Third Semester Core: Architectural Design

Tectonics, Urbanism and Civic PresenceDistrict Court House in AllstonThe Court House as a building type embodies one of the most powerful potentials for architecture to express meaning and symbol in our civic life. It demonstrates the ideal for a democratic process and its legal system to function in order to protect the public by balancing freedom and constraint, the visibility, openness and accessibility to this institution are balanced by necessary security separation and privacy through specific and intricate ritual and internal organization.There is an enormous opportunity for the language of architecture to articulate and describe specific function, character and sequence of spaces. Conditions of light and accessibility to views can be manipulated to produce subtle narrative and metaphorical references. The recent burst of Court House building activity fueled by an initiative of the GSA coincides with a worldwide phenomena of rethinking about visual manifestations of democracy, redefinition of democratic space and finding a new meaning for the role of judicial systems in our society.We are in the midst of one of the most active periods for the reconsideration of this building type. There are multiple examples and precedents, which offers a wide range of points of view, interpretation and architectural styles. It is up to each architect to reflect upon the role of this building type, to carefully construct a thesis and design through a deliberate and calibrated use of tectonic language where the message and meaning becomes clearly visible and legible to the public.In this re-thinking of urban civic institutions that comes with the increase in complexity of our society, building types are produced that may not be easily characterized by simpler and singularly identifiable typologies. How do the parts relate to each other and to the whole? How can one, solely through the language of architecture, tectonics and structural expression, establish an identity and civic presence for such an entity?Much discourse has taken place on this subject in the latter half of the 20th century. The Postmodern period has produced many unsuccessful buildings that borrow their appearance from historical periods, appealing to sentimental associations with the exterior identity of buildings and the traditional images of certain typologies that they evoke. In the more recent past, attempts to address these multiple identities have produced confusing collages of forms and facades thinly veiled with imagery, strategies that become uncritical reflections of aggregate programs or facetious nods to the context.The selected site is located at the outer boundary of Allston, a terrain vague, waiting for an active future. New development fueled by Harvard\’s Campus expansion Plan and re-establishment of viable community is currently taking place. This new Court House will become one of the most visible symbols for the identity of this new community.With this project, one is asked to develop a thesis (position) and an argument on the role and nature of identity in this Court House for this site.Program and SiteThe first phase will be the development of an intensive siting strategy for the building. The re-evaluation and re-combination of programmatic elements within the building envelope takes place in parallel with this analysis. In this phase the student will develop an argument for the exterior and interior relationship of the project (which may be complementary or conflicting). A specific characterization of this public institution will depend largely on each student\’s analysis of the site, the program, and the mission of this institution.Program and TectonicsThis next phase will be the tectonic development of the building. ARCHITECTONICS is the study and development of architectural language through the use of structure, space, technol