gIVEN’S HALL, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
ST. LOUIS, missouri, usa
cOMMISSIONED DESIGN AND FABRICATION
WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE
Commissioned to house faculty publications for Washington University in St. Louis’s Architecture Department, the Givens Vitrines sample the details and materiality of the 1930’s Beaux Arts building to create a subtle intervention.
In addition to contextual references, the vitrines’ form was designed to optically blend into the space.
Perched on either end of a landing the twin cases match the symmetry of the building’s monumental stair. Each vitrine is symmetrical in elevation and asymmetrical in plan. By squeezing one vertical edge closer to the wall the cases avoid direct light from the windows and open to passing viewers.
Suspended on custom steel brackets, books are nested within a smooth, white, concave container. Without any perceptible edges the vitrine’s internal surface visually flattens against the plaster walls foregrounding the suspended books.
Contrasting the vitrine’s smooth, white interior the ornamental, wood frame creates a dark, textured shadow-line. Sampled from the original details of the stairwell the frame’s ornament is literally drawn from the context. Shapes from moulding, handrails, pilasters and other details were measured and redrawn in the computer. Using 3D modeling software the profiles where then morphed together in a sequence to create a flowing continuum of changing profiles around the cases.