Trans Spires

Related Staff : Jonathan Solomon

Studio Instructor: Jonathan Solomon

With the rapid growth of urban populations at the turn of the century, particularly in the developing world, new focus has been placed on the problem of the tall building. Where the testing of new forms and organizations for the skyscraper offer windows into possible new forms of vertical urbanism imbued by the same values as the horizontal city, the tower is another problem altogether. Precisely because in its classical form the tower is devoid of context or program and typically formed along optimized structural diagrams, it presents a unique challenge to contemporary ideology about building tall. For the same reasons, it provides a unique opportunity to study the use of non-optimal applications of optimizing logics in a building’s structure, organization and program, and to articulate critical positions in architectural theory through architectural production. The former can be investigated by proposing new relationships between the tower, its site and the city, with an emphasis on continuity of networks and armatures; the latter through rigorous experimentation in modeling techniques that allow the architect to optimize the project towards specific forms, organizations and effects that may not be optimal in themselves.

The problem of the tower in 2011 rests in the friction between its historic role as a singular icon and the shifting needs and expectations of a contemporary city in which multiplicitous, contradictory and densely packed divergences must cohabitate. Rather than acting as singular unifying symbols, can a tower create dynamic spaces and forms capable of meaning different things to different people? Rather than simply a thing to see from the city or a place to see the city from how can the tower be more effective in the city and more integrated into its networks and armatures? What environmental effects can it have on its immediate or more far-reaching context? This studio explored how flexible contemporary theory about the horizontal, heterogeneous and integrated can be by asking it to respond to a building type anathema to it.

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