Architecture And Design Essay, Research Paper
This paper will focus on one specific design of a landscape architect, architect, planner, object maker, interior designer, and an environmental artist. Martha Schwartz is a landscape architect and her design is the Federal Courthouse Plaza in Minneapolis. It shows a transition in the field towards artistic expression, which has created much controversy. The architect is Peter Eisenman and he has done the same in his work for the Wexner Center of visual arts at Ohio State University, Columbus. Here he focuses on form and less about function and states: My best work is without purpose-who cares about function (Nuttgens, 297). The planner is Denise Scott Brown and her work is Washington Ave, Miami. Here she created a plan and recommendations for the urban environment, by enhancing it s unique characteristics. The object maker is an architect named Mario Botta and his work is called the Seconda Chair. It is an artistic expression of form and function. The interior designer is an architect named Arne Jacobsen. His work is the Hotel Royal in Copenhagen. Here he shows his absolute control of his design by creating the architecture and every detail inside which relates to artistic expression, form, and function; it is a complete package of every human experience. The environmental artist is Patrick Dougherty and his design is called Paradise Gate at Smith College Northampton. His structure is a large art form made from natural plant materials, which expresses the surrounding landscape and creates humanize scale that can be not only touched but also experienced spatially. All the designs in this paper will show artistic expression, some more so than others.
Martha Schwartz is recent landscape architect who has pushed the envelope of artistic expression in her designs to the point that critics consider it to be personal expression, which doesn t fit into the public purpose (Domus, 51). It is a five hundred thousand square-foot plaza located in Minneapolis civic center in front of a new Federal Courthouse while facing city hall across the street. The program required a plaza designed for both civic and individual activities, with it s own imagery and sense of place.
The design represents Minnesota s natural and cultural past. Earth mounds and logs are the elements that represent this history. The mounds symbolize the natural geological forces: they suggest a Minnesotan field of glacial drumlins, the stylized hill region, or a landscape that allows a dual reading of scale-arrange of mountains or a low field of mounds. The log benches symbolize the great timber forests of the area. Culturally, the mounds represent man s manipulation of the landscape for his own purpose (www.marthschwartz.com). The logs symbolize the cultural forestry economy, which this area was known for in the past and even till this day (figure 1).
The mounds are tear shaped and are set diagonally to the linear paving pattern, which is perpendicular to the building. The series of elongated mounds subdivide the plaza and create multiple corridors, which guide the pedestrian to the building. The logs are set parallel to the mounds and are backlighted with light fixtures inlaid in the paving. The mounds vary in height, ranging from three feet to nine feet. They are planted with jack pine, a native species common in Minnesota s boreal forest, and various perennials as ground covers. Some mounds are just grass while others have various perennials like white narcissus or blue scillas. The blue scillas line up with the blue paving to reinforce its pattern. The paving pattern guides the pedestrian into the lobby. In the winter, the heavy snow heightens the sculptural effect of the drumlins. Granite bollards are used at the main larger openings in the plaza to prevent vehicular circulation. The granite bollards also express the linear paving pattern by being lined up on the blue strips (figure 2).
Martha Schwartz s Federal Courthouse Plaza in Minneapolis like many of her designs has pushed the envelope of contemporary art used in landscape architecture. Here you can see how it is used as a tool of design combined with her use to explore the arts to make a successful design. It is a design, which has all the elements of landscape architecture to create a space for movement, meeting, interaction, and contemplation through the media of landform, vegetation, and architecture.
The architect Peter Eisenman has developed increasingly complex formulations regarding the architectural design process, especially in the regards to the role of structure and contemporary society (prelectur.stanford.edu). His work has constantly pushed the envelope with his theory of design. It has been defined as deconstructivist architecture by the famous architect Philip Johnson. The Wexner Center of the Arts at Ohio State University can fall in this category of architecture. Eisenman worked in conjunction with architect Richard Trott and landscape architect Laurie Olin to come up with a design for Wexner Center. The Wexner Center tries to take two different grid patterns of the city and the campus and sew them together. The design also takes two existing buildings and incorporates them by fitting the new structure around them. It is very complex structure and is nearly impossible to explain (figure 3).
The main entrance to the building is on the south side and defined by a grided scaffolding structure that really stands out. The door isn t at ground level so one must go down a ramp to access it. The entrance is the beginning of an axial corridor, which splits the building, but the building was already disconnected. The long corridor is a ramping structure, which moves from the basement level to the second floor. Along this corridor are a series of terrace galleries , whish are separated from the path by waist high partitions. The galleries on the north-south circulation spine share the same light filled volume from the overhead skylight. Light from the east wall and the skylight, striking the framing members and mullions, generates an ever changing, luminous environment (Progressive Architecture, 81). This corridor is organized on the cities grid system (figure 4).
Another entrance is on the western side and is defined the same way with the scaffolding like structure, which connects perpendicular to the other. Although this entrance is at ground floor and has a tower like structures that resembles an old Armory that used to be on the site. From this area you enter a lobby, which is part of this only third-floor structure. Seating in the form of an ampetheatre, south of the lobby and towers, terminates the long axis of the campus oval (progressive architecture, 81) (figure 5).
In the offices above the lobby windows are banded along the floor so when one is seated they have views extending on to the campus instead of conventional raised windows. Courtyards are arranged throughout the exterior for many uses like reviewing studio work. The landscape architect designed these outdoor spaces.
The materials used were painted exposed steel, steel framed skylights, translucent tinted glass curtain walls, brick, limestone, sandstone, dry wall, granite, and hardwood flooring. The building is used for exhibitions, performance, production instructions, library, curatorial, and administrative spaces; film, art, all to be used by the university and the community.
The Wexner Center s design is completely out of the ordinary and Eisenman has constantly criticized for many of his works (figure 6). Critics have accused his spaces to lack functionality and purpose thus making the design not accepted. Eisenman will say the same thing about his works: my best work is without purpose, who cares about the function (Nuttgens, 297). It is more about the relationship of the site s geometry and art.
Denise Scott Brown is an architect known for her many planning designs. She works in conjunction with her husband Robert Venturi. She is an advocate of the sociological aspects of urban design and has studied the works of Herbert Gans. One great planning design is the Washington Avenue revitalization plan in Miami. It is a plan for a short and long term physical and economic revitalization of a major commercial district (Progressive Architecture, 22).
Washington Avenue is in Miami Beaches major shopping artery, running the length of the island, and passing through an unusually young historic district. The Deco District is made up of buildings in the Art Deco style. The plan recommended to:
Build on it s strengths-human scale, variety of stores, architecturally important buildings and opportunities for improved landscaping-while alleviating it s weaknesses-the economically marginal nature of the stores, and dearth of the public amenities (Progressive Architecture, 22) (figure 7).
Sections, sketches, and plans were the design tools used to describe the recommended image of Washington Ave. A typical section from storefront on one side of the street to the other side is used to show the ideal scale for the street. It showed the recommendation of street width, sidewalk width, street lights with banners, street trees, benches, awnings, and the median strip planted with palms and grasses. The section shows the scale in relation between pedestrian and vehicular corridors (figure 8).
Many architectural features were added to enhance the street. Banners were set above the beginning of Washington Ave at both ends to emphasize the gateways. Recommendation for street signs in store window decorations were sketched out to show what they would look like. They were intended to reflect the existing character by using similar text styles and colors (figure 9). A program of forty different colors was chosen in cooperation of local owners and merchants. They were in arrangement of cool tone colors (Progressive, Architecture, 92).
The architects recommended planting palms and shade trees along the sidewalks. The tree trunks were to be high enough to avoid blocking store windows or obscuring signs . The sidewalks were done in tinted pink concrete to reflect the traditional on the beach boardwalk. A minimum height was set for awnings, but no other restrictions were applied. They didn t want to homogenize Washington Avenues diversity (Architectural Design, 71).
The plan for Washington Ave has clearly shown its intentions. In Architectural Design Denise Scott Brown sums up the plan the best:
The plan recommends sensitive preservation around Washington Avenue, aimed at enhancing the essence of Miami Beaches nostalgic image: whilst at the same time improving the city s position as an international tourist resort with a stunning, natural geographical location and climate, a varied population and a range of accommodations from luxury hotels to modest rooms (Architectural Design, 75).
Mario Botta is an architect who also designed furniture. One piece of furniture he designed is the Seconda Chair.
Designing a chair, like designing a house, means perusing a new image capable of representing the needs of the day, capable of responding to contemporary sensitivity, capable of suggesting new hope (Nicolin, 134).
Furniture is an object used everyday and the architect is looking for a new way to make them a piece of art and a part of a living space. He is taking an ordinary object and transforming it into a new configuration with an architects knowledge of space, art, and function.
The Seconda Chair structure is made from tubular steel painted with metallic or opaque black epoxy. The seat is a perforated steel sheet painted the same colors. In the backrest is a soft rubber black foam cylindrical shape and divided into two. They are removable and can turn. The seat is painted black and the tubular steel is metallic or vise versa(figure 10). This comparison in different colors is intended to emphasize the structural makeup. When the perforated seat is black it is more like a veil, but when it is silver it is more reflective (Progressive Architecture, 37).
These cylindrical pads create a playful moving element against a fixed structure. The geometry of the chair is simply characteristic of structure, but in an absolute and rigorous way. The perforated seat is used to not to hide the structure of the design but let it stand out (figure 11). As Botta states it:
The chair is an object: the edifice, the transformation of the condition of its territory. The one responds only to the individual, the other is anchored to its site (Progressive Architecture, 37).
The chair is an ordinary object, which is part of a space it has become an individual expression of art but is still useful of its qualities.
Arne Jacobsen is an architect who is well known for his furniture and interior designs. He designed whole buildings all the way down to its smallest elements. His most famous design is the SAS Terminal and Hotel Royal in Copenhagen. Here he was able to take absolute power over the entire design and everything within its environment. At the Hotel Royal and Terminal all the furniture, carpets, walls, light fixtures, door handles, clocks, lamps, and even ashtrays were designed by Jacobsen. The hotel foyer stands out as the dominant element in design with its spiral staircase. The floors are made with polished pale gray marble slabs broken up by carpets. The marble is used for circulation while the carpets create an edge. The carpets also create spaces for meeting and housing furniture. His infamous egg chairs are set around a circular table with an ashtray and a flower vase on it.
The spiral staircase between the foyer and the restaurant floor is suspended from steel rods. The steps consist of weld assembled steel plates and have dark green carpeting. Along the side of the chairs and under the railings is smoke colored Plexiglas used for safety protection. The ceiling is lined with small lighting fixtures set in a serial grid pattern (Faber, 125) (figure 12).
Jacobsen designed even the rooms in the hotel: not one detail in design was left out. The entire paneling and fixed furniture in the hotel rooms is veneered with Wengewood. Box-like drawer units are mounted against the wall. The light fixtures above the drawer units can slide on a rail for convenience. Tabletops are made from blue Formica. The egg chairs show up again here. A curtain can be pulled across the room to separate the bed area from the rest of the room. The phone was the only thing not designed by Jacobsen (figure 13).
In the Hotel Royal one can see Jacobsen s focus on intricate detail that is simple but still elegant and also fully functional in its environment. Effecting a meticulously detailing and refined unity of design with absolute control (www.serial-design.com).
Patrick Dougherty is an environmental artist. His creations are all made from natural elements; twigs, saplings woven together like a wicker basket or chair. His latest work is Paradise Gate at Smith College, Northampton. His sculptures generally take on human scale, creating a level of approachability, a sense of intimacy with the environment (Landscape Architecture, 88). They are not just an artistic expression but are intended for a human interaction: to go inside it, move around it, and experience it.
Paradise Gate is inspired by garden follies which are types of miniature monuments that are ornamental structures designed for landscape or garden settings (Muehlig). Paradise Gate stands behind Nielson Library and in site of the botanic garden. It is flanked by two tall trees ; the largest Dawn Redwood in New England and a European Linden. They frame Dougherty’s creation (figure 14). In most circumstances the site is influential of his designs similar to the practice of landscape architecture (Landscape Architecture, 88).
The design consists of the cylindrical towers arranged around a centralized a circular space. Two of the towers are very alike. They have a series of entrances that can be entered from the outside of the structure or from the inside of the central space. These both have circular windows above; they vary only in height and width. The third spire must be accessed from the main central space. This space is shorter and has oval windows for viewing out onto the landscape. The larger circular central space unifies the three appendages and has three entrances not including the two from the similar spires (figure 15).
The structures is made from entirely native natural materials. The construction process starts with the series of layering saplings for structural support, randomly woven together with a series of three quarter inch two one inch sticks (Landscape Architecture, 89). Linear qualities of the saplings are a graphic element (Muelig). The bundled saplings are sunk thirty inches into the ground and placed at intervals around the structure. The saplings used are mostly sugar maples with some red maple, burning bush, red twig dogwood, cherry, black birch, and crab apple. This creates a range of textures with their interwoven qualities.
Paradise-Gate, like many of his works, is meant to relate to the surrounding landscape just like in landscape architecture (figure 16). Also, like in landscape architecture it creates human action with it; to go inside and outside to experience it. This was an art form that not only could be touched but could be inhabited, that smelled of earth and the woods, and offered a chance to play (Muehlig) .
In conclusion this paper has show the resent development of the design field of the later 20th century. It was a shift towards more of an artistic expression, but still maintaining function and purpose. These designers have pushed the envelope of artistic expression and created a higher level of design and competition. Martha Schwartz s Courthouse Plaza used drumlin landforms to express an art form that also related to the metaphysical. Peter Eisenman s Wexner Center showed the use of intricate detail to the form of a structure by creating an odd relation between two grid patterns which come together in a unique fashion and make the design work. Denise Scott Brown s plan and recommendations for Washington Avenue has shown how a place can be enhanced by focusing on its unique local character and adding color, vegetation, and diversity. Mario Botta s Seconda Chair shows how he has taken an every day useful object and explored the use of form to express a piece of art. Arne Jacobsen s Hotel Royal shows an architect s absolute control of an entire design by creating every feature within a space; thus creating a sense of wholeness within the spaces surrounding atmosphere. Finally, Patrick Dougherty s Paradise Gate has shown the relationship of art form to the landscape through the use of structure, which can be touched and experienced inside and out. All the works in the paper have ranged the entire spectrum of space; from larger levels to smaller levels: from neighborhood to building, from building to plaza, from building to interior, and from interior to object.