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Saint Sarkis Church and Community Center

Drawing Closer

David Hotson Architect

Saint Sarkis Church and Community Center
By Raymund Ryan -

David Hotson’s architecture is often a matter of skin and bones. His built work is frequently a sequence of spare yet sensuous interior spaces. These tense volumes are seldom static or fully formed in themselves; on the contrary, they offer enticing glimpses of further worlds beyond. In photographs, the language of crisp white planes and tailored glass evokes a sophisticated Minimalism. The reality, however, is even more ambitious. The spatial complexities and optical intrigue of Hotson’s work recalls Baroque prototypes and cinematic theory in addition to its immaculate contemporary detailing and installation.

The luxurious apartment – Skyhouse – occupying the upper four stories of a classic Manhattan high-rise (THE PLAN 069) illustrates these poetic concerns. Modernists famously, or infamously, removed the frame from painting and the pedestal from sculpture; similarly, modern architecture tended to dream of buildings as independent, free-standing structures isolated from context. Skyhouse is a volumetric insertion tweaked and animated by specific visual links to the surrounding historic envelope and the city beyond. This is its three-dimensional frame. The tower’s walls and roof act as both shell and found object.

For Hotson, frame has another, more integral and more vital role. This is the use of frame as a system of lines in space, traces and boundaries that help to literally determine physical construction yet also, in this architect’s work, suggest haptic and fluid possibilities in the comprehension of space. In Skyhouse, the refinement of volumetric surface, playing precisely with Cartesian certainty, and of thresholds in all directions creates a delicate – we might even say heavenly – domain high above the city streets. There is a formal deployment of geometry and construction but also a centering of the human body and brain.

St. Sarkis Armenian Orthodox Church...

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