ÂŠ 1995 The University of Michigan College of Architecture+ Urban Planning
& Patkau Archi tects Editor: Annette W. LeCuyer Book Design: Christian Unverzagt IS BN
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College of Architecture+ Urban Plann ing The University of Michigan 2ooo Bonisteel Boulevard Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109- 2069 USA
I John Dinkeloo graduated from this college in 1942 and is one of its most distinguished alumni. In many ways, he epitomized the kind of education and talents of wh ich t he college has been proud and which we are still keen to encourage. John Dinkeloo was an architect, an outstand in g designer, and a student of materials. He was the author of a number of sign ificant arch itectural inventions of the latter part of this cent ury including the neoprene gasket and severa l different types of glass, and he experimented with the use of Corten and exposed steel. john Dinkeloo worked as a young architect in Eero Saa rinen's office and later as a partner with Kevin Roche in the firm Roche Dinke loo. He was an imaginative creator, who worked on major projects of great sign ificance wh ich have inspired architects throughout the world: the Ford Foundation, the Oakland Museum, the john Deere Headquarters, and many others. The John Dinkeloo Memorial Lecture is a milestone in our academic year. This lecture se ries began in 1984, three years after t he untime ly death of John Dinkeloo. It is generously supported by an endowment from faculty and friends, and with the help ofThelma Dinkeloo, John's widow. The Dinkeloo Lectures have brought to this college some of the most important architects working in practice tod ay. The speakers, selected for their commitment to design technology and the art of making buildings, have included Kevin Roche, Fay Jones, Richard Meier, Thorn Mayne, Michael McKinnell, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien , to name just a few. I am pleased to introduce a young Canadian architect, John Patkau of Patkau Architects in Vancouver who will deliver the 1995 Dinkeloo Memorial Lecture. John and Patricia Patkau pursued the ir undergraduate stud ies at the University of Man itoba. john graduated with a Masters degree from Man itoba in 1972, andl Patricia with a Masters from Yale in 1978. They founded their partnership in Edmonton in 1978 and moved to Vancouver in 1984.
The Patkaus are particularly inspiring in that they are young architects who are deve loping arch itectural theory through practice. In an increasingly homogenized world, theirs is an arch itecture which searches ou t the particular, whether it be in the site, the history of the place, or in the program of the building. The exploration of these issues is clearly evident in their drawings and models, and perhaps most importantly in their completed bu ildin gs. This document is a record of the 1995 Dinkeloo Memorial Lecture. It focuses on three of the most recent projects designed by the Patkaus which are sign ificant because they represent three different types of work: a civic building of national importance which was built following a successful design competition, a house, and an award-winning public school which is currently under construction. Kenneth !Frampton, writi ng about the Patkaus' work, recently observed! that: "john and Patricia Patkau are two young Canadian architects whose achievements are all the more refreshing because of their discretely tectonic character. The quality of thi s work suggests once again that we would do well to turn our attention to th e periphery if we would wish to find our way back to more measured and sensitive forms of arch itectura l practice.'" On behalf of the College, I am delighted to welcome the architect john Patkau.
Brian Carter Professor & Chair of Architecture
I greatly admire the buildings of John Dinke loo and believe that he was, above all, an architect who struggled to master his craft through practice. Coincidentally, our projects are very much the work of practicing architects who are struggling in the same way. I am honored to be invited to deliver the 1995 Dinkeloo Memorial Lecture. Although my partner Patricia and I are very interested in architect ural theory and attempt to place our work in the context of a rigorously argued theo retical discussion, t his presentation will not center on issues of theory directly- it will center on issues of practice. This is because, un li ke many architects who are interested in theoretical issues, we did not come to t his interest as a result of an early career in teaching. We did not develop our ideas in an academ ic setting and then enter into practice to implement these ideas. Until recently we have been iso lated from the academic environment and restricted to explori ng our ideas through practice. As a resu lt, ou r ideas have emerged very slow ly. We were not ab le to sit down and consolidate a body of knowledge, put forward a platform and execute it. It has been a struggle, as it is for most practicing architects, to find a way from one pr.oject to the next , to understand what we are doi ng, and to somehow bu ild on that to find some form of mat ure expressio n. Architect ure is an itine rant profession for the young and I moved to Alberta in the late sevent ies because it was an oil boom econom y which offered tremendous oppo rtun ities for architects. After only two years of experience in another architect's office I was ab le to become registered. The re was no NCARB, no ora l exam ination; I simp ly logged my time and became an architect. Immediately upon bei ng registered , I opened our pract ice in Edmonton . Pat joined me fro m Ya le, together with one ot he r fellow who had a techn ica l background. It was a nightmare. We learned t he hard way by making mistakes, and t he experience has shaped us to t his day. Out of the struggle to learn by se lf-teach ing, we came t o have a t remendo us respect fo r the craft of architect ure, for maki ng.
Because we were on our own, we had never been exposed to all of th e knowledge 8
requ ired to actua lly constru ct a building. We knew how to compose a drawing, but there is a substantial gap between composing a drawing and construct ing a build ing. That learning process has marked our work and marks to this day a profound respect for the making of buildings, not simply building as the manifestation of theoretical ideas. We began to find ou r way with the design of the Pyrch House. The house is literally the shape of the property, centered about a giant mound of rock. By lowering the main space be low th at rock, t he extremely mediocre and conventiona l development of " Tudo r-Bavarian" houses alongside is complet ely obscured. Because of th e geometry of the site, the rock stands between t he eye and the neighboring houses below. All that can be seen is the ocean beyond, a pure and powerful landscape distilled from th e rock and the existi ng t rees on that particular site. The configurat ion of t he house ensured that it became a largely mut e participant allowing these natura l elements to speak. Our intuitive startin g point was to seek those t hin gs that were particu lar to the project and center our arch itectural response around them. We came to describe this sea rch as a sea rch for 'found potent ial' -those aspects of site, climate, buildi ng context, program, or loca l cu lture, fo r example, that will fac ilitate the developme nt of an arch itectural order which is evocative of circumstance.
In 1983 - a time of crisis in the oil industry-the economy in Alberta was devastated. Our practice was destroyed. We relocated to Vancouver and started again by building a house for ourselves. The site we路 could afford was within a steeply sloping, heavi ly forested ravine. Having spent most of our lives on the Canadian prairies which are characterized by bright blue skies and year round sunshine, we were especially concerned because, in this deep ravine, the sun was lost early in the day. Two things inspired the design and were consistent with our growing interest in found potential: the nature of the site and the climate. The terrain was so steeply sloping that it was difficult to get around. As a result we conceived of th e hou se as a bridge connecting the various levels of the site. The design was also conditioned by a need for light. In Vancouver everyth ing is sun-seeking. Anything which stands between you and the sun is undesirable. Our response was to make one-third of the roof of glass and to place all of the majo r openings on the south side. The house was shaped by these concerns. This experience began to confirm the value of seeking out responses that emphasized the particular qualities of the place.
The App leton House, designed in 1985 for a site on Victoria Island,, was,for a young family with three small children . They showed us photographs of lofts in New York and industrial buildings and said, "This is the house that we want." The materiality of th e images t hey showed us was completely impossible on their budget. The on ly thing which was feasible was wood frame construction, and so we decided to try to transform wood frame constru ction to represent the more substantia l qualities of the images they had se lected. We began by organ izing the plan about a single large two-story room. All other rooms were simply placed in a lin e behind t his large space. Within the large room we created a few elements wh ich we came to call 'totemic' elements. Our idea was to keep most parts of the house to conventional proportions. In th e context of this normal world we introduced one giant room, one giant column and one giant fireplace. These totem ic figures, even though made of conventiona l construction, were t o stand for the robust material and arch itectural presence which the clients had described. Fo r Seab ird Island School, t he found potential was revea led in studies of both the site andl the client. Th is school for a Salish Indian Bandl is on a large delta in the middle of the Fraser River at the point where the river valley disappears into t he coastal mountain range . The site is an agricultural area with large fields and a wooded perimeter where the ind ividua l dwe llings of the band members are located . To the sou th of th e site the re is a modest town center, au-shaped configu ration of bu ildin gs loose ly grouped around a small gree n.
Given the opport unity to bui ld on t his site, we chose to locate the build ing close to other community bui ldings. This is an obvious move but an especially important one for this commun ity. The aboriginals of western Canada - much as in the United States - have suffered t remendously as a result of t he imperialism t hat European culture has imposed upon them . Our clien t rep resented a dying culture in which only a few elders still speak the Salish language. It was a community in disarray with many social problems. Th is school represented a ma jor opportunity for the band. It was to be t he ir most significant resource and their largest commun ity faci lity. They we re to co nstruct the bui lding themselves, and so it also represented an expression of thei r communa l will. The school would teach t he ch ildren t he language t hat t heir parents had not learned. It wou ld be understood not as an institution but as a way of passing on knowledge with in an extended family. The school is organized in a familial manner. The classrooms are placed along a porch which faces sou t h to t he existin g comm unity cente r. All of the doorways are directly accessible ont o th is porch which is a publi c space. Membe rs of t he community can ente r directly into the classrooms, take part in lessons and teach the children. The ch ildren likewise have immed iate access to the out doors where there are teach ing ga rdens and sa lmon drying racks along the porch. Spaces within the bu ild ing are organ ized in a comp letely open way so that there is no hierarchica l separation between teachers, parents and students. These facilities, wh ich are important community spaces, can be used as intensively after hours as during the school day.
We were told by members of the band th at the orthogonal configuration of the residential schools which they had attended in the past-which had been instruments of cu ltu ra l genocide-was completely unacceptable to them. So we attempted to make a building which did not have these characteristics. Instead the bu ildin g is irregular and , in a naive sense, more natural. It is more like a landscape or the interior of a forest. Our first perception of this flat site surrounded by mountains was that it was almost room-li ke in character. Any large bu ilding within this vast room would necessarily take on a figural quality by virtue of the defining mountain s around it, a figural quality which we thought might somehow be suggestive to our clients. The bu ild ing began to assume a zoomorphic character which has proved to be significant for the band. They have come to see it as a creature, some as a fish and some as a bird. As a result, the building has ach ieved a level of sign ificance within th eir community which in some ways is not open to us. The schoo l was built by the members of the band who had no construction experience. They did not know that the building was difficu lt but merely said, "Fine, we'll bui ld it". We constructed a large-scale detailed framing model as a part of our working drawings. The model went to site and was a reference throughout the construction of the school. When they could not figure something out they checked the model. This was the first building of any substance that they had undertaken; the workmanship is very good and they had no difficulty doing it. It was a remarkable experience .
The buildings we have designed subsequently have become increasin gly explicit about the way in whi ch they are made. The materials relate strongly to the narrative of the bui lding and to the significance of the parts of the bu ilding. The richness of the space is developed directly out of an expression of how the space is constructed. This is part of a larger idea regard ing our interest in t he particular, and how this interest is manifested through differentiation; whether that be differentiation of one place from another, or differentiation within the materials and construction of a bui lding. The !Newton Library explores two ideas about architectural construction : the tectonic expression of building with concrete columns and wood beams, and, on the other hand, an idea of clad construction where volumes are defined by surfaces like dry wall and stucco. The library becomes almost schizophren ic in character. Each of the two personalities of the building struggles to dominate. The light absorbing exposed construction on one side contrasts with the light reflecting clad construction on the other. At some points, the clad constru ction threatens to completely engulf the wood . At other IPOints where there is a lot of light, near edges or at entrances for example, the tectonic wood construction dominates. In the development of our work we have initiated a seri es of models designed for our own use after the build ings are completed. They are never shown to the clients but are purely resea rch models made to t ry to understand more clearly the formal vocabulary of the language that we have been bu ildin g. These mode ls are not part of the design process of the project itse lf but part of a larger, ongoing process. For example, the model of the Clay and Glass Gallery, a fragment extracted from the middle of th e bui ld ing, explores the representation of bu ilding assemblies. Roofs and walls are made up of many layers peeled away to reveal the composite nature of the construction .
~-II The research model for Newton Library attempts to reveal
the two ideas that we used to design the building. We built the model in two parts, one part being more expressive of the static, enclosing nature of clad construction, andl the other more exp ressive of the dynamic, vigorous nature of tectonic construction. In retrospect, I do not think the model successfu lly differentiates these opposite qualities within the building - research sometimes fails. However, after we finished the model, we real ized that we had accomplished! somethin g that had frustrated us at the beginning of the !Project: the inability to develop the section in ground plane. Because of security and the need for handicapped accessibility, it was required that the floor of the build in g be abso lutely flat wi th no changes of level. We had previously utilized a changing ground plane as an important part of our architectu ral vocabulary. When we had completed thi s library model, we suddenly realized! that we had discovered the ground and had excavated the ground in a way that had not been possible in the real bui ldin g.
As well as eva luating bui lt !Projects, the models are used to _ _ __u..___ _ ___u._ _ _ __ _L:..,at~~ exp lore compositiona l ideas. They deal not only with ideas that are in the bu ildings, but with new ideas such as the concentration of elements and the fragment ing of perimeters. These studies are used in an arbitrary and imposed way to inform
subsequent work and to enrich its characteristic arch itectural expression. If you look at certain elements of the models of th e Oay and Glass Gallery and of the,!Newton Library which we bu ilt later, you can see that we were transforming purely formal ideas and utilizi ng them in the context of new projects. The models enable us to begin to understand how our ideas might lead to a more ,evocative, expressive architecture.
In 1986 we were invited to participate in a nationa l competition fo r a clay and glass gallery which was to be located in Waterloo, Ontario. Because there were only eight architects competing it was a wonderful opportun ity. The competition site was across t he street from a large Seagram disti llery and the Seagram Museum, a sign ificant inst itution which houses the arch ives and artifacts of the worldwide hold ings of the company. Even though our site was at the edge of a sma ll town we had at least one neighbor to which we could respond. There was also a lake-or a small wei r ca lled Silve r Lake-wh ich was the beginning of a park system connecting downtown to the university. The site plan resu lts from an analys is of that situation . The first notion was to use the bu ilding in conjunct ion with the Seagram Museum and Silver Lake to begin to define a rec reat ional and cultu ral precinct wh ich wou ld be complementa ry to the civic center at Waterloo. The two would form boo kends defi ning t he extent of t he town cen ter. We suggested creating a space organized about exist ing t hings: two towers and a pyram id of wh iskey ba rrels at Seagram's - wh ich is actually a beautiful thing and a water feature which we proposed in order to celebrate the po int at wh ich the water of Silver Lake disappea red into a culvert to flow under the town. With those three elements we suggested that there might be an essentially t riangu lar public space. The gallery was to be organ ized to define one edge of t hat space. The pyramid of barre ls and t he water sculpture that celebrated the disappearance of water were very much like the column and firep lace in the App leton House totemic elements wh ich were an arch itectural intensification in an ot herwise banal context.
Because the budget was-like all budgets-limited, we decided to make economy of means an important IPart of our strategy. We !Proposed essentially warehouseli ke spaces. With in those generic spaces, special intensified architectural elements would be inserted: a row of fire columns representative of th e fire that is the transformation of both clay and glass; a courtya rd for the exhibition of large scale sculptures; a drum for the archives; and a tower for the disp lay of large scale stained glass work. These were the t otemic elements within the generic plan that were intended to activate that plan and, in a sense, allow li mited resources to speak powerfu lly withi n an otherwise conventional context.
An important aspect of the program was a request for a glass-blowing studio. This was to be the first of a series of different studios which would demonstrate the making of different forms of clay and glass art. Artists would be invited to use these stud ios as part of the activities of the gallery. The presence of a studio within the gallery allowed us to address certain aspects of the nature of the gallery as an institution. Also, by making the storage of the collection visible from the central space of the gallery, we were able to make the process from making, to collecting, to dis playing art more explicit. In doing this, we hoped that the visitor would somehow be ab le to understand that, in addition to the work of the artist, there are many layers of cultural judgment which are applied to art before it gets to a gallery space. Work in a gallery is highly qualified by many sets of values that are overlaid upon it subsequent to the creation of the work of art. This is, I think, an important understanding which is generally not recognized . The majority of people who visit art galleries view art as if it is t ransparent, but it is in fact carefully controlled and presented under very restricted circumstances. We won the competiti on but were not commissioned to proceed with the design of the gallery until1988. With the federal election about to be called, funds miraculously became available . However, due to galloping inflation the projectwhich had been just about feasible at the time we won the competition-was clearly now not feasible. The budget was fixed , and so we found that we had to redesign substantially in order to enable the scheme to go ahead.
The building area had to be reduced by a third in order to meet the new budget. It was decided that the long-term program of studio building would be abandoned and that the museum would restrict its activities to exhibition. The loss of the glass blowing studio had a huge impact on the design. One of the fundamental ideas of that original design was the exposition of the process from making, through collecting, to displaying art. With the studios gone, that generative idea was destroyed. We had to rethink not only the size of the bui lding, but also fundamenta l ideas about its nature. During the time between winning the competition and securing the commission, we had come to the conclusion that the conventional modern gallery which is characterized by white walls, no expression of construction, and no natural light represented a completely abstract world cut off from all context. This isolation of art was something that we felt might be challenged. We developed a couple of strategies which wou ld allow us to build a bridge through the building from the art that was being displayed to the lives of the people who would be coming to see it. The first of th ese strategies was the use of natural light. Because this gallery is for clay and glass, the problem of ultraviolet degradation does not exist. We took advantage of this opportunity to exploit natural light in a variety of ways so that the daily cyole and the seasons are made evident in the build ing. More importa ntly, something that we came to understand between the competition and the final building is that stained glass is not intended to be seen in an artificially lit environment. It is predicated! on changing natural light.
Main Floo r Plan fire columns entry vestibule lobby information and ticket desk 4 cloakroom 5
gift shop 6
tea room main gallery tower gallery small works gallery 10 courtyard gallery 11 demonstration and adjudication 12 support facilities 13
me.chanical and electrical room
The second thing which emphasizes the connection between the building, the art
and the gallery users is the craft of making. The building is clearly legible in this respect and is therefore brought within the range of normal experience, much like the craft of making the artifacts on display. In this context, it might be possible for people to relate more strongly to the craft of making art and come to understand
that art is not exclusively contained within the domain of a gallery or of an elite. THE FIRE COLUMNS ARE
INTENDED TO BE A HYBRID
Consequently, this building is explicit about the way it is made. The materials relate strongly to the story of the building and to the significance of the parts. The basic structure consists of wood roof and floor decks supported by steel
EXPRESSION OF THE FIRE THAT IS THE ORIGIN OF CLAY AND GLASS ART.
beams which bear upon concrete block walls. The exterior is clad in the industrial red brick characteristic of the area. The brick represents the addition of layer upon layer, the method of modern construction. There are subordinate elementslike the canopy which has yet to receive its glass, or the entry loggia which is made of wood, the most tenuous of all materials. These materials are assembled
THE CONCRETE SHELLS ARE ARMATURES SUPPLIED WITH ELECTRIC AND GAS SERVICES. THESE TOTEMIC ELEMENTS
together to form a clear vocabulary and rigorous hierarchy of building materials. Finally, the totemic elements - the fire columns, the stained glass tower, the small works gallery and the courtyard -are made of reinforced concrete to represent their primacy. Concrete is the most durable, as well as most difficult of construction materials.
ARE TO BE DEVELOPED
The totemic elements are further elaborated. The idea of the courtyard, for BEYOND THE ARCHITECTURE
example, was not only to make the composite nature of building construction WH ICH IS TH ERE AT PRESENT TO BECOME A MORE DYNAMIC AND REPRESENTATIVE
explicit, it was to make this composite nature poetic. The courtyard is constructed of two layers of concrete walls. In various areas, one or the other of the layers of concrete is pulled away and a tile layer is introduced that is representative of the interstitial layers of insulation and air and vapor barriers. On top of that, a wood
EXPRESSION OF WHAT IS GOING ON INSIDE THE BUILDING.
trellis is added which is reminiscent of the formwork required for the casting of the concrete. The richness of the space is developed directly out of an expression of how the space is constructed.
The Barnes House, completed in 1994, is located at the edge of an open rocky outcrop on a forested five-acre site which overlooks the Strait of Georgia and the mainland of British Columbia to the north and the rocky shoreline of Vancouver Island to the northwest. It is a site with diverse qualities-a textural, intimate quality of immediate contact with rock, tree bark and grass together with a distant view of the sea and the mainland beyond. We attempted to design a house that would make this variety of landscape experience more evident. Here, the site is understood to be not only the rocky outcrop upon which the house is situated and has surrounding vegetation, but the entire region which is visible from the site. In this context the house has been designed as a landscape focusing device-a mechanism through which the experience of this place, from the small scaled textural characteristics of the rock to the large scaled expanse of the sea, is made manifest. To do this, we placed the house in what seemed to us at the time a very odd location. We found a depression in the rock and sank the house into it so that the lower floor is embedded within the rock. From the street and the lower parts of the site, the house is entered without being aware that there is a panoramic view of the ocean beyond. Adjacent to the entrance are two windows which are at floor level. They are only four feet high. These windows focus on a view of the rock which is only just outside the glass. Turning at the top of the stairs up to the main floor of the house, the panoramic view of the entire region is revealed. The hou se connects one part of the site to another.
fOR THE MOST PART THE SHEll OF THE HOUSE
The lower part of the house is a st udio for the owners - an amateur sculptor and a landscape arch itect. The upper floor is their livin g quarters. It is a simple house with a few rooms and a terrace. The house takes on many different qualities.
I S COMPRISED OF
Within, th e inhabitants are someti mes below grade and sometimes above grade. CONVENTIONAl WOOD FRAMING, STUCCO ClAD, ON A REINFORCE.D CONCRETE
One sid e of the house is in th e forest, the other side within the clearing. The side of the house that faces the clearing is obviously composed using very simple shapes. The forested sid e has a st range, almost weak shape which is intentionally submissive to allow the vegetation which surrounds the house at this point to be
GRADE BEAM FOUNDATION. THREE CONCRETE COlUMNS RISE WITHIN THIS VOlUME TO SUPPORT A HEAVY TIMBER ROOF STRUCTURE. flOORS ARE GENERAllY
the dom inant element. On one side the house is recessive, and on the oth er side it is assertive. Consistent with our interests to deve lop the particular characteristics of things we have increasingly sought to reveal the in herent differences in the nature of materials. Concrete is massive and steel is t ensile and linear. A stee l canopy, over a window, is only three-e ighths of an inch thick but cantilevers thirteen feet as a result of a sha llow curve which gives it an arch shape and slender ribs on the
underside which are someth in g like the ribs of the mouth.
EITHER AS SlAB-ON-GRADE
Increasingly we have come to particul arize the various characteristics of each IN THE lOWER lEVEl
project and the vari ous materials and components within each building. Th is
OR AS A TOPPING ON
house, unl ike th e early houses which were more generic in qua lity, begins to
WOOD FRAMING IN THE MAIN lEVEl
bring more explicit architectura l express ion into the development of details.
Legend entry studio bathroom guest room living room master bedroom dining room kitchen utility room
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
barbeque u fire pit 12
STEEL IS USED AS A
32 COUNTERPOINT TO THE MONOLITHIC CONCRETE AND STUCCO CLAD WOOD FRAMING , AS ELABORATED CONNECTIONS BETWEEN CONCRETE AND HEAVY TIMBER, AS RAILINGS AT STAIRS AND AS A CANOPY OVER THE ENTRANCE AND LARGE WINDOW FACING NORTHWEST. THIS CANOPY, WH ICH IS MADE OF 10 MILLIMETERS THICK STEE L PLATE, CANTILEVERS
METERS OVER THE
OPEN I NGS IT SHELTERS .
Strawberry Vale School is currently under construction in the outskirts of Victoria. Th is project deals with a subject that has been imp licit in our work from the very beginning: the relationship between the man-made and the natural. The distinction between the man -made and the natural, upon which much of our architectural heritage is based, is losing its significance. As surely as the forces of nature act upon our buildings, we work upon the natural world. Gravity, rain and snow, wind , changes in temperature, plant and animal life, all act to reduce buildings to their material constituents. At the same time , through the act of building, we work upon the natural world at both the relatively small scale of the building site as well as the relatively large scale of resource extraction, processing, manufacture and transportation. It is no longer clear whether anything is truly natural or truly man-made. As a result of the increasing continu ity between the natural and the man-made, our cu ltura l traditions need to be re -examined . Both classicism and modernism are based upon the distinction between the natura l and the man-made - whether that be the humanist trad ition within classicism where architecture is understood to be a representation of 'man' as the measure of the world that is other or whether it be the abstract tradition with in modern ism where architecture is understood to be a manifestation of pure form juxtaposed to a world that is other. If the distinction between the man-made and the natural is losing significance, these cultural traditions within which we work have to be, if not questioned, then enriched and expanded . Clearly, while architecture is the product of human thought and work it also is affected by and increasingly affects the envi ronment within wh ich it exists. In many ways what seems to be missing from both classicism and modernism, understood in th is manner, is evident in the subtle environmental adjustment characteristic of vernacular architecture.
The design of the Strawberry Vale Schoo l attempts to pursue a line of investigation which not only acknowledges our cultural tradition s but, inspired by the vernacular, also gives architectural form to environmental forces. There have been two schoo ls on this site: the present school, and a one-room school built in 1893. We began by taking the original school and relocating it at the point of entry to the site. The present school will be demolished, with the exception of the foundations which will define play spaces and teaching gardens. The site therefore becomes a historical record of the schools in the area-the old schoo l, the present schoo l, and the new schoo l. At the same time, the site is developed so as to mitigate the impact of construction on the site. For examp le, rainwater run-off from t he build ing is collected in trenches and runs along a swale to collect in a marsh. Plants planted by students will clean the water before it re-enters the groundwater. The materials of the building have been carefully selected to minim ize embodied energy and toxicity. The community to be served by this school conside rs itself to be 'semi-rural' in character. A strong and present relationship to the natural world plays an important part in the cultural and educational objectives of thi s community. To this end all classrooms are oriented toward the south to optimize potential natural illumin ation within the interior as well as to maximize visual connection to an adjacent woodland. Furthermore, all classrooms are located on-grade providing direct access to the out-of-doors and the possibility of an extended program of teaching. This not only maintains a small scale consistent with the neighborhood of single-family dwellings but also attempts to establish a positive reciprocity in the definition of woodland and schoolyard .
To locate classrooms in thi s way, and keep the school within the site, classrooms are grouped into pods of fou r. This creates a series of 'in -between' spaces which are both interior and exterior, which may be used by individ uals or small groups from adjacent classrooms. A meandering circulation spine provides access to each pod of classrooms as well as the library, administration offices, gymnasium, and other support faci lities. The irregu lar configuration creates furth er sma ll-scale common spaces within which a wide variety of activities, both spontaneous and planned, may occur. The creation of these non-programmed 'in-between' spaces creates an overlap between classrooms, and between classrooms and other facilities, which not only augments the capabilities of individual classrooms but also establishes an intermediate scale and provides an architectural basis for the creation of a greater sense of community within the school. Within the construction of the school, large spans are framed in stee l because the sizable members that would be required to span using wood would require first growth material. Elsewhere, small scale wood construction, th e vernacular of the west coast, is used with exposed fram ing.
Computer analysis of the building has located skylights and clerestory windows to maximize natural light. The lighting system is controlled by sensors which turn off lights automatically when daylight provides adequate illumination within the spaces. In classrooms, drywall has been added where reflectivity is required to increase illumination. In areas with a lot of ambient natural light, the dry wall has been stripped away to reveal the underlying construction. This creates a clear distinction between exposed construction and clad construction . The circulation spine contains the major ducting which provides air to all of the classrooms. We were told, "Don't give us exposed ducts. Ducts are only interesting to architects." Consequently, in the classrooms, where the students and teachers spend most of their time, ceilings are clad to create a luminous interior and to obscure the mechanical system. In areas such as the circulation spine, ductwork is exposed for practical and didactic reasons. We want the students to begin to understand how a building is made-that there is a structure and a mechanical system. The roof, too, has been shaped in a strong response to topography and climate. The site steps down, and the roof breaks to follow the slope of the site. The finishing of the roof is in two parts. The parts over interior spaces which are insulated are expressed as a heavy ribbed construction which is raised to acknowledge the thickness required for the insulation whilst the overhangs are thinner and are clad with smooth steel which is expressive of the absence of insulation. The design of Strawberry Vale School acknowledges the manner in which buildings are normally made: a steel frame is quickly erected, things are tacked onto that frame, and layers of finishes added. In this case, layers of finishes are added judiciously-only where they play a more positive role rather than merely to dress rough construction. Nevertheless if you look closely at the design you will see that we have not always been rigorous in adopting this conventional strategy. We may not yet be sensitive enough to the necessities of building in a construction industry based on conventional practices. Some of the millwork in the school precedes the glazing and even some of the framing. The only possible sequence of assembly is to bring the millwork into the building at an unusually early stage of construction.
Unlike a house or other small building which can be a handcrafted object and
go against the grain of conventional constructional practices, larger buildings generally cannot afford this luxury. At the same time, we are reluctant to adopt wholeheartedly the conventional vocabulary of construction with finishes. We have come to increasingly value the expression of the basic construction of the building, and that is not something which the North American construction industry is set up to do. In our recent projects we have attempted to find ways to go beyond this, to find ways, sometimes highly unconventional ways, to make the construction of the building and the architecture one.
Our research model of Strawberry Vale is a representation of where I think our work is headed. We have completed a series of buildings and have struggled very slowly with a series of ideas which began intuitively and which have become more formally expressed and more carefully considered over time . These are ideas regard ing the particular in the context of the general. In a world dominated by global culture it is necessary to foster a local culture to define yourse lf as a people. A regional place defined exclusively by global culture is, in a sense, a1 colonial place without a culture of its own. Although we are inevitably shaped by global culture, we need to make a local culture, and we need to reinforce the particular in the context of an overwhelming generality. The principle mechanism in the creation of the particular is differentiation. Further, through consideration of certa in traditions within modern arch itecture and classical architecture, we have come to question the idealization upon which those traditions are based . We have embraced a pragmatism which, more tha n mere practicality, is a philosophical pragmatism. Rather than being derived from the presuppositions of action-or idealization - our architectura l principles are derived from the results of action. As a consequence our work is directed inevitably toward the characteristic of heterogeneity, the emphasis upon difference and differentiation.
john Patkau March 1995
john G. Dinkeloo, 1918-1981 46
john G. Dinkeloo was born in Holland, Michigan in 1918 and graduated from the architecture program of the Un iversity of Michigan in 1942. Upon graduation he joined the office of Skidmore Owings and Merrill in Chicago where he worked first as a designer and subsequently as the ch ief of production. Eight years later John returned to Michigan to join t he office of Eero Saarinen and Associates in Bloomfield Hills where he was to become a partner. During this time he was involved with the design of a number of important projects including the TWA Terminal at Kennedy Airport and Dulles Airport in Washington DC as well as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and t he Morse and Stiles Colleges at Yale University. Following the sudden death of Eero Saarinen in 1961 John Dinke loo formed a partnership with Kevin Roche becoming a founding partner of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates in 1966. This practice was to become one of the most distinguished architectural offices in the United States and, with the completion of projects such as the Ford Foundation in New York, the Headquarters for John Deere in Moline and the Oakland Museum, became a practice whose work has been internationally recognized. John Dinkeloo was responsible for the development of thoughtful and elegant systems of design and det ailing. He was involved in many different and highly original technical innovations including the development of different types of glazing, the use of structural neoprene gaskets and of high-strength low-alloy weathering steel in the exposed structures of buildings. ln 1968 he received the Medal of Honor from the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Six years lat er the practice received the Architectural Firm Award from the American Institute of Architects. In 1995 the Ford Foundation Building was se lected for the AlA Twenty-Five-Year Awa rd. John Dinkeloo died in 1981. The John Dinkeloo Memorial Lecture was established at the College of Architecture+ Urban Planning as a recognition of his extraordinary contribution to architecture and to honor the work of this distinguished and highly respected alumnus of the Un iversity of Michigan.
The Dinkeloo Lecturers
The John Dinkeloo Memorial Lecture at the College of Architecture+ Urban Planning of the University of Michigan has been delivered by architects who are internationally recognized for their work in practice.
1984 Kevin Roche 1985 E. Fay Jones 1986 Robert j. Frasca 1987 William Pederson 1988 Richard Meier 1989 Thomas H. Beebe 1990 Gunnar Birkerts 1991
1992 Tod Williams & Billie Tsien 1993 Michael McKinnell 1994 Diana Agrest 1995 John Patkau