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TAUBMAN COMPLEX, lawrence technological university

A Fixed Point for the Future

Morphosis | Albert Kahn Associates

TAUBMAN COMPLEX, lawrence technological university

Try closing your eyes and picture the architecture of Thom Mayne, founder and intellectual guide of Morphosis. The first thing to come to mind will probably be the interconnected layers and staggered planes of his many façade designs. You might also see volumes that seem to turn in on themselves or explode as if governed by invisible forces that defy the rules of our physical world. They are all signature features of Mayne’s unique, easily recognizable architecture, its apparently free-flowing plasticity anticipating the themes of so-called de-constructivist architecture by a decade, and like this movement, a sign of rebellion against the post-modern. As intimated by the name of his firm, architectural form, for Mayne, is movement and transformation. Both can be present at the same time provided a sufficiently complex design is able to reveal materials and techniques in a manner reminiscent of cubist spatial theory. However, that design must also serve a logical functional and distribution rationale in keeping with place and time. Morphosis architectures are in fact always “regulatory” structures, in the sense that they redefine the space in which they are placed, creating new relations between the volumes making up that urban fabric. The new extension to the Lawrence Technological University (LTU) in Southfield, Michigan is just this sort of “regulatory” anchor devised by Thom Mayne to give a sense of the future to a university campus whose disorderly hotchpotch of buildings seem to have sprung up without any underlying plan. The key to understanding the project is clearly apparent in the sketch with which this Pritzker Prize winner outlined the project: a building that develops around a fixed point, a Cartesian scheme imposing a new spatial order to the surrounding area. Dedicated to A. Alfred Taubman, the complex is part of LTU’s broader project to modernize and upgrade its teaching facilities. Encompassing 3,410...

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