Alchemy: the process of transmuting base matter into gold. The studio drew inspiration from both the sensual material manifestations of Girard and Saarinen and the hard facts of industrial production in the Midwest. We were especially interested in industrial detritus, and how, through re-consideration and crafting of these left-over materials, a new appreciation for the embodied energies can emerge.
Josh Antolovic, John Arnaud, Alan Bossman, Caroline Bozzi, Jessica Dangelo, Logan Halterman, Lexy Martone, Kristopher Miller, Brent Nichols, Ben Romero, Bailey Stultz, Lauren Whitehurst, Chas Wiederhold, and Russell Zimmerman. Fabrication assistants: Whitney Osborne, Dom Elpers, Caleb Lang, Matt Miller, Todd Anderson, and Amber Wasinski.
3D Stone, Inc., Danny Ward Steel Fabrication, The Kroot Corporation, M Bohlke Veneer Corp., Michael Schuster Architects, Rookwood Pottery Company, and SHP Leading Design
Built 40 years apart, Lincoln Elementary School by Gunnar Birkerts in 1967 and Central Middle School by Perkins and Will built in 2007 share the same site: a large block that extends east along Fifth Street from Pearl to Chestnut Streets and north towards Eighth Street. Far more than cozy neighbors, these buildings also refer to prior buildings and sites. Whereas the simple, sunken geometric plan of Lincoln Elementary evokes the clear organization of Saarinen’s Irwin Conference Center, Central Middle School departs from glass-box corporate modernism in similar ways as does Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates’ Cummins Corporate Office Building
Exploring the landscape of fabrication in the midwest was an important part of the design process that led directly to the materials explored in Alchemy. Each material was salvaged waste that contributed its embodied energy to the design: re-claimed wood from a demolished church, off-cuts from the architectural limestone industry, and tiles that did not meet Rookwood Pottery’s rigorous quality control. The fabrication and assembly process was planned by the students that designed the project during the Spring semester and was largely carried out by a class who were studying fabrication techniques during the summer term in Professor Terry Boling’s shop. They designed and built a special stamping tool to add symbols derived from Central Middle Schoolers’ drawings to the salvaged wood. They also created templates and jigs in order to accurately bend, weld, and drill holes in the complex geometries of the steel armature.