Material Witness

December 19, 2009 – June 20, 2010

Every year, Americans consume 268,820 square miles of plastic film – that’s enough to shrink wrap the State of Texas.  That’s also enough to package 5,677,478,400 chili cheeseburgers – a stack that would reach more than halfway to the moon. 

As an introductory exercise, Rensselaer students entering their first year of architectural education are challenged to imagine the new spatial and structural possibilities latent in found, discarded or recycled material. The exhibited work takes up issues of the poetic, the novel, the spectacular and above all the architectural possibilities that can arise from a zealous exploration of not only what the material is, but more importantly what it can become.

These drawings, models and installations are design tools as well as spatial experiments.  They provide a framework for understanding and experiencing the complex environmental, structural and aesthetic qualities architects synthesize in their design practice.

While these architectural studies form the content of this exhibition, the graphic design components establish its visual identity. The invitation, gallery signage and interpretive labels are all features that deliver not only information, but tone, atmosphere, character. In keeping with the collaborative nature of this presentation, a team of graphic design students from the Rensselaer School of Humanities, Arts & Social Science has developed these elements and overseen their production as an advanced thesis project.

In addition to the graphic and architectural works produced by these two distinct student groups over the semester, the exhibition design itself became the constructive dialogue between their creative realms.

This exhibition is dedicated to memory of Ken Warriner (1930-2009), our colleague, teacher and friend.

Photos by Arthur Evans