This Country is Shaped by Boxes

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This Country is Shaped by Boxes

Gideon Schwartzman




This studio section was geared towards imagining a Presidential Library for George Washington in Washington D.C. at George Washington University. Students produced individual building proposal that worked towards giving architectural definition to the term POP PATRIOTISM. With that collective interest we aimed to produce American Architecture Confections that drew inspiration from architecture and popular culture references, historical and contemporary, whose origins and evolution are strongly affiliated with being Made in USA!

This country is shaped by boxes. These boxes are shaped by each other. An institutional critique through the arrangement of autonomous spaces, contained and framed by external forces.  The perceived instability is rendered by an aggregation of endless archive, and the interior ambiguity is derived through the inherent nature of the box. This Project acknowledges the oversized nature that defines the District of Columbia’s urban landscape, and addresses it through its own oversized schema.

Who influences you graphically?

I benefited from being enrolled in a representation course taught by David Eskenazi during this studio where we looked at works of Claes Oldenburg, Dogma, and Andrew Zago’s “I fold” studio taught at SCI-ARC.  We looked at many other forms of representation, but these three I think helped me in very different ways.  The cleanliness and simplicity of Dogma, the over-sized literalization of Oldenburg (Specifically the London knees postcard series), and the graphic language of folding that was done so well in Zago’s studio. I would also like to use this first question to thank my Professor, James Michael Tate, for continuously redlining and guiding me down a graphic path.

What dictated your colour palette? What defined the shift from using the typical POP Art primary colour palette?

The color palette was almost predetermined by the project in that there was an attempt to make it as patriotic as possible.  You see a little more experimentation within the box possibility matrix, but for the final drawings I chose to illustrate with shades of reds, white, and blues.  Since I had so many blues in the project patterns already, the conscious effort was made to turn the sky magenta which served as a nice pairing to the presents beneath.

What is the effect and purpose of a white backdrop?

Which white backdrop are you referring to?
If it is for the type of boxes..The typological drawing’s purpose was to define the possibilities of shapes that the boxes could form.  Seeing as how this drawing was already my loudest from all the patterns and coloration, I chose to leave the background white with a simple cast shadow.

How does the use of patterns influences the way people receive and understand the proposal?

The patterns form a sense of curiosity. A need to unpack. A desire to explore.  The patterns relate to one another yet at the same time inform distinctions. The patterns simultaneously disguise and render each box autonomous.

You explore your proposal through all means of representation, to what extent do you trust that only in this one is one able to fully explore the project?

Representation is key to understanding any project.  This project was designed through section.  Through this means of graphic representation the whole project developed through explorations of how program relate to one another, and how neighboring boxes could inform each other’s shapes.  If you are looking to understand the project, look at the section.

Boxes All The Way DownElevationPlan AxonPlanSectionType

Gideon Schwartzman completed his undergraduate architectural education at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Architecture from the University of Michigan. His graduate and undergraduate work has been exhibited in Champaign, Ann Arbor, Tel-Aviv, and Chicago. Gideon has worked professionally in Chicago and Los Angeles, and is currently working on two architectural research grants awarded through the University of Michigan.


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