The installation aims to extend the experience of the gallery through the introduction of a new threshold, creating a space between two worlds, provoking interaction and a simultaneous experience for, and between, those who visit. The project explores the intersection of structure, light, landscape, and media in its curving, attenuated form.
SHAPING SPACE AND EXPERIENCE
As viewers enter the gallery, a surface descends above them, arcing across the entirety of the space and gradually bending to four feet above the gallery floor. Expanding the role that this “fifth façade” has played in the practice’s recent projects, the exhibition transforms the soffit of the gallery, producing space not by what is placed within it, but by what is above. Over the course of the past decade, the practice has explored perception and its relationship vis-à-vis the viewer. The practice’s earliest projects are characterized by the kinetic experience of the viewer among a series of pavilions or aggregated forms. This reciprocal bond between form and experience extends to include projects such as MoMA QNS and the Kidspace Children’s Museum, where architecture traces the sinuous shape of the observer’s path, linking the individual, building, and context. Building on the lifted form of the practice’s recent designs the installation’s taut profile expands this connection, enabling an unscripted, asynchronous relationship between its arching figure and the simultaneous experience of the void beneath.
BUILDING CATENARY SURFACES
Stretching the full sixty foot length of the gallery, the installation’s catenary form has been optimized for constructability, enabling the fabrication of its complex, doubly-curved surface out of only four unique panels. From an initial sketch, vaulted, developable, and catenary surfaces were considered. Through an extended exploration into the surface’s geometry, panelization, and possible fabrication technologies, the installation takes the form of a segment of a larger toroid, whose center stretches nearly one hundred feet above the gallery floor. This segment of the torus’ eidetic geometry, 184 feet in overall diameter and 32 feet in width, can be constructed through a uniform grid shell, whose identical members rotate to match the larger, continuous curvature inscribed by the torus as it passes through the gallery, and four repetitive panels. Two secondary panel types deform to incorporate an oculus; their random arrangement within the grid of the toroid’s surface geometry allows for direct interaction for the gallery’s visitors at a range of heights and perspectives.
Above the figured space of the gallery, the smooth, curving form bows to meet visitors, encouraging them to engage these openings directly. As the surface dilates at its perigee, visitors can lift their head and shoulders across this threshold into a new sphere above. It is here that they discover a new space—and each other—in an unexpected, shared experience. In this way, the installation creates a moment of intense simultaneity: visitors find themselves in two spaces at once, yet neither fully in one or the other. Expanding the experience of simultaneity central to the most recent work of the practice, this barrier at the center of the gallery creates a new, unified space, foregrounding the relationship between built form and the viewer.
LOCATION / Los Angeles, California / SCI-Arc
TYPE / Gallery Exhibition
SIZE / 2,800sf
STATUS / Completed 2007
ROLE / Design Architect & Architect of Record