Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
critic: Adam DAYEM
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Kevin Freitas CONLIN: The VUG Museum & Residency for the Storm King Arts Center in NY State takes its name from the veins of gemstones that form in rough openings in stone, the rougher cousin of geodes.
It and its surrounding grounds are inspired by the history of the meticulously pruned pastoral landscape of the grounds, which used to be the site of a large open pit quarry. Just as quarry mining removes, shifts and refines raw material, the VUG proposal is tripartite; void, mound and jewel, with raw geometry extracted as a void in the hillside and placed to the side where it is hollowed out as a subterranean parking lot and communal studio, and finally this raw generative geometry is refined and polished as the Museum and residency perched above the void and mound. As a proposal for an artist residency within the Arts Center, a ground for sculpture, this proposal addresses not just the matter of housing artists, but also the housing of completed works within a complex museum capable of housing both large scale installations and smaller works.
The project started with an intensive study of an untitled mobile by Alexander Calder, tracing the potential movements imbedded in its joints. These paths were used as movement paths for geometry propagated through grasshopper loops. One instance of this became the raw material for the site intervention which was then refined through Boolean operations. These initial loops were tailored to produce a splaying and layered form which had a gradient in size from one side to the end.
The Void is meant to be a multi-use outdoor space that could be utilized for outdoor exhibition or a performance space. The Mound houses the parking and storage services and is also meant to be a dynamic inhabitable surface to challenge the smooth hill from which it emerges.
Within the crystalline volume of the Museum & Residency building, façade patterning pushes inwards away from the flat exterior face into a dynamic interior surface. Within the public zones of the building, the patterning goes in vertical band, which increase in size from the middle of a surface outwards. Where the pattern decreases from left to right, wall perforations are created, and where the pattern grows from left to right, roof perforations are created. This allows wider portions of the triangular faces (larger spaces) to be illuminated generously by windows, while narrower parts are illuminated from above.
In the zones belonging to the artist residency, the bands are arranged horizontally, which allows for perforations all the way up the wall. The artists’ sleeping quarters, which can accommodate nine artists at a time, features wall patterning that moves inwards and forms a stepped floor and a wall that tapers upwards. This creates private sleep spaces for each of the artists in the large subdivided volumes of the patterning near the top of the wall. By adapting this pattern at different scales, stairs are generated leading up the wall. These hive-like sleeping conditions are meant to encourage the artists to spend their working time in their studios, and to shed their work as they enter their sleeping quarters. Carrying work in is discouraged by the stepped amphitheater-like procession into the beds high up in the wall.
The VUG proposal works to find inherent logic within the raw material as a means of creating space and designating function. No alternate geometry is introduced, just manipulation of the original forms. Boolean operations, scaling and subdivision patterning are all used to create the final programmed spaces from one common source.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
KFC: Open pit mining and beehives.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
KFC: Listening to: Woodkid, Beyoncé, K. Michelle, and Major Lazer.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
KFC: Zaha Hadid, Thomas Heatherwick, Neri Oxman, and Riccardo Tisci,