The Inverted Observatory is a reaction to world’s increasing capability to make and accumulate in conjunction with our growing desire and ability to preserve, through varying media, everything we produce. Codified and consumable at its point of inception, information in the 21st century is produced so rapidly and efficiently, that the total volume of information embedded in the collection of all recorded history before the year 2000 is matched by that produced by contemporary society every single day.
Not only are the composite parts of the world increasing exponentially toward an unforeseeable, perhaps infinite total, but the scale of access to its sum total is shrinking - formulated now for the privileged individual. We not only have access to this information, but with it have achieved a mastery over its vessel. We can view microscopic characters at thousands of times their actual size, collapse impossibly distant nebulas to a two dimensional image, all while rotating, translating, and scaling the globe in which we ourselves (and this privileged view) are placed, with a few swipes of our finger. These manipulations are of course performed on a representational avatar. But the representation is fast modeling itself after the Empire’s Map, stretching out over itself, and spreading thin for its vastness. With time it will either wear thin, or overtake its subject - this project is an interpretation of the latter.
This thesis is a study in the natures of infinite accumulation; the total collection’s increasing reduction to a common visual singularity; and the relationship between recollection and history-making - does the preservation of such a total history require it’s own accessibility?
As its site, the project takes the point at which all the world’s infinite views converge. It doesn’t operate within, but rather around and for this site.
Positioned in a time after the end of archaeology, all the world’s evidential past has already been collected or disintegrated. In realizing the irrevocability of history, our position between our origins and ends is fixed - and we find ourselves operating entirely within the nebulous discomfort of Frank Kermode’s “middest” - an anxiety experienced in being unable to place ourselves at the beginning or end of our own histories. Amelioration is proposed through an investment in the dissolution of future loss.
The observatory is purposed to document and preserve the world and it’s growing collection. Its relationship to it is hierarchical, surpassing the earth’s insistence of its own static condition as the new absolute object.
The structure is a vessel for the architectural character of the operation. The collection of infinite views are conducted through a series of reifications, forming densities and collisions that result in a volumetric repositioning of the two-dimensional actions. The world is repeatedly etched onto the infinite collection of infinitesimal moments in which the machine operates, rewording the world’s narrative in a continual renewal and reformulation of the collection’s parts and relationships.
By scaling, rotating, and moving the world, it achieves, in the form of an abstracted and reductive reproduction, the archival of infinite views and moments - transcribed onto singularity’s casing - the cumulative constellation of time and space’s collapse to its own center - an indecipherable, yet total repository for the entirety of the world.
This exercise is an attempt to resolve the impossible spaces articulated in Piranesi's Carceri Series and, in three dimensions, restrain and architecturalize various interpretations of the improvisation within the Series.
Developed through architectural syntax and symbols, the etchings are full of hints at, and feelings of familiar space - common measures of scale and material are sprinkled throughout (handrails, people, wood beams, stair treads and risers, etc), but are not meant to inform any comprehensive concept of space or relationships between the disparate portions of the foreground and background. They are instead secondary to the architecture that exists somewhere between hyperbole and awesome - with the fragments of familiar tools of identity and scale serving not to support, but rather to constrain, or rein the extraordinary back to some semblance of conformity.
Plates 3, and the second iterations of plates 7, 14, and 15 were explored and yielded proposals for resolved interpretations.
Avant Apres Ski seeks to better integrate the tourist experience with the local conditions to create a functional, harmonious, and navigable experience of Les Diablerets. A flexible architectural system composed of deconstructed interventions are scattered throughout the village. These interventions, way-finding and place-making mechanisms of varying scale and program, orient users through line-of-sight connections, systematizing pedestrian flow and unifying the landscape’s more extensive infrastructures - grafting itself onto both transportational and recreational nodes. The interventions’ unique architectural language is developed to separate it visually from the vernacular architecture from which it is methodologically derived. They anchor the sight-lines, demarcating zones of activity within which the recreational infrastructure operates. To enable seamless and appropriate interaction between the zones and their edges, the interventions’ sectional image is informed by the programs hosted within them as well as by the spacial qualities of the activity they abut. The edges constitute an integrated path system that both laterally and dynamically ties the site together as a function of explorative and curated experience. The system permits expansion and contraction, flexing to adopt or dismantle seasonal activities or future architectural fixtures as they are instituted or amended. The network and the participation it yields cultivates a learned collective movement that composes a legible, interactive figure - a continual shared event.
I began this project by considering the Meydan by definition to be a gradual collection of the urban void that saturates cities. It functions as a transitional gradient, never allowing the occupants to completely find themselves inside, or outside of it, but rather insisting existing as a point on the spectrum between these extremes. In this way, at the scale of the immediate void, the Meydan doesn't function as a place, but merely as a path, or space between others. However, the scale of its vastness and the activities that occur within it determine a unique definition of the void as destination. In order to navigate the intermediacies between place, destination, scale of activity, and scale of association within both the immediacy of the site and its extended relationship to the historic peninsula at large, the intervention operates along both horizontal and vertical datums to tie the site to its experience.
Programmed figures located at each of the four transit-oriented corners of the site function as mediating programs intended to both bridge the varying scales of movement: tram, bus, car, and static operations: library, museum, commercial bazaar, with the un-programmed expanse of the Meydan's surface, as well as provide referential stability for the pedestrian vectors that are overlaid on the site, imagined in material striations. Programmed tunnels moving along these vectors, each extending armatures, reconciling the Meydan's void as place by allowing it a binary definition through experiential transition which serves to encapsulate the spacial experience without altering its existence as a Meydan by creating boundary or edge. These tunnels terminate in towers, varying in height, operating as doorways between the vastness of the surface and the enclosing interiority below while simultaneously serving to shrink the void by establishing intermediate visual destinations by which experiences can be oriented apart from the monuments that occupy the Meydan's ephemeral edge. Two of the four towers function as viewing platforms, unifying the varying scales of place by elevating the datum by which one measures his or herself between immediacy of the site and the extent of the surrounding context.
This portfolio was my entry in the 2014 KPF Traveling Fellowship through Harvard University GSD's invited participation and own internal competition. I didn't make it past the University's 5-person shortlist, so was never entered in the final decision.
The competition required 15 one-sided pages. The portfolio itself is back to back spray-mounted bristol. All pages are one-sided, but by binding them in the middle and interpreting "page" as "layout" I get twice as many images while staying within the rules. After assembly, the pages are cut on the table saw to achieve a rough texture. The box is made from Walnut with a laser etched title. The box opens via two 95 degree stay-hinges at the top. and is held together when closed by a series of 1/2" diameter earth-magnets embedded in the wood and covered by non-ferrous titanium rod that is flush with the wood and is finished mirror smooth (12,000 level micro-mesh).
The entry, which involves along with the portfolio a proposal for travel and study, was entitled "Chasing Utopia(s) - In Pursuit of an Architectural Dragon" - nothing like a heroine reference to catch someone's attention, right? The proposal was as follows:
This proposal takes as its subject eight architectural experiments, all of which represent the societal ameliorations and formal expressions tied to the Western utopian tradition. Spanning four centuries and spread out over three continents, these experiments hold a unique place in the architectural imagination. Utopia, meaning simultaneously “no-place” and “happy place,” was famously transformed into a literary genre by Sir Thomas More in his 1516 novel of the same name.
The term cannot, however, be understood without some sort of architectural or spatial expression. It is fundamentally tied to design, for it requires depiction even as an ethereal ideal. Its shape, while in service to a broader set of social, economic, political or religious motives, becomes the foundational condition of its meaning.
The architectures of Utopia are historically and geographically diverse. In their current state of obsolescence and decay (whether physical, programmatic, or something else), history’s utopias arguably serve as something akin to anachronistic mirrors reflecting the societies that sought them out. The conditions of their existence reveal simultaneously the ideological terrain of their native situation and the projection of their fractured, imagined futures. The organizational and architectural strategies they deploy are discrete, preserved manifestations of an inherently unattainable concept—artifacts testifying to the unrequited pursuit of architecture’s promise.
I propose to study five utopian models: first, a group of religious communities established in the US between roughly 1750 and 1850 (Harmony, Zoar, Pleasant Hill, and New Harmony; second, the modernist ecotopia imagined at Arcosanti; third, the dreams of the propagation of the Catholic faith represented by the Jesuit mission of San Ignacio Mini, Argentina; fourth, the Enlightenment ambition of the productive society found at the Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans; and finally, the bellicose Renaissance city embodied by Palmanova.
The conceptual organization of this project operates around the idea of program overlap and juxtaposition. As this building is a conglomeration of not only many programmed spaces, but spaces that belong to vastly different programs, the framework for a hierarchical arrangement necessitated the institution of a system that would sectionally sort these interactions and purposefully and intentionally arrange them in ways appropriate not only to each programs spacial needs, but to the ensuing network of the different programs and sub-programs. Each program is assigned a unique floor to floor height appropriate to the type of occupation they present based on factors of four: 12' (Dorms), 16' (Berklee), 20' (ICA), and 24' (Retail). This method of distinction does a number of things: it creates recognizable programmatic distinction within a building that is comprised of four discrete program types; it allows for programatic overlap and the potential for like-program-elements to share a specific space, and it creates fissures within the building, creating edge conditions that visual and audibly connect spaces without requiring the physical occupation of the same space. The interaction between these programs is not constant, it is a gradient, a spectrum in section. A regularized ground floor and an orthogonal plan on the upper floors is accentuated by the tense interactions of the programs in the middle of the building, specifically and especially between the spacial, visual, and audible overlaps and schisms between the theatre, gallery space, and black box.
These three conditions, separation, overlap, and edge, give space to the designed interactions between these spaces, between the four buildings within a building.