ARC 402: ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN STUDIO
with Carles Vallhonrat (Fall 2002)

"Center for Automotive Studies" (Philadelphia, PA)

Focusing specifically on boundaries, or edge conditions, this project investigates the relationship between two programmatically separate volumes through the formal play of juxtaposition and adjacency. Here, the site conditions - half the site is to be topped by an office tower - have dictated the division of the structure into two main volumes. Thus, the resultant interior street, which functionally connects an important shopping hub to the Philadelphia City Hall, becomes the cinematic space within which two programmatically disparate volumes interact.

Whereas the eastern volume, which shuffles out over itself, functions as an auto dealership - cars being perhaps the most aestheticized commercial product - the western half functions as a museum of auto parts (greasy, stained pieces protected from the public’s wandering hands by thick glass containers). The whole composition is unified by a central atrium, an all purpose terrain that visually unites the two halves. Thus, the project focuses on the emergence of a true hybridization between cultural exchange and commercial pragmatism.