Structure and deconstruction

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


My efforts to discover a means of making a more effective sculpture led me to pursue architecture. The problem with sculpture as I saw it was that it had been deformed over time from that which marked a place into a placeless isolate. Just as I worked against that placeless isolate in sculpture, so am I now working against the placeless isolate in architecture.

The aspects of architecture, the site, the plan, elements and materials, although acting phenomenally in conjunction with other coexisting elements, are often conceived as isolates. In order to elucidate the interrelation between these aspects at different scales, I turned to the work of the Poststructuralists such as Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, et al. They outline a deconstructive critical approach to linguistic/literary meaning, which I have used as a model for understanding the language of architecture.

Architecture comes into being at the convergence of orders, when ordered and coherent human actions (institutions) take place in a locus or place which has been made architectonic. I am for an interrelational and interactive architecture, one which maintains a critical stance vis a vis its locus, its purposes, and its elements and materials. This is not a disassociated and detached abstract "ideal," but a self-conscious choice, made in conviction and commitment to a coherent and dignified order to human existence.

The design project is an effort to make some of these thoughts operational. The proposal is for a University Museum at the parking lot at the northwest edge of the VPI Campus. The project begins with an analysis and critique of the current placeless condition of the site. The site is restructured with respect to the latent campus structure, which is itself clarified. The Museum building becomes the focal point of a new axis relating the site and the Campus. The site becomes a boundary for the Campus and promotes the growth of a coherent campus plan.