SELF-SIMILAR: Treasure Island Performing Arts Center

This studio will explore ideas of self-similarity and transitive relationships among seam, surface and volume as a means to generate architectural systems that span across the scales of landscape, building, and enclosure systems. The vehicle for this investigation will be the design of a Performing Arts Center sited at the water\’s edge on Treasure Island, a flat, artificial island built off of the hilly, naturally occurring island of Yerba Buena in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Historically, visions for the water\’s edge have gone through significant shifts, particularly in recent decades. Once seen as predominantly utilitarian, the city\’s connection to the water has been redefined as a place for environmental rehabilitation, leisure and entertainment. There is a unique opportunity to rethink the role of the cultural institution, the Performing Arts Center, in relation to a public landscape. Implicit in the project is that the building must grapple with engaging the immediate site specificity of Treasure Island, along with its having a potentially singular presence on the Bay, viewed prominently from San Francisco and distantly from surrounding Bay Area vantage points. Treasure Island is uniquely situated at the center of the Bay and currently accessed solely by car via the Bay Bridge. It is at once local and distant, isolated and connected. With the present handover of the island by the Navy back to San Francisco, it is undergoing significant planning changes, infrastructural revisions and reconsideration of its role as public space for the larger metropolis. Because vehicular access to the Island is quite constricted, the Performing Arts Center must also function as connective tissue between Treasure Island and San Francisco by linking to the water transportation network of ferries and water taxies. It is therefore necessary to simultaneously consider approach and departure by both water and land, making the site and building a threshold at the infrastructural scale. As such, the project examines the inherent complexity of at once being a building on an edge between land and water (seam), an extension of existing landscapes of island and water (surface), and simultaneously needing to house large, enclosed spaces programmed for performance (volume). The studio seeks to operatively confound these seemingly distinct formal/spatial structures, to consider seam, surface, and volume as interdependent components of an extended environment – one that includes the ephemeral characteristics and perceptual effects of the site and program, such as atmospheric or aquatic phenomena that transgress the boundary of water and land, or the informal nuances of a performing arts program (involving acoustics and/or vision for example). Thus, alongside investigation into expected issues raised by the housing of performing arts, such as the shaping of movement vs. the framing of movement, the project begs inquiry into how varying degrees of formality or containment of performance become operative, i.e. what might be the architectural implications of fleeting, less-determinate events (internal or external) occurring alongside a more-determinate or staged performance (internal or external as well).The studio ultimately seeks to investigate how design can conceptually and architecturally strategize the coexistence of apparently divergent formal and spatial conditions and instigators, by developing associative or self-similar relationships as a means to generate an architectural language that is translatable and transformable across the different project scales. SCHEDULESince the studio aims to span from the landscape scale, to building, to articulating an understanding of the building system of skin and structure, it will demand an intensive pace throughout the semester. The studio will meet every week on Monday, with overflow time Tuesday mornings. While we will alternate some studio vis