CPP ARC Student Adam Ballard wins Honorable Mention at the ACSA Preservation as Provocation Competition

Adam Ballard has won Honorable Mention (one of 5 awards given) at the ACSA Preservation by Provocation Competition for his entry "Intermediary, Modulator, Lens."

The 2015-16 Preservation as Provocation, International Student Design Competition challenged students and multi-disciplinary teams in architecture, preservation, landscape architecture, planning, engineering, sustainable design and other cross-disciplines, to create a new Visitor Center and approach experience for the iconic Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe in Plano, Illinois.

The studio, taught by Sarah Lorenzen, focused on this competition and on the role that representation plays in generating an architectural project. 

The Jury wrote the following about Adam's entry and the studio course: "This project demonstrates a different way to address the problem with an abstract design that allows the mind the freedom to explore. This engaging design is representative of an innovative style and is one from a studio series, which the jurors would like to compliment."

Adam Ballard's text accompanying his entry reads:

The possible relocation of Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House must meet sincere deliberation. Mies designed the house with two things in mind:  the epoch, and the site.  While one is already gone, to remove the other would force this house, in its essence an idea, outside of any recognition.  While we may now visit the Farnsworth House and imagine how it once was, we are still only imagining.  The visitors center is designed as an intermediary, a modulator, a lense between our lives and the new life lived by the house itself.

The project began with a study and interpretation of Mies’ first “Modern” house—the Villa Wolf—in an attempt to extract out the two ‘presents’:  the preserved present tense of the Farnsworth House and that of the contemporary world in which we live.  By giving them each a parallel history one can then relate the one built object to the other.

In formalizing the ideas, the Villa Wolf was first unfolded, or perhaps collapsed into a broken down and unwrapped axonometric drawing.  The pieces of this drawing were then refolded into a new whole.  The content was the same.  The form quite different.

We need organization.  We need to respect our context.  A box, 99’x99’x18’ was fit around our new form, and it was elevated.  This box was not empty.  It contained program.  It fit the form well, there was room to breathe.  But the box was split by the form, and it was eroded and disturbed.

We’re in the future.  The Farnsworth has flooded.  Replace the wood.  The Farnsworth is still there.  Concurrently, the Farnsworth is in the “corn field”.  It does not flood, but it no longer knows who it is, or why.

Back in our present, the two forms have developed a dialogue.  They begin to read as one, and their desires merge.  This is to be a visitors’ center for a place and a time.  We must speak the same language so we can learn.  And so the forms interact.  One pushes while the other pulls.  The grids and their resultants intertwine, and new possibilities become apparent.  Elements from the Farnsworth House come to mediate, to translate.  A column grid of 22’ is inlaid.  Windows enter the scene as a further merger to develop relations within the structure and, of course to the outside.  The Farnsworth at 450; the Fox River seen from all sides.

We’re in the past.  Mies lays out his composition, and he says this is perfect.