The broader subject of our investigation in this studio is the instrumental role of architecture in identity construction. Our specific focus will be on an identity that can be temporally assumed by everyone, yet it properly belongs to no one: the tourist identity. Unlike most, this identity is a direct function of place and temporal placement. It is always formed and assumed in a place where the tourist is, by definition, out of place, i.e., belonging to an other place.
The architectural venue of our investigation will be the “Art Museum.” Not only have the art objects in the museum been instrumental tourist attractions, the museum itself as a building-type, in effect, transforms everyone that crosses its borderlines into a tourist. It is where everyone, including the “locals,” becomes a temporal visitor on tour. Inside the museum, everyone is an outsider.
The ritual of tourism is the enduring cultural legacy of Modernity. Its advent is directly tied to the transportation and communication technologies that were at the root of Modernity. As an integral part of the post-industrial culture, the tourist industry is, by some accounts, the world's largest industry. It is not easy to find a city or locality in the modern world that does not construe and present itself to the outside world as a tourist destination. It is equally challenging to find a modern subject that does not aspire to participate in the ritual of tourism at its seemingly inexhaustible destinations. Having traveled the world in quest of authentic experiences of other localities and cultures has long been a barometer, not only of Modernity but also of cultivation, cultural status, and class distinction in the modern world.
Integral as the institution of tourism is to the post-industrial culture, the ritual of tourism is, nevertheless, riddled with complexities and contradictions. Much as touring and seeing the world–construed as it is by modern culture as a collection of tourist destinations–may be desirable and desired, doing so as a "tourist" appears to attract nothing but scorn and contempt. To be a good tourist is foremost not to appear or come across as a "tourist," that is, not to do what "tourists" do while doing it. Much as the tourist and tourism's objective is the close encounter and authentic experience of other cultures, places, and objects, nonetheless, the "tourist" has been the synonym of inauthenticity and paltriness. From every quarter, the tourists appear subject to inexhaustible criticism for being complacent, superficial pawns in endless “tourist traps.”
Keeping in mind that architecture has been, from the outset, an essential, complacent, and integral part of the tourist industry–serving to both attract the tourists (monuments and museums) and circumscribe them (hotels and hostels)–the complexities and contradictions of tourism and its ramifications for architecture will be the focus of our design investigations for this term. Tourism will serve us as a vehicle for exploring the complexities of the dialogue between architecture and the culture industry. In turn, the art museum will be the medium of our investigation into how a thesis is formed and given architectonic form and what specific role buildings do or can play within the broader cultural context. Our objective will be to develop an analytical stance and a distinct agenda (idea, concept, intent, etc.) that will allow us to formulate specific formal strategies for the design of a museum for the digital arts.
To the above end, we will probe the history of the Art Museum as a building type, identifying its formal continuities and discontinuities in time. We will try to account for the stylistic discontinuities in relation to an ever-shifting cultural/technological context. We will try to account for the continuities in functional distribution and spatial organization as the attributes of specific institutional demands and requirements whose purpose is promoting and sustaining a set of lasting cultural presuppositions.
From the re-classification of painting and sculpture as Art at the outset of the Renaissance to their eventual placement in the Cabinet of Curiosities in the 17th and 18th centuries, to the founding of the museum as a building type in Berlin during the third decade of the 19th century, and since, the question of art’s place and the modalities of its placement have been matters of considerable preoccupation and concern, in particular, because these questions are inexorably linked to the question of authenticity in art and/as representation. The question of authenticity is, in turn, the point of interlock between tourism and the art museum.
Persistently, the place of art has been circumscribed by an elaborate and deep threshold that mediates and oversees the passage to and from the world that it institutes to contain art and the ‘real’ world from which it is sequestered. The fabrication of an elsewhere for art is directly linked to Western ideational trepidations about art and representation.
Over the course of its history, the relationship of Western culture to painting, alongside writing and other forms of graphic representation, has been, in the least, ambivalent. Painting has been the subject of simultaneous condemnation and praise for its ability to duplicate and perpetually conjure an absent or invisible referent. It has been at once prescribed and proscribed as a mimetic device that substitutes memory for perception. Plato, for instance, condemned painting as a mimetic art, much as Aristotle interrogated it in the name of mimesis. The measure of painting has been the ‘real’ against which it is persistently deemed not measurable.
As a mode of representation, Painting can bring merely to sight what is rightfully out of sight. Its space is neither the immediate space of the present nor the distant space of the absent. Painting has, in a sense, no decidable place in as much as every place assumes boundaries and outer limits, i.e., an outside. Art has no outside; since outside every presumed or presumable place for representation, one finds only more representation. At stake in this perpetual loss of limits and what is perpetually displaced in consequence is the privileged space of the ‘real’ as a self-referential entity.
As an institution and a building type, however, the art museum has differentiated the undifferentiated space of graphic representation into two distinct realms separated by an elaborate journey. The art museum offers the visitor - by design - a spatial experience that is profoundly alien to art as the space of a non-place. Past the careful delineation, separation, and processional transitions that are the hallmarks of a successful museum, art is given to stand in the same relationship to its presumed other, as inside stands to outside, here to there, and as do all other binary spatial and formal terms that are called on to shape the museum into an ‘other’ space. Much as art resists a sense of place, the museum resists its defiance of a sense of place to the point of invisibility. The institution of the art museum is an instituted resistance to representation.
With the above in mind, we’ll begin the design process for our digital art museum with a critical re-evaluation of the presuppositions about art and authenticity that have guided the design of the Art Museum since its inception. This criticism will form the parameters of a new context for design: a context within which the link between the formal/architectural properties of the building type and the institutional/cultural presuppositions in question could neither be acknowledged nor ignored, neither reinforced nor discarded. A context within which there could be no intuitive or positive re-formulation of the building type in affirmation of the link, leaving only a critical de-formulation of the type in recognition of the link.
The pedagogical intent of this design exercise is twofold. The goal is to foster and develop the analytical skills essential to deciphering the complex relationship between architecture and the culture industry it perpetually serves, i.e., the skills necessary to form and evaluate design ideas and programs. It is also the goal of this exercise to promote a conscious reevaluation of all the subconscious assumptions regarding spatial organization, the relationship of parts to the whole, the inside to the outside, the particulars of volume and mass, solid and void, path and place, structure and material, ornamentation, proportion, scale, and others. This is to design an environment that silently speaks of the designer's ability to willfully manipulate the language of architecture by way of expressing a well-researched, informed, and analytically rigorous stance.
The question of tourism, much as art, is inextricably tied to site and sight, to place and placement (insider vs. outsider, onlooker vs. participant, local vs. alien). Therefore, we will pay particular attention to the act of sitting and the inevitable dialogue of building and site, intention and contextualization, reading and context. The site for our project will be a lot opposite the Rodin Museum on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the city of Philadelphia.
You are encouraged to develop a specific building program within the following limitations:
I. The project should not exceed 20,000 sq. ft.
II. Provisions should be made for:
a. Lobby space
b. Gallery spaces
c. Office and work spaces for the museum staff
d. Storage space
e. Public facilities
III. Additional facilities to consider may include:
a. Outdoor Movie Theater
b. Sculpture Garden
c. Coffee shop
We will keep to the following schedule, and you must submit the required documents by the specified dates as follows:
I. Building/Institutional analysis August 22 - September 8
II. Spatial studies and explorations reflecting the above analysis August 25 - September 8
III. Statement of Intent September 8
IV. Site/Context analysis September 12 - 15
V. Programmatic response to all of the above September 15 - 22
VI. Design(ed) reflections September 22 - November 28
VII. Presentation Proposal November 17
VIII. Final Presentation December 8, 1 - 5 PM
IX. Portfolio December 15
The final presentation will be treated as a design problem in its own right. You are encouraged to explore the limits of the conventions that pertain to architectural presentation and thereby design a presentation that effectively communicates the issues grappled with throughout the term. The final presentation should include as a point of departure:
A detailed model at 1/8 scale
Site plan, brief statement of intent, and diagram
1/8 scale plans, perspectival sections, eye-level exterior and interior renderings
Illustration of progress from diagram to final building
Wall sections (foundation and roof), structural diagram, life safety and egress diagrams, HVAC, pluming, and electrical diagrams
As an extension of the final presentation, you are required to submit a portfolio of your work by December 15. Your portfolio should document your ideas, your progress through the term, and the final project. The portfolio should be submitted as a PDF document for high-resolution print along with all the related images in JPG format (maximum quality, 300 dpi minimum). These should be submitted through OneDrive or any similar web sharing app.
In the first half of the term, much of the studio time will be devoted to group discussions and collective review and analysis of individual work. We will devote more time to individual reviews and discussions in the second half of the term.
Your performance in class will be evaluated based on active participation in group discussions and reviews, vigorous exploration of the issues at hand, as well as analytical rigor and willful manipulation of the language of architecture as opposed to formal reiteration in the absence of a thorough comprehension of all the incumbent issues. The ultimate criterion is the successful completion and presentation of a project that realizes a coherent and rigorous thesis based on a comprehensive analysis of the nature of the assigned problem. For a detailed description of the studio outcomes and evaluative criteria, please see the Studio Outcomes.