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Object ➔ Building?

Buildings are prescriptive as opposed to facilitative. Whether new construction or renovation, a building begins its life as a sea of possibilities. In the process of planning, design, and construction, potential fates are lost and others discovered. In the end, what’s left is a creation with a singular history, static qualities, and a cohesive narrative about its purpose and role in the world. Even when evolution is baked into a project from the start, adaptable systems become rigid and prescriptive in their translation from idea to physicality. There is magic to a space which, despite its materiality and specificity, remains charged with the sense that anything is possible. But how is this condition achieved? How does a building maintain its “blank-canvasness” and simultaneously come to life in specific ways? Solution #1: Retrofit a relic. By rehabilitating a forlorn warehouse or factory, the architect benefits through inheriting a pre-painted canvas. By designing in concert with an existing set of spatial, material, and circulatory features, the final building is not a finished product, but a physical record of a dialogue which took place. The space is therefore enlivened with a sense of play and possibility, as visitors float between the walls of a conversation perhaps unfinished. Solution #2: Co-opt a structural system to generate highly specific and inventive objects, then set about occupying them. Yirmiyahu Gilbert