“Jekyll & Hyde”

Young or old, it seems as though everyone who happens upon the installation in Marion Square is intrigued, and luckily for us it seems that most who interact with it seem to enjoy it. I have to admit that this is one of those projects that I have had the opportunity to work on with Clemson that has exceeded my expectations. The most amazing thing to me so far is the split personality the walls have taken on depending on if you experience them in the daytime, or at night.

In the morning or afternoon the walls recede into the background of the park. Nestled among the trees they have a calm presence and the light and shadow of the passing day dance through the slats of wood and continue to change from moment to moment, not unlike the light passing through the leaves of the nearby trees. In the daylight the signage takes a backseat to the structure. The material and joinery details, as well as the cable compression and foundation systems attract the most study by passersby.

At night the project’s alter-ego arrives and the subtle and quite side goes to bed. The walls now call to those within eyesight of the park, “Look at me”! The halogen spotlights mounted inside the wall’s pilasters create a cascade of light up and down the structure while the signage that was once a background element shines a bright neon blue. This corner of the park is surprisingly dark, and with few city lights to contend with, the light emitted by the structure is all the more a beacon then any of us had anticipated.

It is strange though, that with a project that I am so proud of, that there is still a feeling of discontent I have with it. We had a review this past Friday with two jurors, architect Anthony Carmola of Coast Architects and professor of architecture Armando Montilla from Clemson main campus. While both were great critics and quite informative, I felt as though they did not get the best presentation from us. While I expected the part of the review pertaining to the schematic designs for the second project of the semester were going to be a bit thin, I had not expected that we would present an unfinished project one to the jurors. It was hard to have a critical review of the project in Marion Square with ladders and power cords and caution tape still surrounding the site. Yet the worst part about the incompleteness was that the students missed an opportunity to feel what it is like to design it, build it, and then step back and appreciate it as I had mentioned in a past post. Although the previous blog post to this one written Friday night exclaimed “Project One is Complete!”, it has actually taken the rest of the weekend to complete the project with only a handful of the studio around to finish it. And that feeling of being able to step back and appreciate their work at the end of the day, hasn’t had the effect I had hoped on them all.

Another thing that troubles me is that the second project this semester does not have a lenient deadline, and I am worried that the students haven’t learned the valuable lessons this first project was to instill. I do hope that the students have all at least learned an important lesson in time management, so that this problem of procrastination is resolved before the same thing happens again at the end of the semester.

It may seem a bit odd how this post went from being a glowing review of the first project and all it’s attributes to a harsh criticism of the completion and presentation of it, but that’s Jekyll & Hyde for you, I guess…

My favorite photo of the project so far.

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