Holdout Architecture (Case Study : Upper Manhattan)

Holdout ArchitectureCase Study: Upper ManhattanThis studio will investigate the architectural consequences of obstacles to the complete redevelopment of urban sites. Holdouts are buildings or parcels of land owned or leased by parties unwilling to relinquish them to a developer who has amassed a significantly greater sum total of adjacent or surrounding parcels. Clearly, there is a bias suggested by the term. The holdout is first and foremost subordinate to a dominant entity. A holdout is typically disproportionately diminutive relative to an otherwise uncontested assemblage of properties that would be available for a totalizing, consistent, or coherent redevelopment if it were not for the holdout.The aim of the studio is to find an alternative way to enter the \”magic circle\” of architectural form: the dialectic of norm and exception, convention and invention that traditionally has been initiated as a game willfully concocted by the architect. The presumption is that the architect as catalyst will be supplanted by the holdout. Yet, the holdout as a general category is insufficient for our purposes. It does not always serve to stimulate a dialectic of architecture which, as intended in this case, originates in discord and leads to innovation. In other words, it may or may not result in peculiar or distorted building configurations. In the undistorted cases, both the building occupying the larger area and the holdout remain consistent with whatever building types or conventions that are assumed to be unfettered in situations that are similar but without holdouts. The operative assumption of the studio is that the architectural dialectic is manifest by witnessing and giving form to an architecture that is distinctively interpretable as evidence of tension or conflict. Thus, we will have to disregard the cases in which the holdout has required no convolutedness or has no apparent or discernable impact on building forms. Any builder who manages to avoid adapting a building to a holdout is too good or too evasive for us. If it does not lead to any evidence of adaptation, the holdout is not particularly architectural.Holdouts are not synonymous with holdout architecture. There are two types of holdout architecture. The first involves a building modified in order to conform to the presence of a holdout. These buildings represent deviations from normative type, pattern, or geometry – unusual structural, functional, circulatory or tectonic architectural elements. The exceptional configuration is allegedly caused by the intrusive presence of the holdout. The second type is a decidedly anomalous building that occupies the peculiar site left after a holdout has disappeared. Here, anomalous holdout architecture replaces the holdout.The semester will divide roughly into four parts. First, we will investigate a language analogous to holdout architecture: spatial, formal, structural, and functional bases for mutual exclusions, circumvention, cantilever, displacement, and interpenetration. In the second part, we will take a trip to New York. Students will individually work within specifically assigned study areas. Upon return, each student will nominate and make a case for three sites with hypothetical holdouts. After the final selection of sites, teams will establish constraints and scenarios for multi-use redevelopment to include a boutique hotel or bed and breakfast, condominiums, heath club, retail, parking and, optionally, a theatre. During the third and fourth parts of the semester, each student will undertake two projects: the two types of holdout architecture in succession.