A Stab at Perforations

One thing that had yet to be addressed in my Artist Residency design was apertures. Windows, doors, any form of opening. I had thought only of the skin, and thus a distinct boundary between interior and exterior. But there had to be ways for people to cross that boundary. I needed an entrance, I needed windows.

My first attempt at windows tried to mimic the triangulation already present on the surface. I created similarly triangular apertures that snaked across multiple surfaces, to try and tie the areas together. I also made the decision for the internal tunnels to be inside the building, meaning I had to create some sort of entrance way where these tunnels exited the structure. Why I chose to enclose this space entirely, at this point I cannot remember. In retrospect, it perhaps would have been more interesting to keep them open.

With these new perforations, I created a couple new exterior renders to give myself a sense of the project.

Preliminary triangulation of exterior skin. Includes window apertures. Front view.

Preliminary triangulation of exterior skin. Includes window apertures. Front view.

Preliminary triangulation of exterior skin. Includes window apertures. Top view.

Preliminary triangulation of exterior skin. Includes window apertures. Top view.

I also began to play around with renderings of the new entrance area.

Preliminary rendering of entrance area, daytime.

Preliminary rendering of entrance area, daytime.

Preliminary rendering of entrance area, nighttime.

Preliminary rendering of entrance area, nighttime.

A Step in the Right Direction – Incorporating Pevsner

After struggling through the past few weeks trying to create something resembling a building, I brought my project to my section critic to ask for some guidance. His first response: “Where’s the Pevsner?” And that’s where it hit me – After spending weeks analyzing and exploring our given sculptures, I had moved on to creating the building and parti from scratch, with no consideration to our previous project. Where was the Pevsner indeed?

With a new direction, I returned to the drawing board so-to-speak, and recreated the massing from scratch using my generative version of the Pevsner sculpture “Developable Column.” I used my initial parti to guide the placement of four “columns”, which I them melded and merged and mushed together in Maya (ahh, alliteration), using the shape of the generative model to create the forms and spaces, and also the voids or “light wells.” The interior spaces of the model became tunnels through the center of the massing, allowing for circulation through the building. This gave me the idea of using these interior spaces as circulation paths for the public visitors, allowing them to enter, move around, and then exit the building without ever moving into the spaces of the artists. Thus, I added one more large depression at the rear of the building, with the intent of creating a “whirlpool” to pull visitors down into the building from the main museum building and Storm King facilities above.

Two contour drawings of the 2nd iteration of my residency - one in plan showing various circulation paths, the other in elevation (from the front).

Two contour drawings of the 2nd iteration of my residency – one in plan showing various circulation paths, the other in elevation (from the front).

A preliminary section of an uncreased (no hard edges) version of the residency, to begin illustrating the interior tunnels.

A preliminary section of an uncreased (no hard edges) version of the residency, to begin illustrating the interior tunnels.

The next step of the project was to build a model for our midterm review. I used the same process as the previous Pevsner sculptural exploration – a stacked model made of 1/16th taskboard. This created a massing model of the building that nicely illustrated my intention to have it flow directly from the site and surrounding landscape.

Residency v2 - Massing Model (front)

Residency v2 – Massing Model (front) (photo credit Andrew and Christian)

Residency v2 - Massing Model (rear)

Residency v2 – Massing Model (rear) (photo credit Andrew and Christian)

I also created a few preliminary renders to help illustrate the form – one from the exterior, and one inside the tunnels.

Residency v2 - Exterior Render

Residency v2 – Exterior Render

Residency v2 - Interior Render

Residency v2 – Interior Render

Light Wells, or “I’m Underground – I Need Light!”

With a preliminary parti and a site location, now I had to deal with the actual structure. I knew that I wanted to have the residency merge from/into the surrounding landscape, but how to accomplish this? Since we were modeling in Maya at this point (and for the rest of the semester pretty heavily), I decided to quite literally take the landscape into Maya, and drag/drape it over the parti to create the building’s massing. Once again, this was a very crude and unsuccessful method (and I very quickly changed it), but at this point I was a bit lost as to how to proceed.

This draping technique, and the fact that a lot of the rooms were underground, led to another problem – light. How could those underground see without using tons of artificial light? My answer? Light wells, or “whirlpools” as they became. This was also a great opportunity to try and re-introduce some of the design elements of the Antoine Pevsner sculpture and my generative reforming of it. This using of our previous sculptural explorations was also part of the assignment, and something that I had yet to properly address.

I also decided to elevate the studio spaces, in an attempt to allow them to see more of the landscape/site, and also to prevent the public that may be milling about to peer into their private space. This also allowed me to bring the public spaces out from behind the rest of the spaces by putting them down below the studios and gathering spaces.

The second version of my preliminary siteplan (left) and a basic wireframe parti (right), this time with light wells.

The second version of my preliminary siteplan (left) and a basic wireframe parti (right), this time with light wells.

Interior rendering of the first version of the residency (massing only)

Interior rendering of the first version of the residency (massing only)

Exterior rendering of the first version of the residency (massing only)

Exterior rendering of the first version of the residency (massing only)

 

 

Phase 1 – Sculptural Analysis with Antoine Pevsner

The first stage of our overarching “Artist Residency” studio project took the form, as stated in the previous post, of sculptural analysis and exploration. This began with each section critique assigning to their students different sculptural works from a particular sculptor. Prof. Andrew Saunders, my section professor, chose the Russian Constructivist brothers Antoine Pevsner and Noam Gabo. After running through a couple of options, I finally settled on Pevsner’s Developable Column, which he made in 1942 and currently resides in one of MOMA’s collections.

With our sculptures, we were tasked with the envisioning and interpreting of the form through any resources we could gather (mainly photographs). This meant modeling the sculpture in 3D software – mainly Rhino, with some Grasshopper (a parametric rhino plug-in) as we were introduced to it. We then produced various analytical drawings from these Rhino models, showing various things like it’s imagined construction, diagramatic views, and even attempted renderings (w/ basic materiality). These came about after about 1.5 weeks into the project.

Pevsner Board 1 - Developable Column analytical views.

Pevsner Board 1 – Developable Column
Analytical views.

Pevsner Board 2 - Developable Column rendering

Pevsner Board 2 – Developable Column
Rendering.

Pevsner Board 3 - Developable Column method of construction

Pevsner Board 3 – Developable Column
Method of construction.

Pevsner Board 4 - Developable Column generative analysis

Pevsner Board 4 – Developable Column
Generative analysis.

Final Pavilion Part 1: The Design

With a basic design in hand, there was only one more major hurdle to tackle: how should I make this into a pavilion? I had an idea – an inhabitable, interactive pod built from modules and locked in place by a centralized key – but now I needed to think bigger. How many of these pods should I have? How might they engage the site and each other? How then should a complete pavilion be formed?

At this point, the process simply boiled down to refining the design, and then expanding it to fill the site. I decided that even more opening needed to be done – the pods were still too constricted, and there was still too much wasted space. I blew up the scale – each module now sat at 6′ tall, 3′ wide, and anywhere from 6′ to 24′ long. After stacking these modules 2 to 4 stories high, I removed even more surfaces, opening the interior up further and allowing for a more natural flow through the space. I added stairs for accessibility to higher levels. Even the keys themselves changed – I created only one design, which was then rotated to sit differently within each pod. I found that the distinct modules slowly began to disappear, allowing for a more consolidated design within each pod.

Next came the site – I needed a way to activate the pavilion’s location, allowing for a complete and thorough interaction between ground and structure. Yet the decidedly rectilinear forms of my pods continuously clashed with the rigid triangle of the site. And then it hit me: Rather than fighting this juxtaposition, perhaps that’s how the pavilion wants to be. The reason the site is so triangular is due to an external conflict – that of the two main grids of the city. Most of the city follows a distinct grid pattern – north-south along the Hudson River. But in this section, the river turns slightly to the west, resulting in two conflicting grids. Why not capitalize on this? I laid out five or six pods across the two grids, creating a centralized area encircled by my structures. To help the pods interact even more with the site, I abandoned the idea of them being strictly movable (as that would require a flat and ultimately boring site plan), allowing some pods to sink into or rise out of the ground itself. This created a natural wave across the site, again following the two grids.

Time for some renderings! These are always helpful for me to visualize exactly what I am going to be building before I go ahead and create the final model.

Next up: Construction Time!

Moving Forward – Choosing a Design and Running With It

Through the multiple weeks that I spent laboring and stressing over how my final pavilion design would come together, I found myself constantly going back to one simple problem – accessibility. My previous field study, the “inhabitable” wall/surface, just wasn’t cutting it. I had designed it with the intention of allowing the user to interact and interpret the form on various levels – it seemed I was more interested with the user’s reaction than my own. But the problem was that there was too much “stuff” – The design was too thick, to convoluted, too unwieldy, and frankly any respectful user would be more distressed and confounded by the design than I was hoping for. “KISS” – Keep It Simple, Stupid. The question was, how? I kept trying to make the structure more interactive by adding on new parts, trying to make the whole system movable or transformable. But the over-complexity of the design, coupled with an inability to get my rectilinear forms to marry with the triangular site, kept sending me directly into a wall. I decided to take my original idea regarding the modules that would be stacked to form the inhabitable surface, but rather than “adding material”, I was now looking to take away.

Now the design had become a hierarchy of parts. The various rectilinear planes would come together to create various forms of “modules”. These modules, just as before, were then to be stacked in various configurations to form a “pod”. Each pod had a centralizing “key” or anchor, evolved from the wooden key of my original design, around which the pod was formed. Once stacked, various planes were shifted or even removed completely, with the intention of opening up the interior so that each pod could then be entered. This created a juxtaposition between interior and exterior, and thus naturally addressed the problem of public vs. private which was handed down to us as part of the assignment. My intention was that each key could be removed from the pod, and then the pod moved to a different location on the site. This meant that multiple pods could be placed together to form a larger surface/structure, or each pod could be its own separate entity. Clearly the moving of such a pod (which now stood at anywhere from 12′ to 16′ tall) was not a feat that any normal person could attempt. But as this entire design was much more conceptual and idealistic, I felt that such an issue was not as important at the time (not to mention that this is only my 2nd semester we are speaking of!). I have held that while the physical world can and will limit what you can build in real life, it should not ever limit what you can construct in your mind.

Below I have attached a rendering of my original pod design. Two sample pods are shown, both separate (at the top) and then combined in various configurations (on the bottom).

The first draft of my pod design. The drawing shows two sample pods from various angles (top), as well as how they might fit together in multiple configurations (bottom).

The first draft of my pod design. The drawing shows two sample pods from various angles (top), as well as how they might fit together in multiple configurations (bottom).

Moving Forward – Field Studies

Having now explored and ultimately created a basic ruleset/design mode to guide the exploration of our pavilion, we were asked to construct a portion of the pavilion using our current iteration of the 4″ x 4″ x 12″ joint. This portion had to create some form of “surface” – be it ground, roof, or wall – that ideally the rest of the pavilion would then extend from. I and my classmates found this to be increasingly difficult, as our smaller structure was just that – small, and the concept of transforming it to become a larger structure was very foreign. Ultimately the guidelines regarding the specific function of our new exploration (specifically one of the three necessary surfaces) were blurred/removed, allowing for a more open design process.

Looking back at some of the photographs I had taken of my smaller joint in various configurations formed the basis of my inspiration – I decided to quite literally stack my joint multiple times, creating a sort of smaller module which was then repeated over the course of the structure. The idea was simply to use one basic form of module (derived near-directly from the original joint), which was then slightly transformed to create eight basic modules. These parts were then stacked in various configurations to allow for openings and multiple surfaces.

Because of the construction of my original joint, I found it made the most sense to take one half of the joint and split it down the middle, effectively deriving my basic module from one quarter of the original joint. These quarters were then turned on their side, allowing the vertical nature to then become horizontal. This created various platforms across the surface as the modules were stacked and shifted. The exact function for each surface was unclear – I wanted their purpose to emerge naturally as they were used. Some surfaces were quite clearly stairs to upper levels, but all could then be used as seats or other forms beyond my limited imagining in the studio. I also decided to keep the idea of a “key” or anchor for the structure, creating three pillars that held the space together (although physically within the model they were not required to keep the rest of the parts together – but the idea was that perhaps they would).

Of course, the entire model was also to be constructed within Rhino, our primary modeling software. In anticipation of creating the actual model, I created some quick renderings of my design to get a feel of how it would ultimately look, some of which I have included below.

A sample of some of my renderings of the concept as designed in Rhino

A sample of some of my renderings of the concept as designed in Rhino

For the first time we were also introduced to the concept of space having a primary function – part of the requirements for our final pavilion was to ultimately create multiple spaces that could be used as a) public seating/conversation space, b) private space, and c) public demonstration/presentation space. While we weren’t expected to explicitly address these modes of space in this iteration of our development, they were something to keep in mind.

The final constructed model, built at 1″ = 1′ scale (so the model stood at 12″ tall and about 20″ long):

The completed field model. Like the original joint, I chose to construct the model out of a mixture of cold press and basswood, both because of ease of cutting/assembly and also to maintain a sense of continuity between the two models.

The completed field model. Like the original joint, I chose to construct the model out of a mixture of cold press and basswood, both because of ease of cutting/assembly and also to maintain a sense of continuity between the two models.

Like the original joint, the field model could also be disassembled, although unfortunately not as much as before - this time, only the wooden "keys" or anchors were removable, but the rest of the structure was stationary.

Like the original joint, the field model could also be disassembled, although unfortunately not as much as before – this time, only the wooden “keys” or anchors were removable, but the rest of the structure was stationary.

A view from the side of the field model/surface, to help illustrate how I shifted the alignment of the modules to create a more broken surface on the interior.

A view from the side of the field model/surface, to help illustrate how I shifted the alignment of the modules to create a more broken surface on the interior.

The exterior of the field model/surface. I chose to cover up various portions of the surface in an attempt to make the exterior feel more closed, to contrast with the broken/more open interior.

The exterior of the field model/surface. I chose to cover up various portions of the surface in an attempt to make the exterior feel more closed, to contrast with the broken/more open interior.