Authors: Jesus Chavez- Cristina Macia Briedis
Instructor: Russell Thompson
Southern California institute of architecture- Sci-arc
Our project looks at the architecture of the monolith as a dialogue between the part and the whole. From the initial studies of aggregations based on smaller, rectilinear pieces, the goal of the project was to create a building that appears as a singular, iconic mass but is nuanced by the variable singularities of its components.
Located along Third Street and immediately adjacent to the former school, an inclusion into the larger mass forms a pressurized urban space with the street, acting as a hybrid between building façade and street-side plaza. The more massive, singular face of the building faces the street, while more articulated and variable aggregations face south and west. Entrances to the school are from Third Street, the new housing (in the former freight depot), and the surface parking lot far to the south.
While the perception of the building on the Third Street is that of a massive urban street wall, the long view from the south allows the building to be perceived as an object in a field, its articulated parts animated by a dynamic southern sun. Shallow paths and lines direct visitors to the various programs of the school beyond and organize the landscape as foreground.
The building is organized around two primary atrium spaces, with classrooms and administration to one side, and design studios to the other. Informal, localized connections contribute to multiple forms of circulation and informal meeting places. The atria help bring natural light into the depths of the mass and provide orientation for the users. In the interior, the studio spaces are located in open-plan-like spaces working as a “spherical corridor”.
Environmentally, the building maximizes natural ventilation though the use of the atrium as solar chimney and cross ventilation through a series of operable sash windows on the exterior. On the south side of the mass, the more intense aggregation of the form creates deep shade pockets and recesses, protecting the interior from excessive heat gain in the summer months.
In closing, the reading of part to whole is meant to be simultaneous. We aspire to “a less coherent whole” where legibility is neither fixed nor singular. From one point of view the building aspires to be a singular, iconic mass, while from others it is an aggregation of self-same parts. The graphic pattern serves to bring more two dimensional reading to this idea, interacting with the forms to bind them into a larger whole and at the same time contributing to a reading of ever more complex assemblies of parts.