CONCEPT: NEW GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH LEADERSHIP CENTER
Brief: "Design a new school of Global Public Health that will house a Global Leadership Center to convene leaders and scholars who will tackle some of the most important and challenging health threats."
The proposed concept plays with ‘futurism’ as rooted in the past; at once forward facing and modern, yet rooted in the body, central. Playing with themes of nature, and community as equally valid forms of health making as medicine.
There are two layers of references in the design. The first is historical and the second is material. Each are linked to each other by number.
1. The building shape and central material is informed by the caduceus, the staff of Hermes. It was chosen over the staff of Rod of Asclepius (which represents medicine). The caduceus guides the dead, protects merchants, shepherds, gamblers, liars, and thieves. It is also a symbol of commerce and negotiation, necessary for any school of public health.
The usage of green glass symbolizes this: growth and rebirth, life over death, clarity and transparency.
2. An 'architecture of skin and bone' bears reference to some of Mies Van Der Rohe's works, namely his entry for the Friedrichstrasse Skyscraper competition (1921-22). The interior is almost entirely open to the outside, a skeletal structure from which sheets of plate glass hung (bottom right)
The modernist idea of transparency and its physical representation (glass) is evident in the render (bottom left). There is a clear, understandable arrangement between architectural parts.The steel ribs float outside of the glass, however, in reversed order to Mies' work.
3. Peter Eisenman's Wexner Center for the Visual Arts at Ohio State University (1982-89) informed the handling of the columns in the render. A column floats in the middle of the staircase, destabilizing the area, yet within a rigid modernist grid.
The render also contains these concrete columns — some reach the steel ribs, some don't, given the illusion of an incomplete structure, when in reality, it remains fully supported and highly rational, with sets of columns and floating ribs at even distance.
4. The building's positioning and site handling was informed by Charles Garnier's Paris Open House (1861-75). The Beaux-Arts approach to site planning is highly rational. Identifying the primary circulatory axises and spaces (vertical and horizontal), then designing around the perceived paths that may be taken to get to and pass through the building, the site placement naturally emerges.
The broad sidewalks are also inspired by the Parisian boulevards, and assist in affirming the building's relationship with nature and healing.
SECTIONS AND ELEVATIONS
Concept summary: this building is a futurism rooted in the past. It is at once forward facing and modern, yet rooted in the body, centrality, nature, and community as equally valid forms of health making as medicine in a high tech way.
The building as body as central is represented here. Its site centrality is demonstrated by the placement of the building in the middle of the site. Sidewalks encourage walks and all lead towards the body, which is restoring, healing, and sheltering all at once. The Beaux-arts planning approach (rational), coupled with the ode to playful generation (modernism) links the building in both past and present.
Usage of the irregular materials on a highly parametric design is also aligned with concepts of the body. The steel ‘skeleton’ upon which nature takes over, and the building seems to emerge from the ground up. Naturally unnatural. The patina and burnished copper provide textures and contradictions — no more sterile, placeless, removed cubes. The building and space should feel loved and as if it can be scratched. The space was never ‘new’ to begin with — it always was and will be...