Columbia GSAPP 2018
Professor: Dominic & Chris Leong (LEONG LEONG)
The Plinth is a public object. Its legacy within architecture is Classically as a preamble to the ‘real architecture’ such as in the MET, where the plinth lifts you out of the environment and into the complexity of the mausoleum. In the Modernist era, the Plinth acts as the monumental democratic plaza representing the horizontal plane on which the architecture rests and the public flows in such as in the National Gallery by Mies Van de Rohe. As a contemporary architectural object, the plinth is perhaps seen as the continuity of architecture itself- as the urban landscape on which the internal actions of the building play out such as the recently completed Qutar National Library by OMA.
The lineage of the Plinth now has potential as a civic architecture- as public but also representative, as monumental but also permeable, as singular but programmatically diverse. This project attempts to unpack the loaded architectural-tectonic relationship the Plinth has with the public and its potential as a civic-minded museum using the elements of the plinth and the object.
The premise of the studio calls for an extension of the New Museum in Manhattan in a new context- in this project, Crown Heights is the new home for the New Museum extension. The New Museum’s simple and direct Mission statement “New Art. New Ideas.” drives the programming of the museum and Sanaa’s iconic towering form in the Bowery. The New Museum functions as a confluence of a network of contemporary artists- and so too The Latest New Museum could function the same.
The mission statement for the extension is “Contemporary as Confluence. Museum as Forum.”. A collections of local institutions can act as a Forum of institutions. This “Forum” informs the representational diversity of Crown Heights in terms of its existing institutions and elect as a group contemporary artists to use the space as well as decide on shows and manage the curatorial operations of the Museum. The exhibition and performance space embody the civic-nature attitude of the institution.
Looking at the proposed site- there are components that at the urban scale that inform aspects of the Plinth, such as the Plaza, the Stage, and Edifices. The Site, while offering the space for public engagement lack permeability. Creating a figural relationship on the site while anchoring the institution on the site as an iconographic center becomes the goal of the massing diagrams. Sectionally the museum should read as a continuity between ground plane and the Senate Building vertically intersecting the ground and centering the exhibition programming.
In the Context of Crown Heights there are many institutions such as the Bed Stuy Museum of African Art, The Museum of Women’s Resistance, and the Weeksville Heritage Center that are burgeoning with work but lack space or infrastructure for arts programming. At the same time, institutions like the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and the Jewish Children’s Museum do not lack space or exposure, but are constantly looking for meaningful opportunities for community engagement.