Saturday, August 09, 2008

Building Diagrams

I've always found the gulf between architect and end user most fascinating, particularly the legibility of architectural production (plans, elevations, sections, details, sketches, models, perspectives, renderings, etc.) by -- for lack of a better term -- laypeople. It goes without saying that much of that produced by the former is not fully grasped by the latter, in terms of how a set of drawings, for example, will translate into a building. Models and renderings attempt to bridge this gulf of understanding, but in some cases diagrams done after a building's completion can prove even more helpful.

These post-occupancy aids may be done for publication, though more often than not they are done for public buildings (museums, libraries, etc.) as wayfinding devices, given to visitors to help orient themselves in space. The effectiveness, and apparent legibility, of such devices makes me wonder if architects could benefit from them in some way, by not only using them as aids in the design process, but as tools for influencing design. Why not start with the diagram and work back to the plan, section, elevation, and perspective? Silly speculation, most likely, but one that made me take a look at some recent buildings (museums mainly) and see how diagrams present the final building to visitors, the laypeople architects depend on but sometimes forget about during architectural production.

Below is a sampling of what I found, with some broad categorizations on how the diagrams increase legibility.

The color-coded plan:
[The Akron Art Museum in Akron, Ohio by Coop Himmelb(l)au | image source (PDF link)]

[The Glass Pavilion of the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio by SANAA | image source (PDF link)]

[The Bloch Building of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri by Steven Holl Architects | image source (PDF link)]

The solid-void plan:
[The Royal Ontario Art Museum in Toronto, Ontario, Canady by Studio Daniel Libeskind | image source (PDF link)]

The invisible envelope:
[The Jewish Museum Berlin in Berlin, Germany by Studio Daniel Libeskind | image source (PDF link)]

The simplified section:
[The Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago, Illinois by Krueck + Sexton Architects | image source]

[The Central Library of the Seattle Public Library in Seattle, Washington by Office for Metropolitan Architecture | image source (PDF link)]

The exploded axonometric:
[The deYoung Museum in San Francisco, California by Herzog & de Meuron | image source (PDF link)]

[The Museum of Modern Art in New York City by (most recently) Yoshio Taniguchi | image source (PDF link)]

and (with Flash interactivity):
[The Tate Modern in London, England by Herzog & de Meuron | image source]