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  • Public Boarding School

    Public Boarding School
    cambridge MASSACHUSETTS

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    kevin HIRTH: Over the city of Richmond, Virginia a history of conflict and of accomplishment hangs. It is a city of firsts and of lasts; it is a city of ruins and of monuments. It is in this context that we encounter the unknown object. It is both on the margins and at the center. It is on the highest hill, straddling the lowest valley. It is found embedded on its forgotten and shabby site between a trio of emblems of the varied stages of the city’s history: an early plantation home converted into a convent, the church in which Patrick Henry gave the speech that inflamed the fledgling colonies of the American south to revolution, and a spare concrete radio tower designed by Philip Johnson at the height of the modern era.

    Amongst these icons, the Public Boarding School establishes a firm and yet porous boundary through the introduction of a raised plinth. Rising out of this strongly horizontal datum, the quizzical expression of the unknowable monument ripples and distends out and across the site. It is a blank object that both captures and defines the essence of the need within the city for an anachronistic and dynamic departure from itself. In its extremity it is reaching to push beyond its formal and programmatic typological expectations in order to attain a distinct and enigmatic other. Its place of prominence over the city privileges the individual, while its public nature denies exceptionalism. The Public Boarding School is introduced into the lives of the city’s students in a brief and ephemeral way, leaving a lasting impact. All of the city’s students elope for a single semester of their education into an experience not unlike the traditional American summer camp, given the opportunity to shed preconceptions and pursue an educational mission uniquely personal to themselves. Through this personal improvisation, the individual is invited to engage with peers in an open and vast yet intimate environment, prompted to constantly explore and discover hidden and discrete spaces available for personalization.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    kH: The city of Richmond. My conversations with Mack Scogin. Plenty of discussions/debates with Dan Sullivan, John Davis, Thomas Kelley, and Andy Vann.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    kH: I just tried to keep the music from getting too repetitive.

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    kH: I’m looking forward to seeing what the young architects and designers in my generation produce once they really get out there and find venues for their ideas.

    Additional credits and links:
    kevinhirth.com

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