ELIA S K R U S E L O G A N A Bank [& Trust] For Burbank The Setback Stack Flock Towers Couch[ed] Potato Displaced: A Case for the Glass Half Full The Dome, The Dish, The Difference Chicago Boogie-Woogie Moholy Minaj The Farnsworth House[boat] Mexico City in Memoriam Sin[k] or Swim Δ The Wholebody Center Center Yourself The Boxer Engine House
ELIA S K R U S E L O G A N is a registered architect with interests in representation and rhetoric, energy and ethics, material properties and design methodologies. His experience includes commercial, cultural, and multifamily architectural projects as well as work in allied fields of archaeology, historic preservation, conservation, and construction. He received a Master of Architecture with minor in Community and Regional Planning from Kansas State University and a Master of Architecture II from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Mail 21 Child St #2, Boston, MA 02130 Email email@example.com Phone 785.477.0287
A Bank [& Trust] For Burbank is a set of potentially trustworthy architectural characters grouped about an intersection in suburban Los Angeles. Confronted with a crisis of trust that applied to the studio’s aversion to content (blank), the assigned program (bank), and the stability of the working partnership (Sophie + Eli) the written agreement became an initial tool for developing architectural agreement. An addendum to an ordonnance, a markup of a brief, a rental agreement, and a lien release form informed early projects representing the unruly forms of dolmens, mountains, apartment complexes, and the cautious leanings of a first attempt at making (a) bank.
As doubt, paralleled by the dialectic of flatness and content, gave way to a timid trust advanced through architectural tricks of mass and surface, formal language yielded to acronyms (ATM), compound words (ComericA), and abbreviations (info). Expressed as bits of delaminating foam-core, transformed into architectural mass and surface, and interpreted as vaguely familiar pop objects, the resultant urban ensemble lacks the full sentences of a written agreement but nevertheless invites our trust through effective grunts and awkward gestures. Formal allusions and associations embedded within the group of mass-surface mashups - an unwrapped candy bar, a peeling banana, cardboard boxes with lid flaps aflutter - imbue these characters a kind of architectural agreement. Despite their immediate opacity, and the inapproachable economic infrastructure that they represent, perhaps we are content to take them at face value; perhaps we deeply desire to trust them...
Location Burbank, California, USA Collaboration Sophie Juneau Instruction Anna Neimark, Andrew Atwood Studio Harvard University Date 2017
Ordonnance Addendum Imagine if Perrault had devoted the same degree of attention to dolmens as he did to the classical orders. His regulatory mindset might have confronted the difficulty of representing the shifting configuration of the Dolmen de Vaour over time. Luckily, his legalistic techniques of deconstruction and reconstructiona domestication of form - provide just the framework for the exercise of representing the dolmen’s temporal mutation. The exercise, rewritten as An Ordonnance for Apprehending Dolmens and other Case Studies in Informal Analysis in the Method of the PostDigital Project, was then amended with an addendum that permitted the collapse of multiple spatial and temporal states into a single plane of crudely conjoined sticks and painted shadows.
Brief Markup Imagine a studio brief that begins something like this, “Learning from an existing landscape is a way of being revolutionary for an architect.” It is not hard to do because it has been written before, by Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi in their 1972 studio report Learning from Las Vegas. Their more tolerant way of looking at the nature of a place applies- perhaps all too simplistically - to the foam core formulation of K2 at high tolerance. A Significance for A&P Parking Lots or Learning from Las Vegas became A Tolerance for Foamcore Mountains or Learning from Rude K2 and, along with a rewriting of the project brief, yielded momemts of semantic (peeking peaks) and semiotic (gable signifiers) serendipity on the slopes of the modelled mountain.
Lease Terms Imagine arriving as potential rental tenants in 1965 Los Angeles, cruising the lanes and boulevards in search of a new residence. Scanning through Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip, a nearly-ideal domestic accommodation was discovered in 8535 Sunset Boulevard. While the inverted insideness | outsideness represented by the paired billboards above and linear courtyard below provided a dose of architectural interest, they also prompted anxiety as prospective tenants. The rental agreement, then, became a means of interrogating, adding information, and realizing yet another accidental gable: the billboards when represented at low resolution, stranded without their supporting post, left to lean precariously against each other like parties in a legal agreement.
Lien Release With the condition of ‘lean’ at the forefront of the architectural investigation, a ‘lien’ was drafted as part pun - the initial schematic bank design being quite literally composed of cautious leanings - and part cartharsis - the lien release form granted its filers the ability to freely draw upon the formal tricks developed in the initial exercises in proceeding with the bank design. Whereas the flatness of the formally documented agreements had previously yielded surprising architectural content, embued with a timid supply of trust this dialectic was taken up as a direct architectural investigation of mass and surface. Images of this scheme appear both below and at right, but also on the cover and introductory pages of this portfolio.
Bank usurped by
ATM an acronym
an acronymous architecture
Office occupied by
ComericA a compound word
Corporation + Nation a compound architecture
Information Booth in shorthand is
info an abbreviation
an abbreviated/ abbreviating
Bank Box #2 [of 3] The AToMized branch bank finds its form in the acronym. The already compact type is split into discrete ‘grunts’; the ATMs themselves, a volume accommodating reception and face-to-face financial operations, another holding vital electronic functions, and still another housing offices and a drive-thru teller. The latter of these crude stucco shapes is represented in isolation here. Conceptually the box is but a piece of fuzzy foamcore with its smooth sandwich outerlayer peeled off to agitate, animate, prop up, carve out, even offer shade to the form below. Realized as a finely perforated metallic screen, the surface reserves the right to do what it might do best of all: assume the familiar pop form of the billboard.
Office Tower While the branch bank has been replaced by an acronym, its parent financial company has taken the form of a compound word that represents both an organizational ownership structure- the corporation- and a nation state - America (“ComericA”). If the consumer point of financial services has been AtoMized, the powers therebehind have done precisely the opposite under late capitalism; bulked up, agglomerated, attempted to escape a clear conception of their own extents. So too, has the form of the tower; composed of a pair of intersecting prisms cloaked by the metallic screen born out of the de-lamination of foam core. The surface peels away to admit light, shelter entries, and define spatial zones upon the ground plane.
The Setback is an exercise in the Stack movement of (inanimate) mass and the amassment of (animate) bodies towards a New-er Museum.
“Him [sic] I call an Architect, who... is able...to compleat [sic] all those works, which, by means of the movement of great weights, and the conjunction and amassment of bodies, can, with the greatest beauty, be adapted to the uses of mankind.” -Leon Battista Alberti ‘De re aedificatoria’ 1443-1452 Rather than an architectural proposal frozen in a false-state of ‘completion’, The Setback Stack is an imagined progression of architectural states from existing to topped-out. Without asserting success, the project attempts to live beyond the three dimensions of x,y, and z; articulating the temporal in addition to the spatial and formal. By rearranging materials endemic to the site, the action and accumulation of visitors are simultaneously modulated into an intensive experience of these materials, their associated forms, and their situation within time. In this way, the proposal plays along with Alberti’s definition of the Architect as one who coordinates the movement of great weights and amassment of bodies towards what might be considered a newly enlightened state of architectural beauty befitting of the institution of the New Museum...
Location New York City, New York, USA Instruction Kiel Moe Studio Harvard University Date 2017
(Some Assembly Required)
Rebellious Teenager; Suburban Father Born out of the sweat-soaked, hormonehemmed punk basements of the Bowery and raised within the curriculum of radical leftist thought at the New School for Social Research, the once-rebellious teenager - the New Museum - has settled nicely into its role as a suburban father. On what grounds do I rest this analogy? The New Museum has not strayed from its mission of showcasing exclusively contemporary art and artists. It has not abandoned the neighborhood of its unruly youthful years for the family-friendly surroundings of the suburbs (although, one could argue the neighborhood is leaving it). And yet, in its current desire for unrequited expansion, the New Museum exhibits the tinkering nature and keep-up-with-the-Jones’ mentality of societally self-conscious (but perhaps not self-aware) middle-age. Ever critical of its establishment curatorial colleagues (The Whitney, MOMA, The Met, let’s call them “The Jones”), the New Museum has now followed these institutions into the grown-up world of real-estatespeculation-for-its-own-sake, evidenced by comments of the institution, the vagaries of the programmatic brief, and unwillingness to further appropriate the existing building at 231 Bowery. Answering the call for a New-er Museum, I propose a project of tinkering in which our suburban father operates with no urgency. The institution capitalizes upon multiple states of novelty by expanding the temporal scale of the new construction into a future in which a carbon-based economy necessitates more conservative operation with regard to material acquisition and scope - if not architectural ambition. Constructional logistics become spectacle, indeed large-scale art installation as 231 Bowery is partially demolished, catalogued, and gradually rearranged to create The Setback Stack. The consolidation of mass upon the site into an inset pile of mono-material boxes grants the museum an amenity (legitimacy?) it always lacked (in the eyes of the Jones?): a public plaza.
Sectional Strata Temporal States The Setback Stack, couched in traditional tectonic terms, is composed of six sectional strata defined by their material composition: in situ brick, relocated brick, concrete, wood, glass, and metal respectively. Expressed temporally, however, these strata - like geologic layers representing various historic epochs - become states. Their stacking, then, speaks to a depositional logic. In this instance, their ordering was determined by a number of factors including an assessment of ‘preciousness’ guided by emergy values (energetic historical record), storage feasibility, load carrying capacity (perceived heavy to light), and - inevitably considerations of aesthetic adjacency.
Material Relocation Formal Derivation As if the act of architecting could not contain the extents of my ego, I proposed the inaugural installation within the plaza created by The Setback Stack. While authorship is undeniable, the form of the piece is as much a reflection of material movement on site during construction as the pure will or creativity of the artist. An instance of each material transposition - brick, concrete wood, glass, and metal - was mapped, vectors connecting the artifact’s origin within the existing building to its eventual resting place within the new addition. The five resultant intersecting loft profiles, scaled and welded, create a monumental sculptural form that operates as both iconic object and spatial delineator within the plaza.
is an architectural inversion - formal, thermal, programmatic. Situated on a coastline cliff on an island in the Mediterranean, the paired towers strategically deploy geometry and materiality to create mirrored thermal conditions of comfort and protection for endangered seagulls. A timid attempt at an architecture designed solely on the basis of thermodynamics, an avian species was selected for the apparently compatibile scientific - rather than subjective - nature of humanity’s understanding of the feathered fowl. Of course, the towers ultimately represent a dual falacy; we possesses complete comprehension of neither the behavior of energy or bird. Instead, the towers attest to assumptions made about both - and an inevitable dose of architectural authorship. Tower #1 (T1) is configured to capture and contain heat propelled by warm evening breezes within a centralized wooden armature or ‘nest’. Particularly comfortable during nighttime hours of the seagull mating season, T1 thus acts as an hourly hotel. Its inverted and interlocking neighbor, Tower #2 (T2) serves a far more kid-friendly purpose. Positioned to channel and accelerate cool morning breezes up its woodlattice lined shaft, the tower acts as a flight academy. Newborns can be flown to the top of the structure by mother gulls and then released, relying upon the updraft to develop wing-flapping functions.
Location Lemnos, Greece Instruction Kiel Moe Studio Harvard University Date 2017
Extensive - Material The design process was guided by a dual conception of the physical properties possessed by any system within thermodynamics; extensive and intensive. The former category is defined as those properties whose magnitude is additive for subsystems, for example the quantity of material. A set, and identical, mass of materials (stainless steel, concrete, glass, and wood) is deployed in each tower. While the composition of the steel, concrete, and glass is identical but inverted, the internal configuration of wood is modulated differently across the two towers to meet varying programmatic and thermal objectives. In Tower #1 (T1) the wood is tightly and uniformly spaced (to create ideal habitation alcoves for mating birds) and placed near the small air entry (to trap moisture). As warm breezes enter they wash over the saturated wood and are gradually cooled. In Tower #2 (T2), the tightly compressed lattice of wood from its neighbor is stretched out, distended, (to create a more even distribution of humidity) and pushed to the perimeter of the tower (to create perching shelves for training birds).
Intensive - Humidity If extensive properties in systems are those whose magnitude is directly variable through addition or subtraction, intensive properties are those independent of the system’s size. Humidity is one such property whose creation and coordination plays a key role within the project. Aforementioned wooden armatures serve to absorb and sponsor humidity that in turn acts to amplify cool breezes entering the tower. In the case of Tower #2 (T2), for instance, the positioning of a moisture-absorbing wood lattice at the base of the tower not only cools breezes entering from the bottom entry, but also draws hot dry (dense) air downwards in a kind of reverse-buoyant downdraft effect during non-training hours. In both towers T1 and T2, these wooden armatures extend to envelope glass ‘eggs’. The tip of these cast glass pieces penetrate the concrete tower envelopes to collect solar heat. As cool, moist breezes flow across the interior surface of the upper half of the egg, additional moisture will be created and fill an idented pool within the lower half of the egg below, creating a thermally tempered bird bath.
Intensive - Heat The movement of heat serves as a second intensive aspect of the towers. Aside from the aforementioned use of materiality to drive the migration of heat via humidity, heat is also directly sponsored by material in the strategic location of stainless steel rods atop T2 and - arrayed to serve within a structural capacity - in T1. In each instance, the placement of this highly conductive material means that it sponsors temperature extremes. In T2, for instance, exposed steel rods serve to superheat or cool the tower’s topmost surface and draw inverse thermally tempered air upwards as an updraft.
T1 Extensive - Material
T1 Intensive - Humidity
T1 Intensive - Heat
T2 Extensive - Material
T2 Intensive - Humidity
T2 Intensive - Heat
Couch[ed] Potato is a of inactivity.
Couch (verb): to lie down. Couch (verb): express in language of a specified style. Couch[ed] Potato harnesses the energy of its namesake root to express caloric consumption that lacks a corresponding exertion. These calories - assumed to be absorbed rather than burned are 'couched' topographically, kinetically, and sonically. Given a dataset composed of a single day’s urban actions of classmates, a specific set of 21 individuals was isolated whom engaged in eating and drinking but no exercise; ‘couch potatoes’ if you will. Arranged in rings by their distance and subdivided by the 24 hours of the day, paths were lifted at points of caloric consumption. The resultant temporal and energetic landscape is subsequently ‘read’ by wheeled feelers suspended from an arm; recalling the operation of a record player. When rotated beneath, the undulating surface forces steel pistons attached to these feelers upwards to contact conductive copper pads. Contact, in turn, closes a circuit wired to the spud battery and an Arduino interface that voices moments of consumption as a series of tones. The revolution of the disc creates an auditory metric of the timing of eating and drinking throughout the day; a caloric symphony (or cacophony) in celebration of the gluttony of ‘couch potatoes’.
Location Boston, Massachusetts, USA Collaboration Michael Clapp, Brad Silling Instruction Robert Pietrusko Studio Harvard University Date 2017
Displaced: A Case For the Glass Half Full is
an optimistic meditation on the paired phenomena of sea-level rise and plastic accumulation within ocean gyres. The project takes the form of a narrative that is equal parts fictive history, projective future scenario, and ultimately a critique of its own premise. In the face of encroaching seas and in the spirit of Bucky Fuller’s admonishment “Don’t fight the forces. Use them,” five islands are developed from gyre plastic to house various discontented demographics. Untethered from the ocean floor, these floating settlements are resilient to rising waters and thus capable of acting as lifeboats for displaced populations. The project depicts these islands in their founding states; a refuge for a repressed Pilgrim population, a new frontier for adventurous Pioneers, a correctional facility for Prisoners. While the islands exploit the resultant resources (waste) of global consumption and sea-level rise, they do little to combat the forces behind the phenomena. A sixth, roaming atoll, then, is developed to manufacture an additional floating construct: the ‘plastiberg’. Home to naturally occurring organisms that harden into a white crust, these artificial icebergs are deployed to Earth’s polar regions to reflect warm sunlight out of the atmosphere (an artificial Albedo Effect) and counter the climate change that is at the root of sea-level rise. In this way, worrisome waste becomes supercharged savior, a project of Displacement becomes indeed an exercise in Replacement, a glass seen half empty is reframed as a glass half full.
Location Various Global Coordinates Instruction Eelco Hooftman, Bridget Baines Studio Harvard University Recognition Harvard Student Art Show 2017 Date 2016
Global Gestalt Archival Model Imagined as a ‘projective artifact’ an object whose structural origins are in the past but whose contents depict future states - this hanging file archive houses a visual record of sea level rise. Each plate depicts opposing continental innundation and gyre accumulation silhouettes at 10m increments. Expected by some experts to occur exponentially as ice caps melt, plates representing sea level rise can be arranged in corresponding slots on the archival axis of time or collapsed to create a cohesive spatial and temporal canyon. Viewing the apparatus, expanded or compressed, from front or rear yields opposing valences of change in the global gestalt; the innundation of existing continents or expansion of oceanic trash ‘continents’.
Projection3 This ‘projective artifact’ takes the moniker quite literally. A rotary slide projector refers to a definition of displacement taken from wave motion, in which any particular particle travels in a circular motion back unto its origin. So too, then, does the narrative sequence depicted by the content of the slides contained herein. A section of slides reprises the global gestalt argument of the archival model before giving way to an incremental illustration of the build-up of a surreal gyre island in the Pacific containing a unique ecology alongside bits of West Coast Americana and Asian urbanism. Given its futureoriented content (projective), the underpinnings of said content (map as projected geometry), and image-delivery method (projection), the artifact can be summarized as a projection of a projection of a projection.
Empire Island Archival Model Synthesizing themes and techiniques from previous ‘projective artifacts’, this archival model demonstrates the incremental accumulation of trash-assubstrate-for-civilization. In the story of Empire Island, three superpowers (China, Russia, and the United States) celebrated the end to animosity between political regimes (the Cold War) by founding a cooperative cross-national community in the North Pacific Gyre which utilizes accumulated plastic as its firmament. In its present state, however, the cooperative spirit has given way to renewed competition for cultural dominance and territorial accumulation. The island has been segmented by three floating barrier walls built ever outwards by colonists to accumulate plastic carried by the spinning currents of the gyre in the name of their home country. Initially encampments - now entire cities - have been constructed between the walls by colonists in a manner that replicates the urbanism of their native lands.
North Pacific Gyre
N 38°2’2” W 166°8’5”
Plastic Gathering Rainwater Collection
North Atlantic Gyre
N 48°1’6” W 140°0’0”
Plastic Gathering Rainwater Collection
North Pacific Gyre
S 20°31’0” W 28°51’0”
Plastic Gathering Rainwater Collection
South Pacific Gyre
S 38° 2’0” W 105°6’2”
Plastic Gathering Rainwater Collection
Indian Ocean Gyre
S 39°43’32” E 78°31’20”
Plastic Gathering Rainwater Collection
Plastic Recycling Biological Material Propagation
Bamboo Farming Staple Crop Farming
Plastic Gathering Plastic Processing
The Plastiberg Formed of collected and compressed ocean gyre plastic, The Plastiberg is the techno-positivist climax of Displacement: A Class for the Glass Half Full. As noted by numerous scientific studies of ocean plastic, this offcast material is gradually lightening the Earth’s watery surface. This process prompts in turn an elevation of the Albedo Effect: the phenomenon in which solar radiation is reflected out of the Earth’s atmosphere. The Plastiberg ratchets up this climate-cooling contribution by concentrating plastic, fostering the growth of naturally occurring bryzoans known to form a reflective white crusty layer atop ocean plastic, and deploying the resultant barges/bergs to the Earth’s poles for maximum solar reraditiative effect. As an added amenity/ failsafe measure, the anthropic icebergs feature a collection reservoir that taps melting (for now) existant icebergs to preserve precious freshwater supplies. An ambitious planetary reorganization of matter, The Plastiberg prototype transforms an unwanted externality into a heroic figure in humanity’s salvation!
Finish Bryzoa aquatic invertebrate
Substrate Plastic compacted human waste product
Interior Freshwater iceberg melt
The Dome, The Dish, The Difference
is an exercise in functional/ formal matchmaking: The Dome Alone. Throughout the history of The Dome, it had sought to unify The Difference gathered below. Diverse crowds of people, an array of objects, and a variety of activities had been made similar within- indeed subservient to- its singular span. For all the ingenuity behind its conception, the effort in its construction, and initial enjoyment of its existence, The Dome had received little gratification of late. It had started to feel awfully lonely at the top. Until, that is, The Dome met The Dish. Rivaling The Dome’s formal pomposity but inverting its concavity, the gleaming surface of The Dish hovered tantalizingly below. The Dome detected another difference; indeed The Difference itself; The Dish sponsored the crowds, objects, and activities so long absent from The Dome but with a new intimacy that resisted its dominance. The price of a renewed humanity would be humility; The Dome had met its match in The Dish. Beyond The Dish, though, still another Difference had appeared. The Dome recognized this in moments where the surface of The Dish had been cut away to reveal the circulation of people below, presumably ambulating towards living units tucked discreetly beneath. Many, when they noticed these penetrations- or the light they shone upon the floor- would pause to gaze directly up; tracing The Dome’s gentle curvature, admiring its ribs and coffers, pondering the shadow upon its oculus, delighting in the nature of form and space. During these one-on-one encounters, The Dome felt not quite as if it had been made new, but that both parties had dismissed any thoughts of origin or fate in favor of appreciation for the present... The Dome Alone, No More.
Location Chicago, Illinois, USA Collaboration Jeffry Burchard, Emily Ashby Studio Machado Silvetti Architects Date 2017
Dish Overlooking the Backyard
Residential Unit Stoop + Public Stair
Lobby Retail + Oculus
Structure + Private Space
The exterior shell of The Dome serves as both container and carrier of memory and is thus treated in a way that both continues aspects of its trajectory of deterioration and corresponds to the new interventions within; creating parallel histories. The history of the shell is selectively accelerated in order to achieve a calcified state of ruination indicative of public presence. The front doors, upper arched windows, and oculus glazing are removed in order to welcome both the public and the weather inside.
On the interior, a parallel history unfolds in the form of a full level of residential units sitting within The Dome. The interior demising walls of these units serve dual functions: 1) in clipping the view of the exterior walls of the former sanctuary, they obscure the historical provenance of both and 2) they form a grid system of load-bearing walls to support The Dish. In this way, the private spaces are not only the financial, but also structural, substrate for the public space above.
Circulation + Public Space
Penetrations; Parallel Histories
A network of stairs and corridors navigates the interventions, relating and distinguishing routes serving private, collective, and public spaces. The existing paired grand stairs remain primary paths but are differentiated upon their arrival to the second level; the southern stair terminates here in the residential corridor while the northern stair punctures a pendentive to connect to The Dish on the third level. Accessing The Dish requires some energetic and cognitive effort, but the reward comes in the form of a delightfully novel spatial experience.
The Dish has been strategically subtracted in four different locations and manners. 1) The stair pierces The Dish to allow public access 2) Running diagonally across The Dish, a narrow strip traces the path of the residential corridor 3) A square subtraction is positioned to offer views of the existing organ pipes when viewed from The Dish and to ‘square the circle’ of The Dome’s oculus when viewed from the ‘backyard’ 4) a cylindrical subtraction communicates the circle of the oculus through elliptical cuts in The Dish and second floor to the lobby below.
Chicago Boogie-Woogie is a re-imagined model of urban ownership
and living on five lots. As part of the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, Krueck + Sexton Architects was charged to respond to the issue of the 13,000 vacant city-owned lots on the West and South Sides of Chicago. Like Mondrian’s canvas composition or the coordinated finger tickling of piano keys and agitated footwork of dancers, (architectural) bars are laid down upon the agglomerated lots in a fundamental break from the typical development pattern. Three volumes are oriented parallel to street and alley, creating interconnected and secure collective courtyard spaces lined with shops and intersected by orchard allees. Albeit inclusive of commercial functions and conscious of developer returns, it is collectivity - not capital - that is prioritized here. Each bar of units accommodates a variablyproportioned, collectively-owned zone between the private space of the bedroom and public spaces of the courtyard containing opportunities for resident interaction. Such an arrangement allows for affordability, diversity, and a healthy sense of community for residents and neighbors. When you own a unit here, you own: a bed a living room a dining room a kitchen a café a restaurant a florist a barbershop a workshop a library You own everything. Even an orchard.
Location Chicago, Illinois, USA Collaboration Mircea Eni, Tom Jacobs, Sean M.S. Kim, Don Semple, Lindsey Telford Studio Krueck + Sexton Architects Recognition Chicago Architecture Biennial BOLD: Alternative Scenarios for Chicago Date 2015
The Prompt Devised by University of Illinois Chicago Professor David Brown, ‘The Available City’ focused architectural efforts upon 13,000 vacant city-owned lots, largely in underserved neighborhoods on the West and South Sides of Chicago. The prompt charged designers to bundle adjacent 25’x125’ lots into more amenable development sites and devote a calibrated percentage of built volume to collective space. While the production and configuration of ‘The Available City’ may have mimicked the famed Chicago Seven townhouse exhibition ‘The Exquisite Corpse’, the latter leveled a stylistic critique inward against an aging architectural orthodoxy, whereas the former reflected an outward focus upon the social agency of architecture to foster a new culture of collective living.
The Process Physical models at various scales served as the primary design tool to explore both the volumetric and spatial qualities of the proposal. While early iterations were devoted to investigations of the continuity of urban grain, sectional manipulation of the ground plane, and exterior unit articulation, ultimately a perpendicular grain, simplified ground plane, and more streamlined volumes arose as the favored approach. This process of painful reduction afforded greater attention to the planning of courtyards, commercial spaces, residential units, and collective spaces.
The Public, The Private, & The Collective In responding to the prompt, it was vital to define various realms of ownership, while simultaneously allowing for connections there-between. The public space is most clearly grasped; simply the ground plane interstices between enclosed volumes on the site. The private and collective differ in their proportion across the three bars. In the streetside volume, for example, private units contain a complete set of residential program and the collective space serves as a shared porch. In the alleyside volume, however, only bedrooms and bathrooms are private while living, dining, cooking, and entertainment functions become collective. In each case, a continuous bookshelf - differently oriented mediates between these two realms.
The Model A lack of realism should not be here mistaken for a lack of resolution. Significant attention - and intention as well - resulted in a pared down graphic reading of the project’s interlocking spatial zones. Rendered in a material whose grain serves as its defining feature, the laminations of plywood are multiplied by building up end grain. This chunk of mono-directional laminate was then incised across the grain to accommodate laser cut contour sections whose outlines collectively form collective space. Solid laminations float within this forest of criss-crossing grain, representing the private end of the spectrum of spatial zones. A finishing touch comes in a finish of brass; orchard allees abstractly indicated by metallic rods marching betwixt private, public, and collective.
The Chicago Architecture Biennial The drawings, model, and text of Chicago Boogie-Woogie were presented alongside eight other ‘Available City’ prompt design respondents as part of the Bold: Alternative Scenarios for Chicago gallery within the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial. Attended by over 31,000 people, the Biennial placed the design within a context of contemporary urban imaginaries including Design with Company, UrbanLab, Port Urbanism, Weathers, JAHN, SOM w/ Cames Gibson, Stanley Tigerman & Margaret McCurry. United in their Chicago-centrism, this cacophony of voices created a pluralist pleasure-garden of future scenarios for the city’s urban development. From the ironic to innovative, futuristic to nostalgic, tall and shiny to low and matte, the gallery portrayed the reality underlying the biennial’s theme ‘The State of the Art of Architecture’ as one of many - often competing - visions for the future of the field.
Moholy Minaj is a
commercial corridor renovation made contemporary media polemic:
Chicago architects tend to take Mies as their daily bread. His aphorisms slip almost involuntarily off the tongue in critiques; his buildings loom over Loop lunching, his curriculum continues to underpin design education. Undeniably, Mies’ influence courses through the architect’s veins like the precisely aligned joints cut across the plaza and up the steely black facades of his Federal Center. His staid presence serves (as it does here) as an anchor within the shifting stylistic sea of 20th century architecture. While many are well-versed in the fairytale of his arrival
in the Windy City, less are as familiar with a fellow Bauhaus transplant whose story unfolded in parallel: László Moholy-Nagy (pronounced muhhoh-lee-noj). The renovation of the Schatz Building in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood offered a chance to engage the legacy of this lesser known modernist. Initially constructed as a bakery, the 1917 masonry structure served as home to Moholy’s studio and American Bauhaus offshoot, the Institute of Design, from 1939-45 (concurrently with the renowned nightclub Chez Paree, which surely made for some creative and entertaining evenings). It was here that Moholy refined his Constructivist aesthetic, conducted early experiments in photography and light
modulation, and integrated the sciences into a curriculum whose impact upon the graphic arts rivaled that of Mies’ IIT upon the field of architecture. In the great tradition of architects [mis]interpreting and naively appropriating the aesthetic sensibility of artists, it was a melding of Moholy’s works that guided the design of the Schatz Building lobby and corridor. Planes and volumes are articulated as autonomous elements, glass panels generate depth and reflection, and pockets of luminosity create moments of intense contrast in reference to Moholy’s exercises in geometric composition, transparency, and modulation of light. It followed, then, that in representing the space we might mimic the graphic principles of our man Moholy.
Composition Z VIII, 1924
Love Your Neighbor, 1925
Location Chicago, Illinois, USA Collaboration Don Semple Studio Krueck + Sexton Architects Client/Contractor Schatz Development Date 2015-2017
Light Space Modulator, 1922-30
More than applying the colors, forms, and figures of his work, however, this representation subtly demands a deeper understanding of the artist by inserting his likeness into the image. Moholy stares into the spatial composition from outside, indicative of his temporal distance from the scene within. His fiery stare, however, betrays no surprise at the sight of the vaguely humanoid, Nick Cave-esque construct recognizable to 21st century folk as musician Nicki Minaj. All of this makes little sense without an understanding of Moholy’s prescience, for which I turn to an excerpt from Thomas Dyja’s book on postwar Chicago ‘The Third Coast’. Lucky for us, he cites our architectural anchor Mies as a point of comparison: “If IIT and the Farnsworth House show Mies celebrating and guiding the industrial might of postwar America, in ‘Vision in Motion’ Moholy looked beyond the smokestacks into the post-industrial age where media had the power to alter man psychologically and physically... Art, he saw, was no longer about mysteries and inspiration; it was about tools and perception. The artist of the future wouldn’t be a genius, he’d be a witness, and his media would be the products of lightphotography, television, and film… Control of the image was paramount.”
In this context, then, Minaj stands in as representative of a contemporary culture flooded by content. In her embrace of all image media (film, photography, fashion), her multiple identities (Female Weezy, Roman Zolanski, Rosa), and her synaptic rap artistry, Minaj is an exemplar of one consumed with- and by- the digital world. A man with “a million ideas a minute” (according to student Katherine Kuh), Moholy too might have found himself quite at home in the informationinundated, image-infested, internet epoch. Even in the 1920’s, however, he cautioned of a darker side to a society dominated by media: “The danger of the photographic medium- including the motion picture- is not esthetic but social. It is the enormous power of mass-produced visual information that can enhance or debase human values. Brutal emotionalism, cheap sentimentality, and sensational distortion can, if they spread unchecked, trample to death man’s newly won ability to see gradation and differentiation in the light pattern of his world.” Passing on the bait to interpret Moholy’s message in realms of greater ramification, the question I pose is this: what is the role of architecture within this light-patterned insta-world?
While architecture may react by aligning itself with the fallacies of permanence and timelessness, it too cannot escape the reality of its matter as a product of lightalbeit travelling at a different speed. Before one interrogates the flawed physical science of this statement, allow me to elaborate: Architecture will never lay claim to the instantaneous impact of the photograph; it will remain a rigorous and time-consuming undertaking. Nor will it ever wield the emotional precision of film; its users will inevitably determine its valence. It can, however, rely upon its superior degree of immersion and broad appeal to the senses; the play of shadows upon a plane of glass fascinates the eye, the resonance of a cathedral nave fills the ears, the fragrance of a cedar-clad cabin tickles the nostrils, the roughness of a bonded brick wall invites the hand’s touch. It is this relationship to the senses, however, that means architecture too is subject to sensational distortion. As we design, then, let us be conscious and committed to the values that we embed within our work (lest they be engineered out). Architecture alongside the rest of the media: undeniably powerful in its cultural capacity and social significance, yet ultimately more ethereal than eternal...
Sequence of Events While initially conceptualized as an excavation of the programmatic poche within the building, the articulation of the evacuated space was underpinned by the artistic experimentation of former tenant László Moholy Nagy. A series of elements and a cohesive material pallette was identified and composed into a series of architectural ‘events’ within the space. Because the space is largely linear, these events are communnicated to the building occupant through time as a succinct sequence; from a recomposed glass arch entry (01), to a ramped corridor (02,03), to an interior corridor and bench cove (04), to the elevator and stair lobby (05,06). As much as a space of passage, however, the building’s anchor tenant- a popular diner- also demanded the inclusion of queueing and waiting area for brunch patrons. This requirement justified the creation of several seating areas that serve as the compositional building blocks for the architectural events.
Event I Entering the complex from the north, a formerly dim and narrow corridor has been transformed into a bright zone of circulation and repose. A storage closet along the western wall was carved away, the remaining slab edge incorporated into a sloping mass that parallels the slope of the floor. This ceramic-clad volume collides with a tiled bench as back-painted glass wraps the wall above to complete an architectural assemblage that takes cues from the collages of Moholy Nagy.
Event II Just as the ceiling plane peels away and tile transitions to carpet in the more utilitarian mid-section of the sequence, architectonic aspects of the preceding space are reintroduced in the form of a cove bench. Offering much-needed additional seating for weekend brunch patrons of the diner (whose door is just around the corner), the durable ceramicclad seating features the same vertical cove lighting and backpainted glass utilized in the ramped entry space.
Event II Unlike the linear spaces leading unto it, the southeastern corner was hollowed out to create a more room-like lobby. Also acting as a stair enclosure, fireglazing adds a layer of reflection to the space. Visible through this glazing and illuminated by a newly-punched window is a concrete column left raw to reveal traces of the building’s material history. At once endemic and oddly foreign to the space, the column is treated like an art piece within a gallery; a cutout within a Moholy Nagy collage.
Details Purportedly the dwelling place of both the divine and the devil, the details within this project relate to the intersection of materials; durable ceramic wall tile, more precious back-painted sateen glass, granitic floor tile, and historic concrete. In negotiating these intersections, two devices were used to mediate material collisions: 1) an additional material stainless steel - clads reveals between wall elements and floor planes 2) linear light washes of varying gradations are utilized in vertical coves near benches and a cantilevered ceiling edge near the entry. In each of these cases, the fixtures themselves are carefully concealed. 01 02
The Farnsworth House[boat] is a preservation investigation which
integrates both comedic narrative and straight-laced techno-optimistic problem solving. As legend has it, when Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe visited the site of the house he would build for Edith Farnsworth in 1945 along the Fox River, he glanced at the railroad bridge that traversed the waterway and noted the high water mark. Transposed onto the location of the Farnsworth House, some 115’ removed from the river’s edge, this mark equated to the 5’ that the floor slab sits above the terrain. Regardless of whether this tale is true, or whether Mies spent hours over the drafting table calibrating the dimension and proportion of the elevation, 5’ has proven to be too little. The house has been flooded at least 4 times (1954, 1996, 1997, 2008) at an increasing rate of probability. In 2013 floodwaters came within inches of overcoming the floorslab, motivating the house (now museum’s) owners - the National Trust for Historic Preservation - to commission a house relocation study. As a member of Krueck + Sexton Architects, I was fortunate to serve as one half of the architectural team investigating the relocation, and later mitigation options. While the fantastical narrative on the following spread indicates that humor served as a tool within the study, it was but one approach to a project whose challenges were representational, technical, ecological, political, and philosophical. Beyond the cheeky story of The Farnsworth House[boat], the investigation was carried out in a professional preservation setting complete with consultant team and divided into two phases: 1) an investigation of relocation options and 2) a search for active system solutions.
Location Plano, Illinois, USA Collaboration Thomas Jacobs Studio Krueck + Sexton Architects Client The National Trust for Historic Preservation Date 2015
The Farnsworth House[boat] A comedic aside and critical meditation on the occasionally comical conundrums of historic preservation, the Farnsworth House[Boat] is the story of a house wrested by floodwaters from its familiar bucolic surroundings to float downriver, from the Fox to the Illinois to the mighty Mississippi and ultimately its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, the formerly isolated icon confronts fellow architectural landmarks that prompt the personified structure to question its construction, significance, and eventual fate. The narrative- part Twain’s Huck Finn, part Tigerman’s Titanic- illustrate the design’s tenuous relationship with place, ecology, and history with tongue placed firmly in cheek.
Confrontation 1: The Arch
“When...the Fox River becomes a roaring torrent that bursts its banks, the house assumes the character of a house-boat.” - Peter Palumbo (former house owner)
What might it be like to so dominate a landscape?
Confrontation II: The Pyramid
Confrontation III: The Stacks
What might it be like to rest so heavily on the ground?
What might it be like to exist amongst the clouds?
Confrontation IV: The Spires
What might it be like to be so definite in orientation?
“I myself have stayed in that house from morning to night. Until then I didn’t know how colorful nature could be...” - Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe
Relocation Investigation The initial phase of investigation involved a detailed site analysis and study of both the appropriateness and feasibility of relocating the house to adjacent National Trust-owned farmland. By climbing atop the house’s roof and carting a ladder through cornfields to obtain photographs, I created drawings that illustrated the modifications to the view from house to the river. Utilizing the tested locations, a site was selected within the cornfield for a mockup of the house platform. Between the drawings and physical simulation, stakeholders were convinced that relocating the house was paramount to compromising its essence.
Elevated in Place
Farmfield at River
Farmfield Setback From River
Alternatives Investigation The negative findings of the relocation study led the National Trust to return to a proposal by Silman Engineers to place the house on a hydraulic lift. Acting upon concerns raised by many within the local preservation community that such a proposal was fraught with compromises, the Krueck + Sexton team continued the search for alternative, active solutions that avoided the largest drawback of the lift option: the moving, indeed touching, of the house itself. Ultimately, we consulted further with the National Trust regarding three options: 1. Lift: Based upon the action of an automotive hydraulic lift, a series of trusses sits beneath the house and rotates from flat to upright to elevate the house upon a vegetated slab. While such a solution is easily deployed by the push of a button and largely invisible when not enacted, its construction is undoubtedly the most difficult and controversial. The house would first be temporarily moved from its foundations and lower terrace for the excavation of a pit to accommodate the lift. In the process, one of the columns supporting both the upper and lower terraces would need to be cut. The National Trust continues to favor this option. 2. Retract: This novel system transforms liability into asset by utilizing floodwaters to elevate the house. A subterranean chamber houses a concrete barrier ring that is floated upwards as the chamber is occupied by floodwaters. Like the ‘Lift’ solution, the proposal is not without questions: the design of the ring and ability to insure a uniform elevation process remain design challenges. Unlike the ‘Lift’ solution, however, the propoosal allows the house to go untouched. 3.Inflate: Another proposal that posesses the advantage of avoiding any modification to the house proper, the system comprises an an inflatable barrier similar to those already protecting Holland from rising sea levels.This system offers the promises of a low tech and inexpensive fix, but also contains concerns regarding the system’s invisibility on the site as well as properly executed deployment and reinterment.
Mexico City in Memoriam is a fatalistic approach to urbanism that trades the
city fabric for the funerary monument, present-day problem solving for future grandeur. As the first of two dystopic proposals responding to the water crisis within Mexico City, In Memoriam originates in a troublingly organic manner from the reality of aquifer exploitation in the city. Presently, Mexico City obtains 70% of its water supply from underground reserves beneath the city itself, causing areas to sink by up to 10 meters. A monument to Mexico’s independence, El Angel de Independencia, has sunk by over 3 meters and necessitated the construction of 14 additional steps to reach its base. If both consumption and technique remain unchanged, then, one could imagine a scene in which the monument becomes the tip of a terraced podium (right). Thus, the status quo serves as the direct inspiration for a proposal in which eight structures representing the height of the city’s cultural achievements are held aloft by a massive stepped topography constructed of- and over- the detritus of the city itself. The project serves as a critique of both architecture’s infatuation with the singular narrative and archaeological impact of the icon over the multiplicity and complexity of an existing urban fabric. Furthermore, it highlights the discipline’s disregard for environmental crises while demonstrating its capability to speculate on precisely these topics.
Location Ciudad de México, D.F., México Collaboration Mircea Eni Studio Independent Date 2015
Monument 1910 Constructed to commemorate the centennial of Mexico’s War of Independence, the victory column El Angel de Independencia intially sat upon a short podium containing 9 steps at the then-groundlevel of 7383’.
Monument 2017 Just over one century removed from its initial construction, aquifer depletion beneath the city has caused the ground level surrounding the monument to fall by 3’ and required the construction of 14 additional steps.
Monument In Memoriam Should the pattern of aquifer depletion and ground level recession continue, additional steps would be required. The proposal, then, is simply a projection of the present practice.
Catedral Metropolitana, 7350’
El Angel de la Independencia, 7383’
Museo Soumaya, 7432’
Estadio Azteca, 7501’
Biblioteca Central UNAM, 7501’
Torres de Satélite, 7599’
Basílica de Señora de Guadalupe, 7950’
La Lavadora, 8006’
Lake Footprint The Aztec empire began a process of modifying Lake Texcoco’s boundaries that was accelerated by draining and filling after Spanish overthrow in 1521. Located within an endoheric basin, the city is continually threatened by flooding. lake footprint 2017 lake footprint 1315
Water Availability 25% of the populous lacks running water and still more experience service interruptions as the city turns to importation systems of 100+ miles to curb aquifer withdrawal. adequate inadequate infrequent water importation system
Annual Sinking Situated upon soggy soils and atop an aquifer from which it obtains 70% of its water supply, the city has been sinking for centuries. During the past 100 years alone, Mexico City dropped by 8-10 meters. 0.22+ cm/year 0.13- .22 cm/year 0.06- .13 cm/year
Sin[k] or Swim
programmatic ploy for resource conservation that places morality, sustainability, and architecture upon the same field of play. The second dystopic proposal addressing the Mexico City water crisis, Sin[k] or Swim raises the stakes on conservation by aligning water consumption with activities considered sinful within nearly all systems of moral, ethical, and religious thought. The project takes the form of a baptistry and ‘eastwerk’ for the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe - the most visited pilgrimmage site within Roman Catholicism. Two towers are constructed with different foundational techniques, allowing the Southern structure to fall along with the depletion of an underground aquifer and the Northern structure to rise. The project is understood, then, through the programmatic makeup of each tower- the Southern spire contains a mausoleum and the Northern, screw-shaped structure contains a brothel. Thus, by failing to conserve water, Mexico City residents are effectively burying the memories of their loved ones while erecting a monument to sexual promiscuity. A monument, nonetheless, that directly confronts a sacred shrine dedicated to the purity of the Virgin Mary.
Location Ciudad de México, D.F., México Studio Independent Date 2016
In Situ Shown as constructed, the mausoleum tower (at left) floats within the aquifer and appears largely above grade while the brothel (at right), anchored to the aquifer’s bedrock base, remains invisible from the plaza surface.
Inequilibrium Depicted in a state of formal equilibrium resembling the basilica’s missing westwerk, the configuration, in reality, represents a grave situation in which consumption has overtaken conservation and the brothel tower has breached the plaza surface.
Inevitability Here, the brothel tower has asserted complete dominance over the skyline as surrounding lands have collapsed through consumption. The mausoleum, weighted down by the load of its occupants, has now pierced the aquifer’s bottom to disappear from view.
Δ Tower New Density
Δ is the lynch-pin of a collective studio effort towards
revitalizing the neglected Mexico City neighborhood of Doctores. The studio developed the theory of urban acupuncture to confront a complex web of problems at city, district, and neighborhood scales. Each of the ten projects are representative of the acupunctural effect, in which architectural and infrastructural interventions within the city fabric become part of a catalytic network of
Plaza Lázaro Cárdenas
(re)growth. In order to counter the phenomenon of urban sprawl, Delta densifies Doctores and neighboring Obrera through an overhaul of water and transit infrastructure. Centered about a unique connective node within the city, the intervention serves as a stimulus for continued development. Inspired initially by the triangular form of the urban block, Δ was selected to represent the formal and kinetic nature of the project. The symbol
references a river deltatraditional centers of trade, transit, and water supply- as well as the mathematical symbol of change. The project’s scale ranges from the urban to the human- where the twin towers serve as a provocateurs of water conservation, swaying when rooftop liquid tuned mass dampers doubling as the buildings’ water supply are overdrawn by residents.
Infrastructure Underground Metro Level
Location Ciudad de México, D.F., México Collaboration John Joseph Nicolas Instruction Javier Sánchez Studio Kansas State University Recognition Kremer Prize Winner 2014 Date 2014
Acupuncture Point Interventions
Adjacent + Axial Development
Pedestrian Avenue Calle Niños Héroes
Infrastructural Axes Calle Dr. Claudio Bernard
Tamed Thoroughfare Calle José María Vértiz
Doctores is largely comprised of low slung structures that fail to capitalize upon potential F.A.R. values and new programs located near the city center. Interventions in this fabric must walk the line between infrastructural tangibility and efficient density. Addressing these limitations with an ambitious urban gesture, Δ begins with an infrastructural overhaul to allow for increased densities and distribute vital resources within Doctores. Twin towers, the first manifestation of incentivized ‘acupunture point’ development, will serve as a catalyst for a new urban concentration.
Doctores suffers from a lack of effective public space. Parks and plazas are few and often inaccessible, gated spaces for the enjoyment of a select few. In addition to being a performative ecology, Δ serves as a vibrant space for relaxation, social encounter, and conservation education. Gradually stepping down via vegetated terraces, the bioremediation park is a calming oasis in the midst of the chaotic city. A street-level plaza and pavilions outlining the intersection of the development offer more urban spaces for interaction and exchange.
The gargantuan shift of workers into the city center strains mass transit infrastructure and clogs streets with traffic. The site is located at a unique convergence within the city fabric, creating opportunity to integrate existing means of transit while creating new movement methods. The Infrastructure Underground unifies multiple modes of transit; linking the Doctores and Obrera metro stops, accommodating MetroBus lines within paired pavilions on the urban surface, and including a ‘Bicycle Spiral’ subterranean storage system that extends the city’s ecoBici bike share network to this crucial crossroads.
Mexico City faces a water crisis that has forced the city to exploit increasingly distant and finite sources at massive economic, social, environmental consequences. Δ responds with a closedloop system that is as experiential as it is efficient. As part of an infrastructural overhaul, a system of stormwater capture will be installed upon diagonal axes, channeling water to the bioremediation park. Here, water is purified via vegetated terraces then traditionally treated in the Infrastructure Undergound before being pumped into the towers’ rooftop storage tanks. Freshwater is supplied to units through the force of gravity, while wastewater is subsequently recycled through the system.
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09
Purification Pavilion Δ Tower Lobby Plaza Lázaro Cárdenas Amphitheater Restaurant Pavilion Bioremediation Park Market Pavilion Bicycle Spiral Purification Promenade
Floor 3 Units 6-11
Floor 2 Units 2-11
Floor 1 Units 1-5
The Modified Marseilles With a diagrid exoskeleton carrying the loads, floor plates are free to be manipulated in relation to their function. The uppermost section of both towers holds housing units that interlock a la Unité d’habitation with a 45 degree twist between floors. This configuration allows each unit to be unique in configuration and views, while taking advantage of natural breezes.
Sadistic Sustainability More than a project, ‘Δ’ - along with ‘Sin[k] of Swim’ (SOS) and ‘Mexico City in Memoriam’ (MCIM) - served as a polemic and critique of existing ideological incarnations of sustainability. While Bjarke Ingel’s hedonistic sustainability advocates indulgence in the good life offered by a mash up of “nature” and late capitalism, ‘Δ’ advances an opposing idea of sadistic sustainability. If BIG’s position is a reaction to mainstream sustainable design practices born out of the Calvinist idea of enterprising self-deprivation, sadistic sustainability - as its prefix indicates - ratchets upon the meter of denial. By slightly amending the definiton of sadism to ‘the tendency to derive pleasure from inflicting pain or humiliation discomfort on others, sadistic sustainability might suggest an alternative ideology in which architecture plays an active role in avoiding environmental collapse by imposing a degree of
artificial environmental hardship upon society in order to influence individual behavior. Put simply, taking the myth environmental apocalypse seriously, sadistic sustainability raises the stakes in gambling with humanity’s future upon the planet. In formulating three projects exemplar of sadistic sustainability, I actually overshot the notion, landing twice in the realm of dystopia before discovering a suitable expression in ‘Δ’. As the work of BIG attests, the wealth of the developed world has allowed it to convincingly construct exemplars of hedonistic sustainability. Sadistic sustainability is therefore more aptly studied within a context visibly struggling with environmental crisis so as to appear less radical. These three proposals, then, take as a point of departure the water crisis within Mexico City.
Sadistic Sustainability (in the shower) If ‘Sin[k] of Swim’ and ‘Mexico City in Memoriam’ represent overshoots of sadistic sustainability, ‘Δ’ best expresses the theory- in the shower. The paired towers’ rooftop water supplies double as liquid tuned mass dampers, playing a role in the structural rigidity of the towers. While not substantial enough to overcome the diagrid skin and cause structural failure, when water is overdrawn by residents - as in the example of the shower (above) - the towers will begin to sway. An undeniably unsettling feeling, this sway is precisely the discomfort referenced by the definition of sadistic sustainability. Furthermore it is architecture as feedback mechanism, not simply suggesting resource conservation but imparting a mild suffering upon its occupants that demands it.
The WholeBody Center is a factory for
muscle and mind. The building makes visible the birth of neurons [neurogenesis] within the brain during aerobic exercise and their subsequent integration with existing neural networks [gyrification] during meditative exercise via the illumination of suspended forms powered by the kinetic energy produced by treadmills. Located in a gentrifying
industrial district, the building is imagined as a factory for the augmentation of muscle and mind, where neurogenesis is akin to production and gyrification akin to assembly. The exterior strives for ubiquity, adopting a largely opaque facade to honor its gritty surroudings and add mystery to the fabrication process within. Carefully considered penetrations in the building’s concrete block shell allow glimpses of the interior, while communicating the aura of aerobic exercise to the outside.
Location Kansas City, Missouri, USA Instruction Nathan Howe Studio Kansas State University Recognition AIA Kansas Student Design Competition Second Prize 2013 Manko Windows Student Design Competition Runner Up 2012 Date 2012
Mystery Box Urbanism Located in a gentrifying industrial area, the conception of The Wholebody Center as a factory for muscle and mind was influenced by the active manufacturing facilities that are its neighbors. The urban contribution of this typology is as quiet as its typically blank facades. Plotting the instances of the active but opaque factory, or ‘mystery box’ (below, in white), the validity of adapting this typology to the role of the fitness center became apparent. Not only were its instances many, but they were often found in corner conditions like the one assigned to The Wholebody Center. While far from catalyzing it, these types also showed no evidence of undermining the unique artistic urbanity of the neighborhood; perhaps even contrbuting to a particular brand of occupation through their mysterious allure. In its primary facades, then, the building references compositions, motifs, and materials from the context - overhead doors and punched windows, raw steel and bare plywood. While housing a private function, the building more directly contributes to urbanity through a large overhead door that grants access to a public mezzanine and offers a series of benches on its northern facade in a gesture reminiscent of Renaissance Palazzi.
Program, Metaphor, Massing The traditional functions of a gymnasium were interrogated through a neurobiological lens to insure that both mind and body were integral to the program of the building. The result was the inclusion of both aerobic and meditative spaces to accommodate the brain functions of neurogenesis and gyrification. Through a typological reading of the context, these synaptic functions were then aligned with those of a factory in order to govern design decisions related to the composition and character of the buiding. As is often the case within the factory type, production functions (‘Production Floors’) surround a central assembly hub here three such chambers (‘Assembly Cubes’) suspended within an atrium. Further, just as a factory might further subject their product to some degree of testing before leaving the facility, vertical circulation cores are concealed from immediate view to encourage the development of the hippocampus- the region of the brain which controls spatial memory and benefits from growth during aerobic exercise. In this way, the private nature of the building’s program is reinforced and the mental benefits of users’ activity within are put to the test.
Ground Floor Plan
Second Floor Plan
Third Floor Plan
Systems: Kinetic Kinetic energy is captured from treadmills, bikes, and fans spun by current-driven lap pools to illuminate the Assembly Cubes. The emitted light acts as a metaphorical indication and literal by-product of the processes of neurogenesis and gyrification occurring within.
Systems: Tidal Mimicking solar tidal forces, the sawtooth roof holds a photovoltaic array of 210 panels producing 6,300,000 kilowatts of energy. This collected energy in turn powers three lap pools on the facility’s subterranean level that offer simulated wave resistance for swimmers.
Systems: Evaporative The sawtooth roof directs rainwater runoff to wall-integrated gutters, which carry water to cisterns in the basement. Here, water is filtered, purified, and heated with the resultant steam distributed to sauna chambers.
Neurogenesis ; Production (Floors) Gyrification ; Assembly (Cubes) Specific design attention was given to the object of greatest conceptual intention within The Wholebody Center: the Assembly Cube. The Cubes’ exterior is clad in an LED mesh set behind a perforated reflective aluminum cladding that allows for moving images to enliven the facades of the cubic forms. The result of kinetic energy generated by aerobic exercise equipment and swimming pools, the illumination of the Cubesa representation of neurogenesis- is visible from Production Floors from their central location suspended from the trussed sawtooth superstructure. The interior of the Cubes, as the site of meditative exercise and gyrification, necessitated attention to both aesthetics and acoustics. An 8” thick layer of foam insulation and molded birch panels creates a quiet, calming interior environment in contrast to the cacophonous atrium beyond.
The Canyon (Interior) Rather than wallpaper, the climbing function has been made spatial, taking inspiration from the canyons of the Southwest (right). Formed by tube steel and GFRC panels (below), the canyon is illuminated by the beckoning light of clerestories and Assembly Cubes.
The Canyon (Exterior) The north facade has been ‘delaminated’ to create a sheltered seating area at the ground level that- like the integrated benches of the Palazzo Medici- act as a altruistic offering given unto the public realm by the mysterious private enterprise within.
The Process The artifacts displayed on this spread composed just some of the design tools used to determine a final form for The Wholebody Center. A regimented (rather than intuitive) process of iteration was undertaken in which a physical model, hand rendered sketch axonometric and interior view, in addition to site plans, floor plans, and sections was created to describe a complete scheme. In this way, design decisions regarding the formal and spatial composition could be made in the informed context of a complete proposal each time, keeping in mind the driving conceptual force of ‘a factory for muscle and mind’. Repetitive actions that might be seen as inefficient, including the repeated drawing and modelling of the site, were granted value as a means of more fully engaging with the design problem.
Center Yourself is a spatial narrative that celebrates
over two millenia of civilization. Carved from a mount of volcanic tuff near Rocca Ripesina, the chapel challenges the Pilgrim to intially climb to the summit, before spiralling downward into a subterranean realm, only to complete the pilgrimmage by ascending back unto the light. At the center of the cruciform plan is a circulation shaft - or ‘axis mundi’ - connecting Earth and Sky. While gathering spaces are provided on an upper level, the lowest level holds a pair of chapels. Lit by the dying sun, the Pilgrim ponders the history of the place in the western chapel. The eastern chapel, bathed in morning glow, fosters thoughts of the future and coming day. At the chapel’s center a radiant realm is created by the oculus above and a reflecting pool below, suspended between Past (West) and Future (East). Standing in this aura, the Pilgrim simultaneously inhabits Earth, Sky, and Time.
Location Rocca Ripesina, Umbria, Italia Instruction Richard Hoag Studio Kansas State University Date 2011
I. The Climb The massive formation of volcanic rock loomed over the cluster of stucco structures that made up my tiny village. Even in the narrowest cobbled alleys, with sky barely showing between apartment walls, I was always conscious of its presence. The mountain was synonymous with Rocca Ripesina. The sculpted precipice had served as landmark and sacred site for generations of villagers. Like my fathers before me, I had oft made the pilgrimage to its summit. The pilgrimages were made more or less once a year, occurring for no other reason than I felt somehow moved to make the journey. Rocca Ripesina had recently celebrated its 2000th year of continuous occupation. The occasion was marked with much fanfare in the village and a collective pilgrimage to a chapel newly excavated from the soft tuff on the summit. I had not participated, for no other reason than I had not felt moved to. I had watched as a string of friends, relatives, and neighbors had slowly progressed upwards, disappearing one-byone as the path wound its way around the face of the mount. Since their return, it seemed that everyone around me had been urging me to experience the chapel for myself. My grandmother had insisted (Bambino, you must see it!), my brother had sworn that it changed his outlook completely (It’s life changing, fratello), even Renzo in the market had inserted an endorsement into my weekly produce transaction (How about that chapel, eh? Have yet to see it, Renzo. Oh, oh! Now, you get up there, friend. It’s a wonder to behold… And take some of those tomatoes. Those are as juicy as they come you know!). While I admit that each insistence had momentarily aroused my
curiosity, I had always replied that I would experience it in time- at a time when I felt so moved. Now that time had come. I began at dawn. It was the faint light of the moon that illuminated my footsteps upon the first part of the climb. About midway up the mountain, the sun began to peek out from above the rolling hills now below me. At times it appeared as if I was in perfect step with the blazing orb as we both ascended higher in the sky. The trail snaked its way up the rocky slope in lengthy switchbacks, each turn prompting a passing view of the slowly-shrinking village below. The red tile roofs began to lose resolution, becoming an ochre smear in the verdant green of the hilly countryside. I could sense my growing exhaustion in the increasing reluctance of my feet to be picked up and placed farther up the trail. My breathing grew equally heavy. My calves, as if aflame, cried out for rest. I found myself glancing upwards, hoping to see the divine vision of the peakbut each time it eluded me. I pushed continually upwards, feeling both compelled and propelled by the sure relief of the summit above. And when I took the final steps to the flat expanse of the mountaintop it came, indeed. Immediately, the soreness in my muscles melted away. Rather, I felt a tremendous sense of lightness- as if I might begin to float into the atmosphere at any moment. My mind, too, was no longer encumbered. All of my earthly thoughts seemed to vanish into thin air. Standing atop the precipice, surveying the world far below, I felt more a part of the sky around me than of the ground beneath my feet. Walking to a particularly shear edge, I sat down and allowed my feet to
dangle into the blue. Now the phenomenon of weightlessness was complete. Closer now than ever to my God, I knew that this place was surely sacred. Overcome by the familiar high of occupying the summit, I lost all awareness of time passing before me. I might have sat upon the ledge indefinitely had it not been for a stirring behind me...
II. The Descent I was no longer alone at the top. An assemblage of robed individuals had materialized from the path onto the expanse of the summit. The group paused only momentarily before magically vanishing. To disprove the half of me that believed I had witnessed a genuine miracle and the other half that was convinced that I had experienced some kind of high-altitude hallucination, I ambled over to the site of their disappearance. I found an angling fin of tuff, brightly reflecting the mid-morning sun. Following the escarpment’s curve into the earth, I saw a carved cylinder of stone descending into the soft stone. The treads of a spiraling staircase hugged the sides of the shaft before being lost in shadow. Faintly, I could hear melodic voices echoing upwards from somewhere seemingly far below. Drawn by the mysteries of the black and allure of the harmonized voices, I started downwards. No sooner than I had completed one full revolution than I was enveloped by darkness. With only a faint shaft of light washing upon the stairs, I trusted the rhythm of the ghostly singing to guide my steps. No longer conscious of how far I had sunk into the earth, I knew only that I rotated about a dimming column of light. As the luminance from above grew ever weaker, the chorus grew ever stronger and a new source of light appeared, beckoning me down…
Interaction Twenty four feet below grade- the expanse of sky now almost forgotten, the plunging stair opens onto an open public level designed for encounter. To the North is a gathering space outlined by a semi-spherical bench. This space allows Pilgrims to gather and interact with one another- or, in another interpretation of the room’s title, gather their thoughts. Sitting on the bench, the Pilgrim can gaze onto the sacred center of the lit stair shaft while basking in additional illumination from an angled light well above. When the Pilgrim is mentally prepared for worship, she can enter into the large chapel through either of two entrances to the South. Here, too, the rear wall receives light from a curving opening to above. An amphitheater arrangement invites the Pilgrim to ascend to different levels for a view of the primary altar space which lies at the narrow point of the semi-spherical space against the stair shaft. A narrow slit at this point brings in the light from above, attracting the attention of those gathered to worship and celebrate. Because this is indeed a place for communal celebration, the tiers of the amphitheater have no seating- inviting the Pilgrims to act upon the desire to break into dance should such a feeling arise. Movable seating can be inserted for more subdued worship. Angled walls and sloping ceilings in both spaces direct views toward the shaft that serves as the chapel’s physical and spiritual center.
Gathering Depth Plan
Gathering Depth Isometric
What had been limited beforespace and light- were now abundant. The singing was now louder than ever before. Stepping off of the staircase, my eye was immediately drawn to the far wall of the modestly-scaled room. A heavenly light spread upon the rough surface of the volcanic rock and illuminated a curving bench below. My legs, weary from the winding descent, steered my body through a pair of stalagmite-like columns towards the ledge. Sitting down, I reclined my head and torso against the wall and allowed the cool light and reverberating voices to wash over me.
I arose to investigate. Passing through the thin columns, a pair of corridors branched off to either side of the stair. Choosing the right path, I followed the curving hallway to an opening. Here, the chorus was startlingly clear and familiar. I recognized the chorus of ’Te Deum’ and helplessly began to speak the words below my breath-
My breathing, which had been hurried as I struggled through the dark descent, regained a normal rhythm. From the bench, my vision was directed back towards the stair. The light from above now set the shaft ablaze with a hot glow. I reasoned that it must be around noontime. Through the intense glare, I could decipher a small slit in the wall of the cylinder. Squinting, I spotted slight changes in shadow beyond.
I was cut off by a tap upon the shoulder. Turning, I saw the familiar face of Renzo spread into a grin of great approvalone usually reserved for only the choicest vegetables. He was attired in a robe that I now recognized as that of my own church’s choir (Renzo boasted the strongest tenor voice in church). With a wave of his hand, Renzo ushered me into the room from which the chorus emanated.
‘Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur. Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi caeli et universae Potestates; Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant-’
Like the room I had just left, the rear wall was alight. Shallow tiers, echoing the curvature of the rock, cascaded down and narrowed towards a small altar. The church choir was lined up along the tiers, shoulder to shoulder and swaying to the music. Their shadows danced upon the walls as the harmony swelled. Directly in front of the altar, silhouetted against the slit of light I had glimpsed from the stair, was the figure of choir director. Renzo wrapped his arm about my frame, towing me to an empty spot on the lowest tier. As he did so, he united his voice with the harmony and began violently rocking to the andante tune. The force of his rhythmic swing gave me no other choice but to follow suit and soon I too had raised my voice in praise. When the music had finally stopped, I had wiped my sweating brow (the gentle sway of the choir had evolved into a full-on dance) and struggled to regain my breath. Renzo, showing no signs of cardiac or vocal exhaustion had urged me to continue downwards, into the lowest regions of the chapel...
Isolation For individual worship, the Pilgrim must descend an additional eighteen feet to the bottom of the spiral stair. At this level the opening of the central space is now just a dot above. The light it provides, while greatly dissipated, remains tangible in reflections upon a pool at the bottom of the shaft. This level offers the Pilgrim a chance to reflect privately upon Rocca Ripesina’s history by introducing the theme of the passage of Time. Beneath the reflecting pool, a small chamber now covered with rock and water holds a community time capsule from the year of the 2000th commemoration of the site’s inhabitance. Thus, the sacred center is also a physical embodiment of the celebratory moment in Time that this chapel commemorates. Perhaps, 2000 years in the future, this capsule will be discovered by generations still to come. Two identical chapels radiate out from this center to East and West. These spaces illustrate the parallels between the passage of Time over the course of a single day and several eons. The chapel to the West is lit in the final hours of the day by a light well above a meditation ledge. The Pilgrim can here reflect upon the events of the day and indeed, the entire past of the place. The chapel to the East is lit during the day’s dawning hours. Here, the Pilgrim can anticipate the coming day’s activity while pondering the future. The changing light within the space serves as a visual tool to illustrate Enrique Larranaga’s phrase, “History as a continuous continuum” in the context of Rocca Ripesina.
Contemplation Depth Plan
Contemplation Chapel Worm’s Eye
IV. Contemplation So, with chest heaving and legs shaking, I rotated about the weakening column of light on the spiral stair. I let my hand drag against the wall, sending showers of tuff dust dancing in the dim light. Completing a full rotation, I spotted a soft glow from below. Progressing downwards, I realized that the origin was the oculus far above, its light amplified and reflected in a small pool of water. I descended the final stair and arrived on the plane of the pool. The stairs spilled out into a wide and curving hallway lined with tiny candles. Their warm glow was overwhelmed by an intense luminosity radiating from an opening to my right. Instinctively, I was drawn to the source. Passing through the threshold, I found a small chamber complex in form but not adornment. Sidewalls widened before curving inward to meet in an acute angle. Overhead, the ceiling gently rose to a vanishing point above the room’s sole furnishing: a carved bench perfect for just one. The luminance I had been drawn to spotlighted the simple ledge, inviting me to sit. I sat cross-legged upon the
stoop, my back straightening with each inhalation. From the aperture in the thick rock ceiling, the warm glow of the setting sun flowed down upon me, enveloping me in a comforting aura. I thought back upon the day, recalling seemingly random moments- Renzo’s hand upon my shoulder, the harmony of the choir, the dizzying descent into the chapel. Then, as if the sun’s rays had blotted out the previous scenes, I was back atop the mountain with my legs hanging over the cliff face. Looking down, the world below was in accelerated motion. I watched as seasons passed in quick succession, painting the landscape with vivid colors. I spotted the ochre stroke of Rocca Ripesina as it slowly grew into the virgin forests. Two thousand years of history moved before me, leaving me spellbound but strangely calm. The restless force that had moved me to visit this place, to gain this perspective, now was at peace.
V.Centered Sitting upon the ledge, I let the light grow dim before breaking my meditative calm and returning to the stair column. I
discovered the last rays of the day lingering within the pool. Instinctively, I removed my sandals and stepped in. A sudden sense of clean overtook my frame as the cool water washed over my weary feet. Again, my gaze was directed upwards. Far above, the oculus of the stair column was now a small luminous speck. The light that shined through it, however, was surprisingly strong when reinforced by the reflections in the pool. I spread my arms in joy, letting the light fill my palms and pour over my shoulders. I could sense the presence of the Earth all around me, but was just as conscious of my connection to the Sky far above. I thought of how many suns had travelled across the Sky, smiling their radiance upon this great pinnacle of rock, and I realized my own smallness. While this type of deduction might make one feel insignificant, I felt incredibly empowered. It was as if I inhabited the most sacred of spots in the grand scheme. There I stood, basking in the continuous column of divine light, perfectly centered within myself and the universe.
The Boxer Engine House is a machine for living in; sort of like that of Le Corbusier, but far more literal. Yet another extended metaphor, this home serves a unique client: a single father, hoarder, and Porsche restoration expert. From I.A. Richards’ Philosophy of Rhetoric, a metaphor is composed of both a vehicle (that from which attributes are borrowed) and tenor (that which attributes are ascribed). The Porsche’s flat six, or ‘boxer’, engine serves as the vehicle by lending ordering principles - symmetry, compression/ expansion of space, and natural ventilation- that confront aspects of the client’s personality (see next page).
Location Manhattan, Kansas, USA Instruction Robert Condia Studio Kansas State University Recognition
Exemplar Student Work NAAB Accreditation Exhibition 2010 Date 2010
Principle Symmetry Represents the duality and accommodates the privacy of father and son. The neat spatial organization can also be viewed as a confrontation of the owner’s hoarding habit. Ventilation In addition to sponsoring thermal comfort throughout the home, the exhaust fan ensures that those items of insubstantial weight, are blown out of the owner’s life. Compression | Expansion Heightens a spatial awareness related to the owner’s hoarding habit, limiting the accumulation of possessions through strict dimensional limitations.
Hoarder Hall Between garages, the home’s entry is framed by shelves encouraging a tasteful display of objects within the owner’s collection. Should a hoarding relapse occur and items overflow the shelving, the compressed space will become impassable, causing circulatory chaos (below). Because the shelving is located directly within the entry, a glut of items will also project the relapse unto the public realm, producing a disdain amongst neighbors then felt as shame (enough to trigger change?).
Porch Garage Urbanism The house is located within an early 20th century neighborhood near the downtown core of Manhattan, Kansas. Unlike its urban namesake, the proximity promises no density or street life. Instead, the neighborhood is formed of bungalow types, recently built side-entry duplexes, and numerous vacant lots. The choice to locate garages along the street, then, rather than available alley frontage may seem like yet another erroneous infill gesture - indeed a failure to heed the lessons of mid-century autocentric urban development. Why not emulate the original type by building a front porch? One might also ask, ‘why build a front porch that will be always empty?’. Activity, rather than typology, is key to the neighborhood’s redevelopment. With the client continually tinkering on automotive projects, garages promise greater engagement with neighbors, serving as porch stand-ins.
A Critical Take As this author has admitted, The Boxer Engine House can be interpretted as highly derivative. It’s citation of Le Corbusier’s oft-quoted “house as machine for living in” is problematic for several reasons. And while here it is a response to a specific set of circumstances related to the house’s client rather than a blanket statement about the contemporary zietgeist1, we are still left with avenues of critique. The first of these is a dependence upon what is, in fact, more of a Post Modern than Modern tradition: analogy. Here metaphor is investigated with a rhetorical rigor I would argue that the PoMo school never quite approached; eschewing visual mimesis in favor of performative factors underpining the parti. That said, such analogous thinking in this case leaves still more aspects of the home’s architecture and construction out of the picture: material procurement, site appropriateness, etc. Such arguments can be (and in some cases have been) developed, but the design methods of abstraction and analogy arising out of the Modern and Post Modern mind are only so well suited to presentday circumstances of the profession. A second debate relates to the mechanistic aspect of the metaphor. That is, should the design meet the owner’s automotive affinity even as it is founded upon resource depletion, potential human labor abuses, and an out-dated understanding of the operation of the universe as akin machine (rather than as a organism)? In this way, the home acts as an endorsement of efficiency-within-the-system rather than modification-to-the-system. Such a societal attitude, here justified through service to a client, is perhaps ironically insufficient. 1. This is, after all, a luxury residence for a single father not working class housing like that of Quartiers Modernes Frugès at Pessac.