BETWEEN OBJECT AND TEXTURE: ARCHITECTURE AS AGGREGATION
414.3, Major Building Design
Roger Sherman, Adjunct Associate Professor
Until a little over a century ago, the experience of a city was largely consonant with, and describable by its figure-ground: the unmediated relationship between buildings and the space that it bounded. However, with the advent in the early 20th century of mechanized delivery systems for water, power and transportation, the relationship between the city and its architecture became progressively detached, to the extent that it is today those instruments of service, rather than the buildings they connect, that shape perceptions of urban public space. In fact Los Angeles–only 25% of whose land is occupied by buildings-–is a premier example. But if the rise of infrastructure has mitigated if not altogether neutralized the role of architecture in figuring the urban scene, many architects today have also wrongly concluded that such experiences are achievable only within the confines of the architectural interior, or through passive encounter with the object-building/icon. Here again L.A. is the paradigm, as exemplified in the eponymous Bonaventure Hotel.
THE CHALLENGE With this as a discursive context, the studio shall explore formal strategies, which rebalance the interrelationship between solid and void, interior and exterior, in order to yield alternatives to the false choice between the all-in-one singularity of the object on one hand, and the pure background status of what Colin Rowe termed texture on the other. To reconcile this conundrum, we shall revisit what Aldo Rossi called the collective monument: an accretion of buildings whose aggregate impression possesses iconicity, yet at the same time resists consolidation—whether as object or mat building. A unique brand of density that is arguably already inherent to L.A., this architecture of closely-packed buildings eschews the passive encounter that is expressionism in favor of an indifferent but more ambient, and spatially engaging set piece (Rowe) that accommodates scripted and unscripted public activity alike. City-like yet not quite urban, actions and events occur in the midst of it, without being strictly inside it. Accepting that architecture is no longer as territorially extensive as it once was, this studio is premised on developing compensatory spatial strategies which possesses an inclusiveness by blurring the lines between private control and public participation rather than by reinforcing them (as does Banham’s enclave)—architecture as trap.
Students: Jacob Bloom, Hillary Bretcko, Austin Kaa, Kara Moore, Chi Ng, Julio Perez, Maria Sviridova.