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puzzling a narrative of obfuscation and organization 1


the beam 3

[hannah goodale pavlovich] I’m working to abstract the original wide-flange beam through a series of operations.




[eric owen moss] You pull a beam out and say “This is a beam, the beam has certain qualities.” A wide flange could be a column, could be a beam, could be a strut; so even the technical qualities that it has vary depending in what way it’s used. It also has an abstract property, like anything does, so you can chose to associate a literal constructive meaning with a stick or a beam or a column, or you can take it more abstractly, as a shape, which still has connotations that are related to constructions.


[eom] The choice of this element wouldn’t mean that you have an allegiance to every aspect of it, as it’s represented in a steel manual. You are ignoring most of the history and use, and you’re just using them as a point of departure to try to develop a graphic method of making an organizational structure, not necessarily the supportive structure. Structure is an organizational idea or a tactical idea. A grid of beams could be an intentional idea without being fixed on particular structural properties of the beams.




[eom] This model looks like the scale of the piece didn’t change. The scale of the element stays the same. You still have all the pieces, you didn’t microwave them, you just reoriented them. They’re just a conventional frame. The pieces are still the same scale, they’re still recognizable.


[eom] This is interesting, that the three dimensionality of the thing is really two dimensions. Now you’ve made a wall, and you inhabit the wall, so the next step is in three dimensions.




the puzzle 15


[eom] In the beginning, we were talking about the sticks that make up a wall. That’s a structure; that’s a conventional way of organizing material in order to build a traditional piece of very conventional structure. The wide flange could be a column, could be a beam, could be a strut, could be a pile for a foundation. You’ve gone from a wall made up of sticks, to a structural piece which doesn’t exist a priori as a particular form. Should we be working with a module, which is a frame, or should it be a column system, or a column and beam system?


[eom] The question is, do we know the answer to the question at the end, or are we arriving at the end over the course of a process, or do we know the answer from the beginning and this is all just a fake? [hgp] I don’t know the answer, nor am I looking for the answer.



[hgp] It doesn’t quite matter to me what I start with, because what is important to me is the techniques that I use. [eom] The drawing techniques? [hgp] Yes. I could’ve done it with chairs, or shoes, or whole buildings. I chose the steel because I like the shape of it. The shape provides more interesting drawing challenges without bringing in something kitschy like a shoe




[eom] You can take the puzzle apart and throw the pieces around the room, out the window, to the roof. Somehow, however you do it, you put them back together and you wind up with this again. The analysis runs forward and backward. There’s also an analysis, when you start taking this apart, you’ve taken it apart so much that it’s completely unrecognizable. You start chopping and shredding the pieces. Now you need the KGB and CIA, and even they can’t put it back together, because it’s disemboweled.


[eom] This process has disemboweled the basic increment. Not only is it not a w-flange anymore, but you’ve put it in some kind of Xerox machine and you blew it up. It doesn’t have its basic structure; it’s not a recognizable piece anymore.



[hgp] Every time I perform a step, I forget it and move on. [eom] What do you mean by “I do it, and I forget it?” It seems to me these are actually quite connected. [hgp] They are, because they’re all in sequence. I’m saying that once I do this drawing of the I-beam, I don’t feel obligated to the I-beam anymore. I don’t feel obligated to those drawings, I just move forward, even though I think it’s clear that’s where I came from.



[eom] You went through a process starting from a frame, which is a building already, or the idea of a building, then you took the frame apart and went through a series of operations. You created pieces that will be the building or pieces that will be the increments to build the building. Are you making elements that are surrogates for the w-flange and columns with which you’re going to make something new, or is that the something already? [hgp] The created pieces are elected and reorganized to create a building. They are elements, not end products.



[hgp] I see this like giving someone an unsolved Rubik’s Cube, but one where a green sticker and a blue sticker are switched. That way, no matter how many tricks you know, its never going to be perfect. But, when you give someone the Rubik’s Cube, they wanna twist it and they want to solve it. That’s the reaction that I want. [eom] What you’re saying in some ways is that you’re making something and then you’re giving it to some constituency, like inhabitants of the building, to in some sense work on and puzzle over, but not to solve. You’re inventing a puzzle, you’re inventing some pieces, you’re putting them together, and then you’re leaving it to these other people to understand what it means.




[hgp] In each step that I take, I am moving towards a more complex final drawing, because the drawing of the building is more important to me. [eom] When you explain it, and the idea that it should be more complex, that’s not intrinsically a law of anything. It just seems to me the aspiration to make something more complicated needs an additional something. [hgp] I enjoy puzzles, I enjoy the act of the solving the puzzle [eom] You’re not solving the puzzle [hgp] I’m making the puzzle for someone else to solve.


[eom] You’re not only making something complicated, the truth of the matter is you don’t know how to make it. We’re not sure whether the solution is to put it together, or to put some of it together, or to decide that none of it goes together, so its a puzzle without a conventional solution, something more like puzzle meaning puzzling, enigmatic, complicated, or difficult, but not illegible.




[hgp] Throughout my process, the idea is to create as many overlapping figures as possible. It’s through the excavation of these figures that I create space for program.



the site 39

[hgp] I chose Baltimore because I wanted a city that isn’t completely developed and has some room to work with. It’s not a big city like New York or Chicago, but it is also dense enough to be read as a fabric rather than objects.

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[hgp] I am interested in incorporating infrastructure into my project. I have always been interested in how infrastructure and buildings related, and it feels that by attaching it to a road, the argument extends outside of just the building. The puzzle incorporates not just the building and its program, but elements of the city. [eom] There is the transitional aspect of the wall or beam becoming something else. If the wall ran through the road, evolved in a certain way, it could become alternative pieces of infrastructure.

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[eom] By building over infrastructure, the barrier is ameliorated in one way or another, and part of the project is to allow the two sides to integrate more. [hgp] I see the courthouse as a pinprick in a larger barrier. It is a point of passage, but doesn’t completely dissolve the problem.




[eom] The highway is an existing condition around which you develop. Do you want to make a distinction between the highway and the building, or do you want the two to be seen as a whole? [hgp] I want the highway to be read as part of the whole. In the drawing, I want the building and the road to be read as a single thing. [eom] There is a relationship between what’s in the tunnels and what’s in the building. Do the people inside know that cars are going by? [hgp] Yes, there are visuals from inside of the building to the cars passing through.



the organization 49

[hgp] I have decided to do this project as a criminal courthouse. I am thinking of the criminal courthouse as a formal problem. There needs to be four distinct circulation patterns: the judge, the jury, the public, the criminals. I wanted to do the criminal court so I would be obligated to work with these conditions. [eom] Is there anything in this system that evolves to be about the four routes to the venues? Or, do you make all this stuff, and the use changes later, like the Louvre, it was a palace and now it’s a museum. [hgp] Program doesn’t becomes a subject to me until I start creating plans out of what I’ve previously done.




[eom] The first discussions had to do with dealing with construction systems, which are known and understandable, and used to make predictable pieces of buildings. You started looking at those and then adjusting them so that the regularity or predictability in the steel system started to be obviated or aggregated or altered. What originally belonged to the system was not entirely gone, but largely gone and replaced by something that was a little bit more mysterious. Your interests lie in systems and altering those systems.


[eom] You could also look at the window wall of the Seagram Building, and say this is also an organizational mechanism. The intricacy of your system obscures the underlying principles, and this is a way for you to begin to describe organizational strategy. Organizational strategy doesn’t mean a legible organizational strategy, you would think it might imply that, but it doesn’t. [hgp] Well I always preferred systems that were a bit more unclear because they have so many possibilities. They are constantly in flux, as opposed to just a grid, which is static.



[eom] You’re making an organizational mechanism or a piece of a city that has some capacity to adapt to a use in a site. You make an organizational mechanism, a three dimensional mechanism, which is done abstractly, then you locate it in a particular place with a road and so on. So first it exists as a theoretical proposition to organize space, then it exists as a city plan, to knit pieces together, then it exists as a building to make a courthouse.



[eom] We’re looking for ways of organizing, systematizing, ordering, but ordering doesn’t necessarily mean predictably ordering, or ordering in a normal way.





a narrative of obfuscation and organization


a narrative of obfuscation and organization