The Unfolding Civic Surface: Auditoria as Terraform

This studio imagines a civic building as terraform, between object and landscape, a shaped container that owes as much to its terroir as to its internal contours. In counterpoint to the conventionally pragmatic, generic and introverted objects that typically house our cultural destinations, the terraform is understood as tectonically and materially specific in a reciprocal relationship with its environment. It aspires to reconcile the productive conflicts between a programmatically rich but detached interior landscape, with an architecture of sculptural, ecological and civic presence.

Utilizing the program of a bicameral Performing Arts Center located on Boston’s waterfront, the studio embraces the site as it transitions from terrain vague, towards a new, terraformed urbanism.  Can the architecture and remnant site infrastructure be recast as an integrated experience of land, water, space, and sensuality that regenerates a calcified, and isolated site… where an intuitive sculpting and terra-forming go hand-in-hand to unfold and re-stitch the building as a catalytic participant in the remaking of the city?  And given the need for innovative types of gathering, how will the consideration of the land form inspire the auditoria themselves, the shape of the seating bowls or the spaces which support them?

We will study volumes, skins, liners, and apertures as responsive motifs of the physical environment; the surface of the city itself will be analyzed, documented and transformed into a flexible membrane that integrates building, land, water and program.  Investigations will fluctuate between scales and media, using digital models, physical models and various modes of drawings to explore the material possibilities of the project – moving beyond iconography and digital manipulation towards the spatial, sensual and structural possibilities of the site and program.  The choreography of space for human habitation through floors, ramps and stairs will be of central importance.

We will end with a building/landscape proposal, explored as a "performative container," mediating between a loose-fit urban landscape and a water-rich topography, between building as object, and city as fragmented civic surface.  The design work will initiate a new cultural district of Boston, which responds to the native and industrial geomorphology while leveraging the interplay between a desire for material craft, and the projective potential of water-based land form.  The studio will travel to New York City and Boston, where we will attend performing arts events and conduct field research.