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Mount Vernon Gallery an undergraduate thesis

James William Lancia III Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University fall 2002 - spring 2003


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Printed from original proportions First Print, July 2003 64%

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-

9.125” x 14.5” 5.875” x 9.25”


Mount Vernon Gallery an undergraduate thesis

Submitted to the faculty of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Architecture, a professional degree

Faculty Advisors: Eugene Egger Lorenz Moser Steve Thompson iii


left:

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an image of the gallery from the northwest


Contents:

Introduction Project Setting Site Documentation Acknowledgements Bibliography

1 3 5 6 8 35 37

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Introduction

The reason for architecture is to provide a place. Our buildings speak for us. They tell the story of our existence. It is important then that architecture embody our knowledge of the past and the sensitivity to the materials with which we build. Our buildings show evidence of our presence and our proportions. Each is a house for our actions. Collectively they begin to reveal our historical and cultural values at the scale of our towns and cities. Successful works of architecture are those that enhance the awareness of our actions among our environment. Responsible architecture comes from asking profound questions about our existence and our presence among earth’s materials. This work is to document one person’s search in the realm of architecture for the last five years. It marks a definite point in what is ultimately an infinite course of study.

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Project

gal•ler•y (gal’•er•i•) n. a long corridor, hall, or room; a room or series of rooms in which works of art are exhibited; a balcony; the uppermost tier of seats, esp. in theater; audience or spectators; a passage in a mine; a tunnel.

above:

perspective of gallery wall

The history of the gallery is traced back to the 14th century Renaissance, a period of commerce, artistry and lavish wealth. The Medici family was one of many to have amassed a large collection of work from the antiquity. As a show of their wealth, they exhibited sculpture and painting of mythology and religion in a corridor in their home, called a galleria. By the end of the 16th century, the galleria was a common display in the residences of nobility. Referring to the galleria as we know it today, a gallery is best understood as a place for viewing and interaction; interaction with the collection and interaction in a social setting. Design of a gallery must then provide a place to accommodate these interactions.

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above right:

New York City area, population: 8,008,278

below right:

City of Mount Vernon, a suburb of New York, population: 68,381


Setting

New York City has a substantial impact on its surrounding area. In 1853 the City of Mount Vernon got its start as one man’s escape 18 miles northeast of New York City. Since then, its proximity to New York has given the suburb its density and multicultural community. Today it remains a community of those who commute to work in the Bronx, Manhattan, and to towns elsewhere in lower Westchester County. In the city’s history, the downtown area was planned around Mount Vernon Station-East, a stop along Metro-North Railroad. Its tracks serve commuters from the eastern reaches of Connecticut to Grand Central Station in MidTown Manhattan. This location remains extremely significant, not only as a major point of orientation, but it emphasizes the city’s reason for being since the Industrial Revolution.

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The gallery finds itself at the intersection of Park Ave. and East Prospect Ave. in downtown Mount Vernon. Existing structures are early 1900s brick office buildings and small industrial warehouses. The footprint of the gallery is shaped by the existing orientation of buildings and streets in the immediate surrounding area. The site slopes approximately fifteen feet from Park Ave. into a large public parking lot to the west.

left:

a diagram of downtown Mount Vernon

right: 0’

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site plan 30’

60’

120’


East

1 st S t .

wa l l

Ave.

stone re taining

Metro-Nor th Railroad

Ave. to NYC

pect Va c

car

dri

ell

ve

a B lvd .

stone retaining wall

Elm

Pros

parking

to CT

Ave.

East

Park iro n br id ge

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Materials: glass glass block masonry concrete masonry poured concrete dimensional lumber heavy timber left:

an early section of circulation atrium 2nd Floor Plan

right: Much like its industrial neighbors, the building is generated mainly from a utilitarian design. The two upper floors remain simple to accommodate movement through the gallery spaces. Other spaces serve only for circulation and adequate lighting of the collections. Stairwells lie to the north and south of the galleries. A circulation atrium runs the length of the building with access to the 1st floor.

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0’

a. b. c. d. e. f.

5’

10’

20’

upper gallery w/ bench circulation atrium below north stairwell south stairwell elevator area of repose


f.

a.

e.

d.

c. b.

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left:

corner at Prospect Ave. and Park Ave.

far left:

a late section of circulation atrium 1st Floor Plan

right: 0’ The building is organized by a series of enclosure systems. Utilitarian spaces are enclosed by concrete block, a material with a heavy industrial presence. The galleries and circulation atrium are enclosed by glass and poured concrete. The lighter materials open their spaces to the town. The change in material assignment suggests the hierarchy among internal spaces.

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a. b. c. d. e. f.

5’

10’

20’

lower gallery circulation atrium north stairwell south stairwell elevator public entrance


d. f.

a. c.

f. e.

b.

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left:

The lower level is a collection of spaces that serve the operations on the upper floors. Employee spaces are distanced from the public, occurring at the southern end of the building. Spaces are arranged at this level to carry the structure of the two upper floors through to the ground. The plan is partially enclosed by earth due to the building’s location on a sloping site. A retaining wall opens the level to a large public parking lot to the west.

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a view of west wall

far left:

perspective looking south

right:

0 Floor Plan

0’

a. b. c. d. e. f. g. h. i. j. k. l. m.

5’

10’

20’

men’s restroom women’s restroom north stairwell area of repose elevator public entrance employee entrance circulation corridor janitor’s closet darkroom curator’s office service room mechanical room


j. a.

c.

m.

d. e.

k. i.

b.

l.

h. g. f.

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left:

perspective of atrium enclosure

far left:

study of twoway joist slab

right: 0’ The galleries are stacked in the center and lie adjacent to a tall atrium corridor that runs the length of the building. Glass block filters sunlight and distributes it evenly down a free-standing wall. The wall then works as a dynamic element in the gallery, providing a background against which to view the exhibits. Benches are placed below to promote social interaction in an active space.

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a. b. c. d. e. f. g. h.

section through gallery 5’

10’

20’

lower gallery upper gallery circulation atrium to south stairwell men’s restroom women’s restroom circulation corridor employee entrance


b.

d.

a. c.

e.

f.

g.

h.

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left:

perspective into north stairwell

far left:

a study of retaining wall at 0 floor plan

right:

Material application begins to regulate design decisions. In this instance, the dimensions of a concrete block (8” x 8” x 16”), become nominal units by which to arrange spaces in the building. Freedom in block construction is limited by the number of connections that a single block can make when it turns a corner. Other materials are then required to perform additional roles in the building’s construction. The finished building integrates all material systems into a collective whole.

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0’

a. b. c. d. e. f.

section through north stairwell 5’

10’

20’

to upper gallery public entrance circulation atrium circulation corridor elevator water fountain


a.

e.

b.

e.

f.

e.

c.

d.

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left: far left:

early section through gallery

right:

section through atrium/corridor

0’ The galleries house the life of the building. They are the only spaces to make use of wood, a living material. The two spaces are created by a pair of joist slabs spanning between stairwells. The upper gallery is structured by a concrete wall and posts of heavy timber that rest at the lower gallery. The posts line the atrium floor and provide an interesting space among which to interact adjacent to the collection.

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view of south exterior stair

a. b. c. d. e. f. g. h.

5’

10’

20’

lower gallery upper gallery to north stairwell to south stairwell to restrooms to office/darkroom service room to mechanical room


b.

a.

c.

c.

e.

d.

f.

g. h.

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The galleries lie behind a concrete wall that opens the building to Park Ave. A large void allows eastern light into the spaces and reveals the two levels inside. It frames a bench in the center of the upper gallery. Those who sit, remove themselves from the collection and experience a view of the town. When they stand, the view changes again and their focus returns to the work.

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above left:

view of gallery from Park Ave.

below left:

view of bench in upper gallery

right: 0’

east elevation from Park Ave. 5’

10’

20’


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left:

perspective of exterior stairs

far left:

perspective of north wall

right: 0’

The north and south elevations present an opportunity to understand the building from the town. Glass and concrete enclose the ends of the atrium, below which is the most active part of the building. The lighting and movement that it incorporates make it an expressive part of the building’s program.

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north elevation from Prospect Ave. 5’

10’

20’


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The building sits on a sloping site that allows it to be experienced from two perspectives. The galleries occupy the two upper floors which are accessible from the east. The west elevation reveals the full three stories and offers a more comprehensive understanding of the building’s internal operations. A large free-standing wall covers the gallery spaces beyond.

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above left:

perspective of exterior stairs

below left:

study of material organization

right:

west elevation from parking lot

0’

5’

10’

20’


25


left:

perspective of west wall

far left:

view of gallery from Park Ave.

right: 0’

The south elevation is a view of the gallery as seen from across the train tracks. It offers a number of spaces to accommodate pedestrian activity in the town.

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south elevation from across tracks 5’

10’

20’


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left:

perspective of west wall

right:

perspective of north wall


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left: right:

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view of west wall view of gallery from Park Ave.


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left:

corner at Prospect Ave. and Park Ave.

right:

perspective from Prospect Ave.


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Acknowledgements

studio colleagues:

scanning:

printing:

photography:

design/production:

Scott Edmonston Kenneth Maruyama David Pollard David Schlect Daniel Villa

Cardinal Blueprinters, Inc. Blacksburg, VA Epson Stylus Photo 1280 Nikon D100 Digital Camera James Lancia

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Bibliography

Nicolin, Pierluigi and François Chaslin. (1983). Mario Botta 1978-1982, Il laboratorio di Architettura. Milano, Italia: Electa Editrice. Jensen, Richard. (2000). Clark and Menefee. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press. Disch, Peter. (1995). Luigi Snozzi, Buildings and Projects 1958-1993 (second edition). Lugano, CH: ADV Publishing House S.A. Fleig, Karl. (1992). Alvaro Aalto,Works and Projects (3rd spanish/english edition). Barcelona, Spain: Editorial Gustavo Gili, S.A. Rudy Huntziger Architetto - Opere e Progetti. (1986). Old Westbury, NY: New York Institute of Technology. NewWebster’s Dictionary. (1992). New York, NY: Ottenheimer Publishers, Inc. Microsoft Encarta. (2002). [Standard Encyclopedia]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation Wikipedia. (2002). http://www.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Mount_Vernon,_New_York. 37


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Undergraduate Thesis  

Undergraduate Thesis for James W. Lancia III at Virginia Tech 2003

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