SCIArc Magazine No.5 (Fall 2012)

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Devyn Weiser is the Undergraduate Thesis Coordinator at SCI-Arc, joining the SCI-Arc Design Faculty in 2006. She is the principal-in-charge at Testa/ Weiser and co-founder of the MIT Emergent Design Group (EDG). At Testa/Weiser she leads a wide range of projects from industrial design to architecture and infrastructure. With a consortium of industry partners she directs ESCape, an open source platform for decentralized waste-to-energy (WtE) solutions. Weiser’s work has been exhibited at leading museums and galleries worldwide, including the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York; National Building Museum, Washington D.C.; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; National Art Center, Tokyo; and Beijing Architecture Biennale. She has been a Visiting Critic at the Rhode Island School of Design, University of Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Weiser holds a B.F.A. and B.Arch (with honors) from the Rhode Island School of Design, and a MSAAD from Columbia University.

The Undergraduate Program at SCI-Arc culminates in an exciting year-long thesis project that synthesizes the curriculum of Design Studios with Cultural, Applied, Visual and General Studies. Students spend their final year of study articulating relevant disciplinary arguments instantiated in highly developed architectural projects. In this way, the thesis supports individual inquiry and collaborative research while also opening up new models of practice. The students have taken on this challenge with intensity and creativity to make SCI-Arc’s undergraduate thesis project one of the most important public events at the school every spring semester. In 2012 design faculty members and thesis advisors Dwayne Oyler, Florencia Pita, Michael Rotondi, and Undergraduate Thesis Coordinator Devyn Weiser were joined by Dora Epstein Jones as Cultural Studies Advisor and Distinguished Faculty Jeff Kipnis as Special Advisor. Jeff Kipnis met with students during the thesis preparation seminar in the fall and at multiple times during the spring semester, including a series of Master Class lectures over the academic year. This year’s group of thesis projects represents a broad range of topics, reflecting the pedagogical diversity of the school and students’ individual interests. The seven selected projects included in this issue examine and contribute contemporary formal strategies tied to particular aspects of surface, volume, and envelope; material, fabrication, and construction strategies tied to advances in both traditional materials and composite technology; and more conceptual strategies tied to specific techniques of representation and critiques of architectural conventions. All projects evidence a sophisticated use and application of digital tools and methodologies integral to SCI-Arc’s pedagogical program in the last decade. Selected projects reflect a diminished presence of large urban proposals in favor of comprehensively and rigorously designed medium and smaller scale architectural projects with a focus on the core of architecture. Under the direction of Undergraduate Program Chair John Enright, the program has been progressively renewed as evidenced by the quality of work produced in the thesis. SCI-Arc undergraduates today have a unique breadth of disciplinary knowledge and technical capabilities. Their skill sets range from conventional techniques of representation in architecture and CAD/CAM modeling to scripting, programming, and controlling CNC machines and the 9

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BEST UNDERGRADUATE THESIS Paul Ferrier Cambon Window-as-Volume Advisor: Dwayne Oyler As the mediator between the human made and the environment, the window is one of architecture’s most powerful tools for placing us in the world. Window-as-Volume challenges architecture’s enclosure and therefore how we distinguish between the inside and out by intensifying interior spatial conditions. A new spatial dimension to the flat window can shift the window’s objective from framing us in an environment towards suspending us in the view itself. MERIT UNDERGRADUATE THESIS Chloe Brunner Dweller on the Threshold Advisor: Devyn Weiser From Jefferson’s grid to Google Earth, the earth’s surface has been conventionally navigated through abstract devices constructed of points, lines, and planes—providing society a means to orient itself. Conventional modes of architectural representation deploy a similar method of projection—therefore imitating and re-enforcing the navigation of space through a projection of the two-dimensional. This thesis maps the earth through a ‘thick’ representation of the two-dimensional, offering an alternative reading of space by rending tangible the otherwise immaterial landscape. Timothy Cheng + Nathan Eugene Meyers Form in Form Advisor: Devyn Weiser Form in Form explores the fabrication process as an architectural catalyst by embedding formwork into architectural

form rather than limiting it to a geometrical template to be discarded, despite enormous effort and expense. In this way, the thesis proposes an inversion of the typical design process. The structural framework is first embedded into the envelope, which is then folded into the architectural form. This new tectonic proposition is tested through a series of prototype pavilions for London’s West End. Emmy Maruta Soft Boiled Advisor: Florencia Pita This thesis seeks “twoness” through defining notions of soft and hard. The twoness in this project is featured in the voluptuous surface and sharp skin. The two combined create a friction that affects the surface’s reflection and luminosity that results in an optical disturbance in the curvature, making it difficult to understand where the surface lies, therefore creating an architectural blur. This oscillation between mediums pushes architecture out beyond its own envelope allowing for palpability. Michael Nesbit Towards (Ph2)Latness Advisor: Dwayne Oyler Architecture is built on our ability to use representation as an effect for production… sketch to model, model to drawing, drawing to building. Within our contemporary discipline, we have been given an extensive tool set that has pushed architecture forward, but due to immediacy the process has eliminated many of our previous entry points. This thesis will represent construction diagrams of the drawing. By placing emphasis on the drawing and not the object, we re-insert our role of judgment back into representation, allowing the drawing to produce something far greater than the thing original-

8. Timothy Cheng + Nathan Eugene Meyers Form in Form 9. Ben Warwas Field So Good 10. Emmy Maruta Soft Boiled 11. Dale Strong Working Blue 12. Joshua Stanton Smith Sanctuarium 13. Maya Alam The Bastardized Gestalt: Lobotomy of the Familiar 14. Paul Ferrier Cambon Window-as-Volume


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