Cloud-Watching From The Cubicle
An Answer to the Tyranny Of The Gridded Ceiling
The gridded acoustical tile ceiling is standard fare in post-war modernist offices. All environmental controls are consolidated into one coordinated system that promises to hush office chatter, heat and cool the air, and lend work surfaces an even, gentle glow.
In practice, the open office ceiling yields a flat, generic quality of sound, heats the warmest part of the room in the winter, and blows superfluous cold air in the summer to compensate for unnecessarily bright lights. In the name of modular flexibility, the gridded acoustical ceiling is taken for granted and has produced an incredible sameness of light, temperature, and sound- absolute rigidity from absolute flexibility.
As designers address the changing nature of the contemporary workspace, they must expand their field of view to include the ceiling as a malleable surface that can define space and meaningfully shape the acoustical qualities of that space.
We propose a challenge to the accepted model of interior space. This proposal is a provocation, one solution out of many possible solutions to this pressing question. Lighting, heating and cooling, sound attenuation, and seating are all reconsidered.
School of Architecture for Penn Design
The University of Pennsylvania’s design school holds a prominent site on the main quad and acts as the gateway between the city and the university. In contrast to this siting, the design program is characterized by insularity. Contact with the larger university, other disciplines, and the town rarely occurs. To compound this, PennDesign’s multiple degree programs have remained relatively disconnected.
This building threads together PennDesign’s programs with the university and the city. Urbanistically, this linear building buckles at the center to address the opposing grids of the city and the university. On the interior, the studios inhabit two main floors, which serve as the field in which classrooms and offices hang. This creates sectional diversity and allows for visual connections between programs. The exterior of the building echoes the heaviness of Frank Furness’ neighboring Fischer Fine Arts Library with deep apertures and contrasts it with large openings that expose review, exhibit, and studio spaces.
Architectural Design: New Haven Test
During the study of the minimum dwelling, I investigated the problem of maximization within the constraints of a minimal footprint. In the initial minimum dwelling exercise, elements of the house slide and reconfigure allowing the building to adapt to the small size of the dwelling. This initial idea of maximization was carried into the design of the house at 179 Scranton Street. The house, a deceptively simple cube from the street, was derived from two initial moves. The building's central core is occupied by a large sculpted light well that provides a mode to organize circulation, provide natural light and erode the cube's initial simplicity.