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the Lewis Arts Complex

An intricate weave

Steven Holl Architects

the Lewis Arts Complex
By Yehuda Safran -

This plexus of three buildings braided in, under, above and on the ground connects the buildings. The Lewis Center for the Arts, situated at the entry to a largely Gothic-revival campus announces the future of Princeton University, architecturally speaking, more than earlier contributions in the past century, by Venturi, Moneo and Juan Navarro Baldeweg which are already somewhat dated and stylistically locked in and of their moment in time. Early on in his work Steven Holl declared his tendency and desire in the title of his early book: Intertwining (Princeton Architectural Press, 1996). There is no better introduction to this project than the definition of the “complex”: an intricately patterned combination of elements or parts in a cohering structure. The program for this project was set out ten years earlier. Among the many obstacles was the location of the train station, which is now situated as a threshold to the complex which offers a prologue as well as an entry to the entire campus. It is difficult to overstate the importance of this project. It consists of three principle cubic buildings with a round tower that acts as a pivotal connection between two of the cubical buildings housing the Dance and Performing Arts. The third building, on the right, on entering, is the New Music building. If Steven Holl frequently seeks ideas in the Architectonics of Music, such as the Stretto House in Dallas, Texas (1992) and the Sarphatistraat, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2000), this project is the culmination of his sensibilities. The composer Raphael Mostel saw “the ideas of Morton Feldman’s music everywhere in Steven’s magnificent realization - and not just in the rugs of the Music Building that reproduce the graphic notation of Feldman’s early works. Steven’s architecture embodies the spirit of Feldman’s expansive and mystical late works.” Rafael continues to elaborate his view: “Although written in...

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