entry are located where where site space ofrestrictions the geometry. site prevent units from restrictions prevent units from operative operative as hotels. as hotels. 2. Points of entry are located where site prevent units from operative 1. 1. restrictions as hotels.

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3. Smaller auditorium spaces accommodate smaller audiences for more intimate functions. 3. Smaller auditorium spaces accommodate smaller audiences for


At the highest level, large auditorum spaces accommodate large masses of people.


Smaller auditorium spaces are located below larger auditoriums.


Ground Plan


Second Floor Plan


Roof Plan


Site Plan


This book was made in spring 2012 under the guidance of Lot-Ek Studio (Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano) and Thomas de Monchaux at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation.



Simple. Not Simplistic.