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a colorful symphony



2 research 2 8 12 16 20 24 28

architecture as protagonist a way of looking at things renaissance + the middle ages spatial narratives ju dou architectural representation studio 402

32 34 48 50

paintings dabbler’s workspace form site

30 analogue studies 53 precedents

54 oak tree 58 musical instruments

61 typologies

62 kenan tower house 64 stevie eller dance center 66 cooper union

69 case studies

70 experience music project 72 ballet center for dance 74 san francisco conservatory of music

76 oakland

78 poetry 86 site analysis 98 a colorful symphony

109 design

110 the tower 112 Oakland’s Colorful Symphony

a colorful symphony

table of contents

“I cannot do a building without building a new repertoire of characters of stories of language and it is all parallel. It’s not just building per se, it is building worlds.”

what’s the story?

architecture as protagonist thesis abstract

There is little dispute over architecture as a passionate, meaningful profession. Over our years of study, we as students have always been questioned of the reasoning or the concept behind certain architectural and design decisions. Our profession has prided itself on the basis of being both practical and theoretical. However, in the current study of architecture our representations have succumbed to the digital drafting programs such as AutoCad and Revit in order to fully express resolution. These architectural drawings succeed in conveying the technical solution of the building but fall flat in terms of representing the meaning and narrative of the project. In this age, is it still important to highlight the relationship of architecture and its narrative? As students, growing into professionals, are we losing the sense of narrative to the rational solution? In the past, what have architects learned by using narrative in their architectural representations? It is important to analyze and even rethink how architecture is being presented. Because of new technologies and materials, the narrative of architecture is stronger than ever. When we look at past architects and their work, we find the most capturing images as those of Carlo Scarpa, Aldo Rossi, and Peter Zumthor just to name a few. Scarpa for example would draw his plans and sections simultaneously or as one drawing. The details would also be worked out on the same drawing. What looked like scribbles was actually a well thought out detail. All these architects were more successful than current professional firms in relaying the architectural story of the design. However, these architects used many hand renderings to portray an architectural vision. How 3

What is the nature of the relationship between architecture and narrative? What can architects learn by thinking about narrative? How can our current architectural drawings of plan, section, elevation, details etc. be thought of as MEANINGFUL and SENSORY as well as a technological solution? Is this narrative possible via computer / digital drawings as oppose to hand renderings?

can we encapsulate the same passion and meaning from a digital representation of the architectural drawings of plan, section, elevation, and details? Since architecture is a form of art, why can’t its representation emote the same way a photograph or a painting does? But architecture is more than just a two-dimension surface. It is a built form – so how does that change things? How can threedimensional representation relate to convey narrative? Meaning can be found in multiple ways. Maybe it is by relating the plan and the section. Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp by Le Corbusier found meaning and harmony in the way that the plan and section mimicked each other. This harmony relates to the spiritual meaning of the space. Think of a place that you hold dear; maybe it is your home or a church. How would you embody the special characteristics of ritual or family that you experience every day in the form of a plan for example? I know that it is more than just black and white space on a sheet of paper. Douglas Darden is a great model of finding meaning in a project and illustrating its potential. Darden uses his own stories to create a setting, characters, and a plot or ritual. All these characteristics are prevalent in any project throughout time. Darden’s drawings all accomplish a mood as well as an understandable structure. By establishing things such as ritual, he frames the needs of the project and focuses his study on those needs. Architecture starts with an idea, with the imagination. Imagination is endless, yet make-believe. Still, nothing could have ever been created without a creative mind. What I believe to be a good analogy to this concept of narration is that of a musical composition. 5

“The drawing itself must take on the quality of the sought-for object.�

At first, the composer will start with a blank music sheet with only lines and spaces. Then, notes are placed – and depending on the position, dynamic, time signature, ties or staccatos etc., these notes are telling a specific story and feeling. After the melody, and sometimes lyrics, is completed, the piece is ready to be orchestrated. The orchestra carries out the piece the way it is meant to be played. The music sheet is to architectural representation as the concert is to built form. What do architects do? Architects make drawings. Therefore, it is an architect’s responsibility to fully encompass the final product’s sensation with the way it is represented. The drawings and initial models are the building blocks of the tactile outcome. What is fantastic about this notion of architecture as narrative is that it can be carried out in any and every project. This thesis research is not restricted by program, but instead wishes to exploit it. At the end of the year, I will have hoped to justify that, yes, narrative is still important to today’s architectural endeavors. Personally, I feel that the fact that architects create the built environment is enough validation that architecture itself is a narrative of the past, present, and future. I would like to explore different ways in representing this narrative and hope to achieve a successful rendition. Through this study, I hope to be more mindful of users interaction within a project as well as an architect’s more direct, meaningful connection to design. As architects, it is our responsibility to be authors and narrators of the story that will be shown in the years to follow construction. The future project is screaming for its story to be told; or maybe we are providing a space where future stories will be told or happen. 7

“Portrayals of as yet unrealized architectural works represent an attempt to give a voice to something which has not yet found its place in the concrete world for which it is meant.�

peter zumthor

a way of looking at things

A Way of Looking at Things discusses Peter Zumthor’s personal outlook on his experience with the design process. Zumthor touches on the perception and representation of architecture as sensory, memorable and concrete. This theoretical way of “looking at things” is just as important as the ideas of construction, materials and scale. The combination of technological details and narrative is the essence of Zumthor’s thoughts. ‘Preliminary Promises’ looks at the representation of the initial architectural thought. Zumthor sees the building for what it can be via his working drawings, thus creating “preliminary promises” of the final project. This is directly related to the notion that architectural depictions allude to the final sensory meaning of the project as a whole. “Portrayals of as yet unrealized architectural works represent an attempt to give a voice to something which has not yet found its place in the concrete world for which it is meant.” Here, it is as if the final constructed building is first an imagination, and only through the life of the drawings can it become a reality. Zumthor expresses the importance of these drawings reference to the real, future building. How can we express the future product and all it encapsulates into the drawings that are representing it? “The drawing itself must take on the quality of the soughtfor object.” Through these “preliminary promises,” Zumthor delves into the narrative as he starts to understand the project as not just an architect, but as the user. Is an architect, then, a storyteller for the future building, giving it a voice before it becomes actual, more than a figment of the imagination? Like a work of art, architecture has the power to emotionally move others. The correlation from “feeling” 9

to the drawing all the way through construction is not an easy task, but it is something to strive for. In ‘Unexpected Truths,’ Zumthor relates architecture to art and poetry. Zumthor questions what gives architecture the ability to affect the moods of people. He pushes that it is in fact achieved by more than just form and contents. Instead, “it is concerned with insights and understanding, and above all truth.” How can the drawings of the proposed building shed light on these hidden revelations? If a building is never poetic, as Zumthor states, can the discourse leading up to the final product be poetic? The section titled ‘Desire’ compares an objective versus subjective design process. Zumthor acknowledges the significance of personal feelings in his work. Especially in the corporate world today, many architects will continue to talk about the project in terms of money, efficiency and other things that do not pertain to the narrative of its design and use. However, the design process itself is based upon, reason yes, but also passion. When a question arises within a project, is the objective solution the best? Instead, recall the “feeling” and “passion” to reach an answer. Then, the solution will make sense, and can turn that subjective thought into a reasonable one. Most times, it is hard to find passion in an architectural drawing, but the drawing holds the desire for the excitement of the architect. Zumthor explains his own resurfacing passion when a new idea emerges and he changes the design with a line within the drawing. Architects are to consider both passion and feasibility simultaneously when talking about the project, but also in its portrayal.

If all architecture lies in construction as Zumthor states, then an architect’s drawings must be immaculate in conveying its tectonics, but more so, how each piece of that construction is part of a whole. The way a building is put together, the choice of materials, the details, are all chapters in the narrative of the project. The construction is what carries through from the drawings to the built form. Negligence of the importance of meaning within an architectural drawing will result in a stifled building, unable to reach its place in society. By the way of preliminary promises, unexpected truths, and desire, architecture can stand true to its individual narrative.


“The first men did not encounter the world as a world of clearcut objects and persons but instead as a world of forces and emotional qualities.”

looking back

renaissance + middle ages

To move forward with the study of architectural representation, it is worthwhile to take a step back and research architectural illustrations of history. This discourse will look specifically into drawings of the Renaissance and Middle Ages. The way that architecture has been represented in these two periods are both different but relevant to their time. As the struggle to find a narrative with the current practice of architecture continues, the historic periods provide inspiration and guidance. Prior to the Renaissance, architectural drawings as we know them today were rare. In the Middle Ages architects did not conceive of a whole building and the very notion of scale was unknown. “Gothic architecture was fundamentally a constructive practice, operating through well-established traditions and geometric rules that could be applied directly on site.” For Gothic cathedral projects, God was found throughout these geometries and rules, and meaning and narrative were inherent through the construction process. What is interesting is that because these cathedrals took so long to build, methods of construction changed and diversified throughout the construction period. The masons as well changed, and were from different regions with their own ideas of construction and meaning. Also, these masons were all bonded together for a religious, united purpose, so the ritual of the building became embedded into the process. “Multiple styles, or compromised geometric systems, were not considered inconsistent but instead a testament to the history and different responses to structural or symbolic problems during construction.” These differences of origins of workers, which lead to the diverse practices 13

and notions of geometry, embed a historical narrative within the building. The architectural “drawings” were therefore more tied to the practice of construction – its site, materials and time. The ritual embedded within the cathedral construction process is a relevant case study. The drawings reflected this symbolism. Architectural drawings started to gain importance and value in the Renaissance because of emphasis on structures that appeal to both reason and emotion. Renaissance architecture is characterized by harmonious form, mathematical proportion, and a unit of measurement based on the human scale. During the Renaissance, architects were not just laborers but instead raised the level of architect to “métier” and artist. They hoped to create deeper meaning within their structures in an artistic way. For Renaissance architects, architecture was not just about construction, as in the middle ages, but starts at the representation stage. Because of the importance of proportion during the Renaissance, the plan and section inherently relate to each other and could almost be used interchangeably. The same scheme is used to derive each drawing. In these drawings, the main open area is divided into equal parts and thus constitutes the basic spatial module. The same module also applies in elevation. Arcs half of the square base are used to derive the curves of the project. All these calculations are written and shown directly on the drawings, bisecting them into understanding. Another useful drawing of the Renaissance was the “x-ray axonometric.” The purpose of these drawings was to show the relationship of the different geometric shapes, as well as the interior space. In the early 1900s,

De Stijl architects like Theo van Doesburg also used axonometric representations to convey artistic meaning as well as relationship of pieces from one to another. With artistic, painterly skills Renaissance architects were able to portray an architecture that went above just the technical. This skill fostered creative meaning and imagination within the drawings. During the fifteenth century, architecture was more and more thought of as a two-dimensional, orthogonal art. This was radically different than the Renaissance view, which focused on the perspective ability of representation. Each had a new mathematical and geometric rationalization of the image which current architectural drawings take for granted. This history of how architecture was portrayed is important to the study of the future of architectural representation. By looking at how the Renaissance related plan to section to elevation to details, architects today are reminded of the importance of looking at the drawings as pieces that make a whole, as oppose to separate entities. These drawings are all related via the over arching themes that society deemed important. The projects themselves were also seen not for the architect but instead for the community at large. These themes of proportion, geometry and scale contain a deeper meaning because of the belief that the harmony in the shapes transcends the project. A lesson on the importance of the link of conception to construction can also be learned through these studies of representation.


“There is no mute architecture. All architects, all buildings ‘tell stories’ with varying degrees of consciousness.”

mark rakatansky

spatial narratives

Architecture is informed by many factors that are “embedded” within culture and society. These are relating to programmatic, economic, psychological and ideological factors. Many of these things can be found within the architecture and cannot be removed from it. Since these notions are already inscribed, the narrative is already infused. For example, a residential project already asks questions such as relationships between outside and inside, common space and private space as well as the relationships between family members and the family and society. The narrative of the residence then can narrate the family’s values, personalities and interactions. The definition of space therefore can correlate with the hierarchy deemed by the family, such as size and location. Looking at this in more detail, a room is then defined by the appliances and furniture it houses. There is a specific narrative of the space that has the refrigerator for example. These appliances already have a specific mentality established. In Spatial Narratives by Mark Rakatansky, the author discusses three different positions on narrative strategies in architecture. The first is one that is nonrhetorical, what you see is what you get, there is no deeper meaning (“a brick is just a brick, a wall is just a wall…”). The second position is one that “adds” meaning to the building by telling stories. Both these positions have a commonality. That is they both believe that meaning does not reside in buildings other than in the most general sense. In other words, these two positions do not support the inherent narrative of architecture, “that if architecture could tell a story, that story would be designed into the mute and empty vessel of architecture as an additive 17

feature.” The third position then suggests the exposing of narrative that is already at work within the inherent factors that is already within architecture. The first thing to look at is the structural timeline that is architecture and how it relates to narrative. Rakatansky gives an example of the misunderstandings of a book. In the reading of a book, there is an assumed beginning, middle and end. However, is the beginning ever really the beginning? And the end ever really final closure? It is assumed as well that the story never changes, that the words remain the same, however it is such a pleasure to re-read and discover things that were not always in the forefront. Depending on attentiveness or mood, a reader can skim or analyze or imagine for themselves a different story than the exact words on the page. Depending on the reader, the story can come across as two different narratives. In this way, a story has the ability to change with each read. Cannot the same thing happen as we experience a building? In this way, a building is never static, but completely dynamic with each user that comes into contact with it. It is therefore false to say that buildings are “frozen in time.” Rakatansky suggests that the temporality of architecture happens not through the physical moving through a space but instead what is referred to as the “institutional” space –that which is a program saturated with certain cultural and mental characteristics. This is because the “institutional” spaces contain a ritual, which is different than the movement from one space to another. Rakatansky goes as far to say that all designed spaces function as institutional space and work through ideologies. Over time, there was a shift in western

domestic space – from unspecified to specified functions and development. This then changed the way, or maybe adapted to the way, of concepts of family and privacy, as well as societal norms and hierarchy. But another ideology is a “transparent” architecture and society. This narrative is one that won’t necessarily rid social differences but instead maintain a certain social order. The “unobstructive” then would call for collectiveness. To give an illusion of freedom, a shift to an “open office space” occurred which did away with forms that were deemed as having hierarchy and being compartmentalized. This instead just led to new ways of increased efficiency in management and continued to perpetuate surveillance and hierarchy. The point is, is that architecture cannot control behavior. “Architecture both structures and is structured by institutions.” Is it true that different programs can inhabit the same space if programs are completely independent from architectural spatiality? Rakatansky says that this is possible and it is the structure of these institutions that allow this interchanging to occur. So then, it is crucial for each representation of these different programs to be individual and telling, differentiating the rituals from each other.


“The architect is responsible to create the spirit of a thought. And to translate through whatever medium is available a sense of place, whether it be in a text, in a drawing, in a model, in a building, in a photograph, or in a ďŹ lm. The architect concerns himself/herself, with the mysteries of space and of form, and is also obligate to invent new programs...

the color of cinematography

ju dou

Even without subtitles, viewers can understand the feeling of Ju Dou based upon the colors used in different scenes. As designers, we must convey a feeling or narrative of our project through presentation techniques. Ju Dou’s cinematography is a lesson in color, in creating mood and tone. In the movie, warmer colors such as reds and oranges relayed a fiery passion and intensity. Cooler colors like blues and greens conveyed a more somber, mysterious tone. The play of light, specifically the color yellow, was the beam of hope within the movie. These strategies of color are important lessons for architects to relate to users, as well as narrate a specific story. Color is a major part of Ju Dou. The whole setting of the movie is in a fabric dying warehouse. The fabrics are all drenched in a red dye, which ironically kills and injures two main characters. Ju Dou, the female protagonist, adorned the color red. She even mentions it is her favorite color after receiving a red headscarf from her lover. Association of a character by color is a tool for the viewer to be connected on a more intense level. Now, whenever the color flashes the screen we are immediately reminded of Ju Dou. It is something that stays with you. Even now, to see bright swatches of red and orange remind me of the intensity of Ju Dou. To have this profound effect on viewers is crucial for presentations and association. Color is also used to show the time of day. In the day, bright, warm colors were used. At night, the hues are all dark, cool blues and grays. However, if something intense happened at night, a burst of red would splash the screen – such as a burning fire. Drawing an architectural project at night versus during the day are also two radically 21

It is essential that the Architect creates works that are thought provoking, sense provoking, and ultimately life provoking. Or more precisely, life giving, to what appears to be at ďŹ rst inanimate materials. The Architect enters into the social contract in the deepest sense. To search for qualities and human values which give spirit.â€?

different drawings, if the design so chooses. To represent a building in different ways and hues depending on the time of day can be useful in showing the strengths and narration of the project. The building performs differently from day to night, so its representation should follow suit. For architectural presentations, we mostly see color used in programming. In Ju Dou, there was a relationship between color and events. When this colorcoding is established within a project, it can be used as a way-finding device. A lot of the time, architectural drawings are drafted in “black and white.� A lack of color sometimes correlate with a lack of passion and narration. Employing the same principles of color that Ju Dou does into our architectural drawings may give them a higher dimension of emotion than black and white. In conclusion, color can either make or break a presentation. In the case of Ju Dou, color was an important story telling device that captivated an audience. The use of color can allure as well as emote. Color has the capabilities of transforming a scene into something else; color can heighten the intensity with warm colors or send chills with cool ones. Architectural representations can use color to achieve these same things and should be experimented with.


“Since the inception of Western architecture in classical Greece, the architect has not “made” buildings; rather he or she has made the mediating artifacts that make significant buildings possible.”

alberto perez-gomez and louise pelletier

architectural representation

and the perspective hinge

Architectural conception and realization usually assume a one-to-one correspondence between the represented idea and the final building. In this way, it can be inferred that an idea should follow through and be executed by the final product. Even though the representation of architecture differs completely, from drawings to CAD to photographs and models, all are necessary to achieve a final built work. These representations are “surrogates” or “transcriptions” of the built work. They strive to give the built work inherent characteristics of themselves. Today, the creative and technical processes of representations at different scales, from site to detail, add up to a complete, idea of a building. These representations are responsible for the portrayal of the final outcome. So then, are the drawings responsible / to blame for when the narrative goes wrong in the built work? Is the architect? Whether or not the architect is effectively or legally responsible for the production of construction documents, the assumption remains. Are the drawings supposed to be completely unambiguous – so technical that there is no room for error? And therefore made solely for the purpose of construction and production, to be so unambiguous there is no room for misinterpretations? Architectural drawing has the potential to construe a symbolic order. For architects it is important to remember that a symbol is neither a device nor an invention. Symbols embody specific historical and cultural values; they are not necessarily a reflection on “truth” or a representation of a value. An example that comes to mind is a coffee cup. Does this symbolize warmth or just simply is a mug that society has known to hold something hot? Expecting architectural representations 25

to embody a symbolic order or even to function like any other work of art, as far as phenomena, seems incorrect. Art works more as a two-dimensional drawing whereas architectural drawings must function as something with depth and spatial narrative. Another difference between art and architecture is that it concerns itself with both a project and its translation. How are these drawings then related to human life? In architecture, we are defining the nature of depth. Humans perceive a perspective, spatial quality, so for us to relate we must show these qualities. Architectural representations can relate to or involve psychological tests, in which something is mentally hidden and then revealed by a personal response to an image. These projections were identified with a time and place, “being a link of universal ideas and specific things.” A symbolic order in time can be realized through rituals and programs. How things used to happen in the past are different than the present and future and thus can be represented accordingly. Each architect of its time must reflect the depth of the human condition. “This is the same vision as that of the immeasurable harmony conveyed by music.” Music is performed via a time signature and has a potential order and intentionality. Like architecture, there is a time and place on how it is performed and realized where architecture itself is a projection of its ideas. “Since the inception of Western architecture in classical Greece, the architect has not “made” buildings; rather he or she has made the mediating artifacts that make significant buildings possible.” This quote from Architectural Representation and the Perspective Hinge is referring to templates and drawings. Today, architects may be more concerned with “aesthetic novelty” and branding. But for those who seek more than that, who research the place and its human life, need to take into

account these mediating artifacts and tools. “Therefore, the aim is to probe the possibilities of building architecture as a poetic translation, not a dull, unimaginative of its representations.” It should also be assumed that the meaning of an architectural work is never simply what the architect “wants.” Once the architecture takes its place in society, in a public realm, all the factors of its context, including its use and cultural associations, have an impact on how it’s perceived. Nevertheless, the architect cannot step down from the personal responsibility of trying. “The changing relationships between the intentions of architectural drawings and the built objects they describe hold important lessons for architects who wish to exercise ethically the personal imagination and construe a better, richer place for human dwelling.”


notes Architect: Rectangle? What’s your story? What do you want to be? Rectangle: I want to house creativity. Architect: But how Rectangle? Can’t you see you are just four walls? Rectangle: But look where I am. I have rolling hills around me and plenty of wall space. I am capable of holding numerous minds. Architect: Then I will make it come true.

the Plan that arose

studio 402 when Architect met Rectangle 29

Here, three different instruments are shown in different forms - plan, section, and perspective. Each instrument blends into the other. The keys of the piano, the wooden slats of the inside of the guitar, and the hollowed out djembe are telling the story of a musical composition in a different way. Architectural representation as a composite drawing can take cues from this exploration. The black splattering of paint came to the canvas at times were the percussion was prominent, flicking the paintbrush this way and that as the music grew louder and faster.

“Therefore, the aim is to probe the possibilities of building architecture as a poetic translation, not a dull, unimaginative of its representations.�

representation through

analogue studies painting. sculpture. site. 31

Shades are drawn. Doors closed. Seat filled. A young man, as old as her, stands front and center. All in black - a stark contrast against the large white canvas of his drum.

He talks of family. And the struggle of terminal, incomprehensible illness. The xylophone, so spunky and cheerful, now humbles itself to the percussionist’s story.

She recalls the room - she’s been here before - high ceiling and a sloped window wall; two white doors that lead to a grand staircase. She hadn’t entered that way before, but instead by a side, single exit door. Now, sitting ninety degrees counter clockwise from the last time she was there, seemingly silent drums take up half the stage.

He stands, takes a slight bow, and moves on to the next percussion instrument across the room. His elbow slides across the djembe, making a glorious sound, impossible to achieve any other way.

There is a projector screen, showing his performance from an aerial view. Her eyes dart back and forth from hand to hand as they sweep along. Thump thump thump. Each beat has its purpose. Each instrument has its own narrative.


Tears fall and leave a trail on the palette of her cheek. He disappears into the darkness and returns with two others, also in black. One. Single. Drum. Large enough to carry the three, the light reflects onto their faces. In unison they beat on the drum - a loud resonating sound - the palimpsest of the sticks. ThumpThumpThump goes her heart

“When an architect is thinking, he’s thinking architecture and his work is always architecture, whatever form it appears in. No area is more architectural than any other.”


the dabbler’s workspace to foster creativity

The Dabbler’s Workspace is a desk, chair, lounge, easel, and studio. Everyone needs a space to creatively explore the arts. The arts shouldn’t ever be separated, but instead one influencing the other.



Has your heart ever felt like it was growing? Growing! No! Swelling! Swelling into the infinite abyss Expanding out of your chest Scared, almost, that your body will implode? Have you ever felt like that? Just once. Where your heart couldn’t handle the Capacity of Happiness Love Intrigue Desire Hope Wishfulness Passion. Why does my heart swell? Why, thanks for asking It swells to the sound of music Melody and Lyrics When you can’t help but sing Scream! Moved to Dance Smile Cry


Yes, my heart swells when multiple instruments are in the same room Composing Using one another to make magic Utilizing each other To Be Something All different, yet equal My heart swells to the beat of a drum To the beat of my heart Your heart Our hearts Bass bass snare High hat Did I just do that? I did! The impossible And here we go swelling Knowing “I can’t” is officially removed from my vocabulary And you know My heart swells Knowing that you are happy Enjoying your passion And when you smile My heart, already swollen, smiles back


Over dinner, my mind began to swim with all of the questions I wanted to ask her… what’s your favorite color? Do you like chocolate and coffee? Do you listen to Sufjan Stevens? What books do you like to read? (Dear God, I hope she loves to read… that’d be nice. I want that for her… that she enjoys literature.) I already hoped for her.



My heart asks yours “if you were a painting, what would you look like?” My heart asks “if I was in your painting, what would I look like? what would we look like?”

you’re a Dabbler she says I know, I say, but no one but myself has ever really given me a chance. I could’ve been a prodigy!


Upon inspection of a drummer’s practice pad, one can notice the indentations left behind by the beating of the drumsticks. This small rubber pad acts as a memoir of what was there before. The ends of the sticks have left a mark when striking the pad, allowing its user to see what was there before. Similarly, history has its way of revealing itself to us. The cutting away of the book reveals the pages underneath. The sections of pages are each different, showing something new. No two pages are alike, and some even contain images. In this fashion, the viewer gets a hint of what is there, and what is to come. This sculptural piece is a play on a percussion instrument. The ball tip of the contraption, similar to the tip of a drumstick, will leave a lasting impression on the piece. The cut out of the book holds the paint. Here, the sculpture’s tip plunges into the ink and splatters a patina onto the face of the book.

form analogue


site analogue

The question of narrative provides a very personalized experience. What today is known as the East Bay in northern California is where this story takes place. The site analogue explored the Bay Area at night. In the East Bay, everything is illuminated by the activity of the retail and vehicles. However, travelling up the hill becomes darker, as there are less sources of light because of the residential zone. When looking across the bay to the city, the lowlands look dark, especially hidden by Treasure Island, and the tops of the towers are lit up.


the non-architectural



The Oakland fire of 1991 destroyed 1800 acres, including about 2700 single family dwellings. The death count was determined to be twenty-four.

Treehouse by nina idzerda

“Look mommy!” she says staring out the window, eyes fixated on the golden illumination of the trees on the hill Staring out the window frames an unfamiliar view of the trees on the hill, burning with angry flames Framing an unfamiliar view is the portrait of mother, father and two smiling children. Burning with angry flames, the shouts of her parents continue Is the portrait of mother, father and two smiling children an accurate portrayal? The shouts of her parents continue. A treehouse an accurate portrayal of the safe haven she always wanted. A treehouse. But her parents didn’t allow this fort. A safe haven is what she always wanted, a loving family is what she always needed. Her parents didn’t allow this fort in the place they called home. A loving family is what she always needed. Eyes fixate on the golden illumination on the place she would’ve called home: “Look mommy!” she says 55

symmetric fort

oak tree

oakland, ca

The defining symbol of Oakland is its abundance of oak trees. These groves of oaks are ultimately responsible for how Oakland got its name. Oak trees are temperamental and cannot grow in all climates, especially not in a place like San Francisco, making Oakland a unique place in the Bay Area. Oak is the symbol of strength, which is used in historical and mythological stories. Oakland takes to heart their given symbol, using the oak in many images for the city. A prideful city, InspireOakland, in charge of blogs honoring Oakland philanthropists, used an image of the oak tree in comparison with the image of the brain. The roots of the oak tree stretch deep and wide, mimicking the tree above. This is reminiscent of the architectural representation of the floor plan resembling the elevation, such as in Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp Chapel. The sunlight dispersed through the leaves is a great technique for diffusing light within a building. Some examples include perforated sunscreens or can even provide as inspiration such as the deYoung museum in San Francisco. The oak’s branches are big and low to the ground, providing easy access to mount and climb. The notion of a tree fort acts as a safe haven for a bustling city. With a crime-ridden city like Oakland, it is common for the community to look for a stable figure and a place that provides comfort and safety.



instruments of the orchestra

The adjacent images are photographs taken from the inside of instruments - an organ, flute, and guitar. These instruments show the interior qualities of the instruments, but can be translated into architectural interior space. Light and structure come into play here to create the intricate workings of the space. Similarly, the inside of a piano has an intricate mechanism for each key. The system went under many changes throughout the years, including many iterations of piano. The section model of a piano key can be related to an architectural section. In this study, the model was poched and program was implied. The piano key section had many spatial qualities and the massing was proportional to the negative space.


a classification according to general type



marlon blackwell

kenan tower house

fayetteville, arkansas

Marlon Blackwell’s design is the modern treehouse. The residence towers over a canopy of trees and provides 360 degree views to the rest of the city, as well as the Ozark mountains. The house intermingles with the elements through it’s open ventilation and transparencies. A vertical sequence of stairs is contained within a 50’ high courtyard, intertwined with light and shadow. The circulation is showcased for all to see, becoming a more public part of the residence. The light qualities of the staircase also make the tower seem light and balanced. The structural glazing and stair take on a tree-limb quality that resemble its direct surroundings.


gould evans

stevie eller dance tucson, centerarizona

The goal of the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre was to encapsulate movement. The architects chose a score titled “Serenade,” George Ballanchine’s first ballet written for the students of the American Ballet, as the form generator. The architects then overlaid the “plans” of the starting positions for each movement of Serenade and created a matrix. From here, a grid emerged for the “dancing columns” to stand not completely vertical on. This leaves the building in constant movement, instead of a static art piece. The exterior’s woven wire mesh fabric rolls across the facade and becomes the ceiling plane which then becomes the interior form of the 300 seat theater. The outside surface becomes the inside volume and is read as one continuous form. The dance studio is a glass box that makes the students visible to the outside both day and night. An exterior wall of the women’s dressing room is two frosted glass garage doors that open when the dressing rooms are utilized as a classroom. During the project, the builder and architect collaborated on ideas. The form-generating concepts of the building inspired the steel workers to study the architects’ diagrams and create beautiful, wire-framed drawings. The steel-workers became part of the creative process and the result is a “built work of art that works.” This is a great example of the architecture taking on the task of representing its program fully in built and unbuilt form.



cooper unionnew york, new york

Cooper Union has an organic formal quality - from the slits of the external screen to its interior circulation. The undulating lattice envelopes a 20-foot wide grand staircase. The inside of the building is meant to foster collaboration and cross-disciplinary dialogue amongst the college’s three schools, which were previously housed in separate buildings. The central space is the heart of the building, providing a social meeting place for all occasions. Here, students and teachers alike can hold meetings or debates, or just converse. At street level, the transparent facade invites the neighborhood to observe and to take part in the activity within. Many of the public functions - an exhibition gallery, board room and a two-hundred-seat auditorium - are easily accessible one level below grade.


programmatic role-models

case studies


frank gehry

experience music project seattle, washington

The Experience Music Project is a highlight of Seattle. This project really encompasses all aspects of music - past, present, and future. It is a blend of a traditional museum, educational facility, research facility, and performance venue. EMP is an archival space for instruments, has interactive learning activities, and galleries of new technologies, presenting the opportunity to explore history and tradition as well as the innovation of American popular culture. Here, the user can participate in the music making process, no matter their skill level. There is a large central public area where the galleries spill out into, where the public interacts and exchanges what they have learned or just experienced. The Sound Lab offers hands-on opportunities to illustrate the relationships between music, science and technology. The Artist’s Journey looks at events that jump start creative development. In addition, there is a multimedia archive and an educational public outreach program. As well as 35,000 square feet of exhibition space, the building houses a restaurant, bookstore, and administrative spaces, with support and storage areas located beneath grade.



ballet center for dance houston, texas

Houston, Texas’s commitment to the performing arts is shown through the iconic Ballet Center for Dance. Similarly, Oakland’s growing number of entrepreneurs, success of art murmur, and prosperity of music venues show the city’s dedication to the performing arts. Gensler’s design allows for an expansive glass facade, showcasing the happenings of inside. The double-height studios allow users to look in and observe the dancers themselves. These interior sight lines also encourage collaboration and energy. The facility houses spaces for the professional dancers, students and administration. In this design, the way these spaces are set up encourage and foster interaction and socialization. The integration of all levels of skill is important for the innovation and individual improvement of the arts. These sight lines also open the doors of inspiration - integral to any performing arts program. The education programs offered range from preschoolers to adults, including a dance therapy program for people with Parkinson’s Disease. The ability of children and adults to learn with and from each other creates a family feel within a project. The way that a community helps each other, no matter their age, gender or race keeps the city mentally and physically healthy. To care for, as oppose to shun a disabled community strengthens the city and becomes a model for others.


perkins + will

sf conservatory of music san francisco, california

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music includes educational spaces, classrooms, practice rooms, faculty studios, music library, a 450-seat concert hall and recital halls seating 140 and 100. The Conservatory offers a Bachelor of Music degree program. This education examines Western culture through the study of history and literature, and develop critical thinking skills through the study of the social sciences, languages, philosophy, science, and mathematics. This extensive program really envelopes what one needs to study music. It is more than just playing the instrument, it is about performing, learning theory, having an archival space, and being surrounded by mentors and peers. Because this building is a combination of a historic building and new addition, it reflects on the preservation the music of the past, but also using it as a stepping stone to explore boundaries of new music.


the town

Oaklandeast bay, california

Oakland, California is known to be an unsafe place. However, the New York Times ranked Oakland as the number fifth “Place to Be in 2012” despite its normal ranking of high crime rate. Why is that? Recently Oakland was infused with local arts programs - such as galleries and restaurants, all owned by the residents of Oakland. These arts programs have lifted up the desolate streets of the city and provide a healthy outlet to the community. Now, Oakland is deemed the “Brooklyn” of San Francisco, due in large part to its unique sense of place. This proposed project capitalizes on Oakland’s intense sense of style and growing popularity. The arts have proven to be therapeutic to a city - especially one as crime-ridden as Oakland. These programs are therapeutic physically and mentally as they allow the brain and the heart to exude positive, creative energy. The location of the project is essential, located adjacent to a senior center and an arts-infused high school. The project encourages the collaboration of young and old, in order to help those with physical ailments with those who need role - models.


i am a little town (no great city) the train comes in and out through the street carrying the weight of its people my future pride i am a little big town second largest, in fact, in container tonnage greeting ships as they come in razzle dazzle and oyster pirates i am a city i y under the radar except in the headlines people shudder at the sound of my name mothers warn their children about the dark but they do not know the whole story i am a great city i murmur art i smell of spices i taste of salt listen to the music -pots and pans, guitars with ampsmy buildings continue to grow and prosper keep your questioning eyes open i am here and still the trains roll in and out and the cranes go up and down



graceful technical


no (i am wandering -the- town ware[houses] silently speak) one after another, barren i am any (who around the streets take a moment to thread the fabric) one way only to follow strolling cautiously of a curious me -for one cannot know everything that is real and truehow long have you been waiting for me? and i’m some (what like you) one


high circulation 980 freeway green space art murmur community outreach music venues

site h.j. kaiser memorial park residential

site analysis Oakland, California is known to be an unsafe place. However, the New York Times ranked Oakland as the number fifth “Place to Be in 2012” despite its normal ranking of high crime rate. Why is that? Recently Oakland was infused with local arts programs - such as galleries and restaurants, all owned by the residents of Oakland. These arts programs have lifted up the desolate streets of the city and provide a healthy outlet to the community. Now, Oakland is deemed the “Brooklyn” of San Francisco, due in large part to its unique sense of place. This proposed project capitalizes on Oakland’s intense sense of style and growing popularity. The arts have proven to be therapeutic to a city - especially one as crime-ridden as Oakland. These programs are therapeutic physically and mentally as they allow the brain and the heart to exude positive, creative energy. The location of the project is essential, located adjacent to a senior center and an arts-infused high school. The project encourages the collaboration of young and old, in order to help those with physical ailments with those who need role - models. The technique used for this site plan was inspired by past art murmur posters and the landscape architect Walter Hood, who authored Urban Diaries, a story of Oakland.



h.j. kaiser memorial park



community outreach

music venues

The proposed project site is at the intersection of two city grids. The building form therefore rotates up and accommodates both grids of the highly trafficked streets, Telegraph (orange) and Broadway (red).


“It’s hard to imagine that this area, just north of downtown Oakland, was abandoned and plagued with crime just a few years ago. Now it bustles with hip bars, places to hear music and interesting restaurants that have even lured San Franciscans across the bay.�

Art Murmur in Oakland is a monthly art walk involving numerous local galleries. “The mission of the Oakland Art Murmur is to support art and cultural venues that are dedicated to increasing popular awareness of and participation in the arts of Oakland.� Galleries are generally located between 22nd and 26th Street and along the Broadway/Telegraph corridors. The proposed project on the corner of Telegraph Avenue and 19th Street will become an extension of the nighttime art walk, as an open gallery and exhibition space is on the ground floor. 91

A block over from 19th street BART station lies Fox Square Park in the Uptown district of Oakland, surrounded by commercial, retail, and residential programs. East of the site is Telegraph Ave. This block consists of Sears, “Newberry” (now Uptown music venue), taqueria, desert plant shop, and Flora restaurant.

South of the site is Fox Theater, a thriving concert venue with an Art Deco styled exterior and interior. Using the same building, yet tucked behind the venue’s facade away from the street is Oakland School of the Arts, a charter school educating kids from ages ten through eighteen. Just a few more blocks south is Oakland City Center and a bustling downtown.

In a seemingly barren place she planted a seed So she may climb to the top and see the world When the gusts came around to blow down the tree She held on tightly like crane to sea

The Uptown district has recently incorporated an apartment complex to the north of Fox Square Park. The architecture strays from the Art Deco that surrounds it, naturally, and instead uses brick and a warm color palette.


Remember Them when you walk with freedom Remember Them when you think of liberty Remember Them when your children get on the school bus Remember Them while you sleep without fear ... Remember Them and walk the path of peace Remember Them and never give up Remember Them and reach for the stars

There is a facade made out of tile Orange, blue, gold terracotta The stage inside drowns out the world This is a place that’s been here awhile This is a place in Art Deco style

Above the glass in that same place Music plays as minds are shaped The youth will paint on the canvas of dreams And dancers glide with grace Just up the stairs lies this space

There is a place with many new doors Built brick by brick, walls and window sills Rounded corners as an invitation to all Home to a place that is now restore This is a place that demanded much more

Out in the park the children can play Around silent figures that don’t swing nor sway Trellis is sewn by the green of the day Grass has arose and is begging to stay


fox theater

oakland school of the arts

uptown place

remember them


synesthesia: a condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a color This exploration delves into the nature of architecture and its representation. Architecture is its own art form and therefore its portrayal should be documented as such. The arts inspire each other. For example, music will influence the dancer who in turn will inspire the artist. Architecture is not separated from the creative realm, but to include it we must represent the architectural project as one to be inspiring and telling. The following quotes are excerpts from The Annotated Phantom Toolbooth’s chapter titled, “A Colorful Symphony.”

the phantom tollbooth

a colorful symphony norton juster

“It is quite common for synesthetes to go about their business for years assuming that everyone perceives the world as they do – seeing A-flats in music as peachcolored, for instance, or associating the taste of an apple with the texture of linen…” “The world looked like an enormous coloring book that had never been used. Everything appeared in simple back outlines, and it looked as if someone with a set of paints the size of a house and a brush as wide could stay happily occupied for years” “You see what a dull place the world would be without color? he said, bowing until his chin almost touched the ground. But what pleasure to lead my violins in a serenade of spring green or hear my trumpets blare out the blue sea and then watch the oboes tint it all in warm yellow sunshine. And rainbows are best of all – blazing neon signs, and taxicabs with stripes, and the soft, muted tones of a foggy day. We play them all.” “The long a of the English alphabet … has for me the tint of weathered wood, but a French a evokes polished ebony. This black group also includes hard g (vulcanized rubber) and r (a sooty rag being ripped)…” “I’m sure everyone, at one time or another, has walked down a street they have walked down a thousand times and suddenly noticed something that they seem never to have noticed before. It may be the light, their frame of mind, or any of an endless number of influences that suddenly renders something visible or memorable. We do tend to rush through the ‘spaces of our lives’ without noticing or taking pleasure (or offense). What a shame” 99

to be heard

outdoor theater and to listen

When performing, individual characteristics of the instruments stand out, giving meaning and importance to the performer. Doctors agree that the act of participation of sharing and of observation - helps those suffering from physical and mental disorders, especially those relating to social aspects. Performing is a way to get emotion out, as oppose to stifling it. The gallery space is also a way to showcase work in a less up-front way, free of judgement and full of personal self fulfillment.


have you ever considered...

recording studio

...recording your stream of conscious?

Singing was the first form of musical self expression. It is said that the voice is an extension of oneself and in this way is the most intimate means of self expression. The voice is actually one’s own builtin instrument. The act of singing enables the unconscious integration and organization of personality through the content and structure of words and melodies. For the disabled, singing lessens behavioral disturbances and stimulates proper speech formation. For many, singing is a fear and an obstacle to overcome.


how do you know

archival library if you never try

“The process of interaction between the personality of the reader and imaginative literature which may engage emotions and free them for conscious and productive use.�



arts studios self-reflection

Dancing, whether it be choreographed or not, is a process which integrates the physical and emotional complexities of an individual. This is because it is a body and mind integration. Through dancing, one can development body image and a self concept. It has been shown that dancing increases awareness of inner physiological states and in fact is a psychological counterpart to emotional and physical tension. Dancing provides an alternative for verbal communication and paves the way for nonverbal behavior. The act of dancing can become a social and ritual behavior as well as individualistic. Mirrors are used in the studio in order for the dancers to observe themselves and to be self critical of their movements. The concept of the mirror also requires the individual to look inside themselves and face their reflection. The architectural requirements for dancing are simply a large, open floor area.


the beginning does not exist

design the end does not exist


the tower The original vision for A Colorful Symphony was a towering building with a small footprint. Each floor would house a different program, taking on different heights depending on the need. The undulating atrium was the main feature of this building, recalling the organic nature of the tree trunk. While some features carried through, such as a glass faรงade to show the inside workings of the building to the passersby, most of the tower idea fell through. The tower did not coincide with the intermingling of the arts as well as a horizontal building. The tower segregated the arts, making it a more linear, vertical process, instead of an experience without a set start and end. A lower, more humble building gives way to a less intimidating structure, encouraging users to participate in each program at their leisure. Located slightly north of the downtown area, a towering building would have seemed out of place, and maybe even elitist. The buildings around the site average sixty five feet, not surpassing five stories.


final design

The first floor of Oakland’s Colorful Symphony is completely open, allowing pedestrians to wander in and out as they please. The first floor is denoted with wooden slats, guiding the users through the landscape. This provides an extended green space from the neighboring park, which was in desperate need of more grass space. Also, the lounge of the Fox Theater, the Den, is now allotted more outdoor space, just across the street. The open floor plan creates a “front porch” feel. A front porch is always meant for a space of contemplation, relaxation and to meet and face the community. The same characteristics are employed here, mixing together residential and commercial space. This outdoor wooden gallery is especially useful during the monthly event of art murmur. By having the gallery be open to everyone does not discriminate. The project livens Telegraph during Art Murmur, extending the participating blocks into downtown. Growing and expanding the art walk helps Oakland become safer and popular, encouraging even more local art and entrepreneurship. This gallery space is a way for the participants, young and old, of Oakland’s Colorful Symphony to show off the work that they have done. Presenting achievement is a way of propagating self-worth. The abundance of wood used for the project is cohesive with the surrounding landscape, blurring the line between inside and outside. The corten sunscreen blocks a harsh southern and western sun, giving the users comfort and indirect light. The perforated metal screen lends itself to the filtering of light – suggestive of being high within the branches. The elevated volumes give lines of vision to the treetops as well as to sights of the city. This haven in the trees is reminiscent of the aforementioned tree fort. 113

landscape The landscape is plotted on the two grids, the large oaks parallel to the site and the small oaks in line with the proposed library grid. The landscape is a continuation of the adjacent park on site, and provides play and leisure space. The nature of the site plan takes on a post modern aesthetic. The postmodernists represented their architecture in a way that could be seen as works of art. They used color, perspective, and composite drawing to convey their vision. The paths through the landscape are pulled off the most circulated and dense parts of the site. As the user walks away from the bustling city into a place where one could be more in tune with themselves, the building reveals itself through the trees. Although part of the city, the combination of the park and the arts provide a tranquil and fun place to be a part of. Upon site analysis, the space between the two existing buildings to the southern end of the site, provided ample light, even during the winter season. This light can shine through the grid of the trees and won’t be blocked by the proposed building.

115 115


ground floor

second floor

floor plans

fourth floor

The archival space houses more than just books. It houses instruments, new and old, and other donated material. The participants of the building can use these materials as inspiration. The practice rooms are located within the archival space as outlets for the immediate inspiration they feel from the research materials. These practice rooms are what faces the street to entice the public to interact with the building. The archival space acts as a museum, preserving a history of the jazz scene and art deco period. The mezzanine allows users to look down into the rest of the archival space, as well as the kitchen and cafĂŠ. Cooking itself is part of the arts and what brings people together more than food? Seeing into the kitchen, or being a witness to the demonstration table, can encourage society to become healthier and more sustainable eaters. The use of wood is also prevalent in Bay Area homes, thanks to female architect Julia Morgan. Present day architectural firms have strived to use wood in a more contemporary way, capitalizing on its warmth and durability.



dance studio The observation deck of the dance studio is unlike most. Instead of being confined, it is open to the studio, allowing the musician, artist, or bystander to observe the workings of the studio. While the dancers inspire their onlookers, they in turn can be inspired by the goings-on of the floating decks.

121 119

the skin

Section studies were done for the skin of A Colorful Symphony, incorporating the section of the piano key. Starting with that shape, the points of the geometry move independently of each other, creating a slightly new shape in every frame. This dynamic is congruent with the act of composing; whether it be a musical piece, a dance movement, or an artistic venture. This was first used as the atrium of the tower, and later used as the skin of the final scheme. The study looked at the building as a whole, creating these shapes as interior spaces. Compromising on functionality, the study was solely used for the skin of the galleries.


The gallery space denoted in the upper floors of the building have a variety of uses. One of the more unconventional uses is the functioning artist workspace. Some panels of the skin actually slide out to turn into the easel for the artist. These public easels do not enclose the artist in his or her private realm, but instead allow others to look on. The lack of privacy really challenges the artist to focus on their work but at the same time take in the world revolving around them. This public realm also encourages confidence within the artist and communication amongst their peers and mentors. The gallery space functions as the main circulation path. Without a sound barrier, the artist may become inspired by the laughter in the cafe, the sound of music or the pitter patter of feet.


Idzerda Senior Thesis  

The arts inspire each other. For example, music will influence the dancer who in turn will inspire the artist. Architecture is not separated...

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