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    a retrospecta

    By pkherron
    Nov 15, '11 9:45 AM EST

    The Banvard Gallery recently opened a new exhibit called Travulgar Square.  The collection contains works by Ben Nicholson from 1976-77.  In a discussion with the architect and Jeff Kipnis, the work was introduced in a way that was described both as a body "out of stasis and exorbitant."  As a student the work represents an investigation that can best be understood as a commitment to design.  This commitment is one that includes the physical act of making as well as the experiential process of design.  Nicholson spoke of studying as a "an experience".  Contradictory to the state in which most students work, he expressed the need to challenge our methodological approach to design and instead focus on spatial arrangements that have yet to be understood.  "Find what can't be done", he asks, "then you are truly working in progression."  As a fourth year student the work is both disturbing in its relentless specificity, yet emotive in its cohesive attitude.  It was designed not purely for the architect's canon, but instead as a solution to analysis.  This investigation is something that in many ways the structure of our education prevents us from accessing.  However, through our discipline, the quest has slowly festered within us.  It is difficult for me to understand what my personal investigation is seeking, or when it moves outside the realm of the metaphysical and into reality.  This work proves that the transition from the philosophy to a physical representation no longer needs to be coherent, but instead requires an understanding of the experience that lines within its creation. My education at the Knowlton School has instilled in me an attitude to demand this experience through the inquisition.  I understand that there may not be an answer, but I have learned that the answer may also lie in the absence of a solution.  Similar to Nicholson's drawings, my work and studies must be 'auto-didactive', experiential and 'exorbitant'.  Today, architecture can no longer live solely in the built work, it must also exist in the drawing, the written work, the investigation, the exploration, the discussion.  Ben Nicholson ended his discussion by stating that sometimes you "have a project best left in a box... then you go out and find it!"  This offers a true challenge for the student: How can you design something that is not meant to be shared, but instead rediscovered through your trajectory as an architect?


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  • a retrospecta
    Nov 15 '11