Reilly Hogan wins 2008 International VELUX Award competition

November 26, 2008


When stepping off the plane in Venice earlier this month, Reilly Hogan (B.Arch. ’08) knew he’d won something. Why else would VELUX fly him to Italy? But what he didn’t know is that in a few days he’d be surprised by being awarded first prize in the prestigious 2008 International VELUX competition for his project “Embodied Ephermerality.” 

The project, which began as Hogan’s thesis for graduation, is a design for the underground PATH station in lower Manhattan, at the former World Trade Center site and adjacent to the in-progress Freedom Tower. 

“The design of the station is focused on the experience of the commuter—35,000 of them go through the station twice a day, hundreds of times during the year,” said Hogan. “If you follow the same path through the city each day you eventually become disengaged and stop fully perceiving your surroundings. This project inverts this phenomenon, so one has the joy of experiencing a place of daily passage that unexpectedly transforms itself through time.” 

In Hogan's design, sunlight from the street level is projected down onto the surface of the interior, giving the architecture itself an ephemeral quality—re-presenting itself to the commuter through time as light and shadow changes through the day and seasons. “To achieve this, I’m using the primal qualities of light and how it changes—refracting and projecting it throughout the station,” said Hogan. 

Hogan's design is rooted in the twenty-first century, but he honed it by combining centuries-old techniques with modern technology to mimic, at a small scale, the human experience—using a laptop’s display as a surrogate for the eyes of the commuter. 

“He developed his design meticulously with a series of physical models using small video cameras to experiment with sun angles and shadows in real time,” said Visiting Assistant Professor Mark Morris, author of Models: Architecture and the Miniature. “This was as close as any thesis project has come to my own research area so it was particularly gratifying to see Reilly take this award.” 

Hogan credits Morris and Associate Professor Val Warke for their guidance. Warke’s studio focused on the design of a high school in Puerto Rico and Hogan explored the use of light in this project as well. “Working with Professors Morris and Warke I came to realize that light in architecture can be under considered—it needs to be a strong consideration,” said Hogan. “Professionally, I hope to one day build projects that aren’t just for architects, but for people that use the space and can see how it lives and breathes with changes in light and weather outside.” 

Leading up to the award ceremony in Venice, Hogan joined 16 other finalists (representing 10 projects) who were chosen from 686 submissions from 244 schools in 46 countries all responding to the competition’s theme of “Light of Tomorrow.” Hani Rashid, cofounder of Asymptote Architecture, was jury chairman. 

“We’d known for several months that we’d won, but we didn’t know exactly where we placed,” said Hogan. “The secrecy built the tension, the excitement, the anticipation. It was fun that way—there was a warm feeling to everything; everyone was outgoing. And, it was great to see everyone’s amazing projects. Many of us are staying in touch and sharing photos from our trip.” 

Hogan is currently a teaching associate in Vince Mulchahy’s first-year design studio. He enjoys teaching and hopes to continue to do some throughout his career. He also plans to join an innovative design firm. 

By Aaron Goldweber

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