critic: Jonathan SCELSA.
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Alexander BAHR: This project set out to explore how graphic design principles can be used and exploited in architecture. In doing this, the project tries to validate the writings of Hans Hollein in “Everything is Architecture” that explain how architecture, as an extension of the human sphere, is a medium of communication which can transmit a specific expression.
Through advanced experimentation with graphic styles, architectural drawing techniques, and rendering processes, the project began to telegraph architectural information through the use of a new graphic language. Like in graphic design the subtlety of shape, relationship of solid and void, overall composition, and framing were correlated to reflect physical architectural design decisions. Shades of magenta and cyan, new hatches and patterns start to infer the possibility of materiality and the panelization of architectural forms. The project was deeply sensitive to the transmittance of a graphic silhouette and “high” graphic as a method of relaying secondary graphic information to the visitor. Additionally, methods of chopping and slicing the architectural form were employed to create aperture and to embed an additional 2-D graphic language into the architecture.
The design is a performing arts center and takes inspiration from the existing graphic language of spires in Philadelphia, specifically the uniqueness of the pinnacle as representing a certain neighborhood or group. Through a catalog of existing Philadelphian spires, new combinations inform a new architectural geometry that works toward an architecture informed by historical precedent, not toward ambiguity. Through this process of objectifying an architectural graphic, the project came to understand that an object does not hold full autonomy to the public perception of that object. Only when an architectural object is placed in a built environment that is ready to receive it can the public correctly perceive the form’s true intention.
As a result, the final design includes an opera house, a cruciform concert hall and a black box theater lifted from the ground freeing the site for public movement and embodying the new sense of in-spirational revolution the project set out to create.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
AB: “Everything is Architecture” by Hans Hollein, The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord, and the work of Charles Moore.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
AB: Reading Preston Scott Cohen, “The Hidden Core of Architecture” and Thomas Schumacher, “The Skull and the Mask.” Listening to: John Coltrane; Sonny Rollins; Gary Clark Jr.; and various classical pieces. Watching Bob Somol’s “See What I’m Saying” lecture, delivered at SCI-Arc.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
AB: Jason Payne; Tom Wiscombe; Mark Foster Gage; Bittertang; su11; and Elena Manferdini.
Additional credits and links:
I would like to thank of those that served on critiques and provided me with constructive feedback throughout the process of this project. I would like to specially thank, again, my critic Jonathan Scelsa for his inspiration, talent, and motivation.