growing the facade

Studio IX w/ Andrea Simitch & Michael Silver, Cornell University

The Harvard Herbarium is home to one of the most expansive collections of pressed flowers and plant species in the world.  It houses hundreds of thousands of specimens in light-sensitive and hermetically sealed black-boxes well as pressed books.  The program for this project includes a renovation to the existing facility to accommodate additional archival space as well as an expanded library and digital media space.  The studio had a secondary focus centered around the fabrication of concrete forms using a dual-axis digital foam cutter.  Through a series of layered cutting techniques, I developed a modular system of undulating blocks that could be customized for porosity and structural load-baring capabilities.  My project analyzed the porosity of light through organic tissue to propose a modular “cell wall” for the facade of the existing building.  I was interested in comparing the porosity of cell structure and photosynthesis to early methods of photography that involved inverting images from positive to negative.  The archival procedures in a Herbarium are critical to the programming of its internal spaces.  The specimens, once documented and pressed, must be kept away from any external influences such as light and heat..  The library and viewing platforms, however, must provide adequate daylight for the occupant.  As such, my project investigates a new facade that programs light through the density and aperture of modular cells, stratifying internal programs and external effects.

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