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  • Silo Breaking

    Paul SCRUGHAM, "Silo Breaking." Sundial rendering.
    brooklyn NEW YORK

    Pratt Institute
    critic: Adam ELSTEIN.

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    Paul SCRUGHAM: Silo Breaking reimagines the abandoned grain elevators of Buffalo, New York as a site for urban festival and cultural programs.

    This site contains the largest concentration of grain elevators in the world, dating from the late 19th and early 20th century when Buffalo prospered as a key hub in the transshipment of grain from the North American heartland via the Eerie canal and rail links. Historically known as “Elevator Alley,” this site is now called “Silo City” and has been described as a “Concrete Atlantis” by Reyner Banham, evoking a simultaneously utopic and lost world. The elevators fell into disuse when the grain trade began to bypass Buffalo in 1959. The gradual process of deindustrialization affected much of the Northeast creating the “Rust Belt,” a string of disused industrial sites. However, another story is emerging in these landscapes of ad-hoc, reimagined, and re-deployed cultural sites relating to industrial pasts. Silo Breaking confronts the emerging historic, economic, and urban spatial dynamics through mappings and architectural analysis of the region and its abandoned infrastructures to develop an architectural intervention supportive of urban festival and future cultural uses.

    The most exciting moment while working on this project was discovering the hidden geometry that lies within these highly industrial, functional buildings. Rather than constructing more structures on the site, elliptical and conical portions of the bin structure are subtracted to create large scale gallery spaces. This method of surgically removing material exposes a space that is wholly unique to the structure, yet negates its intended function. I like to think of it as a sort of perverse historical preservation.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    PS: Other abandoned industrial sites of the northeast (Rustbelt), Gordon Matta Clark.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    PS: Reading: Reyner Banham; Anthony Vidler, The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely; David Graham Shane, “Heterotopias of Illusion: From Beaubourg to Bilbao and Beyond”; and Lisa Mahar-Keplinger, Grain Elevators. Listening to: Van She; Royksopp; Tycho; and Drake. Watching Parks and Recreation.

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    PS: Neil Denari; Duks Koschitz; Tulay Atak; Thomas Heatherwick Studio; and SHoP.

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