Connecticut River Dam and Lock
The civic character of typical dams is defined by two problems: 1) its elements are either underground or highly internalized 2) its elements are experienced as disparate parts. This project uses the lock to reveal what would otherwise be underground or internalized functions – the penstocks, the spillways, the powerhouse and the turbine hall – by exposing them throughout the internal façade of the lock, similar to the Pompidou Center. Translating underground into underwater, the dam dramatizes this experience by submerging and revealing its elements within the space between the upstream and downstream of the river. This dam then unifies all these parts with a formal language of interiority and transparency that folds them into the wall of the dam; while this interiority is expressive, the rest of the dam’s wall is muted. These elements become figure and relief along the wall of the lock, creating a new space that is both exterior and interior.
AMOMP: Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles
“But in Ovid’s text it is not Medusa’s ‘head,’ or even her gaze, that petrifies. Rather, it is primarily her silenced ‘face’ or ‘mouth (os, oris) that does its enigmatic work.”
Enterline on Ovid’s Metamorphorses
Considering the incongruous formal relationship between cohesive wholes and random piles, this project is interested in the possibility of multiple and paradoxical readings within the monolith. Rather than assuming the mute iconicity of the architectural monolith as a lack of articulation, blankness is defined in terms of multiple and contradictory part to whole relationships as described by Kipnis’ concept of Intensive Coherence— further recalling his account of Frank Gehry’s Vitra Design museum.
The monolithic arrangement is additive rather than subtractive, such that a heterogeneous yet cohesive whole suggests no single dominant in either the organization of the initial massing, the internal volumes, the wrapping of the envelope or the dematerialization from the texture. Multiplicity through layering produces an unstable and ambiguous dialogue between inside and outside, background and foreground, vertical and horizontal. The Medusa-like form distorts and dislocates elements which “seek to engender shifting affiliations that nevertheless resist entering into stable alignments.” (Kipnis, Towards a New Architecture). While these elements keep the reading of a theatre at each elevation, they are otherwise contradictory; this explores the idea of a consistent yet heterogeneous interior and exterior. The misalignment and miscoupling of the original organization of primitives attempt to create a reading that is both and neither part (pile) or whole (monolith).
Responding to Coney Island's urban crisis escalated by projected rising sea levels, this proposal is an interpretation of the decay of the island; the main hypothesis of this project creatively uses the notion of sacrifice in favor of contributing to a new ideal and enlivened type of city. By relocating and adding programmatic necessities, condemning certain parts of the city and even erasing urbanistically awkward fabric, we encourage denser reconfigurations in what ultimately remains as significant architectural and social complexes. What eventually becomes vacant and replaced by the continuously expanding body of water is sought as at the same time as programmed poche, figural structure and ecological space that supports these future configurations on a new terra firma above rising sea levels.
We are not designing a city as much as we are controlling and cultivating its natural growth. In this way, we seek to understand how successful cities grow and prosper and how Coney Island has come to fruition. We cannot expect a top-down, heavy-handed drastic reformation of the Island to be ultimately successful; Coney Island has an identity that has been developed for hundreds of years and regardless of imminent sea level rise this identity is not something to be forgotten. By working through rigorous, positivist scientific methods, minimizing unnecessary variables and understanding the problems at hand we will be able to arrive at a phased plan for development. Using the building types and respective ratios of Coney's existing fabric and reconfiguring density, built/ open space ratios, and the height of the ground plane a flood resistant Coney will develop over time... naturally.