Ride the pomegranate wave

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsnavely on September 4, 2007

I’m rewriting the abstract. I think it might have to get worse before it gets better… here goes. (I would love any criticism from anyone who reads this!):

In 1914, a small theater was constructed in Williamsburg Brooklyn. In 1922, it was converted to a cinema. From 1950’s to 1970’s the theater gradually declined, at first screening popular marquee films but later grind-house Mexican wrestling movies. In the 1960’s the second-story balcony seats of the theater were converted into apartments. The theater itself closed in 1985. In the early nineties, the first floor of the building reopened as a general store, then split into a store and restaurant, while the main space of the theater was used as a ballroom. Today the theater space holds a five thousand square foot 99 cent store, a number of apartments, and assorted businesses. These changes evolved over a period of almost a hundred years from vernacular conditions without intervention; and clearly, this trend could continue successfully into the future. Rather than the gradual shift of program, however, this thesis seeks to design similar diversity within a single construction. How would we design an architecture accessible to different populations that encourages distinct interpretations?

Unlike film, music, art or graphic design, postmodern architecture, after a brief appearance in the 60’s and 70’s, neither flourished nor moved beyond the façade. However, the postmodern ideals of diversity and difference, variability and eclecticism, in contrast to the modernist vision of integration, standardization and a universally accessible style, are not only still culturally relevant, as seen in the site, but also have more to offer the discipline of architecture. Indeed, a more postmodern approach might match the needs of this multicultural site, allowing for a more subjective experience of architecture. Utilizing stereotypes, non-satirical homage and curation, pastiche can assimilate and combine disparate entities of architectural language like program, structure and ornament, while preserving a trace of their origin. The technique of pastiche offers a method for combination and appropriation, avoiding a neutral melange.

As a homage to the movie palaces of the 20’s and 30’s, this thesis will reinstate the theater at 279 Broadway, overlapping and intersecting the new construction with the existing building and its program. This exploration will focus on the design possibilities of programmatic, structural, and spatial overlaps and adjacencies that result from “pastiching” program, ornament, and spaces of the theater.

A version of this has been laid out graphically. On flickr!


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  1. […] In 1914… blah blah…. you’ve read this paragraph here already. […]

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