New York, New York - The folly is commonly considered to be an architectural object of little function outside of visual delight and light-hearted decoration. In the past, these structure were used to enhance the scenery with visual richness, falsely representing architectural elements to complete or compliment the natural landscape. Little Joy intends to contemporize the folly and play-up its intentions within the context of today’s cultural climate.
Modern society privileges consumer aesthetics and immediate sentimental delight, and therefore gravitates toward decorative imitation and kitsch sensibilities. We are collectively enamored with small, ornamental, visually compelling, useless objects - ostensibly, knickknacks. The knickknack is used to decorate and complete our most common contemporary landscape, the interior domestic realm of the everyday American home. Like the folly of the past, the knickknack is whimsical, delightful, and resembles something familiar and likable but false and inaccurate. They are pointless, romantic, and purely for visual satisfaction. While Follies exists as larger scale architectural objects, they are in many ways proto-knickknack. Embracing this quality of the folly, Little Joy shifts the idea from folly as architectural object to folly as architectural knickknack and leverages the potentials latent in the knickknack by appropriating their design techniques.
Lake Forest, Illinois - Architect Howard Van Doren Shaw designed the original Ragdale Ring in 1912 as an open-air theater for the work of his playwright wife, Frances Shaw. Rounds honors Shaw’s 1912 Ring by further architecturalizing the ring, reinvisioning it as a whimsical and inhabitable performance surface. The new ring considers the way in which one engages the space of performance and intends to allow the ring itself to become integral to that experience, while also producing an atmosphere of discovery and fun for visitors.
Rounds encourages a multiplicity of performance types, performer to audience relationships, stage arrangements, and seating options, generating a versatile outdoor venue and a fully encompassing experience. Acting as a piece of architecturally-scaled garden furniture, our project compliments the (beautiful) existing landscape and natural prairie setting and can be enjoyed by both visitors on special occasions as well regularly by artists in the residency program as they reflect and nurture their creative efforts.
Design Team: Greg Corso, Molly Hunker
Build Team: Greg Corso, Molly Hunker, Jordan Nelson, Nick Zukauskas, Kevin Lenhart, Preston Welker, Sean Morgan, Dabota Wilcox, Jon Anthony, Monika England, Kokeith Perry, Sarah Beadoin
Hollywood, California - Stay Down, Champion, Stay Down is a commissioned temporary installation for the Woodbury University Hollywood (WUHO) gallery, located along the busy and iconic Hollywood Blvd Walk of Fame. Considering this location and context, the installation focuses on the presence and activity of the ground plane. The project explores the relationship of the analog artifact and the digitally developed composition. It is a study of the role of both the handmade and “cursor-made” in curating a contemporary environment of space and visual effect - comfort, hominess, and familiarity on one side, exotic on the other.
Comprised of a system of handmade terracotta tiles - a ubiquitous material in Southern California homes - the floor of the gallery breaks away from the planar to compose a flowing and colorful interior landscape that guests can navigate through on foot. The bulging areas of this landscape are created by gradually elevating the tiles on transparent acrylic supports. Heightened by vibrantly colorful lighting, the contrast of the analog tiles and digital surface creates a compelling experience that rivals the lure of the historic sidewalk beyond the gallery.
Miami, Florida - History / In the Remaking intends to reconcile Miami’s past traditions with its contemporary character by tapping into aesthetics of nostalgia. Our proposal reconsiders one of Miami’s first architectural models, the Chickee hut. While the Chickee is still prevalent today as a kind of architectural novelty, the intention of History / In the Remaking is to re-envision the traditional model in a way that reflects the provocative context of urban Miami and its contemporary interest in spectacle. By re-imagining the potential of the Chickee hut’s traditional composition - a simple grid of wood posts supporting a canopy of palm fronds - we create a compelling experience for museum visitors that, while maintaining cultural relevance.
Our proposal provides an experience that venerates the past and highlights the modern city and contemporary aesthetic. In much the same way that architectural movements of the Miami’s past (tropical-deco, modernism) showed reverence for technology and concepts of “the future” while embracing the world around them, History / In the Remaking uses contemporary form-making alongside vernacular material systems to leverage nostalgic reaction and celebrate Miami’s evolution and history.
Life Will Kill You
Commissioned Installation - REVOLVE Clothing
West Hollywood, California - Life Will Kill You is a temporary installation for the Revolve Clothing showroom in West Hollywood. To stand in contrast to the high-fashion clothing of the boutique, cheap everyday industrial materials - zip ties and electrical lamp cord - were aggregated to create a floating volume that nestles below an existing soffit. Though the soffit was designed to hide the store’s inner workings, Life Will Kill You calls attention to the ducts and wiring of the store by employing an excessive amount of the electrical materials. The design explores the contrast between industry and elegance through material sensibility, form, and visual effect.
The cloud-like volume is created by a double-sided surface composed of over 100,000 zip ties. The exterior surface of the volume is an aggregation of longer, wider white zip ties while the interior is comprised of shorter and finer colored zip ties. The resulting bulging form offers ever-changing glimpses of blurred yet vivid color combinations as the zip ties layer on top of one another in the predominantly black and white store interior.
Photos by Justin Harris.
2014 Louisville Children's Museum Competition Proposal
Louisville, Kentucky - As a museum dedicated to the interests of children, the focus of The Sweetness is to create a novel architectural expression of fun, delight and amusement by exploring something children find irresistible - CANDY! Unlike other children’s museums that simply use literal interpretations of objects children find interesting (dinosaurs, airplanes, etc) into the architecture, the project leverages the qualities and characteristics latent in candy as a precedent for architectural expressions of atmosphere, program and form. By considering such qualities as gumminess, softness, color, translucency, and texture the project begins to curate a stimulating experience for children, parents and even the larger urban community.
Formally and programmatically the building considers the idea of gumminess as a way to create spaces and blur the distinction between types. Just as kids love to wander and explore, The Sweetness creates a landscape where spaces, programs (or “flavors”) bleed into each other. Contrary to “grown-up” museums where walls are needed to display art, children’s’ museums engage the ground planes with interactive exhibits. This allows us to reconsider the role of the wall and use ETFE panels to provide a compelling museum experience.
UIC School of Architecture, 2013-2014 Douglas A. Garofalo Fellowship Installation
Chicago, Illinois - Myth grows out of research on the religious genre of the home shrine, re-imagining the richly decorative and often kitsch assembly through the lens of the architectural installation. The extraordinary variety of home shrines, as well as the variety of objects and materials that make them up, narrates a story of relationships and beliefs unique to each creator. The artistic production of the shrine tends to be read as kitsch, but it is based on a sincere decoration strategy in which display and adornment have no limit, for it is a sign of the devotion of the family.
In addition to questions of quantity (the belief that the more objects employed, the stronger the power of devotion) and visual intensity (achieving a huge visual payoff from an inexpensive kitsch sensibility), home shrines describe an active relationship between ornamentation, object-hood and the architectural interior. The interior architectural space of the shrine becomes defined not by the envelope containing it, but rather, by the collection and accumulation of decorated objects therein. Not unlike the excessively adorned interiors of Baroque, Rococo, and Art Nouveau religious spaces, home shrines utilize accretive ornamentation for more than just mere decoration – it is employed for emotional and spiritual power and devotion.
Myth uses the decorative prayer candle as the primary object-tradition through which to explore how home shrines may provoke new understandings of visual and atmospheric opulence in the architectural interior. Made with traditional candle-making techniques, hundreds of handmade wax candles are suspended on embedded cotton wicks, accumulating to create a semi-enclosed chromaphilic space. While the overhead candles are geometrically simple and clean, the candles closer to the ground are increasingly articulated with a grotesque rustication captured during the transformation of the material from its liquid state to its solid state. This rustication technique partners with a gradient of increasing color saturation to engage with the traditional shrine organization that establishes a narrative describing the change between heaven and earth.
Contemporary expressions of religious architecture tend to reinforce a clean, open-minded spatial construct that leaves the spiritual narrative to be defined by each visitor’s imagination and beliefs (however rich or bland those may be). Instead, Myth aims to establish a space of greater emotional and spiritual resonance by employing familiar materials, crafts and even smells present in more common devotional spaces. While kitsch might encourage the manipulation of emotions to such an extent that the space makes someone feel a certain way, the intention here is to stimulate a connection between memory / association and the senses such that the project actively invites a visitor to loosen their resolve and examine what direction they want to go with their emotions or beliefs.
Project Team: Molly Hunker, Danny Travis, Preston Welker, Samra Pecanin, Max Jarosz, Nichole Tortorici, Jacob Comerci
Photos by Wallo Villacorta.
The Soft Bulletin
City of Dreams 2015 Pavilion Competition Proposal
Governor's Island, New York - Given the historical context of Governors Island, The Soft Bulletin is inspired by the rich military legacy of the site, in particular, Fort Jay. Considering the fort to be one of the primary landmarks of the island, it represents a time when the island was centered around protection and safety rather than recreation and play. In considering a City of Dream Pavilion that looks to the potential of the future, the intention of The Soft Bulletin is to re-imagine the fort as something that brings the community together. The proposal embraces the idea of childrens’ pillow forts as a catalyst for fun and creates a contemporary interpretation that is a summertime landmark for family, arts, and whimsy.
With the charge of the competition, the project repurposes scraps from artisans to create 95% of its volume. The pillows are sewn from repurposed drop cloths from local painting contractors and stuffed with foam scraps from upholsterers in the region. By using these materials, we make use of waste from the interior design trades that would otherwise go to a landfill, while also producing a soft, dynamic, and aesthetically unique pillow fort!
2015 Chicago Biennial Lakefront Kiosk Competition Proposal
Chicago, Illinois - The apartment interiors along Chicago’s lakefront, particularly those along Lake Shore Drive, are some of the most luxurious and expensive of the city. Their descriptors - opulent, lavish, ornamental, elegant - speak to a level of architectural adornment and interior decorating historically reserved solely for the upper class. This interior luxury of the lakefront is tucked away from the public, high up in beautiful (but exclusive) apartment buildings. Our proposal for the Chicago Biennial Lakefront Kiosk Competition, Wallflowers, seeks to change the understanding of Chicago luxury by co-opting ideas of the glamorous historical apartment interiors and taking it to the streets.
Specifically, Wallflowers looks to the decorative filigree (wallpaper, scrollwork, molding, etc) present in the Chicago lakefront luxury apartments from the late 19th and early 20th century to develop a richly patterned element of urban decor. To perform spatially and atmospherically, the pattern is given 3-dimensionality that develops further its counterpart in the luxury apartment – CNC milled in birch plywood to produce a continuous terrain and aperture system. The 3-dimensionalized pattern wraps around an interior space that houses the kiosk program, while the ends remain open to provide shaded service and resting space.
Project Team: Greg Corso, Molly Hunker, Hannah Kim
Atlanta, Georgia - Common Threads couples the basic programmatic driver of a space of elemental protection and comfort with a sensorial impulse toward visual stimulation and tactile intimacy at the human scale. Our efforts are focused on the design of a soft dwelling which, while performing the functional role of providing a shaded space for coffee shop visitors, also takes on the visual language of a dense, colorful nest.
The envelope of the dwelling is comprised of a system of natural cotton rope that learns from the craft of basket weaving. Rope’s ability to divide, unwind, and fray is exploited to create an interior rich in visual and physical effect. The dense volume of dangling strands is dyed with a schedule of color that seamlessly radiates around the interior space. Ultimately, the project’s aim is to create a relaxation point for visitors who want to find shade in the summer heat or lounge and drink coffee in a richly comfortable environment.
You'd Prefer An Astronaut
2013 Warming Huts Competition Proposal
Winnipeg, Manitoba - You’d Prefer an Astronaut combines the art of textile design and upholstery craft with the architectural function of shelter and warmth. The project explores the formal opportunities of insulating a comfortable interior from the chilly exterior environment by creating a protective outer layer and a warm inner layer compounded by bright and colorful patterning. This project learns from living rooms where bold upholstery patterns, wallpaper patterns, side table doilies, rug patterns and curtain textures all compete with each other and, together, create an all-encompassing “dipped in pattern” effect. Such living rooms are often quite ugly, but they are overwhelming in a unique way.
Our pattern and textile of exploration for this project was oilcloth – a brightly colored and brightly themed genre of waterproof fabric, most commonly used in tablecloths and outdoor cushions. Patterns of oilcloth are generally thought of as tacky – a bit too bright, a bit too bold. And waterproof – so there’s a kind of weird sheen to the graphic as well. You’d Prefer an Astronaut is constructed from round bolster cushions covered in oilcloth, wrapped around and attached to a simple wooden frame. Ultimately, the project performs as a barrier to the low winter temperatures and biting wind, while also producing an envelope of unexpectedly vibrant and tacky delight.
The Hills Are Alive
2011 Sunset Junction Public Space Competition Proposal
Los Angeles, California - As a way to achieve a dynamic urban space, The Hills Are Alive aims to create a community plaza for Sunset Junction that combines the spatial experience and the cultural character of the Silver Lake neighborhood. Given the dynamic topography of Silver Lake and its integrated system of public staircases, the project focuses on creating a compelling and functional loungescape in the heart of Sunset Junction. The space is organized as a stepped topography of laminated plywood, designed to provide activated and vibrant spaces with the potential for a variety of uses including relaxation, socializing, exercise, and performance.
In a neighborhood that privileges a focus on community activity, the plaza will serve as gathering place for people to collect fruits and herbs. Similar to a community garden, the plaza will be fitted with low maintenance and climate appropriate fruit trees (orange, avocado, lemon, etc) and thriving herbal vegetation (rosemary, sage, elderberry, etc). By carving out areas of the plywood topography, these vegetatie elements will create new spacial conditions that enhance the topographical nature of the project while also creating a focal point for healthy lifestyles and community engagement.