Rediscovering and and studying great moments in existing works of architecture can best be done through bold representation techniques.
Explore five projects that use combinations of archival research, drawing, 3D printing and model-making that bring to light unexpected information and new perspectives of architectural expressions.
Just like a Mondrian painting or a Miesian plan, this mid-century home organizes indoor and outdoor spaces with outstretched, orthogonal lines. In plan, cells are related by surface condition or program and are defined with louvered walls and stone barriers on the building site and partitions on the interior.
In this interpretation, the red space is the definition of a stone floor sweeping from outdoor to indoor to outdoor; yellow as a notable passage; blue as play spaces with significant two-way views.
As an exhibition for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City from April 12-October 30, 1949, the butterfly-roofed, timber-sided home presented a new vernacular to city dwellers. Now restored and located in Potanico Hills, New York, the home's soft blue interior walls, wood siding and stone floors are familiar surfaces and tones of its permanent surroundings.
The following visualizations remove the exhibition plot from the city context and explore simple relationships and organizations of surfaces. Through digital drawing and physical modeling, we can peek into the life of an American family living in Marcel Breuer's homey work of art.
The New York Times
House in the Museum Garden
The Museum of Modern Art
11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019
Architect: Marcel Breuer
Exhibition: Apr 12 - Oct 30, 1949
These visualizations remove the exhibition plot from the city context and explore floor surfaces and partitions relative to the organization of a single family home. Through digital drawing and physical modeling, we can peek into the life of an American family living in Marcel Breuer's homey work of art.
Find original drawings and all things Marcel Breuer at the
Download a poster of this project's drawings here. (.pdf)
Check out photos of the restoration and a Dwell article about the home.
This rediscovery explores the how formal elements of the Marina City towers reflect a new concept of urban life as envisioned by Bertrand Goldberg in the 1950s.
Marina City is five structures—two residential towers, a theater (House of Blues), an office building (now a hotel), and a marina. Although famously nicknamed the “corn cobs,” we found ourselves referring to the towers’ plans and divisions as “flowers, petals and the Slinky”—the residential floor plans resembling a flower with units of varying petal sizes and a Slinky-like parking ramp.
In plan, section and through makeshift virtual reality, we analyzed how the landmark’s non-rectilinear, concrete forms express a monumentality and significance of the common idea of “a city within a city.” These ideas thus call for continued research and another look at the project through the lens of social and historical significance. Check out the landmark designation.
The following traces the process of visually communicating critical habitable and circulatory areas of the towers through visual cues and a unique presentation installation.
Chicago Architecture Center
Marina City Goldberg
300-340 N. State St.;301-351 N. Dearborn St.
Architect: Bertrand Goldberg
The strategy for choosing any high-rise or skyscraper built in the US for an 8-student team of architecture students to study was not without great debate. We valued the revolutionary plaza of the Seagram Building, the grid-like organization of the Willis Tower, the formal expression of Lake Point Tower and the significance of others.
It seems as though we were excited to "run toward danger" by choosing Marina City for its unique parking ramp and radial floor plans, expressive balconies, its river's edge site and the opportunity to express at least two scopes of information through its two towers in a physical model.
Plus, who doesn't love a good stunt of a car driving off its parking ramp?
An over-dramatized poster of what we discovered about Marina City's floor plans.
The Chicago Tribune
A stunt car drives off the parking garage at Marina City Towers during the filming of "Hunter," starring Steve McQueen on Sept. 21, 1979, in Chicago. The car crashed into the Chicago River below.
A fun-filled moment of studio-mates and professors viewing the "ViewMaster" model during final critique.
Outlines for laser cut chipboard rings with inserts for dowel sticks and an acrylic tube.
An LED strip through an acrylic light strip makes the model express colors from balconies and marina shops that dance on the Chicago River during nighttime.
Through a string installation and interactive buttons that illuminate the model, the viewer has a sense of site scale to Lake Michigan and can interact with an unconventional annotative strategy. No more section cut line in plan—press a button, and make the section glow!
Man lift for valet parking workers
Observation hub (Part 1)
Observation hub (Part 2)
(L to R) Brittney Meyer, Nathan Kurek, Nicholas Peruski, Maxwell Blatt, Lewis Parenti, Nathan LeBlanc, Allexus Barnes, Jessica Brethour
Pin-up with string installation, relating the glowing sections to their plans.
Resources for further discovery:
Download Marina City Landmark Designation Report (.pdf)
Read more from ArchDaily Here.
Echoing early nineteenth century museums, Philip Johnson drew from Byzantine forms of freehand arches and curves and gold leaf of the Rococo style. The Sheldon Museum of Art's Sculpture Hall is a space where the entasis of a column and the pendentives that surround elliptical ceiling panels create a visually sculptural and sweeping environment. Built from travertine and topped with a luxurious gold, the museum stands as a monument to both the art it homes and the architecture of yesterday that inspired it.
This study focuses on how the museum's seemingly simple yet complex geometry is revealed to the viewer. It traces operations of achieving a digitally fabricated representation of the museum's forms through 3D printing and an understanding of its integrated construction systems. View in Maps.
Sheldon Museum of Art
12th and R streets on the campus of the
University of Lincoln, NE 68508
Architect Philip Johnson
A worm's eye view is a drawing projection that is advantageous for understanding and expressing interesting ceiling and elevated interior conditions.
This drawing is cut at the first floor and explodes elements along the Sculpture Hall to reveal the array of gold buttons.
A quirky yet non-lossy process of 3D modeling in Rhino 6 software—this method involved duplicating an entire ceiling segment, for example, while adding sequential modeling commands to prevent loss of steps during trial-and-error.
With the goal to 3D print the elements, complex geometries can often "fail" if precision is not high enough. In modeling terms, it should be water tight so the 3D printnig dialogue can recognize the geometry correctly. This theme park of many digital models in the Rhino model space is the result of getting it right!
Resources for further discovery:
Historical Registration (.pdf) with high resolution imagery.
Building a balsa wood sectional model is a classic first-year architecture school exercise using field measurements, diagrams, and photography to reveal many perceptions of architectural spaces.
This bridge connects the Taubman Student Services Center and the Science Building at Lawrence Tech and acts as a study lounge that hovers over a main access point to the center of the university campus. View in Maps
Volume is a heavy consideration in operative design
where geometric toggling and designing of volume vs.
void influences spacial conditions.
Thus conditional design considers the program of the space (its purpose) and how creatures interact with volumes and voids.
Spaces that seem short, slow, tall, or fast are influenced by these design functions.
Studies of this space were sketched and diagrammed to understand their respective formal elements as they relate to the above adjectives.
Views when spaces are used as slow ones.
Circulation paths that are fast
A threshold that is either tall or short whether you are above or below.
"The studio culminates in an inhabitable, exterior structure in the CoAD courtyard, which is built by participating students in one week. These ambitious circumstances of scale, logistics, and labor pressurize the studio interests and kept the focus. The studio explores design and construction while not suffering the fate of design-build studios that conclude with pointing to a thing and saying simply, “There it is.” Instead, the requirement of the built work of the studio is to be discursive, projective, and exist as a proof of concept, suggestive of other opportunities that are broader than the specific, applicable circumstances of the CritPrax Pavilion."
Read more about the Critical Practice Studio and this project's students and faculty.
Lawrence Technological University
21000 W 10 Mile Rd, Southfield, MI 48075
After the completion of the Critical Practice Studio mid-summer of 2019, studio partner Luke Blair and I were approached by CoAD Chair and Associate Professor Jim Stevens to build a scale model of the CritPrax project. This would feature it as an exhibition piece for the Design x Technology event in Downtown Detroit.
We combined the students' work with our own on-site measurements and observations to create a craftful 1"=1'-0" model.
Immense credit goes to the students and faculty who make this design-build project a joy to experience in the college courtyard. The following serves as a behind-the-scenes of our process in crafting a very, very large model as well as the success of the exhibition on Sept 26, 2019.