Ithaca WBC

The design focus of this studio began with intensive analysis of Steven Holl's Simmons Hall, and an investigation of the building's performative conditions. The roles of social encounter, spatial organization, program, and contextual response were deconstructed then reconstructed as a series of generative operations used to build a 'one-to-x' performative installation. Ultimately, this constructed installation and the investigation of Simmons Hall were used as conceptual fodder for a mix-use, women's center (WBC) located in Ithaca, New York. Rooting the project in a deeply formative local hydrology, the WBC pulls influence from the complex system of gorges that bifurcates the city into many distinct neighborhoods. Unlike all other parts of the city, the gorges perform as an unscripted non-space, free from prescribed social encounter or urban program. The profound performative role of the gorges is translated into the WBC design and used as a spatial framework to organize both program and conditions of social encounter.