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Taking Shape

Life and Design in the Graduate School of Architecture at UIC

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    A New Year, A New Entrance

    Eugene Murphy
    Jul 24, '15 6:39 PM EST

    In excellent keeping with the forthcoming issue of Fresh Meat (UIC's student-run architecture magazine) that will focus on the use of collage in architecture, the UIC School of Architecture has performed a physical act of decollage on its own building. The second storey walkway to, well, nowhere that previously shaded the entrance to the school has been removed. Though everyone I know, myself included, used to think its lack of destination was due to the insufficient funds that scuppered plans for a larger architecture building at the time of construction, the walkway was actually the last remaining remnant of a second storey system of walkways that used to link, and was a central feature of the original design of, the whole campus. While to many the walkway became just a 3-D billboard, or perhaps an intersection of architecture and graphic design, it was also the last vestige of a large part of Netsch's vision. It seems fitting that the architecture school was the last resting place of this once ubiquitous circulation system that would have given the campus an even stronger claim on the Brutalist title than it has today. But it is not entirely gone. In it's place, is what Rossi would call the "memory" of the walkway--a window looking out at two columns on axis that support an invisible structure. Gone is its most recent banner-covering of IIT's crown hall sinking into the ocean, but it has been replaced by a similarly poignant architectural statement. We've heard less is more, but maybe "minus" is more. Maybe the obvious absence of an element adds more meaning than its presence ever could. When Ernest Hemingway would write short stories, he would sometimes write a crucial scene, and then remove it, so that it's absence would resonate through the other scenes. Similarly, within the discipline of architecture, Eisenman used cutout "columns" in walls to form an architectural syntax, because language is about absence. The remaining traces of the walkway form a language that points to a meaning that is not present, perhaps speaking louder than the walkway's banners ever could. will we students feel the meaning generated by this renovation? We may be too distracted by the western sun setting in our now unshaded eyes as we leave, or, as my fellow student Juan Suarez pointed out, we may just have more opportunities to admire University hall.

    Somethings missing....

    Walkway as billboard

    Walkway during construction

    What are those columns for?

    This must have been planned on some level



     
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This blog will document the projects and discourse that come out of UIC's graduate studio, from the perspective of a first year graduate student.

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