Predock's Architecture School
Ruins in the Southwest indicate that past cultures celebrated the movement of the sun. For example, the ancestors of the Pueblo people created a large spiral petroglyph atop a butte in Chaco Canyon that marked a place the sun shone when at its highest point of the year and the day.
In his design of the UNM architecture school, Predock sought to translate that sense of cosmological intention into the feeling of the building. According to Predock, "solar apertures [in the wall] relate to the moments of equinox and solstice throughout the year."
Some of that design intent was lost as the design evolved. "The solstice alignments as constructed were not exactly as planned in the earlier versions of the building, because they were blocked by some of the seminar rooms," he reports.
But as built, the building still relates to the heavens. "Just the connection to sky is important," says Predock. "The building incorporates different views of sky both day and night."
By revealing infrastructure and environmental systems, the building constantly exposes students to its interior workings. Predock describes the building as being "turned inside out."
"Nothing is concealed in the building at all," he says. "The mechanical systems and electrical systems and the cabling are all exposed, and you always know physically what's going on in the building's design."
Says Predock: "I think the building has lots of lessons in its spatial makeup and urban context and response, and I think it is, in and of itself, a teaching instrument."
The building was completed in fall 2007, and students report liking the openness of the structure and having a sense of what other studios are working on.
Students also see on a daily basis "how plan and section are connected in a complex relationship linking light, spatial flows and structure," as described on the web site for Predock's firm.
Susan Smith is the editor of AECCafe, an online news portal for the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, as well as GISCafe and GISWeekly, an online portal and weekly magazine for the geographic information systems industry. She has been writing about architecture and technology for over 15 years and resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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