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Location: New York, New York
Year: 1999
One of the paradoxes of our time is that the new nature of the computer and its speed of computation can reinstate "the natural" in opposition to the alienated mechanisms of the machine age, which opposed nature. For example, the folding and warping of surfaces made possible by the computer appear to us as natural conditions. At the same time, computation can restore the unpredictable and unforeseeable to human intentionality and thus to architecture. This paradox occurs because the digital computational processes, which are essentially or/off (+/-), can be speeded up to introduce such a level of complexity that what was striated space, such as the urban grid, can be made to appear smooth.

In the world of digital information there is also a different space/time condition that resides between the former classical dialectic of reality and appearance; the virtual, a condition in real space that contains the oscillation between past and present time, between figure and ground, between smooth and striated space. Our project is an amalgam of striated (existing gridded) space and a new smooth space that blurs the traditional figure-ground (+/-) distinction between building and context. This strategy can be seen in the way three "buildings" – a stadium, a convention center, and a new Madison Square Garden arena – are integrated into a continuous fabric of public space.

The architectural idea for the West Side project is twofold. The first idea is to warp the ground – formerly a flat datum of gridded space – in order to make it figural. The warping process leads to a figure-figure ground condition. The second architectural idea activates the section of the figure-figure condition in different but complementary ways. The sectional space between the building objects meet the new ground, which is now a positive surface. The intersection of these two figures creates an interstitial space that is generally seen as residual, or between. Here, however, this residual space is activated for program.


Model photos