The Relentlessly Restless Pursuit of Perfection
Bradley Joel Hopper
M. Arch Thesis Student, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Correction: The relentlessly restless pursuit of perfection. An action of correcting or setting right; substitution of what is right for what is erroneous; amendment. A correction is an authoritative tool deployed to define and create parameters for all aspects of the world around us. Corrections occur within a myriad of scales, and can manifest themselves in material and immaterial ways. We “fix” or correct everything from animals, to buildings and infrastructure, to the Homeric scale of land, time, and forms of power itself. At the scale of the body, they affect our grammar and diction, and people, both physically and mentally. Corrections are a form of impermanent permanence. They have lasting effects, however, corrections themselves are often “corrected” over time, leaving each change temporary in relation to the overall course of history. This is no clearer than with the contemporary treatment of prisons. Conditions in prisons have consistently been controversial, which has led to a quick and constant succession of radical alterations. As Rem Koolhaas has noted, “The history of prison building has become a sequence of shot-lived ideals that were challenged, faltered, and failed. It has become impossible to build a prison that is not, at the moment of its completion, out-of-date.” Often these changes are taken for granted, and go ignored by society at large.
A strip of land in Draper, Utah, a suburb midway between Provo and Salt Lake City. In 1937, Draper was merely a small farming community, and the state bought 620 acres for the construction of a new prison (Salt Lake City had grown to surround the existing prison. The few main roads related closely to the section lines on plat maps, and farmland covered most of the site. As Draper grew, farms were altered to make way for neighborhoods or the ever expanding prison, the straight streets from the plat lines altered for the picturesque. By 2015, the few residual farms are mostly buffers for the river and prison, and roads symbolic of the sections lines had been so fragmented as to be lost in the suburban labyrinth sprawl. The site is a series of brackets. Originally defined by the Wasatch Mountain Range and Jordan River, more edge conditions between the two have emphasized this bracketing. The rail track and highway The site is also bracketed by two major companies. Draper hopes to fill this space in between with more tech start-ups, in what they call “Silicon Slopes.” Controversy has followed with city trying to move the prison currently located on the site somewhere else- out of sight and out of mind- to sell the now valuable land to these start-ups. This future plan of connecting the two curiously ignores the edge conditions splitting the site in half; the state recreation park for paragliding to the right, and active gravel pits to the left.
Using edge conditions as architectural and infrastructural tools, the significance of correction are explored to bring the site’s past and present corrections into simultaneous view, provoke discussion of how these changes have altered and continue to alter the world around us, and can inspire alternative scenarios for contemporary incarceration.
Who inspires you graphically?
I really looked to Archigram and Superstudio’s work in collage. I also was inspired by other architects, such as Jimenez Lai, MVDRV, and OMA.
How effective is the art of collage in bringing the past and present of a site in simultaneous view?
Collage acts as an interface that allows for sudden and radical changes that come from the intersections and overlaps inherent to collage. While normally one has to view all the transitional evolution between two points in time, collage allows for these two points in time to become adjacent and collide. These jarring moments where past and present collide clearly show both past and present and their distinct differences.
What dictates your choice of imagery to paste together? What resources do you use, Internet, magazines etc?
I started each building with an organizational/programmatic diagram that I used to determine the very initial base images, which then set the tone for each collage. I also looked for imagery of nice but very orthodox spaces and buildings. While each building is incredibly unorthodox and existing on a fantastic scale, they’re built out of very familiar elements, which I think helps convince the viewer that these buildings actually have a level of feasibility to them.
What tools do you use?
I mainly used Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I also used Rhino to build the site plans, as well as build models of my collages to help me think about these buildings’ organization, as well so how to expand upon the collages further.
What dictates the formatting and framing of the images? (Square compared to images escaping from the ‘border’)
It started with the decision to allow the exterior collages to be framed with escaping content, while interior collages retain a more “pure” frame; the exterior images allow for an erosion of the building’s adjacencies/context, while I found the interior images to read clearer more fully intact. Additionally, the escaping content allowed for more emphasis on contrasts in the programmatic collaging (such as Park vs mall building in the Berm” building, or the horizontality of a drive in theater versus the verticality of an office building in the “Mass Ornament” building.)