The syntax of buildings: three systems; three scales

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


During the course of my graduate year of studies, many avenues of design were explored. The three projects shown in this thesis are the conclusion of this year. My primary concern had been to achieve a confidence with building elements as they operate together. As can be seen from the presentation, I did not arrange spaces but instead designed an ordered system of columns, walls and beams, that arose from a general program and could subsequently be manipulated to provide for the unique requirements of a particular building. These are not really systems buildings, or warehouses to handle any function needed; but instead a set of basic statements arising from the general activities of performing constructing and living. These general categories were chosen from local design projects. Specifically, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is in need of a new Fine Arts facility--Theatre, Dance and Music. My design provides a general building language for such a facility.

Radford College Art School was in need of an outdoor paint and sculpture area - a place to work and construct objects that would best be done outdoors. The design by Jaan Holt, which I participated in, gives the college a pavillion "language" capable of incrementally changing to provide for their specific needs.

Finally, I feel the public is in need of a better house. The house included is not the answer but an attempt to introduce new design information into the present "symbolics" of the American house.

The three projects combined are the result of an attempt to understand specific building languages at several scales and provide an academic end point, as well as a beginning, to professional design.