RESEARCH SEMINAR: Performative Ornament


Core Faculty: Associate Professor Adam Marcus

Date: Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

The advent of computational design and digital fabrication has helped to revitalize ornament as a prime site for architectural research and innovation. Yet this resurgence of ornament has done little to quell longstanding debates regarding its necessity, superficiality, criminality, or any of the other myriad qualities ascribed to it throughout architectural history. Is ornament a secondary, independent layer, merely applied to architecture? Is it integral and embedded within the expression of a building’s structure and material logic? Or is it, as critic Robert Levit has written, “the condition of architecture itself”?

This seminar explores these questions by developing new strategies of contemporary ornamentation, particularly in the context of emerging technologies of computational design and digital fabrication. Emphasis will be placed on exploring potential overlaps between ornamental systems and logics of performance-driven optimization. How can material assemblies produce innovative visual effects while also addressing specific performance criteria? What kinds of new aesthetic, figural, representational, expressive, and spatial qualities can emerge from such a synthetic approach? How can the relationship between repetition and difference (or, standardization and variation) be designed in a way that supports an argument about performance and ornament? Students in the course will formulate their own critical agendas vis-à-vis ornament through historical precedent studies, readings and seminar discussions, experimental drawings, and physical prototypes that explore the intersection of computation and craft.

Students, Spring 2014: Jason An, Alan Cation, Jojit Diaz, Ivonne Gomez, Prairna Gupta, Tim Henshaw-Plath, Logan Kelley, Sanna Lee, Jeffrey Maeshiro, Mark Nicholson, Melissa Perkinson, Oscar Ramirez, Darshini Shah, Dustin Tisdale, Herbert Watts

Students, Spring 2016: Antonio Carlos De Quadros Goncalves Neto, Carlos Sabogal, De Huynh, Eva Lai, Frederico Leite Goncalves, Gina Bugiada, Jigao Wu, Joshua Olivas, Keith Edwards, Mrnalini Mills-Raghavan, Myrna Ehrlich, Nicolas Cilloniz Tanji, Priyanka Bendre, Sean Gentry, Sitou Akolly, Talitha D’Couto

Students, Spring 2017: Justine Humble, Bhavin Nagda, Daofu Lu, Denita Irsjad, Eric Soifer, Haonan Jia, Jae Hyun Seo, Jinda Guo, Justin Smith, Leon Trinh, Roshan Britto, Sasank Reddy, Sofia Anastasi, Stephen Sanford, Yumeng Wang, Taskin Yener