MGarito | Design | Not a Byte in Site
At the time of undertaking this project I had spent the last six years of my life living a double life. The first of these lives is that of a designer, constantly creating digitally and physically, both academically and on my own time. The second life has been that of IT, working in a variety of scales from a single desktop to thousands of servers at a time. As such, a fascination developed that in turned became integral to my thesis project.
Not a Byte in Site is a metaphor for the digital condition we as a society have found our selves in that yet is lacking when taken into terms of the architecture we inhabit. In a sense, the goal of this thesis became an exploration of the relation ship between digital culture and architecture with a resulting product positioning itself so as to make a stance on integration there of.
Early in my research it became obvious that the site for the project would need to be as carefully consider as the architecture itself. Locating a suitable site became a project of its own given the existing disparity between a 'place' where cultural activities occur and the 'non-place' where digital culture exist.
The core of digital culture is the Internet, which ironically has no core of its own, given that it exists as a distributed network unto itself. With that in mind I began to look at the infrastructure that allows the Internet to function, the infrastructure that support this digital culture.
It's a little know fact that in terms of internet infrastructure, one of the largest nodes on the planet is located in downtown Los Angeles, hidden inside the One Wilshire building, a 1966 Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill project. This building, architecturally, is very regimented and devoid of articulation, and in terms of occupancy it is virtually devoid of human occupation for a structure of its size. As such, it became a goal of mine to invert those realities, to create a sort of Anti Wilshire with this project.
In addition to being a major node of the internet's infrastructure, Los Angeles also plays major cultural roles through its entertainment and artistic industries. This resulted in the selection of site as is shown in the mapping of cultural and digital nodes illustrated here.
Simultaneous to researching and locating the project's site, I began working primarily through models of conceptual forms. Shown here are a series of sketch models addressing and breaking down different overarching concepts.
The first sketch model deconstructs the normative rectilinear tower, represented as a series vertical and proportionality spaced vertical rods locked together at the top, into a series of fragmented and disjointed elements encountering each other at angles, which is than further dissolved into a intertwined bundle of curvaceous space.
The second sketch model focused on the transitioning from vertical to horizontal conditions given martial constants. Here two pieces of 1/8th inch copper wire of equal length transition from parallel with no connectivity, to completely entangled. One side of the model takes that logic vertical as the pieces become ever more integrated, while the other side of the model uses the same logic exploring integration in a horizontal fashion.
The third sketch model takes the language expressed in previous models to a larger scale and includes some rudimentary surfaces. The focus here quickly became about the visual characteristics created by the presence of light, which is an interpretation of digital media streaming in real time through the project.
The fourth sketch model is that of the three dimensional field, understood as the existing urban fabric, displaying the interconnection of embedded and regimented infrastructure which then begin to expose themselves. Through this revealing process the elements that inherently have neither space nor place, come to gather to form both.
The fifth model is not a sketch model, it is a 1:100 scale model of the final project relative to the context of downtown Los Angeles. Here, a clear sense of the scale of the project can be gleaned by contrasting the slender and curvaceous tower rising up on the periphery of downtown Los Angeles's cluster of office towers.
Before continuing to the final model for this project, I present a series of drawings illustrating the project relative unto itself. Shown here are an elaborate series of vertical voids running through the project. These emphasize the multi dimensional connections and potentials for integrations of activities across floors. In addition to these voids, the floor plan changes from level to level, this constant change demands programming as dynamic as the structure itself.
The sixth and final model is a 1:50 scale of the model on site. The context model is five feet long by one foot wide, constructed completely of laser cut acrylic. The model is primarily clear to further illustrate the absence of digital integration with the existing architecture of the city. The project itself is constructed of both clear and translucent red acrylic. Here the clear represents programmatic areas of the project would contain a variety of programs ranging from residential through commercial to academic facilities. The red however is where information, technology and digital culture express themselves to cradle the other programs.