GSD Course Bulletin - Fall 2010 - STU-01304-00


01304: Rising Mass 2 (STU 0130400)

Option Studio - 8 credits - Limited enrollment
Monday Thursday 2:00 - 6:00  


George L. Legendre

Course Description

Halfway between today's dominant discourse of programmatic freedom and the alleged over-determination of pure form-making, this studio celebrate architecture's ongoing critical return to form. Our interest in the topic of form is neither aesthetic nor ideological. Contrary to the notion of shape (with which it is sometimes confused), form is a syntactic, procedural, and increasingly, technical proposition whose disciplinary autonomy parallels the study of language in the age of structuralism and the more recent development of object-oriented programming in the software industry.
In the past five years, our studio briefs have systematically explored the architectural potential of the variable parametric surface, a conceptual vehicle initially chosen for its relentless abstraction and relative resistance to predictable questions of function and architectural figuration. The investigation will continue this fall-in two directions at once.

At the near end of the spectrum, in conjunction with the fall term elective offering GSD 2404 Superficial Spaces, we will expand the scope of design experimentation with the production of formal analytic models likely to yield sophisticated , if largely counter-intuitive, building prototypes - later to be incorporated into pragmatic urban and architectural proposals for the island of Manhattan.

Rising Mass
At the far end of the spectrum we will scavenge a fading trend of global academicism to formulate our instrumental ideas in the context of what was, for a few years, the hottest academic undertaking: planning high-rise structures for the (now) slowing economies of the 21st century. But rather than simply aligning ourselves, even temporarily, with a topical - and now recessive- problem, we will take on frontally the apparent paradox posed by the high-rise type, circa 2000-2010:

Why is the architecture of high-rises generally dominated by the structural expressionism of 'iconic' tower design (to the extent that skyscrapers have now become in both East and West the ultimate refuge for signature design and the fulfillment of the architectural ego) when, historically, meeting the demands of the ruthless, semi-automatic technical and commercial demands underpinning this brief ensured that high-rise buildings remained all but a sort of vernacular, a province of specialized craftsmen and consultants, an architecture without architects, as it were, much like the huts of rural Switzerland?
Tipped off by Alejandro Zaera Polo's excellent recent analysis of the workings of this artificial design ecology in 'High Rise Phylum 2007'(Harvard Design Magazine, Spring/Summer 2007), we will devise high-rise proposals that express the potentially 'semi-automatic' mode of development advocated in 'High Rise Phylum',as well as the particularities of personal desire.

Manhattan 2010
?Manhattan will be our context of operation. Unlike say, Frankfurt or London, where the themes of high-rise living, working, and development routinely undergo cyclical fortunes of infamy and rehabilitation, the Big Island has been quietly investing in the type for a century and is now witnessing the birth of its Nth generation of high-rises. In this it has been closely following the founding principles of the 'Delirious' way: these include a fondness for 'artificial' and regulated living; a enthusiastic acceptance of high-rise living (which of late includes 'vernacular' adaptations linked to local residential practices); and the fundamental tenet that all programmatic fantasies must remain private, and outward expressiveness strictly banned.
At the time of printing we have earmarked several sites released by the City to prospective developers looking to build high (their exact location will be discussed at the beginning of term).

We will begin by contributing diagrams and physical models to a collaborative project

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