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Virginia Tech


This thesis was to me, more than anything else, a pursuit of fascinations. I began with an obsession with stairs: exploring different types, the symbology associated with them, and why I was so adamant about making every fire stair beautiful. This led me to a program and a site - a theater on the corner of Swann St. and 14th St. in northwest Washington D.C.; a building necessitating stairs, in an area of the city that was full of artists and theaters, but which lacked a movie theater. I was compelled to design a magical building, a movie theater of building elements as characters. My professors urged me to choose an opening night movie as inspiration for the design; I was instantly enamored with the idea of designing around Alice and her Adventures in Wonderland. To me, the characters, puns, and riddles in the book were perfect to imagine as the columns, walls, and stairs of my building. This allusion eventually morphed the building into two theaters, an above ground movie theater and a below ground performance theater.

As I worked, I had two very important (and related) revelations. First, that a theater is very similar, both in function and layout, to a church. The layout of the building, therefore, I designed like that of a church or a temple. I constantly explored opposing worlds; the above ground dreamworld vs. the below ground reality, the inner sacred world vs. the outer public realm. The essence (the spirit, or soul) of the building is Alice. Second, I feel the most spiritual when I am designing. I realized over time that it was equally important to me to learn how to make my drawings feel as it was to design the building itself. My thesis became art IS religion.



Alice, theater, stair