Turn Your Back

In law offices, a change in title means a change of office. Paralegals are designated to open cubicles, associates are given private offices along windows, and the corner offices with the best views are reserved for partners at a firm. These prestigious corner offices gain their importance by providing privacy as well as an ability to better see outside of the building than any other office. This project works on maintaining these designations associated with traditional hierarchy in a building where there are in fact no good views. When the desire for a good view is disregarded, privacy becomes the only factor in determining a specific private office’s role in the hierarchy.

This building consists of four interlocking towers. Each tower turns its back to the exterior as concrete cuts off views to the outside and the location of vision glass directs views in, to other towers. There are no “good” views. The views through the glass expose either a concrete wall to the exterior of another tower, or direct sight into one of the other interiors. In the way that the building turns itself inside-out, its consequences of visibility turn its hierarchical structure inside out as well.

With the second through fifth floor designated by the landlord as storage facilities, these spaces with the most limited visibility become perfect hosts for the private offices of the associates and partners. In this location, the privacy of the private office is maintained in the same way that the neighboring files are kept private. With no open desks or free-floating meeting spaces, the private offices are subjected to the same secure archival that the storage is. The prestigious corner office still maintains its symbolic role in the hierarchy but gains its importance not from its ability to have the best views, but rather its ability to hide from the view of others.

All remaining paralegals then occupy the higher floors where less private, interactive spaces can be found such as conference rooms and break areas. The patterns of the desk respond to the expanding and contracting towers, and gesture to the holes at its center, and enclosed program such as meeting rooms fall to the exterior concrete walls.

This unconventional programing is not a restructuring of hierarchy, but rather a preference of function over the status quo to fit and re-place the hierarchical structure within a building where its traditional form is neither possible nor effective.

Winter 2017

Core & Shell Design: Meran Chan

Instructor: Erin Besler


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