An American Plan

This is the first of a series of studios focusing on American Architecture. The research will happen sideways. Not through analysis of local phenomena, or an accumulation of everything ‘American’, but rather through testing how different tools of architecture in general (its core instruments) could be used ‘with America in mind’ and thus as a critical tool for production.

Architecture, or at least ‘our’ architecture, is ultimately made with a very reduced set of tools: plans, sections, details and perspectives. These tools are all we have to make the project. For this first edition, we start with the plan. Since the 16th century, the simple plan has been forever in negotiation with the complexity of the building. The plans of Palladio, of which many surviving ones don’t ‘belong’ to a particular project, are case in point. A particular plan hints at a building but leaves a lot open for interpretation. The plan as such merely suggests a possible architecture; a snapshot amongst many hypotheses.

In this studio we would like to connect a fascination for the plan with a question for Harvard campus. Is it possible to make a project for a Harvard forum of one floor? If until recently the reckless occupation of place was considered at least provocative, current evolutions in ecological and technological insights might inspire one to think otherwise. Thus the straightforward question of this studio: Develop a building of one floor that houses all the above, a gigantic surface, one plan. What is its location? What are its goals? How do we use all of its perceived disadvantages to its own advantage? The problem is perhaps the solution.

The outcome of this studio should be one plan and many details. What does it mean when a building is reduced to one principal drawing? Perspectives and details become collateral, and should rather illustrate possible interpretations of the plan developed.

This course has an irregular meeting schedule.

Kersten Geers will be in residence on August 30 and 31, September 27 and 28, October 11 and 12, November 8, 9, 29, and 30, and December 10, 11, or 12 for Final Reviews.

David van Severen will be in residence on September 13 and 14, October 11, 12, 25, and 26, November 29 and 30, and December 10, 11, or 12 for Final Reviews.

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