Rewrite interactions to match the context | The Plan
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Rewrite interactions to match the context


Architecture and Landscape have always existed relative to one another. The specific placement of buildings in their terrain has, for millennia, established a sense of hierarchy and facilitated haptic perception as forms reveal their multi-dimensional complexity to viewers in motion. And Landscape, even when ostensibly “natural”, is in many ways artificial, a construct to enable exterior spaces, whether hardscape plaza or lush garden, to serve as expansive settings for the bespoke architectural object. The work of Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi intentionally occupies this hybrid ground between Architecture and Landscape. From such early projects as the Women’s Memorial and Education Center at Arlington National Cemetery, they have explored the sublimation of architectural form to the grander potential of landscape design, as if the earth’s crust can, on occasion, open to accommodate human habitation. For more recent projects, especially those on urban lots, Weiss/Manfredi have designed architectural masses that contain, or harbor, interconnected volumes. As with Weiss/Manfredi’s Center for Architecture & Environmental Design at Kent State University, this is a fecund strategy that views architecture as constructed topography and that is fundamentally social. Situated in northeast Ohio, a half hour or so by car from Cleveland, Kent is a not untypical U.S. college town. While its name is inevitably associated, at least for a certain generation, with the shooting of students including anti-war protesters in 1970, Kent State University exhibits many common traits for a college of its ilk. With an ill-defined urban relationship to Kent, its host town, the campus fabric of historicist blocks set amid trees and serpentine roads gives way, first, to Functionalist or Brutalist structures; then vaguely Postmodern “contextual” buildings from recent decades; and finally large swathes of tarmac near the distant, ex-urban...

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