Nod to the Past, Look to the Future

The STSS building does a nice job of incorporating brick into the story, while looking to the future with different materials.

In studying typology I saw two trends.  One was the choice by the school to have the façade of the building mesh with those in its immediate context, as in if everything is big brick, then there was no debate, and in this sense the building spoke more to campus unity than a calculated diversity.  The other trend was for the building to intentionally stand out from its surroundings.  For example, Oxford’s physics building with a trapezoidal concrete frame whose base was the smallest side and curtained glass windows, was designed in complete disregard to any structural and aesthetic unity on campus.

So, the point of debate here seemed to be, to mesh or not to mesh, and we saw that in a lot of the presentations as well, including my own.  In retrospect, I wish our group had thought of things differently.  I think university campuses like our own have a unique opportunity, in that this group of buildings speak to each other and create a family.  In urban environments, we constantly see buildings as the remnants of moguls and others with large egos trying to one-up the other.  I don’t want to see all our buildings be the same, like a suburban development, but they shouldn’t be in competition either.  In speaking to each other, the buildings can speak to us who navigate around and through them every day; they can tell us a history of our campus, and explain what was done when.  We actually do have a decent architectural timeline on our campus, with the mall rigidly organized in the Neo-Classical style, and then a little Richardsonian Romanesque, but I think we got stuck in brick, and we need to get out of it.  Let’s use complimentary materials, or different interpretations or colors of it.  The point is, let us evolve, and tell a more vibrant history.  Let’s change, but always with a nod to the past.

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