Becoming Digital Exhibition

Image / Degradation

Image Matters

The Thrill of Threshold or Circle, Jerk

Incentive Network

E X T E N T S is a design collaborative that operates across scales and disciplinary silos. We’re interested in architecture, urbanism, media, digital culture, and other instruments of life that can be impacted by design. The collaborative is led by McLain Clutter and Cyrus Peñarroyo, faculty at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

NEWS

August 2018
Reflections on the Lawn is featured in “Rings,” an exhibition of recent Ragdale Ring Competition proposals at the Center for Architecture and Design in Columbus, Ohio curated by Galo Canizares, Stephanie Delgado, and Jonathan Rieke.

June 2018
McLain Clutter and Cyrus Peñarroyo – in collaboration with Laida Aguirre, Mark Lindquist, and LAND Studio – receive a “Prototyping Tomorrow” grant from Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning for their project Collective Reality: Image without Ownership. Over the next year, the team will develop an augmented reality application that allows residents of marginalized urban communities to image alternative spatial and social scenarios outside of conventionalized epistemologies of urban development.

April 2018
Reflections on the Lawn is featured on Suckerpunchdaily. Image Matters is featured on designboom.

March 2018
Image Matters opens as part of the “Research Through Making” exhibition at the Taubman College Liberty Research Annex.

Cyrus Peñarroyo presents BLDG_DRWG for the “Media Investigations” panel at the ACSA 106th Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

Reflections on the Lawn by Cyrus Peñarroyo is selected as 1 of 5 finalists for the Ragdale Ring Competition.

January 2018
“Seeing Double,” an exhibition designed by Cyrus Peñarroyo and featuring the work of EXTENTS, opens at FRONT Gallery in Detroit, Michigan.

Hedgehog House, HOUSE_UU, SRFC_PLAY, and BLDG_DRWG are featured in “Inscriptions: Architecture Before Speech,” an exhibition at the Harvard Graduate School of Design curated by K. Michael Hays and Andrew Holder.

November 2017
alt+AR, a site-specific virtual reality installation by Cyrus Peñarroyo, opens at IRL Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio.

December 2017
Irregular / Informal / Illegal, a research project by McLain Clutter in collaboration with Maria Arquero de Alarcon, is featured in the Hong-Kong/Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism: “Cities Grown in Difference.”

September 2017
Architecture is All Over, edited by Esther Choi and Marrikka Trotter, is published by Columbia Books on Architecture and the City. The book features “Subtractive Urbanism: The Morphology/Ideology Homology,” a text by Matthew Allen with images by Cyrus Peñarroyo.

August 2017
See and Be Scene is selected as a finalist for the People’s Liberty Halfway Home Competition.

Enclave of Inclusion by McLain Clutter is published in Thresholds 45: MYTH.

May 2017
McLain Clutter and Cyrus Peñarroyo receive a “Research Through Making” grant from Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning for their project Image Matters. The project will create architectural objects imbued with the aesthetic effects of images. The results of their research will be exhibited in March 2018.

Assembly Lines

McLain Clutter

McLain Clutter is an architect, author, and Associate Professor at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning. McLain’s work focuses on the role of architecture within the multidisciplinary milieu of contemporary urbanism, and the interrelations between architecture and media culture. His essays have been featured in Grey Room, Thresholds, MONU, 306090, the Journal of Architectural Education, Plat, The Avery Review, ARPA Journal, the edited volume Formerly Urban: Projecting Rustbelt Cities, and other publications. He has exhibited work and participated in conferences internationally. Clutter’s design and research has been awarded an Architect Magazine R+D Award in 2015, an ACSA Faculty Design Award in 2014, and other honors. His research has received support from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. McLain’s book, Imaginary Apparatus: New York City and its Mediated Representation was published by Park Books in 2015. McLain received a B.Arch from Syracuse University and an MED from the Yale School of Architecture, where he was the recipient of the Everett Victor Meeks Fellowship.

HOUSE_UU

Empty Pavilion

Reflections on the Lawn

Other Island

Detroit Shape Scape

Cyrus Peñarroyo

Cyrus Peñarroyo is a Filipino-American designer and educator whose work explores architecture’s entanglement with contemporary image culture. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning, where he was the William Muschenheim Fellow in 2015–2016. Previously, he taught at Princeton University and Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. He worked for LTL Architects and Office for Metropolitan Architecture in New York, and Bureau Spectacular in Chicago. He was Project Lead on Manual of Section, published by Princeton Architectural Press and Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook, published by ORO. His work has been exhibited in New York, Boston, São Paulo, Rotterdam and Venice as well as in publications including CLOG and Pidgin. Cyrus received his M.Arch from Princeton University and his B.S. in Architectural Studies Summa Cum Laude from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Informal / Irregular / Illegal

Domestic / Data Occupations

BLDG_DRWG

alt+AR

Turn On, Tune In

Enclave of Inclusion

Mirror Mirror

Territory Twister

See and Be Scene

Radical Railbanking

City / School

SRFC_PLAY

Hedgehog House

Past and Present Collaborators
Laida Aguirre
Maria Arquero de Alarcon
Matt Kenyon
LAND Studio
Mark Lindquist
Kyle Reynolds


Past and Present Contributors
Bryan Alcorn
Michael Amidon
Catherine Baldwin
Andrew Barkhouse
Pedro Duhart Benavides
Chris Campbell
Te-Shiou Chen
Pooja Dalal
Lucas Denit
Jordan Hicks
Sehee Kim
Jennifer Komorowski
Lindsay May
Nishant Mittal
Anthony Pins
Ariel Poliner
Oliver Popadich
Michael Sanderson
Kevin Sani
Sasha Topolnytska
Nathan Van Wylan
Peter Watkins
Charles Weak


Website by Oliver Popadich

Raymond Hood, Manhattan, 1950

Rene Magritte, Mental Arithmetic, 1931

George Lawrence

Thomas Edison, Black Maria

Camera Obscura

Leicester Square Panorama

Ford Factory, 1913

General Motors Plant, 1957

Robert Frank, 1955

1890 Sanborn Map

Video footage by Adam Smith

Hedonistic Carpet

Domestic Haven

Civic Showplace

Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler, "Untitled"

Bruno Taut, "Glass Pavilion," 1914

Wassili Luckhardt, "Cinema," 1921

The Island of Utopia, in Thomas More, Libellus vere..., 1516.

Chimalhuacan, 1960

Chimalhuacan, 1999

Cyril Porchet from Seduction Series

Ant Farm, "Media Burn"

Tenochtitlan and the Gulf of Mexico, in Hernan Cortes, Praeclara Ferdinandi...,1525.

The Island of Utopia, in Thomas More, Libellus vere..., 1516.

Mies van der Rohe, Seagram Building

Bas Princen, "Ringroad (Houston)"

Land adjacent to railway

Robert Morris wallpaper patterns

Richard Mosse, "Men of Good Fortune"

Thomas Ruff, "Jpegrl104"

Rene Magritte, Mental Arithmetic, 1931

Vinyl detail

Vinyl detail

Typical building massing

View from plaza

View on public platform

Plan

Worms-eye axonometric

Components

Public forum

Stage meets co-working space

View from sidewalk

Zone vs. Niche

Co-working vs. Working separately

Small discussion vs. Large assembly

View from sidewalk

1st floor plan

2nd floor plan

Travel itinerary

Image-based land formation

Possible configurationsn

Possible configurations

Possible configurationsn

Possible configurations

According to the organizers, “Becoming Digital is a project that considers the deep changes underway in architecture and visual culture caused by the increasing naturalization of digital technology.” The project includes a seminar course, a conference, a series of public conversations, and an exhibition. The exhibition presents student work from three workshops led by invited architecture practices grappling with computation as the pervasive context in which we live and work.

The exhibition design brings viewers into an intrinsically artificial environment where the material qualities of the existing space are exaggerated and gravitational forces are defied. A collection of objects including televisions, plants, platforms, and images are drawn to the floor and loosely distributed across a grid of stable points. Saturated surfaces simulating concrete appear to slip off the walls and behind or in front of these points to create the illusion of depth, and checkered swipes mark the erasure of the existing floor. As visitors move around the space, their attention is held by video content displayed at various rates. By arranging everything on the floor, the exhibition brings heightened awareness to our media viewing habits and how we typically navigate and experience digital content.

Exhibited as part of the Becoming Digital Conference

Cyrus Peñarroyo

Special thanks to all the seminar students and workshop participants for their assistance with the exhibition install.

Incentive Network channels private investment to sites that are critical in providing public access across the wide bands of infrastructure severing downtown Dallas from the waterfront. The scheme identifies areas where the divisive highways and railways rest on the ground as the best opportunities to bridge across the infrastructure. Areas within these zones are parceled at allowable FAR’s radically in excess of those stipulated by the zoning currently governing the waterfront. In exchange for the opportunity to build at these increased FAR’s, developers must provide public access and amenity at the elevated bridge level. Thus, the project incentivizes the development of a constellation of towers bridging across the highways and railways. The public platforms anchoring each tower then connect to a bike and pedestrian network that utilizes otherwise worthless space under highways and overpasses. Between this network, all developable land that is currently underutilized or empty is identified and parceled in an extension of the downtown Dallas city grid, and a new major road is introduced east of the waterfront in order to maintain public access to the river. A new light rail is also introduced, looping through the site with stops at several of the new towers. The constellation of towers becomes a collection of localized subcenters – iconic elements that define the space between though their dialogue with one-another, while providing public amenity and infrastructural connections.

1st Place in the Connected City Design Challenge

McLain Clutter, Pooja Dalal

Images are everywhere in contemporary culture: illuminated through pixel, embossed in neuron, stored in silicon, and still ever-present in a range of photographic formats. Once theorized primarily as representations of past events or projections of future visions, the sheer ubiquity of images – the amount of physical and virtual space they occupy in our world – demands that they now be understood as objects in their own right. Indeed, images constitute an increasing proportion of the stuff of everyday reality. And yet the matter of images remains underexplored. If images are now a ubiquitous part of our material world, what is the materiality of images? This research seeks to explore this question, following a broad spectrum of theorists from the arts, humanities, and sciences who have recently turned critical attention to the vast proliferation of images within contemporary culture.

Architecture is a uniquely appropriate medium through which to pursue this research. Our every engagement with the built environment is prefigured by expectations colored by images and our contemporary media ecology has tutored architectural audiences in modes of image recognition that are still only dimly understood. Such a context could retool architecture’s historic role as a medium of symbolism and representation. The immediacy and accessibility of image could be exploited to revise prior paradigms of architectural legibility, iconicity, and monumentality, attracting new and heterogeneous audiences. Meanwhile, images have consumed architecture culture and design methodology. While architects continue to produce drawings as their primary instruments of service, we increasingly work in software with raster-logics. We rely on images to perpetuate our disciplinary conversations and to communicate to clients and consultants. The speed and tempo of architectural production has been tuned to the trending Instagram feed. Now more than ever, we live in a house of images. The pixel is the new brick.

Image Matters explores the potential role of the matter of architecture in contemporary image culture. The project recovers the materially-rich early photographic processes of the tintype or ferrotype. This labor-intensive process entails the use of metallic substrates to host layers of chemical and physical reactions, eventually producing a direct-positive photographic image. The resulting prints have unique visual qualities. To contemporary audiences, they might appear strangely familiar. They are unmistakably photographic and yet alteric, sufficiently distinct from the types of images most commonly circulated today to interrupt habitual consumption. Tintypes also have unique physical properties. Their texture, depth, and thickness give them heightened material presence, vastly exceeding that of the typical 5x7 snapshot or the ephemeral digital pic. Tintypes are image-objects that evince familiar photographic effects, while obstinately refusing to cede their object-quality to the realm of mere appearances.

Our tintypes have been produced within an enormous occupiable camera named the Conditions Room, a fully-functional sliding-box camera with a variable focal length. The Conditions Room is itself a study of the material and spatial consequences of image-making. Built from dimensional lumber and clad in closed-cell neoprene foam paneling, particular attention was paid to the design and fabrication of the paneling details. These details are deliberately over-articulated – entailing double-folds and redundancy to elevate the functional necessity of maintaining the precise light qualities required for our imaging process to the level of architectural expression. Aluminum reproductions of these details serve as the substrates for the final products of this first phase of our project. These substrates have been photo-sensitized through the tintype process, producing three-dimensional pieces displaying photographic impressions of digitally manipulated material textures. In these pieces novel relationships emerge between the digital patterns imaged and the material consequences of the tintype process. In one sense, the pieces are Instagram ready – designed to insert themselves within the deluge of image circulation that sets the tempo of contemporary architectural production. In another sense, our pieces are meant to resist habitual consumption. They confuse the flat and the thick; the 2D and 3D; the digital and archaic, all in order to check, disrupt, redirect or slow-down image circulation to secure moments of rare attention.

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Peñarroyo, Michael Amidon, Te-Shiou Chen

This project was made possible by a grant from the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.

Pavilions tend to play with essentialized architectural issues. Siteless and stakeless, they teeter-totter between profound disciplinary reflection and tragic eternal return. While playing in architecture’s disciplinary sandbox can sometimes yield novelty, so much self-love can also lead to withdrawal from our external relationships.

This is another pavilion. It’s all about insides and outsides, disciplinary and spatial. Inside the circle, you might recognize parts of other pavilions you know, winks of enculturated architectural code, quotations of the construction process, or the fetishized appearance of materiality. Not on the inside? You might not. The central seesaw wizzes occupants in-and-out through a sectional threshold in a tensile fabric dome digitally printed with marble texture and hung from steel beams above. “It’s the pure appearance of post-digital materiality.” Inside the threshold occupants are instantly treated to an immersive architectural experience of crystalline kaleidoscopic effects. And then it’s done. And then it’s back. Wee! Squeals echo against the mirrored interior chamber while those outside wait their turn.

Finalist for ACSA “PLAY with the Rules” Pavilion Competition. Exhibited at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Peñarroyo

Like most ruin porn, images of St. Stephen’s Church elicit nostalgic sentiments from viewers, appealing to a desire for profound authenticity amidst the crumbling remains of latter-day urbanity. We yearn for the visceral, the real, for collective life within an urban environment, all from the comfort of couch or recliner. By leveraging contemporary media consumption habits, Image/Degradation seeks to make citizens of spectators and an engaged public of ruin porn’s passive audience. Recalling the 19th century Panorama, the project creates a venue for the collective consumption of a materialized image that has been assembled using photogrammetry software and a collection of the most widely circulated photographs of St. Stephen’s decay. The image constitutes a complexly faceted scrim hung from a frame below the existing dome. As a result of its digital process of formation, the image itself has been degraded – doubling the enticements of St. Stephen’s entropy-effects, and demanding public attentiveness in order to decode the low-res display. Both iridescent and translucent, audiences are seduced by prismatic light effects while looking through the degraded image to view the degraded dome beyond. On a platform below, sofas, armchairs, rugs, lamps and other furnishings characteristic of the typical middle-class living room are arrayed in a theatricalized furniture showroom. A pattern of circles mapped onto the floor and furniture echoes the oculus above and confuses the legibility of the domestic scene. Visitors are met with a strangely familiar environment suggestive of private image consumption habits, but within a space of heightened publicity. Spectators mix with spectacle, image is revealed as object, and the audience is actively engaged.

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Peñarroyo, Te-Shiou Chen

What if the workers owned the factory? Detroit’s industrial past saw labor tethered to the line in Fordist synchrony to the benefit of the corporation. Assembly Lines flips that legacy. Here, lines define zones for the public to assemble and thresholds to be crossed or occupied. The project is composed of a suite of graphic spatial parts, each assembled from a combination of pin-up boards, acoustic panels, and reflective surfaces. Mounted to casters below, the pieces can be easily moved to host a range of singular or collective programs. The geometry of a continuous linear track above and a graphic pattern on the floor suggest various configurations – from co-working to community design meetings. Adaptable and scalable, each spatial element can be finalized through feedback from the community and pieces can be added or removed as those needs change. Holding inside everything from tables and chairs to party supplies, each piece is conceived as a toolbox of elements for common use. As people and parts aggregate in various ways, the space recalls the image of a factory floor, redirecting Detroit’s industrial legacy towards the creative assembly of community infrastructure. Meanwhile, that community finds itself literally reflected in the project’s mirrored surfaces, branding a new urban image of grass-roots publics and counter-publics assembled around common concerns.

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Peñarroyo, Lucas Denit

HOUSE_UU is a work-in-progress. In this Los Angeles hillside residence for two young couples, the formal and spatial organization is driven by framed and panoramic views to the city below.

Exhibited in “Inscriptions: Architecture Before Speech,” curated by K. Michael Hays and Andrew Holder at Harvard Graduate School of Design (Winter 2018); and in “Low-Resolution Houses,” curated by Michael Meredith at Princeton University (Fall 2018).

Cyrus Peñarroyo, Chris Campbell, Kevin Sani

Empty Pavilion is a meditation on Detroit’s evacuated context and an experiment in architecture’s ability to activate a latent public in the city. The pavilion is designed as a collection of architectural figures drawn-in-space, each a single line tracery of a lattice of platonic solids. These lines are then “relaxed” to loosely approximate the rigorous geometry underlying their inception – yielding withering legibility of geometric intricacy amidst an affect of entropy that recasts the aesthetics of urban decay in order to divorce that aesthetic from narratives of decline. From certain vantage points the project recalls familiar architectural elements that may entice memory. From other vantages, the project presents clear and yet unfamiliar, architectural figures – thus soliciting projective association. Up-close, the pavilion is meant to encourage physical interaction. Elements within the design suggest differing modes of occupation, such as seating, lounging and climbing. Constructed of bent steel tubing, foam and rubber, the pavilion is counter-intuitively soft to the touch, begging tactile engagement. The relationship between the pavilion and its site is meant to lend definition to the otherwise un-variegated surrounding emptiness and vaguely recall the site’s history. Located in an empty field that was once divided into a series of residential lots, the project loosely describes the volume of the house that once sat in its place.

Recipient of an ACSA Faculty Design Award 2014

McLain Clutter, Kyle Reynolds; Ariel Poliner, Michael Sanderson, Nathan Van Wylan

Reflections on the Lawn engages the yard as a rich cultural field, transforming turf into a theatrical landscape. Rather than treat grass as a neutral backdrop for an arrangement of architectural objects, this proposal understands the lawn as a medium capable of engaging audiences and activating the imagination. From town squares and municipal parks to sports fields and suburban backyards, the lawn has played a crucial role in the formation of the American landscape and the development of our national identity. In many cases, the lawn is a civic showplace, a common ground that symbolizes our shared values as a community. Elsewhere, this domesticated landscape is a hedonistic carpet that underlies our playgrounds, bounds the edges of our pools and provides the setting for summer get-togethers. Much like the historic Ragdale Ring, the lawn in this proposal is a place for playing out myths and fantasies – a disciplined sward where imaginations can run wild. Located between the Ragdale House and the Barn House, Reflections on the Lawn shines a spotlight on the spectacle of suburban pastoralism by amplifying the material properties of grass and using them to create performance platforms that call into question the nature of our surroundings.

The proposal features three constructed lawns, each with a distinct approach to surface in both shape and finish. The material palette consists of paint, foam, and astroturf in various shades of green as well as custom-printed vinyl displaying over-scaled images of grass, all meant to evoke visions of turf imprinted in our imaginaries. Three oversized lawn ornaments are critical to the design strategy. Lawn ornaments grant access to our cultural fantasies about the lawn – a gnome evinces allusion to elysian fields, a pink flamingo connotes a tropical paradise. Leveraging this cultural significance, the oversized lawn ornaments in this project set the material composition and terms of engagement for each lawn. Their position and orientation calls to mind ritualized behaviors or means of approach. One could dip their feet in the Bird Bath, seek protection beneath the Bathtub Madonna, or focus their attention towards the Gazing Ball initiating movement around the site. Regular-sized lawn ornaments are also scattered throughout the site on pedestals. Though familiar in iconography, all of the ornaments are chrome-plated to reflect and manipulate the scenery. Thus, visitors arriving at the site are met with a strangely familiar yet alteric environment where various qualities of the lawn – its flatness, texture, color, and profile – are pulled apart and recombined to generate new forms of encounter and prompt reassessments of the present reality.

The proposed design offers a mix of thrust and arena configurations that still maintain the presence of a traditional stage. Because of their casual disposition and affinities with the landscape, the platforms can easily transition from garden pavilion to theater, stage to seating area, where audience members can both see and be seen. At the project’s end, everything will be sold at an on-site Yard Sale and the proceeds will go to charity. Reflections on the Lawn heightens our awareness of the lush yet unassuming scenery of our everyday lives.

Finalist for the Ragdale Ring Competition 2018

Cyrus Peñarroyo, Charles Weak

The Detroit Shape-Scape is conceived as mini city within the city, housing the programmatic diversity characteristic of a vital metropolis. The project includes interior and exterior public spaces, an expansion of the adjacent Wayne State University, student residences, rentable space for craftsmen and artists, stops for existing and proposed mass transit systems, bike storage for commuters, and commercial programs. This programmatic mix is catalyzed within a formal strategy that mimics the formation of many gridiron cities. The site is parcelled into a miniature urban grid and each block hosts a small building that is manipulated in a simulation of common incentive zoning policies, providing public space through a setback of the ground level plan, and light and air between blocks through a setback of the upper levels. On the ground level, the manipulations result in a complexly interwoven mesh of program and interior and exterior space. On the upper levels, the setbacks provide an opportunity for visual connections across programs. The miniature buildings meet at the second level, resulting in a vast interior urbanism, where sectional voids and vertical circulation cores provide locational anchors in a labyrinthine urban organization. On the exterior, the complex is shaped to visually align into a single skyline figure when viewed at high speeds from the highway and arterial roads, while dissolving into a collection of figural buildings when viewed by pedestrians or from the vantage of slower traffic.

McLain Clutter, Jordan Hicks, Lindsay May

Other Island is an object of imagination. From Koolhaas and Zenghelis’s New Welfare Island to Thomas More’s Utopia, islands have a long history of eliciting utopic projection and speculation about alternative ways of life. Equal parts geographic object, optical device, and ocean-liner, Other Island leverages this history. The island’s vast interior houses its mechanical works, and will be occupied by a lone anonymous operator. On the exterior, the design is a mash-up of digital interpolations of a collection of the most enigmatic islands in the world. This geometry was then sculpted to create oscillating readings between geologic and architectural forms. From some vantages, the island appears as a formation of rocks surfacing from the sea, while from other vantages, apparent building forms emerge atop the island’s crystalline geometry. Conceptually sited within a travel itinerary, Other Island will visit a series of the most frequently imaged global cities. Each iconic skyline will be reflected and manipulated on the surface of Other Island's iridescent chrome-plated faceted geometry. The island will sometimes display visual noise or intense optical distortions, and at other times carefully orchestrated visual manipulations and attenuations. Thus, strangely familiar and yet decisively alteric images of one’s own city will be returned to the urban onlooker. These ludic distortions are meant to catalyze imagination, new ways of life, radical ecologies, and inventive material compositions through which one might rethink present reality.

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Peñarroyo, Michael Amidon, Te-Shiou Chen

This project documents the unique spatial, social, and political structures enabling irregular settlements in Chimalhuacán, a municipality of more than 600,000 residents partially built in the desiccated Texcoco Lakebed, to the east of Mexico City. Our contention is that this ostensibly informal development is in fact carefully planned and executed as a means of social, political, and spatial control of disenfranchised populations by the politically motivated "social organization" Antorcha Campesina. In the absence of effective governmental policies to provide housing for the expanding population of the urban poor, this organization has seized and urbanized unoccupied land, often in disregard of existing ownership, environmental value or regulatory structures. We contend that Chimalhuacán’s development has ensued through intricately designed patterns intended to segment the municipality into a cluster of mutually exclusive enclaves. Each enclave is a unit of control, dividing the municipality into statistical abstractions of population in order to suppress collective consciousness. In Chimalhuacán, patterns of enclave development repeat, mirror, and tessellate with quasi-computation proceduralism, constituting a program of expansion and population management scripted to control, occupy, urbanize, and repeat. By parsing Chimalhuacán’s development over time, the project renders these strategies visible and reveals the potential for ameliorative future design to instigate citizen´s communal awareness.

Exhibited in the Hong Kong/Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism: “Cities Grown in Difference.”

McLain Clutter, Maria Arquero de Alarcon; Nishant Mittal, Pedro Duhart Benavides

This project was made possible by a grant from the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.

This project is about the relationship between “big data” and contemporary urbanization. Using Detroit as a testing site, the project forwards design propos­als that hack the conventional characterization of urban space in commercial data models.

The use of geodemographic data has become ubiquitous in the regulation of urban land use and development. Defined as the study of the geographic distribution of demographic data for use in marketing research, geodemography is increasingly influential in determining the character of the built environment. City planning commissions use geodemography to aid in the implementation of policy, and private corporations reference geodemographic data when purchasing, selling or developing real-estate.

Detroit’s financial and physical decay is well known. This condition is confirmed through the geodemographic data documenting the city and its residents. This is because a major source of identity-based geodemography is the household unit, from which data is gathered through the monitoring of package deliveries, Internet use, television viewing and other activities. Among Detroit’s most salient physical problems is the massive number of domestic vacancies throughout the city. While Detroit’s vacancies amount to a vast network of spatial voids, they also amount to a massive network of data voids. The depravity of data produced by Detroit’s evacuated neighborhoods reiterates its physical conditions. A conventional application of geodemography would therefore recommend little in the way of future development. This constitutes a vicious circle between Detroit’s blight and one metric that might be used to drive development to counteract such blight. Domestic/Data Occupations forwards strategies to intervene in this vicious circle, projecting transgressive design occupations of Detroit’s domestic vacancies that will produce data eschewing the city’s present image in data.

This project consists of three parts. First, is a set of maps used to assess how Detroit’s present urban context supports activities contributing to the prevailing image of the city’s neighborhoods in conventional geodemography. From these maps, three sites have been chosen for occupations that produce data to subvert their received data-images. Second, a map of the corporate apparatus of geodemographic data collection and aggregation is included. This map and an accompanying video explains the relationships between a vast network of corporate and governmental interests involved in contemporary geodemography, highlighting their interconnections with contemporary real-estate development. From this map, activities that might be hosted in Detroit’s domestic vacancies in order to produce aberrant data have been gleamed. Finally, this exhibition includes videos and devices that articulate three domestic/data occupations in diverse sites in Detroit.

McLain Clutter, Matt Kenyon, Anthony Pins, Pooja Dalal, Sasha Topolnytska

This project was made possible by a grant from the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.

BLDG_DRWG blurs the distinction between representation and reality. The project moves across media and between digital and physical realms to explore the effects of various imaging techniques on how we view the materiality of architecture. Walls, windows, floors, and corners are both the subject matter and material support for each full-scale study. The results of these 1:1 experiments are reassembled in the gallery as a room – one fragment of an unfinished building – that speaks to the precarity of its own representation.

Exhibited in “Fellow Fellows” at the Taubman College Gallery.

Cyrus Peñarroyo, Andrew Barkhouse, Peter Watkins

This project was made possible by the William Muschenheim Fellowship from the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.

alt+AR is a site-specific virtual reality installation that combines a digital environment with material artifacts to produce a space of renewed attention. Using perverse forms of persuasion, the exhibition exploits our everyday viewing habits and capacities for image recognition to render our surroundings anew. Arranged in a grid, concrete units orient the visitor to the room and provide the physical support for a series of metallic prints. Each print translates a mixture of religious and pop iconography into visual patterns with virtual depth upon a fundamentally flat support. Nested within this field of images is a VR headset that, contrary to standard practices, displays an uncanny version of the exact same gallery with the intent of heightening our awareness of the space around us.

Exhibited at IRL Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Cyrus Peñarroyo, Chris Campbell

Photography by Ian Anderson

The average Canadian spends more that 37 hours a week gazing idly at a glowing screen – from television, to Netflix, to YouTube. In doing so, viewers become increasingly numb to the often-sensationalist content, and eventually, to the social and political realities surrounding them. Turn On, Tune In is a steel frame pavilion sheathed in overstocked or recycled polarizing film manufactured for use in LCD television screens. By manipulating the direction of tiled sheets of the film and laminating acetate shapes between, the pavilion emits intense optical effects that constantly shift with one’s vantage, changing seasonal conditions, and weather. The familiar rectangular shape of a conventional 16:9 screen, so often a marker of passive viewing, is transformed into an interactive display of kaleidoscopic effects engaging the surrounding environment and other viewers. Habitual viewing habits are unhinged, heightened attention is piqued, and spectators become citizens on Toronto’s waterfront.

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Peñarroyo

Following Hernan Cortes’s 1521 conquest of Tenochtitlan, the expedition produced a map of the city that bears striking similarities to Thomas More’s Utopia. Drafted in 1524, the drawing depicted Tenochtitlan as an enchanted urban island, surrounded by lakes. Today Mexico City is an city of enclaves. From colonias constructed by individual developers in the 19th century, to contemporary gated communities, the city is a patchwork of discrete formal organizations indexing social and economic exclusion. And yet, within the enclave we might recognize a fleeting glimpse of Mexico City’s history of eliciting utopia imagination.

This project engages Mexico City’s history of utopic speculation through the design of a new enclave on the site of the Benito Juarez International Airport. Development is consolidated within a gridiron at the center of the site, separated from the surroundings by a park in which the terrain has been reshaped to produce bioswales. Within the blocks, building types characteristic of enclaves throughout the city are placed in radical adjacency, creating new spaces of encounter. Four enormous and enigmatic “new ruins” offer loci for common identification, while providing water and civic amenities.

Finalist in the 16th Annual Arquine Competition: “Metropolitan Green Lung”

McLain Clutter

Mirror Mirror operates on the image of verticality in Hong Kong by offering a housing strategy that mimics the mountain and alters our view of high-rise living.

According to the design guidelines provided by the Hong Kong Planning Department, new developments must at once consider the character of the urban context and preserve the image of the existing landscape. In particular, views to and from Victoria Peak must be maintained. However, as the city continues to expand, land reclamation along the harborfront will insufficiently address population growth, space deficits, and diminishing visibility of the terrain, prompting developers to more directly engage the mountain both physically and visually. Instead of the somber future presented by conventional models for density, Mirror Mirror considers how the building might contribute to a larger mediatic experience of the city. Informed by raster logics and post-production techniques, this proposal uses mirrored glazing and variegated panels to construct a low-resolution facsimile of the forested mountain.

The facade system occupies a 20 cm-thick space between the zoning envelope and concrete enclosure. Highly reflective glass reconstructs a fractured image of the adjacent cityscape on the tower’s elevation. Solid and mesh panels in various shades of green blend the tower into the landscape and conceal air conditioning units, plumbing, and other infrastructure typically found on residential facades across the city. The mesh can also be used to vertically grow air-purifying plants. Allowing these systems to remain on the facade liberates square footage in the unit floor plans.

The tower maximizes a 10 m x 10 m footprint that is further subdivided into apartment units using a nine-square grid. Vertical circulation is consolidated into one corner, which allows the tower to transition from a nine-square to a six-square layout and adapt to smaller sites. The units are arranged to accommodate shared spaces at varying degrees of privacy. The floors are then stacked based on their corresponding facade configurations and how the overall composition contributes to the image of the adjacent mountain. The proposed tower occupies the intermediate space between building and landscape; reality and its digital representation.

Cyrus Peñarroyo, Kevin Sani

Territory Twister is sited in the southwest side of Detroit, next to Mexican Town and directly adjacent to the Mexican Town Flea Market. The form of the project is determined through an iterative “relaxed” redrawing of the site boundary. The result is a layered threshold that is meant to confuse conventional notions of property ownership and public and private uses. The layered boundary is translated sectionally, becoming a drive-in extension of the ground plane that winds upon itself as it moves vertically. The glass enclosure of the building is etched with a vertical line pattern that manipulates readings of depth, further confusing one’s boundary perception. Inside, the project is programmed with facilities meant to leverage the latent vitality of the context: an extension of the Mexican Town Flea Market, religious facilities, public and private sports facilities, light manufacturing, and various other public and private programs. The spiraling organization of the building manifests its programs within a spatial enclosure that is meant to catalyze social interaction between.

McLain Clutter; Sehee Kim, Erica Wannemacher

Sometimes it’s hard to see what is all around us. See and Be Scene will vivify the cultural and creative energy of the Greater Cincinnati region through a uniquely engaging exhibition that prompts viewers to see anew the richness of their own community. Driving the design is a 150’-long mural that cuts diagonally through the gallery, heightening visual awareness by exaggerating the perspectival perception of the space and drawing in passersby. The mural will compose 29”-wide bands of content from each of the 55 People’s Liberty grantees, rendered as three-dimensional anaglyphic images. With the aid of provided 3D glasses, the mural will evince a rich collage of spatial variation and depth that will pique renewed attention to the people and works depicted. Accentuating the perceptual depth of the images, the mural will wind through the space to produce a series of niches – each an immersive world of fantastic grantee content. URLs and hashtags will be nested within the mural, directing viewers to further online content and engaging them to interact through social media.

Arrayed throughout the space will be a series of semi-circular custom-made foam modular furniture pieces. The furniture has been designed to lock into the organization of the gallery in a range of configurations to enable various occupations: from lounging to performance to planned events and more. When positioned against the south wall, the furniture pieces can be used as pedestals for artifacts and objects representing grantee projects. Meanwhile, two overhead directional speakers will broadcast audio from grantee projects – enveloping listeners within a world of sound, as the surrounding images constitute virtual visual environments.

As the exhibition asks viewers to see their region anew through the mural content, they will similarly be prompted to see one-another as members of the community with renewed attention. As visitors wander through the gallery, the physical presence of others will assume unique immediacy in the context of the surrounding virtuality. Meanwhile, the image of a gallery packed with viewers wearing 3D glasses will constitute a vivid scene – a trending meme broadcasting the work of People’s Liberty to the city, region, and nation.

Finalist for People’s Liberty Halfway Home Competition

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Peñarroyo, Te-Shiou Doug Chen, Pedro Duhart Benavides

Radical Railbanking images latent urban vitality within the lifeless postindustrial zones lining Detroit’s railways by recutting publicly available geospatial data and commercial market segmentation data. In doing so, the project attempts to eschew the positivism and contentious identity assumptions often attendant to the instrumentalization of “big data” in the urban environment – instead describing a city of hybrid urban collectives that begs imaginative architectural interventions.

Recipient of an Architect Magazine R+D Award Citation 2015

McLain Clutter, Sehee Kim

SRFC_PLAY is a landscape of nine loosely-arranged, discrete surfaces that appear to droop, bend, crease, and lean on one another. Each 16’ x 16’ square presents a variation on the same image of grass. If the original Ragdale Ring was sunken into the ground, SRFC_PLAY appears to lift off the lawn. Its light footing draws attention to the artifice, and at times, the surfaces appear to slip off their supports. Much like the original, where flora formed wings for entrances and exits, SRFC_PLAY uses representations of grass to frame the stage and provide platforms for performance.

This proposal engages the Arts and Crafts history of the Tudor-style Ragdale House by using images from nature to set the stage for a series of visual and spatial effects. Around the time that Howard Van Doren Shaw built the House and Barn in 1897, it was not uncommon to see household interiors decorated in wallpaper patterns inspired by botanical motifs. In their simplicity, these block-printed wall coverings seemed to capture the unsystematic yet uniform qualities of nature, all within the domestic realm. These depictions also called into question the authenticity of natural encounters.

SRFC_PLAY unrolls these surfaces onto the front yard and offers a contemporary approach to pattern production. Taking cues from Bertolt Brecht, a German playwright and stage director known for his use of techniques to remind spectators that they were witnessing a representation of reality, SRFC_PLAY brings offstage tools for image-making – specifically Adobe Photoshop – back onstage as an active player in the production. The proposal exploits certain commands and filters to expose the requisite labor behind editing a photograph and constructing a reality. SRFC_PLAY addresses our mediated relationship to the physical world by pushing post-production techniques to their extents and by collapsing the handmade with the digitally-defined.

While the original Ragdale Ring featured a circle on-axis with a proscenium, the nine squares of SRFC_PLAY deny axiality in favor of a radial configuration of modified thrusts that still maintain the presence of a traditional stage. This allows for varied audience-to-performer relationships, multiple staging and seating arrangements, and the possibility to generate new content inspired by the diverse imagery. The surface flexures offer visitors and artists opportunities to sit, lean, and lounge in the landscape during special events or moments of rumination in-residence. Because of its casual disposition, SRFC_PLAY can easily transition from theater to garden pavilion and disappear into its surroundings.

SRFC_PLAY has no clearly defined front or back, which allows each surface to act as both stage and means of staging. The exposed steel framework behind each surface doubles as scaffolding for lighting and audio equipment. The overall result is an outdoor venue that, as in Brecht, foregrounds and formalizes the requisite labor for theatrical production and visual effects.

Exhibited in “Architecture Before Speech,” curated by K. Michael Hays and Andrew Holder at Harvard Graduate School of Design (Winter 2018)i>

Cyrus Peñarroyo, Andrew Barkhouse, Kevin Sani

Photography by Salam Rida

Cities are at once assemblages of buildings that solicit memory and association, and sedimentations of the flows of infrastructure and economic exchange. The former statement characterizes urbanism as a function of its legibility, the latter through its performance. And while these two conceptions are not incommensurable, more often than not each has announced its importance through the exclusion of the other. Against this trend, City/School, an entry to the 2011 Cleveland Design Competition, is a study in the parallel engagement of these two intellectual lineages. Insisting on the importance of each, the project sets a trajectory towards an architecture of figured flows and articulated economies.

McLain Clutter, Bryan Alcorn, Catherine Baldwin

Hedgehog House is a summer cottage to be built on sloping farmland in south-western Pennsylvania. The region is spotted with aging timber barns that are remnants of dozens of deserted farms. The barns have become picturesque follies hidden amidst the winding country roads and mountainous terrain of the area. This project exploits the picturesque nature of the region’s barn structures by borrowing the typical building type and distorting it through a series of optical manipulations. First, a series of cascading clerestory windows is introduced to the western side of the house, framing the setting sun and creating a stack effect that naturally cools the building’s interior. Next, the typical shed-roof shape of the barn is pinched to force the perspective in one direction. Finally, the angle of the roof profile is used as geometric context for rainscreen walls on the north and south elevations, CNC cut from marine-grade plywood with a wood-grain pattern etched on to the surface. The walls juxtapose graphic and actual wood grains; further distort the reading of Cartesian perspective through the frequency of the tiling pattern; and manipulate atmospheric perspective through the reflection of light. The simple interior of the structure organizes framed views of the surrounding landscape and a lake to the west of the house.

Exhibited in “Inscriptions: Architecture Before Speech,” curated by K. Michael Hays and Andrew Holder at Harvard Graduate School of Design (Winter 2018)

McLain Clutter

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