Expanding on material

Technology has advanced a remarkable distance in the past century, we do without thinking things that would have seemed to be undeniably magical to our ancestors, our material palette, as well as our construction techniques have expanded to encompass such a stupendous array of choices that we seem to be drowning in options, and in our confusion, we reach for the same tired aesthetic, again and again. Classic has much to recommend it, tradition, consistency, and familiarity can be worthwhile traits. Nanotechnology, physics, and the cutting edge research that occurs on this campus, that will be done and taught in the new building, however, are not good places for such traits. These are fields which are not simply looking into the future, they are building it, and they are researching for technologies that will look to us as an iPhone would look to Abe Lincoln. There is no place for strict adherence to established norms in a building who’s function is shattering common understanding and performing magic, that building has to move and glow. LED lighting is efficient, futuristic, and curious, it can be included in fabric, concrete, or as we have done for our building, glass. We sought to evoke forms like a circuit board, or a molecular model, or perhaps just the structure of the building, but in a medium that looks more like captured light than a heavy solid, an ethereal glow which does not reveal it’s source, or illuminate it’s backdrop, but gives hints, calling out details, shimmering on the face of our building. It serves as the highlights which energize the facade, and draw the gaze to the more subtle shift from normality in the primary material. These are precast concrete units (changed from thin brick based on Blaine’s comments) which evoke the basic color and shape of the surrounding brick buildings at a casual glance, serving as an unremarkable canvass for the light show, and a nod to continuity with the basic fabric of the campus, but as the gaze lingers, and the viewer draws nearer, the undulating, wave like form, complete with crests and valleys, which flow over the facade of the building becomes apparent. The facade materials are a skin, they perform no structural purpose, and their building envelope purposes can be included behind the external face, which is then freed to be whatever shape and nature that aesthetic considerations demand. This facade therefore takes a common material and repurposes it without restrictions carried over from it’s traditional role, it doesn’t have to be orthogonal, or flat, or even entirely solid, it’s role is to intrigue and delight, and with that function it mind it is created to mimic shapes such as water, cliffs, rolling hills, natural shapes and colors drawn from the surrounding landscape, to be juxtaposed with the pure technophilic grandstanding of the LED glass blocks.


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