Constructing Panorama: vision, views and the non-visible

by Benjamin Halpern (MArch ’17) — Recipient of Julia Amore Appleton Traveling Fellowship in Architecture

The thesis confounds a model of vision, the panorama, with both the design of architecture and the construction of a project.

Coined as a technical term to describe a special type of architecture for entertainment in the 19th century before its meaning shifted to a metaphor for a fully comprehensive overview, panorama is established as a cultural institution in continual evolution distinct from the many mediums, disciplines, and devices that it permeates, yet always situated within a specific historical context.

The thesis explores the contemporary idea of panorama—split between an embodied, dynamic form of vision and the easily accessible, static view for sale. A two-part proposal projects a future high-rise luxury condominium tower within a showroom complex designed to sell such speculative real estate.

The paradox of the panorama is that the excess of coherence in fact provides the most partial view. Thus the critical question: what is the non-visible?