TEAM: Deane Madsen, Patrick Mobley
ADVISOR: Jeffrey Inaba
BRIEF: Use structure as a central formal feature that conditions the architectural experience to pose an alternative to the 'all or nothing' status of structure in current design discourse
Our investigations began with a premise that most buildings these days fall on opposite ends of the spectrum where structure is concerned: either they flaunt structure and pay attention to little else, or they pay no attention to structure at all. The steeply sloping site at the corner of Sunset and La Cienega, a high-visibility location along Hollywood's infamous Sunset Strip, provided us with an opportunity to use structure and form to try to find a mid-range along that spectrum.
We developed our design strategy by integrating ideas of atmosphere, approach, and anti-gravity. Our tower is supported by two vertical structural elements on the downhill side of the site, from which the building itself cantilevers out toward Sunset Boulevard. From the street, the building appears to hover at ground level, while the hillside slips away beneath it. As the structure is hidden behind the building, visitors from the street side would experience an uncanny sense that the building was floating above them as they made their approach toward, and eventually under, its main mass. The tower thus produces a mutable affect on visitors from different vantage points, and it is during the approach to the building that one begins to experience the structural sleight-of-hand at work. Meanwhile, the interplay of the horizontal and diagonal graphic banding on the exterior serves to further reinforce the vacillation between understanding and vertigo.
With our tower housing a flexible gallery space and theatre, we also used structure to differentiate between program, with a band cantilevered out from the main structural tubes housing the most light-controlled exhibition areas. The lowest floor is then hung from this structural band, while the top two floors rest on diagonal columns above it. A subterranean parking ramp anchors the base of the structural tubes in place to counterbalance the cantilever.