advisor: Darin JOHNSTONE.
special advisor: Neil DENARI.
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Zaid Kashef ALGHATA: Extrusion plays a fundamental role within the discipline of architecture. It is a form of geometric projection that creates representations of objects that maintain a fixed cross-sectional outline. In plan, a line is extruded to situate a wall; in section, a curve is extruded to create a barrel vault.
An entire mass can emerge from the extrusion of a two-dimensional contour. In the case of the tower, it is usually driven by a set of constraints germane to the type, leading to similarities in form that derive directly from rectilinear plan extrusion. How the building’s outline is perceived depends on the location of the viewer. Although towers are inherently massive, they tend to be read as two dimensional images from distances sufficient to reveal their overall form. Thus the reading of towers remains in the realm of the silhouette. This silhouette driven legibility contributes to effects of flatness and homogeneity. An opportunity exists for a new expressive agenda for tall buildings through the use of a multidirectional slicing tool is to push towards an erasure of the expected.
Through the use of nine differently designed cutting tools, a tower crop of 288 figure variations were produced. These figures were then cast as part of the pre-building production process for the site in Downtown Los Angeles. Some figures are too skinny, some lack balance and some are just boring. You look at one iteration, then two—then ten—and you get it. Once demystified, you can concentrate on other things—beauty, or other biases, perhaps? Three of the 288 figures receive the part and immediately are placed in formation to create a cluster. This avoids the reading of the towers as three thin and flat extruded envelopes and pushes it towards the conception of a single mass. These non-orthogonal robust volumes disrupt the reading of the silhouettes and produce difference that is harder for the audience to congeal in their mind, still participating in the skyline while refusing to melt into the backdrop. It becomes clear that the profiles that are used to create the massing also create architectural details at a much smaller scale, such as intricate interior corners and edges.
The thesis can be presented with a different story, through the creation of other arbitrary derivatives of the project’s origin or where it will lead, which is a ridiculous notion. It’s a love affair that seduces you, interests you or doesn’t, all of which don’t depend on an a priori ideological preconception or explanation, where complexity becomes a result of looking at it more, rather than a first impression. This tends towards architecture, which doesn’t contain a clear message and is much more interesting than anything the author has to tell you.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
ZKA: Allan McCollum, The Shapes Project; Hugh Ferriss, The Metropolis of Tomorrow; First Office, Peak on Peak; and Atelier Manferdini, Building Portraits.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
ZKA: David Ruy, “Weird Realism”; Alejandro Zaera Polo “The Politics of the Envelope”; and Jacques Herzog and Peter Eisenman, Dialogue at the GSD (12/4/2007).
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
ZKA: A wide range.
Additional credits and links:
The discussions that were essential to the advancement of the thesis: Thom Mayne, Dora Epstein Jones, Todd Gannon, Tom Wiscombe, and Marcelyn Gow.
The super dedicated team of helpers, whom without this project would not be possible: Kristopher Raos, Alejandro Loor, Tony Avila, Karim Saleh, Alex Alcala, Oscar DeLeon, Kazuhiro Okamoto and Tiziana Felice.