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Arch 503
Autumn 2002
A Digital Design Studio w/ Brian Johnson

Architecture and Memory: Monuments and Mutability

    "Architecture is frozen music."

    "Change is a gift."

Buildings and their environments change. Is that good, or bad? What role does time play in thinking about design? How do you interpret the distinction between "temporary" and "permanent" construction?

Change arises from many factors: including corrosion, accident, adaptation, weathering and evolution of the surrounding culture. Are some of these manageable? Is the building only a memory of a design never perfectly realized, or something else?

This studio will consider change, time and memory in architecture at a number of scales, from the prosaic remodel to the memorial monument. Students will research and report on a particular time-based change, complete a couple of sketch projects, and will design (and re-design!) a memorial library building over many years (through the magic of "time travel"). Students will also be encouraged to develop a theoretical response to the issues of change through words and drawings.

Of course, this is a digital design studio. That means you will each have a computer available to you throughout the quarter. This provides opportunity to explore digital media, to use the web for research and presentation, and to reflect on your design process in the digital era. It also suggest some additional questions: What of buildings bounded by billboards, background buildings and buildings without physical manifestation? Does the ephemeral nature of the web tell us anything about physical design? Can we reconcile the convergence of physical and cyber space?


Photo: Trafalgar Square with the National Gallery and Nelson's Column, from <>