Embracing Monumentality: a Montpelier Center for the Arts
Gallup, Christopher Lackey
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Monumentality shares a connection with history in its relationship with time, but it is not limited by this association. The selection of noble materials, such as granite, can date a building through the august character of the stone and its referential qualities. However, in the making of a monumental structure, the poetics of the form can transcend these limitations, resulting in architecture that stands with dignity upon the land. Thoughtful, conservative design that combines judiciously-specified materials with intrepid forms can result in worthy additions to even the most historic urban environment, if they are expressive of the mission and the manner of their making. As a thesis study, a theater complex for the city of Montpelier provides a suitable model for testing the viability of this conservative approach. The capital of Vermont has a vibrant artistic community that has long lacked an adequate venue for the many performances and festivals it invites. Nestled in the valley bisected by the Winooski River, its mountainous confines and remoteness to other urban centers has limited new development for decades, and helped preserve the historic character of the downtown. Introducing a grand theater to a city steeped in architectural integrity and civic pride is fraught with challenges. The established palette of building forms and materials, when combined with the force of a public predisposed to preservation, exert pressure upon the Architect that can make inspired design difficult. It is incumbent on the Architect to be aware of these influences, but be above them. Only then can the architecture achieve monumentality, and, in the case of the Montpelier Center for the Arts, return decorum to the theater-going experience.
- Masters Theses