The task of designing an addition to a highly respected building requires bringing judgments to bear perhaps more explicitly than in the case of any other type of project. Confronting this problem in no uncertain terms, this studio requires making an addition to a particularly authoritative piece of architecture: a late nineteenth or early twentieth century classical museum or performing arts center. The addition to such a building will either appear to extend the precedent, identify with the surrounding context and bring it into a new proximity with the existing building, or establish an autonomous architecture that contests both the existing building and the context.
Among the goals of the studio is to define and exercise techniques for creating astonishingly rigorous types of reciprocity between buildings and their contexts. In order to do so, the “existing” conditions will be invented. The approximately 200,000 sq. ft. classical building, derived from available drawings of precedents, will look as if it is authored by a disciple of a well known architect such as McKim, Mead and White, Carrère and Hastings, Bertram Goodhue, or a less known figure like Guy Lowell (architect of Boston\’s MFA). With all of its resolute authority and relative stability, it will be placed in a semi-fictionalized site in one of several selected American cities. The building/site relationship will be produced by transforming part of an actual found context. Existing buildings will be erased in order to create an open site. The existing building will be sited to leave enough room for a \”future\” addition that will double its size. Streets, surrounding buildings and urban block patterns will be modified such that the interrelationship between the site and the building exhibits a rare, though realistic, heightened degree of reciprocity.
In order to understand one of the types of reciprocity to be established between the invented existing building and the surrounding city, it is useful to imagine a physically heavy model of a large, classical building sitting on a somewhat elastic table cloth to which is attached elements that belong to the surrounding city. The model of the building turns or translates in one direction which stretches and tears the table cloth. The surrounding streets and block patterns adjust by stretching, shearing, shifting, and regrouping, ultimately settling in such a way that they seem to constitute a plausible, albeit exceptional, existing condition.
One of the most difficult challenges posed by the addition will be that it must rob the existing building of one of the most fundamental aspects of its symbolic authority: namely, its role in providing the primary entrance to the cultural institution that it houses. By accommodating contemporary programmatic demands, the addition will gain the upper hand in shaping interior spatial sequences despite being similar in size to the more historically significant original building. In addition, the addition will foster new types of cultural production not supported by the older building. Thus, the consequences of the addition will perhaps be most profoundly evident in the structure, sequence and formal language of interior spaces, all of which will be thoroughly developed, as will be the exteriors.
Various types and hybrids of building/site/city/addition/interior interrelationships will be investigated by means of Rhino Grasshopper definitions. Versions of these will be judged according to multiple criteria established by the critical discourse of the studio. To this end, several Grasshopper lessons, offered by an experienced tutor, will relate directly to the concepts addressed by the studio. It is important that the students have significant prior Rhino modeling experience.