Neighborhood Olympic Centre
Lane Raffaldini Rubin_Harvard Graduate School of Design MArch I & MLA I
Sport is at times social / extroverted / noisy, at times quiet / introverted / meditative. How can we design a place for the practice of such states? The Neighborhood Olympic Center brings together very serious athletes training for elite competition and recreational members and youth from the surrounding Charlestowne, Boston community. Perched on the edge of Bunker Hill, the Center enjoys an uninterrupted view of the Boston skyline and is situated beside a long public stair that descends the hill. The public path of this stair is continued into the Center and extends the amenity that the views provide. The building’s stairs serves to partition the interior sports programs, allowing for a range of meditative and social spaces.
Who influences you graphically?
In this project I was drawn to the benign propaganda of vintage PLM Railway posters, the analytic intuition of James Corner’s mapping collages, the sinuous poché and figuration of John Hejduk’s plans, and the placid matter-of-factness of Kersten Geers’s renderings.
You neglect to show people within your perspective views, however yours is a very public proposal. Why so?
I believe that the scale of the project and its streetscape lends the images a recognizable sense of human scale. The plans convey this information densely with the inclusion of gym equipment and other furniture. Therefore, the perspectives became for me an experiment in allowing other signifiers to illustrate the public life of the project. In this way, the outdoor stairs, the simple metal handrails, and the glimpse of the diving board through the façade become important clues for insinuating a public life.
How important is the plan as a means of drawing?
This project was developed almost exclusively through plan drawings, since only plans can allow us to configure programs of various dimensional needs and understand their sequential choreography. Although the project has no sections, a set of sectional relationships governing the interior axis [between the two bars] drove the planimetric development. Even this sectional relationship, however, can be visualized in plan. By following the public stair from the ground through the upper floors you can get a sense of the cavelike sectional quality of this space.
You mention the location as providing for an uninterrupted view of Boston but however don’t explore the relationship between interior and city, what is the motif behind this choice?
As you can see in the front perspective view, the sky is immediately visible through the project’s entire length—it is part of the building’s public face. I have considered the view toward the city to be a public amenity and have tended to give public areas of the building access to these views. The most privileged view is from the ground floor plaza and the public terrace at the top of the stairs.
You talk about meditative and social spaces, how is this explored atmospherically through your images?
If I have refuted the section in my drawings, then I have ignored the interior in my perspective views. In this case, I wanted the plans rather than the perspectives to express the qualities of the interior space. This is why I have used a bold black poché: the varying density helps to indicate the relative closed or open character of the spaces. And, if you follow the plans as a visitor might travel through the building, you will encounter snaking processions that help to establish distance [for the meditative programs] and proximity [for the social programs].