Final Assignment: the Dance Academy

promptly after the conclusion of the midterm, we were tasked with designing a dance studio/academy in a lot that was 25 feet by 100 feet by 60 feet. In addition to this, the location of this lot would be directly next to the Highline, an area within NYC that attracts much attention. This aspect added another layer of complexity to this assignment as the building would be often be seen by individuals passing by on the Highline, which allows for an opportunity for interaction or intent to engage with these individuals.

Since this was going to be a dance studio, I knew from the start that I wanted it to have a modern angle to it. The Highline, and the area surrounding it, is no stranger to modern architecture. For example Zaha Hadid’s apartment complex resides next to the highline, near the end of the Highline is the Hudson Yard site hosting projects such as Thomas Heatherwick’s “Vessel”. With this in mind I wanted to model the structure around modern dance, and to have it in some way exhibit the movement or core experience of modern dance. When I think of experiential dance, the first thing that comes to mind is contortionist dancing.

So I decided the first step would be to identify the form I would take influence from. To establish this I took still frames from a contortionist performance and drew them from observation.

Within this movement I looked for something I could translate into a structure. This proved to be difficult as I had to establish a language that would exhibit this motion without following this form too literally.

With this sketch model I figured out that I wanted to represent the dancer’s movements in a sequence:

With this I began diagram this movement.

I originally had something organic in mind, I however was not entirely married to this idea.

This geometrical form then generated this sketch model:

With these forms in mind, I began diagramming again:

I wanted to figure out how I would enclose this structure, through a sketch model I decided to attach each endpoint with a line in a sort of Rem Koolhaas fashion:

This would be the form I decide to continue this design process with. Now it was a matter of defining floor plates and where program would be situated.

These flaws were satiated by creating 1/16″ circulation models:

With these floorplates established, I was then tasked with drawing plans and sections of this structure.

The whole organization of the floorplates was meant to progressively accommodate dancers as an individual travels into the upper levels. the structure seems to lean away from its foundation, each floorplate being slightly taller than the last, almost as if it were taking off. This feeling of weightlessness was meant to encourage the practice of dance in the upper levels as the freeing airy atmosphere would be complemented with a high altitude point of view of the Highline from the windows. This is the most exemplary on the sixth floor studio space, acting as the peak of the whole structure. The ground levels serve as a quick space to access for the public to view performances, the first couple of levels serve as the classrooms and lounge, all surrounding a “volume” near the staircase. This void is meant to shift the eye upwards, wordlessly encouraging the dancer to progress toward the interior’s peak. Essentially my structure is meant for the practitioners of dance instead of the people that wish to view dance. However it is not meant to entirely exclude these viewers, its a bit of a tangent but above the auditorium is a ring, or an oculus, that  frames the upper levels, serving as a way to inspire a viewer that is debating the possibility of joining this practice. This experience is documented in this interior perspective:

After deciding on the interior organization within this geometry, I also had to decide what the structures “skin” would be, or what it would be enclosed by:

Resulting in a facade that looks like this.

After diagramming and representing this structure, it was time to create a final 1/8″ scale model:

 

 

Bridge 5: Intervention Pitch

Presentation:

Final Seminar Text:

Bridge 4: Forming an Agenda and Intervention Prototypes

After identifying the motive of the site in bridge 3, we were tasked with coming up with an agenda that would align with this thesis.

For me this proved to be difficult because it was easy to come up with an issue I wanted to address within the site, but presenting a solution for it in a way that would still provide an interesting experience not currently present there. Specifically I wanted to replicate the same effect felt when sitting on the elevated seats, as that offers a feeling of exclusivity not felt anywhere else in the site.

Originally I wanted to achieve this by extending the elevation outwards towards the middle of the site, making the elevation more accessible, while also adding a taller dinner table styled surface with stools to accommodate more individuals.  I was pretty confidant in this initial design, a valuable lesson I learned is that one cannot be so sure in such an early stage. When I interviewed groups of individuals for seminar, many didn’t like the concept because it would impact the balance of visual gravity too severely. Upon reconsideration, this design really doesn’t work, it fails to replicate the elevation’s experience because it’s no longer remote. Once made widely available and present within space, the effect is diminished and only replaced with awkward positioning. This being said, a re-design was in order. Something that could provide the same remote feeling of encouragement and wonder, almost reminiscent of enlightenment due to the being surround by ample natural light. When on the elevation, you’re positioned higher next to the window, more of your body, and therefore peripheral awareness, is in a way engulfed by the height you inhabit. It was this height that I aimed to channel in this new design.

After this worksheet I refined these designs into three vignettes

after this vision came the first prototype that would test the lighting of the space

However this model would not be enough to convey the design of this platform, it needed more attention towards its composition. Which could be provided by an AutoCAD model.

Bridge 2: Deconstructing and Contextualizing A public space

Week 3:

Site Plan: The site I chose was the Barnes and Noble cafe area on the third floor. If I could label this place with a flavor, I’d use terms like “tranquil but busy” “earthy” and “classical greek revival-art deco hybrid”.

I also charted my walking path from center to elevation, and east wall to west wall

 

The space in relation to my being:

Orthographic Projection:

Texture rubbings:

Week 4:

upon return to the sight, we were tasked with encapsulating the appearance of the site and the emotional response it provokes.

It houses a content atmosphere that subtly tries to foster an intellectual appearance, upon my 6th visit to the area, I wrote:

In all of my time here, there have been atleast 4 or 5 visits so far, I’ve always been able to do work for this assignment on-site with no issues. I’ve stayed over the 30 minute maximum everytime, many people do. It’s not quiet, yet I can still function as I would working at home or in a classroom. This might be because the lighting is good during both day and night, the people talk but it’s almost as if the acoustics of the room dull them, as no distinct individual is heard. I cannot deny it is a deceptively comfortable place to stay in, soft colors and the wall art. The wall art depicts various authors talking amongst one another while some are looking at the viewer, almost encouraging some sort of scholarly activity. I did say that this place was a corporate trap but I cannot deny that its a pleasant one-which is what they want.

I say that because it is the effect they’re going for, as the owners of the store want people to be comfortable as they want people to be inclined to stay and spend more money there.

Week 5:

I performed a test that would both be a recording of the sounds of the site as well as a new research method:

throughout all times of the day its common to hear indistinct voices muffling each other out to the point where it sounds like background noise. During the mornings and evenings this is more tranquil, the music even stops playing during the morning and night. The afternoon is where most of the activity happens, the food counter is loud with production, more people come to the site with friends or business partners so the voices are louder.

this hastened activity is also seen in the circulation charts, people stay for longer in the morning and afternoon to talk or meet, at night more people simply sit and leave within the next 20 minutes. I attribute this to the lack of natural light during the night.

I determined that the seats on top of the elevation and next to the windows are the most sought after seats, their popularity convinces me to think that they’re the best in the site as they remain mostly popular throughout the day. However I’ve found that the seats on the east wall with the benches are the easiest to do work on because your back is against the wall.

Another form of research I employed was hyper-empathization, where you insert yourself into the perspective of a person who just enters the site:

coming from the elevator, walked to the border to survey the area for seating, walks towards the food counter, surveys the area closer to the food counter, orders something, goes to prep area finding no seating and leaves. returns 10 minutes later still with food returns to border and finds a seat (next to mine).

 

So far, coming to this site became increasingly tedious as I spent approximately three dollars every time I entered. However I feel these visits were worth it as working on this assignment became much clearer and easier to do every time I was there in person.

 

Bridge 3: Narrative of Embodied Message

I ultimately deduced that this site was a half public half commercial space set on making a profit. These 9 panels are the evidence that brought me to this conclusion.

The Noguchi Museum

For me, the whole museum seems to deliberately invoke a sense of obscurity, in an intriguing way. Obscurism, or the tendency to favor the obscurity of style and appearance, is heavily felt here. As it was said that he focused on the integrity of the interior more than any other part of the structure. His integration and focus with interior and exterior space is reminiscent of Wright and Khan, who also voiced such sentiments toward interior space. In addition to this, the emphasis on the usage of natural light invokes a blurred line between the garden/nature of the exterior as the formations of stone appear almost natural.

Noguchi as a whole:

The room  I chose: