American Architecture (Model)

An line drawing of East elevation of the Tange Pavilion

OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen

American Architecture (Model) aspires to foreground the mythical cornerstone of American constitutional democracy-freedom of expression. Evoking the tradition of a soapbox or public square, the pavilion provides a dedicated space for communal discourse and debate. At a time when the United States is experiencing a convulsive paradigm shift pushing the country toward necessary social change on so many fundamental issues—racial justice, gender equity, class privilege, climate change, and the right to health care, to name a few—the prevailing online discourse around these subjects has only incited deeper ideological divides and a cacophony of fierce opinion that is often fueled by misinformation. The instantaneous and limited format of expression on social platforms, their lack of accountability, and the minimal mechanisms for their regulation often lead to abuse of free speech. The revival of a real public space—as opposed to a virtual one—proposes to challenge how these urgent issues are addressed.

American Architecture (Model) is an attempt to formalize these current social, technological, and ecological urgencies by means of an architectural project. This is the recurring theme of the ongoing series of architectural studios titled American Architecture, which have been taught by Kersten Geers and David Van Severen of OFFICE. Geers and Van Severen, who were both appointed Kenzō Tange Design Critics at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) in 2019–2020, have designed the inaugural Kenzō Tange Chair Pavilion. American Architecture (Model) is made as a simple structure, a horizon of lights that demarcates a public space. It presents a model of an accumulation of technological tropes-solar panel and a technical box-next to the iconic image of the United States flag. The pavilion will be installed in front of Gund Hall, at the GSD, for one year.

OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen is a Brussels-based practice founded in 2002 by Kersten Geers and David Van Severen. OFFICE is renowned for its idiosyncratic architecture, in which material realizations and theoretical projects stand side by side. OFFICE have received numerous honors and awards, including the Belgian Prize for Architecture, the Silver Lion at the 12th Venice Biennial of Architecture, and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

American Architecture (Model) was generously supported by the endowed fund established for the Kenzō Tange Visiting Chair in Architecture and Urban Design at the GSD.