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    21st Century Experience of Space

    Christopher Perrodin
    Dec 2, '15 1:36 AM EST

    If someone were to ask me where we should look to see an example of 21C space, I would point them to the MoMA.  But the focus would not be on the art.

    I would call their attention to the retail at the entry level, on the first floor, on the top floor, across the street, and the street vendors just outside the door.  I would ask them to take note of the restaurant, the garden, the branding, the website, the guided tours, the audio tours, and the virtual tours...oh...and the films, socials, and events.  And affiliated venues like PS1.

    We see in MoMA an understanding of space which exceeds any single program description,  In fact, MoMA is a bit of a misnomer.  A better description would be the Contemporary Culture Society.  It goes beyond typical understandings of "mixed use" or "adaptive space" because all programs occur simultaneously on the same floor and without any strong visual barriers.  If we needed a term, maybe we could call it "both-and."

    Critical to the ethos of the MoMA is that it must live beyond its four walls.  Its experience as an identity is also digital.  Digital as a conversation, keeping the community up to date on current and future events.  Digital as movie and lecture invites. Digital as virtual tours of the art collection.  Digital as an online retail store allowing you to purchase cultural design items and create a MoMA experience in miniature on your own terms.

    MoMA's ability to engage a community in many different ways makes it an important paradigm for projects and program types trying to use the operative words "place,"  "place-making" or "active."

    MoMA is not just a museum for modern art.  It is a community center that is effectively global in reach.  It is a world renown retailer.  It is a nice garden to relax in during lunch.  It is, and has always been, both hyper local and expansively global.  If a retailer, developer or community center ever needed a good understanding of how to make desirable space, I'd first send them a link to the MoMA website and then a plane ticket to Manhattan.


    • As further exemplified by FolkMoMA, perhaps? Digital vs. preservation? Or even just meatspace?

      Dec 9, 15 11:01 pm  · 

      HmmMmmmMM.  MoMA definitely has a more pliant understanding of where art should be and how it should be engaged.  I am interested in how you're thinking about the FolkMoMA protests but maybe you could explain it further?  Are you meaning to say that in the protests, MoMA and its identity was engaged in a digital realm as well?


      I had to look up what you meant by "meatspace."  Definitely a brutal way of describing the physical plane!   But yes, in relationship to that term--where there is a life and identity online that is distinct from the physical--I believe MoMA is heavily engaged in how to get the best from both worlds.  It shares the physical world in a way that allows us to be digitally present.

      For me, it feels that with how much we are engaged in a digital world throughout every second of our lives, the digital is as much of an architectural space as the physical.  In this I mean that the digital identity and physical blend and support each other (or not).  


      It seems that personal life can take on a new dimension with the digital.  And maybe it's more than just a personal propaganda device.  Digital expression might add another layer of living.  Even though instagram is two dimensional, it's kind of a society of updates and spatial expressions.  A sort of incidental exchange of information and society up/down voting on what people choose to share.  Kind of a strange world, come to think of it.

      In these explorations, I am wondering if architecture needs to look more closely at the digital world and how it can be used as a way of space making--hopefully in conjunction with physical space.  In that sense, I am curious if the contemporary retail experience might be quietly advancing and perfecting what it means to be both two dimensional and three dimensional.  Given how commercial/retail is the energy force to public space, it's worth the time to really examine where it's going, since it may be signaling a next evolution in the practice of being an architect.


      Another layer to that is in how polarizing the digital and the living world feel right now.  I follow the photos I want to see on instagram, I can choose to meet, live and grow up next to people who all have a similar viewpoint on life, religion and politics.  I work with people who have a similar education, race, and background.  So....outside of a dense urban area, where might I get a brief moment of inconvenience and cultural exchange?  It may be in the shopping areas.  The possibility of chance is in turn a place that is tightly controlled and monitored.  Yet if we have a hope for growing public life in the physical world in car oriented cities towns and suburbs, it seems that leveraging  this commercial/retail/controlled environment might be the best way forward.  But if architects cannot learn how to use these public life drives to enhance and grow the public spaces we love, then we really do deserve to feel like outsiders to the discussion of public-ness and the built environment.

      Dec 15, 15 12:02 am  · 

      Sorry just seeing this.

      I suppose one reading of my comment, is that in lieu of physical space/art (in FolkMoMa's case 'building') MoMa has an idea of art/museum not as physical archive/space but more a digital presence/brand? Although they weren't so much getting rid of the physical/architectural so much as replacing...I guess.

      Dec 15, 15 1:13 am  · 

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I will chronicle my design research and degree project, providing commentary on my thought process at the time. From there, I will transform the body of work into a book which seeks to place into dialogue the two (currently) separated semesters of work.

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