By: Brittney Mount
As architecture students we are advised to learn through experience. Experience can be referencing the countless hours devoted to the many, many, many, many computer programs an aspiring architect must be acquainted with such as: AutoCAD, Revit, Photoshop, Illustrator, or SketchUp. It could be design experience, construction experience, or presentation experience, but that’s not the experience this blog will be discussing. The ability to experience architecture, in my opinion, is done best through travel. Here at SIUC, the architecture students are typically given the opportunity to spend a week travelling to places of relevance to their main studio project that semester. As inspiring as a picture of great architecture can be to a student (which sadly is too easy for our generation), but truly being there to experience a space is impossible to compare to. We are raised to see more than the physical appearance of a space, but to figure out why it is the way it is.
I have had the opportunity to travel to Kansas City, Bentonville, St. Louis, and Dallas during my undergrad here at SIUC.
My junior year we designed a performing arts center so we travelled to Kansas City to tour the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, which was nothing short of breathtaking. From the approach of the building, to the exposed structure, down to the back of house I was in awe. The picture below is from the far balcony in what was called the “blue theater,” (blue seats, blue carpet, and blue up lighting for easy navigation for visitors) which is where musical performances were given. Its design was inspired from the construction of a boat, using wood paneling and incorporating balconies that “bow” out.
The pictures below are of the exposed slanted column structure (shown at left) and the up lit floor for the “red theater.” (shown at right)
We also travelled to Bentonville, Arkansas to visit the Crystal Bridges Museum, which was a “because we can trip.” I’m not huge into art pieces, but I was definitely affected by the space created to house the art in this circumstance. The construction of Crystal Bridges is made of the perfect combination of wood and concrete. Even the weathering of these materials works. The pictures below show the use of wood, from the deteriorated exterior (show in left and center) to the curved ceiling of the gift shop.
And of course you can’t go somewhere like this without attempting the standard jumping silhouette photo.