A Diptych Ode to Alberti

Yale School of Architecture, Fall 2015

Critic: Peter Eisenman

Site: Florence, Italy

Designed in partnership with Dima Srouji

Nominated for the H.I. Feldman Award, Published in Retrospecta 39 and Constructs Spring 2016, Exhibited in the YSOA Year End Exhibition of Student Work 2016

The Diptych: In questioning how to join two to create one, only the façade of the Palazzo Ruccelai, the single Albertian structure, is preserved. With this tabula rasa both adjacent to and behind Rucellai, a framework based on the prescripts of Alberti’s text Della Pittura, and their manifestation in Sandro Botticelli’s painting Cestello Annunciation (1489), allows for a choreography of forms that define a diptych composition. Oscillating between the rational and the pictorial, contextual forces shear the supplemental building, establishing a void at the hinge. This voided, weaving hinge reflects the tension between the hands of the angel Gabriel and the Madonna figure in the Annunciation; the two figures incline towards one another, but do not yet touch, signaling the immanent motion of the composition. From this initial framework, additional contextual reactions to the triangular piazza in front of Ruccelai and the monastery cortile behind it signal entry along the diagonal and carve away at the mass beyond. Ruccelai’s original residential program is preserved, yet it is destabilized through the hinge as it intertwines with the new adjacent public institution. This conversation between existing and new, solid and void, ideal and destabilized, draws upon the call and response of the Annunciation, establishing forms in dialogue and poised for union, yet separated by the activated void of the hinge.

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