Light and the urban form: Eisenhower Metro Center

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Americans are going through a radical change in how they build cities. Urban areas across the nation are growing with multiple cores called "Edge Cities." These new centers do not look like our old city downtowns where buildings stood side by side, but rather their low broad outlines dot the landscape like cattle along a forged trail.

These office towers, frequently guarded by trees and moats of asphalt peer at each other from respectful distances through reflected bands of glass. On the fringe of the modern city, these displaced spores sprout without relationship to any existing organization, other than the serpentine ribbon of looping, sprawling highways.

The formation of spaces rather than the formation of objects is a strategy I explore in the "Eisenhower Metro Center" to combat today's urban sprawl. Architect Steven Holl suggests, "The expanded boundary of the contemporary city calls for the synthesis of new spatial compositions. An intensified urban realm could be a coherent mediator between the extremes of the metropolis and the agrarian plain."

Within the scope of my thesis project I hope to define a new synthesis of urban life and urban form. Program, quality of light, and movement will become form generators of this new "Urban Edge".