Exhibition and Introspection: New Building Complex for the Art Institute of Boston

site:The site is located between the busy chaos of Mass. Ave. and a quite residential neighborhood of Historic Avon Hill in Cambridge near the T-stop at Porter Square. The site is two partial blocks, which face east and slope down from Avon Hill onto the bustling thoroughfare of Mass Ave. The site both separates and joins the urban activity of Porter Exchange and the calm tree lined streets of historic Avon Hill. The site, which is currently used as a parking lot, represents a confluence of many different edge conditions, and issues of threshold, unfolding, joining, weaving, separating and dissonance will be explored at both the level of site planning and construction detailing.studio intentions:In an effort to bring the larger ideas of the project into all realms and scales of design thinking, students will develop a site strategy and a building that is conceptualized to the level of construction detail, materiality and furniture design. The intention is to create a body of design that \”prioritizes the subjective\” by exploring the tectonics and craft of building in a way that supports the direct human experience of the space.Issues of the site and its relationship to architecture will also be at the center of the studio. There will be an attempt to heighten the awareness of the conditions offered by this urban site, whether visceral or temporal. The edge condition between inside and outside will be explored, as will the overall siting strategy.The studio will also explore ways in which a design can exploit, register and reveal natural and constructed processes and phenomenon in order to expand the sculptural and spatial into the temporal. Light and shadow, wind, rain and the relationship to the ground plane will be explored to enhance the experience of the phenomena of the site and the temporal events offered by this particular place.program:The building program will include classroom studio (art) spaces, dormitory rooms, a public exhibition space, retail spaces (art supply, photo-lab, cafi), underground parking and various public and semi-public outdoor spaces plus all attendant service spaces required. Total program area = 50,000 to 75,000 sq. feet. Inherently, the problem of negotiating the public and private aspects of the site, together with the building program, form a basis for the larger architectural investigation which might be understood as introspection vs. exhibition. The building program will also ask students to consider the relationship between art and life. Students\’ input on program content for their individual projects will be welcome during the first three weeks of the studio. process:Building design and development throughout the semester, with the following exercises interspersed:-Precedent study: to open the studio to an increased level of discussion and shared knowledge.-Site analysis: to provide collective and individual understandings of the site and its inherent phenomena, from which concepts and designs emerge.-Large-scale wall section development: to explore the materiality of the project and the relationship of inside to outside.-Spatial and perspectival studies: to place direct human experience at the center of the project\’s site and building strategy.-Furniture design: to transform the larger ideas of the site strategy and building strategy to a scale that is in direct relationship to the human body.