Centering a Town: 18th. Effort/Compression

Concrete, brick, glass, and steel—it is a design of contrasts with an industrial cast that encourages use and production. Detailing on the windows would give the building a degree of refinement on the upper brick floors with the classrooms, above the ground levels of functional parts, highlighting their significance. The theme is compression because of the way discrete elements rest on one another and interact.

The squarish brick block of classrooms at the rear sits on one slab and overlaps the tower. This would be the view for those exiting the St. Johns Bridge and entering the downtown area, a composition of three different and distinct rectangles.

The main block of classrooms, second and third floors, rests on the steel scaffolding, a front slab, and, again, overlaps the tower. This slight overlap integrates the concrete and brick and adds tension to the overall design. The concrete tower could house the stairs, but there are other possibilities.

The tension of compression is enhanced by the appearance of the main classrooms seemingly resting in air, over glass. The scaffolding elements are laid out with a spacing of one, three, five, seven, and seven—odd numbers. The spacing of one is implied at the front corner, measured from where a corner scaffold would be, not built. The diagonal bracing of the of the scaffolds heightens the sense of compression.

This irregular progression accelerates and compresses towards the front, counteracting the upward lift of the tower and leading to and emphasizing the focal point of the building, the corner on the plaza.

Program is similar to that of other designs. The area behind glass is open and extends two floors, providing ample space for exhibition and communal activities that would be visible from the plaza and streets. As in other designs, activities within and without out are brought together.

The most dramatic tension perhaps is at the front, the place of main entry, where the upper floors seemingly rest on and project from a narrow slab. Here the spacing is one, three, five, and seven.

That maker of plastic parts had the scaffolding pieces. I had to give them a try.

Background and Previous Designs

Other designs for this project, along with background material and more photographs of site, can be found here and at these posts.


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