Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I have been asked to design an office building in South Bend for my studio project. The facade (let us not speak here of the plan...) has taken many forms.

So I decided to approach this in a Westallian manner and asked myself which of the six types an office building fell under.
My conclusion was that the office building is almost directly related to the:

Here is a really good regia:

So while I was flipping through books I forgot that I was supposed to be designing a regia and was like oh look at those arches.... cool.... I'll take those. (They are pretty nice.)

Then I got really side-tracked looking at some of the architect Louis Sullivan's work. I thought that a Logia on top of a low rise building would be wonderful, and remembered seeing something like that somewhere.

Using Lheureux's arches my loggia and Sullivan's tall building I wipped up this design:

But then I realized Sullivan was a complete moron (as you can see in this picture), and through out all his nonesense.

I decided to turn instead to somethign grounded in good architecture, and who better than Vignola? I found this Palazzo by Vignola to be especially interesting because it was declaring itself to be a three story building while actually containing seven or more floors. Remember a regia shouldn't be any more than three floors, even for a prince.

I also realized that I didn't like Lheureux's arches in this project after all. They seemed a bit too Beaux-Artes. I needed something more graceful and airy for the top of the building....
Something like this:

However, it needed to have at least a little bit of strength at the corners so I looked around and found this beautiful loggia and fell in love.
The Loggia Rucellai:

This is what I arrived at:

The middle section, however, became very difficult. I decided to use superimposed orders like at the Colosseum:

But only in the middle section between the two loggias, as at the Palazzo Farnese at Piacenza:

This is what it looked like:

But was this just too many columns? and was I following the typology of the regia too literally?

Apparently not.... Here is a strait up little Palazzo two blocks from my site.... And nothing I could come up up with could rival the level of ornamentation of the South Bend court house.

Palazzo Indiana: It's quite good! minus the windows...

Next I wondered what would happen if I combined the loggia as a single element with the columner center:

I drafted this up with a great deal of puzzlement due to the window placement:

But this just didn't work. It was too vertical. The base I had added provided more ceiling room for the shop fronts, but made the entrance portico too formidable. So I scratched the base and moved the loggias back to the sides. This is what the revised facade looked like:

After I had finished congratulating myself on such a wonderful solution I realized that I had arrived at a giant wedding cake (or tick-tack-toe board as my professors were so quick to point out).
I had to get rid of the layered and overly tripartite appearance, but I was running out of ideas. then I ran accross McKim, Meade and White's Tiffany's in New York, and noticed how they had proportioned the upper entablature to fit the whole top two stories and heightened the base:
What a wonderful building!

I quickly sketched out a corner with a larger cornice:

But this too didn't quite work out. There was too much going on. As Professor Economakis says, "A building can only handle one good idea." There were too many ideas, each good on their own, but together creating an ugly jumble. There was too much top and not enough middle too much centrality and not enough fucus. And so I continued to look through McKim, Meade and White. Here surely I could find one good idea that would answer my question.
Not My favorite building, but at least one that directly answered my problem... (Notice the strenth of the corners.)

And so I quickly heightened the middle, reduced the loggia height, increased the cornice to fit the whole upper portion (above the rusticated base) and eliminated Vignola's columner center.

Who knows where this will lead tomorrow, but for the moment I still have a building that reads as three, if not floors, at least rememberances of floors, with a light, graceful loggia at top, a powerful, unifying cornice, rusticated base with a grand, but not too formidable portico. (Oh, and ignore the tripartition, I'm still not able to let myself erase it.)