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studio I

professor matthew dudzik

fall 2011

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FROM OBJECT TO ARCHITECTURE AND THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE Through abstraction of the Spirograph, the new Savannah Civic Center revitalizes and enlivens the formalism of the gridded fabric of Savannah. By use of translation and a sub-grid, the Civic Center creates a hyper-awareness of the Savannah grid through exaggeration. Its static nature is broken through translation and re-contextualization, thus reactivating Orleans Square adjacent to the site and reviving the previously lost Elbert Square. Within the underlying structure of the grid, the civic center has the ability to reinterpret itself in a wide variety of ways to facilitate public permeability and interactivity.

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the spirograph adaptability , interactivity, and reconfiguration

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The spirograph creates an almost infinate variety of shapes using a rational underlying structure


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Through a series of abstractions, principles of adaptivity and interactivity were distilled from the spirograph. All of the models used the grid as their underlying structure. These principles became driving objectives for the translation into architecture as well as the process of design. 8


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The Savannah Civic Center is the choosen site because it presents an opportunity to revive one of Savannah’s lost historic squares and restore the gridded fabric of Savannah. The current building is dated and poorly adapts to new uses.

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the square reinterpret, revitalize, reactivate,

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The Savannah squares were once used as farming plots for settlers and gathering places for troops. Now they are used to memorialize Savannahs past. While beautified by 300 year old trees, today they have become static spaces due to their formalism in contemporary culture.

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Elbert Square was lost to Savannah in in the 1930’s due to the construction of US 17 and Montgomery St. Only a small fragment remains today that is ill maintained and underused. The “new” Elbert Square, is revitalized by an extention that preserves the linearity of the road and creates a new footprint. The translation occures by shift and overlap, which become devices further explored in the architecture.

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The program is largly determined by the existing Civic Center, which includes an arena and large theatre. The revived square is the entity around which all of the buildings of the new architeture will be centralized. The site also provides a unique opportunity to directly link the new square to the adjacent Orleans Square. The arena will be designed in a future phase of the project.

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the black box theater

The theatre has the ability reconfigure with

hydraulic systems to adapt to different needs and can permeate into the surrounding public square.

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the linking corridor The corridor creates a new kind of public space for Savannah. It joins the two squares together and creates a new unity by linking sections of Savannah’s downtown with a pedestrian thouroughfare.

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This diagram represents adaptive/static and formal/informal relationships within the program and cooresponding architecture. The rhythm serves to create an awareness of the Savannahs’ greater grid as the user experiences the building through its public space.

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the grid translate, restructure, exaggerate

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The architecture must be allowed to adapt while remaining fundamentally the same.

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Breaking from the grid proved nearly impossible, as the grid is inherent in the makeup of all architecture

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Key elements of adaptability and interactivity are represented in shifting building parts that reconfigure space and program, as well as embedded interactive technology that engage the public. The architecture accentuates the grid with new flexibility, effectively exaggerating the context of Savannah’s

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fabric. The formal grid’s static nature is broken with adaptability, thus reactivating Orleans Square and reviving Elbert Square.

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the final product as complex as necessary, as simple as can be

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Savannah Civic Center, Savannah, GA