Advanced Topics Studio with Roger Sherman

M.Arch.I, Third Year

This studio proposes to challenge and reconcile the false choice between the uncompromised singularity of the architectural figure and the pure background status of what Colin Rowe termed (urban) texture. To do so, we shall revisit Aldo Rossi’s notion of the collective monument: an accretion of buildings whose aggregate impression possesses singularity, yet at the same time resists simple envelopment or consolidation—neither unadulterated object nor mat building.

We shall be concerned with three principal areas of inquiry. The first explores how figuration can be achieved not through willful, preconceived shape-formation by the author-producer, but instead as a result of an extrapolative process of form-finding derived from the found circumstances of site, and regulations pertaining to it. Code research and physical modeling will be essential to this investigation. By asserting (the presence of) the conditions that circumscribe it, our second goal shall be to explore a new genus of figuration that is (oxymoronically) defined by an interest in the awkward, residual and ungainly. We shall test the limits of figuration, preferring the nominal and circumstantial to the platonic: the minimum threshold at which figurality can be discerned as it emerges from the disorganized texture of the city-at-large. Contributing to this shall be the studio’s third concern, which is how figuration can be enriched by, rather than suppress the selective assertion of internal elements and performance perameters that comprise it, and how these (part-to-part relationships) might affect or be creatively reconciled with overall building shape to produce a more composite version of figurality: eschewing the both the easy singularity of the platonic and the facile aesthetics of accumulation. The outcome, it is hoped, might evoke the unique brand of density and ensemble that is arguably already inherent to L.A.'s vernacular: an architecture of closely-packed elements;a building of buildings--that elevates the logics of infill and assembly from anonymity to notoriety.


Roger Sherman