The Lost / Found pavilion is meant to hold the found and realized memories of an architecture studio’s trip to Moscow, Russia. It is conceived within an existing site of a shipping container on the territory of Cornell University. The pavilion is constructed from found objects like doors and window frames, which become vehicles for the manifestations of memories. Much like the city of Moscow, which is rooted in ideas of changing identity and temporality, the Lost / Found pavilion is a temporary structure that is constantly changing over time.
Collaboration with Daniel Marino and Lauren Gluck.
LONDON CULTURAL OLYMPICS DANCE PAVILLION SPRING 2011
The Pavilion of Dance for the London Cultural Olympics is a simple and elegant exploration of a figure/ground theme within Hyde Park. Perfectly placed amidst a network of pathways, the ground is raised and lowered to accomodate all the necessary spaces without interrupting the life of the park.
The pavilion retains within itself a simplicity of gestures similar to a paper or wire diagram while it adopts the aesthetic of a dancer through the use of simple geometric forms.
NEW SCHOOL OF THE ARTS FOR COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
NEW YORK CITY SPRING 2010
The new building for the School of the Arts is meant as a bridge between two communities of Columbia and Harlem within the landscape of Morningside Park. The building acts as a switch-back ramp at the same time lowering the level of the park to compensate for the area lost in construction. The organization of spaces is based on an idea of an urban palimpsest which repeats in every system of the building. Through this layering, light, structure and program combined make a bridge between Columbia and Harlem.
TIMBER CONSTRUCTION GYM
ITHACA, NY FALL 2010
With local material and local site considerations the gym is meant to complement a private school and bring the community of Ithaca into its life. This project pays careful attention to structural details and circulation systems. Because of the nature of the site, light and ventilation are negotiated through a system of glazing which adapts to seasonal weather.
NEIGHBORHOOD DEVELOPMENT SPRING 2009
The form is carefully developed through the transformations of a Mies Van der Rohe unbuilt house and its aesthetic proportions. The connections and relationships work on different scales, from large family to single living, as well as from pedestrian to vehicular circulation. The neighborhood is an iteration of itself, with simple but carefully designed units that can be arranges with different densities while adapting to the need of the urban or suburban environment.
URBAN HOTEL / WINE CENTER
ITHACA, NY FALL 2008
The hotel is designed to provide a means to move through an open space as well as a different perspective of the views of Ithaca. The hotel and wine center connect the Seneca Lake wineries with the social hub of the Ithaca center. This conjunction is accented by the use of light, texture and circulation.
MARIONETTE THEATER / MUSEUM
VENICE, ITALY SPRING 2008
The essence of Venetian language is transported into the design through its elements or light, layering and rhythm. The journey through the building is simple and open - filled with interactions of opaque, translucent and transparent elements.
Memories are composites – of fantasy, reality, fact, invention, and intuition – that can simultaneously be large and small, material and ephemeral. In their very nature memories have a constant connection with our present and become tools of speculation about our future – through the flexible and non-linear nature of memory itself. Representations of memory have an enormous potential to become sites of memory architecture – the building of a new past.
A short series of imagined installations, that explores a notion of capturing memories from a trip to Moscow, Russia.
PAVILION OF MEMORY AND NASTALIGIA. VIDEO
The skyline of the city is an image, and Rome is viewed through its own cityscape. From each turn to the next the viewport through the viewport changes, as does every image or photograph. The resulting cutouts are projected to make their own cityscape, one that is informed by Roman architecture.
NEW MAP OF THE UPPER WEST SIDE COMPETITION
The map has redefined in its layering of positive and negative aspects of the grid city the representation of their relationship together. Through a process of analysis and overlapping the two-dimensional city grid becomes a three-dimensional object which fosters architectural elements for further editing.
Why does architecture need to bear within itself, as a discipline, a spectacle? The iconic within history and the iconic within modernity are different. Their designation of notable achievement is determined by time and by critics, respectively. The stamp of genius within architecture, generally established through time, is appropriate and understandable. However, the contemporary dynamic synthesis of iconic architecture is determined by a different set of critics: the masterminds of publications and thoughtful curators. Their opinions, which influence society’s awareness of architecture, are the results of a curatorial look at the contemporary built environment. The critical environment of architecture lives in the representational media. As well, the media is an essence in which lives and breathes the spectacle. It is this proximity of the media, design, and the need for artistic curation, which results in the architectural spectacle.
The spectacle in modernity is a phenomenon constantly and continuously present in society. It is not only a reflection of society, but also the guiding factor of the public’s desires. In this context, what is the spectacle in architecture and how is it determined? As the driving force of architecture’s recognition in the media, the spectacle simultaneously widens the means of experiencing the built environment and limits its exposure through critical subjectivity. Creation of the architectural image is the main instrument for this process. Here it is important to note that the architectural image, the architectural object and the architectural space, however they may be linked, are not one and the same. The image is only a trace of an idea that has been deconstructed and re-represented through a filter of media. A process of representation nourishes the idea that the spectacular architectural image stands for,, and we, as viewers, are subjected to an abbreviated version of architecture. Institutions such as the International Architecture Biennale are vehicles for recognition of style, image, names, ideas and process – none of them holistic.
If architecture is place making in the contemporary world, then the assignment of spectacle and image to it provides social context for that place making. This is not only a question of representation; it is also a question of the meaning of representation. From case studies and examples of publicized architecture, the birth of the spectacle in modernity’s built environment can be traced. Architecture, through the means of being constructed as a spectacle within society, has moved mediums and entered into the realm of representational media. Given that the representation of architecture has become more iconic than the building’s physical form, the emergence of the architectural spectacle can be traced through the media influence, and then presented as evidence to this development.
The way in which we understand architecture is abstracted through the lens of the created media-spectacles. The smallest media spectacles are publications that act as exhibitions on paper – all worthy of note, they show architecture through a critical lens, curating a selection of notable architecture for us to feed into. The larger curated misrepresentations are museum exhibitions that select only a fraction of the world’s architecture and turn it into an iconic and possibly. What appears on the walls of such places as Museum of Modern Art forever becomes part of the collection residing next to historic architecture giants. These institutions are solid testaments to the growing importance of image in society’s relationship with architecture. They are platforms for negotiation between the observer and the observed object. They predetermine the dialog between the architectural space and its occupants before the physical form of the building is even part of the experience. We are conditioned to occupy the image or any other shortened form of architecture in place of occupying the reality from which it was derived.
The International Venice Biennale gained an independent architecture department in 1980, under the presidency of Giuseppe Galasso with Paolo Portoghesi appointed as the first curator and director. This made both the Biennale and Paolo Portoghese icons nearly inseparable from each other. Not to say that architecture hasn’t been part of the Biennale di Venezia, but only as an addendum to the art exhibition. Now, it is a world-famous iconic entity showcasing hundreds of projects and ideas from nearly a dozen countries and hundreds of designers. It stretches from the Arsenale to I Giardini – a significant part of Venice. And its media presence if felt within the critical mass of the architectural discourse as something of trust, value, and respect. It has been tested by time and is now emerging as one of the most solidified institutions showcasing contemporary architectural design. The spectacle within the history of the Biennale is not one where an exhibit launches a religious following of an iconic building. It is the curation of a viewpoint and an ideology through time. It is the means of measuring what should be seen and said in relation to the contemporary built environment, occurring every two years, simultaneously reflecting on the past and looking into the future.
Contemporary world and society are built on the value of the commodity. Architecture, design, and urban space are the most sought-after commodities because they provide the site and possibility for everything else. Money drives the creation of the new in design, while the image spectacle determines its recognition. In this world of the fetishism of the commodity that thrives within the realm of the visual, architecture especially needs a determined value. The Biennale helps mold the worth of the fragments of the built environment as well as design ideas within the framework of a prestigious exhibition. The Biennale is on the frontier of identifying merit of the architectural landscape. The relationship between the commodity – the physically built, and the spectacle – its representation, is cyclical and the “new landscapes of wealth can be summarized in two words, sprawl and spectacle: a physical environment cluttered with construction and a symbolic universe devoured by the media.”
The public, whether immediately engulfed in architecture or gently removed from it, longs for a guided opinion that specifies a direction of critical dialog about the emerging state of the built environment. The Biennale happily provides such. It is not straying away from its primary function as a curatorial exhibit – it is taking the need for mediation between society and architecture and making that its main platform. Recently Domus magazine published an article, which re-evaluates the definitions placed on the 1960’s Critical Design and its relations to emerging consumerism within society, stating that: “design is life, and it is therefore history. Steeped in the human condition, ideally a few steps ahead of it—and hence a political act—it follows the course of events and at critical junctures is compelled to take the lead and show the world a different way forward.” The role of the Biennale is to give definition to these ‘critical junctures’, point them out and bring them into the public. The spectacle then manifests itself by catching onto the bandwagon of visual ideals. And following the spectacle, society collaboratively reaches for the epitome of architectural presentation.
Be that as it may, has architecture fallen victim to the imagery of its presence in the landscape, or has it given way for the necessary social iconography of its representation? The social context of architecture is the most important one – it is the experiential lens that develops further into the realm of the visual medium. The spectacle within society is driven by the media presence. The social system is driven by the desire for display and the totality of the social system is broken because of the spectacle, but also assembled as a new aggregate on the basis of the spectacle bring its goal. The architectural spectacle is total rejection of reality – here reality is the physical presence of the built environment. The spectacle dismisses the physical boundaries of the spatial condition in favor of compelling imagery. The space represented is being judged not on its real spatial qualities, but on the projected unreal experience that could happen in it. And society is directed into striving for the unreal representation of the physical. This does not mean that the image is a moment of the false, because “the spectacle that falsifies reality is nevertheless a real product of that reality.”
The goal of the architectural spectacle is to fabricate the totality of the architectural experience for the viewer, without being present in the space. Beyond that, it aims to sift through the debris of the built environment in search of the true paragon of the contemporary. It is meant to bring about the experience of the built environment, its totality without stepping outside the curatorial look. The main desire of society is to be informed and guided by the spectacle, and the spectacle itself is fueled by the expectations of society. Architecture plays a key role in that relationship as a subject for the spectacle’s endless search for the iconic.
The curation of architecture within the framework of an exhibition is a result of the need and desire for definition. It is the institution, such as the Biennale, that holds the responsibility of appointing the value of architectural creation. What differs this process from the past practices of nineteenth-century is that the information now lies in the public domain of the media. It grows and develops into history of itself, now being an organism of societal fascination.
Although spectacle is a one-way interaction between the viewer and the subject, in architecture the relationship continues to grow because of the spatial possibility. And yet, the grandeur of architecture is predetermined by the iconic image engraved in the public’s mind. Much like the iconic black and white photographs of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye in the Exhibition of Modern Architecture in 1932 in MOMA, any image of a space that makes it into the Biennale discourse is on its way to becoming a canonical part of the architectural discipline. On the surface, spectacle lacks dialog. It is a one-way interface between society and object. In a sense it can be presented as a final analysis and deconstruction of any society’s desires at any particular point in time. And there is no higher goal within the spectacle than to become the ultimate representation of that aspiration. However, where architecture and design are concerned, the assumed presence of the physical space, which has many more physical characteristics than the Biennale site in Venice, drives the spectacle into a search of higher perfection. The constant categorization and reinvention of architectural display is the manifestation of the ever-changing architectural spectacle. It is searching for the ultimate truth within a subjective field.
The Venice Biennale is bigger than a publication or a museum – it is a dynamic representation of the contemporary architectural culture. It is evidence to a given moment within the history of design. Its manifestation, without the curatorial culture, stands as a synonym to the spectacle presented by Debord as a reflection of society at a moment in history. The Biennale itself is the spectacle, while everything else in it is a component of the whole. Simultaneously each individual element is a fragment of the spectacle whole, for which Biennale is only a vessel. The significance of this event “lies in its vital dual presence as both register and infrastructure, recording the impulses that guide not only architecture but also the increasingly international audiences created by (and so often today, nearly subservient to) contemporary architectures of display.”
The Biennale extends a reach over the topics of dialog within the architectural discourse as well as holds a very selective bias of content. The exposition is meant to create dialog within the contemporary discourse of architecture, but the curation of the possibilities of that dialog are predetermined by the compilation of displays. Venice is not the beginning of display architecture, however the scope of its influence within the critical mass is unparalleled. All the precedents of such collections, namely world expositions, are the determinations of culmination for the Biennale. The nature of the exhibition itself offers a possibility of looking into the future, of striving to follow the possibility of architecture. And while the architectural spectacle is the ultimate image of what society wants to see in architecture, the Biennale is the perfect site for the physical, three-dimensional materialization of the spectacle, both in its individual pavilion parts and the whole.
The artists, or the architects, can be held responsible for their own publicity, but they rely on the media for a boost in presentation. Furthermore, “as the picture of the world changed; mechanized, technoid environments emerged. But the artist stood aside, was obviously incapable of participating in the process.” The curator is now the entity that navigates the process of curatorial design through the mass of media possibilities. The directors of the Biennale hold the keys to deciphering the experimental curation of Biennale’s history. A huge part of that equation is the social condition, which precedes the event – it is, however, itself a product of economic and political context. The contents of the Biennale are representative fragments of society’s influence on the built environment, and visa versa. The image spectacle in its nature always embodies a better version of the social condition; therefore the Biennale is the architectural spectacle in the truest sense – because it is the paradigm of what architecture strives for. It is always the utopian representation of contemporary ideals on the canvas of Arselane and I Giardini.
Guy Debord tells us that spectacle is the end of argumentative reasoning for its subject. Argumentative reasoning for architecture is the determination of its quality – a placement of value on the subjective. But in a field constantly developing through its own examples and achievements, the placement of value needs to be signified by a physical presence that is a quantifiable entity based on qualitative values. The media spectacle fulfills that niche as the image of architectural perfection which society strives to construct and occupy. On the subject of ever-changing architectural value, Mies van der Rohe said that, “we have to establish new values, to demonstrate ultimate aims, in order to acquire criteria.” From that it is understood that the ‘criteria’ is never the reality in its present form, but the universal truth of the desired object.
The aim of the architectural spectacle is to turn architecture and design into a fixture of public fascination. The spectacular representation of design is meant to bring the arts, and of them the most unreachable is architecture, to the public’s notice. Between sports and news there is a void for making design visible, intriguing, and most of all, entertaining. Because “the spectacle epitomizes the prevailing model of social life,” it is the life that is being represented that haunts the ‘musefication’ of architecture. The architectural spectacle absolves the architect of the need to be holistic spatially, but dictates the need to be holistic through image. All vehicles of contemporary architectural representation, like the Biennale, determine the kind of built environment we should expect within the contemporary. And “in the spaces of these exhibitions, the visual, subjective experience of the modern city – where gurus and movies alike entranced audiences by cultivating intense emotional experiences, and where everything from spiritual sustenance to a coffeemaker was for sale – intersected with the privileged, elite status of modern art.” The dramatic disparity between the image of architecture and its physical counterpart is growing before the eyes of the unsuspecting public.
Architecture and urbanism are not being transformed from a commodity of every day user into a spectacle of curated exhibitions. It is architecture’s presence as a commodity that informed the birth of the spectacle. Spectacle is fragmentation of reality into images, which mediate the relationship of society and its own visions of itself. The totality of the architectural fragments as seen in the spectacle, and the totality of the design field in its physical form are simultaneously far removed from each other, and fuel each other’s creation. Ultimately, “the confusion of image with place and the ocular-centrism of contemporary architectural design reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of the important role that memory plays in affecting human experience. Shaping human needs into meaningful experiences, the task with which architecture is fundamentally concerned, depends on the complex interactions that occur over time between the built environment and its users.” This model of interaction functions well within the built environment that transpired centuries ago. But because the totality of modernist and contemporary architecture has not been established yet, the contemporary emergence of the architectural image spectacle in a force of negation on the principle that is so indispensible to architecture.