Research Studio
Neil Denari, Professor, UCLA Architecture and Urban Design

Complex, Part I

For the urban developer, towers remain the most prominent tool in their typological kit. For cities like New York, Shanghai, Vancouver, and even Los Angeles, they are machines of profit, agents of sustainability (high density, small footprint, and skyline makers all in one. For the architect, they are chances to express something within a building format that at its core is monumental, even epic. Designing a tower from the inside out to reach an honest conclusion is often not possible as most are simply empty vessels, a series of repetitive floor plates wating to be occupied, thus leaving the architect and his or her id/ego to worry about what to do, what to say. Indeed, desiging a tower is an activity that can generate a serious complex. Anxiety though, can be limited in a number of ways. One is to reduce the burden of total authorship of a tower to a team that works cooperatively yet strategically.

Complex, Part II

When buidings are arranged on a site with programmatic similarities or relationships, we often describe them as a ‘complex’. Usually deployed horizontally in a campus like fashion, the architectural complex is a plan dominated project where solids and voids are orchestrated for circulation, service, and leisure. If the project involves towers, then often they are arranged with designated distances between them and with a specific relationship to the ground (e.g. on a base/podium). Most large urban projects, like in Asia, involve the arrangement of multiple towers in a limited field.

Urbanization and the Single Tower

If the complex is defined by multiples and an ensemble of parts, then by definition the singular tower can never be described as such, as a complex arrangement or an arrangement that is a complex. And since this is the case, the autonomous tower is never designed by more than own architect (office). Until now.

This studio aims to make an organized game out of collaboration by setting up, like any good project, a series of constraints that cuts anxiety (tower complex) down into manageable scales (complex tower). We will design the world’s first multi-architect tower, not as a democratic collaboration, but rather like architects working independently within a masterplan. In this case, a 75 story urban tower (322 meters) is the ‘volumetric masterplan’ in which each of you will work.

Students: James William Barron, Katie Chuh, Adrien Forney, Shen Gao, Samantha Hoch, Ziqi Liu, Nawid Piracha, Amanda Shin, Di Song, Jonathan Talley, Erin Wright