“Organ” – Semester in Rome – Spring 2010

The main objective of the studio was to design a “museum” (however we defined that). Rome is without a doubt a form of museum. When I look at in this sense, it easily becomes my favorite. The ceiling is simply the sky above, the galleries and corridors stretch for miles, and the actors (some paid, some unpaid) add so much depth to the experience. The site in Rome I was given was the Via Appia park (simply ridiculous in it’s beauty and collection of unique historical artifacts). What’s unique about the park, besides the fact that there is this tremendous range of wonderful historical monuments and ruins dotted throughout the site, is that it is also a living and breathing space. It’s incredibly active with: pedestrians, tourists, motor traffic, and all sorts of wildlife. Here’s a brief list of some of the more notable park attractions, each of which is worth hours of entertainment and investigation: The Tomb of Cicilia Metella, the St. Callistus Catacombs, the mausoleum of Romulus, the Circus of Maxentius, and the St. Sebastian catacombs. It became quite obvious that there was no museum to situate and design. The park would be the museum. But, the attractions are somewhat spread apart and disconnected. The Appia road certainly organizes them… but, nowhere in the park is there a centralizing formal space to prepare oneself (or groups) for exploring the park. My goal was in short, to design the lobby. Pinned between several monuments and located not too far from the “start” of the park, the immense size and enveloping circular shape of the elevated structure I designed ( I believe) would prove a bold enough architectural moment to create the desired lobby space and “heart” for the park. The effectiveness of this idea I feel was backed up by the team master planning phase, wherein we agreed there would be a light rail line and the park would be dotted with energy harvesting plants/devices (amplified with attractions / more to explore). The program of the structure was multi-layered and multi-purposed. The building is attached to an elevated platform for the light rail and would be part rail station. I thought the building could house event spaces. I also thought it would be really neat if there was this almost sculptural interactive “block” running around the entire circumference that presented the history of Rome and its people. But again, the programming was not the main focus. I feel the strength laid in the architectonic manipulation (and selection) of the site.

Of all the projects I completed in school, this is one I am desperate to return to. I’d love to finish new detailed drawings, perhaps make another model, and certainly produce some well rendered/illustrated imagery of the building and site.


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