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SITE: THE national mall

'monolithic' icon fits into context

DESIGN PROJECT

A monument on the National Mall in D.C shall be proposed where micronarratives (aka personal narratives)  are prioritized over national, regional, and institutional narratives. People hear from people. This  is a place where individuals are invited to share their personal stories and learn from others. This monument's main program, therefore, is a place where micronarratives are recorded, stored, curated, and reproduced. The architecture parallels this breaking down of the 'truth hierarchy' as well as asks the individual to question their limited perception.  Reveals with proximity, doubt, shifts in horizon, circulation and subversion of programmatic expectations are architectural techniques that can be used to achieve this type of realization. 

Story Corps Mission (From StoryCorps.org):

StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.

We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters. At the same time, we are creating an invaluable archive for future generations.

the icon

the icon

During the day, the icon appears to be monolithic and reflective. It is the beacon of the project. It sets up expectations that the totality of the monument is captured in this box. However, that is not the case.  As an individual approaches, some activity behind the shiny facade begins to show. Silhouetted figures can be seen walking along meandering ramps. This once solid, immovable object may even begin to sway in the breeze. As the sunsets, light from below grade shines up and through the icon. The inner workings of the icon begin to reveal themselves. The icon is a space where micro narratives are shared with the public. 

the TALKING SCREEN

solid, reflective icon during the day

formal and programatic organization

embedded speakers in screen reproduce micronarratives

inspirational object- transitioning from pure object to structure

ICON TO ROOT SYSTEM TRANSITION ZONE

The screen is composed of stainless steel rings interconnected to make up a chainmail fabric. The steel fabric is hung from the top of the icon. From a distance the facade appears opaque; however as one gets closer, it becomes more and more transparent. Integrated into the steel mesh are speakers that reproduce the micronarratives that are recorded. As one travels up and down the meandering ramps glimpses of stories are heard, adding to the ephemeral atmosphere.

ICON TO ROOT SYSTEM TRANSITION ZONE

escalators down to transition zone

icon transitions to root system

escalators down to transition zone

RHIZOMATIC ROOT SYSTEM

The transition zone is where the icon and the root system struggle to blend together. This is not a perfect transition. Structure warps to meet the modernist icon. Spaces blend programmatically. Planted areas blend downward. Individuals may not recognize if they are outside or inside. Larger gathering programs occur here.

RHIZOMATIC ROOT SYSTEM

monument is actually a network sub-grade across the National Mall

ground plane subtly manipulated by network below

plan

The monument branches out in all directions across the mall. It is not solely the modernist icon. The monument is no longer seen as an object but a network of spaces. In the rhizomatic root system, visitors are prompted by screens to talk about certain topics. Workers of the monument (like StoryCorps) also have space in the root system as work and meeting space to curate the types of stories that will be reproduced in the icon.

The circulation of the monument may also occur in the opposite direction. A visitor to the national mall may stumble upon an entrance to the root system or perhaps not even realize that they have entered the monument. Only later when they are connected into the transition zone, or visit the icon they will realize that the root system is the monument as well. 

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